William Fitzgerald and the 221 Gates

Six months after she disappeared, William Fitzgerald stumbled on the girl Colleen. It had been a busy six months, and productive – five divorces, two disownings, and a record seven suicides – but Colleen was always at the back of his mind. Not enough to distract him from his work, of course, but in his shriveled way William Fitzgerald felt the sting of his failure and found himself walking through the religious district most evenings, sourly searching the bright faces of the residents for a familiar one under short black hair.

It wasn’t her face that he found, but rather her back, crossing from one side of Hawthorn Street to the other. Her hair was longer and her body more filled out, but her back hadn’t changed. William Fitzgerald was waiting in the alley outside the Baker Theatre for the husband of his latest client, but without hesitation he began to follow after the girl. The husband would keep; even if he’d seen William Fitzgerald standing between the dumpsters with his biggest camera he wouldn’t have stayed away from the rusted door that led to the dressing rooms. Colleen was different. William Fitzgerald took her escape personally.

He followed her for half a mile and was standing close enough that he could have reached out and put his hand on the small of her back if he wanted to when the car pulled up to the curb. Three men with the word EMET written on their foreheads got out and pushed her into the back seat. Her face through the back window was calm and a little ironic as they drove away, leaving William Fitzgerald waiting on the corner.