It's as if their voices are mumbles, droning in a consecutive line of white noise. When I was still living with my parents, before I had moved to Milan to hit some modelling gigs, I struggled with sleeping many hours at a time. Whether it was something like my father's motorcycle-like snoring or just the gurgle from the water cooler, any little noise woke me up--a light sleeper at its finest. After many sleepless nights, I finally invested in a white noise machine and instantly drew comfort from its consistent noise.
Now, sitting in my living room, the coffee table beneath me, I have been taken back to that time, except it's not my white noise machine mumbling, it's the police officers and one detective trying to get as many answers from me as possible.
"I've told you how many times, I DON"T KNOW HOW IT GOT THERE!" My voice has hit higher peaks of hysteria than I ever thought possible.
"Mrs. Lennox, I understand how scared you must feel right now..."
My fingers through my hair, I look up at the woman in front of me. She holds a notepad in one hand and a pen in the other and while her eyes hold me in their determined gaze, I can't help but feel like she's my only source of sanity right now.
"Now, do you have any idea who would have done this?" she asks me. "Anybody you think would want to harm you or send a message?"
I actually snort under my breath. The list of people. I could go down a list of the people from my past, though very few of them would go to this extreme. Putting a dead body in my bedroom? No, the people who hated me in my past are cowards, always hiding behind a camera or a keyboard. They'd never actually get their hands dirty.
Another officer comes up behind the woman and pulls her aside.
"Is that a yes?" the female officer asks him. They don't speak in hushed tones, but they aren't blurting out information either. The other officer's face holds a grave expression and between the two of them they share a look of understanding.
"Yes," he says quietly. "That's our John Doe."
My guts plummet to the bottom of my stomach and it feels like they could sink even lower. John Doe was the man who had been found weeks before Snowflake Day in the front of City Hall. I drop my face into my hands and bring my head between my knees in an attempt to control my breathing. What the hell was he doing in my bedroom? Who could have done this and why? Why? Why? Why?
"Mrs. Lennox," the female officer returns, this time with the detective next to her. She introduces us and then all the questions start like where I was yesterday, do I have an alibi, why do I think John Doe ended up on my property when he was last seen being transferred to the morgue? While, yes, I do have an alibi and Olive can back me up, I don't much have answers to many of the other questions.
By the time everybody decides to leave, I head up to bed. I am completely exhausted and don't have a clue what else I should do. But when I climb the stairs and see that chair, though empty this time of John Doe's body, I immediately decide to sleep on the couch.
Kam doesn't come home. He's not there when I get up. He doesn't answer his phone when I call him. Even after I get the kids ready for school and send them off, he's still a no-show. I call his work and see if he's shown up. He hasn't. I call the police and tell them I think I may need to report a missing person. They tell me to sit on my hands. Nothing should be reported until after the twenty-four-hour mark. Even after I tell them what happened last night, how he was just dashing to work and then coming home to go to dinner with me, how I found John Doe in my house, how Kam could be in trouble, I am suggested to wait for a full day to pass before I go any further.
"Are you freaking kidding me?" I scream into the phone. I could swear I am talking to a robot on the other end of the line even if I know sure well that they are completely human.
I hang up, after using some of my choicest swear words of course.
After trying to clean up the house and getting impatient, I decide to call a babysitter and drive over to the school. Kam's not there. I can tell when his car's not in the parking lot and when I head into the school and check his classroom, his desk has an older woman I have never seen before sitting behind it. Must be his substitute. The principal catches me spying around and assures me once they've heard something they will let me know and then urges me to get off the property.
I end up driving around town aimlessly, checking local shop parking lots for his car and even drive by all restaurants on the off chance that maybe he thought we were going to meet up last night (even though he specifically said he was going to pick me up!) and has strangely decided to wait for me all night until I arrived. No way in hell would he do that, but even so, I check anyway.
I end up going to the park just for something to do. The winter festival is meeting its last days, though people are still coming to support. Every time a car stops and people arrive, my head jets from side to side to see if any of them are Kam. None are.
I call him again. No answer. This time it goes straight to voicemail which means his phone is off. Or dead! I think with a sense of panic. If the battery of his phone has met its end, what does that mean for Kam? That he couldn't get to a power source fast enough or that something's happened to him and a dead phone is the least of his worries? If he's hurt, or worse, he can't get a hold of anybody now.
I am on the brink of crying when I see Olive come into view.
"Olive!" I say almost sobbing as I hop to my feet and go to hug her.
"Chasity," she says at first joyfully, but then my fear and panic must burn through me and become contagious. "Is everything all right? What's wrong?"
I tell her everything. From Kam and I working things out, to him offering to take me to dinner, how excited I was and then the whole John Doe thing and then now not being able to get a hold of him. She listens to me go on and past me of the shoulder, holding me tight and telling me that everything is going to be all right. I am so invested in our conversation when I spot a photographer taking my photo, it doesn't bother me. The most I can do now is roll my eyes and ignore them. What the media has to say about me is the least of my worries right now.
"And the police won't do anything to help," I say through tears, "not until it's been after twenty-four hours. How is that any good? I mean, he's not answering his phone now! What if we could do something now and not when I am allowed to report it?"
Olive presses her lips together. "There is a way to find him, you know."
"There is?" I speak tentatively for fear that Olive isn't about to give me a concrete answer.
"Let me see your phone," she says and I pass her it. "Does he have the same make?"
I nod. "Yeah, we've got a family plan and a discount on the two of them and I--" Olive cuts me off with a wave of the hand. I'm prattling.
"There's an app for finding another phone." She clicks around, downloading the app and asking for my password and such.
While she is putting it all together, I say, "But his phone's dead... or turned off."
"It will at least tell us where the phone was before it powered down. It's a start, right?"
"Okay, I have to go," she says and then passes me the phone. "It's searching for Kam's last location now. It could take a few minutes, but when the bar is finished filling, you'll have it. Sorry I can't stay longer. Call me if you need anything, okay, Chasity?" She hugs me again tight and then waves goodbye.
And so I sit. Waiting. These two minutes waiting for the bar to fill on my phone is the longest wait I have ever encountered, seems to last for hours. But when it says search complete it's like silence after an hour of constant noise. I am given a set of coordinates and a message that asks me if I would like to link to the phone's GPS app. I click yes as I am running to my car.
As I start my car and clip my phone to the dash attachment so that I can see the GPS map, I notice the estimated time it will take to get to my destination. Two hours! I was expecting something more along the lines of two minutes. Maybe twenty. Actually, I was more expecting it to lead me to the police station where Kam would be giving his statement of where he was last night and how he wasn't attached to this John Doe thing.
But I am wrong.
Two hours later I am a lot farther than I expect to be from my house. On my way, I call the babysitter and ask if she would mind staying a little longer than expected. She doesn't sound too happy but she says yes nonetheless. I thank her up and down and tell her I should be back not too late.
The sun is setting as I reach my destination. I check three times to make sure I am in the right place. I am--Gleewood Apartments. I get out of my car and make my way inside. There's a woman behind the desk at the front. I pull out my phone and choose the first clear photo of Kam I can get. It's one of the family at the Autumn festival. I show it to her and ask if she's seen him come in here. She glances at the photo for a moment and from the look on her face I doubt she is going to give me the answer I want. Then, as if a bolt of electricity shoots through her, she's perky and almost excited.
"Yes! Yes, I have!" she then tells me the room and how to get there. There's a sense of a reprieve, nursing my fear as I follow her instructions on how to get to him. From her excitement alone, I feel that Kam is and always has been in danger. For this woman to be so anxious to help, there is obviously some great need for me to get to his side.
I am on the third floor in no time and head to the second door on my right. I don't knock. If Kam's in trouble I'd hate to let his attackers know I'm there. Thankfully the door is unlocked. I turn the knob and make my way inside.
I can't tell exactly what I am looking at at first. When I first walked in and heard gasping, I imagined in my mind Kam hogtied, gasping for air as his body struggles to keep his back arched. The noose around his neck tightening and cutting off all his air supply until he strangles himself. A goon keeping a watch on him while the real bad guy is out looking for his next victim. Maybe the next woman's bedroom to toss Kam's dead body inside.
But that's not what I am looking at. I am looking at Kam's naked back, his strong shoulders pinched together and shining with sweat while a woman's nails, painted ruby red, dig into them.
I don't say anything yet. I haven't a clue what to say. I don't know what to do as my brain tries to understand the two people in front of me and what I am doing here. My gaze darts to the woman's face. Her eyes are closed, her cheeks red from perspiration and powdered blush. She's the one gasping, not Kam and she seems to be in bliss.
Finally, with an energy I can't explain, I clear my throat. As all motion stops in my sight, I say, "What the f***?"
In front of me chaos explodes with legs flying around, trying to find ground and hands letting go of one thing and grabbing another. Kam is the first one in my sights, tripping over his own feet in many attempts to get to a standing position. He falls to the ground not once but twice, grabbing his underwear and pulling them on as if that will erase what I've just seen from my memory. Rose has pulled the sheets out from under her and wrapped herself in it.
"Chas, what are you doing here?"
I look at Kam unable to stop myself from smiling. "What am I doing here?" I say. It seems a little contradictory for him to ask me such a thing. I look from him to Rose and back again. "So this is it? This is where you've been all yesterday and today?"
"Chas, I can explain?"
"Explain?" I chuckle. "No, I think this can explain itself. How long has this been going on?"
"I SAID, HOW LONG?!!"
Kam drops his gaze to the floor unable to look me in the eye any longer.
Rose, arms wrapped around herself in a tight embrace, whimpers and shakes. "Kameron, I'm scared--"
"SHUT UP, RUBY!" I bellow at her with a dismissive wave of my hand.
"My name's Rose!" she counters bravely.
"Do you think I give a s*** right now? Go sit in the corner--the adults are talking!"
"Chas, don't yell at her--" Kam says and tries to put a hand on my shoulder. I whip it away with all my strength.
"No, you don't get to say anything you slimy piece of trash. I have been doing everything for you for the last how long--years! I came to this godforsaken place, I've ignored my true feeling in an attempt to pretend that everything is okay, I have done whatever the hell you've wanted to do so that I don't become what Gretchen is, and look where it got me!"
"Stop saying my name!" I scream at him, wanting more than anything to grab the nearest object in the room and throttle him with it. "I have been worried sick all today and what I've had to deal with last night! You were supposed to come back and you didn't!"
"What happened last night?"
I ignore him. "I have been running around like an idiot because I have been scared for your safety, but you're fine... just fine. You've been hanging with the town's bike. High five, Kam. High five." Kam tries to say something, but I push him out of my way and head for the door just to shut him up. He's running after me though. "I don't want to see you ever again."
"Don't care. If I see you again, I'm going to punch your living lights out. If I see you on the street, I'm going to run you over with my car and when you think it's over, I am going to put the car in reverse and run over you again. The world's gonna' be a lot better without you in it. I know I certainly am." I glance back at Rose who is still cowering behind Kam. "Enjoy him, he's all yours!" And I walk out of the apartment slamming the door and hoping I've put in enough strength to shatter the windows.