Saturday, November 8, 2014

Excerpt 2 - The Body Caches

Dr. Woods called the following Monday and said that the cause of Janelle’s death was asphyxiation caused by bilateral pneumothorax, or in laymen’s terms, two punctured lungs. The bastard had beaten her so badly that he’d broken her ribs and punctured both of her lungs, leaving her to die all alone. Dr. Woods also mentioned that she thought that Janelle had still be alive when she was placed on the Wurlitzer because of the blood pooling in her lower extremities. Whoever had killed these two girls had to have access to both of the dump places without being noticed. Or had access to these places when no one else was around. I still wasn’t sure what the Alabama Theater had to do with me either and this killer was clearly interested in me. There had to be some kind of connection between me and The Alabama Theater.
I went into my office and opened the cedar chest by the closet. My grandfather had made this cedar chest for me as a wedding present. He had made one for my mother and all of my aunts for their weddings as well. I did just as they had and stuffed all of the important mementos of my life into the chest. If there was anything that could tie me to The Alabama Theater it had to be in this box. The smell of the cedar wood assaulted my nose when I lifted the lid. I closed my eyes and inhaled as much of the smooth, woodsy scent as I could. That scent would forever remind me of my grandfather and his rough hands covered in cedar shavings, always working on his next project carved and cut and polished from cedar trees in his back yard. The top layer of junk in the chest was mostly newspaper articles about cases I had solved or community projects I had taken part in. Greyson and Braelynn had always insisted on keeping the articles. I kept moving stuff around, Braelynn’s first outfit, her first pair of baby shoes, Greyson’s baby shoes, my baby shoes, my first baseball glove, and my cap and gown from college were all floating around numerous photo boxes and photo albums. I pulled out the photo albums and began to turn back the pages of time, laughing and crying as the memories flipped from page to page.
After two hours of cruising down memory lane I was read to give up when I saw the last box in the very bottom of the chest. It was the size of a children’s shoe box and was covered in decoupaged flower printed tissue paper. I pulled off the lid and set it aside. Inside the box were pictures of me and my friends from junior high, a cassette tape, several folded notes from my best friends and the boys we had crushes on, a pom-pom with my school colors, and a handful of pins. One of the pins caught my eye. It was the largest one in the box. I picked it up and turned it over, revealing the same picture of the Wurlitzer that had been on the card stuck in the flowers on my desk. The words circling the Wurlitzer said “I Took A Ride On the Wurlitzer”. Underneath the button was a picture of me and several of my friends all standing in front of this amazing piano machinery. We were all grinning ear to ear and I laughed out loud. I remembered that trip. In the 8th grade, our music and theater teacher, whom had been suspected of being schizophrenic, had taken us to see Hamlet. She had made sure that we had gotten to the theater early so that we could meet the people who operated the theater and to see the Wurlitzer up close. I remember that she had made us watch The Phantom of the Opera the day before we went and once we were up close and personal with the Wurlitzer we were all mesmerized by the possibility of a “phantom” in this theater. Especially Gunner.

Oh, shit. Gunner had been there that day too. I looked back at the picture of me and my smiling classmates. He was right there in the picture. He was standing behind me and Walker, grinning shyly at the camera. This was right before school would be out for the summer. And somewhere around the time where we had become friends. I remember that because we had gotten together that summer. And it had started that day at the Wurlitzer. I had gotten scared when we rode it down into the stage and he had held my hand. He hid our hands so that no one else could see them because he didn’t want anyone to know and think that he was some guy who was walking around rescuing young girls from their irrational fears. He had a tough guy rep to protect. I didn’t even know how to feel sitting there staring at that picture. Even though we had broken up after the ninth grade, we had still flirted and talked on the phone and snuck out behind the field house at school to make out. Even when he had another girlfriend. Up until I met Greyson I had always thought that Gunner and I would eventually end up together and tell everyone cute stories about being high school sweethearts later in life. It all seemed so silly now. But had he thought the same thing? Had he been upset when I married Greyson? I needed some answers. I left Braelynn in Keaton’s capable hands, jumped in my truck, and headed to the City Federal building. Thirty minutes later I was standing on the other side of Gunner’s apartment door, waiting for him to answer. 

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