Nurse Lin Lee held the telephone handset out in front of herself and stared at the now silent device. The forty-five year old woman was baffled. The request that she had just processed should not have occurred. She set the receiver gently onto the phone and re-read the request just to ensure that she had not erred. Convinced that she’d heard the other party correctly, Lin stood and marched straight to Dr. Hinterland’s office.
At his door, she paused when the sixty-year old orthopedic surgeon held up his left hand halting her. She waited tensely while he completed the phone call, and then strode quickly in when summoned. Lin’s excitement got the better of her, and she immediately began speaking while handing the records request across his desk.
“You need to see this, Erik. I can’t believe it, but it is what it is. A records request for a Rascal McDermott from an ortho doc in Selwig, Maine. It can’t be, can it? Can it?”
Hinterland read her meticulous print and sighed heavily. It should not be plausible, yet there it was. He leaned back into his stuffed leather desk chair and scrubbed his left hand down across two days worth of graying stubble.
“It fits, Lin. Right leg injury, the age is correct; my God…I have to call Investigator Melville. My God, after all these years he’s alive.”
“Should I pull his records?” She asked as he picked up his phone while flipping through an aged yellowing Rolodex.
“Yes, but we do nothing until Melville tells us how to proceed. We tell no one. Not our family, not his, no one; understand Lin?”
“Of course, Erik. You know that you can trust me.”
One hundred and fifty miles away, FBI Investigator Hanley Melville looked at his ringing desk phone and groaned. He’d been stuffing files into his worn leather carry bag preparing to leave for home, after working for nearly two days straight. The ringing phone more than likely meant that he would not be going home again. Hanley dropped the leather bag onto the floor and snatched up the receiver.
“Investigator Melville. This is Dr. Erik Hinterland. We met…”
Hanley pinched the bridge of his hawkish nose and squeezed his eyes shut while flipping through his mental file cabinet of contacts.
“Yes, I remember you from up Rexford way. How can I help you Dr. Hinterland?”
“Then you also remember that you gave me your card…seventeen years ago.”
That got Hanley’s attention, and he quickly slid into his chair. Yes, in fact, he had, something he rarely did. He sat down, switched the phone to his left hand, reached out and began rummaging through a stack of files in the box on the right hand corner of his cluttered desk. When he found the one he wanted, he dropped it on the center of the stained green blotter. The face of an amber eyed nine-year old boy, dressed in black leather chaps and a rumpled black cowboy hat stared up at him from a small photo paper clipped to the light blue folder’s corner.
“Talk to me, Dr. Hinterland.”
“We, my office, just received a request for Rascal McDermott’s medical records regarding the orthopedic surgery performed on his right leg at age seven.”
Hanley puffed out the breath that he was holding. It couldn’t possible, could it, that after seventeen years the boy had re-emerged. Once his shock eased off, he flipped open the file.
“That…is incredible. You contacted me first I assume.”
“Fax it to me, the information that you have. Christ, I can’t believe this. It has to be him.”
“I agree, I agree. It’s coming your way. How, how could he have flown under the radar for so long?”
“I don’t know. Could have changed his name, but had to use his real one to get his records. Let me grab the fax, hang tight.”
Melville read and then re-read the request. He jammed the button for speaker phone and spoke rapidly.
“Alright, Dr. Hinterland, Erik can I call you Erik?”
“Alright. Before we contact the McDermotts, I want verification. No sense in building false hope. I’ll ring up the district office in Maine and get somebody on it. I…Patsy, Patsy,” he hollered to his aide, “Book me the first flight to Selwig, Maine. As close as you can get me, anyway. Right, so Erik, send the requested records. Let McDermott believe nothing is amiss. I’m flying out post haste. Thank you, thank you for catching this. Christ, I never gave up. Never took his file off of my desk. I knew I just knew.”