“Hello, Megan. It’s so good to see you again.” Reverend Yang clasps one of my hand in both of his. He’s wearing a nice Armani suit, black, and he’s quite a dashing figure. I’m wearing a black dress, but one with a high-cut neck. It falls well past my knees, and it covers most of my assets. I have my hair up in a severe bun, and I’m wearing gold studs in my earlobes. I’ve taken pains to look as plain as possible, but it doesn’t stop the gleam in Reverend Yang’s eyes. I sigh internally. I was hoping to do this the easy way, but, no.
“Reverend Yang. Yes.” I shake his hand before extracting mine. I sit on the couch and put my purse next to me. Whatever else he might be, Reverend Yang is not stupid. He pulls up his chair and sits across from me. I soften my tone a bit and say, “I keep thinking about what we’ve talked about. My relationship. The troubles. You know, my sister and her husband have been my inspiration as far as relationships go. They’ve been married thirty years.”
“Oh, yes. Bob and Jasmine are marital role models to us all.” Reverend Yang’s smile is forced, and his eyes are grim. “May we all be so lucky in love.”
“I know you can’t talk about your counseling sessions, but you must know Bob is missing.” I pat Reverend Yang’s hand, and he reflexively squeezes mine in return.
“As you said, I cannot talk about what is revealed to me in my counseling sessions,” Reverend Yang says. His presses his lips together tightly, and I realize I’m going to have to ratchet up the pressure. I start by unbuttoning the top button of my blouse, and Reverend Yang swallows hard.
“I know, Reverend.” I caress Reverend Yang’s hand. “But, it’s just, Jasmine and I are so worried about Bob. Anything you can tell us about it will really help.” I feel a flash of distaste at my methods, but whatever will get me the information I need.
“I really shouldn’t….” Reverend Yang’s voice trails off as I undo another button. I am not above using my feminine wiles to get what I want, even if I don’t like doing it.
“It’s rather warm in here.” I smooth my hair down and unbutton one more button. I better get what I want soon otherwise I’ll be topless. “I don’t want you to breach confidentiality, Reverend, but I’m at a dead end with my research. I need more information, and I would bet you knew him better than most.” I mop my chest with my handkerchief, and Reverend Yang can’t keep my eyes off my tits.
“Yes, well.” Reverend Yang clears his throat several times before continuing. “I really can’t break a confidence, but I can tell you he was having problems with alcohol.” I blink. I know that, but it’s not what I was expecting. I’m also not sure it has anything to do with Bob being missing. “He admitted that once he starts drinking, he can’t stop. I was trying to help him create a plan to combat that.”
“Is there anything else you can tell me?” I lean forward, giving him a healthy glimpse of my cleavage. He definitely appreciates that, and it takes him several seconds to respond.
“I can tell you he was having a personal problem at work. With a woman.” Reverend Yang places a hand on my thigh, and I let it stay there for a minute before pulling away.
“Thank you, Reverend. You’ve been such a help. I feel better already.” I stand up and hold my hand out to Reverend Yang. He grabs it and rises, but he’s understandably confused. I know I’m sending mixed signals, but that’s exactly what I want to do. I want to keep him on the edge so he’ll be more apt to be honest with me. “I’ll call you to set up our next session.” I leave before Reverend Yang can react, and I’m jubilant an my way home. I have a solid lead, which is more than I expected before I went into the session. Reverend Yang is not a very good pastor. He seduces his female parishioners, and he gives up confidential information way too easily. In this case, I’m happy to be on the receiving end, but I’d be furious if he’d revealed that kind of information about me. Once the case is done, I might have to report Reverend Yang to the Los Angeles branch. I push that thought out of my mind because it’s not relevant right now.
The minute I get home, I feed the cats treats before going upstairs and taking a long shower. I feel sordid leading the reverend on like that, even if it’s with good intentions. I soap every inch of my body before washing it off. I pull on some sweats before going to the living room. If Bob was talking to Reverend Yang about a woman at work, my bet is it’s Lee Bradley. There’s something between them that is not strictly professional, and it’s time for me to take the gloves off. It’s too late to call Lee, but I’ll do it in the morning and see if I can set up a time to meet for a cup of coffee. The last time we talked, she sounded as if she wanted to spill her guts. It would probably only take minor prodding to get her to talk to me. I decide to email her right now before I go to bed, and maybe I’ll get an answer in the morning. I think about it for several minutes before I write. I say, “Lee, I don’t know if you remember me, but we talked a few days ago about Bob. He’s still missing as you probably know, and I would love to pick your brains about where you’d think he’d go. Can we meet for coffee tomorrow after work? Maybe dinner? Say, six o’clock?” I send the email, then I visit my website and my latest post. There are several positive posts, including one from one of my favorite commenters, MNborn. She’s had my back several times in the comments, and if she ever comes home again, I’d love to meet her. “I was thirteen when I first had sex. It was with my best friend, and she was as naïve as I was. Both of us liked girls, though, so why not with each other? It was awkward, and we both fumbled our way towards ecstasy. We didn’t know what we were doing, but we managed to get each other off. It was quite the experience, and we got better at it with time. We didn’t end up together, but we’re still best of friends.” SexySwede writes, “I was a freshman in college and didn’t know my dick from my ass. The first time I was with a girl, I was so nervous, I couldn’t get it up. She tried everything, but to no avail. Mr. Happy was in no mood to party.” BooHooHa adds, “I didn’t have much interest in sex until I was thirteen and playing football in junior high school. Rubbing against all those boys made me harder than a rock, and I dreamed of Johnny, the quarterback, all night long. When I finally did it with the tight end (ha!) a month into the season, it was the best damn feeling of my life.”
There are a couple negative Nancys, too, who bleat about the moral decay of America, blah, blah, blah. JesusIsLord comments, “I don’t understand girls today. Walking around in next to nothing, rubbing their breasts against every boy in the room, swearing like a sailor. Back in my day, a girl acted like a lady.” I snort. ‘Her days’ were the sixties, and I’ve seen pictures of the miniskirts from that time. They barely covered the asses of the wearers, and they came off with regularity. The sixties were the era of free love, for fuck’s sake. Teenagers have always had sex, and they will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Back in the old days, everyone just covered it up. A pregnant teenage girl was sent away to stay with her aunt for nine months, then came back as if nothing had ever happened. It’s true there’s less stigma these days with unwed pregnancies, and I think we’re better off for it.
I get the usual whores, sluts, and trollops, too, but I don’t publish them. I make it my policy that comments have to have at least one cogent point before I’ll let them through. I’m the only one allowed to rant off the rails, and I usually manage to make one decent point amidst the yelling. I delete half a dozen comments, but publish at least fifteen more. I know I should write a post about Julianna, but I balk at the notion. I’ve cried so many times over her death, and I don’t want to do it again. I know it’s good to talk about things, but sometimes, I think it hurts more than it helps to constantly pick at a wound. Still. She’s always on my mind, and I do need to move on, so.
It’s been over two weeks since I’ve lost my Julianna, and I think about her all the time. It’s the little things that get to me the most. I’ll be watching a funny cat video online and think, “I should text Julianna the link.” Then, I’ll remember that I can no longer do that, and the tears flow once again. If I’m in her neck of the wood, I have to stop myself from driving to her apartment just to hang out. When I drink a cup of coffee, I think of her because she was the biggest coffee fiend ever.
The world is much smaller now that she’s gone. I miss her more than I can possibly say, but I don’t have the words for it. It’s all too trite. ‘She meant the world to me.’ ‘I can’t believe she’s gone.’ ‘There’s a hole in my heart.’ What can I say that others haven’t said a million times, and better? I will say, however, I’m incomplete without her. I feel as if I’m missing a limb or an organ, and it’s a miracle I’m still living. I wake up every day, and the grief washes over me again.
They say that time heals everything, but how long? How long will it take before I can go more than an hour without crying? How long will I have to endure before I don’t have to take frequent bathroom breaks at work to hide my reddened eyes? How long before I can sleep without being plagued by nightmares of her decaying body? I feel as if I’m only half alive, and it’s no way to go through life. I’m a ghost of a shell of the person I used to be, and I long for the day when I can do more than go through the motions.
I want Julianna back. I want her back so badly, I can taste it. I would do anything to have her back, and, yes, I guess I’m stuck in the bargaining phase. Even though I know the stages of grief aren’t for the living, this one is pertinent to me right now. I don’t even believe in god, damn it, but I find myself pleading with him to bring back my Julianna, anyway. Why he would listen to a heathen like me, I have no idea, but it doesn’t stop me from doing it.
How can she be here one moment and gone the next? Yes, I know that’s the way life works, but it shouldn’t, damn it. She was one of the most alive women I’d ever known. Everybody loved her, and everyone flocked to her. It got her in trouble sometimes because people mistook her vivacious nature for something more. So many people wanted to own her, but she had to be free. She never belonged to anyone but herself, and those of us who tried to contain her only got burned.
Tears stream down my cheeks as I type. All the feelings I’ve been trying to suppress for the last few weeks come flooding back, and they overwhelm me. I can’t stand that she’s dead. I just want to go back to the day before her murder and fast-forward through the fateful day. I want to have never met the murderer. It makes me sick to think I worked in the same room as she did for three months I can’t believe I didn’t pick up on the clues that the murderer was infatuated with me and would do anything to be with me. She followed me in her spare time, and she read my blog obsessively. My post about my love for Julianna is what drove her to camp outside Julianna’s apartment and wait for Julianna’s lover to leave. I still don’t know how the killer got in the apartment, but it doesn’t really matter. Her attorney is claiming mental insanity, and I’m not entirely sure he’s wrong. She was obsessed with me, and I only found out the extent after she was arrested. She snooped through my desk at work and stole several of my belongings. A pen, a stapler, a few paper clips. When she was asked why, she said because they reminded her of me. At her apartment, the police found over a hundred pictures of me she took while following me around town. Fortunately, none of them were of me naked, or I’d be really upset instead of just very upset.
I want to hate the murderer with all my heart, but I can’t help feeling sorry for her. I talked to her once after her arrest, and she was deep in la-la land. All she could talk about was the Tudor house we were going to buy together, the two kids we were going to have together, a boy and a girl, and the Jack Russell terrier we’d own as well. She was babbling about how she’d be a stay-at-home mom and bake us cakes while I went to work and supported us. I gave up trying to knock down her delusions after ten minutes because I could see it would do no good. I left feeling sadder than I had when I first went to see her. During the investigation, I wanted vengeance for Julianna’s death. Now, I want the murderer to be well, and I think she’s more suitable for a mental institution than jail. It pains me to say that because she killed my best friend and gouged out Rembrandt’s eye, but she’s a very sick woman.
I make a pot of chamomile tea and pour myself a big cup of it. I’m feeling sick at heart, and I need the soothing effect chamomile has on me. I close my eyes and flop back on the couch. Onyx and Jet hop up on my stomach and chest, and I let them sit there for once. After a few minutes, they slide back onto the couch and promptly fall asleep as do I. No dreams, no nightmares, no cats poking me with wet noses. It’s the best night of sleep I’ve had in months.