The operator didn't sound very concerned. "Have you checked the hospitals and jails?" he asked. To Tom, the operator seemed cold, as if he was reading a script. Tom didn't want to answer as his anger was rising.
"Yes, of course, I checked the hospitals," he finally spat out. "And the State Patrol. Those were the first calls I made! I haven't checked the jails but, if my wife was in jail, she would've called me for bail money. My wife's not in jail. She's never been in trouble. The only contact she's had with the police is being stopped for speeding!"
Tom's helplessness was making his hostility rise. He had to work to hold it back as he spoke with the operator and it took more patience than he knew he had.
"You can't file a report until you have checked all the jails," the operator insisted. "So, I need you to do that and then call back." With that, the operator hung up.
Tom was furious, but he used the energy to do what he needed to do. He ran upstairs and got on the Internet, to search for phone numbers for the jails. On the websites, he found out that he could conduct a prisoner search online. He checked all the jails' records for any record of "Tanya Rider." Over and over, from every jail, the result was the same: "NO RECORD FOUND."
Trying for the second time to report Tanya's disappearance to the King County Police, Tom punched the numbers 911 in his phone again. As it rang on the other end, he yelled at his handset, "Why won't you just do your job and file a report so we can start searching for my wife?" All he wanted was for them to start looking for Tanya! As the stress tore at his sanity, he felt himself losing control. He felt his old self coming back—the angry man he used to be, before Tanya. He didn't want to be that guy again but why, he wondered, were they were making such a simple task so damned difficult? The operator answered. "911 what are you reporting?"
"I called earlier," Tom said, sucking in a measure of calmness and patience. "My wife is missing. I called all the hospitals, the jails, the morgue, the State Patrol. No one has any information on her. She is missing.
"Okay, have you called her friends and family?"
What the hell? Tom thought. Every damned time I call, they come up with something else for me to do! Would it kill them to tell me all of this the first time I call? But he didn't say it. He kept it in, sucked in yet another breath and gathered his patience. "She doesn't really have any friends," he said. "And she doesn't talk to her family."
"I can't file a report until you check with her family," said the operator. "She's an adult, and she can go where she wants." "So you're telling because she's an adult she has the right to die?"
"Call back after you check with her family," the operator instructed. "Goodbye," he added, before the line went dead.
My phone rings again. It stops. It rings. It stops. I want to answer. Oh, God, I want to answer! Come and help me! Come and find me and free me from this hell! I cry, but no tears come.
I want this nightmare to end, just end—quickly end. I think about my mortality. How long will I have to wait until death claims me? When will I finally die and be spared from this hell?
Tom called Tanya's family and found out that, just as he had suspected, they hadn't spoken in a long time. Again, he punched the numbers into the phone.
"911, what are you reporting?"