Glad your not here

Judging from the weather report I should have smooth sailing. I have not seen my friend Dolores since she married her husband Rob. When Rob and Dolores met they jumped into bed and their relationship as though it was a shelter from the cold.

They were surrounded by family and friends at their wedding. The last couple of years has brought so much loss. Both of them lost their parents, Rob’s parents in a car accident and Dolores’s parents on a cruise ship.

I am relieved the temps are no longer sweltering. In this state, if you blink the weather will change.

I am not the adventurous type. My frame is small and useful, sensible, delicately feminine. That is a nice way to say I am a wimp. My belief is when women are small breasted they are perfect because more than a mouth full is a waste. That works for men as well. We live with our imperfections creating our own peace. Don’t laugh. Many people have underestimated not only my abilities but my tenacity. A tenacity is a tool I can use when my abilities wane.

I don’t smoke except for the occasional skinny cigar. It is a habit I picked up with my first boyfriend, once in a while I lite up just to think of something else besides my day.

Dolores has a better method of coping with what life injects into your space. She rushes to the freezer for ice cream or Long Island Ice Tea. What she chooses is dependent upon how bad the news is. After my last conversation with her and Rob, I figured they were doing tea for two.

Dolores described her road very succinctly; curves and hills once you reach the peak of the last hill it will drop you into her driveway. I am in my final decent into to her driveway.

Trees lined the driveway, and the driveway seemed as curvy as the road I just pulled off of. The house came into view it is surrounded by weeping willows, plantation type flower garden, wrap around porch on a brilliant white house.

As I pulled myself out of the car, I stretched my back and legs, I hear a dog bark in the distance. The echo melted into silence except for the sounds of insects. I expected Dolores to come running out to greet me. She had given me a key to the house as a matron of honor gift, with a note ‘you are always welcome’. I took the steps quickly and knocked on the door. I stood for a few minutes and knocked again, still no answer. I tried the handle it was locked. I walked back to the car to retrieve my keys; I decided to check the back in case they were out back gardening or just sitting in the shade under one of the enormous trees.

I called out Dolores’s name, only to spark up the distant dog’s bark. I walked back to the front of the house unlocked the door. I stepped in to take a look around, everything neat and tidy, except for a week’s worth of dust on the furniture. That struck me odd, Dolores was a clean freak she had a habit of dusting daily. I walked into the kitchen there were two coffee cups placed in the sink. I peeked into the refrigerator, no leftovers, lunch meat, lettuce, a pitcher of what looked like tea, beer. I immediately grabbed a beer, popped off the cap and took a long pull on the cold brew.

After I grabbed my luggage I went upstairs to check out the rooms. The master bedroom was made up impeccably. Lace curtains, pale beige lace bedspread, on a brass bed. The light through the curtains showed dust particles floating as though they were not sure where to settle. I turned to find the guest room. I dropped my luggage, stripped down to take a shower. I figured they may have gone into town for groceries. Once I showered I took a complete tour of the house, including the basement. There was laundry still in the washer; I opened the washer to retrieve its contents only to be met with a damp sour odor. It is not like Dolores to forget a load of laundry. I pulled the knob and ran the load through another cycle.

I went back into the kitchen made myself a sandwich, opened another beer. Taking my food out onto the back porch I decided to sit with my feet up to relax and wait for Dolores and Rob to return home.

By nightfall, I started to become concerned. I walked back into the house, started to clean up my small mess. Once I finished, I looked around and started to get a twinge in my gut, something was not right.

Using my smart phone I searched for the closest State Police Post. Once I found what I was looking for I called dispatch, a young female voice greeted me.

“How can I help you, mam?” Dispatch said

“My name is Margo Schultz. I am staying at my friend’s house off Edger road. I expected my friend Dolores and her husband Rob Monroe to be here when I arrived this afternoon. I have waited for them to show up thinking they ran into town or there was an emergency. I know a missing person report cannot be issued unless they are missing for 24 hours. I am hoping under the circumstance I can get some assistance in regards to locating them.” I said

“Can you hold mam I will connect you with a detective.” Dispatch said

I waited to listen to elevator music which I suppose under the circumstances would calm the listener down. It wasn’t working. I know something is wrong but I do not know the area well enough to start looking.

Finally, a  male voice spoke and said: “This is Detective Reynolds. I understand you came to visit some friends. They were not home when you arrived and have not come home nor contacted you at this point.” Reynolds said

“That is correct sir. The door was open, I assumed they were nearby. Dolores and I have been friends since elementary school. We are more like family than friends. I came in made myself at home. I probably should have called sooner but I wasn’t sure if I was over reacting or if I should wait the customary 24 hours.” I said

“You did the right thing to wait a few hours, and I am glad you called. Have you contacted any of the local hospitals?” Reynolds asked

“I do not know the area well enough to know which hospitals would be relevant. I was hoping someone could assist me in that.” I said

“I will need more information and then I will make a few calls,” Reynolds said

Detective Reynolds took down the pertinent information. Names, date of births, when they married, address including my name and pedigree. He then said: “Don’t leave town.”

Reynold’s saying that left me unsettled. I called my Brother who hooked me up with his attorney. The attorney said the police officer did not have the authority to make me stay there; he added, that I might be a suspect in the disappearance.

My heart pounded, I started to freak out. It was late so I decided to do a slow walk around the property and the house. As I walked I told myself if I did not find anything I was not going to worry, I will go to bed and get some sleep. It was apparent the sleep was the farthest thing from my ability.

My tossing and turning only exhausted me more, by morning I was a basket case.  I called the attorney only to get his service, realizing my error, it being 6:30 am I apologized and asked when he had a moment please have him call me.

Detective Reynolds came to my door at 7 am. Reluctantly I opened the door hoping to prove I had nothing to hide. At that moment my phone rang. My attorney said not to let anyone in. Damn! Was my response. By that, he knew I already did.  He said: “Just offer coffee freely nothing else.”

That I did. The detective realized after the third question I was not going to be forthcoming. He got up from his chair politely thanked me and then said: “I have here a court-ordered home detention. You are to stay in town for the time being.”

Reynolds handed me the document, I protested repeatedly that I have a job and bills to pay. Reynolds waved me off and got into his car and left.

I called my attorney read to him the document. My attorney said: “You have to adhere till we take this through the system. The judge is overreaching his authority. From what I have gathered so far, your friend’s parents died under unusual circumstances. Your friends are in debt. The general consensus is they or you had something to do with the parent’s demise. Did you know your friend’s quick claim deeded the house over to you a month ago.”

I stood silently for a moment and whispered no. My attorney then said: “You do not have to call me sir, you can call me John. John Stanton.”

“Thank you, John. Now what?” I asked

“I will petition the court to show cause and all the other legal stuff. I will let you know when you can go home. You might want to tell your boss you will be late or take more time off.” John said

After 2 weeks of pacing and fretting, I received notice that I could go home but I was to remain available for questioning. John told them if there any questions they were to contact him and he would set up a meeting.

I finally arrived at my place. As I dropped my belongings on the floor of my bedroom I was struck by the sense that my own home seems empty and strange. Weird how I felt more at home in Rob and Dolores place than here right now.

Why would they sign that house over to me? Where are they?

I showered then went down stairs to go through my mail. Bills, junk and 3 postcards. One from Greece, on the back it said “Having fun glad you are not here.” The next was from Barbados again on the back it said “Having fun glad you are not here.” The last one was from France “Hope you like the house.”

I stared for the longest time at the postcards, trying to make sense of them. There were no signatures, nothing to tell me if they were from Rob and Dolores. But who else could they be from? I called John Stanton told him about the postcards. He said to drop them by his office he will fax copies to the police station.

The police wanted to do forensics on the cards, test for fingerprints. It seemed futile considering how many people handled the cards but I held out hope they would get something.

3 weeks later I was told I was no longer a suspect. They did find one small detailed print on the postcard. It belonged to Rob. He was still alive and well. Another month went by they found Dolores in a shallow grave 5 miles away in the woods. A man walking his dog came upon her remains his dog started to dig and the man could not call him off. Dolores was wearing the sweater I made her.

I wonder if Rob will ever be brought to justice. The police were still trying to find him. I am still trying to make sense of it all.

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