Chapter 9: Gone
Gwen found herself sitting on a park bench, her legs drawn up to her chest. She sat waiting on Sheryl who was to finally turn in her apartment key. There would be no going back now.
It all felt so…final.
Was the life she had really over?
If it were not for the child inside her, she knew she would have jumped off a bridge by now—and made a public spectacle of it too.
She pulled the hoodie tightly around herself as a cool breeze whistled past.
“What am I suppose to do now,” she asked.
Gary Woods couldn’t focus that day. He wasn’t sure what his problem was. He had spilled his tea all over the waitress at lunch and practically ran over a strange girl coming out of a clinic. He had never been the nervous type, so what was his deal?
“I’m a reporter,” he told himself, hands shoved in his pockets. “You’re supposed to be cool…and sophisticated.”
He laughed at himself. Just who was he fooling?
His reporting style was anything but sophisticated. He was known for his sometimes tactless wording for the sake of the truth. He had been shamed time and time again for his ‘black and white’ view.
“Life is more gray than you think Gary,” echoed familiar words.
He shook his head to dismiss the thought when a newspaper stand caught his eye.
There on the front page, as it had been for several weeks was the Baxter case. “Authorities have begun search tactics for a body,” one headline read. “Still missing,” said another.
It was a case that had him, as well as police, baffled.
Somehow or another the perfect couple, Gwenivere Baxter and Bryan Wilson had tragically come apart as most celebrity relationships he had encountered. The strange thing was Gwenivere’s sudden disappearance.
Bryan claimed she stormed out after a dispute over a possible future engagement. Yet if that were the case, shouldn’t she have been totally excited about it like most women would have? At least that’s what he thought.
Going over recent photos his fellow crew had collected told a different story. Replaying the images in his mind as he gazed down at the newspapers he could see a terrible shift.
Their pictures were happy at first. Gwenivere almost glowed next to the eligible bachelor. But something happened. The newspapers had tried their best to speculate to no avail. Even Gary’s crew had sent him out on similar hunts only to come back empty handed.
More recent appearances revealed a woman walking side by side with death itself. Her demeanor was almost gothic, accompanied by dark clothes and long sleeves; her hair often in shambles.
But it was just another story right? Or so that’s what Gary had forced himself to believe. These kinds of things happen all the time. What’s so special about this case?
Gary had to force himself away from the newspaper stand. His chest tightened.
Who says it’s just another story? The words echoed loudly in his mind.
Gary glanced back and forth across the crowds making their way up and down Main Street for an audible source when his eyes lay hold of a lonely figure in the park across the street. Normally he would have assumed it to be a homeless person and would have continued about his business. Yet something was pulling him.
Before he knew it, he was crossing the street—after getting honked at by an irate Taxi driver for getting in the way—and walking up the green.
He paused a moment to watch.
“Well I’ll be…,” he muttered recognizing the hoodie and wrinkled jeans.
Gwen was startled by a weight on her back as she wiped away tears on a dirty sleeve. She glanced about to see the tails of the coat she had being wrapped about her huddled body.
“You’re probably a bit cold there aren’t you,” asked a familiar voice.
“Sher—,” she began only to find herself wrong when she looked up at the man staring down at her.
“Gary, remember,” he asked stepping around the bench, his hands up to show he was unarmed “It’s kind of cold for you to be out here like this isn’t it?”
Gwen shifted uncomfortably across the bench away from the man as he gestured to take a seat himself. She pretended to ignore the notion, pretending to look down, eyeing the man’s every move. She wouldn’t allow the events of the past to repeat themselves. She couldn’t.
“I gave you my name, so what’s yours,” Gary asked carefully watching the woman’s expression.
“Laurel,” she answered bluntly.
“That’s a pretty name.”
The woman shot him a suspicious look. “What do you want,” she demanded, eyes narrowed.
“Eh…” He hadn’t thought of a reply. Hi I’m your new found stalker—no that won’t do. “I saw you sitting here from across the way,” he began, pointing in the general direction of which he came. “And thought I’d come say hi.”
“To a stranger…?” Her eyes were defensive like a wild animal with its leg broken. “What do you want?”
Gary swallowed trying to create a non-threatening tone. Tough crowd, he thought. “I…just thought I’d see if you needed anything. You look kind of tired and lonely.”
“A psyche ward and a padded rubber room is what I need,” blurted the woman, fighting tears.
She stood up throwing off the coat.
All the anger and hurt inside of her felt bottled. Gwen wanted nothing more than to lash out at the man even if only for bumping into her earlier. A dam of tears broke instead.
She found herself standing in the middle of the park with a perfect stranger named Gary bawling her eyes out.
“It’s okay miss,” he said standing.
He attempted to return his coat to its place on her shoulders when she turned around and hit him. Her fists pounded his shoulders once, then twice before she fell into him sobbing horribly.
“Why,” she screamed. “Why…?”
Noting the scene he was causing as a jogger ran past; Gary draped the jacket about her once again and turned her to walk with him across the park. She complied this time pausing to stare at him.
“Let’s get you somewhere safe…and warm,” he whispered.
“Why…,” she muttered through trembling lips. “Why do you care?”
There was that injured look again. He knew she could very well attack him. Whatever plagued her, hurt deep and he had only touched the surface.
Sheryl strolled out of the offices to the apartments after finally forcing herself to give up the key as Gwen had requested. The pair had spent the greater part of the morning moving out the paintings and clothes shortly before their visit to the clinic. She knew Shawn would not be happy when he came home to find them. For now Sheryl had to relocate her favorite blonde.
She said she would be across the street. Sheryl glanced about. Why does there have to be so many people now? She waded her way through the people, looking all the while until her eyes fell on her friends standing with another man just as he had begun to lead her away.
Sheryl’s mind kicked into panic. She tried to push her way through the crowd only to watch her friend growing father away.
“Gwen,” she screamed knowing the traffic had to be drowning her out.
She continued watching as the man walked Gwen to a bus stop on the other side. Just then Sheryl finally saw an opening in the crowd and dove for it. She darted across the street and up the green but it was too late.
A bus pulled up and the man gestured for Gwen to step on. Trembling, her friend did so, the man following behind. Seconds later the bus pulled off and they were gone.
Sheryl fell to her knees.
“No…,” she moaned. “Not again…”
Copyright The Faithbook 2011