New Man Part 16

20130429-182538.jpgMaking his way across the tracks again, Jacob had found the three story apartment building. Once white awnings that hung over the metal frame windows now held blotches of red rust. The blue steps that led to the entrance of the converted turn of the twentieth century school house had begun to peel and reveal the gray of the concrete below. Two large Maples stood barren and stoic in the front “yard” of the building. Their leaves lay on the ground covered in ice and snow.
Jacob crunched his way through the ice and snow to the front steps and up to the large glass door. He gave it a tug but it didn’t move. He noticed an electronic lock and looked for a call box, finally locating it near a row of mailboxes that hung just down from the door. He thought it to be an odd place to place it. He searched for the name that Jordyn had given him through the six names listed on the box.
He buzzed for apartment two and waited. It seemed like an hour before he heard what assumed was an old mans voice. “Yes?”
“May I please come in? My name is Nathan and I need to ask your son a few questions?”
“About what?”
“Haley Murphy.”
Jacob waited for a reply that never came. He stood on the icy porch with his hands in his jacket.
BZZZZZ. He heard the door click open and he made a dash before it decided to lock on him.
Apartment two sat on the bottom floor of the tiny school house which appeared to have two apartments on each floor. One side of the hall devoted to each apartment.
As he raised his hand to knock on the door it crept open as in a horror movie. Jacob poked his head inside and called. “Graham, my name is Nathan Collins and I would like to ask you a few questions about Haley, if that is okay.”
An elderly woman rolled out of a doorway that Nathan could tell led to the kitchen. She sat in a wheelchair and her on afghan covered lap sat a tray of coffee. A large canister sat attached to the back of the wheelchair and hoses led out and wrapped around her head and stuck into her nose giving her precious oxygen.
“Come on in, have a seat, dear.” the woman said. He noticed that the voice he had heard was in fact hers and not a mans. She sat frail and nearly limp in the chair. On top of her head sat unkempt blue hair.
Jacob stuck out his hand and she took it but lacked the energy to do anything else.
“Graham ran to the store to get me a story. He should be right back.”
“Story?”
“Yes, I read, what some might call smut, Mr. Collins.” She gestured to a corner of the room that held what appeared to be hundreds of paperback romance novels. The rest of the house appeared in disarray as well. Glasses and dirty dishes littered the tables and nearly every surface of the living room.
“It gives me escape. You know?” She shook slightly when she talked and her weak voice vibrated.
“You don’t have to explain to me ma’am.”
“Please call me Abigail,” she said as she motioned a cup toward him. “Or Abby, all my friends do.”
“Thank you, Abby,” he said taking the coffee and sitting it among the dirty cups on the table. “And you can call me Nathan.”
“Nathan.”
“Your son knows Haley pretty well I’ve been told.”
“Oh, he isn’t my son, Nathan, he is my grandson.”
“Oh,”
“His mother and father moved to Springfield last year to take better jobs. He wanted to finish school here, being he only had one more year. He’s a senior this year.”
“Oh.” Jacob instantly remembered what Jerry had said. A seventeen year old senior. It seemed to fit Seth at first but he surely wouldn’t have wanted to have sex with Haley. Could she and Graham had something going that no one knew about?
The door creaked behind Jacob and he swung his head over his shoulder to see a young man enter carrying a small bag. He looked at the floor as he entered and seemed to be in mid-sentence.
“..many times have I told you, nana, that you need to keep the door shut.” He looked up and saw Jacob sitting on the couch. Their eyes met and he bolted back out the door. Jacob, without thinking flew over the back of the couch. His foot hit the table which sent its contents scattered about the room.
Jacob made his way to the hallway of the building and his body crashed on top of Graham before he reached the exit. Jacob pulled the boy by his blue jean jacket down the hallway and back into his grandmothers apartment. He tossed the skinny boy onto the couch. His face beat red and his body seemed unable to sit still. He sat with his heels off the ground on his toes. He started to bounce the heels up and down, shaking the whole apartment.
Jacob put one hand on the boy’s knee, “Stop, if you can.”
“You know I can’t.” The boys voice was weak, he wasn’t strong or tough or macho. He was a seventeen year old kid.
“Why you here?”
“Why do you think, I’m here?”
“What is going on?” Abby asked as she leaned out of her chair in an attempt to pick up a cup that lay on the floor next to her.
“I’ll get that nana, why don’t you go to your room and read your story I got you.”
She rolled out of the room with her “story” and called over her shoulder, “If you boys need anything just holler.”
“Ok nana.”
“Why do you think I’m here?” Jacob picked up where he left off.
“Look at me? I’ve got a pretty good idea.” Graham sat on the couch. His skinny bony hands motioned like a game show hostess presenting an item. When he had been standing Jacob noticed him to be a bit over average height. Probably stood about six foot. His angular jaw line was covered in acne, and his dark hair was greasy and dirty looking. His yellow teeth held braces. He was an awkward kid and the crystal wasn’t helping his complexion or his teeth.
“Nope. I don’t give a shit about what you do to your body.”
“Then why?”
“You have a friend that’s missing?”
“Haley?”
Jacob sat down beside him on the couch. “You have any other friends that have gone missing?”
“Haley, isn’t missing.”
“You know where she is?” Jacob sat up in attention. He didn’t think it would be that easy to find her.
“No.”
As he suspected.
“Then what do you mean?”
“She ran away. Didn’t she?”
Jacob relaxed back into the couch.
“When did you see her last?”
Graham described nearly the same events that Jordyn had. He said that they had practiced and that she had left a little before ten pm. He didn’t know where she went or what she had done. Jordyn had come by to pick him up at seven fifty and they made it to school with three or four minutes to spare. Neither said they had seen Haley that day.
“Was she seeing someone?”
“No, not that I know of.”
“She wasn’t seeing you?”
He let out a bellowing laugh and his leg began to bounce again. “No, have you seen Haley, or a picture at least? Look at me. She liked the jocks, the good looking guys. Muscles and BMW’s.”
“Seth?”
“Oh, you met ‘Pretty Boy’,” Graham’s leg eased slightly. But then he resorted to scratching, picking at one of the red bumps on his face.
“I did, but I heard he might not play on the same team as you and me.” Jacob gave him a friendly nudge on the shoulder. “You spent a lot of time with Haley before she disappeared. You telling me no feelings grew between you two?”
“Not between us.”
“So the feeling wasn’t mutual?”
“Listen if you are saying something, buddy, just say it. I ain’t got time for your mind game shit. Just fucking ask it.”
Jacob felt something for this kid, something he couldn’t place his finger on. Maybe he felt sorry for him. Maybe he felt that feeling of loneliness that pored from this kid.
“Did you try to have sex with Haley?”
“Man I tried everything I could think of to get her to notice me, sent her flowers, wrote her songs, ‘cause that’s the shit she was into. I got on this shit and lost fifty pounds. Didn’t matter. I was the keyboard player in HER band. Not ours. Hers. ‘Haley’s Comets’.”
“That is a catchy name.”
He chuckled. “Yeah, I guess it was. But the point was we wanted to play somewhere and it was never good enough for Haley.”
“Where?”
“Anywhere. We never played a gig. Just practiced and wrote songs.”
Jacob leaned close to Graham and looked in the eyes, “Did you try to force her, to have sex, Graham?”
He stood and threw a punch at Jacob’s face, missing wildly, Jacob pushed the boy back. He fell onto the coffee table and shattered it into a hundred pieces.
From the floor Graham looked up at him, “Fuck you man, I would never hurt Haley. I loved her.”
“Who’s Musicman28?”
Graham shook his head, “I don’t fucking know.”

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