All The Hidden Pieces(10)

By: Jillian Thomadsen

Greta, on the other hand, would have to sit back and trust that things would work themselves out over time. Meanwhile…her child whose report card said he could read was unable to figure out a two-letter word.

Chapter Five

September 15, 2017

Griffin Brock was a commanding presence. Six-feet six inches tall, wide shoulders, and a bristle of gelled black hair only starting to recede. He stood at the counter of the Vetta Park Police Station as though he belonged there – seeming completely unfazed by the bustle of police activity, the handcuffed transient sitting on a metal chair, the buzz of police radios that officers wore on their hips as they brushed by him.

Detective Hobbs walked over and claimed him. “Mr. Griffin Brock?” she asked. Griffin was the only person in the waiting area wearing a suit – the only one with expensive leather shoes and a clean shave. In the mid-September heat, when the waiting room’s ancient AC unit was sputtering and stammering, Griffin Brock was the only one not breaking a sweat.

“Did you find the station okay?” Hobbs asked conversationally, as she led him down a hallway and into a conference room. Everything about the room was bare: white walls, white table with wood-colored folding chairs and an uncovered white light bulb dangling inches from the ceiling.

“I got here fine,” he answered curtly as he assumed a seat. He moved as though he’d been through the motions before – or at least seen enough of it on TV that he didn’t need to be coached through the gestures. When Hobbs took a seat across from him, he sighed, looked pointedly at his watch and then leaned back in his chair.

“Are you aware of why we asked you to come in?” Hobbs asked.

“You told me over the phone,” he said in an irritated voice. “My ex-wife and her family took off.”

“Do you know anything about their disappearance?” Hobbs asked.

“No, I do not. If I knew anything, I would’ve said something over the phone. You think I want to be brought in here in the middle of the day on a Friday? I had to rearrange meetings, reschedule conference calls. I’ve already told you everything I know.” Griffin folded his arms across his chest and glared at her.

“Are you concerned about your ex-wife?” Hobbs asked.

“Concerned how?”

“Are you concerned about her safety? And concerned about the safety of John, your son?” Hobbs lingered on the words your son for a few extra beats, hoping to shake some paternal obligation from his seeping self-importance.

“No I’m not concerned, Detective. Greta always had a flair for the dramatic. I’m not at all surprised that they just took off this way. It would have been courteous for them to let someone know they were taking a trip but I don’t think courtesy is a characteristic Greta is familiar with.”

“I see,” Hobbs said, peering down at her notes. Griffin was obviously irritated but she tried to gauge whether he was merely annoyed with his ex-wife or if there was a more pernicious rage lingering underneath. She decided to start from the beginning of their story.

“How did you meet Greta?” Hobbs asked.

“She was my waitress at this diner I used to go to. I was an undergraduate at Wash U in St. Louis. She was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen, and one day when she was serving me toast, I asked her out.”

“Was she a student there too?”

“No. She never finished high school.”

“How would you describe your marriage?”

“We had fights, like any couple. We had a lot of fights – especially as Johnny got older.”

“What were the fights about?”

Griffin glowered at her but answered her question. “Money…and Johnny. Like I said, Greta could be very dramatic at times. She always thought something was wrong with the kid when he was just fine. Drove me crazy.”

“Were your fights ever violent?” Hobbs asked. She and Martinez had pored through the police records earlier in the day and there was no record on file of domestic assault…but Hobbs was as certain as ever that she’d interacted with Greta in the past and maybe an unreported crime had something to do with it.

Griffin clasped his hands together and looked straight at at her. “No,” he said. “It wasn’t violent.”