“Yes, a few. Sometimes it can be good news, sometimes it’s simply tragic. There’s nothing worse than having a family member disappear off the face of the earth…the despair of not knowing eats away at the family forever.”
“Had any cases where you were particularly pleased you were involved?”
Nigel stopped walking and stared straight ahead. “Yeah, a case involving a little boy. We found him, dehydrated, weak, disoriented, scratched up but otherwise safe. He’d wandered a couple of miles from home. It was a fenced yard and the parents went into the house for a couple of minutes to bring refreshments out and by the time they’d returned, he was gone. We discovered a very small hole in the hedge dividing their property from the neighbours and he’d managed to squeeze through and escape.”
“What made that case so special?”
“The parents had adopted, unable to have their own kids and they loved that little boy and it showed. They were completely devastated and grateful he was found safe and unharmed. It was very rewarding.”
“I guess that means there have been others that weren’t as rewarding? How do you handle those?”
“Sometimes your all isn’t enough and you have to accept that. Getting hung up on the what-if scenario will wear you down because there aren’t any clear answers…what if the elements weren’t so bad that day or what if the persons’ choices had been different or what if they weren’t disoriented or confused; there are always a number of factors that play into the outcome. A seasoned hiker stands a much better chance of survival than someone who only thinks they’re prepared or say someone out on a jaunt, unfamiliar with the area or how to respond in an emergency situation, perhaps not equipped properly. Those incidents can carry an entirely different result.”
Several hours later, having hiked through dense mountainous terrain, the two sleuths stopped, taking a quick break before continuing. They’d examined every inch of the pathway since finding the boot print hoping to find another clue. So far, nothing. Although he wasn’t given to second-guessing himself, he had wondered if the boot print were a plant until he looked at the picture he’d taken with his cell. Right depth for a man walking, which to him at least, indicated it had been worn at the time the impression was left. He was sure Roland had managed to leave that print. That there was only one, his alone, worried Nigel.
They woke early, made coffee, ate snack bars and were on their way quickly. The sun’s dappled light shone through the dense forest and at times flashlights were required to pass through heavily shrouded areas. The companionable silence was pleasant to both.
“This must be heaven for you, the beauty here.” Nigel smiled.
“Yes. I keep reminding myself why I’m here because I want to stop and sketch much of what I see.”
“Hazard of being an artist?”
June smiled. “Yeah, it is. Even on the street, I’ll come across an interesting scene and immediately want to draw it so I can paint it later.”