(Last Sunday: Brazil sees combat action in Ukraine while Chartan is surprised by the uplifting behavior of teenagers in his limo.)
First Chartan saw the black and white image of the fetus inside Gina. But what he carried home from the OBGYN’s office was the sound of the heartbeat—it followed him everywhere, including that evening when he had another teenage prom fare. The sound of the tires on the freeway at 65 m.p.h. went well with the rapid heartbeats of their son. Yes, the doctor, when Gina asked, had revealed that they were going to have a baby boy. Chartan had much to think about as he drove six teenagers to the dance at the high school gym. He fought off the notion that he didn’t want to be apart from his wife with less than three months to go. They needed his income. He didn’t want anything to go wrong, especially at work. He’d drive carefully and bite his tongue when his fares acted poorly although the last group of teenagers exceeded his expectations for good behavior. He couldn’t tell about this current fare—they were strangely quiet.
Hours later when the prom crowd began to leave the gym, Chartan was anxious for his fare to show up. But after nearly an hour the six teenagers hadn’t come to the designated pick up place at the front of the school. Chartan walked to the school entrance holding a sign over his head: The Miller Group. Inside the gym was nearly deserted. A teacher stationed at the entrance said everyone had left and that she recalled seeing Tommy Miller leaving with his friends about half an hour ago.
Chartan returned to the limo that glistened in the overhead lights—the only vehicle in sight. He called the various phone numbers listed on the rental form—there was no answer at the first two numbers. But then Tommy Miller’s mother answered the phone.
“You don’t know where they are? she yelled into the phone.
Twenty minutes later a city police cruiser pulled up behind the parked limo. Chartan showed the rental form to the two officers.
“No doubt they went drinking somewhere in a private car—we better find them fast—you stay here,” said the taller of the two officers.
Chartan nodded. After the cruiser left he called Gina. He was perspiring heavily
(Continued next Sunday)