Thursday, October 20, 2005

A Missing Person

The caller-id display function is probably the best telephony innovation of the past decade or so. Vetting calls from undesirables before you answer them suits me perfectly - stalkers can be kept at bay as can unpleasant calls from the tax office and any others who may be chasing me for money. My vetting process tends to allocate a blanket ban on accepting calls where caller-id is not displayed.

I'd told stalker A that I'd be in Nottingham two weekends ago, my first weekend back after almost 2 months away, and that I'd meet him for a drink on the Saturday evening. Once he heard that he'd be seeing me, I'd been flooded with calls and messages suggesting all manner of things we could get up to over the weekend. These were studiously ignored so on getting a call on Saturday morning with no caller-id, I assumed that it would be him as past behaviour had shown him to be a wily (deceitful?) character when trying to discern my whereabouts/actions/thoughts/etc. I didn't bother to listen to the voicemail after it arrived as I'd only gone to bed at 6am and the thought of his wheedling wasn't pleasant. Two more calls arrived within the next hour or so and I eventually listened to the messages.

'Good afternoon, sir, this is Detective Sergeant P of the Sheffield police. There is nothing to worry about but we're concerned about a friend of yours and would appreciate your contacting us.'

That caused a rapid clearing of my fuzziness and I got ready to return the call. The first (and only) person that I thought he could be referring to was K, he of the dissipated demeanour. Having seen his drinking habits and heard from colleagues that he'd been mugged several times here in Northampton, he seemed like a prime candidate for landing up in some sort of trouble.

A very pleasant policeman explained that a certain P.H. had gone missing and that they were trying to find out when he'd last been seen by going through the phone numbers on his mobile.

Did I know P.H?

So I hadn't seen him recently?

Had I lived in Newcastle about 2 years ago?

Although he was from Sheffield, he had worked in Newcastle then. Perhaps that explained the connection?

He had a good friend E. Does that still not ring any bells?

Ok, so it wasn't K. And, yes, it could have been a work connection but the mention of a 'good friend' pointed to some gay connection of mine. The name really didn't mean anything to me but I've been relatively liberal at handing out my number to people I meet online or at bars and clubs. And although it's conceivable that I'd slept with him and forgotten his name, I tend to remember people's names even if they are passing ships in the night. If the policeman had just said his first name and described him, I'd probably have remembered if he'd been a shag or not. A surname is such extraneous information in such circumstances - of absolutely no help at all!

The policeman thanked me for my time and asked me to ring back if I happened to recall any information about the missing man. The whole episode was mildly disconcerting. The man had obviously disappeared under suspicious circumstances and all possible contacts were being contacted for information. I wondered if he was dead, kidnapped or injured. I wondered if he'd deliberately disappeared. Had he been attacked by a stranger in a cruising spot? Or by homophobic thugs in a dark spot?

In an odd, warped way, I almost wished I'd recognised the name as it would have made the story more personal and interesting. No, I wouldn't actually wish that on anyone I knew!

I'd almost forgotten the whole episode by Monday when I got another voicemail from the Sheffield police. Did they doubt my story? No, it was a different policeman this time, asking the same questions - he had no record of the fact that I'd already been contacted.

I gave him the same answers and have heard nothing since.


Blogger andrea said...

We call it "call display" here (in this part of Canada anyway) and I would never be without it now! I can't tell you how many boring conversations (monologues) I've dodged among other things. Nothing quite like this, though.

6:56 pm  
Blogger ChittyChittyBangBang! said...

There's something dodgy about the police in the missing person saga and I'd be wary if I were you.
Caller ID is great isn't it? Someone calls me and I don't know who it is... I forward you straight to my voicemail. Spill your guts to the "machine", the chitster's not listening.

10:18 am  

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