Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Staying at Rose's Place

Yesterday was incredibly busy. We went from polling place to polling place, gathering up opinions and tallies. When all was said and done, I didn’t get home until about one in the morning.

But I wish I could’ve done that today instead of what I had to do.

I had my Wawa orientation (I got the job, by the way. Hooray.) in the morning, and then went straight over to Rose’s place afterward. I called her a few times on the way over, but she only answered once, and when she did, she just told me in a tiny little voice that she was home alone and then she set the phone down and just left it there. So I drove faster.

When I got there, I saw that she was right; hers was the only car in the driveway. The front door was locked, as was the side door, so I had to use my key (yes, I have a key to her house). The house was completely silent. I checked Rose’s room, the living room. She was nowhere to be found.

Finally, I saw that a light was on in the bathroom. I waited for a few minutes, but when she didn’t come out, I went over and knocked on the door, calling her name a few times.

“I’m here,” she said. She sounded a bit hoarse.

I heard the lock click open and hesitantly opened the door. Rose had taken her fluffy comforter, several pillows, her iPod, cell phone, and laptop, and basically set up shop in her bathroom. She was curled up, wrapped in fluffiness, in the little corner made by her bathtub and the wall. She looked like she hadn’t slept in a while. Honestly, I nearly cried just looking at her like that—why was she camped out in the bathroom? Did her parents know she was here?

It took me a little while to convince her to get up. She seemed calm in an eye-of-a-hurricane sort of way, and kept repeating nonsense phrases like mantras. Listen, they might ring a bell, because the one repeated most was “Sees me.” Other than that, she kept telling me that it didn’t matter whether the police knew, and that I had to stay with her or else “he” would get her. This Slender stuff has really gotten into her head; it wasn’t until we were in my car that I realized why she’d stayed in the bathroom:

It’s the only room in her house without windows.

While I was driving us down there, she sat in the passenger seat with her knees hugged up to her chest, her feet perched on the edge of the seat. Then she suddenly said something that really startled me: “Do you know what I was doing at around eleven this morning?”

“No,” I said, assuming that she just wanted to tell me what she’d been doing.

“Neither do I.” That was when she started to cry.

She buried her head in her arms and just broke the hell down. I’ve never seen her like this. She cried all the way to the sheriff’s office downtown, and then we had to sit in the parking lot for about twenty minutes while she just cried it out. I don’t think she’d cried about this situation before today. That’s the thing about Rose: she just keeps this shit bottled up, trying to find a solution, until she explodes.

After she’d calmed down enough, we went in and spoke to the sheriff about filing a report, and that’s when the proverbial “shit got real.” As it turns out, Sheriff Thomson was about to call me when we got in. Apparently, several reports have come in over the past two days and the detectives here think it might have a connection. And here’s the kicker, nonexistent readers—they’re all reports of the same guy, or if not the same, then guys with the same description: tall, bald, dressed in a suit. We’re a small town; how damn many tall suit-wearing guys come around here?

The reports have also come in from two teenagers and one middle-aged woman, but mainly from the parents of the five kids who disappeared—including the woman who yelled at me that day, whose name I’ve learned was Mary-Ann Compton, mother of one Adriana Compton. She’s a member of my grandmother’s church group down at St. Ignatius. On top of that, a teenage boy from the next town over went missing a couple of weeks ago that they think is connected to this case.

To my surprise—especially after her freakout in the car—Rose seemed to take the news pretty well. She calmly filled out the paperwork, and was quite gracious when Sheriff Thomson told her they’d get back to both of us if anything changed. When we got back to her place, she sat with me a while and talked almost as if this afternoon never happened. After a while, though, she and I went back into her room and she pulled the covers over her head. She hasn’t come out yet.

Come to think of it, maybe she didn’t take it so well.

I’m still at her place, and have agreed to stay here every night until the police catch this guy. Violet has no classes tomorrow, so she’s driving up from Baltimore. For now, I’m not going anywhere until tomorrow, when I have to get an official comment and write up a new update on the story.

In the meantime, she’s practically catatonic and I’m lost. I don’t know if anybody reads this—I throw around “nonexistent readers” like a joke—but does anybody have any advice on my next step? I’ve done okay so far, but…seeing Rose like that today has got me second-guessing myself.

1 comment:

  1. Coffee. Make friends with it. You're gonna be in for a bumpy ride...