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April 15, 2024

Patterns in Blood 20

By Lydia Manx

Los Angeles
Still In The Past

My home was trashed and the police officer that'd been taking my report asked me nicely, like I had an option, if I would mind giving him my fingerprints for elimination from the crime scene. Then he quickly took a set of fingerprints while making like he was my best new friend. I wasn't buying it in the least, and I felt like I was suspected of something, which was stupid, but nevertheless how I felt. Another officer asked if I 'minded' if he used the phone for a minute. I did mind, but it wasn't like I had any choice again. The whole thing was surreal and as I pointed out the phone I saw the answering machine was missing from the usual spot next to the phone. It was noted on the sparse list of stolen items.

I was relieved that only the cops knew what was found in the back room. The idea of Kyle or René seeing that ugly pornography churned my stomach up a bit more. The police finally finished up and I was told to deadbolt my door and change all the locks as soon as possible. And the various cars pulled out leaving the mess behind and a few business cards from the officer who'd been in charge. I was all alone.

The police abandoned the house nearly as quickly as they had arrived, but without the flashing lights and sirens. I was still stunned and more than a little dazed. Carefully I bolted the door behind the last officer as they'd suggested. I began to plod through the mess, attempting to put the house in some semblance of order. A few hours into the unplanned spring-cleaning the phone shrilled somewhere in the silence. I found out that the cop who'd asked to use the phone earlier had put the ringer back on without my knowledge. I chased down the ringing as there was no machine to pick up the unwanted call and the ringing kept going on and on. Reluctantly I picked up the receiver. My queried, "Hello?' was met with dead air.

My heart jumped back into my throat and I nearly thrust the handset back down when I heard, "Hello, Alanna?" replied slowly by Randolph.

Then Randolph began questioning me as to why the police were at his door. The emphasis on the words his door drove home to me that he didn't consider my house the place where he lived. With some misgivings, I related that there were signs of robbery and told him of my mugging the previous night. In all the activity of the mugging and business of the hospital I hadn't even thought to call him. That made me queasy, but reluctantly proud of the fact. Odd thoughts for me to have about my husband but then his quick reply did nothing to make me feel like I'd made a mistake.

"I'm so sorry, but still, why didn't you return any of my messages?" he demanded.

"What? When did you call? What messages?" I was genuinely confused. If he was talking about my cell phone he was seriously out of luck since that was long gone and probably being used to dial foreign countries at peak hours.

Tersely he snapped, "The ones I left on the stupid answering machine!"

Dryly I said, "Would that be on the answering machine that was stolen?"

Randolph was less than pleased that I hadn't got his messages, while I was still dumbfounded he didn't seem to give a damn what I told him had happened to me with the mugging and robbery. I'd mentioned my cell phone being stolen and the answering machine yet he was still focused on my rudeness about not calling him.

"But Alanna, why didn't you just have someone call me from the hospital?" I didn't know how to answer that question without coming off angry. Because admittedly I was definitely starting to get royally pissed off by his lack of reaction to my past day. It wasn't like I could just call him and say, "Gee, don't miss me much at home because I am at the hospital." He didn't even know I was gone until I'd told him.

I listened further to his flat declaration of shock in the form of massive amounts of swearing which he usually didn't do. I couldn't recall more than a few stray 'damns' coming from his lips. After telling me that he was paralyzed by my news, something I somehow doubted from his rather stilted comments, he promised to be home in the evening no later than nine or ten. As it was just a bit past noon that gave me no sense of joy but rather one of dread. It wasn't so much a feeling of a promise -- more like a threat. He hung up without adding anything more. Since his return was a few hours in the distance I simply planned on being long gone from the newest lunacy.

With a smile, I figured I would just leave him a little note or a card. I could have told him while he'd been on the phone but he wasn't exactly in the mood to listen to me. I hadn't seen any need to forewarn him of my intentions given his uncaring attitude. I was angry by his protesting how much he was 'paralyzed' by my mishaps; too much had been happening and yet my husband was missing and pretty much uncaring. It all was leaving me with far too many unanswered questions.

As I started to put my kitchen back together, sweeping up and throwing out all the food to prevent an insect invasion, I remembered the floor safe. I don't know how I'd forgotten such an important bit of real estate given what had transpired over the past few days. I quickly rush to the sink and fell to my knees to check if the floor safe has been found. It was undisturbed. Glancing at the clock I was surprised to see how much time had passed. Thankfully it wasn't yet dark but I felt the push of minutes driving me to speed up. Pulling out the clippings from Randa and the assorted strange notes that I'd received, I decided I had to stop waffling and deliver them to the police. I placed them in a large manila envelope that hadn't been torn up or stepped on in the break-in. I took the time to also list out the missing documents I'd discovered since the police had left.

It seemed that all my monthly personal bank statements had been removed along with other legal documents, financial letters and declarations associated with my business that had been in various files. It wasn't something that I'd immediately associated with the break-in, yet as I had cleaned up I'd discovered. I wasn't concerned about any kind of seizure or manipulation of my money since my access codes weren't written down anywhere but still I was uneasy. A hacker friend had clued me in on access codes and taught me well thus years ago I had memorized birth dates of childhood friends and used these numbers for codes which I felt would be pretty hard to guess. When I was ready to dash out of the house to see the police and give them the envelope with all the clippings and notes, I caught sight of myself in the hallway mirror which was surprisingly undamaged. The phone rang at the same time while I was mentally debating with myself if I should got back inside and quickly shower.

"Yes?" I cautiously ventured.

"Mrs. Hagen? This is Bobby from Al's Garage," he replied.

"Huh, what?" I distractedly answered.

"The car wouldn't take a charge so I had to put in a new battery. It was 'cause the dome light had been left on inside all night. That can happen when people forget to shut the door properly. So, I changed the battery like the lady at your office told me but I still don't know what ya want done about the seats." He barely took a breath the entire time he was talking. I was still replaying the words and catching up.

Aggravated by this strange turn in the conversation I asked, "Seats? What do you mean? What's wrong with the seats?" I still was trying to make the link between the battery and the seats.

He paused, "Oh, damn, nobody told you? I guess whoever took your purse and stuff looked through the car with a straight edged razor. The seats had been sliced clean open -- like a foot or so on each one -- kind of like so you could put your hand in and search I guess. Some of the junk inside was squashed out and all over the floor. I think the tow guy saw it 'cause it happened before the car was even here," he added as way of telling me he had no fault in the damage, "An' so like," he finished, "do you want it fixed or what?"

I had finally put it together all he was saying and since I regularly had the company vans serviced at that garage I knew they had fairly competitive prices. I said, "Sure go ahead and fix it all. Say do I at least get a loner car?"

"Let me check with the boss," a muffled conversation while he put the receiver up to his chest and spoke with someone else, "Sure, but we won't have one available to lend to you until tomorrow, okay?"

Finishing up the conversation I made arrangements to pick up a car in the morning and hung up feeling more worn out than ever. Glancing at the clock I saw that it was closer to six than I expected. Naturally I was upset by the latest development. I called the local cab company and asked if it was possible to have someone pick me up. I was told that it would be at least thirty minutes before someone could show up. I agreed, not like I had much of a choice, and was promptly hung up on. Had to love the commerce of California. They didn't let anything like customer service get in the way of making money. There was always another sucker around the corner willing to pay extortionist prices to get a ride. Taking advantage of the time left to me I hopped into the shower -- one of the only debris-free areas in my home.

I soaped and washed head to foot uncaring if I was disturbing some bandages and risking something horrific. I didn't even think about my possible brain trauma. I just wanted to be clean. Before getting into the shower I opened up a brand new loofa sponge to rid myself of the disgusting layer of filth I had acquired while cleaning my decimated house. Before I got out my skin was nearly raw from my frantic scrubbing. But I did feel much better. I was somewhat careful of my head injury once I was underneath the spray and I tried to keep the cut from breaking open and getting wet. Honestly I didn't really care but I wasn't ready to risk some odd staph infection. I did wash my hair very carefully. Knowing my luck, I probably was going to be gobbling antibiotics before the week was out.

Slowly I blotted off the excess moisture and pulled on my clothes. The bathroom was steamy so I took the towel and wiped off the condensation from the mirror. Glancing at my soaking wet hair I saw that it was now dripping onto my oversized baggy sweater soaking in a large ugly stain. I tore off the now wet sweater tossing it aside and picked out something I hoped was more absorbent. The sweats weren't some designer label but would keep me warm until I changed. The dark blue sweats would hide most stains and dripping water.

Reluctantly I resigned myself to use the remaining time before my cab showed up to quickly blow dry my hair. While half way through drying my hair I smelt something burning. I turned off the dryer figuring some of my hair had tangled into the back of the dryer and was burning on the heat coils. The vents in the back showed nothing blocking the screen on the hairdryer, breathing deeply in frustration, I started coughing.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2008-03-24
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