Chapter Three, Part Two

I called Arlo first, of course, since he had seen her with me that one time and knew what Sella looked like. Then I called a few other people I knew in the area - Gary at the pub, Lindo the grocery store manager, Mouse, who ran a meth lab, and Crazy Eddie, who didn't specialize in any particular activity and was up for anything. No one had seen Sella, they all promised to keep an eye out, and I didn't believe any of them.

I was leaving voice mail for Manny, who trafficked in stolen goods, when I remembered the dock. Would Sella have gone down to the water again? Maybe she got caught up in her nautical daydreaming and lost track of time. Since I hadn't taken off my coat or shoes, I grabbed my keys, locked up and hurried out into the evening cold.

There were a lot of quick ways to the docks, but since I didn't know if Sella had a good sense of direction, I retraced our steps from a few days prior; past the grocery store with grimy windows and sign promising special prices on cigarettes, the pub with its strains of country music and faint odor of fish, and into the seedy dockside neighborhood of pawn shops, cheap apartments and derelicts. A panhandler with a matted beard glanced my way, but we had seen each other around and he knew better than to call out for spare change.

The sun was setting and a bitter wind gusted through the narrow streets. I wrapped my coat more tightly against my body and wished I had brought my gloves. Of all the places I could've run to when the shit hit the fan back home, what was I thinking when I chose Cold Haven? Surely I could've hidden out just as easily in the Florida Keys, or maybe West Texas or New Mexico. But I had been in a panic, and it made me stupid. I escaped to the first place I could think of where I wasn't likely to be tracked. If I had it to do all over again, or if I could just scrape together enough money for bus fare and a little starter money, I would hop the next Greyhound south, and to hell with the risks.

I was deep in thought when someone called my name. It was Scary Carrie, with her limp blonde hair, paper-thin skin and premature wrinkles. From past conversations, I suspected she was my age, but she looked at least forty-five and her fondness for heavy black eyeliner didn't improve matters.

She leaned against a door frame and took a drag on her cigarette. After blowing a desultory trickle of smoke out of the corner of her mouth, she asked again where I was going. "Little early in the evening for a trick. You holding?"

I had made the mistake early on of sharing a stash with her and now whenever she saw me she expected a repeat. "If I was, it wouldn't be for giving away," I told her. "And it's never too early for a customer. Just got done with one about an hour ago."

Carrie raised her over-plucked brows and sucked on her cigarette. "And here you are on the street again. Rent must be due."

I so did not need this. Carrie could be nice enough when she chose, but it was always a passive-aggressive thing, with the bottom line being what you could do for her. "Well, it's nice running into you, but I got to get down to the dock while there's still a little light out."

She ground her cigarette into the door frame. "You heard about it, too, huh?"

I felt a little chill that had nothing to do with the weather. "Heard what?"

"Some kids found a body. Last I heard, a couple cops and some fishermen were trying to get it out of the water, but it's stuck on something."

"It's not a female, is it? Teenage girl?"

Carrie shrugged her bony shoulders. "How the hell should I know?"

"Right. See you around." As I turned back toward the docks, I thought I heard her call, "You sure you ain't holding?" but by now my mind was in a panic and my feet followed suit. By the time I reached the pier and its crowd of curious onlookers, I was running full-tilt and nearly collided with a heavy-set man who I'd seen from time to time hanging around the cheap chowder shops. I stumbled and tried to duck around him but he grabbed me by the arm.

"Hold on, there. Cops are trying to keep people out."

"Right. Someone drowned." I tried to pull free.

"Well, there's too many people down there, getting in everyone's way."

"What business is it of yours?" I wrenched myself away, but he jumped in front, blocking me.

"You're one stubborn bitch, you know that?"

"Yeah. You're the third person to mention it today." I feinted and this time succeeded in darting past. Without looking to see if the guy was trailing me, I hurried to the crowd clustered along the dock and started working my way through, using my sharp elbows and a few well-placed kicks.

I finally reached a point where I could go no farther. Cops and helpful fishermen had strung some heavy rope and were guarding it with a menace more appropriate for a riot than group of onlookers who were merely curious. I worked my way to a spot where I could make out a group of men doing something with a net at the end of the dock. From time to time they called down to someone in the water, adjusted their position and gave the nets a heave.

"Get off my foot, bitch."

I didn't even bother looking at the man who was speaking. "Keep it out of my way, then." I moved my foot.

"You've got a nasty attitude, you know that? What's your problem?"

Had I wanted to, I could've given the guy a laundry list of problems, but right now, the only one that mattered was at the end of the dock, where the fishermen were pulling something dark, heavy and teenager-sized out of the gray water. Something with a blood-colored scarf that trailed, dipping, out of the confines of the net, as if refusing to be brought to land.

The men guarding the rope were watching too, and I took advantage of their distraction to slip past. I know they must have shouted at me, but all I could hear was the pounding of my feet and the buzzing in my brain as I ran down the pier.

The net was on dry land now, and the men were working the body out of the tangles. One of them looked up at my approach, and I guess he saw something in my eyes that hinted at my fears. For a moment the world stopped spinning and I thought he might fix me to the spot forever with his glorious blue gaze. "Do you know her?"

I forced myself to look, really look this time. No, I didn't know her. None of us did. But that didn't mean I couldn't identify those water-logged features. "Her name is Sella."



  1. I suspected that's what Sella was thinking last week. so sad.

  2. That's what I was afraid of.

    Great development of the scene.

  3. I was so hoping that it would not be her but the build up in anticipation in this chapter made her discovery almost inevitable. It was just what I didn't want to happen hoping that she could slowly brought back to some sort of normality.