The diner fell silent.
“There’s an elephant in the diner.” Gene spoke loudly in response to Jason’s loud challenge.
“What makes you say that?” Winona asked in an equally loud tone.
“I can see its footprints in the butter.” Gene hoped that the old joke would set everyone at ease.
Winona laughed, as did those in nearby booths. The laughter travelled and before long the diner was back to its noisy self. She smiled at Jason and touched his hand before answering his demand, “that’s what I’m here for.”
Jason smiled back at her. There was a sense of purpose in her voice. He liked her voice; there was lilt to it that had a calming effect on him. He began to notice other things about her. the fullness of her lips, the line of her nose, the color of her eyes. a change in the tone of her voice jolted him back to the matter at hand.
Winona opened her large handbag and removed a file folder. She pulled out two photos and placed them on the table . “Take a look at these,” Winona said as she slid the pictures over to Jason . “Do you recognise either of these women?”
Jason took a close look at the photos and poked at one of them. “That’s the woman I found on the beach,” he said as he slid it back towards Winona.
“Are you sure?” Winona asked Jason while she showed the photo to Detective Conrad.
“Yeah, that’s her,” Gene replied while Jason nodded in agreement.
Winona rearranged her two photos with the one Jason had chosen on the left. She turned to Gene and asked, “Did you bring the file that our crime lab sent to you?”
Gene pulled the envelope out from his coat and handed the file to Winona. He and Jason watched with keen interest as she placed the photo of yet another woman on the table to the left of those already there. “This is the photo the lab sent to you?” she asked while pointing to the new addition. Gene nodded yes. “And this is the photo of the woman you found on the beach?” she said while pointing to the middle photo. Both men nodded in the affirmative.
“So who’s this one?” Gene asked while tapping the far right photo with his index finger.
“That’s the photo being circulated on the internet.” Winona pointed again to the middle photo, “and this is the one from the original case file on the woman who disappeared in Barbados.”
“Why is someone trying to hide that? Who was she? I mean, what so special about her that someone would bother to kidnap her? And how did she end up on my beach?” Detective Conrad started to rummage through the files, looking for a useful clue and discovered nothing that made any sense to him.
“Let me have a look at those files,” Jason hoped his fresh untrained eyes might spot something the experts would have overlooked. They did, but he wasn’t ready to share. He packed up the files and handed them back to their respective owners. “Now what? Do we give up or keep digging?”