By Leilani Raven Katen
I remember the day I got the job…the job that changed my life. I looked over and saw a naked red-headed woman sleeping quietly beside me. A back tattoo of a dragon with wings, half-covered with a gray cotton blanket. I tried my hardest to remember her name, but nothing came to it. Not a single letter of what could be a part of her name surfaced in my mind. I pulled the blanket off me slowly, trying not to wake my guest. Revealing my naked body to the cold morning, I felt goosebumps form on my skin. Shivering as I got up, I grabbed a white t-shirt hanging off my bed and my boxer briefs from the floor. I crept so as not to bump into anything. Turning my bedroom door knob created a creaking noise. I heard movements shifting from behind me. I held the door for a few seconds, quickly pulled it open, and shut it behind me. I looked around my living room; a couple of glasses of unfinished drinks next to a bottle of Jack Daniels on my coffee table. A pair of red lace panties lay across the arm of my couch. Memories of the night started to come back. The echoing laughter and moans rang back and forth in my mind. Flashes of lights and bumping of rock music from a record box. I walked in through swinging doors to my kitchen and pulled a couple of slices of bread from the bread drawer, taking small bites to ease the hangover. I started a pot of coffee and sat down at my dining table. Laying in piles on the dining table were stacks of missing person reports. I was put on grunt work after the accident…
Looking out at the fog that had pulled in this morning, I couldn’t help but think about that night. Flashes of screams and shattered bloody faces flashed in my mind. The hooded figure in the woods. I looked down at my hands, blood dripping down my fingers. I tried to wipe the blood off my hands, but the floor began to shake. Finally, I closed my eyes and took three long breaths.
I didn’t hear my guest enter the kitchen.” Hey you…” said the woman. I shook my head, washing away the images in my head. ” You okay? You seem kind of out of it?…” she says, kissing me on my left cheek. She was wearing one of my t-shirts. That kiss indicated that we had done this before.
The events from last night’s shenanigans were still foggy. I didn’t want to cause an argument, so I played it off like a bad hangover; at least that wasn’t a lie,” yeah, sorry…jack Daniels doesn’t sit well in my stomach.” So I say, getting up to grab a mug from the cupboard. There was an awkward silence between us. I felt her eyes on me as I poured the freshly brewed coffee into my cup. I took a sip of my coffee, inhaling slowly. A mix of nuts and fruit entered my taste palate.
The silence was broken by the woman clearing her throat. “So what’s it like being a detective? I heard from the district attorney that you got reinstated but were out to watch for mental issues, not that I’m not into the whole Sad boy vibes you have going, reasons why I like you, but….” She continued to ramble on, sitting on the counter. I grabbed a mug, poured coffee in it, and brought it over to her, allowing her to rant, but I didn’t respond. She smiled and took the mug from me.
I sat back down and tried to hurry with a response to her open-ended question. “It has its good days and bad days…I don’t get much time off…”. I admitted, occasionally taking gulps of the warm brew. She jumped down off the counter. I observed the air that blew under her, lifting up the shirt she wore, revealing her laced underwear. I looked away quickly to avoid evidence of my male perversion.
The woman was attractive; the silhouette of her body was of a coke bottle, ruby red lips, dimples that showed when she smiled. “Are you listening?…” asked the woman. I wanted to admit I wasn’t, but my mind was too foggy from the night before, and the anxiety of explaining my amnesia caused a severe headache. “yeah, I’m listening. I just have a ton of work that’s on my mind…can I drop you off somewhere?…” I asked. Lying made me feel even more guilty, but there was too much I couldn’t share with her. The chief and all the other officers back at the office already think I’m crazy.
“No, that’s alright…I drove my car…remember?…” she asked, sipping the coffee. She looked as if she disliked the bitterness on her tongue, then placed the mug on the counter as if she was done. I drank the last coffee,” Oh right…uh, thanks for…” I stumbled on words, and I could see the annoyance on her face forming.
“yeah…no problem, I’ll see you later then.” She said, placing the almost full mug on the table and walking back to my room. Before leaving my apartment, stopping at the door,” my name’s Rebecca…by the way…” She said, rolling her eyes and slamming the door behind her. I had the urge to run after her, to explain myself better, and that I wasn’t just another asshole she picked up at the bar. But that impression might be easier to swallow than the absolute truth of my life and current disability due to trauma. On the Dining table, there was an ashtray and a pack of unopened cigarettes. Last year, I promised myself that I would quit smoking. That was a promise I held every year but failed to succeed. So I grabbed the pack, ripping it open.
The smell of the tobacco caused me to salivate. I remembered a quote said by my therapist; Doctor-know-it-All-Anderson. “People who are stressed tend to smoke more, thinking it will curb the stress, but it doesn’t.” Wilson Anderson (PsyD) stands for; Doctor of psychology, or as I see it, Mr-I spent thousands of dollars to tell people how they are feeling and medicate them until they no longer feel anything-Doc Anderson. I looked over at the bottle of antidepressants sitting on top of the fridge. “I know what I saw…”. I said, lighting a cigarette and taking a couple of drags.
My phone rang; I walked over and picked it up.
It was Joey Santos, my partner. Joey Santos was a Latin man from Cuba. His accent was heavy, but his English was excellent. “There’s a federal officer here to see you… it’s about Camp Eves…The chief wants a follow-up after.” Joey said as he smacked his gum in his mouth.
Suddenly I felt my anxiety build up. I asked as I took a more deep drag of my cigarette.
“They found another body…”. Santos’s statement sounded hollow, like the details were too grim to say on the phone.
“I’ll be there in thirty….” I said, hanging up. I still had a few drags left of my cigarette. Ash had built up, dropping to the ground. I rubbed it away with my foot. An ashtray sat on my nightstand. Taking the last bit, I pushed the bud into the bottom of the ashtray, burning it out.
I grabbed the jeans I wore last, catching a foul stench of cigarettes and beer. I drenched myself in a can of deodorant from my bathroom. I grabbed my car keys and wallet and looked over at the pack of cigarettes and a lighter on the dining table. I contemplated leaving it or taking it. I felt like I was walking towards something terrifying; I grabbed the pack and lighter and slipped them into the right pocket of my jeans. I took a last deep breath before locking my door to start my journey towards the storm.