“Mr. Stahl, I don’t care what insurance company you represent. You ain’t gonna find Alexander Morris on these premises.”
“Oh? Where might I find him then?”
“Now no need to get smart, young man!”
“I’m here to search the entire house and grounds, ma’am, with particularity the back fields before nightfall.”
“You’re welcome to do whatever you like but it won’t do you no good. Police been through the whole lot with dogs sniffin’ everythin’. And a helicopter with infrared camera.”
“Even had a psychic.”
“Don’t mind them, Mr. Stahl. They just want to help.”
“Oh I don’t mind, Mr…”
“Dr. Booth.”
“Well doctor, what can you tell me about this Morris? Was he a patient of yours?”
“He came to see me several times many years ago.”
“Do you think he ran away?”
“He loved them tall grass fields… loved walkin’ in ’em durin’ them hot summer ‘noons, with the sun sinkin’ low, and them high blades keepin’ it out your eyes…”
“Was he the type of guy to just fly the coop like that, doctor?”
“Possibly. I really can’t say. But at his age…”
“He would’ve needed help.”
“But he lived alone, doc! Weren’t nobody out here with him!”
“Quiet, Jaspar!”
“Where he go, doc? If he dead, then where the body?”
“Ain’t no swamps or nothin! Ain’t no gators or bears or nothin!”
“Are you sure no one could’ve driven out of here?”
“No traffic in or out. The sheriff and those city boys went over every square inch of this property looking for tire tracks.”
“The dogs?”
“No scent past the yard. Nothing stood out in the house or grounds.”
“Maybe he walked out?”
“With his ‘thritis? He never get more’n ten feet on that street ‘fore he turn back!”
“So he couldn’t’ve walked out the back door either.”
“He might’ve. The grass is softer than concrete. It feels nice on your bare feet.”
“He did always like walkin’ barefoot in them fields…”
“How’d he get lost then if he knew them so well?”
“Just because a man walks a certain path doesn’t mean he watches his way along it.”
“You think he might’ve gotten lost or hurt somehow back there?”
“Then where is he, doc?”
“I don’t know, Jaspar. But I believe he did get lost out there.”
“How many acres is it?”
“About one and a half.”
“That’s not much.”
“Just enough for a man to get lost in…”
“He lived here all his life, doc! No way he gettin’ lost. No way!”
“Not that way. I mean lost inside.”
“You mean in his head?”
“Like he crazy?”
“Not his head. His mind.”
“What’s the difference?”
“His head might be fine. Rational. Social. Normal.”
“And his mind?”
“Possibly fixated or in denial.”
“Could that be dangerous?”
“Wandering disoriented in the heat, at his age… the excitement, the exertion…”
“So where he go, doc? Where the body?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well he couldn’t’ve just vanished, could he?”