The uniformed guys downstairs had drawn lots to see who got stuck informing the next of kin, and since that time, speculation on the disappearance of Jeffrey Byrne had been the chief topic of conversation at the Parkside Police Department.
Jeffrey Byrne, age 38, of 156 Maid Marian Lane, Parkside, apparently drowned in the early morning hours of Tuesday, May fourth while on a business trip in Norfolk, Virginia.
Jeffrey Byrne was employed in a regional marketing position by The World Wide Insurance Company of Philadelphia.
Jeffrey Byrne had telephoned home in early evening, his usual practice when he was traveling on business trips.
Jeffrey Byrne asked about Randy's ball game and inquired about the mail.
There was far more to learn about Jeffrey Byrne before he could report an informed opinion on the happenings in Norfolk two nights earlier.
Mayer's telephone rang and he excused himself to answer it, leaving Dean at Jeffrey Byrne's grey steel desk.
It was beginning to look more as if Jeffrey Byrne pulled a stupid stunt after a few too many drinks in a lonely motel, leaving a widow and a teenaged son to fend for themselves.
He ticked off the items he had learned about Jeffrey Byrne during the course of the day, as much for his own review as to answer Fred's rapid-fire questions.
The job evaluations of Jeffrey Byrne in the personnel file surprised Dean, as they were considerably more glowing than the picture Mayer had painted of the missing man.
When Dean described Jeffrey Byrne's quiet life style, Hunter nodded in agreement.
They had vaguely remembered Jeffrey Byrne from his repeat trips, but Byrne hadn't made much of an impression on anyone.
Hunter opened the drape, painting Jeffrey Byrne's sparse belongings in early afternoon sunlight.
Only 'St. Jeffrey,' Dean commented.
Before leaving, Hunter showed Dean the beach across the road where it was presumed Jeffrey Byrne took his last steps on land.
Dean was sure Fred simply wanted to meet Jeffrey Byrne's wife and had suggested Cynthia Byrne come by the house for her husband's belongings.
Dean ignored his stepfather and instead pointed out Jeffrey Byrne's belongings and suggested Mrs. Byrne might want to check them over before signing a receipt.
There was total absence of mention of the disappearance of Jeffrey Byrne, Dean's trip to Norfolk, or any real-life matters for the entire evening.
As Dean drove away from Maid Marian Lane, he made up his mind to find out if the world had put a crown on Saint Jeffrey a little prematurely.
Why wait to find out about Jeffrey Byrne's little escapade?
Dean could not tell from the writing if it compared to the signature Jeffrey Byrne left on the many expense forms Dean had reviewed—it was only a scrawl.
Like maybe Jeffrey Byrne was just stupid enough to drown himself—half-drunk or sober.
They reminded Dean of Jeffrey Byrne, doing the same thing a week earlier.
Forget Jeffrey Byrne and forget his grieving wife.
Dean spent most of the evening flipping through TV channels, but as none of the inane programs held even minimal interest, he took out his voice recorder and began summarizing his notes for the detailed report on Jeffrey Byrne, adding as much minutia as he could muster, as Cynthia Byrne had requested.
The report methodically listed each person interviewed and what they said about Jeffrey Byrne.
He included a picture of Jeffrey Byrne, recently forwarded from World Wide's personnel department.
When he replayed his dictated first draft, the report seemed dry but the evidence produced an overwhelming endorsement that there was no logical reason why Jeffrey Byrne might skip.
Dean was knee-deep in a dream, trying to pull his Visa card away from Jeffrey Byrne, who was sitting on a cloud playing a harp, when his bedroom was suddenly filled with light.
Jeffrey Byrne spent Tuesday and Wednesday in early March in Scranton.
Remember, Mrs. Byrne said Jeffrey wasn't much of a drinker.
If you're an honest, law-abiding guy, like everyone says Jeffrey Byrne was or is, why don't you just turn it in to the closest police station?
Dean wished he'd brought the picture of Jeffrey Byrne that World Wide had recently sent but it remained in the case file at the office.
Dean introduced himself and told her he was interested in discussing Jeffrey Byrne.
"Jeffrey Byrne was..." he hesitated, "...a friend of yours?"
He saw you and Jeffrey Byrne having lunch.
Tell me about Jeffrey Byrne.
They're holding a memorial service for Jeffrey Byrne next week.
Once again there was no evidence to make Jeffrey Byrne's death anything but an accidental drowning.
The photograph of Jeffrey Byrne he'd mailed to Chip Burgess in Scranton yesterday had been unnecessary.
Jeffrey Byrne had finally put it all to rest by making his appearance on the incoming tide.
But it wasn't Jeffrey Byrne.
What in God's name ever made anyone think this tub of blubber was Jeffrey Byrne?
It would have been much more convenient if the customer under the sheet had been Jeffrey Byrne.
Jeffrey would want that.
The ghost of Jeffrey Byrne, who had spent his final hours in the same dining room, was nowhere in evidence.
Dean knew if he were honest with himself he'd admit he was tickled pink during those few hours that it appeared Jeffrey Byrne's body had been found.
Had Jeffrey Byrne skipped or drowned?
As long as there wasn't a body, Dean could never be sure Jeffrey Byrne wouldn't jump out of the past and yell, "April Fool!" dragging Cynthia Byrne back to home and hearth.
With each passing day the possibility that Jeffrey Byrne's corpse might not be found became more realistic.