A bright orange ball of fire rose above Parker street, no gray clouds hung overhead and no snow had fallen in twelve hours. But the cold had not let up and it was blistering as the wind hit his face and made him wish he had parked the car closer so he could sit. The little girl played in the front yard of the two story cream color stucco Spanish style home with red clay tiles which he thought looked a bit odd with the two foot of snow. She wore mittens and ear muffs as she rolled a big snow ball in what appeared to be an attempt to make a snow man.
A blue BMW 5 Series and an black Audi SUV sat in the driveway and shined in the glow of the sun making its long awaited debut from days of hiding behind the curtain of clouds. It had been a miracle that he had found the place and he was having second thoughts as to whether it was in fact the correct house. That PI had no money, he knew that from his shit-hole of an office. He hadn’t even had the consideration to pick up the place.
His normally dark skin was beginning to turn red from the wind when he saw a tall dark haired man in a blue three piece with tiny white pinstripes and a black briefcase exit the front door and make his way across the lawn toward the little girl. She looked nothing like him. He patted her on the head and leaned down to give her a peck on the cheek. A woman who he recognized stood in the doorway with a white robe and huge mug of coffee, steaming. The man took his seat in the BMW and he quickly pulled out of the long drive toward Parker street and off to work.
Twenty minutes passed slowly as the blistering cold wind blew against his face. He could feel the cold as it cut to the bone and his two hundred dollar shoes did nothing to keep his feet warm. He didn’t think he could hide behind a bush on the lawn across the street much longer. When he heard the rumbling of the bus barreling down Parker street. His pulse quickened slightly at the sight of the little girl getting on the bus. Her little feet and hands covered in packed snow, leaving her beautiful mother at the front door waving. She had no idea that it could be the last time, but that was up to her.
As the bus pulled down Parker street and made its usual left turn onto Hudson his two hundred dollar shoes and his long fur coat crossed the street. The woman was just about to close the door and return to the warmth of her home when she spotted him. She nearly dropped the coffee mug when his leather glove touched the door stopping her from shutting him out.
“I’m not interested in buying anything today sir,” she said pushing harder against the door.
“I’m not here selling anything,” he said, “I’m a friend of your husbands.” he said reaching behind his back for his gun, just in case he needed it.
“I’m sorry, you just missed him,” she pushed even harder on the door and her breath was short and jagged.
He chuckled, “Not that husband. May I come in? I’d like to pay some respects, Rachel.”
She refused let him in so he pulled the gun and placed it to her forehead. He didn’t feel one ounce of remorse for anything he did and watching that beautiful woman with her robe flapping in the breeze, hot coffee mug shaking in her hand and piss running down her naked thigh didn’t effect him at all. In fact Andre didn’t feel anything except the cold wind blowing against his face.
Blue filled the sky as Jacob stared out onto the ice. He thought it looked thick enough to skate but he knew better. It didn’t stay cold long enough to freeze the pond thick enough to withstand a skater. His face began to get cold as the wind picked up. He fumbled the phone in his hand contemplating dialing her number again. Telling her to hold their baby girl tight for him, make her tell their daughter how much he cared about her. He knew it would do no good, however.
He thought that Haley must of really loved coming here to her birth rite, the internet has become a powerful tool these days and with a little research he had learned more of the story than Jerry had told. As it turned out the park that Haley ran in everyday and the pond that she wrote in the journal by had once belonged to her family. She must have felt something in that place, sitting on that bench that bore the name of the grandfather she never knew.
Jacob was intrigued by the journal. The running he could understand, looking physically fit was important in high school, and if she were to ever make a run at stardom it would be a pre-requisite to fame. But the writing? That was something that he didn’t see a teenager doing, at least in a semi-obsessive manner. And when she disappeared it was the only item that had made its way with her. At the very least, besides the clothes on her back it was the only item missing. She, according to her father, had only her running clothes and the journal when she was dropped off and it didn’t appear she went anywhere after the park.
Jacob stood to brush the cold off of him, he looked around at the lifeless park, he seemed to be the only soul inhabiting it at the moment. This, especially in the winter months would have been what she experienced, but he imagined that in the humid heat of the August morning it would have been all abuzz with joggers baring I-Pods and MP3 players, spandex pants and hundred dollar running shoes, pony-tails bobbing back and forth in a gentle rhythm and skin glistening with sweat. And after a run she would sit there on that bench, look out over the pond and write her thoughts. Precious, important thoughts.
As Jacob pondered the joggers he noticed that the path off in the distance split, one path seemed less traveled and it ironically reminded him of the poem by Robert Frost and he wondered if Haley was the type to take the road less traveled. He thought for a moment and thought it worth a try.