Coming February 19, 2015
“Call David,” Amelia spoke into the voice command of her console app, her Spanish accent slightly evident. Nothing happened. She tried again. The call went directly to voicemail. “Dave, it’s me. I. . .” Her call dropped.
Lightning bolted. Meandering storm clouds darkened the sky. Rain beat against the car. Her headache was now unbearable and she could hardly see through the pain. The throbbing synced with her heartbeat which seemed to pound erratically. Nonetheless, she pushed through the thirty-mile drive to her cousin’s house. He needed his briefcase that he’d left in her car the other day.
She parked across the street from David’s townhouse. Both his and Beth’s cars were in the driveway, and there was no room for hers. She got out of the car, carrying the briefcase. His garage was open and so was the inside door. Unusual.
“Dave!” she called out. It was quiet.
She nearly tripped over a planter. What was that doing there? She picked it up and set it in the corner where it belonged. In another few feet, she saw overturned tables and chairs, lamps on the floor, papers and books were strewn everywhere.
“What the hell happened here?” she whispered.
“Dave!” she yelled and ran upstairs. Clothes were everywhere. His personal items had been ransacked, dumped, broken, and ripped. “Dave!” she screamed. She leaped down the stairs, nearly knocking over a misplaced vase.
Amelia ran into the living room, still screaming. Then into the dining room, which was also demolished. She stood in the corridor, panicked.
No one’s here, she thought.
Just then, she noticed the basement door was ajar. She ran down the stairs and immediately recognized that his basement had also been ransacked. In the corner, she saw David lying in a pool of his blood, mutilated. A bloodcurdling scream escaped Amelia as she fell to her knees. Who would do such an awful thing?
She heard a clunk then loud rumbling and thumping. She ran, trying to prevent her wet galoshes from squeaking on the tile floor. Crouching into a dark corner, she fell back a little when she tripped on something, still managing to balance herself while trying to quietly move the impediment. She couldn’t quite make out what was in her way as she touched something sticky. She looked at her hand. Blood. She turned and saw David’s ex-wife, Beth, slumped over. Amelia screamed into her hand. The sound of her muffled scream had been concealed by a rather large man falling backward down the stairs, tumbling to a neck-breaking thud.
Clutching the briefcase, Amelia swiftly hid behind Beth’s dead body, veiled by the shadows of the basement. She heard two, maybe three pairs of footsteps approaching. Men. Their gait sounded too heavy to belong to women. Amelia trembled, trying not to make noise. Her breathing was so hard and heavy she feared they’d hear her. She closed her eyes, frightened that they’d glimmer in the darkness and give her away.
She heard the men scrambling around. Their work boots gave her tremors with each thump. Her heart pounded with unsteady beats. Her body quaked uncontrollably as one of the men got closer and closer . . . and closer. He stood right in front of her—still for a moment, then squatting down. He was so close she could smell his putrid breath. She prayed he couldn’t see her, hoping the darkness shielded her. Slowly, she opened her eyes, which met with his. He smiled wryly.
“You picked a really bad day to drop by,” he said.
He reached his hand toward her. She thought she’d lose control of her bladder. Maybe she had—the basement reeked of urine. She tried to lean back but couldn’t go any further. Her heart leaped into her throat. Her stomach somersaulted.
He touched Beth’s hair and cheek. Sucking his teeth, he stood, kicking Beth’s legs and causing her body to shift. He stood there a moment longer until the other men headed upstairs.
She wanted to scream—again, no air. She couldn’t stop shaking.
One of the men yelled from upstairs. He turned and ran up the stairs, two steps at a time. She heard their heavy thumps above her. A door slammed. Two car doors closed, and the heavy engine revved. Its vibrations were strong at first but receded with distance.
Amelia pushed Beth’s body to the side and it fell over, stiff like a mannequin. She ran to the stairs, avoiding the puddles of blood along the way. She tripped on the man’s arm at the foot of the stairs and fell on top of him—the briefcase between their bodies—staring him in the face. She recognized him and gulped hard—she was too breathless for a scream. It was Uncle Murphee—her mother’s brother, and David’s father.
In a panic, she hastily climbed the stairs, frequently losing her footing, banging her knees as she tried to regain her balance. Still clutching the briefcase, she hightailed it to her car and sped away.
That was three years ago.