Fenton Baumgardner was nodding off in front of his office computer when the phone rang. He snapped awake and accidentally typed “jfwoi” at the end of his sentence.
It was 3 a.m. The offices of the Dripping Springs News-Dispatch were closed, so the switchboard should have sent a call to voicemail. He grimaced and grabbed the receiver, annoyed at the interruption.
“I have a secret I need to tell,” whispered the voice on the phone, barely audible.
Fenton’s journalistic training took control. “Go ahead,” he said, grabbing a pencil.
There was a pause before the voice continued. It sounded like an older woman, but it was so faint, it was hard to tell.
“A man is missing.”
“A missing person?”
“A prominent local figure. His loved ones have not heard from him in weeks.”
“Who is this man?”
“He was the loving son of two proud parents who miss him very much.”
“Mom? Is that you?”
Her voice suddenly rose, booming out of the phone. “Would it kill you to call once and a while? Honestly, Fen. It’s like we don’t exist to you.”