Ningún Santuario Pt. 9
My rapid heartbeat and the incessant dripping from an invisible pipe somewhere behind the back wall of the interrogation room were the only gauges of time’s forward march ensuring that this dank grey purgatory would eventually come to an end. I balled my hands into fists to obscure the fact that they were trembling like dead palm fronds in a hurricane. The square-jawed detective sitting across the table had assured me that I wasn’t a suspect but as I had reported Marisa’s murder, he’d need to get as much information from me as possible.
I told him virtually everything I knew about Marisa, which wasn’t very much, although I withheld one key piece of information: I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt who had committed this act of brutality.
How could I possibly have explained? Were I to have divulged my history with this elusive and seemingly supernatural stalker, I would likely have been relocated to padded accommodations in the Desert Hills Psychiatric Hospital. If I thought it would have helped the investigation, perhaps I would have taken that chance, but I doubted that even the most crack detective on the force would be able to apprehend a man who can materialize and disappear at will. Already feeling horrible that my ultimately unnecessary role in Marisa’s life had been the catalyst of her grisly demise, I didn’t allow my decision to keep his existence a secret to add to the guilt. It didn’t make any sense at all, so how could I expect an account of his threateningly timed appearances to sound like anything but the ravings of a lunatic?
By the time I stepped out of the police station into the waning light of early evening, I found that I had become numb to the whole situation. I’d be called back for additional questioning as the investigation proceeded but for now, all I wanted was to get home and sleep. There were multiple messages from Jim on my phone but as checking in with my sponsor was far from a priority right now, I deleted them all without bothering to listen to what he said.
I stretched out on my bed and propped myself up with a stack of pillows so that I could stare at the TV. A full moon cast its dissipated light through the ripped screen of the open window to the right of the television set.
Minutes passed, maybe hours while I indulged an increasing feeling of somnolence, periodically shifting my gaze from the undefined masses of color on the TV screen to the window framed moonlight. Slowly, I became aware of the resonant sound of footsteps in the parking lot below. Rising tentatively from the bed, I walked to the window and peered down into the shadow shrouded rows of cars resting in their assigned spaces. A figure was lumbering his way between the vehicles. After a few minutes, he stepped out into the patch of grass just below my apartment, removed the familiar cap from his head and lifted his gaze to meet mine. For what seemed an eternity, we stared at each other without a sound. Suddenly, he opened his mouth and in a voice like molten gravel, spoke to me for the first time. “Open your door.” I remained frozen in place as he repeated his command. “Open your door.”
Curiosity got the better of fear in my trance-like state and an irresistible outside force carried me to the front door. Unhinging the latch, I stepped onto the landing expecting to come face to face with my tormentor but no one was there. Peering over the railing at the lot on the other side of the building, I could no longer see him among the cars or below my window. As I turned to reenter the apartment, a glint of silver illuminated by the moonlight caught my eye. Reaching my hand toward the butterfly clip used by the leasing office to hang announcements, I grabbed the chain with the dangling pendant and brought it inside.
I turned on the kitchen light and laid the necklace out on the counter. The jarringly bright fluorescent light revealed a heart shaped locket at the end of the chain. I turned it over and read the single word inscription: Marisa.
For the first time since encountering this enigmatic monster on my interminable drive from the east coast, I felt a sudden wave of anger rising from my gut. I had to find a way to confront him. The police had to know what he had done. And even though the logistics of how either of those things could be accomplished were currently beyond my cognitive powers, my resolve was stronger than any I’d ever felt.
“Whatever you are, you better watch your fucking back,” I threatened in a loud whisper to no one at all. I soon realized that attempting to employ braggadocio in one’s communications with a bloodthirsty phantasm is like whistling in a graveyard. There would be no waking from this nightmare; and quite possibly, no way to get out of it alive.