Archive for the ‘Post 9.7’ Category

Saturday, March 31, 10:46 a.m.

I call Jack as soon as I leave my rendezvous with the coroner. Outside, hunched against the chilling rain, I hold the cell phone to my ear. After three rings, just as I reach my car, he answers.

“Katherine?” he says. “Where are you?”

“You gave me permission to investigate you, right?” I interrupt him curtly.

“Yeah,” he replies.

“Did I give you permission to do the same to me?”

Silence flows from Jack’s line to mine.

“But you did, didn’t you?” I say. I fumble my car keys out of my purse and open the driver’s door. “You found out where I live. You wrote my obituary before the fact. And now, your coroner friend tells me that the two of you have been talking about me. Your coroner friend! What the hell, Jack?”

Another fathom’s deep silence gushes out of the cell phone into my ear. I get into my car and slam the door. Rain patters on the roof. I open my mouth to say, “Care to explain, Jack?” when suddenly I go utterly numb.

It all makes sense. The solution to the mystery that I’ve been wrestling with for the past week is…

I am dead!

No. That doesn’t make sense. I’ve gone to work. I’ve filed articles. I’ve driven press cars. I’ve bought groceries. I’ve interacted with my family. My co-workers have spoken directly to me at meetings and ‘round the water cooler. There hasn’t been one mention of my funeral or a single comment upon the sad absence of Katherine while I was in the room.

Still…

“Am I dead?” I whisper. “Please, Jack. You can tell me. Is that why you wrote my obituary? And told the coroner about me?”

Jack is speechless for a moment, then he lets out an elephantine snort that dispels any further melodrama I might have stored up.

“Jesus Christ, Katherine,” he mutters. “For the love of God.”

“Well,” I say defensively. “It was a very good obituary. Very accurate.”

“I’m thorough,” he says.

Another solution to the mystery occurs to me.

“You’re a stalker!” I accuse. “You’ve got some creepy fixation on me, don’t you?”

His silence is brief, broken by a world weary sigh.

“What did you do to my life?” Jack says. “Things got so mixed up the day we met.”

“Because you stalked me,” I say.

“I did no such thing,” he says.

“You investigated me, then,” I say.

Jack, the former investigative reporter, hesitates.

“Possibly,” he says.

“Why?”

“You were trying to interview me,” he says. “For some nebulous book. Why the hell wouldn’t I check you out?”

He acted so neutral, so uninformed when I introduced myself nine days ago. What a liar. He must have been an incredible journalist once.

“So, how average does my life seem to you?” I say.

“What?”

“You got everything right about me. Birth place, childhood, boring college, boring first career, boring second career. Married. Kid. Third career as a third-rate journalist. All the boxes checked. I guess I can die now, right?” I say.

“Don’t,” Jack says.

I can’t tell if he means, “Don’t die,” or “Don’t talk like this, you self-indulgent drama queen.” Either seems plausible right now.

“You’re a very good writer, but even you couldn’t make my life interesting,” I say.

“Can we get a drink?” Jack says.

“You always say that,” I say.

“Then say yes for once,” he says.

I sigh. I’m not dead, so why not live a little?

 

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