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Blinking the sleep from her eyes, she went down the hallway and into the living room. She took an umbrella with her to use as a weapon, just in case it was an intruder. Upon entering the room, she noticed that it was strangely chilled. She groped about in the darkness, unable to notice anything out of place, when she suddenly noticed something moving beside the grandfather clock. Charlie's heart beat quickly. Gripping the umbrella as she would a baseball bat, she cautiously moved toward the darkness with boldness that surprised even her. Suddenly, a gust of wind blew the object against her, smashing up against her nose.

"Ouch!" she exclaimed, falling backward onto the floor, more out of surprise than anything else. Instead of apologizing, the rude object continued to move back and forth until Charlie realized that the dark form she was trying to recognize was their very own front door. It was open and moving in the wind. Sighing a breath of relief, she got up from the floor, picked up her umbrella, and shut the door.

"Silly!" Charlie scolded herself, making her way back to the bedroom. As she passed her father's room, she noticed for the first time that his door was wide open. Thinking nothing out of the ordinary, Charlie tiptoed inside to see if he had kicked off his covers as he sometimes did. To her shock, the bed was empty!

"Grandma!" shouted Charlie, running to Vera's room, "Daddy's gone!"

An hour later, Jerome had a search party comprised of volunteers gathered in front of his house. Vera watched helplessly from the front lawn, while Mrs. Jacobs comforted her with, "They'll find him!" Not content to sit idly by, Charlie quickly dressed and took her place beside the other volunteers. From her vantage she counted at least twenty-five others, not including herself. Officer Jeff Erickson was there, as were ten other police officers; Mike Garner was present, as was Gerald Hanna, father of Jenna and Kendra; neighbors and friends that Charlie, herself, had never known had come running and grouped around Jerome as he informed them of the graveness of the situation.

"Chuck is wearing dark blue pajamas, and is most likely barefoot," began Jerome. "Although wandering is a common effect of Alzheimer's Disease, I cannot express to you the importance of finding him soon. Chuck has a forty-six percent chance that he will die of hypothermia or dehydration if he's not found within the next twenty four hours." A nervous murmur went through the crowd. Charlie gripped her flashlight tightly, and prayed for help. "As luck would have it, according to the weather report," continued Jerome, his voice becoming bitter, "temperatures are going to dip well below freezing tonight." El Niño, a few days before, had sent a flush of heated air throughout the Mojave Desert, causing everyone to hope for a milder than normal winter. But, like a fickle woman, instead of heat, it sent colder than usual temperatures. It was vital that they find Chuck as soon as possible.

Charlie searched the crowd for Adam, but could not find him.

"Mike," asked Charlie, "where is Adam?"

"I don't know," Mike replied. "I called his house but there wasn't any answer. He's probably already out looking for your father."

While Jerome and Officer Erickson began to assign everyone a place to search, Charlie slipped away from the crowd and ran as quickly as her legs could carry her, to Adam's house. By the time she arrived at his front door, she was out of breath.

"Adam!" she shouted, knocking on his door with a clenched fist. "Are you home?" There was no answer, save for a dog in the next door neighbor's yard, who decided she needed to be barked at.

Remembering that he sometimes worked in his garden at night, Charlie ran to the back of the house. There she found Adam, dressed in his blue faded overalls, a warm coat, ear muffs, and scarf-- leaning on a hoe, dozing. It was both humorous and pitiful at the same time. However, Charlie had no time to make such observations.

"Adam!" cried Charlie running to the tired plumber and shaking him awake. "Daddy is missing! Is he with you?"

"Missing?" repeated Adam, groggily stumbling backward, still not yet fully awake.

"Please wake up!" cried Charlie, bopping him lightly over the head with her flashlight. "It's an emergency!"

"Oh, Charlie," yawned Adam, letting the hoe drop to the ground, "the one night I take sleeping pills, and this has to happen!"

"Isn't Daddy with you?" exclaimed Charlie, trying not to be disheartened.

"No, but you'd better check the house, anyway," replied Adam, slapping his own face as hard as he could.
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