Now She's Gone: A Novel (2 page)

BOOK: Now She's Gone: A Novel
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Oh, good God, oh good God, oh good God!

“Sandy!”

I went into the garage and her car, the little expensive convertible I had given her for her thirty-first birthday wasn’t there.

Sandy was gone.

 

 

What If Something’s Happened to Her?

Her mother said, “Bruce, I haven’t seen her. Sure she just isn’t just mad?”

I sighed and stared at the phone in my hand, almost wishing I hadn’t called her. Her mom could be such a pain in the ass.

“No! I mean, we’d been fighting because of the building, but it’s done now. We went to the opening last night and came home early.”

She hesitated before she spoke again, “Oh, God, Bruce, what if something’s happened to her?”

What if something’s happened to her?
Oh, God, what if? What if she’s lying in a ditch somewhere? What if someone has hurt her? Oh, good Lord. What fucking if!

I calmed myself and assured her, “I’ll find her.”

So, I went to the cops. The investigator asked me, “Did she have a lover?”

My head snapped up. A lover? What was he getting at, the son of a bitch? I made myself calmly state, “No, she did not.” I added to myself,
Not that I know of. And, I hope to God not.

“Were you fighting?” he asked and stared me dead in the eye.

Fighting? Why did everyone keep asking that? Of course, we’d been fighting since the day we met. Well, she fought with me at first. I only joined in later. She loved to fight and I loved the make-up sex afterwards. We fought about the little stuff. She was spending too much money. I was an asshole to one of her friends. I forgot to pick up my shit off the floor. No big deal. We’d fight. And she’d always win, coming out smelling like a fucking rose.

“No,” I replied weakly.

“Did she threaten to leave?”

“I don’t know that she has left!”

He gave me a wry look and said, “The signs are all there. Her car is gone, some of her personal belongings. Her—”

“But this isn’t like her! There isn’t even a note! She wouldn’t just up and run off like this. Not her. Not ever.”

“Sometimes you don’t know people as well as you think you do.”

And that was exactly what I didn’t want to hear. I forced myself to say through gritted teeth, “She didn’t leave.”

His bushy eyebrows rose for a moment, and then came back down.

“When do you send out the search party?” I asked.

He almost cracked up but stopped himself just in time. “We don’t send out a search party unless there has been evidence of foul play.”

“And how do we know if there isn’t?”

He stared at me for a long moment, forcing to me to stare back. “Mr. Anderson, you know.”

I was going to punch him. I was going to punch him out.

“Just give her a few days.”

“She could be dead in a few days! We have to find her!”

He stared at me. A slow, sad look crossed his face, then was gone. “Don’t take this the wrong way,” he said slowly. “But have you ever considered that she doesn’t want to be found?”

No, I hadn’t considered that. No, I couldn’t consider that. She doesn’t want to be found? No. She didn’t leave. No. But the signs were all there. No. What signs? She was always moody. She could get hurt. Someone could hurt her.

I felt like throwing up.

“Listen to me,” he said and leaned in towards me. “She left. Okay? I’ve seen this a hundred fucking times. She got sick of her life and she left you. Chances are, her mother knows about it.”

“No she doesn’t. I called her first.”

He gave me another wry look. “Let her be. Let her do what she has to do. When she’s ready, she’ll come home.”

And when would that be?

 

* * * * *

 

If the police weren’t going to help me, I’d do their work myself. I got into my car and began to drive. I didn’t know where to go or which direction to take. Where could she be? I knew if I could find her, if I could see her, I could make whatever was wrong right. Whatever I had done, I would fix. I would do whatever it took.
Whatever.
It didn’t matter how stupid or silly it was, I’d do it.

If she left, where would she go?
Where would she go?
Good God, who knew? There were too many directions to take, too many roads. I got on the interstate and headed south; that seemed logical, go where it’s warmer.

I had one single-minded vision as I drove: To find her. And I would.

I began to think, analyze. What time did she leave? I saw her for the last time around two in the morning. I had gotten up to use the bathroom and she was lying there, staring at the ceiling. I asked if anything was wrong and she said she couldn’t sleep.

I pulled the car over and the sobs overtook me. The investigator was right. She was gone. And she wasn’t going to come back anytime soon, if ever.

I felt dead inside.

 

 

It Was Time

My mother told me, “It’s been six months, Bruce. It’s time.”

She was right. It was time. It was time to move on. My mother knew it. I knew it. Everyone knew it. But that first step of moving on was the hardest to take. But I had had enough. In six months time, I’d had enough. She wasn’t coming home. I had looked and driven and flown all over the United States. I slept in airports and in rental cars. I had worn four good pairs of shoes down to the heel looking for her. I had probably eaten in every greasy
truckstop
and every fast food restaurant in America. I put up posters on telephone poles asking for her safe return. I had talked to a million strangers, showed them pictures of her. They would shake their heads sadly and some would pat me on the back. They would tell me how pretty she was and that they were sure I would find her eventually.

They didn’t know shit.

I had spent all of our savings to find her. What savings I had left after she had emptied most of it out. Yeah. I found that out later. She’d emptied out our accounts, both savings and checking, almost to the last cent. To say I was irritated would be an understatement.

I never saw her. I stopped looking. After a while, the most feasible thing to do was to give up. I kept seeing her face everywhere. I stopped going out.

I was beginning to hate her. Or, rather, I tried to. But I couldn’t. It wasn’t in me. If she walked through the door at any moment, I would have welcomed her home with open arms. I wouldn’t have asked any questions. Well, maybe one.
Why the hell did you leave?

But she wasn’t going to walk through the door. She just wasn’t going to. I accepted that. Yeah. Whatever.

First, I’d clean out the house of her belongings. If I cleaned out the house, then maybe I could clean her out of my system. Then, I would start the divorce proceedings. I wasn’t about to try and find her anymore. If she didn’t want to be found, so be it. If she didn’t want me, fine. She could go to hell. But first she would give me a divorce. I was going to be a free man again, even if I didn’t ask for it. Even if I didn’t want it, I was going to be free. Like her. She was free now. Did she like being free?

Who gives a flying fuck what
she
liked?
I
liked being married. Apparently, I had been the only one.

A lawyer had worked it all out for me. They had some law where if she didn’t show up in court, it would be over. Abandonment. I had filed for abandonment. Abandonment. She had abandoned me. That’s what she had done. Why had she done that?
Why?

And that’s what drove me crazy. I ran scenarios thru my mind. Why did she leave? What excuse did she have? I was good to her. I loved her, worshipped her. I wasn’t perfect and sometimes I would snap at her when I had a bad day or something but I’d always make it up. Or at least I thought I had.

I shook my head and forced myself up the stairs. I stomped into the bedroom and threw open the closet door. I stood there and stared at her things, her clothes, her belongings. Her. She was there in that closet. I could smell her. I moved in closer to her clothes and breathed in her smell.

I stopped myself.

And her mother knew. After a couple of months of letting me make a fool of myself, she had phoned and said, “She called me the day after she left, Bruce. She’s alright.”

“Where is she?”

“I think the world of you, honey, but she told me not to tell you. And I won’t.”

And she didn’t.

Now it was time to get her out of my life for good. Goodbye to you. So long. Thanks for breaking my fucking heart! That was so considerate of you! Maybe I can return the favor sometime.

This shit was killing me.

Ten years! We were together for ten fucking years! No eleven years. If you included the year we dated before we got hitched.
Hitched?
I laughed out loud and said, “Hitched, then ditched!”

She could have at least left a note:
“Dear Bruce, I’m a bitch. I’ve left you for good. Sandy.”

Nothing. Nothing in six months. Not one letter. Not one call. Not one email. Not one thing to let me know she was okay. Nothing. That’s all I had.

I stared at all of her clothes and just grabbed a bunch and threw them on the floor. I jumped up and down on them for a moment, found my senses and tore the closet apart, wanting to break her hold on me.

I was just going to throw the shit in the garbage. I couldn’t really stand the thought of someone else touching her clothing or anything else she had. It made me sick. It would go in the garbage, along with our relationship.

Her sweaters first. Goodbye. I couldn’t do this. Her jeans gone. I just couldn’t do this. A sob escaped from deep down inside me. I threw her shirts in the pile. Some t-shirts were next. Black, gray, white. Get rid of it. I nearly doubled over with pain. All of it had to go. I had to move on. I had to give up. I didn’t want to. But I
had
to.

Her purses. How many of the damn things did she need anyway? There had to be twenty on the top shelf. Twenty! I shook my head as I stared at them, recognizing the expensive designer labels. The first time she’d brought one of these damn things home, I’d spied the price tag and almost had a heart attack.

“Are you kidding me?” I asked and shook the bag at her.

“It’s Chanel,” she quipped. “Give it back.”

“It’s a purse!”

She grabbed it and shook her head. “No, it’s
Chanel
.”

I shook my head, not getting it. As I stared at the things now, I still didn’t get it. Who would spend that kind of money on purses?
Women
.
I just didn’t get them.

I grabbed a few and threw them in the pile. What a waste. Maybe I should give them to charity. They were expensive and someone should get some use out of them. I grabbed a big leather blue one—a
Chanel
—and started to put it into a keep pile when I noticed it was heavy. Heavier than it should have been.

I carried it to the bed and turned it upside down. All this shit fell out. An old wallet. A bunch of papers with scribbles on them. Just notes, reminders to pick up the dry cleaning. A card. A business card. I flipped it over. Delores J. Sweeney, Therapist.

Therapist?

I rummaged around the other stuff and came back to the card and, without giving myself time to change my mind, I went to the phone on the nightstand, picked it up and dialed.

“Dr. Sweeney’s office. How may I help you?”

“I’d like to make an appointment.”

 

* * * * *

 

Dr. Sweeney was an older woman who appeared to be in her fifties but was still trim and pretty. For an older chick, she was hot.

I looked away from her and felt a twinge of guilt. Sandy was hotter. But then again, Sandy wasn’t here. I looked back. I’d do her.

“What would you like to talk about today, Mr. Anderson?”

“Please call me Bruce.”

“Okay, Bruce,” she said and glanced down at her clipboard, then back at me. “What seems to be troubling you?”

“My wife left me.”

She nodded. “I see.”

“She didn’t leave a note or give me a call or anything. She just fucking left.”

“And you’re upset, obviously.”

“I’m going to cut the shit. My wife saw you.”

“Excuse me?”

“Sandy Anderson. She saw you.”

“I don’t discuss patients with other patients, Bruce.”

“She’s not a patient anymore. And she’s my wife.”

In the same monotone tone, she repeated, “I don’t discuss patients with other patients, Bruce.”

“I don’t care what you discuss. I need your help.”

“For what?”

“I want to find her,” I said and took a picture of her out of my wallet. I held it over towards her. She glanced at it, then at my eyes, sighed and took it from my hand. She stared at the picture for a moment then back at me.

“She’s very pretty.”

“She’s beautiful.”

She handed the picture back. “I can certainly see why you’re upset.”

I nodded and stared down at the picture. The edges were a little worn. I smoothed them out as I stared at it. I’d had this one forever. It had been taken in black and white by a professional. She was standing in the woods in a vintage black evening gown she’d found at a thrift store. It had fit her perfectly and she looked like a princess in it. She was standing to the side of the camera, looking over her shoulder and smiling. Just a slight smile, that sneaky smile she’d get when she thought she’d done something clever. Like she’d pulled something over on someone and she couldn’t have been happier about it. Her feet were bare and her toenails painted red. She always wore red toenail polish. Always.

“So, do you remember her?” I asked and carefully put it back in my wallet.

She considered. “Hmmm…”

“Did she ever say anything about leaving me?”

“I told you, I can’t discuss that.”

“Listen, lady, I’m at the end of my rope here. I have to find her.”

“Have you considered that she doesn’t want to be found?”

Who was she kidding? Of course I’d considered that. That’s what drove me crazy! “I don’t care what
she
wants at this point,” I told her. “What
I
want is some answers.”

BOOK: Now She's Gone: A Novel
12.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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