Tom could hear and feel the rhythmic beating of his heart and the wild turbulence of his sleep-deprived mind, but the room was heavy with silence. He looked at the examiner.
"First question," he said. "When was the last time you saw your wife?"
Consumed with stress, Tom felt as if his body was pretty much shot. He wondered how his body would react to the strain of the questions, though Tom never hesitated with his answers. "It was Wednesday," he said. "In the morning before I took off for work. Tanya had the day off or, maybe, I should say the night off. She was still home when I left for work about five-thirty in the morning."
The examiner droned on about the upcoming question as Tom's mind continued to toss round his turbulent thoughts. Oh, God! his mind screamed in silence. Where is she? He prayed again, the same prayer he'd been praying for the past eight days: Lord if you can't keep her safe, then keep her with you. Let no harm take her from you. Let no wrong be done to her. Keep her in your grace. Again, the prayer sustained him, providing feelings of hope and peace.
"When you last saw your wife was she alright?" the examiner asked.
Tom felt a surge of anger, realizing that the police seemed far more interested in him than in his missing person—their victim. Tom looked at the examiner and sensed that the man expected the answer to be a lie. It must have been hard for him to understand that someone like Tanya could love someone like Tom. Of course, he couldn't comprehend it, Tom thought. I haven't even figured it out myself!
Tom never let his gaze leave the examiner's eyes and he never became nervous before answering. "Yes," he stated with confidence. He didn't even have to think.
At one-forty-five that afternoon, a search-and-rescue crew on case number 284580 drove to the Maple Valley area of Renton to look for a cell tower in the neighborhood of State Route 169 and Jones Road. This intersection just happened to be on Tanya's route home from work.
"Our latest information would be a three-to-five mile range southeast of the towers," the dispatcher told the rescue crew, Guardian One.
"Did you do anything to make her angry?" the examiner continued.
"No," Tom said. He tried to think of anything he might have done that rubbed her the wrong way but he came up empty. "I don't know," he said, expanding on his answer. "She's been angry at me about half the time we've been married and we've been together for a long time." He knew they wanted a yes or a no answer but the truth was that this was a grey area.
The examiner continued to ask the same question in several different ways, so Tom braced himself for the next variation on the theme.
"The last time you saw Tanya was she unharmed?"
"Yes," Tom answered.
"Have you ever hit your wife Tanya Rider?"
"What?" he seethed. "No!" He answered with a hint of attitude in his voice. Tom lost his patience and finally looked straight at the examiner. "Are these questions designed to make me angry while she's out there in God knows what condition?" he asked. "I think this is ridiculous."
"Easy, Tom" the examiner responded. "You have nothing to fear. Don't look at all the wires."
But Tom thought that it was next to impossible to ignore the mass of wires. He squirmed, although he'd done nothing wrong. The wires scared him.
"Ah, let's continue here, Tom," said the examiner. "We're almost done, I promise."
Tom doubted it.
"Did you do anything to hurt Tanya the last time you saw her?"