The police officer escorted me to James’ car, “Just breathe, Miss Waltham.”
“How can you expect me to be calm? I’m supposed to be at work tomorrow morning and my husband has destroyed everything that belongs to me!”
James looked up, “What?”
“All of my stuff…” my voice broke, “It’s gone – all of it.”
“What do you mean ‘gone?’” James was in disbelief.
“I mean it’s GONE. The house is empty. My car is nowhere to be found.”
“Can’t we report it stolen?” James asked, looking back at the police officer.
“I’ll call it in,” the officer responded, walking back towards his patrol car. He shook his head, irritated with my never ending story, I’m sure.
I needed sleep. I had a migraine, one that even caffeine couldn’t fix. My eyes were bloodshot and swollen. I’d done a lot of crying lately.
I used James’ phone to call my boss, and broke down as soon as she picked up.
“Linds, honey? Is everything alright? It’s 3 in the morning.”
“Marcy, I – I can’t make it in to work…” My voice cracked. Marcy, my boss was the closest thing I had to a mother. She scolded me when I was late, she’d take me to lunch every now and again. She was the kind of woman who would tuck your tag in for you when it was sticking out of the back of your blazer. So naturally, I started weeping when I heard her voice.
“Lindsay, what’s going on?” Marcy’s voice was alert now.
“It’s Stacy – she’s been…” I paused to catch my breath, “She’s dead.”
“Your friend Stacy? Oh my… What happened?”
“She was murdered. I found her body.”
“Oh my God, Lindsay, well obviously don’t worry about coming in to work. You can take as much time as you need sweetie. Do you need anything? Should I come over? Are you at home?”
“No, I’m…” my voice trailed, “I’m staying at a friend’s house. Matt and I had a disagreement,” more tears.
“Oooh, sweetie. Get some rest, will you? I don’t want you to worry and fret about getting to work at a time like this,” Marcy’s voice was maternal and soothing.
We drove back to our room in silence. In shock. In disbelief. I don’t know what to do anymore. I’ve lost everything. My clothes, my car, my home, my marriage, my best friend. I crawled into bed, too exhausted to bathe or change clothes, and I thought to myself, “Now would be a great time to have family members who cared.”
That night, I dreamt about my parents. They looked exactly the same as they did twenty years ago. Young and happy. Mom was running around looking for a pair of heels she’d misplaced, dad was patiently waiting on her, sipping a glass of cabernet. He looked at me and smiled, “You sure you don’t want to go?”
“No thanks, dad. I’ll let this be your date night.”
“Come on, then! We’ll be late!” Mom suddenly appeared, in a long, black flowing dress.
He swallowed the last of his cab, and they waved goodbye for the last time.
I waited for them to leave the driveway, and phoned two of my best friends. They pulled up minutes later, and I got in to the car. We arrived fashionably late, to a party that would later be busted by police officers – who were looking for me.
“Lindsay Harris! We’re looking for Lindsay Harris. Are you Lindsay Harris?”
I was sure my parents had come home early. They’d heard about the party and knew there’d be underage drinking. No way they’d call the police though… That was the night my life fell apart. My parents had been in an accident on their way home. A semi-truck hit them head on. They both died instantly.
I kept trying to change what happened in my dream. Trying to make them stay home that night. Or take me with them. I woke up crying.
James rubbed my back, half asleep.
“I need some new clothes,” I muttered, “A new phone…”
“No, you don’t,” he replied, sounding annoyed.
“What do you mean? I can pay you back, James.”
“It’s not about the money, Linds,” he rolled over and pulled me closer, “We’re gonna try to find your stuff first.”
I tossed and turned all night. Worrying about how I was going to get the house back. The house my parents left to me. How could I afford a car or a phone? New clothes. My job wasn’t exactly high paying. James mentioned going to look for my things, but where would we even start?
We slept in Monday morning. James brought back breakfast again, we showered and got dressed.
“Where did you have in mind?” I asked.
“Well, if you truly think he moved your stuff…”
“Think? He DID. Why would you insinuate anything else?” My voice filled with anger.
“Calm down, sweetie,” James rubbed my back as we walked towards the car, “I’m just saying… It could’ve been someone else.”
“Yeah? Like who? Who has access to my house? Who has a grudge against me?”
“What about Camille? She’s his girlfriend. I’m sure she’s been over. We could start there.” He had a point.
He started the car and I gave him directions to Camille’s house. We pulled up, slowly, searching for a car in the driveway. It was empty. We should’ve driven by my house first. Matt works Mondays but maybe she’s at my house. Sleeping on a mattress in my bedroom, using my bathroom, cooking in my kitchen. Part of me is glad the house is being foreclosed on. I hope he has no clue. I hope it happens while she’s there. I hope he’s humiliated and she leaves him because she thought he had more money.
We casually walked up to Camille’s house. I stood on a pile of wood near the garage and peeked inside. No car. This is good. I jumped back down and we walked around the side. James pushed and pulled on every door and window, hoping to gain access without breaking anything. Finally, we made it all the way around, and the very last window was cracked open. James peeked in.
“It’s her bathroom. I can’t fit though. Can you?”
I rolled my eyes and used his foot to hoist myself up. We’re becoming a great couple of criminals, aren’t we? I crawled through the window and fell onto a tile floor.
“I’ll let you in through the back!” I said, running to find the back door.
Camille’s house was small. I found the backdoor quickly. I unlocked it and let James in. We tiptoed through Camille’s house, looking for my things.
Her house was small, cluttered. The sink was piled high with dirty dishes. So I guess that means she hasn’t been staying at my place. I made my way down a short hallway, and found myself in her bedroom. Her bed was tiny compared to our California King. Her full size mattress was covered with cheap sheets and throw pillows. I made my way over to her dresser and yanked open drawers, expecting to find my belongings. All I found were lacey thongs and bras and several pairs of shorts that looked like they’d fit a teenager. I was jealous.
I walked to her closet, lined with wedge sandals and stiletto heels. Who does this girl think she is? That’s when I spotted it. On the edge of her nightstand was a pearl necklace. My pearl necklace. Matt had given it to me as a birthday gift years ago. And here it was, sitting on her nightstand.
“Psst! James!” I whispered, hoping to get his attention from the living room.
I put the necklace in my back pocket and kept rummaging.
“James?” he must be too far away. I tiptoe back through the house and find him in her bathroom, raiding her cabinets.
“This chick’s a serious pill popper,” he muttered, moving around pill bottles.
“Who cares? That’s not why we came,” I said, clearly irritated. He looked up.
I told him I found my pearl necklace on her nightstand.
“So either she took it, or he gave it to her…” James leaned against the bathroom wall and something fell down. He turned around, to face a wall.
“It sounded like it came from the other room…”
“No…” James balled up a fist and banged it against the wall. It sounded hollow. He looked at me and ran his hands along the wall, feeling for a crack or an opening. The wall separated into two wood panels, and James gently tapped one, it popped open, like a hidden cabinet.
He pulled it open and peered in.
“Woah… Linds…” Hi voice was muffled because his head was stuck so far into the cabinet.
“What is it? Did you find my stuff?”
“Even better!” His voice got loud, “Look!”
I looked inside and my heart stopped.
Mounds and mounds of cash. Not ones and tens and fives. I’m talking stacks of 100-dollar bills, bundled up and stuffed into this tiny hidden cabinet. It looked like drug money. Hidden in her home. James looked at me. I knew what he was thinking.
I ran to the kitchen to find a plastic bag.
We stuffed as much as we could into the bag. We had to use another bag because it was so heavy. We basically forgot about my clothes for the day. Now that we were set for a while. I had James run to get the car while I pushed myself back out the bathroom window. I waited until I heard the car get closer and ran to the car, tossing the bag in the back seat.
“So, dinner’s on you tonight?” James laughed, speeding off.
I didn’t have much of a sense of humor just yet. I wanted my clothes, my shoes, my car. I pulled the necklace out of my back pocket. James squinted at it.
“Where’d you find that?”
“Huh. So she does have your things. Or he gave it to her.”
“He could’ve given it to her a long time ago. I probably wouldn’t have even noticed.”
“We’ll find your stuff, Linds. Don’t worry.” He put his hand on my knee and turned the corner.
And there they were. In his car, pulling into her neighborhood. I tried to put my head down, I tried to duck. But I didn’t have time. He saw me. He saw us. And he waved.