O’Lies tells the truth

Posted: 2011 in Post 8.4
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Friday, March 30, 6:46 p.m.

“You’re not telling me everything,” I say. “What really happened?”

“I fell asleep on the couch last night,” Jack says.

“You passed out,” I say. “And…?”

“I had my cell phone in my hand. I was going to call you,” he says. He hesitates, then continues slowly, “It woke me up this morning. It was going off.”

“It was ringing?” I say.

“No. I got a text,” he says.

Jack reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out his cell phone. He pushes a couple buttons, then he hands it to me.

Remember me? I sent you a new picture, it reads.

“That’s all?” I say.

“Look,” he says.

He reaches across me and taps the cell phone screen.

I see a photo of Jack standing outside the Ballard bar. It’s similar to the one he showed me last week: low-resolution, grainy, badly lit. But in this shot, Jack is standing over a man who lies supine on the sidewalk. The old mnemonic rhyme from anatomy class runs through my head…

Supine: on the spine.

The man is wearing a dark green suit. Evergreen, I’d call it. And a mint green tie. His face is obscured either by shadows or blood.

“I didn’t tell you,” Jack says, “But as soon as I got to work, there was another text. It said, ‘Everett. 12th Street and Hope Avenue. Or we’ll get her.’”

“Who?” I say.

Jack won’t look at me.

“Does anyone know you’re with me? Your husband?” he says.

“No,” I say.

“Good.”

“So…you went up to Everett? Where, exactly? 12th Street is north of the Naval base, right?” I say.

“I think so. I could see Puget Sound,” Jack says. “It was cold out. Real rundown neighborhood. Broken glass, graffiti. Everything smelled like the ocean. No one was around. There was a closed down bar. I peeked in the windows, but it looked like it had been shut for years. Dust everywhere. No chairs or tables. Broken stuff scattered around.”

“So what did you do?” I say.

“I sat down on the sidewalk and waited,” he says.

“You just waited?” I say. “I called you over and over. I was scared to death something awful happened to you. Why didn’t you answer?”

I scroll through his cell phone’s call record.

“And your editor called you eight times. We both texted you dozens of times. What were you really doing?” I say.

Jack looks confused.

“I don’t remember the phone ringing,” he says.

“Don’t give me that, Jack.”

“Maybe I sort of nodded off. I was kind of hungover,” he says.

Just hungover. Sure.

“Any hair of the dog this morning, Jack?” I say.

“No,” he says.

“So you just nodded off, sitting on the sidewalk, leaned up against some derelict bar? Is that what you’re telling me?” I say.

“Yes,” he says.

Leo, The Crimeologist, is right: Jack is within shouting distance of being a homeless wino.

“You’ve got to dry out,” I say. “Can’t you get into that Schick Whatsitsname detox place they’re always advertising on TV?”

Jack yanks his cell phone out of my hand. I think he’s going to stuff it back in his jacket pocket and order me out of his car into the pouring rain. Instead, he beings scrolling through the menu.

“Can’t work this damned thing,” he mutters. “There! Look.”

He thrusts the phone back into my hand.

I look.

It’s a pixilated photo taken in downtown Everett. The view of Puget Sound is unmistakable. There’s a woman in the foreground. She’s getting off of a bus. She’s dressed in a classic nurse’s uniform: white dress, white tights, white cap. Something green blocks half of the image. Evergreen

“He came around the corner,” Jack says. “The man in the green suit. He was at the bar in Ballard that night. I remember him now. He just stood there and looked at me. And then the bus pulled up behind him and the nurse got off. I snapped the picture and then ran like hell.”

I stare at the photo. Numerous responses float through my mind. Among them:

“What does all this mean, Jack?”

“Who are they?”

“Well, at least you know for sure you didn’t kill anyone.”

“Are you sure you took this photo today?”

“Where exactly is Hope Avenue? I’ve never seen any such street in Everett.”

“Are they going to kill you? Is that why you left your obituary with your editor?”

“Are they going to kill me? Is that why you left my obituary with your editor?”

“How did you manage to find out enough about me to write my obituary, anyway?”

“Would it be okay if I got out of your car and forgot I ever met you?”

 

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