Read Along: Paradise Palms: Chapter 16
The Sokolovs, according to Girlfriend’s GPS tracking software, were crossing the border from Bolivia into Chile. All she could do was hope they would make it safely along the mountain passes there. Though the map showed flat roads and no topography, she knew that the majority of the country was mountains created by the Mariana Trench, where the two plates smashed together. She tried to get her mind off of smashing and mountains and closed the GPS program and opened her e-mail.
She started a new e-mail, but could only stare blankly at the message window. What could she say? She couldn’t tell her parents that Sam’s best friend had been found dead or that Sam had been questioned by the police. That would only cause her parents to worry, but she felt the need to talk with someone about Sam and what was happening. She had to be strong for him, and didn’t want to bring up her worries that there might be some madman out there cutting people up and killing them, and that without him inside the house she was scared out of her wits. With what he was dealing with, he didn’t need that.
Surfing the web didn’t sound like any fun, and she didn’t have any new podcasts to listen to, so, looking around the clutter of the bedroom, Girlfriend decided to pick up the place. At least doing laundry and cleaning up would keep her mind off of Sam, while he went out to figure out just what did happen to Casper.
She picked up the bedroom and bathroom, putting all the dirty clothes in the hamper, and started in on the kitchen. The breakfast dishes weren’t going to clean themselves. As she started filling the sink with warm, soapy water, Blue started barking. Not an angry bark, but a familiar ‘come pet me’ bark. Girlfriend turned off the water and dried her hands on a kitchen towel and went to the door. She opened it before Patty could knock.
“Well good morning, stranger. I’m glad to see you. I could really use someone to talk to right now.”
Patty didn’t say anything at first, but instead gave Girlfriend a hug. She let a small cry out and Patty patted her on the back.
“I’m sorry, Patty,” Girlfriend said as she released from the hug. “Things are just so strange right now. I don’t know what to think. I also didn’t get much sleep last night.”
“You were able to sleep at all? I’m surprised. I don’t think I’d be able to sleep a wink if my man was mixed up in something like that.”
“Well, okay, if I had a man.”
They both laughed.
“Ok, good. I got you to relax a bit. You don’t happen to have any coffee, do you?”
“I’m afraid I just poured the rest of it out. I was about to do the dishes, in fact.”
Patty pulled out a pack of cigarettes. “Well leave them for the time being. Let’s go sit outside and talk.”
Girlfriend followed Patty back to the patio. Blue tried to hop up on Patty, but with a scratch behind the ears, she went to lay back down. Patty sat down and removed the plate from under the small plant on the side table. She set her cigarettes next to it and lit one up.
“What’s going on?” She asked.
“I wish I knew. Sam is really broken up about this whole mess. He’s off trying to figure out what happened.”
“Well, he has a little help. I was just at the café and he went into the woods with one of the detectives from yesterday and some lady. She looked sort of frumpy. I don’t think she was a detective, though. She was wearing the ugliest jacket.”
“Wait, what do you mean they went into the woods?”
“I mean over behind the Sandy Bar. You know, where the police found Casper.”
“So he’s got some help, then. He’s not alone. Oh thank goodness.”
Patty tapped the ashes off her cigarette. “Wait, you mean he was already heading over there? On his own?”
“Well, he wanted to see if he could figure out what happened. You know, Casper was his friend. Plus this whole thing is just weird. They only found half of his body.”
“Half? What do you mean? Like he was eaten or something?”
“I don’t know. Sam wouldn’t talk much about it. It was really bugging him though. He went for a walk last night and got really creeped out by something.”
“Well if Sam got scared, then something must be going really wrong out there. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him scared. Casper was never scared either. Those boys are, well, were, pretty much fearless. Did Sam not want to go into the woods or something?”
“Well, he said that they changed last night. He couldn’t explain it. It scared me too. I don’t know if it had anything to do with it, but my clock was reset this morning. Was yours?”
“Oh, mine runs on batteries. But we shouldn’t have had a power surge. Don’t we have a generator that backs up the power here? I mean, just so we don’t lose power.”
Girlfriend shrugged. “I don’t know. If we do, Sam would know. He’s probably the one that needs to keep it in working order.”
“So who could have done this?” Patty asked as she smashed out one cigarette and lit up another. “I mean, nothing like this ever happens around here. I’ve lived here all my life. I grew up here. I’m worried if this is some weird serial killer or something.”
“I don’t think it’s anything like that, Patty. Those things usually happen in big cities, don’t they? Not way back in the woods.”
“But I thought they pulled two bodies out of the woods. I mean, I saw two body bags, but neither looked big enough have a full body in it.” Patty gasped. “Did Casper get cut in half or something? Oh gross!”
Girlfriend didn’t know how much she should tell Patty about what Sam knew. If anything, one little rumor would spread around the park like crazy. The last thing they needed was rumors and panic.
“Patty, I can’t really talk about it. Sam didn’t tell me much, but they found something else with Casper. It wasn’t just Casper they pulled out of the woods. When I know more, I’ll let you know, but don’t go running all over the park telling everyone. We don’t need to get everyone all worked up, understand?”
Patty put out her cigarette and pulled out another one. She didn’t light it, though. “Girlfriend, you take care of that man of yours. He’s something special. I mean, if he can go back into those woods with what he knows…”
They hugged and Patty let herself out. Blue rubbed up against Girlfriend’s leg. After a few minutes of petting, Girlfriend went back into the trailer to do the dishes. She did so in a daze, her mind constantly drifting to what Sam could be doing in the woods. She even found herself at the door twice, but didn’t go outside. He was dealing with it. The last thing he needed right now was her getting in the way. He had two people with him helping already.
She needed to stay put. Just stay right were she was and wait. No matter how hard it was to do so, she was going to stay in the trailer. Sam was strong enough to take care of himself. He knew the woods better than anyone.
“Please come home safely,” she said to the closed door as she placed her hand on it.