Later on that afternoon, on the drive home, all I find is mostly empty streets, a gradual decline that starts from the city eventually ending in the suburbs. The only people you really see are the people that are going downtown to random clubs or sweaty music venues. It is too bad though, as the city has been closing most the venues down in the last few years. As if there was anything less to do in this town, the government has to make it even worse. Doesn't seem like there is any rules in place anymore though, no law of the land as to say. I see all the time kids making such faulty decisions in their youth. Its all about the booze these days, the only fun some seem to have is the nights they can't remember. But age has that tendency doesn't it, makes you forget how you really were when you were young. You see all the kids these days making all the mistakes you might have, only to think to yourself how in the hell they could be so dumb as to do that. But I guess that's how things go, every generation has to make the same basic mistakes. In the suburbs, the real suburbs, where its just row upon row of houses as far as one can see, Its never easy to find your way around, all the streets always seem to twist around each other in knots as if to eventually bound apart unleashing some kind of kinetic energy. You would think they would try to make it less confusing. Maybe the reason as to why is so you end up getting so lost that you never end up finding the house your looking for, which in turn, means that you never have to visit your relatives.
When I get home, I find the lights are off, except for the upstairs bathroom. Strange, I think, where could she have gone. Looking inside the garage, the car still sits silently awaiting to be turned on once more. Like Frankensteins monster, laying in a darkened lab, anticipating the day he is reawakened. I turn on all the lights downstairs, calling out for my wife Judy, to no abandon. An as I stand on the bottom of the stairs, looking up at the dark corridors that await. I get a strange feeling, a shiver that travels upward on my spine, making me shake my head in an unmitigated relief. I shrug it off and head up, into the bathroom, only to find all the contents of the medical chest lay strewn out over the counter. Bottles of pills spill out into the sink, as q-tips lay dead on the floor like trees. Everything is spread out chaotically over the course of the bathroom, as if someone was in a hurry. As I am about to leave, to go through the rest of the house, I notice the lock on the door is broken. Examining it closely it looks as if its been ripped almost right out, as if someone broke in in some fashion. Now I am terrified, as all the thoughts that run through my head don't end well. And in a panic, I run downstairs and grab the phone to dial the police. I walk outside, onto the street, to see if maybe I can see anything, only to find all the streetlights have all but died, at least the ones around my house. I wonder why I have never noticed this before, could this just have happened now, it couldn't of, although I cannot remember if they were on or not when I got home. But about a block down or so, I can see them still on, covering the cars in an almost angelic light, as if to show me the way to righteousness. On the other end of the receiver, I can hear the phone still ringing. But as I am looking down the street, something catches my eye, and as I begin to walk towards this object I realize I have seen it before, its the van, the one Johnson pointed out this morning. An as I get even closer, I can begin to hear the sudden roar of the engines, like a monster that had just risen from the deep, it thrashes and screams and claws its way into consciousness. I start running towards it screaming at it to stop, but to no avail. And all I see is it's tailpipe staring right back at me as it drops out of sight." Sir!". A distant voice cries out." Are you there sir, sir!, is everything okay". Its the police, now on the line, as I wasn't paying too much attention to the phone beforehand." Yes, yes I am here. I need help, please, hurry!".
"I am sorry sir, what is the emergency?".
"My house, its been broken into, I think they took my wife, I think they took her, God, they took her. Please hurry. Its 10456 Glen hill way, hurry please!".
"Okay sir, we have officers on our way now, please hold tight till they arrive".
The streets are now alight with the silent sirens of cop cars that now pepper the sidewalk. I stand outside still as some search through the house for any evidence they may find. A couple officer's stand about five feet to my left with coffee cups strewn over the car Hood. I can't tell what they are saying, but they keep on looking over. They do this for about five or so minutes with me in a state of confusion as all the tears have yet passed. Its than that some one walks out of the house, but he is not dressed in the normal attire. Its more of a marriage between street wear and Mulder and Sculley. He walks up to the group I talked about earlier, and they have some conversation still indistinguishable to my ears. As this is happening I hear my cellphone ringing from my pocket, its Johnson, from work. I called him earlier and told him what happened. This must be him calling me back." Hey Frank, I got your message. I am sorry to hear that man! I really am".
"Thanks John, I appreciate it".
"What's going on now, are the cops there yet".
"Yeah, they arrived not too long ago, they are going through the house now. I am not sure what I am going to do, what if they can't find her?".
"Don't say that Frank, they will find her, and its going to be okay. I have got one of my military friends on the line, thought maybe he can help. You never know right, plus, he owes me one".
"Thanks John, for everything, really".
"Don't worry about it, anything to help". This friend he talks about, I don't remember him bringing him up before, but he always has been somewhat mysterious in some ways. The group of cops now stand in front of me, staring me down as if in interrogation." The van you saw, do you remember the license plate number?".
"Yeah I do actually, it was 322079 I believe".
"Okay thanks, we are looking up the plates now, maybe we can track it".
"Did you find anything in the house, anything at all".
"I am sorry sir, I know how hard this must be for you, but the investigation is ongoing. We will let you know when something comes up".
"Thanks, thanks a lot". One of the cops sits in his car up ahead, the passenger side door is open, so I can see in. He watches this screen that sits vicariously on top of the dashboard. An as he types, he appears calm, awkwardly so, but once he stops, he tilts his body backwards as if surprised from what was found. He reaches his body over the passenger seat calling his friends over. It seems like he has found something, something he wasn't expecting to find. They are now both sitting in the car, as the first cop waves his arms around eventually pointing towards the screen. A short discussion follows that ends in both of them looking over directly at me." Sir!". The first cop says, when he walks over to me." But we got some news. We looked up the plates, and according to our systems, they appear to be government issued". Puzzled, I scratch my chin in thought while looking down towards his shoes. They're dirty, and badly so at that. I wonder where they would have tracked so much dirt. Certainly not around here, it's the suburbs, its all covered in greenery. Come to think of it, his is the only ones that are dirty, you would think at least one other would have the same phenomenon." Sir?". He says once more." Is everything alright?".
"Yeah, its fine, sorry. So you say they are government issued, they didn't appear to be. Doesn't it usually give some indication?".
"Normally yes!". He tells me." But this doesn't seem to be from any agency we currently know about".
"Well what did it say exactly? The computer you know, what did it tell ya!?".
"It didn't tell us anything really, all we know is, is that the information is classified by the government. Under a project Rosen it would seem. Which currently, we are not authorized to access".
"What the hell would a government van be doing on my front lawn?".
"I am sorry sir! But we are currently doing everything we can to find out".
"Just wait a second! So are you saying what I am thinking you are, that some government agency, took my wife?". The two cops look at each other, as if knowing something, that they're not sure if they should reveal or not. The second cop, the one on the right, finally sighs and says." I guess there is no sense in keeping this now, but yes, that is what we currently believe. But remember sir, the investigation is still early, and ongoing". I find myself staring off at them, in a daze, I am not in a panic anymore(although still very worried) I am just mad. The government is here to supposedly keep us from harm, not put us in it. What, if any, reason would they have to do something like this. The cop, still standing there, pats me on the shoulder, after seeing me visibly shaken." I am sorry sir, I really am, but I promise you I will do whatever I can to find her".
"Thanks officer, I appreciate it".
# Chapter 4
The next morning all the commotion has died out. There is no more cops on my front lawn, no police tape securing the area tied to each tree like toilet paper on Halloween. Just an empty house, and the undulations of my voice as it bounces off the walls like waves in the ocean. An I find that I can't sit down, as every time I do my legs get me right back up again to carry me to no place in particular. I will find myself in certain rooms, and spots around the house, not quite sure what or why I am exactly doing there. It seems crazy, that I am helpless with acts such as this. It just seems that there should be something, anything, that I should be doing, to help. But things such as this don't happen everyday, so I am not exactly sure the protocol involved. Really does though make you realize just how helpless and fragile we are all. As most of us walk around with this invisible wall that surrounds us, thinking how we are different, and things like this don't happen to me. Only to realize, that it doesn't matter what walk of life you come from, or how nice you might be, that we are all susceptible to the chaos of this world.
My mind keeps on wandering to our past experiences, the first time we went to her parents cabin out in the woods. Its right by the lake, lake chambers. There is no bathroom per say in the place, so what they have is an outhouse out back up this hill that slopes upward behind there place. Its just like the ones you see in the old western movies, with the half moon cutout on the front door. I remember one time, in the early morning, she walked up while I sat in the house still in bed, half asleep. She was gone hardly 30 seconds before a scream broke through the silence. I got up to run outside to see what's the matter. As it turns out, during the night sometime a passing deer( a fairly big one at that) decided that the circle of trees behind was a good place to rest. It scared the crap out of her too, as its not something you would normally expect to see like that. We spent most of the day trying to scare it off, but whenever I got in close enough range he would feign getting up, like what those wanna be tough guys do when they try to scare off potential threats. Eventually, if I am remembering correctly, during the evening he suddenly got up and wandered around a bit before resting down the hill just before the lake. Normally, we would get water from there, for cleaning and what not, but since there was now no way of doing so, we had to sit it out till he decided to leave.
I end up walking upstairs, into the bedroom. She decorated it herself, she painted the walls a forest green and did that weird sponge thing were you take the paint off again. Never understood that technique myself. As it seems very much a waste of money. Why paint the walls just to take said paint off again right afterwords. But anyways, she liked it, it has a feminine look, is what she told me. I let her do all the decorating mostly, as I am fairly simple minded when it comes to that sort of thing. When I lived on my own, she used to come over every so often. She always told me how bland my place was, like a cell in the county jail, apparently it lacked any sort of so called pizazz.
I can begin to hear the inklings of what sounds like knocking. Downstairs, as I open the door, I find James and Marie standing there with an arm full of flowers." Hey Frank, we heard what happened, thought maybe at this time of need you would want some company?".
"Yeah, thanks, you can go a little stir crazy like this I guess". I say stumbling over my words. I am not even sure what I meant to say, just kind of got lost in thought half way through, like going to some friends house and getting lost, even though you've been before. James hands me the flowers with a forlorn look upon his face, and says." These are for you". He pauses." We didn't know what else to get". As he says this Marie elbows him in the abdomen, as if he said something wrong." Well thank you". I tell him as we walk into the kitchen to put them in water. I have to wonder though, what exactly do you get someone in such a position. Should you get him/her anything at all. 'Cause I would think that giving flowers would normally be attributed to some form of happiness, a loved one on valentines, a girl on her birthday, stuff like that. Giving them like this is like saying here's some flowers I am breaking up with you. Just seems weird doesn't it, but I can understand nonetheless, people want to do a nice thing, a pick me up of sorts. Because as I said earlier, what exactly is the protocol in such a situation.
After putting the flowers in water, we make it to the couches in the living room. The television stares blankly towards us, as the incoming light from the windows wash out the colors of the wallpaper. Either of us at this point is really not sure as what to say.
"Do you two want a coffee, I have some brewing?".
"Please, two sugars no milk". Says James.
"I will have two and two". Says Marie
"Okay no problem, I will be right back". I have never really made coffee before, not since the days of living on my own really. Judy always gets up before me so she usually makes it than. Its strange, once you really take it all in, how lost I am when she is not here. The coffee I made is not particularly any good, and while we are at it, looking into the future, shopping is absolutely frightful. I know I shouldn't think of such things, but I can't help my mind wander. I have always been like that, thinking ahead to certain scenarios that probably wont even happen, or that I shouldn't think about anyways. I am a worrier, and its normally about such minuscule details. Back in the living room, I place the coffee on the table in front of James an Marie. I sit down on the chair beside the couch, facing the TV. Still in silence, except for the random sounds from the coffee that people tend to do when something is hot. Until Marie finally calls out in a quiet uncertain voice." So, how are you doing, is everything okay".
"Yeah, its fine, it's a Little weird without Judy, I keep on looking for her, forgetting for a second that she isn't here".
"Yeah I can imagine". James says." I would be lost without Marie, I can tell you that".
"So". Says Marie." Did they say anything, the cops I mean, do they know anything". Yesterday, after the conversation we had about the van, they told me that it might be best if I keep this to myself. An that they probably shouldn't have even told me, which makes sense. Because if this was some government fuck up, or whatever the hell it is, it might cause complications if it got out to certain people. At least for right now anyways, if they don't find anything soon though, I may not have any other choice. I mean, I am trying my best to stay calm here, and have some semblance of hope towards those good officers from the other day, but believe me, inside is a whole different story.
"They didn't say much, said they found some things here and there in the house, but can't divulge any info till they test it out, see exactly what it is".
"They didn't say what they found or anything". James asks.
"No, no, they said when the results come in they'll give me a call. They don't want to jump the gun".
"I am sure everything will be fine Frank, they'll find her, I just know it".
"Thanks". I say awkwardly, as I am not really sure where to go, conversation wise, from here.
"You know Frank". James chimes in." Marie and I were just about to go to lunch, thought maybe we'd hit that little sandwich shop on the strip. You're welcome to come along if you want. Forget about things for a bit".
"James!". Marie calls out, giving him that look that can drop cattle from fifty yards.
"Oh Frank! That's not what I meant you know, I..". I break in cutting him off before he goes any further." Its okay James, I know what you meant".
I am not really too sure about going out at this point, I am not up to the whole outside world right now. But after some careful consideration, and some convincing coming from them, I agree to tag along. I have never been to this place before, I passed it a few times though. But have never actually walked in, as I usually head over to the Timmy's a block or two over. Outside the place, the patio is all cornered off with a four foot fence I could easily step right over. The tables are of those archaic 50's style that always wobble, making it feel as if your out in the middle of the ocean. Inside we order our food and take a seat by the window. Right outside of where we are sitting, sits another couple on the other side of the glass. Like mirror images of ourselves that don't want to cooperate.
"So did ya hear about Pete". James says, after about a minute or so.
"Yeah, I heard this morning, how crazy is that". Marie answers.
"What about him?". I ask, confused. They tend to talk like everything they are telling each other is brand new. As if speaking to a camera in some late night infomercial. Its that spark I guess. The one you get when you find the right person. Like I have said before, they had some problems, almost broke up, or did, I can't remember. But they apparently came back stronger than ever, like two young adults on the cusp of being in love for the first time. Maybe that is the secret of some relationships, the loophole so to say. That in order to prevent inevitable boredom you have to break up for a short time, like recharging the battery in a way.
"Well the word going around is that he is cheating on his wife with that girl from the photo lab a few blocks from here".
"Oh! You mean Gloria, or whatever her name is". I say." Can't say I'm all that surprised by that".
"Why would you say that?". Asks Marie.
"Oh you know how guys are, they talk about such inane things".
"I am not sure if I would consider that inane". James says in a calm voice.
"Well, its not that he told me straight out or anything, but you know how he is, he has always been a little inept when it comes to keeping things to himself, always giving off something".
"He always has been a bit awkward hasn't he". Marie laughs.
"How could someone bring themselves to do something like that though, it just makes no sense, such a dirt bag thing to do". As James answers, and says. "Especially in a situation such has his".
"That's not exactly the whole story though Marie, there is more too it".
"How so exactly?". They say, almost in unison." Well the story is, is that she isn't quite the innocent one she makes herself out to be. From what I hear is she has another suitor so to say. An unnamed man who supposedly live on the upper west side".
"Really! And were did you hear this from?".
"I hear things, lets just keep it at that".
"What". Marie smirks." You can't tell us?".
"No, sorry". I answer." I made certain promises, I shouldn't have even told you this much". The fact of the matter is is that she told me herself, in no uncertain terms anyways. She really didn't divulge too much info, just that she started seeing this man from up west. Not even really sure why she told me either, maybe she felt a bit guilty, needed to get it off her chest. All this interoffice type politics between friends and family members have always quite confused me. Never sure why certain people do or say certain things, but usually I am stuck in the middle to some extent. I have never really been a people type person so I am never sure what I should be doing with such info.
Eventually we find ourselves back at the house, standing at the front door saying our goodbyes and good days. They are both off to some event that I don't really want to go to. Some gathering or something chocked full of people. Inside I take off my shoes and stuff and sit down at the couch to turn on the television. The coffee table is still full of odds and ends that she was either reading or flipping through like magazines showcasing the newest fashion trends or how to have the best sex of your life. You know those cosmopolitan type articles that give you different advice each month on the exact same subject. In the left hand corner lies a stack of papers with the edge of what appears to be a novel of some sort buried beneath. Its a book Judy used to read, almost religiously. I have never really read it myself, but she used to tell me about it all the time. She always told me that it mirrored our lives together quite a bit, and apparently that is why she read it so much, she found that fact amusing. The author is unknown, and I mean that in the sense that I can't find any information on her at all, its strange, its like she never existed. The story is about a man named Muriko who lives in this village on the coast of southern Japan. Its like a life story in a sense apparently. You know how it is, he grows up, meets a woman( named Yuri) and they eventually marry. She always told me that the ending is the best part, but she never told me what it was, and like I said, I have never gotten around to reading it. Sometimes though, as strange as this sounds, it seemed as if she never wanted me too, like the ending is some big secret. I am curious though, what was it that she was supposedly keeping from me. I pick up the book, and flip to the last few chapters, but just as I do this I begin to hear the distinct sound of the telephone, I guess someone upstairs doesn't want me to read it either.