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The Ocean's Call Parts 1-6

Ocean’s Call – Part 1*

The wind was in from the north. A cold wind. The waves crashed, and teased their way through the rocks below sending up a colder salt-laden sea spray. He could feel it gathering in his blonde hair and on his face, dripping from the end of his nose, on his lips as he licked them. He was used to having the wind at his back, now it was all right there in front of him, in his face, cold and wet. He was alone. Again. But this time it was different. Thirty years ago he might have had a chance of starting over. But not now, not today. The cold sea air and it’s relentless roar perfectly matched how he felt inside, deep inside where the soul meets the senses.

The years had taken their toll on him. His once broad chest and tight stomach sagging with the countenance of too much drink and lying about. His feet hurt, his knees locked, and his once thick hair was thinning like the leaves on a wind swept tree. Where was he to go? What was he to do? Was this the end, a sad end to a life with so much promise, so much meaning. All he had to do was take one more step. An instant away from a sheer drop on the rocks below. The sea would take care of the rest. One step, one flash and it would all be over. The pain, the longing, the frustrations, the eternal sadness that had become his all too faithful companion. End it now, a distant voice seemed to be whispering in his ear; jump, end the pain, it will be over before you know it, a moment’s exhilaration, then nothing. Fade to black.

Out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw something. Was it a light? No, he was alone, he’d driven the dirt road to the cottage, leaving his car in front and walking the path to the cliff. No one knew he was out there. But it was a light, two lights in fact. A car was making its way to the cottage. Who could it be? What did they want? Why now? Why couldn’t they just leave him alone? One step and your worries will be over, it won’t matter. But what if it was her, what if she’d changed her mind. To find him there, his corpse floating lifeless, face down in the angry surf. No, he couldn’t do that to her, even now. He stepped back from the precipice, and turned toward the cottage.

He walked slowly. It was raining now, a cold rain. His clothes were soaked, his hair dripping wet, his toes soggy , squishing with each step. The car had pulled up next to his. Someone was getting out, slamming the door behind them. They were alone as they walked up to the cottage door and finding the key on the hook behind the sign opened the door and walked inside closing the door. Lights came on, he could hear a woman’s voice call his name.

Part 2*

He stood just outside the cottage. He could only see shadows and unfocused glimpses of the woman inside. The car parked next to his was not her car, not the woman he half hoped and half dreaded would be the person now walking about his cottage by the sea.

He’d met Elizabeth five years earlier. He wasn’t in the market for a woman at the time having just left a long-term intimate relationship that ended badly. No, he’d sworn off women for a while. Give him a chance to center himself, restore his hard drive to its default setting; me, me, me. Then there was the mine, mine, mine backup and freedom chip. No more seeking permission to go somewhere, or do something, no asking, just doing. The fear and energy-drawing pull of lonliness, bolstered by a renewed self-confidence, and resurgence of self.

Every relationship requires sharing and compromise and giving up something in return for something more valuable. His “B.E.” (Before Elizabeth) relationship was peculiarly destructive, in that he’d given up so much of himself with so little in return. It had started out on such a positive note of connection and affection only to turn into a nuclear charged battle of “Mutually Assured Destruction” (MAD).

By the end it had even grown physical with punches and kicks and hair-pulling. Even incidents of sexual assault. All perpetrated by her against him. The sexual assault? The times she’d grab his testicles in her tiny hands in a death grip while she exacted concessions from him. Funny how you’ll say almost anything when someone quite literally, “has you by the balls.”

She’d already moved out towards the end, then continued to call and stop by on the pretext of seeing how he was doing. He had hardened himself to her on these occasions, but she always had a way of getting him back in the bedroom again. She was just too beautiful, too magnificently sexy, too irresistible. Not to mention good in bed. He’d hate himself afterwards, clinging to that faint hope that maybe, just maybe she had changed, had begun to appreciate him, had rethought her positions on oh-so-many issues. She was like a drug you knew was bad for you, but just couldn’t give up. It was too much a part of you. See had soaked every bit of his soul with her essence.

It finally ended when he caught her in bed with one of his friends. A good friend, a colleague in fact. Couldn’t blame him, she was too beautiful to resist. If anyone understood this he did. But her…promising fidelity only to smash in under her tiny little feet? There was no forgiving her for that. Anything and everything else, but not that. That was the end, the last straw. He could finally move on, leaving the love, its bloody tracks on the ground, his blood, his heart. He had to go and not look back.

He’d taken time off to go see some old friends out of state and when he returned he rededicated himself to work, going in early, staying late. He didn’t leave any time for anything else. He was all about work, no play, lest play opened the doors to her again. Six months passed, then a year. She had returned home to California so he wouldn’t have to worry about bumping into her again, and he had settled into a routine with married friends and time alone. No chance to risk meeting someone again, not now, not yet. And then he saw her, Elizabeth Alexandra Marshall.

Part 3*

Of course he didn’t know that was her name, in fact it would quite a while before he was able to find out that tidbit of information, and not without considerable effort. Here is how it played out.

He was pretty much keeping to himself on his off hours. Work, home, eat, bed, work. You’ll notice I didn’t say “sleep.” He hit the bed early in hopes it would find him, but more often than not he’d lie in bed, staring at the ceiling fan unable to sleep. If he did fall asleep he would wake and look over at the red glow of the clock next to his bed to see, 1:10….2:40…3:45. Sometimes he’d sleep and wake a half dozen times until the light of day crept into his bedroom and it was time to get up and head to work.

On the night he met Elizabeth Alexandra Marshall, two of his buddies at work cornered him, refused to take no for an answer, and convinced him to accompany them to a ladies night at a local watering hole. They bugged him and bugged him until he finally agreed to go, just to shut them up and get them the hell out of his office. Jesus! He promised to meet them there, he insisted on taking his own car. That way he knew he could always, probably would, slip out when no one was looking and head home.

The place was crowded, noisy and just plain obnoxious, with more than the usual amount of cleavage screaming to be left alone, and the gaggle of horn dogs trying to come up with the most original pick up lines and failing miserably. After two beers, he excused himself to go to the bathroom, and headed in that direction. He intended to do just that, go to the bathroom, but then keep on going all the way out the door once the necessities of nature had been taken care of.

The place was crowded as he squeezed his way towards the open corridor that lead to the restrooms. He was passing the ladies room on a beeline for the mens room when she slammed into him. Hard. He froze in his tracks, more surprised than upset, while she spilled the contents of her purse onto the barroom floor. “SHIT!” she yelled, and stooped down to pick up her compact and lipstick and handful of change. He bent down to help. “Sorry,” he muttered quietly. “No, I’m sorry, really, it was my fault, I wasn’t’ looking where I was going , it was my fault, God DAMN it.”

She was angry, upset, but clearly not at him. Then she looked up from the floor, and still crouching on her bent knees , her short skirt hiked up, she looked at him. And froze. When his eyes met hers, he froze, and a chill started at the base of his spine and ran all the way up his back to the top of his head. They stood together in unison without breaking their gaze.

Her face was a mess, mascara ran down both cheeks and her eyes were framed in black like a raccoon’s mask, but those eyes were as bright and intense as a tiger’s and every bit as green. Her nose was thin, with the smallest of upturn at the end, and her lips were full and blood red. She was one of the most magnificent creatures he’d every laid eyes on, and here they were standing maybe a foot apart. He could feel her warm breath on his face, and almost hear the pounding of her heart. Or was that his heart beating in his chest?

“You look like you could use a friend,” he said, and her eyes softened. She put her hand on his shoulder, “Can you please get me out of here?” she asked him, and of course he complied, “Let’s go, follow me,” and he gently took her upper arm in the warmth of his hand and guided her through the crowd and out the front door.

Part 4*

When they got outside, the cool of the night was upon them. They stood there for a few seconds in the cold. She had both arms wrapped around her bare shoulders and shivered in the night air. “What’s next?” he asked her. “We did manage to escape the lunatic asylum in there, any ideas of where to go now?” He smiled and her eyes smiled back, her face still filled with sadness and a distant longing. “Do you have a car?” she asked him. “Yeah, right over there, “ he said pointing across the street.

“You know I’m not in the habit of picking up strange men and jumping into their cars, but…you’re okay aren’t you, I mean you’re not a serial killer or anything?”

“Well I did off my grandmother one time when my oatmeal was too mushy,” he admitted, and a slight but fleeting smile came and went from her lips. “Lead the way,” she said and they looked for cars, and seeing none, crossed the street to his car. He lead the way around the front of his car, hit the key fob and the lights blinked on and the door unlocked. He opened it and she stepped in. He closed the door and walked around the front jumping in beside her.

“Just head up to the end of the block and turn right,” she directed him, and he pressed the start button and put the gearbox into first gear pulling out to the street. They rode in silence with the exception of her directions to turn left, go to the end of the block, go straight, I’ll tell you when to turn, etc. until she said, “Pull up here to the yellow house.” “Thanks,” she said, and with a quick look of appreciation and longing, she opened the door, closing it behind her and quickly walked up the sidewalk and the walkway leading to the front door. He watched while she stood at the bottom of the steps. She turned, and seeing him still there, watching her wave him on with a few sweeps of her hand. “GO” she seemed to be saying, just go. He pulled away while she stood at the bottom of the steps watching him until he was out of sight. It was then that he realized he’d never asked her name.

A couple of days went by with his usual routine with one exception. He couldn’t stop thinking about her. Her long brown hair, that slender nose, those full lips and strong chin, and those eyes, those magnificent black smudged eyes.

The guys at work popped their heads in his office the next day. “Hey man, what happened to you? Get lucky? Saw you sneak out with that drop dead gorgeous brunette. Well, what happened?”

“Nothing. Gave her a ride home then went home. Alone.” “Yeah right.”

“Get the fuck out, I’ve got work to do, buncha assholes,” and they closed his door leaving him to return to his daydreams about his mystery girl. How did he miss getting her name at the very least. “”Why was she so upset, and why was she willing to just jump in a car with me, a perfect stranger. Yet there was a connection we made, even for that brief moment….” He thought.

That evening he decided to leave work at 4:00 instead of the usual 6:00, 7:00 or 8:00. He had a mission. He had to see her again. He drove past the bar, and made all the turns he recalled from the weekend. He pulled up to the yellow house with the picket fence. It was a pretty little place, with a garden and shrubs. He got out, and walked up to the front door, walking up the two steps and standing on the landing knocked on the blue wooden door. He waited a minute or so, then knocked again, a little harder. He heard a chain rattle and the door opened a crack. A small woman with gray hair and rimless spectacles peered out. “Can I help you young man?”

“Yes, ma’m, I was looking for a young woman I dropped off here last Saturday evening. I was wondering if I could speak with her.”

“I’m sorry young man, there’s only me and Mr. Lyons who live here, and our children all live out of state, I don’t know who you’re talking about, I’m sorry.”

“Are you sure, you don’t have a renter or a relative, maybe? About five foot six inches tall, long brown hair, thin? I dropped her off here and she walked right up the walk and stood right there, last Saturday around 10:30,” he said pointing toward the bottom of the steps.

“No, I’m sorry I can’t help you, but there’s no one like that who lives here, and we have been here for thirty years. I’m sorry I can’t help you,” and she closed the door.

Part 5*

He turned and walked down the steps, down the walkway through the picket fence and out to the sidewalk next to his car. He was looking down at his feet the whole time, the way someone does who’s embarrassed or doesn’t want to meet anyone else’s eyes. He looked up and to his left at the house for a moment, he was sure this was the house where he’d left her. He looked at the houses on either side of this house, and they looked nothing like this one; no fence, no concrete stoop, one had a wooden handicap ramp running up to the front door. That’s when it hit him.

Thinking back to the last moments his eyes soaked in that breath-taking view of her, standing on that stoop, hands in her pockets, then waving him off….she wanted him to leave so he wouldn’t see her go inside. Or walk away. She didn’t live here, never did. Mrs. Linus or Lyons or whatever-her-name-was wasn’t covering for his mystery girl, she really did not live there. But why would she have him drop her off at a place she didn’t live?

He snapped back to now, realizing he’d been standing there staring into space for some time. Didn’t want people to think he was a stalker or some kind of prevert. He reached into his coat pocket for his keys, hit the unlock button and grabbed the door handle. He jumped inside still unable to understand just what had happened between him and that magnificent woman he’d only just met. Maybe he should just let it go? But inside him, deep inside was this gnawing feeling that something wasn’t’ right, and yet at the same time was very right. He had made a connection with this person, and she had send a message to him in those brief moments together that stirred something that would not rest, not until he had seen her again. Even if it was to hear her tell him to, “Fuck off!” and leave her alone.

He turned around in one of the neighbor’s driveways and headed back to town and the bar. The night was young so he was able to park right in front. He got out and walked inside. There were maybe a half dozen customers spread out in the booths and tables, only one sitting at the end of the bar. He pulled up a barstool. “Whatya have?” the bartender asked. “Sam Adams in a bottle please.” “ Four-fifty.” He put a five on the bar, “Keep the change.” The bartender slid the fiver off the bar, popped a few buttons on the cash register and with a “Bing” stuck it in the drawer, slamming it closed.

“Excuse me,” the bartender turned raising his head attentively. “I was here the other night, Saturday.” “Yeah, ladies night…fucking mess,” he shared. “How so?” “All them broads with their tits hanging out trying to look all hot and sexy, three times as many assholes trying to hook up with them getting shit-faced when they can’t and starting fights, that’s how so.” “Ain’t my place, I just work here, get paid the same either way, and tips ain’t any better on ladies night. Tight bastards just saving their money in case they get lucky.”

“I’m sure you had your hands full, but…you didn’t happen to notice any trouble between a lady and one of your customers? She was a tall brunette with high heels, black mini-skirt, red lipstick. Maybe one of your “assholes “ was giving her a hard time? “ “Look, Mac, I sell booze, I ain’t no baby sitter, and I sure ain’t no social worker, so unless there’s a fight, and I gotta bring old woody out (the bartender pulled a cut-off baseball bat out from under the counter) I just pour the beer, and put the money in the drawer. Sorry.” “Thanks,” he said, finished his beer in one gulp and turned to head out into the light of day.

It was maybe a week later that he was reading through the local paper when he saw it. A headline on the second page, local news. LOCAL MAN MISSING FOUL PLAY SUSPECTED. There was a picture underneath and a caption. “Local woman brought in for questioning, considered a person of interest.” It was her! There in a grainy black and white photo was his mystery woman leaving the police station, her head down, but instantly recognizable. His heart was beating outside his chest as he read the story.

Part 6*

A local businessman was reported missing by family members on Sunday night. When Jack Maloney failed to show up for a family gathering on Sunday, family members were concerned and went to check on him. They discovered that his front door was open, and a large pool of blood was found on the kitchen floor. The house was in total disarray. His live-in girlfriend, Elizabeth Marshall of the same address was brought in for questioning and released on her own recognizance. State Police are investigating.

If his heart was beating outside his chest when he started reading, by the time he finished it was located somewhere in his lower bowels. He couldn’t take his eyes off her picture, just a glimpse of the top of her head, her eyes half closed, the tip of that beautiful nose, and those now ashen lips. What must she be thinking? What must she be feeling? What must she be doing? He strained to hear the sound of her voice. Was she calling to him? Did she need him?

He jumped up from his kitchen table, grabbed his keys and was out the door slamming it behind him. He was in the car and halfway down the highway before the vacuum his movements created slammed shut as well. He knew where he was going. To his brother’s workplace. He was the perfect choice. He was a Trooper First Class at the State Police. John pulled into the parking lot and pulled in next to a cruiser. He was a familiar sight at Troop 4, and they would threaten to throw him in jail or under the jail if he ignored the signs that read “For State Troopers Only.” He had the same response, holding up both his hands wrists together telling them, “Arrest me, go ahead. I know things.” They’d usually laugh and shout for Andrew, or tell John where he was hanging out.

He got buzzed in, and searched –this was routine- and jogged up the few steps to the main desk. He could tell right away that there was a tension in the air, this was no time for jokes and levity. A man had apparently been murdered, and they had not yet arrested anyone. A killer was out there somewhere. He could kill again.

“Is Andrew on duty?” he asked the desk clerk. “Hold on, I’ll buzz him. You probably know there’s a lot going on today.” “Yeah. Saw it in the paper this morning,” he said quietly and as calmly as he could muster. No special interest here, no sir, he thought to himself. Just want to find out what good old Andrew’s bringing to the barbeque next Sunday.

“He said go on back, you know where his office is.” “Thanks,” and he walked around behind the information desk to the hallway where his brother’s office was located.

He could see Andrew sitting at his desk. He was on the phone. John tapped on the window, Andrew looked up and motioned him in. He was talking to someone about the case apparently. “Yeah I know he was a real asshole, but we still have to see who saved us the trouble of putting a bullet in him…. Give him an award. And an airplane ticket to Cuba……Yeah, really. Look, gotta go, me brudders here. Probably needs a loan. Talk with you later.” He hung up the phone, leaned back in his chair. “What the fuck do you want little brother? Get fired from your cush job at the computer firm?” “Sit your ass down, or are you too busy fighting off all those women?”

Andrew was a family man, John’s brother and only sibling, with a two-year headstart. Andrew had a beautiful wife and three great kids, two boys eight and ten, and a “baby” girl five. Andrew and John were close, and Andrew was someone he could go to, to confide in, to trust explicitly.

“Look, Andrew, I’m into something pretty weird,” he started. “Oh smoking that wacky weed again, huh? I’d hate to have to arrest you.” Big brother was always good for the big tease. “No, come on this is serious.” Andrew leaned forward in his chair. “Sorry, what’s up?”

John told him the whole story about meeting this incredible woman in the bar, how she’d asked for a ride home, how they connected on a level he’d never been on with anyone, and this after only a few minutes. “I know it sounds like a bunch of shit, this “Love at first sight” nonsense, but she really got to me, man. I mean she was not only drop dead gorgeous, and sexy as hell, but her eyes were like lasers, no… like tractor beams pulling me to a place I’d never been before. Then I go back a couple days later to the same house I dropped her off at, I KNOW it was the same house, and this old lady comes to the door and tells me no one like the woman I described lives there. I know it’s crazy but that’s the truth. Then…and here’s where it gets completely insane, I open up this morning’s paper and wham! There she is.” He threw a copy of the paper onto Andrew’s desk. “It’s her, I swear it is. I need to know what you can tell me about her, how deep in this is she, WHO is she? What’s her name?”

There was a knock on the door. Andrew looked past John, and seeing the watch commander at his door, motioned him in. He looked at John. “Hey John, you doing okay?” “Top of pile William, top of the pile. You want me to step out? “ “No just need to tell Andrew a bit of interesting news, quite interesting in fact. Are you sitting down? he asked Andrew who was quite obviously sitting in his chair. “We got the results of the blood work back,” William said. “You’ll never believe what they revealed.”

Part 7 It’s starting to get even more interesting, don’t you think? Just you wait.

“What? It’s not blood? What is it raspberry syrup? Andrew asked.

“No, it’s blood alright, “ William said quite seriously.”

“But it’s not the missing guy’s blood,” Andrew suggested, trying to stay ahead of the curve.”

William’s reply was surprising; “Not unless he had four legs, pointy ears and wags his tail. It’s canine. There was lot of it, so I don’t suppose whatever varmint it belonged to is doing much waggin, or walkin’, but it ain’t our guy’s. Kinda makes you wonder what happened there. Maybe someone popped in, the dog goes for him, he kills the dog, then grabs our guy.” He paused for a moment, and looked up at the ceiling. “Kinda strange though,” William muttered. “What?” Andrew asked.

“Where’s the dog’s body? I mean, we did a complete search of the place and all around the grounds, no sign of him or the dead dog. Why would anyone kill a dog, then drag his carcass around while he’s in the middle of kidnapping a dude. Doesn’t make sense.” “I’ll let you two guys figure that out while I go and do some real investigative work,” William said and walked out closing the door.

“What did this… (John leaned over to read the name on the newspaper photo) Elizabeth Marshall have to say?” He was trying to be appear overly interested.

“Not much, “ Andrew said, “She was real nervous, jumpy like she was scared of something, I felt bad for her. Word has it this missing guy, Jack Maloney was connected. His father was a made man from New York who ended up in the Hudson River. He grew up down here on the shore, but you know what they say, like father like son. I understand the local constabulary got a lot of domestic calls. Sad case. Pretty girl. I didn’t conduct the interview, thought it best I keep a distance.”

“Why’s that?” John asked. “Complicated, and I’m done talking about her, I mean the case.” And you need to forget you ever saw her.” “Look, this may end up a murder investigation, and Maloney is very likely to be the murderee and she might be the murder-er. Jesus, John, you just happen to have the worst luck with women, but this one beats them all. You just “happen” to bump into her, give her a ride home, on the night her boyfriend comes up missing, maybe because she killed him and dumped his body into the ocean. Then she runs into you.”

“You need to stay the fuck out of this, I’m telling you. You don’t know what’s involved. Really.”

“I need to talk to her. Maybe I can help.” John offered.

“Right, John Morris, computer whiz solves murder case. Do me favor and forget it, maybe I can keep you out of this. Did anyone see you leave with her?”

“I don’t think so. I slipped off to the bathroom when I bumped into her, then we slid out the front door. The place was crazy, wall to wall, I don’t think anyone noticed.”

“Please just do me this one thing, let me know where she lives. I will play dumb, see what she says. Promise to pass along anything important.”

“For once, maybe it might be better for you to have a chat with her. She doesn’t know you have a cop for a brother does she?”

“No, I mean we spent maybe 30 minutes together with very little discussion, I mean I didn’t even get her name. Until it’s spread all over the newspaper.” Good, keep it that way. I mean don’t tell her you’re related to me or that you even know a cop. And call me after you see her. I can’t give you her address, but if I happen to leave my notebook on the desk while I go take a piss…..” “Thanks bro.”

Later that evening John found himself standing in front of the house. Her house. Well, actually his house, but with Maloney missing, Elizabeth was the sole tenant. John stepped up to the door and grabbed the brass knocker and heard the sound echo through the house. “Who is it?” A nervous voice on the other side of the door asked the million dollar question. “Uh, it’s me, the guy you bumped into Saturday night? I gave you a ride home, or..uh…. well where I thought you lived.”

The door flew open, “How did you find me?” She wore a long silk dress, almost transparent, her pink undergarments were plainly visible. Her long brown hair was pulled back into a pony tail, and her feet were bare. If he had not already fallen madly in love with her at the bar, this would have clinched the deal. He felt like a little boy in awe of a Victoria’s Secret Model. “Are you going to ask me to come in, or do I have to stand out here waiting for Christmas?” He didn’t even know what that meant, but it worked, “Come in, you!” she said in the most endearing way.

Part 8

The house she, or rather they were living in was rather striking in its level of ostentaciousness. A brick colonial style with massive pillars on either side of the massive mahogany door. The entrance foyer had a marble floor and steps up the the living room. A study was off to the right , a sitting room to the left. She motioned for him to the left. For all the gawdiness of the rest of the house, the sitting room was most definitely Elizabeth. A white leather couch lined one wall, and two upholstered chairs directly across with an antique table and lamp between the two chairs. The colors were muted, as was the lighting which only added to the mystique and beauty of its designer. He sat on one end of the couch, she sat on the other folding her legs under her as she sat and adjusted her dress.

“So here we are. Finally. “ John said to break the ice. She smiled slightly. “I stopped by your…” he hesitated…”other house. Looks like you must have moved out before I got there. Nice couple has it now.”

“I didn’t want to get you involved, I couldn’t let you know where I really lived, I guess you heard about all the drama.”

“Well, it did make the papers you know. I’d like to hear from you what happened exactly, I mean if you can.” John wasn’t sure how far to push.

“It’s pretty simple really. I got involved with Jack a few years ago when I was young and stupid and didn’t know what kind of man he was. By the time I knew, I was locked in. He told me more than once he’d kill me if I tried to leave him.”

“Then I met someone else. I think it was more of a refuge for my sanity, to me with someone who was normal, honest, kind. He was a little older, but I didn’t care. I met him at a bar, and we went out a few times. I would meet him on the sly. He knew about Jack. I didn’t know he was married and had a family until later, then it didn’t much matter. He needed an escape too I guess. Everything was fine, until Jack found out. I still don’t know how, all I know is he was waiting for me one night when I came back from seeing my guy. He was sitting in the kitchen with Scout.”

“Who’s Scout, “ John asked. “My dog. A golden lab, one of the sweetest dogs. He even liked Jack, though I don’t know why. So here he is sitting at the kitchen table, Scout’s sitting on his haunches wagging his tail. He was always happy to see me. He wanted to come to me but Jack had a hold of her collar. So Scouts’ there wagging her tail and whining, and Jack says, “So where you been?” I told him I had been out with some girlfriends. “Guess again,” he said in this voice that made my blood run cold. “And don’t you fucking lie to me this time.” I was getting really scared, I told him I didn’t know what he was talking about. Then he says, “I know about your boyfriend, and you stop seeing him or you’ll end up like this, and he grabs this butcher knife off the table and he pulls Scout’s head up by her snout and he…he…cuts her throat right there in the kitchen. I died right there watching her shaking and when he let go of her she dropped on the floor and lie so still. There was blood everywhere. Then he gets up, goes over to the sink, washes the blood off the knife and his hands, dries them on the towel and gives me this awful look, and tells me to “Clean it up!” He went to his room and I ran over to Scout. She was still warm and her big brown eyes were still open and looking at me, it was the most horrible thing I’d ever seen. I ent into the pantry and grabbed a blanket and wrapped her up in it.” “I put her in the trunk of my car and I came in here and just cried and cried.”

“I’m so sorry, that had to have been terrible. What did you do next?” John needed to know.

“I really don’t want to get you involved, when I saw you in the bar the other night…a lot had happened and I just needed to get away. I somehow knew I could trust you, but then I knew I couldn’t get you in the middle of it. That’s why I had you drop me at the house on Oak Street . I used to live across the street from that couple when I was growing up, it just seemed like a safe place to go at the time.”

“What happened to Jack? Is he dead? Elizabeth looked down. “Yes, he’s dead. But I didn’t kill him,” she said. “But you know who did, “ Jack said. “Yes, but no one will ever know, only four people know, and one of them is dead, there’s you, and me, and …that’s all I can say.”

“Is Scout still in the trunk of your car?” “I think the police might be looking for her.” “No, we buried her in my backyard.”

John’s mind was reeling. But he believed her. He had no reason not to. It all seemed to fit. “How can I help?” he asked. “Just be there for me. I can’t see my guy, it’s just not possible, I mean he’s got a wife and kids and…he’s done enough for me already. I just need someone to hold onto, to hold, to hold me. “ She looked up at John with the saddest eyes, he moved over and held her in his arms, she was sobbing and shaking. He eventually leaned back to lay down on the couch and she fell into his arms on top of him and fell asleep.

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