Back in those days being gay and missing meant one of two things, you were either dead from a drug overdose or you were dead from the gay bashers. I reported him missing after not seeing him for 13 hours and 2 seconds.

I took the metro down to the police station where half the lights were off and only two cops remain in the back eating Chinese takeout. The short one saw me and walked to the front desk, the tall one followed.

"How can I help you?"

"I need to report a missing person." I said with some urgency.

The tall one brought over a notepad and asked me to fill in a form. I was asked to write down the details of everything I had remembered from earlier that day; he went to work early that morning and told me he'll be back early since we had tickets for a comedy event at night.

"What's you name?" The short cop asked.

"Ari Stein." I answered.

"Have you contacted the missing person's friends, coworkers, and family?

"He is an orphan but I had called his friends and office. Everyone I talked to said he hadn't been seen since last night. He didn't call in sick for work either. I'm probably the last person to have seen him."

"What's your relationship with—" The tall cop glanced down at the form I had filled out. "Mr Michael Unglas?"

"I'm a close friend." That was the way we always introduced each other to semi-strangers.

"Mr. Stein, when did you say you were supposed to meet?"

I counted the minutes mentally. "Four hours and thirty four minutes ago at 6 pm sharp." There was a pause.

"Well, I'd say you should wait for him a while longer." Short cop said. "Maybe he's stuck in traffic."

"He's never late and he would have called if he were running late. In all my time knowing him, he's never been late."

"There's surely a first time for everything."

"Look, it's extremely out of character for Michael to be late for even one minute much less four hours."

"Are you aware of his financial situation or if he is possibly involved in any criminal activity?"

"Michael doesn't have any debts or owe anyone anything. He's had a stable job at the Burshun law firm since he's graduated from law school."

"Here's what we can do, son. Let's wait till tomorrow morning and see if there are any calls. Right now, you seem to be the last person who has seen him." Short cop said. The phone rang somewhere in the back of the station. The tall cop disappeared to answer it.

"Hey, we have another call at 43rd street." Tall cop said and handed short cop his walkie-talkie. "Look kid, wait a little longer and see if he shows up. These things often turn out to be false alarms."

"Officer, please listen to me office. Michael might be in serious danger, we have to do something!"

The cops looked at me blankly. I was brimming with frustration and impatience. Seeing that they were not going to do anything else to help, I muttered quick thanks and walked out of the station.

The street lights were being lighted in the orange hued city. I walked down the block to the bar Michael and I often went. The bar tender, Pat, smiled when he saw me.

"Where's Michael?" He greeted.

"I just came from the police station to report him missing. I was wondering if you saw him around."

Pat shook his head. I buried my head in my hands and wished that this was a bad dream that will be over soon.

"Can you please call me if you see him around?" I handed him my name card. "This is my phone number. Please let me know if you see him."

Pat furrowed his brows. "How long has he been missing for?"

"Four hour. The cops think I'm overreacting, but you know Michael and how he is with time. I've called everyone Michael knows and I seem to be the last person to have seen him today. He didn't show up for work or call in for the day off."

"Ari," The bartender patted me on the shoulder. "I'll ask around and let you know if I have any information. Don't worry, Michael's a logical person. Nothing bad could have happened."

"Thanks, I gotta go check the docks and parks. Thanks Pat."

I left the bar and headed in the direction of the Crystal Park which ran parallel to the beach. There were still vendors selling scallops on their boats by the docks. This was another are Michael and I often frequented. I wasn't on name to name bases with the vendors but I came to night market often enough that they knew my face.

"Hi, I was wondering if you have seen this man around here tonight." I took out Michael's picture from my wallet and asked a familiar looking vendor who was cleaning his ship with his wife. The man looked at the picture. "I'm his friend and we were supposed to meet four hours ago but he hasn't shown up."

"Sorry, I don't remember seeing him." The man shrugged and continued his work

I repeated the same thing with a few other vendors but got similar reactions from each of them. By 2 am, I had thoroughly combed the beach and headed back home defeated and hoping that there'll be a message on the answering machine. I was too scared or pessimistic to hope that Michael will be waiting on the couch for me.

Everything in our place was the same as I had left it and there was no sign that Michael had come back at all.

I collapsed on the sofa and pinched myself hard on the thigh. I wasn't waking up. I got up for the kitchen to make a pot of coffee.

To my surprise, there was a note on top of the coffee machine.


I'll be gone for awhile. I wish I can tell you everything. I'm sorry.

I love you forever,