Weeks have passed by in which no more news has been heard. The elusive killer manages to stay one step ahead of the authorities hunting him; various leads and sightings ultimately end up as dead ends. Even my dreams have stopped.
I am left with a strange sense that I am bereft of something. That this connection I have with the supposed killer has been severed somehow. It is an odd sensation, something I know I should be happy about but can’t help feeling adrift somehow.
“I think it’s time I went back to my flat,” I say to David one morning “I’ve been here long enough, I need to get back to normal.”
“Are you sure?” he says. “You know you can stay here for as long as you need to, we’ve got plenty of room.”
I nod. “You’ve got your lives to lead and mine’s been on hold for long enough. I want to get back to work and start doing, you know, normal things.”
“OK,” he says. “One condition though.”
“Let me get that extra security installed for you,” he says. “Peace of mind.”
As I shut the door behind me, I let out a sigh. I am home. My own space, my own four walls. I can see a pile of post on the coffee table that my friend, Michelle, who has popped by every week to look after things; has left for me.
In the kitchen, a note on the counter:
As you’re home, I’ve stocked up on a few things for you. The most important items are in the fridge. See you tonight, M x
I open the fridge door and smile. Next to the milk, two bottles of my favourite wine.
“So, everything just stopped?” Michelle says, forking a large portion of bruschetta into her mouth. We are at my favourite Italian café, Michelle is obsessed with their bruschetta, always orders two portions.
I nod. “No more dreams, just the usual, weird ones that we all have.”
“I don’t know that dreaming Tom Cruise is madly in love with me counts as weird,” she says.
“It would to some people.”
She smiles. “So, what now?”
I take a sip of wine. “I need to get back to work,” I say.
“Good thing you’re freelance,” Michelle says.
“Yes, but I’ve had no money coming in for the last few weeks and I’ve had to use my savings.”
“You’ll get it back, you’re great at what you do.”
My phone trills noisily at me.
“Who’s that ruining our girly time?”
“I don’t know,” I say, looking at the screen. “It’s a withheld number.”
“Ignore it, it’ll be a bloody marketing scam or something.”
I put the phone back down but as soon as the ringing stops, it starts up again. I have a sense that this caller won’t give up. I have to answer.
“Abbie, please don’t hang up.”
My grip tightens on the mobile, knuckles turning white. Michelle looks at me, frowning.
“Ok,” I whisper.
“You need to know something. It’s him, he’s found me again.
“What is it?”
“I am not the murderer Abbie, I’m being set up.”
“Then why don’t you go to the police and tell them that?”
“Too much evidence against me.”
I hear him sigh. “It’s complicated,” he says.
“People are dying!” I hiss, drawing looks from a couple sitting at another table near me.
“I know that,” he says. “Listen, I am connected to some of them but not all of them. That doesn’t mean I’m the killer.”
“Do you know who is?”
“No. If I did, I would have gone to the police but they keep finding things that belong to me at the crime scenes.”
“Then it’s someone you know, who is close to you.”
“No, that’s not it.”
“Then what? Look, aren’t you done with interrupting my life? There are laws against stalking you know.”
“I’m not a stalker and I’m not a killer,” he says, insistent. “I don’t know how or why you and I are connected, I’m not psychic. I don’t even believe in that stuff.”
“OK,” I say, sighing. “Just tell me what you want.”
“To talk with you in person.”
“I promise you, I’m not going to hurt you,” he says. “I just want to meet you, have you hear my side of the story, maybe even help me figure this all out.”
“I’ll have to think about it,” I say. “Give me until tomorrow.”
I hang up, switch the phone off, take a deep swig of my wine.
“You’re shaking,” Michelle says.
“Can we go?” I whisper.
“Sure,” she says. “I’ll take care of this, then we’ll go and crack open one of those bottles in your fridge.”
I smile, Michelle always manages to make me feel better.
“You have to meet him,” she says later when we’re back at my flat. “Just to get some answers and end this nightmare you’ve been going through.”
“I never expected you to say something like that,” I reply.
“It might be the wine talking,” she says, swirling the pale liquid in her glass. “But, even so, aren’t you the least bit curious to find out for yourself?”
“Of course,” I say. “Maybe I can convince him to give himself up.”
“If he’s not the killer as he says he’s not though, then the police would just be arresting the wrong man and the real killer is still out there somewhere.”
I sigh. Michelle is right of course, she always is.
“I should tell David at least,” I say. “It’s his investigation after all.”
“It’s not that,” she says. “Look, I like your brother, you know I do. But, he must be at the end of his tether leading an investigation that clearly isn’t going anywhere. The minute you tell him he’ll have you wired up and snipers on the roof for any meeting you set up with this guy.”
“Isn’t that a good thing though?”
“I’ll go with you,” she says. “Arrange it for a public place somewhere, open ground so you can get away if need be.”
“I need to sleep on it,” I say. “This just feels too monumental for me to even comprehend at the moment.”
“Want me to stay?”
I nod, grateful for her company. “The spare room’s always yours.”
I sleep fitfully, waking up throughout the night so by the time morning arrives, I feel more tired than ever.
Sitting on the balcony, taking in the view of a fiery red and orange sunrise reminds me of my time up on the lake. The cabin which feels like it’s perched on the edge of the world, frozen in time. I miss it and want to go back.
“Morning,” a sleepy voice greets me as Michelle steps outs on to the balcony, coffee in hand. She sits down next to me. “I love a good sunrise.”
“Me too,” I say. “Beauty amongst chaos.”
She nods, sipping from her steaming cup, the smell of coffee invoking more memories of my last morning at the cabin.
“I’m going to do it,” I say. “I’m going to meet him.”
To be continued…..
© Grace McGowan 2017