Despondent, I return to my grey concrete castle. It already feels hollow and empty. Guns and a carton of beer accompany me to the roof. There I sit under the sail-shade, drinking and sweeping the road with a powerful sniper scope.
Going after her is hardly debated. What purpose would it serve? Even assuming I can track her down, do I drag her back unwillingly? Then what? Lock her up and feed her like a prize pony?
We’d both really enjoy that.
The sharpened edge of loss slips through an iron shell that protects my tender innards from hurt. Drunken, hurt tears I’ll regret later, dry as I doze.
I wake from a fearsome nightmare to the sound of gravel spraying from fast moving wheels. A red ute is roaring through the gate.
I whip the scope up to check it closes securely then redirect it onto the windshield. Kristine springs into view.
She’s come back to me.
I don’t know whether to be angry or ecstatic.
The truck disappears out of sight at the opposite end of the building. I hear tyres lock, skidding to a halt near the reception area.
My voice cracks as I yell in her direction and sprint for the rooftop door.
“I’ll be right down!”
On the way down I counsel myself to be understanding yet firm. It is a given that I’ll go off my nut before calming while she apologises copiously. It better be a long well thought out apology too. After all, she’s given me one hell of a scare.
I thud down stairs and slap along corridors, crashing doors behind me extra hard.
Warned of my approach she stands inside the airlock of the main outer doors, strangely euphoric and hyped up.
Something’s wrong. I slow my headlong rush, forgetting prepared reprimands.
“What happened, what have you done?”
I know a look of guilt when I see one. They are reflected at me all the time in the bathroom mirror. Kristine has scratches down her face and arms. Someone or something has been at her. She’s in a mild state of shock. A speed freak jittered less than she does.
“Y-you’re not going to li-like this.”
I want to block my ears, the corners of my mouth almost met under my chin. Whatever it is threatens the simple life I need.
“What happened?” I repeat, a little more gently.
“You were right. After we talked last night... people do go back to places they know.”
Why does she look so excited, so scared?
“Ooohhkayyyy.” I stall. Last night’s talk is a fuzzy memory. “What people?”
“I found her! I found Shanna!”
“Good God! Really? It was really her? That must have been disturbing.”
Christ, what were the odds? Well, it could have been worse. At least she’d come back in one piece.
“Come on in. You can tell me all about it upstairs; I’ll fix these scratches.”
“No. There’s something else we have to do first.”
A defiant look in her eye strikes me with a hint of madness.
“What? Just leave the ute there. I’ll move it later.”
“Shanna. She’s in the back.”