As continued from Part 1
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
I had to move out literally before permitting the disappointment to join the pain and confusion tormenting me. Indeed there was no one on the veranda. My heart shrunk and tears pushed inside my eyes. I sagged against the wall and window to remain on my feet. Dreadful hopelessness passed through my heart.
Even the snow on my yard was intact – no footsteps from the gate to the veranda. Confusion swelled more than the other two. I shook my head and bit my lip.
Karen and Jane waved at me from the pavement. They were putting some finishing and dressing the snowman with their noisy kids. I was looking at them, but I couldn’t see them. I didn’t even realize they were waving at me. That’s why I waved back when they had already stopped – disappointed. “I’m sorry. I’m disturbed,” I said.
They looked at each other. I couldn’t tell what that was for. Probably I looked weird since I had not slept nor eaten since the previous day.
I walked to them even though it was my sincere desire to be alone at all costs. I had to update them about Grace’s disappearance since they were good neighbors to us. Surely they would be more than willing to help in searching for her.
“He is beautiful,” I said, looking at the snowman.
“What? – Oh you mean the snowman. Yes he is beautiful,” Karen said.
I couldn’t understand the reason behind the tension. Both of them were good friends of Grace and me, but they acted like I was boogeyman. “Yes, he is beautiful. I like the hat.”
“Elijah, is everything okay? Where is Grace?” Jane said, staring at my stomach.
It took me time to grasp what she said. My mind started by processing the way she said my name, ‘Elijah,’ – not ‘El.’ It felt very formal and uncomfortable. They always called me El, like Grace. I looked at my stomach and realized she was looking at big stains of blood on my cream white jacket. It was for the first I learned there were blood stains on my jacket. I touched them and realized it was fresh blood. My hand quickly turned red like I touched a fresh wound.
Jane grabbed her two younger kids by their hands and shouted the two older ones to run home. Karen stared at my eyes for a few seconds and also did what Jane did – except she didn’t run. She strolled to her house.
I was confused but I managed to say, “Oh… Grace. Grace is missing. She …” But I was talking to myself.
Jane turned and gave me an ugly eye before disappearing into her house which was adjacent to Karen’s – house 44. Karen’s house, house 43, was closer to mine, but she went in last. Her kids were terrified by Jane’s behavior and ran into the house, but she didn’t. They turned and shouted, “Mom, run,” but she didn’t. She walked like a couple madly in love in the park on a summer afternoon.
I sighed and shook my head. I didn’t know what to do. I only wanted to ask the ladies if they had seen any one knock at my door. That’s all. But they were scared away by blood which I had no idea where it came from. I was also surprised with them.
The understanding part of me didn’t blame them though: I came with blood spatters on my jacket, and when they asked after Grace, I said she was missing. But I knew I had not killed her as they thought. They had to believe me and stop being ridiculous. Nothing had changed – I was still the God fearing Elijah they knew – Grace was genuinely missing.
I felt anger sweep through me. The last thing I expected from Karen and Jane was a cold shoulder when I told them their neighbor and friend was missing. I expected them to be shocked and help mobilize people to form search parties. They ought to support me whilst I did everything to find her. But they took me for a stupid murderer and abandoned me. What they did was not different from rubbing pepper on a bare wound.
I looked at their snowman smiling at me – laughing actually. I quickly drew close and kicked it on the stomach. It crumbled instantly. The black hat fell on the road. Instantly, I realized I had messed up. When I turned and looked at Karen’s house I realized she was staring at me through her living room window. Even Jane stared at me. I didn’t see her but I could feel her angry eyes penetrating my skin – probably from the bedroom upstairs.
Obviously I had to apologize. I headed to Karen’s house first. She disappeared from the window. I knocked at the door, but she didn’t respond. “Karen, I’m sorry about the snowman, it wasn’t intentional.”
Karen shouted probably from the dining room, “Elijah, please leave or I call the police. If you listened this wouldn’t have happened.”
I laughed, not believing my ears. Karen wanted to call the police on me! The same Karen I helped – protected a million times when her violent ex-husband would almost kill her with kicks and punches. Honestly I expected a lot from Karen, probably Jane could act the way she did – she wasn’t that close to Grace and I, but Karen was like a younger sister to me. “Karen. Why are you treating me like this? Please talk to me at least.”
Karen said, “I will call the police. Please leave, don’t involve me in whatever you have done.”
“Who are you talking to, Mommy?” One of Karen’s kids asked.
“Karen,” I shouted, “Okay, I will leave now, but please…”
A blue Audi A4 stopped in front of Jane’s house with a squeak of tires. It was her beefy husband. He gave me a scary stare, shaking his head before running into their house.
I said, “Karen, let me ask one question, then I will leave.”
She didn’t say anything.
I said, “Whilst you built the snowman, did you see anyone climb to my veranda and knock?”
Karen said, “Elijah, please leave. Now you want to recruit me to be your witness and lie to the jury. You know very well you were the first person to walk on the snow on your yard. Before you came out it was smooth and untouched. Elijah, please leave.”
A few blocks away I heard a police siren coming towards our street, I ran back to my house. I dropped on the couch feeling clumsy and bleeding inside. I was like Jesus on the night he was betrayed by his friend, Judas Iscariot.
Losing Grace was horrible enough for them to treat me like that. Naturally every person requires and expects support if something awful has happened. But instead of empathy my friends magnified my problem. It was hard to believe.
The police siren drew closer. My heart picked up its pace even though I knew I was innocent. I didn’t kill Grace; I wanted my lovely wife alive. It’s just that I also feared the blood thing. I had no cut, so where did it come from? I hastened to the bathroom to clean up my jacket. The police car stopped outside and turned the siren off.
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