We decide to go to the movies that afternoon. I want to take my mind off the murders, Paris, and anything else depressing. We choose to see Lord of the Rings part deux at the Metreon, which is a mistake. Not the movie itself which is truly epic in scope and nature, but attending the Metreon where all the beautiful people hang out intermingled with the tourists. The prices are jacked up even higher than normal. There are too many people milling around for my comfort. I am painfully aware during the entire movie that the large man sitting next to me has his meaty arm invading my personal space. To say nothing of his body odor which is pungent. I munch away from an enormous bucket of popcorn until I am sick to my stomach.
Even though I enjoy the movie in all its fantastical glory, I begin to get antsy two-thirds of the way through. I look around the theater and think I see Maria from group. I blink twice, but it’s hard to tell in the dark. I shake my head. Even if it is her, so what? It doesn’t mean she’s following me or that she’s the one who tapped me with her car. I’m just being paranoid, I decide and snuggle further in my seat to avoid looking at the supposed Maria. It’s no use, however; my concentration is shot. I can’t focus on the movie, not even on the scrumptious Orlando Bloom as he does his super-fairy act, because my thoughts keep drifting to the death of Mariah. Of the three murders, hers seems the most senseless to me. I know all lives are created equal and all that blather, but there’s something about the death of a child that really appalls me. It’s presumed that someone cannot do anything to ‘earn’ being murdered in so short a time, therefore her death is a particular tragedy. I don’t know if I agree with that, but the picture of her sticks in my mind.
The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that she must have overheard something or seen something pertaining to either her mother’s murder or Ashley’s murder. A horrible thought strikes me—what if it’s Leticia or Sergio who killed Rosie, and Mariah discovered something in her aunt’s house that would indict either Leticia or Sergio? That person would have no choice but to eliminate Mariah. I hate being so suspicious, but nearly seventy percent of all murders are committed by someone close to the victim. Who’s closer to Mariah than her aunt and uncle? After a few minutes thought, however, I dismiss the idea. If they wanted to kill their niece, they wouldn’t do it with such a fanfare. They had plenty of opportunities to kill her quietly and make it look natural. It couldn’t be to their benefit to have her death be so publicized—I am relieved to be able to strike their names from my mental suspect list.
“Rainbow, time to go!” I start at the sound of my mother’s voice. The movie is over, and I have missed the last half hour of it. The man next to me is staring at me in disapproval, as if he knows I drifted at the end. My mother and I make our way out of the Metreon and onto the BART. As we near the Mission, I am able to breathe. These are my people—not those poseurs at the Metreon. I smile at everybody rushing by out of sheer gratitude.
“Watch it!” Someone shouts at me as someone, gender unknown but feels like a man, brushes by and tries to snatch my purse. Unfortunately for the would-be mugger, I am one of those women who crosses the strap over my chest so he fails in his aim. Cursing under his breath, the person sprints away. This happens so fast, all I can do is stare at the retreating back.
“Stop that man!” I finally shout, though it’s futile to do so. My attacker is out of sight by the time I gather my wits. I should have added ‘or woman’, but that’s irrelevant now.
“Are you all right?” My mother asks me, patting me on the shoulders, chest, and torso. She’s checking to see if I’m hurt, but I pull away.
“Fine.” I am upset that I didn’t see the person coming—leaving me totally vulnerable to his assault. I open my purse to make sure there’s nothing missing. There isn’t. I shove my hands in my pockets, trying to warm them. There’s something added to my right pocket—a note. I pull it out and unfold it. It says, ‘Stay the fuck away or you won’t be so lucky next time. This is your final warning.’ I quickly fold the note and shove it back into my pocket, struggling to maintain the neutral look on my face.
“What is it?” My mom asks, ever alert to the changes in my expression. She had been looking around for the attacker, but manages to turn around in time to see me frown.
“Nothing.” I make up my mind not to mention the note to her as it would only make her worry more. I don’t fancy hearing again the list of reasons why I should quit the therapy group. “I’m just a little rattled that someone tried to steal my purse.” What bothers me the most is that the mugger took such care to make it appear as if he was trying to snatch my purse down to the cursing after ‘missing’. That spoke of premeditation, as if I couldn’t already discern that from the note.
“We’re going home,” my mother says firmly, tucking her arm through mine. I don’t protest as I’m feeling worn. When we get there, she makes some ginger tea to refresh my spirits.