"Monte, this is beautiful!" Jon Saunders had exclaimed after opening the gaily wrapped birthday present. He had pranced around the living room showing off the watch she had bought for him Then he had come home after a week on the road and said sadly, "Someone stole my watch right out of my car. I had stopped for a sandwich and had left it on the console."
"Jon," I had asked, "did you have the doors locked?" And looking sheepish he admitted he had forgotten.
Resuming her task downstairs looking through his things, she found the third box was full of more junk. Finally at the bottom of the fourth one she found a briefcase. It was brown and old, and the handle was missing.
Monte pushed her hair out of her eyes. Just then the phone rang upstairs causing her to jump in surprise.
Maybe its Jon! She though guiltily, what will I say? It was raining hard as she ran up the stairs.
"Monte," her friend's voice had come over the crackling line. "Do you want to get together this afternoon?"
"I can't Rica, I'm sorry. Listen, I'm right in the middle of something," she said breathlessly, trying to hide the anxiety in her voice.
"Well, what are you doing?" Rica persisted in her inquisitive way. They were close friends but Monte had not told her anything about her and Jon's plans. But now, feeling alone and scared, she blurted out the whole story.
"You what? Jesus Monte, you mean you gave Jon ten thousand dollars?" Her friend shrieked.
"Rica I did. It was three weeks ago." Monte confessed. He had a short trip to the Dakotas to take care off and then should have gotten back here but I haven't heard from him since." Monte was crying now.
"What the hell are you going to do?" Rica asked.
"I went to see an attorney this morning," she said and wiped her eyes. "He asked, if Jon had left anything here and right now I'm looking through some boxes he must have forgotten about."
"Oh lord, Monte, you've got to call the police!"
"I guess, I don't know what else to do."
"Monte," Rica had said hesitating. "Listen, Steve and I were talking about him just last week and I've got to tell you this. He ran into Jon last week in a restaurant in Chicago." And pausing Rica said, "Monte, he was with a woman!"
Monte's stomach lurched, her heart skipped a beat as she proclaimed, "In Chicago? No, it couldn't have been him!
"I know, that's what I said too, but Steve saw him! Monte, I know its too late to say anything now, but I've always felt uneasy around Jon. I'm sorry."
"Rica, I'll call you back later." And she ran back down the basement stairs. Her hands flew through the contents of the briefcase. There were files, papers, reciepts, and letters addressed to different people. Then something else caught her eye, a black billfold, bulging with cards. Gathering everything she ran back up the stairs as another clap of thunder shook the small house.