Where the Heart Leads, Part 1

[Something a little different and fun today, using the Writing Prompt Generator from The Story Shack to set the parameters for today’s flash fiction story. I’m going to cheat on the word count — the story is supposed to be no more than 300 words, but I’m going to write this in 300-word installments.]

Jonas Haart kissed his wife Clara, walked into his garage, reversed his car into his subdivision… and had not been seen since that morning three years ago.

A week after Clara notified the police, his car was found in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart 217 miles to the south. The vehicle was undamaged, and a forensic scan only uncovered DNA evidence from Jonas and his wife. There hadn’t been, and would not ever be, charges on any of his credit cards, or withdrawals from his sizable bank or investment accounts.

Frustrated by the police’s seeming disinterest in her husband’s disappearance, Clara hired Micky Waldenburg. The private investigator reviewed hours of security camera videos, and interviewed gas station attendants within a hundred mile radius (the car’s tank was nearly full), but when Micky became as befuddled as the police, he returned Clara’s money along with an apology.

But he never forgot the case.

And two years later, a lead had fallen into his lap.

A violent rainstorm unearthed debris from ditches along the interstate, and among the detritus was a five gallon metal fuel can, with a gallon of stale automobile gas at its bottom. A county worker picked it up and contacted the police, but when they showed no interest he called in a favor from a friend in the forensics lab.

When his lab friend told reported whose fingerprints were found on the can, the worker called his uncle Micky, who nearly dropped his phone when he heard his nephew say, “Jonas Haart.”

Using the can’s manufacturer and model, Micky traced its sale to a Home Depot a few miles from Haart’s home. It had been purchased not by Haart, but rather an elderly man who now lived in Mesa, Arizona.

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