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Frank Roger
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MISSING

Frank Roger

 

“Mr. O’Keefe? Can I have a moment of your time?”

Timothy O’Keefe looked through the dirt-streaked window and saw that the man who had knocked at the door was a cop. This could not be good news. He realised his options were limited, opened the door and said:

“Morning, Officer. Do come in. What can I help you with?”

As the cop stepped inside, Timothy ordered his dog to lie down. “Quiet, Caesar,” he said authoritatively. He should try to keep the animal in check.

The cop’s eyes scanned his trailer, the dog, his few humble possessions. What was he looking for?

“Can I ask you a few questions?”

“No problem, Officer.”

“Didn’t you have a visitor here yesterday? A young woman?”

“Yes,” Timothy said. “A social worker came over to talk about a problem.”

“Tell me all about it.”

“She told me there had been complaints. Some people here can’t accept my way of life. I’m living a simple life here in my trailer, away from the rest of mankind. Caesar here is my only company. I’m a bit of a recluse, you might say. I don’t need much, I don’t ask anything from anyone, I mind my own business and I accept what nature offers me. It’s just that some guys consider part of nature as their property, and when I accept one of nature’s gifts, these guys claim that I stole what belongs to them. You might say there was a conflict of interest.”

“Yes, Mr. O’Keefe, I’m aware of your reputation. Did you and the social worker reach an agreement?”

“That’s one way of putting it. The matter has been straightened out. There should be no more problems.”

“What happened after your conversation? Did Miss Sanchez say or do anything special before she left?”

Timothy shook his head. Caesar got up and started sniffing at the cop’s boots. Timothy licked his lips and said: “All this talking makes me thirsty. Would you like a drink too? I’m afraid water is all I can offer you. And perhaps a little something to eat.”

He rummaged in one of his makeshift cupboards, produced two glasses, a jug of water, and a small plate with bits of food. Timothy downed his glass, the cop sipped from his but didn’t touch the ‘appetisers’. No doubt he wasn’t keen to expose himself to his guest’s gastronomic standards – or lack thereof.

“Miss Sanchez is missing since yesterday,” the cop finally explained. “We’re now talking to everyone she met then, hoping to find clues. You are among the last people who saw her. If there’s anything you know that might prove helpful, I’d like to hear it. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if some useful element crops up in your mind later on. We can use every lead.”

“I understand,” Timothy said. “I’m afraid I can’t help you.”

“Well, I have to go now. Thanks for your time.”

The cop scanned his trailer once more, as if expecting to discover Miss Sanchez’s body suddenly, neatly stacked away in one of the cupboards. Then he left and walked back to his car. Timothy threw the rest of the appetisers on the floor, where Caesar quickly gobbled them up.

He downed the cop’s glass of water too and shook his head. Weren’t the police supposed to find clues and track down missing persons? Apparently they weren’t all that good at their job. The cop hadn’t even recognised the bits of meat that were all that was left of miss Sanchez, and he’d had them right in front of him.

Fortunately this time Caesar had behaved himself. That hadn’t been the case when that young chick came over here. They had discussed the problem at hand, and then Miss Sanchez had made a move Caesar had misinterpreted. The dog, hungry and irritable, had sunk its teeth into her leg before he’d had the time to intervene, and she had screamed. Timothy had made sure the screaming stopped, which might have attracted some undesired attention. And as he and Caesar accepted what nature offered, and nature had been so kind as to offer Miss Sanchez… It had been a while since they had eaten some meat. She made a welcome change from the damned mushrooms and the fruit that he found (or “stole”). And it was amazing how much a hungry dog could wolf down. He had tossed the leftovers to the few stray dogs that were always around, and painstakingly removed all telltale traces. Timothy had eaten his share, but hadn’t kept too much aside – without a fridge that was rather pointless. Still, the cop had missed out on a rare treat.

He was glad that he hadn’t really lied to the cop. He had indeed reached a sort of agreement with the social worker, the matter had been straightened out and there would be no more problems. And there was nothing he could do to help. All his words exactly.

And the cop had no reason to complain. Those guys were tough and hard to stomach. Would he ever realise how lucky he was?

 


 

Frank Roger was born in 1957 in Ghent, Belgium (as Frank Roger Florimond De Cuyper).

He studied philology, majoring in English, at the University of Ghent, graduating in 1981 with a dissertation on Philip K. Dick.

His first story appeared In 1975 in Belgian magazine SF-Magazine, followed by many others, all signed Frank Roger, in a wide variety of Belgian and Dutch magazines and anthologies.

From the late eighties onwards, he also started writing in English and translating his work into French. Since then his stories appear in an increasing number of languages in all sorts of magazines, anthologies and other venues, and since 2000, story collections are published, also in various languages. Apart from fiction, he also produces collages and graphic work in a surrealist and satirical tradition.

By now he has more than 500 short story publications (including a few short novels) to his credit in 22 languages: Dutch, English (USA, UK, Ireland), German, Danish, Icelandic, Afrikaans, French, Spanish (Spain and Argentina), Portuguese, Greek, Romanian, Russian, Polish, Albanian, Lithuanian, Breton, Welsh, Finnish, Hungarian, Hebrew, Chinese and Esperanto. Everything seems to indicate that this list of publications and languages will grow even more impressive.

He was Guest of Honour at two science fiction conventions: LausitzCon 3 in Hoyerswerda (Germany), September-October 1995, and Distichon / Beneluxcon 26 in Blankenberge (Belgium), November 2004.

Critics describe his work as a blend of genres and styles: fantasy, satire, surrealism, science fiction and black humour, all constantly cross-pollinating each other.

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