There is always more to the story than just a fire in a trash can…
Today I got the phone call. She was sobbing into the speaker as if the world was breaking apart around her. “Helen, I can’t understand you. Helen, breathe.” Her breath quavers around my ear through the phone. When she is this upset, I can only wait for her to find her words.
“I can’t find him. I’m worried.”
“What do you mean, you can’t find him?” We’ve had this discussion before. A few relationships ago, when the ‘man of her dreams’ disappeared. We found him two days later at a strip club wearing a thong as a headband, and barf as a shirt.
“I’m worried.” I really want to ask why she even bothers dating? The guys she finds, suck. I really want to shake her off this crazed notion of fairytale princes and happily-ever-afters. And I really want to find this guy so I can make him bleed like I did barf boy.
I don’t even remember their names anymore, just the way we find them.
“Helen, how long has he been gone?”
“I waited. A few days. Just like you said I should–”
“Have you slept?”
“I can’t sleep when he’s missing?”
“What have you been doing?”
“The usual. Hacking his email, stalking his media accounts, making inquiries into his past relationships and tracking his credit cards.” Her words wobble less. Using the phrase that makes her sound like completely-level-headed-woman, and a crazy-stalker-chick.
“Have you gotten any pings?”
“No. Which is why I am worried.” I seem to be the only one she ever calls at 4am on a day when the current boyfriend has been missing for ‘a few days,’ which in Helen’s case, could be 4-72 hours. She doesn’t really have a world clock in her head and it gets worse when she doesn’t sleep.
When it gets to the point where reality and fear mesh into her conscious mind, there is no telling what is going to happen next.
The memory of the last time a guy ghosted her comes back to me like a foggy flame filled dream. She had bought a few too many albums for their “inevitable engagement,” and he saw all of them scattered about the apartment. The next day, he was just gone. When we found him at a dinner in Spokane hitting on a waitress Helen just got up and walked out without a word.
I didn’t. I was polishing off my fist with a cloth napkin when I walked out of their after her. The off white fabric smeared the blood. I looked up to see Helen pouring liter fluid all over his car. She flung a liter into the cab and that beast of a truck’s paint started melting in seconds.
She pulled out the photos she had been looking through all the way to Spokane. She didn’t look at them this time. Helen dropped the all of his photographs into the trash.