Darla was sitting patiently in the hallway next to the staircase. She was waiting for Tim to finally finish getting ready, and she would always state that he was more obsessed over his image than he was over her. "Why don't you try looking at me for once?" was something she often stated in exasperation, but it was equal parts that and equal parts affection, and she knew that his vanity was actually something she admired, because it was not the result of him being materialistic, but him simply wanting to fit in, in a world that could make him feel self-conscious at times. Of course he did notice her as well, and she enjoyed saying such things just to be mischievous.
She stood up, now feeling quite impatient at the minutes that had gone by, and shouted up to Tim "If you don't hurry up we will be the last to arrive, and that's all your brother needs to dig into you all night". As if by the sheer force of those words Tim graced the top of the stairs, suited in grey, hair neatly arranged, with his lucky tie on. It was no surprise to Darla that he appeared right at the end of that statement, because it was perfectly true. Tim's brother Hal, was the emotional runt of the litter, and whose personality seemed so uncharacteristic of the warmth and good humor of the rest of Tim and his family, that it was impossible to see where exactly it came from. His dad maintained that Hal was his great uncle's reincarnation, though nobody was ever sure because he died early on in life, and under mysterious circumstances. His Toyota was found at the side of the interstate when he was 26, completely intact but with him missing, and three weeks later a body was found by Martree's Forest which was identified as him. An ominous shadow over a relatively normal and peaceful family.
Tim replied "Hal will find something to dig at me with, he will always find something to dig at me with, i might as well be his back garden, but it is true nonetheless - are we going now then?". Upon his cue they gathered their coats and made their way outside to the driveway. The house they lived in was on the modest side of grand, and Tim's moderate status within Pierce Attorneys had given him more money than he knew what to do with for a very long time. Law was the center of his strength, and was the natural route for him to take after high school. He was never sure of his ability, and he never revered money, but his skill and logic, and his ability to sound honest in practically any situation, gave him a high win rate - he was the most successful defense Attorney at Pierce. Darla was more money conscious than Tim, which served as a benefit, since he would never keep on top of his finances.
They got into the car, and Darla drove away out of the tarmac driveway and out onto the gravel road straddling the green wooded acres between them and the main road. She enquired "What do you think Hal could possibly do tonight to make things worse", and Tim answered "open his mouth". Tim was always the first to make a snappy comeback no matter the situation, but then he is always quick to get serious after his jest "i don't know, i think he wishes that his success was more than mine, but because he does not know what success is, he just responds in bitterness to anything i say; i cannot even approach him, and the closer i try to get to him the more vindictive he becomes". The last meeting between them had ended awfully, with Hal accusing Tim of forging details in his latest case. This provoked more anger in Tim than he would care to admit, though the fact that Hal had intentionally broke his confidence, and looked over private legal information in his office while he was absent, was something that Tim could not excuse on account of Hal's social impotence. He added "I don't even care if things get worse, i would just prefer not to have to deal with the little bastard". Darla looked over at Tim and noticed that he was frowning "143 'til the next wrinkle",
"That's rich coming from a prune face like yours" - they both erupted in laughter and their minds were put at rest from the impending awkwardness of the family meal at Tim's father's cozy residence 20 miles away.
Tim's phone rang, and so he reached into his pocket and flipped open the phone and answered "Hi Dad"
"Hi Son" - there was a pause and a strange chocked sound that indicated his dad was finding something very difficult to begin.
"What's the matter?" - his father after a few long moments cleared his throat and began to talk, although there was still a distinct quaver in his voice.
"Its Hal, they've found his car by the roadside up near Martree's"
"What the fuck do you mean?"
"I mean that he's missing, and that he has gone missing in the same location as Randy did when he disappeared"
Tim had trouble registering what was being said, and Darla looked over at him, and clearly seeing the expression on his face enquired what was happening. He could barely speak "I..I think Hal has gone missing"
she replied what do you mean missing?"
"i mean missing!"
"what like missing missing?"
"I mean completely fucking missing, and you'll never guess where"
Tim's head was swooning, he finished the conversation with his father which revealed nothing else of use, and he said to his wife "He is missing but he is alive, i know he is, he is too intelligent, we will find him" But given the history, both of their minds clouded with dark visions as they sped up and raced down the highway.