Colonel Gwynn didn't have a son, Alenna Gwynn didn't have a mother. When Alenna was nine, her mother went out, as so many fathers have, for a quart of milk and never came back. The Colonel was left with an active and sporty older daughter, and a younger daughter with Fragile X syndrome whom he sometimes perhaps raised with a sensitivity of a father accustomed to orders being followed.
1 in every 8000 females suffer from Fragile X, 1 in 3 of those suffer from autistic symptoms and Susanna Gwynn did not speak a word until she was nine herself. Even now that she was twelve, the only person in the world to whom she spoke with elementary freedom was Alenna, whom to Susanna was kind, and patient, and understanding and saintly, the mother to her sister which the Colonel always pined for Linda to have been.
Linda Gwynn did not simply leave her family, or rather, she did not simply leave. One day, Linda was waiting for him in their Moabit home, the Colonel wondering as he often did why she was answering questions so monosyllabically, the next she was missing, and the day after that, and the day after and all the days that followed. The Colonel, stationed at Checkpoint Charlie, consulted the Berliner Polizei, who showed him every dead body in the West Berlin morgues for a year, he consulted the Bundespolizei who checked the records of flights and car rentals. And when a detective in the morgue told him that for a price, he could consult a few members of the Stazi in the East, he simply asked how much and had no worry of how it might effect his career were he caught. He worked with three different Stazi officers, and when the wall came down the next year and a panic attack on the job caused him to be ordered home, three Stazi detectives in person became six overtrained intelligence experts by phone, who had a lot less to do and technically came a lot cheaper. The Colonel spent three hours every day on the phone checking every possible lead for five years. It was only three months ago that the Colonel finally heeded the advice Detective Schiff gave him on their first meeting in an abandoned warehouse in Kreuzberg which is now a Michelin-starred restaurant. On that below-zero early February morning of 1989, Detective Schiff, then Oberstlutnant Schiff, seemed as direct as he could possibly be, and therefore earned the Colonel's trust immediately. The search was unlikely to find anything at all. Linda, regardless of how or why she disappeared, could long since have been anywhere in the world. However, a search that encompassed the world would at least raise the possibility of discovering Linda.
"Then we will search the world,"
Linda Gwynn was both and neither alive and/nor dead. If she was alive, perhaps he could, after all make her listen to reason and compel her to be the mother she always should have been. If she was dead, well, it was at least a bit of certainty. And for five years and change, the Colonel had sent his detectives everywhere on cheap Eastern European airlines to chase any possible lead they found, each of which came with an expense account for the detectives of the most possible to be afforded by a man whom when he enlisted lived in the Gwynn homestead on a Montana dirt road.
The Colonel was a responsible man, who