Interlaced

As the sun crept over the horizon Grace took a deep drag off her cigarette and exhaled slowly. She glanced at her hands covered in dirt.

“Stupid nails, that was a waisted manicure,” she said to the empty house.

She downed the glass of Jack Daniels and dropped her cigarette into the empty glass. She slowly took her clothes off and dropped them into the hamper, standing in the bathroom she took out the fingernail clippers from her make-up bag and trimmed her fingernails, short. She stepped into the shower and turned on the water.

Grace just stood there letting the water wash away the dirt. Tears started to stream down her face and she slid down and sat in the corner of the tub, crying.

“I am so sorry, it should have never turned out like this,”

She pulled on her blue cotton robe that was hanging on the back of the bathroom door and crawled into bed.

Grace was awoken by the beep of the answering machine, as the sunlight streaked across the bedroom floor. She got up and stumbled in to the bathroom. She stood at the sink, looking in the mirror her hair a red stringy mess, dark circles under her eyes and a pale complexion.

She turnned the water on and splashed cold water on her face trying to become conscious. Dressing in dark jeans, a conservative blue blouse and a pair of tan flats.

Grace went downstairs and into the kitchen, she poured herself a cup of coffee added two spoonfuls of sugar and a splash of cream. Grace grabbed a cranberry muffin from the counter top.

She listened to the answering machine, the first one was from her husband’s assistant.

“John it’s 9 and your not here, where are you, please call me,”

The second was from John’s boss.

“Hey John it’s 4 pm on Monday and no one has heard from you since Friday. Let us know what’s up before we send a search party after you,”

She entered the garage and got into her car, she glanced over at John’s car and thought,

“I’ll have to deal with that latter,”

She drove downtown parked in the downtown parking garage and walked over towards the police station.

It was 10 am on Tuesday when Grace entered the police station.

“I need to file a missing persons report,” she informed the front desk attendant.

The attendant handed her a form and told her to give as much detail as possible. She read over what she had written, missing John Summers age 45, wt. 215 lbs, eyes brown, hair short, dark brown with streaks of grey. Last seen Sunday April 27th.

“Do you have a picture?” the desk attendant asked.

“Yes,” she had remembered to grab a picture before leaving the house, choosing a candid one from last summers barque with the neighbors.

Grace found herself wandering around downtown in the art district, strolling aimlessly through the streets look at the sculptures and displays in the windows.

She had meet John during her summer of slumming in Seattle, in a downtown club. Shortly after being introduced she found herself in a bathroom stall getting to know him real well.

John Summers had just graduated with a degree in business and graphic design. He took a job under the title of v.p. of a software company. They had built a life together a nice house, two cars, played the happy couple at social events. Their love had burned out after the first three years and during the last two years they had lived more like roommates rather than lovers.

After wandering around she found herself getting hungry and tired. She entered the Hot Zone Bar & Grill, took a seat at the bar and ordered a plate of nachos, an ice tea and a shot of Jack.

She had not realized how long she had been walking around it was now the beginning of happy hour. Grace ate her nachos and drank her ice tea, then downed her shot and ordered another.

A guy took the seat next to her and gave her a friendly smile.

“You look like you could use some cheering up,” he said. Grace just smiled.

He ordered a beer, she finished her second shot of Jack and headed to the lady’s room, he followed her.

Grace awoke to the phone ringing and answered it.

“Mrs. Summers?”

“Yes,”

“Would you be able to come down and discuss your husband’s case around noon today?”

“Sure,”

It had been a few months since she had made the missing persons report on her husband and it didn’t surprise her that it had taken this long for them to get back to her.

Detective Eric Stone a well build guy with good hair in his early forties entered the room.

Grace looked at him and thought seriously what are the chances. Detective Eric Stone her friendly stranger from the bar.

“Have a seat Mrs. Summers,” Detective Stone said.

She sat down in the cold metal chair.

“Do you know why you are here?”

“Yes,”

“Why don’t you tell me what happened to your husband John Summers,”

“Alright, I was staring out the sliding glass doors that lead out on to our deck, watching the rain. It was beautiful with all the lightning. May I have a glass of water?” Grace asked.

“Ya, just a minute,” Detective Stone left the room.

She took out her compact mirror to check her make-up, while he was gone.

“Here you go, now please go on,” Detective Stone said.

She took a drink and continued.

“Well, I was waiting for John to come home. When he did finally show up he stumbled in smelling of cigarettes, women and booze. He didn’t even say anything just tripped up the stairs to the master bedroom. I finished straightening up and went up after him. He was just laying there on the bed all sprawled out he didn’t even take his shoes off,” She took another sip of her water and cleared her throat.

“So I left him there and went downstairs to sleep in the guest room. When I got up the next morning he was gone, like he had never even come home,” Grace sat staring at detective Stone.

“And when was this?” Detective Stone asked.

“About two months ago,” she answered.

“Thank you for coming in today, we will keep you informed if anything else come up in your husband’s disappearance,” Detective Stone left the room and Grace gathered her things.

Grace sat straight up out of a deep sleep, not sure of where she was and tried to swallow, it felt like razor blades slicing into the back of her throat.

She reached for a glass of water and suddenly realized where she was a crappy motel room. She slowly sipped the glass of water, the pain in her throat soothed a little.

She glanced around the trashed motel room and spotted a note with a folded $50 under it on the stand next to the t.v.
The note read “Enjoyed the ride” -B.

She noticed the cigarettes overflowing in the ashtray and the almost empty bottle of Jack Daniels, no wonder her throat hurt, along with an open condom wrapper.

“Well that’s reassuring,”

Her clothes from the night before were on the floor her jeans that were a size to small on purpose and the black low cut top were next to the bed. Her black lace bra thrown across the chair in the corner. She had gone down the street to a bar to relax before having to go see Detective Stone today to wrap up her husbands case.

The previous nights events started to seep back in there was a pool table. Shots of something probably more Jack and there was a B that was grabbing at her ass all night while she was trying to shoot pool. What was it Bob or Billy, she couldn’t remember and it didn’t matter.

She got ready to go see Detective Stone, dressing nicely with slacks, a blouse, a pair of pumps and her conservative white satin bra. She loosely pulled back her shoulder length red hair and secured it with a clip.

Good enough she thought and headed out to her car, her little Honda that she adored. She headed downtown to the police station to deal with Stone. When she got downtown she parked her car and hit the deli across from City Hall to get a breakfast sandwich and an orange juice.

Grace finished her orange juice along with two aspirin and headed into the police station. She checked in at the front desk and was escorted back to a room.

“How are you Mrs. Summers?”

“Do you really want to know or are you just being polite?” she asked Stone looked at Grace and just grinned.

“I have some papers for you to sign,” Since no one had seen or heard from John since that night Grace was free to sell their belongings and put the house up on the market. She signed the papers and left.

As she was walking through the lobby passed the restroom Stone grabbed her arm and led her into the restroom. He locked the door behind them and looked at Grace.

“Now that we have some privacy,”

“What did you have in mind,” she asked. He moved towards her and kissed her deeply.

She let out a moan and kissed him back.

As Grace faced the mirror and reapplied her coral lipstick Eric asked.

“Are you going to ever tell me what you did with him?”

“Nope,” she answered and left the restroom.

She returned to the motel room to collect her things and survey the damage. As she packed up her clothes an image of Billy her pool buddy flashed into her mind.

She was laying on the bed naked and he was sucking Jack Daniels out off her belly button. Grace shook her head and mumble to herself,

“Should really stop drinking just gets me into trouble,”

She pulled up to the garage and decided to start with John’s car. As she started going through the glove box she came across a little black ring box.

She opened it and there staring back at her was a very nice gold banded engagement ring.

“This must be for his assistant, Jenny,” she said to herself.

Grace took the found engagement ring and her own wedding ring set to a pawn shop.

After spending the week going through the house giving things to charity and selling anything of value Grace found that she had begun drinking and smoking way more than usual.

The memories attached to the things in the house and the stress of trying to get it all done quickly had lead to drinking more and eating less.

She found herself sitting on the floor in the walk-in closet in the master bedroom feeling like she needed a drink. The Goodwill truck had just left with the last of John’s clothes and some small fruniture.

She picked up her phone and dialed 211 and asked the very friendly operator when and where the next AA meeting would be. She told Grace that by her home address the next meeting would be tomorrow morning at 11 am at St. Mathews.

Grace took a deep breath as she entered the community room at St. Mathews, she took a seat towards the back and watched as a dozen people wandered in, got coffee and sat down around her. The meeting was welcoming and Grace stood when asked if there was any new faces today,

“Hi, my name is Grace and I am an alcoholic,” she heard the words coming out of her mouth but was very unsure of why she was needing to confide in these strangers.

She continued to attend the daily morning meetings at St. Mathews listening to tales of woe and heartache caused by to much indulgence.

She had surveyed the crowd, made friendly chit chat and a little flirting with the groups members.

On her way out after the fourth meeting Sam grabbed her by the arm and lead her into an empty hallway. Sam was a good looking guy in his early thirties with a nicely trimmed beard and mustache.

“You have got to stop looking at me that way,”

“What way am I looking at you?”

“You know Grace,”

Grace grinned, she had found Sam quite cute and had made eye contact with him during the last few meetings. Sam moved closer to her and kissed her deeply, rubbing his hand along her breast.

She took a step back from him, “Feel better now?”

“Not really,”

Grace walked to her car and lit a cigarette.

“I don’t think AA is what I need,”

Once the house was set and everything that could be was sold Grace decided it was time for a road trip.

First however a stop to say goodbye to Detective Stone, she knew she needed a fix before setting off into the big bad world.

Grace had come to the relational that sex was like a drug and once you get a taste you will always crave more.

Detective Eric Stone lived in a nice little apartment close to downtown she knocked on his door. Eric answered.

“Never expected to see you again,”

“Can I come in?”

He looked her up and down she was in her skintight jeans and low cut black top that displayed her ample chest very nicely.

“Why not I am sucker for punishment,”

“Thanks you won’t be disappointed,” Grace entered the apartment and headed towards the stereo, she put on something soothing.

Eric fixed them each a drink, Grace downed her glass of whisky and stood in front of Eric who was sitting on the couch.

She kicked off her shoes and swayed back and forth in front of him, running her fingers through her hair. She straddled his lap and leaned in to kiss him.

She slid her tongue into his mouth and he moaned and grabbed her ass. Grace stopped got up and walked towards the bedroom, Eric followed.

She showered, redressed and headed towards the door, he stopped her and kissed her deeply, she gave him a smile and left.

Grace drove north out of town, watching the sun set in the early August night. A bright orange hue cascaded over the open fields. Listening to the radio, letting the warm air stream through her open window. She exhaled deeply.

Driving into the night till she spotted a sign that read Barney’s Bar & Grill come join us for a drink and excellent BBQ next exit.

“Well I could use some entertainment,” she said to herself.

There it was sitting in the middle of a large dirt lot Barney’s Bar & Grill in bright red neon.

Grace pulled into the parking lot and stopped, she glanced at the cars, trucks and motorcycles all parked around the building. This should be interesting she thought as she looked in the rearview mirror, applied her coral lipstick, removed the clip from her hair and let it flow over her shoulders.

“Good enough,” she said and got out of the car, she put her keys, id and cash into her pockets and headed inside.

The building was warm, crowded and loud. She made her way to the bar ordered a beer, a BBQ bacon burger and fries, the smell from the kitchen was enough to make you drool.

There were tables scattered around, a small dance floor with a jukebox blaring some country song and a pool table.

As she ate her meal she watched the guy playing pool, he was good, not as good as her, but good. She finished off her second beer and ordered a shot of Jack, Grace downed the shot and headed over to the pool table.

“Interested in a real game, best out of seven,” she asked the good looking guy, dressed in faded jeans, cowboy boots, and white tee-shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Grace thought to herself how very James Dean of him.

“Sure, why not,” he answered.

They played one game after another, he took notice of how far she would bend over the table to make a shot and she would brush up against him.

It was tied three games apiece, Grace was on her fourth shot of Jack and about to break for the seventh game. When she bent over the table to line up the break, he stepped in behind her and put his hands on her waist.

“How about we call it a tie and settle up in the restroom,”

She could feel him push up against her and got a rush of adrenaline.

“Ok in the lady’s room in five,” she put down the pool cue and walked down the hall.

She splashed some cold water on her face and took a deep breath. He came in and they entered the large bathroom stall and locked the door. He leaned into her and kissed her.

“You know I don’t even know your name,” Grace said.

“Does it matter?”

“Not really,”

She took off her shirt, she had stepped it up and was wearing her purple satin bra. He moved in to her kissing her neck and rub her breast. He kissed her deeply, she sucked on his tongue making him moan.

“I think we need to finish this somewhere else,” he said, Grace agreed.

Grace stopped at the bar and downed another shot of Jack on the way out. She went to her car and he followed, he put out his hand and said.

“My name is Aaron,”

“Grace,” she said and shook his hand.

“There is a motel about a half mile up on the left, care to join me there?” Grace looked at him and considered this for a second.

“Why the hell not,” He kissed her and headed towards his truck.

They arrived at the Northward Inn a small rundown side of the road motel that advertised clean rooms and free HBO.

All they need is hourly rates available, Grace thought to herself as she pulled into the parking lot. Aaron registered for a room, they parked and entered room 17.

It was a typical motel room t.v., dresser, small table, two chairs, a night stand and those lamps that are attached to the wall between the two double beds.

The beds always had those dark colored paisley prints this one had a dark burgundy with gold trim. The room had dark wood paneling making the room seem much darker than it needed to be. Aaron switched on a lamp.

“You get what you pay for,” he sighed.

Grace took her overnight bag with her and headed towards the bathroom, the small but clean bathroom. She changed into an over sized dark blue tee-shirt that came down to her upper thighs.

She brushed her teeth and combed her hair and gazed into the mirror, looking past her tired eyes and pale complexion. Grace put her bag on the luggage rack in the closet and walked over to the bed. Aaron stood up when she came over and he slid his arms around her and kissed her, then went into the bathroom.

Grace pulled down the bedspread.

“At least the sheets are clean,” she comment to herself. She locked the door, closed the curtains, those heavy black out rusty gold colored curtains that are standard in any cheap motel and left one lamp on in the far corner.

She laid on the bed and Aaron came out of the bathroom only wearing a pair of boxers. He came over and joined her on the bed, he leaned over her and kissed her gently.

They laid there for awhile after just breathing each other in and feel asleep wrapped up in each other.

Grace awoke trying to think, trying to remember where she was who was laying next to her, she looked at Aaron still asleep and moved to get up. He tightened his grip around her and pulled her close to him and kissed her. She got up and went into shower.

Grace stepped into the shower and felt the warm water wash over her, she soaped up and rinsed off. As she was enjoying the warmth of the water Aaron joined her. He put his arms around her and kissed the back of her neck. She got out of the shower grabbed a towel and went and laid on the bed.

“So we going to say anything about this little experience?”

“I am not sure,” Aaron leaned over and kissed her, she let out a sigh.

“It’s been a wonderful experience, but looking at reality I am afraid it’s time to go,”

“I know.” Aaron agreed.

It was 9 am, time to continue on Grace dressed, packed up and said goodbye to Aaron. Grace got into her Honda and set out back to the highway to head further north. She thought about Aaron and how bitter sweet the encounter had been.

Grace knew she was treating sex like a drug but at that moment she didn’t care, she had gotten her fix and now it was on to a new place. Grace drove till she came to a little out of the way town, she drove down the main drag.

Overland

Typical hometown look. She thought. Small businesses, bars, restaurants, churches, banks all the usual things. She found motel row and picked the least to get you mugged looking one, close to an Everyday Foods store.

The Candlelight Inn what a name Grace thought as she checked in and paid for a week up front, figuring since she was here she would take some time and look around get a feel for the little town in the middle of nowhere.

“Well Overland let’s see what you have to offer a girl,” she thumbed through the phone book. She found that one of the best ways to find things was to skim the phone book.

Grace ventured over to the Everyday Foods store and picked up some snacks. She decided to hang out in her motel room and catch up on sleep.

She awoke around 8 am the next morning.
“Time to face the day,” she thought. Grace showered and dressed in comfy jeans, a long sleeve tee-shirt and walking shoes.

She picked up a map from the front office and had written down some points of interest to check out. She headed towards the downtown area and found a place to park. She walked down Main Street observing some of the hometown charm, nothing of interest caught Grace’s eye.

It was all very normal looking craft shops, ice cream shops, home decor, antiques and beauty shops.

Grace wandered around for a while and figured it was time for some lunch she stopped at a little deli and had a turkey on wheat with a pickle, chips and an ice tea. Grace sat out on the patio side of the deli and watched the people of this little town going about their lives.

The Backdoor

Grace stopped by a convent store on her way back to The Candlelight Inn to grab a pack of cigarettes. She asked the younger looking 20 something girl running the register where the nightlife was in this little town.

The girl offered up that out behind the truck-stop, off route 18 there was a bar where all the locals hangout.

“It called The Backdoor,” the girl said.

Grace hungout in the motel room till around 9 pm, she dressed in her tight blue jeans, low cut black top and black ankle boots.

Grace put on her coral lipstick and clipped her hair back. Grace looked in the mirror.

“Anything for a fix,” she sighed.

Grace drove out to route 18 and past the truck-stop. There it was about a quarter mile down route 18, a large warehouse looking building, surrounded by a small dirt parking lot that stretched out into a field of forgotten wheat. A simple small wooden sign hung over the door The Backdoor it read.

Grace parked among all the other cars, SUV’s, trucks and motorcycles, she glanced around there were small groups of people standing around talking, smoking and drinking. Grace got out of her Honda locked the door put her keys, id and money into her pockets and headed towards the door.

The unmistakable smell of pot hit her as she passed a group of people, Grace took deep breath as she passed.

“Awe memories,” she thought.

Grace paid the large man that looked like a bodybuilder the $10 cover charge to get in. The open floor of the warehouse had a bar, tables with chairs, a few pool tables and a dance floor all lighted by a number of moving blue and red spotlights.

The music was a mix of classic rock and adult contemporary played just loud enough that you had to raise your voice to a dull yell to be heard.

Grace made her way to the bar and ordered a shot of Jack and a beer, she downed the shot and took a seat at the bar to watch the crowd.

Sean

Grace’s beer was just past half empty when a voice asked.

“Would you like another, or something stronger?” Grace turned to see an older guy, mid 50’s, in good shape with a little more grey than brown left in his hair asking if she would like another drink. Grace smiled at him and said.

“Sure how about a shot of Jack?” He ordered two and introduced himself.

“Sean,” He put out his hand.

“Grace, thanks for the drink,” and shook his hand.

“So what do you think of our little town?” Grace gave him a confused look.

“You don’t look as if your from around here,”

“True,”

They chatted about the town and what keep it running and why people choose to call it home. Typical mundane small talk, Grace ordered another beer.

“Care for a game of pool?” She asked him.

“Not my thing,”

“Your loss,” Grace said and headed over to the table.

She played a couple games with the guys that were hanging around. After deciding that this night was not really going anywhere Grace returned to the bar and ordered one more shot of Jack.

“Let me get that for you,” Sean said.

“Sure why not,” Sean handed Grace her shot.

“Cheers,” Sean said.

“Cheers.” Grace answered.

Ouch

Grace slowly opened her eyes the light was bright, she shut them again, her head pounded and her body ached. Grace tried to move and was stopped by a shooting pain through her shoulders and back.

“What the hell happened,” Grace managed to slowly sit up and let her eyes adjust to the bright sunlight streaming in through the window.

She was in what appeared to be a bedroom, sitting in the middle of a large bed. Looking around there was a night stand with a clock radio that read 8:12 am, a dresser with a mirror, a chair in the corner and the door was closed.

Grace had no idea where she was, she was wearing a man’s gray button down shirt that was open and nothing else. Grace got off the bed and stood in front of the mirror that was on the dresser.

“Oh my God,” Grace said as she examined herself in the mirror.

Her hair was a mess, her eyes were bloodshot, there were red rough marks around her wrists and ankles, bruises and blood on her inner thighs.

Grace scanned the room for her clothes, they were in a pile on the floor next to the bed, at least her shirt, jeans and boots were there, no socks or underwear.

“Go figure,” Grace mumbled to herself.

Grace got dressed and left the room, she stumbled down a hall and into a living-room. She found the front door and stepped outside.

Grace found herself standing in a driveway not quite believing what she saw, her Honda parked right there. Grace opened the door and her keys were sitting on the passenger seat.

Grace drove away from the house found route 18 and made her way back to The Candlelight Inn, she packed up her room and started driving south.

Soon as she felt she was far enough out of town she pulled over into a rest stop.

Grace’s hands shook as she lit a cigarette and tried to think of the last thing she remembered from the night before.

Grace remembered going to The Backdoor, paying pool having a few drinks, talking to the older guy, Sean. But didn’t remember leaving or anything else except waking up in that strange house.

Grace decided to drive south into the next big city and visit a hospital. She pulled up outside of St. Anthony’s Hospital and locked the Honda and walked into the emergency room entrance.

Grace approached the check in desk and the attendant behind the glass asked what she was there for.

“I was drugged and sexually assaulted.” Grace said.

The attendant looked up at her, handed her a clipboard and asked her to have a seat. Grace took a seat and filled out the form, a nurse came over to her and offered her a bottle of water.

“It will be just a few minutes, would you like us to call in a police officer as well?” the nurse asked.

“Yes, thank you,” Grace said.

Sarah

Grace sat and sipped on the water and waited, a women in a nice pants suit walked in and approached the check in desk. The attendant motion towards Grace and the woman walked over to her.

“Mrs. Summers, I am detective Sarah Miller,” she said.

Grace made eye contact with her and tried to smile, tears were welling up in her eyes. Grace knew she was exhausted and just wanted all of this over with.

Detective Miller accompanied Grace back to an exam room, where she made her statement of what she could remember, photos were taken, blood was drawn and a rape kit collected.

Grace didn’t want to think to much about what was being done to her she just knew that it hurt and she wanted it over.

Grace was allowed to shower and given clothes from the lost and found to wear, a dark blue tee-shirt, a pair of grey sweets and some slip on shoes.

Detective Miller gave Grace her card and told her to keep in touch. Grace went to her Honda and sat trying to process what had just happened.

“I know it is the right thing to do, especially since I can’t remember.”

Home

Grace knew she needed to get somewhere safe where she could rest. She drove south and knocked on Eric’s door.

“Grace, what the hell?”

Grace entered Eric’s apartment handed him the large envelope that contained a copy of the police report she had filed. Made her way to the couch, laid down and closed her eyes.

“Just read it,” she feel into a sleep of exhaustion.

Eric walked over to the couch, slipped her shoes off and covered Grace with a blanket. Eric sat at the table and slowly read the police report.

“Jesus Christ,” he poured a drink as he read.

Grace awoke to the smell of coffee and bacon. She sat up slowly realizing how sore she was.

“Morning,” Eric smiled at her.

“Morning,” Grace moaned getting herself to sit upright.

“Eat and take the meds that were prescribed for you,”

Grace took the plate of scrambled eggs, toast and bacon and slowly ate it all along with a cup of coffee. She took the morning after pills, some antibiotics, and ibuprofen. Eric came over and kissed her on the forehead.

“Doing ok so far?”

“As good as can be expected. Still can’t remember anything,”

Grace’s cell phone rang it was St. Anthony’s Hospital with her test results. Grace had been drugged with Rohypnol the date rape drug, no DNA was found in her rape kit and she was clear of any STD’s.

Grace didn’t know Sean’s last name nor did she take note of where she woke up, she had given as much information as she could remember from her night at The Backdoor.

Grace got up and went to take a shower, she thought about John and what had really happened that night so many months ago.

He came home drunk and started in on her the second he hit the door saying how he didn’t love her any more. That he and his whore of an assistant Jenny were going to get married as soon as he could file for a divorce from Grace.

Grace remembered how the thunder rolled and the lightning sparked through the sky that night as John rambled on and on.

When John headed towards the stairs to go up to the bedroom how he tripped, some how, it happened all so quickly. He was yelling and going up the stairs and then there was a noise, a loud thump followed by a cracking sound.

Grace stood in the kitchen for a moment after that horrible sound and tried to wrap her mind around what had just happened.

She thought about their life together the falling out of love and how John had become so hateful over the last few year. The money and assets that she helped him build up and how now she was deciding to hide his body take it all and run.

Grace went into the living room towards the staircase and there laying like a rag doll on the floor was John, or at least his body, the color draining from his face, he was not breathing, not moving.

She knew he was already gone, the cracking sound was John’s head splitting open on the marble tile that surrounded the base of the staircase.

Grace managed to wrap the body in garbage bags and drag it out to the backyard, where they had started to dig a hole for a pool to be put in, Grace dumped the body into the hole and covered it up.

It was a long, tiring, messy night but it had to be done. Grace stood over the covered body in the backyard.

“It wasn’t all bad John we just grew apart and you became rotten, like a piece of fruit left out to long on the counter,”

Grace made a mental note to make sure the foundation for the pool would be poured by weeks end and so it was. John was forever sealed away under the new backyard pool.

Grace stood in the shower looking over the red marks and bruises left by the night she couldn’t and didn’t want to remember and thought to herself “Karma is a bitch.”

John’s Side

“Where is my tie, I am late for the 1:30 pm meeting,”  John said.

“Relax, they will wait for you,” Jenny said, as she picked up his navy blue neck tie off the floor of the hotel room and put it around his neck.

“See there you go all dressed,”

“Thank you, I love you,” he kissed her deeply.

“Love you too,”

John gathered his wallet, keys, phone, and briefcase and left the hotel room. He took the elevator down to the parking garage and got into his car.

His phone beeped while he was exiting the garage, one missed call, from Grace, John sighed.

“Suppose I should call the wife back,” he mumbled to himself.

After his meeting, Jenny his assistant, came into his office.

“How did it go?”

“Good, they will send over a contract next week,” John’s phone rang it was Grace, he pushed ignore call, and looked at Jenny.

“When are you going to tell her?”

“Soon.”

John sat at his desk looking at the portrait of his wife Grace, they had fallen out of love years ago and now just tolerated each other.

John and his assistant Jenny had been sleeping together for over two years now. John had started out by saying he would never indulge with someone at work, but over the time spent together they had fallen in love.

He had tried to ignore the butterfly’s he felt in his gut when she had first started working for him, the stolen glances across the room, the accidental touches in passing.

He ignored it till that one day, he had started the morning having an argument with Grace about never spending anytime together and had stormed out of the house.

Jenny was there looking so pretty, with her long legs, bright blue eyes and bouncy blonde hair, there to listen. John had broke down in front of her.

They ended up in a hotel room together during lunch. He talked, she comforted and listened.

Jenny made the first move, kissing him on the cheek, that turned into a make out session followed by an afternoon fling.

John tried to push her away and not feel the warmth and comfort of her, telling himself it was just once a moment of weakness.

But it was there a connection between them, that hole in his heart that he had been carrying around for years was now filled with her. Her passion for life, her understanding, her love.

John had started to prepare what he needed to say to Grace, how he needed to be let go, that they both needed to move on.

That they were just suffocating each other by staying in a stalled relationship. It always sounded good in his head, but every time he started to get ready to confront her he chickened out not wanting to deal with the confrontation.

“You know instead of hotel rooms at noon we could be together in our own home,” Jenny said, after yet another lunch hour spent in a hotel room.

“I know, I want to tell her,” Jenny stood in front of him, slid her arms around his waist and kissed him.

“Please do it tonight, I can’t wait any longer, I want to be home with you,”

“Ok, tonight.”

John had a stop to make before going home to confront Grace. He drove out to the mall, went into The Jewelry Palace and picked up the engagement ring he had ordered for Jenny, he looked it over in the car and put it in the glove box.

John drove around for a while rehearsing in his head what he was going to say to Grace. He decided to stop and grab a drink hoping that it would help settle his nerves, he entered the Bar&Grill on main, ordered a hamburger a beer and a shot of Jameson.

About four shots and two beers later he felt brave enough to go talk to Grace. John parked his car in the garage and entered the house.

Grace was standing in the kitchen, he just started talking wanting to get it all out and over with quickly, so that he could go back to Jenny.

“Grace, we’re done, I am leaving, I want a divorce. You are suffocating me, we need to move on. Jenny and I want to get married,” it all came out quickly and his heart was racing and he was shaking.

John walked through the kitchen to the stairs to go up and grab a few things, before leaving.

His shoes were wet from the rain, he misjudged the step and slipped. Not being able to catch himself, his head hit the marble tile that surrounded the base of the staircase.

“Missing John Summers age 45, wt. 215 lbs, eyes brown, hair short, dark brown with streaks of grey.” Jenny read to herself, as she hung up another flyer.

She sighed and thought to herself I wish I knew where you were. Jenny brushed a tear away and continued on hanging up missing person flyers.

Jenny and James

Jenny continued to hand out flyers on her way back to her apartment. She slowly climbed up the steps to her studio apartment on the third floor of an older historical building downtown.

As she stood in the center of the room a small navy blue gym bag in the closet caught her eye, John’s ‘gym’ bag she smiled to herself, John going to the gym was there cover for the past year.

Every Wednesday night and Saturday afternoon John would come here and for the first while he carried the gym bag back and forth, then it just ended up in the closet.

Jenny let out a sigh and sat on the bed.

“I just want to know where you are,”

Jenny scrolled through her contacts on her phone, stopped, “I wonder,” She pushed call contact name James.

“Hello this is James Andrews, how can I help you?

“James it Jenny,”

“Hey, sis what’s up?”

Jenny explained her relationship with John and that he was now missing and that she didn’t know what else she could do. James took all this in and thought it through.

“Let me see if my friend form the academy is still around, last I remember he was out your way, he should be a detective by now.”

“Ok, thank you James, anything to help me find him. I just don’t understand what could have happened to him,”

James sat at his desk and thumbed through a stack of business cards till he found the one he was looking for.

“Thought so,” he dialed the phone.

“Hello, this is Detective Eric Stone.”

“Hey, detective this is Private Investigator James Anderson.”

“Wow, hi James, long time, what’s up?”

James explained his sisters predicament and it didn’t take long for Eric to put it all together.

James hung up with Eric and packed his bag for a quick road trip. He was not only curious about what had happened to John but also felt it was past time to catch up with his sister and old friend.

Detective Stone sat at his desk in the downtown police station taking in that his old friend from the academy days was now involved, all because John Summers assistant was Jenny Andrews.

“Small world,” he muttered to himself. Trying to figure out if Grace needed to be brought in on any of this.

Grace and James

James and Jenny arrived at Eric’s apartment right on time, James knocked. Eric answered the door.

“Hey, come in, take a seat. Can I get either of you a drink?”

“Sure I’ll take a scotch,” James said.

“No thanks,” Jenny said.

Grace came into the living room, Eric started to make the introductions but was cut off by James.

“Grace?” James asked.

“James? From Seaside? It’s been quite a while,” she answered moving forward to shake hands.

Grace had picked up James in a bar in downtown Portland about thirteen years ago, a good looking guy, with broad shoulders and sandy blond hair that he wore slightly shaggy. James had been long distance runner in college and still had the legs and abs to show for it.

James had bought Grace a drink and he explained his outlook on life, how it was an open road full of possibilities. Grace was sure this was a pick up line, but he was good looking and very nice to talk with, so being Grace she thought what the hell. They drove out towards Seaside to enjoy the day by the water.

“Seriously, Grace is there anyone you haven’t slept with? I’ll take that drink now,” Jenny said.

Eric handed her a shot of Jack and she downed it.

Route 18

“Hello, this is Detective Miller,” Sarah answered the phone.

“Hey, Sarah, It’s Detective Mark Thomas from Overland, I have a question for you about a report you took last fall concerning The Backdoor.”

Detective Thomas explained the discovery of a female body not to far from The Backdoor and had found Sarah’s incident report on Grace.

Sarah called Grace.

Grace awoke to her phone beeping, she reached over to the nightstand. It said one missed call from Sarah Miller.

“What the hell, does she want,” Grace said sitting up in bed.

“What dose who want?” Eric asked from the other room. Grace got up and joined Eric in the kitchen.

“Detective Sarah Miller,” Grace sat at the kitchen table and dialed the phone.

“This is Detective Miller,”

“It’s Grace Summers, you called?”

“Thanks for calling back, they found a body of a young women, out on route 18, just outside of Overland,”

“This has to do with me how?”

“She had similar markings on her, that match your report form last fall,” Grace just sat for a moment taking in what Sarah was saying.

Another woman had gone to The Backdoor for a good time and now she is dead. Grace had tried not to remember that night, but pieces of it had begun to float back into her mind.

“You are the only one that has made a report about The Backdoor,” Grace closed her eyes and took a deep breath.

“If you happen to remember anything else about that night it could help. Grace, she was only 23,”

“I will think about it,” Grace hung up the phone.

“What was that about?” Eric asked.

“A dead woman, was found out on route 18, I think I know who did it,”

Since coming back to Eric’s apartment after that forgotten night at The Backdoor, Grace and Eric had been playing house with each other like an old married couple. Grace felt comfortable and safe with him and Eric enjoyed having Grace around to look after.

Grace and Eric decided to take a road trip out to route 18, to see if It would jog Grace’s memory. They drove north out of town, past Barney’s Bar & Grill, past The Northward Inn and into downtown Overland. It had been a while but it all looked the same, a quiet little town, of ordinary looking people going about their daily lives.

They drove out towards route 18 and the truck stop. Then there it was the large warehouse looking building, surrounded by a small dirt parking lot that stretched out into a field of forgotten wheat. The parking lot was empty and it looked run down.

They pulled into the parking lot and Grace pulled out a map of the area. She was looking for where she had woken up after that forgotten night at The Backdoor.

“This may be something,” they looked at a road that turned off of route 18 about a mile down.

“Let’s go check it out,” Eric started the car and they drove further down route 18.

They turned off on to a dirt road that twisted and turned into the woods, it was an overcast day but the dense trees made the road much darker that it was. Eric flipped the switch for the headlights in Grace’s little Honda, as they continued along the dirt road.

They came to a dead stop, a shiver ran up Grace’s back, making her shutter. A large two story, log cabin looking house stood in front of them.

“That’s it. That is the house I woke up in,”

Eric took note of the house number and the name of the road they had turned on.

“We need to go talk to Sarah,” Eric agreed and they headed back out of Overland.

Anna

Grace and Eric sat in the police station waiting to speak with Detective Sarah Miller.

“You can come back now,” An Officer escorted Grace and Eric into an interview room.

“So what do we have?” Sarah asked.

“We drove out to The Backdoor and we found the house off of Route 18,” Grace answered.

“The house you woke up in, but didn’t know where you were?”

“Yep that one, it has an address, 870 West Ridge Rd. off of Route 18,” Eric said.

“Can we see the report on the dead woman?” Eric asked.

“Only because you are also a Detective and Grace was the only one to come forward,” She handed the file to Eric.

Grace and Eric read over the report. Woman found naked, bruises on wrists and ankles. Scratches and bruising on inner thighs. Bruising around eyes and mouth, skin under fingernails. Identified as Anna Miller age 23. Eric looked at Sarah.

“Relation?” He asked her.

“She’s my niece,”

“I will run the address and see if we can find and owner. I will let you know what I find.” Sarah showed them back out to the front entrance.

When Grace and Eric returned to Eric’s apartment, Grace wrapped her arms around Eric and kissed him deeply.

“Thanks for helping me find the house,” She lead Eric into the bedroom and pushed him down onto the bed. She unclipped her hair letting it fall over her shoulders. Eric just laid back on the bed and enjoyed.

Closure

The next morning Grace awoke to the smell of coffee brewing and the sound of bacon frying. Grace got up pulled on her robe and went into the kitchen.

“Morning,” Eric said as he gave her a kiss and put a plate of scrambled eggs, toast and bacon down in front of her.
Grace started eating as he poured her coffee.

“So what’s up?” Grace asked in between bites.

“Sarah called this morning. She found a name,” Grace stopped eating and looked up at Eric.

“It’s Sean isn’t it?” She asked, Eric just nodded.

“Finish eating and then we will figure out what you want to do next.”

Grace entered The Backdoor wearing her tight jeans, a low cut black top and ankle boots. She headed over to the bar and ordered a shot of Jack, she downed the shot and hit the pool tables. A good looking guy in jeans and a tee-shirt was shooting a game. Grace picked up a cue stick and make eye contact with the guy.

“Care for a game, best out of five?” Grace asked.

“Sure,” he said and racked the balls for a new game.

Grace took her time shooting this game of pool, watching the room and taking note of the older grey haired guy sitting towards the back of the room.

A woman in her mid 30’s with shoulder length dark hair entered The Backdoor, she was dressed in dark jeans and a tight tee-shirt that helped accent her nice chest.

She took a seat at the bar ordered a beer and a BLT. While she ate her sandwich and drank her beer, she watched the crowd of people, some dancing, others eating and a few playing pool.

“Would you like another or something stronger?” A male voice said beside her. She cleared her throat.

“I wouldn’t say no to a shot of Jack,” the woman answered.

She gave him a smile and he ordered her a shot and took the seat next to her at the bar.

“I am Sarah,” she said and put out her hand.

“Sean,” he answered shaking her hand.

They chatted about how warm it was getting so early into spring and other mundane daily small talk.

“One for the road?”

“Sure,”

Grace had finished her game of pool and was now standing behind Sean looking at Sarah. Sean ordered two more shots of Jack and turned away from Sarah before handing her the drink.

Grace just watched as he slipped a small pill into the drink, it dissolved instantly. He turned back towards Sarah and handed her the shot.

“Cheers,”

“I don’t think so,” Grace said from behind Sean. He turned around to face her.

“We can take this outside,” Sean agreed and walked out with Grace and Sarah into the parking lot.

“Let’s go to your place, Sean,” Grace said.

They walked over to Grace’s Honda, Sean and Sarah got in the back. Eric was behind the wheel Grace got in and they headed down Route 18 and turned on to West Ridge Rd. The car was dead silent, then Grace spoke.

“I want to see where you took me and what you did to me,” Sean just sat there knowing he was outnumbered. They pulled up in front of the house and they all got out.

“Let’s go,” Eric said taking Sean by the elbow and leading him to the front door. Sean took out his keys and unlocked the door.

“Show me.” Grace said.

He lead them through the kitchen to a door that had a padlock on it. Sean unlocked it, opened the door, flipped the light switch and they headed downstairs to the basement.

The cinder block walls were cold and damp. There was a faint smell of burnt candles, vanilla Grace thought to herself. There was a queen size bed against the far wall, it had a wooden foot and headboard.

There were strands of red stained rope hanging off the four corner posts of the bed. The sheets on the bed were smeared with streaks of blood. Grace took a wooden kitchen chair from the side of the bed and placed it next to the foot of the bed.

“Sit,” She told Sean.

He took a seat on the chair, Grace then handcuffed his arms behind him and tied his ankles to the legs of the chair. Sarah and Eric just watched, allowing her to get her answers.

“Why?”

“Why, not it was easy,”

Grace moved towards Sean and straddled his lap, she leaned into him and whispered.

“Like it’s easy for me to make you hard,” she rubbed her hand along his croch and he tried to move away. She could feel him starting to get hard.

“What exactly did you do to me?” he looked at her and smiled.

“Nothing you didn’t want or enjoyed,” Grace moved off of him.

“You know what, I think we are done here,” She walked over to Eric, kissed him and he handed her his gun. Grace turned to look at Sarah, she nodded.

Grace raised the gun and shot Sean in the head, his body went limp.

Eric uncuffed and untied him. He fell to the floor.

Eric, Grace and Sarah went upstairs and put the padlock back on the basement door. Went out to Grace’s Honda and drove back to The Backdoor to drop Sarah off at her vehicle.

Grace got out and gave Sarah a hug. She smiled at Grace and got into her car and drove away.

Grace and Eric drove home. Eric reached over and squeezed Grace’s hand.

“I love you,” she smiled and said.

“I know, I love you too,”

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