Now Ricky knows I'm not into women. He's living proof of that. But when I told him about Ms Engel I swear he turned a pale shade of green and it wasn't a good color on him. Okay, just figuratively speaking of course, but still…
To backtrack a bit, Ricky Hayes is my boyfriend/lover/partner. All three describe him. We've been together for six years and counting and I finally decided it was safe for us to live together. Not that I didn't always want us to, but I'm a private investigator and sometimes I run into problems of the physical kind. Like with the last case I had. I got beat up and shot while trying to find out who was behind the theft of a rare and valuable item. The only reason that's relevant is because I worry that someone coming after me might use him to get to me. That made sense to me, but not to him. As he often pointed out—it's not like we kept our relationship a secret.
Anyway, the day after I closed the theft case, and not more than an hour after I'd finally asked Ricky to move in with me, I got a new client. Her name was Coleen Engel, and she said, as I escorted her into my office, "I have a big problem, Mr Murphy. I hope you can help me. I need to find my son."
After she sat down in the client's chair by my desk I asked her to explain.
"To begin with you should know I'm forty-two and unmarried. Always have been. Well unmarried that is." She smiled slightly before continuing. "That doesn't mean I never got involved with men. I happen to like men, Walt. A lot." She paused, just looking at me, and I suddenly got that she was speculating about me at that moment. "May I call you Walt?"
"Yep." I gave a sharp nod. Then I said, wanting to get her back on track, "I take it that somewhere along the line you got pregnant."
"Got it in one," she replied. "I was nineteen and had just started school at Chathington College. I'll admit it, I was far from innocent even then, but I thought getting pregnant could never happen to me because I was careful. Even back then I made sure the guys used condoms. Then"—she grimaced—"I fell in love. Or I thought I was and I thought he loved me. I'm sure you're experienced enough to know how that goes. Meet a man, or in your case a woman, who rings the right bells and you'd do anything for them."
I let that stand as she'd said it, and just nodded so she continued.
"Anyway, long story short, he said I should get on the pill so he didn't have to use rubbers." She shook her head. "Timing is everything and we were young and horny. I think you can figure it out from there."
"You got pregnant before the pill took hold."
"Yes, and before you ask, I thought it was great. Him, me, baby, marriage, family. Talk about starry-eyed innocence. I might not have been a virgin when I met him, but I was more than willing make him the only man in my life from then on. For a while things were good. He was shocked, but once he got past that he acted as if he'd step up to the plate and do the right thing."
"But?" I said, knowing there had to be one if she wanted me to find her son.
"His family had other ideas. They refused to pay his tuition unless he walked away and transferred to a different school. I was six months along at that point, it was the end of our freshman semester, and… he left." She sighed deeply, looking at me with large, teary blue eyes. "I had the baby and two days later put him up for adoption."
"That has to have been hard."
"Very. But what choice did I have? I had no intention of dropping out of school to raise a kid and for damned sure I wasn't going to put that burden on my parents."