Archive for the ‘Post 8.5’ Category

Friday, March 30, 7:24 p.m.

There’s a low-to-mid priced motel just across the freeway. I coax Jack into driving us there by promising him a mini-bar stocked with booze. I check him in on my credit card and hustle him up to his room. The familiar, anonymous motel smell pushes us out of the elevator and down the deserted hallway. I slide the keycard, open the door to the room, and click on the lights. Jack trails me inside.

“This is nice,” I say doubtfully.

Jack sits on the bed and looks up at me.

“Will you stay?” he asks.

“Nope. And there’s no mini-bar, either,” I say. “I’m gonna use the bathroom.”

When I come back out, Jack is sprawled across the bed. He’s asleep.

For a moment, I wonder if I ought to stay after all. He tried to protect me today. I feel I owe it to him to keep him from wandering out into the night in search of the Irish pub just across the freeway overpass. I feel like I should keep him safe and sober.

I quickly decide against it, however. I can explain a few irregular things I’ve done lately to interested parties (my husband), but not sharing a low-to-mid priced motel room with another man.

“Hey Jack,” I say. “Jack?”

I consider shaking him. I lean down instead and peer at his slack face. He’s breathing lightly and evenly. His face is utterly peaceful. I’ve never seen him look like this before. He looks like a dead man.

I grab a piece of motel stationary and scrawl him a note.

Katherine's Handwriting


I borrowed your car to get home. I’ll bring it back tomorrow morning. We’ll get breakfast. Or brunch.

I take his car keys. After a moment of reflection, I take his cell phone as well. I leave my cell phone in its place. I don’t get many calls. I creep out of the room, turning off the lights as I go, leaving Jack shod and uncovered on the bed.

As I drive home, I ponder the impending karmic joke at my expense. Jack’s car is a manual: the most idiotic form of transmission ever invented. I have driven a stick shift exactly once in my fifteen years as a driver, with less than stellar results.

I lurch, swerve, and stall. I grind gears while swearing flamboyantly through the open window. I am sure to be pulled over for erratic driving the few miles to my house. I’ve always wanted to see someone I know on “Cops.” I’ve seen a cop I know (and in whose cop car I once rode), but that doesn’t count. I want to see a criminal I know. Preferably someone I went to high school with.

Cops TV Show

When the cops pull me over tonight, and the “Cops” camera crew shines their bright lights in my face, I will spout the same bullshit line uttered by all the grand theft auto suspects on the show:

“This car? It belongs to a friend of mine. He said I could borrow it.”

Oh Arturo, god of irony! The person I know on “Cops”…will be me!

Somehow, I make it home without being arrested. I park five blocks from my house, just in case Jack comes to, is unable to decipher my note, and calls the police to report his car stolen. I eat a late dinner, then settle on the couch to snoop through Jack’s cell phone. It’s a very basic, old school model.

In his photo folder is the shot of him outside the Ballard bar and the image he snapped in Everett today. Nothing else. Nothing taken for work. Not one of his daughter.

In his inbox are several texts sent by me today, as well as eleven from his editor. The most recent was sent eighteen minutes ago. I open it.

Are you OK? Call me.

There are dozens from “Undisclosed.” I don’t want to open any of these. Jack has shown me some of them. They’re scary and I’ve been scared enough today.

I open his address book. It’s sparsely populated:

“Lucy’s cell”
“Coroner Harry Dekins”
“3 Coins bar”
“Katherine’s cell phone”
“Katherine’s work phone”
“Katherine’s home phone”

What the hell, Jack!

Unsettled, I put his phone down and open my email to read the dossier sent to me by Leo, The Seattle Crimeologist. It’s awfully comprehensive; obsessively so. It run to 78 pages, single spaced, with photos. Among the highlights:

  • Jack’s two DUI arrest records and mug shots
  • The articles Jack wrote while covering the trial of his wife’s killer
  • Jack’s HR file, two years old, filled with multiple citations for drunkenness at work, action plans, official reprimands and AA referrals
  • A long list of regional journalism awards Jack has won
  • A long list of national journalism awards Jack has won
  • A copy of the notice of nomination from the Pulitzer Prize committee, dated 1999
  • A copy of the letter from the Pulitzer Prize committee awarding Jack second place, dated 1999
  • A write-up by an HR rep on the incident between Jack and Leo that resulted in Leo’s summary firing from his internship at the Washingtonian
  • Lucy’s school handbook, downloaded from the school’s website
  • Lucy’s permanent record from seventh grade through high school
  • Lucy’s quarterly report cards from seventh grade through last semester
  • Multiple high resolution photos of the exterior of Jack’s house

I’m not in any of the photos. Leo’s not that stupid.

I don’t know what to do. So I go to bed. At three in the morning, I awaken suddenly. My heart is pounding. I listen intently.

Before I went to bed, I put several bags filled with cans destined for the recycling bin in front of the door. If a murderer tries to enter, he or she will knock them over and the clattering cacophony will alert me.

The house is silent. But my heart continues to pound. I realize it’s pounding in the urgent manner that typically signals the recollection of an unfinished task.

The Chief.

I stagger out of bed through the dark house and locate Jack’s cell phone. I scroll to “Work” and blink in confusion when I am sent to voicemail.

I’m not very sharp at three a.m. I hang up and dig through my coat pockets until I find the card with The Chief’s cell phone number written on it. I dial. I’m sort of awake as it begins to ring. The Chief is not when he answers.

“Low?” he murmurs groggily into the phone. “Jack? You okay? What happened?”

“It’s Katherine from the Journal,” I say, my voice robotic in the wee hours.

“What…is he with you? What happened to him?”

“He’s okay,” I say. “He’s staying at a motel tonight. I’m still trying to figure out what’s going on. But he’s safe. His daughter’s safe, too. You can stop worrying.”

“Katherine?” Jack’s editor murmurs in his bedroom voice. “Is there anything I can do?”

Half-asleep, yet still so professional! Is he married? Is he shirtless?

I am so immature.