April 1, 1994 –Los Angeles, CA
“I wish I knew what he was fucking up to!” Charity Ball fumed. “He hasn’t called back since Wednesday. It’s not like him to keep secrets from me.”
“Maybe he just doesn’t want to piss you off,” said the husky female voice on the other end of the phone. It was Kaylen, the bass player.
“That’s what worries me,” Charity grated. Being worried made her angry, so she generally tried not to worry. But it was too late for that now. Worry coursed through her veins like amphetamine. “If he’s afraid I’m going to be pissed, then whatever he’s doing, it can’t be a good idea.”
“Well, what can you do? Did he tell you where he was?”
“No, he did not. He was furious that I cut off his funds, I can tell you that.”
“Luke, furious? I’d pay good money just to hear him yell at you.”
“Oh, he didn’t yell, he never does. But I could tell. When I didn’t offer to wire him the money, he made a sarcastic remark. Send me some cash by homing pigeon, it’ll get here faster, something like that.”
“Oooh, sting. And then what? Did he hang up on you?”
“No, of course not. He went on kissing my ass. You know how much I love you. You’re my everything, Boo, you and the kids.”
“Awww. He’s so sweet!” Kaylen cooed.
“That fucking bastard!” Charity burst out. Hot tears assaulted her mascara and escaped, leaving sooty tracks on their way to her chin. “Why is he being so secretive?”
“He’s hiding from you, because he’s ashamed,” the bassist pointed out.
“You’re right. He doesn’t trust me anymore. I wish I’d never organized that stupid intervention!”
“Well you were just trying to save his goddamn life, Charity. If that annoys him, too bad.”
“Yeah well, I just hope it worked. Hey, I’ve got another call coming in, I have to take it. Thanks for helping me get through this, Kay. See you at the studio tomorrow?”
“You got it.”
Charity pressed a button on the cordless phone twice, beep beep, and managed to switch to the other line. “Hello?” she said.
“Mrs. Mandrake? This is Michael from Potamic Bank.”
“Hi Michael, what’s up?”
“I’m just calling to let you know that there was some activity on your husband’s credit card account. Someone tried to cash advance two thousand dollars at an ATM at five-sixteen this morning.”
Relief flooded Charity’s body like an intravenous dose of opiates. He’s alive. “Can you tell me where the transaction occurred?” she asked quickly.
“The transaction was refused, Mrs. Mandrake, as per your instructions.”
“Of course, but what was the location?” Where is he?
“We don’t track that information, Mrs. Mandrake. Not with credit cards. It’s a matter of privacy regulations.”
What the fuck? Charity had to school herself to keep from shouting at the man. “The information has to be in the system somewhere.” Her anxiety level was rocketing skyward again.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Mandrake. It’s not.”
Charity inhaled deeply, counting silently to ten. Finally she spoke. “Thank you for your call, Michael. I’d appreciate it if you’d keep me informed of any future activity on the account. And if there’s any way at all you can find out the locations of the recent transaction attempts, please inform me.” That information could literally save Luke’s life right now.
“I do apologize, Mrs. Mandrake. I’ll certainly keep you informed if and when we have any additional information. And if you have any questions, just call the Corporate Office and ask for me.”
“Thanks, I’ll do that.” Charity clicked off the phone and sat numbly on the couch for several minutes. She was thinking about the bank transaction. Why would Luke try again, knowing that she had put a hold on the account? Maybe somebody else was using the card.
Luke had been on the lam for days now, and she just knew he was using again. The period right after rehab was incredibly dangerous: that’s when tolerance was lowest, that’s when a fatal overdose was most likely. And he always went too far.
She didn’t want to involve the police in this if she could help it, but she had to find Luke as quickly as possible. She needed to hire a professional.
She walked into the kitchen, and grabbed the phone book from the top of the fridge. She opened it and leafed to the listings for private investigators. She picked up the cordless, and dialed.