Okay, my girl is out, hanging with her mom for a few hours. They’re likely talking shit about me but, whether or not she is, she’s still not here to pull my attention away. It seems like all we’ve been doing for a little while now is bickering and avoiding each other. I say one thing and she just, she turns it into some assault upon her very being. Or I don’t say one thing in particular, I forget one fucking detail, and we’re suddenly fighting. I don’t get it. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Maybe she’s searching for a fight?
Like the other day my friend Dan was coming over; he and I go way back, running in the same circles in college. Anyways, he messaged me last week on FB that he’d be back in town and, well, he came to town. I brought him down to Dysart’s, a greasy-spoon we used to haunt during all-nighters, grabbed a bite and a beer before I brought him back to the apartment.
I showed him the papers and, there was a cloud that passed over him. I could tell that at first he was a bit scared by them or, maybe he was nervous. There was something with his face, a darkness, a twitch; no, more a stutter, if that makes sense. I don’t know if there is a word to describe it. He was standing perfectly still but, it was like his face was shaking in shadows, like there was a storm cloud boiling beneath his flesh.
But, that single instant of fear seemed to pass, he opened up a couple more beers and I started to lay out the papers I’ve had a chance to organize. With the fear out of him he was comfortable enough to pick up some of the sheets himself, even read through a few. That’s when he gave me the “what the fuck are you on about” look, you know the “have you lost it” stare. Dan could see the weirdness, the odd comments and redactions here and there that were all out of place, as we went through and further organized the tattered remains. However, he was having trouble seeing the patterns that were forming for me and I’m trying to form for you lot.
Before the night was through, I think, he was digging it though. I mean, we are about as far from real detectives as one could be but, there we were playing the sleuths, putting it altogether to solve the mystery. I was barking out dates or names and he’d drop his beer and pick up a stack of molding papers to flip through for a match.
So yeah, we were deep into it, a couple of hours and a six-pack spent in pursuit of our goal and then Laura barges in. I guess “barges” is the wrong word; she was quiet but, still invading the space and making a show of it. You know, shuffling around, looking at what we were doing with nothing but contempt or maybe jealousy worming its way across her face. She didn’t say anything, of course but, the message was clear. And her silence didn’t last anyways.
Once Dan had left, that’s when the ranting started. She laid into me about all of the time I’ve been spending on “those old papers” and how I hadn’t even warned her about “that creep” coming over. She was pissed, like I’ve never seen before. The whole time her eyes were bulging with rage while that one vein threatened to burst through the surface of her forehead; my little angel turned demon.
It’s not like I had intentionally withheld the information. He messaged me, I said “yes” and then went about my day. I hadn’t told her because, it had slipped my mind. It didn’t matter that I had simply fucked up or, that having an old friend over even counts as having fucked up. No, she then proceeded to list at least another dozen times I had failed to mention something to her; drawing connections between each and every one as if there were some grand conspiracy on my part to, I don’t know, fuck with her, compromise her path in life.
What could I say? “Yes, I am a guy who has forgotten to tell you some things sometimes. Sorry.”
I just sat there, on the guest bed surrounded by deteriorating documents while she continued on with her accounting of my [mis]deeds. Her face getting all the more messed up with tears and a shaking rage only partly obscured by her swaying hair.
She wanted me to get angry, to yell back, to strike her, to give her a reason to break it off. I didn’t give her what she wanted. The violence so near the surface was kept inside.
When she finally petered out, she made for the door and then had the balls to ask if I was coming with her, she didn’t say “to bed.” but that was the implication. My continued silence was her answer. I sat there holding my tongue behind my teeth until the figure in the doorway finally went away.
I wanted, I still want, to share this with her. This needs to be shared with someone, with a bunch of people but, it’s like she’s actively fighting against me, against it. I’ve tried. I’ve brought documents to the table, laying them out in order, using them to help me tell the tale I think they’re telling but, she just shuts off. Nods politely at first but, soon finds some excuse to be elsewhere. Laura doesn’t see the importance here. She’s blind to her part, turning away from what this could be.
And you know what the funny thing is? Despite all her ranting and cussing out Dan, they used to hang out.
Fuck! They were friends before I got jumped into the mix.
Shit. I didn’t mean to write all that. I’m half tempted to just ctrl-x the whole mess and start over but, no. It came from somewhere, in me maybe, and it‘s done. And here you guys and gals get to see all the dirty laundry. You hear that? No secrets. I’m an open book; cover to cover, beginning to end, start to finish.
Let’s get to the documents I promised you all. So, like the previous two I posted, this is another wanted person report. Specifically a missing kid; there are plenty of others too but, this seems to be the first or, at least, the least mangled of the lot that has the earliest date.
The kids name is, or was, Karen Williams. She was seven. Less than four feet tall. Forty-five pounds. She was a little girl. The report reads that Karen’s mother, Lynn Williams was the one to report her missing. It even mentions “after exhausting all likely neighbors”.
I can’t help but wonder at how that was for her. How was it for a mother to go from getting dinner ready to waiting at the window for her then very late daughter to show?
How long did she last at the window? Staring out into suburbia as everyone else’s children waddled by. I’d like to think she was a smoker, sitting there tapping her feet impatiently as the fumes slithered their way through her fingers. She was probably timing her wait, telling herself that “if Karen isn’t back by five, I’m calling the Johnsons.”; if there were any Johnsons she called neighbors.
And when the clock finally struck five, did she sigh in anticipation of the bad news or did she jump at the opportunity to not feel so useless just sitting there? I’m sure either way, it must have felt good to take control, at least the feeling of taking control, even if the cards had already landed on the table.
Those were fingers filled with purpose, rotating the dialer on the phone. They were strong again, no longer nervously flitting about with a cigarette.
She was in control, she was getting to the bottom of her daughter’s tardiness and calling herself a fool for that sick ball of worry that had formed in her gut.
I really want to know what speech she had prepared to hurl down on her child, what words had Mrs. Williams chosen to break her child for having caused her so much anxiety?
Ring…and then someone picked up. Someone finally picked up!
“Is Karen there?” Lynn said too quickly, her frayed nerves bleeding into the receiver.
“Karen? No. Why would she be here?”
“I…I thought she had said she’d be spending the afternoon with Lucy. My mistake. Sorry to bother you.”
Panic. But, restrained panic. A small splinter of panic driven into the creases of her flesh. There were other children Karen could have been playing with. Other houses she could be safely within.
Her fingers were less firm as she dialed the next most likely person Karen might be with. Her reasoning resting on a shakier foundation than before, fraying her surety in this being the place where Karen would be found.
The cigarette smoke was gone. An ashen corpse lay in the tray near the phone. Lynn’s grip was tight, tensing the plastic, making it groan in protest.
Lynn’s control still stood firm but, she also needed to hear from her daughter, if only to settle her own nerves.
Come on, she thought. The plastic further groaning in her grasp.
“Is Karen there!?” poured out of her mouth.
“Who is this?”
“Is Karen there? Sorry, it’s Lynn…Williams. I’m trying to find my daughter.”
“Karen. No, she isn’t here.”
“Do you know where she might be?”
“Uhh… No. I don’t. Is everything alright?”
Did she snap then? After having exhausted the likely options, after having gone down the polite path. Did the new route make sense to her or was she still resisting the cruel gears of fate as they further rolled into place, regardless of what may be between them? Was despair waiting there for her, arms open to catch her in its cloying embrace?
No, I think she had some fight left in her, however useless it might have been. Lynn likely threw down that phone, in a blind emotional haze, uncertain of just what she was feeling. Anger was in the mix but, so was disgust and worry and so many others swirling and coalescing into an ever denser ball inside her chest.
It was a choice to either succumb to the weight of that ball or make one last stand, to grip it as tightly as her form would allow for as long as it would allow. Lynn was strong. She dropped the phone and hurriedly made her way down the street. As she ran, her dress held high in clenched fists, she screamed Karen’s name. Her neighbors’ eyes felt hot against Lynn’s flesh but, she needed Karen back, she needed to know that everything was going to continue on the path she had thought she had been on. To think otherwise was as near to suicide as she could imagine.
I can see it, vividly. I can see Lynn, her hair a mess, makeup sliding down her trembling face, voice hoarse but, still screaming her daughter’s name as a concerned citizen or passing police officer took her in their arms and let her hot tears burn their way onto their shoulder.
How terrifying was it for her? To lose a child without warning; having trusted her daughter, her teachers and neighbors to get little Karen from the school to their home unmolested, unharmed.
Or, maybe none of that happened. Maybe she did succumb to the worry and just fell in her own living room, sobbing until her husband showed back home. But, it feels less true that way; like it would be a wrong turn in an unfamiliar town. No, I think she fought, I know she did.
But, I don’t know if was to any benefit. I haven’t seen Karen’s name on any other documents, yet. She may have made it back home. Or, maybe she’s still missing.
Of course, that’s all speculation. All of it is speculation, I suppose. It’s not like I would know any better than you, at least not yet. You’ve seen all of the same documents with these ladies’ names on them, all one of them, that I have. So, I’m sure you can come to your own conclusions.
Anyways, the document itself isn’t in too bad of shape. Sure, there’s some fraying and a few minor tears here and there but, given that it’s survived sixty years in some dusty old and torn to shit box, it’s not bad. And while it has been obscured in a few places—in the same places as the previously posted ones—the more interesting features on this document are the comments.
Someone has underlined Karen’s birthday “9-17-1947” suggesting, or guessing at some importance in that detail; whoever had done that didn’t leave a note of explanation. Wild speculation is welcome.
Again, it’s blacked-out but, I can read “…eill” in the “Typed By” section. Is Neill the one typing all of the reports? The officer part is a bit too muddy for me to pull much out of it. I can see what I think are an “eux” strung together like that; maybe part of a name, looks to me like it could be French.
But, like I wrote above, the part that holds the most interest, for me anyways, is the last note. It looks like there had been two but, that damn marker got the smaller of the two. Anyways, that last note reads “Related to Le Roux & Cooper?”
Do you recognize the first name there? LeRoux. Justin LeRoux, the twelve year old boy that had gone missing on the same day as our dear Karen Williams. He was just one town over from her. Both disappeared on the same shitty Friday with nothing but a river and a couple miles between them. With Karen’s report I can at least guess that she went missing or was taken sometime immediately after school; her mother expected her home “no later than 4:30PM”. But, Justin didn’t seem to have the same set schedule. His father hadn’t even reported him as missing until the following morning.
But, the point, someone was thinking that these two missing children cases might be related in some way. And more than that, there’s that third name “Cooper.” I haven’t written about him yet but, that name is littered about these documents. I don’t know if this all about him but, he’s definitely important here.
More on him next time.