"You wish to report a missing person, señor?" The desk sergeant glanced up at the man standing in front of him.
Uncomfortable in the formal setting, the man shifted his weight on his feet. "Yes, officer. You will think I'm making a fuss about nothing but I know it isn't right."
The desk sergeant gave the man an appraising look, taking in his tidy clothes and well combed hair. Comfortably off, this man clearly had a job. Although his clothes were tidy there were creases missing from his shirt. No wife then, or at least not one who did the ironing. "Who is this missing person?"
"He's a customer."
The sergeant gave himself a mental checkmark. Yes, working man.
"He comes every night to the café. It's a safe place, the café. He knows that. But he hasn't been here for nearly a week now. Something happened to him."
Paper rustled as the desk sergeant pulled out the appropriate form. "Well, señor, what is this man's name?"
"I don't know." The man shifted uncomfortably. "Three years he has been coming to the café and I never asked his name. He's deaf, you see."
"Any relation to yourself, señor?" The question was asked with raised eyebrows.
"No. None. Except I know that I'm the only one who will miss him, that's why you must look for him."
The desk sergeant put his form down again, carefully resting his pen on a folder that set next to the blotter. "I'm sorry,señor, if you are only his waiter I can not take your word that he is missing. You should ask his family." He said the words firmly, as one would speak to a melodramatic child.
The waiter nearly wrung his hands in-- Apology? Despair? The sergeant didn't know but he couldn't take his word that the man was missing.
There were several more pleas from the man before he gave up with a look of resignation. The desk sergeant watched his back as he retreated, the well fitting brown coat showing its wear in the fading light coming from the street as the door fell silently shut.
Equally silently, the sergeant pulled open the drawer to put the form back. As he reached for his pen, his hand knocked the folder off the desk. He hesitated as he glanced at it. It had been all they had to identify a mugging victim from some days earlier. Was there any connection?
A glance up at the door showed that the waiter had gone. Pushing the incident from his mind, the desk sergeant let the folder fall into the drawer before closing it. It was just another anonymous victim. There would be no connection. Coincidences like that didn't really happen.
------------- Contents of Envelope, transcribed and in order of date--------------
I write to you in haste because there has been word that the battle draws to an end and I must attend to my patients. Oh, if only they were as kind and amusing as you were! You must have been the most upbeat soldier I've ever treated and the least given to complaining. I can only hope that our sons and daughters will carry a spark of that spirit that burns so strongly within you.
They say that the war is drawing to an end. We can only hope, can we not? It seems so endless, like no other. They say that Napoleon III has been exiled. I care not for the politics of this dreadful beast that is war. If only I could return home and be reunited with you, I will be happy. I know you must be chaffing at having your chance of bravery stolen away from you like that but I plead with you to retain hope. Surgeons are promising miracles and that is just what we need to restore your hearing.
Do write back with tales of the town. How is our house coming along? Did the builders put the door in the attic like I asked? I dream of being able to step out onto the roof to survey all I can see, like the queen you believe I am. Are you still having trouble with the baker? I send a couple of my flowers in hopes that maybe a sweet card will ease his poor tempers enough for you to get a loaf without having to stand such vile language.
Stay strong and I will be with you once the generals declare this vile war over.
Your fondest love,
Received at 29/APR/1917 08:12
DEEPLY REGRET TO TELL YOU THAT YOUR SON JAVIER LACOMBE WAS KILLED IN COMBAT ON 14 APR.
-- GENERAL ALEXANDRE DE LA VERGNE
LOCAL FAMILY PERISHES IN FIRST FLU FATALITIES
FOR the first time, Behobia has lost citizens to the outbreak of influenza that has crippled Spain. A French man, his Spanish wife, and three sons have been taken in one fell swoop by the fatal influenza that has stricken fear in the hearts of all Spaniards. Ignace Lacombe is survived by his father, Henri Lacombe, and his brother's family who have held a strong immunity to the illness. No members of the family were available for comment. The private funeral will be held on the 22nd.
I beg of you to remember that there are others in this world than you. Kindly do not forget this the next time you get the urge to tie a rope around your neck. Remember that Mother would not want you to do this and that her angel watches over you in hopes that someday you might leave those you burden and join her in the paradise above. Have patience, Uncle, and let nature take its course.