My concept of the geography of everything west of Western is hazy at best. Maybe I’m just not traveling that far. Or perhaps alcohol reals does grant me bicycle superpowers. Regardless, minutes later I’m sailing through Humboldt Park.
It’s never a good idea to be alone here after dark, especially when one is smelling like malt liquor and wearing a mini dress. But in the daylight, the park is filled with big trees, surprisingly lush lawns, and duck ponds. Even the playground equipment is shiny and safe. Families barbecue and couples sprawl out on blankets. Happy, healthy children run in circles. It could be the nicest park in the nicest city. But as soon as the sun hits the horizon, all wholesomeness flees the area. Scariness invades.
Ryan’s windows are dark. Hopefully he is sleeping.
I ring the bell.
I count to thirty.
Still no response.
I count to twenty.
I tap on the window.
Nothing inside moves.
What if he is lying inside, unconscious, sick…or something worse? No way. That could never happen. I mean, what are the odds of that?
He’s lying on the rug, face down. Stiff. Cold. Alone.
No, no, NO. Don’t be melodramatic.
I’m going to have to go inside.
I have a key, but I feel weird using it. I don’t want to be the psychotic ex-girlfriend.
I can see Ryan sitting in a booth at the Lava Lounge, complaining to Adam. “Jesus, Amanda is fucking batshit. She just went into my apartment while I wasn’t home. Probably up to some sick stalking shit.” There’s some head-nodding and “yeah, yeah,” followed by another round of beers.
Sick, unconscious Ryan starts wrestling with breezy, annoyed Ryan.
Dead bodies carry a lot more weight than their breathing counterparts.
I’m going in the apartment.
The first thing I notice is how empty his place seems. The air is heavy and stale.
No Sadie. Where is she?
Fuck, this probably means he’s shacking up with some skank somewhere. No doubt she has a trust fund and size 0 jeans. Hopefully she just LOVES dogs.
There is a note above the light switch inside the door. It’s been there for months.
“Dear Amanda, Please close the blinds before you turn on the lights. Love, Ryan.”
And under that, my hastily scribbled response.
“Dear Sir, How can I find my way across the room to close the blinds in the darkness? Sincerely, Amanda”
Everything is the same. Chiquita stickers cover the refrigerator. Lavender soap rests on the kitchen sink. Plants fill the windowsills.
But the silence makes it seem so alien.
I sit on the futon. I guess I’ll just wait until he comes home.
Fuck, he is going to kill me. I can see it now. Battle royale. And I won’t be able to craft a plausible defense.
I should leave.
No, no…I came out here for a reason. I need to know that he is okay. And really, I just want to hear myself tell him that every one of our friends think that he is fucked up/fucking up.
So this is the thing: I could open dresser drawers and steam open envelopes. I could check the caller ID box for new phone numbers. I could smell his laundry in pursuit of strange perfume.
But I’m not that person.
My mom could always find my diary with minimal effort, no matter how clever I thought a particular hiding spot was. And she would read every word I wrote. Lest I was unaware of this invasion of my privacy, she would add her own responses next to my childish scrawl. “I can’t imagine why you would say that you hate me. When you are an adult, you will understand how difficult responsibility really is.” Nothing that the 4th grade Me could really appreciate.
I’m just going to wait here patiently. I have a book in my bag. Everything will be fine.
He’ll be home soon, right?