“Scarlett, thanks so much for doing this.” Kayla’s eyes were reddened as she greeted me, but that might be because of whatever she was on.
“It’s Scar,” I reminded her sharply, knowing it was useless. One of the things I loathed most about her—and the list was long—was the fact that she refused to call me by my nickname because she didn’t consider it a real name. As if Kayla was any less made up. “I’m doing this for Matt,” I added, feeling like a shit doing so. Whatever I felt about this woman, her son was missing. I could only imagine what kind of hell that was. “I’m sorry, Kayla, about Danny being missing.” I gentled my voice, not wanting to get off on the wrong foot.
“Do you want to see Danny’s room right away? I’m not sure how this sort of thing works.” The way she said it indicated the she considered it just this side of witchcraft, which was actually quite useful. I wasn’t a witch, but I knew a few who had helped me out with a spell now and then. I didn’t respond to Kayla’s comment as Matt and I followed her into her modest home.
“I don’t know how it works, either,” I said honestly, not wanting to give any false hope. “I’ve never done anything like this before.”
“But Matt told me that you had ESP!” Kayla protested, her eyes darting back and forth. Her right hand was trembling, making me suspect that she was on coke or heroin. No, I’ve never done either, but I had friends who did drugs. No, not the witches—they were more into dandelion wine and things like that. “You have to find him!” Kayla clutched my arm with her red talons so hard, I winced.
“She’ll do her best,” Matt said, detaching Kayla’s claws from my forearm. She immediately transferred her grip to his arm, and he took it like a man.
“His room is this way,” Kayla said, beginning to walk down a narrow hall. It was painted a dull brown, making it appear narrower than it actually was. There were toys everywhere, as if Kayla hadn’t had the energy to pick them up. I had the feeling, however, that she never picked up his toys. She didn’t strike me as the cleaning type of gal.
“Let’s go to the living room first,” I interjected, not moving from where I stood. “I want to talk to you and get the facts before going into Danny’s room.” Kayla flashed me a look, but she veered into the living room. As soon as we stepped into it, I could understand her hesitancy. Papers were strewn everywhere, and shoes were tossed here and there as well. There were cigarette burns in much of the furniture and a faint smell of something rancid in the air. There were also beer bottles scattered everywhere. In other words, it was a pit; it confirmed my opinion that she was an unrepentant slob.
“Goddamn it, Kayla,” Matt said with an angry sigh. He ran his hand through his hair, glancing around the room in frustration. “I cleaned this up last month. What the fuck you doing in here? Having orgies every weekend?”
“Shut the fuck up,” Kayla snapped, sinking down onto the couch. “It’s not your fucking house, ok?”
I sat in a hard-backed chair across from Kayla as Matt sat on the other end of the couch—as far away from Kayla as possible. I noticed that much of the furniture was new, even the cigarette-burnt pieces, and I wondered how Kayla could afford it. I knew she worked part-time as a exotic dancer and part-time as a model, but the pay couldn’t be that good—especially as she drank and most likely did hard drugs as well. Kayla was almost six feet tall with dyed black curls and sloped cheekbones. Her large green eyes were accomplished with the help of tinted contacts, and her boobs were silicone-injected. In fact, everything about her was fake, but she put it together fabulously. However, because of her habits, she had two or three more years before her appeal flagged, if that. By the time she was thirty—four years away—she’d be washed up. I turned my attention back to the matter at hand.
“Tell me about Danny,” I said, more to put Kayla at ease than anything else. She was holding herself erect, though her breathing was erratic, and I realized that she was freaked out of her mind.
I watched her carefully as she told me how Danny learned to walk at eight months and talk at ten months. He liked to be read to, but he didn’t like to hear the same story over and over again as did most kids. His favorite stories were the ones about trains and planes, and, yes, automobiles. He loved to babble about nothing in particular, and there were no strangers in Danny’s life. He liked people, and they liked him. Most likely, it was his friendly nature which had made him a victim of this crime. He was one of those boys who would walk right up to someone and start talking, no matter how often he’d been admonished for talking to strangers. As Kayla lived in Eden Prairie, she hadn’t felt too worried about Danny’s gregariousness.
As she talked, I sensed that she wasn’t divulging everything. Though she appeared candid as she related how she and Danny had been playing in their front lawn when she went inside to pee, my bullshit meter was ringing off the charts. Who the fuck left a two-year old outside by himself? I kept my face inscrutable as I didn’t want her to be on her guard, but I paid closer attention to her body language. She was leaning forward, the very picture of openness. She told me how she hadn’t been inside for more than two minutes, three minutes tops before going back outside, and the warning bell went off again. I didn’t say anything but merely noted when in her story I started disbelieving what she was saying. I was blessed with an excellent memory which made note-taking unnecessary. It’s a good thing because nothing broke the flow more than scratching something on a piece of paper in front of a witness.
“I freaked out, I really did. I had no fucking idea where he could be, and that’s when I called the police. Wanna see his room now?” Kayla’s jitteriness was increasing, and I knew she was jonesing for a fix. I wanted her sober, however, so I ignored her question.
“Kayla,” I began, leaning forward as well. She hadn’t been malicious towards me this time, but that’s only because she wanted something from me. I didn’t trust her further than I could throw her, but I needed to do this for Matt’s sake. Speaking of Matt, he was watching Kayla out of the corner of his eye as if she were a snake. I was so glad he was over her, even if the feeling wasn’t mutual. “Do you know anybody who might take Danny to get to you?” I watched Kayla’s face as I asked the question, and she couldn’t disguise the wince that crossed her face before she quickly covered it up.
“No, not at all.” Kayla’s voice was all innocence, but there was an undercurrent that put me on guard.
“Don’t bullshit me, Kayla,” I said in a low voice. There were vibrations in the air that I didn’t like, and they were starting to give me a headache. “You’re not telling me something. What is it?”
“Nothing,” Kayla protested, turning to Matt. “Matty, are you going to let her talk to me that way?” Now she was using her little-girl voice, which I was glad to see didn’t work on Matt any better than it did on me.
“Kayla, stop it,” Matt said harshly, drawing even further away from Kayla. He was going to fall off the couch if he kept that up.
Suddenly, I felt a blinding pain in the back of my head. I clamped my hand to my head in pure agony. From a distant, I heard Matt shouting something, but I couldn’t distinguish what he was saying. Nor, quite frankly, did I give a damn because I was in the throes of some serious pain. In front of my eyes, I saw Kayla crying and Matt trying to comfort her. She turned to look at him, her face tilted upwards. Matt let out a groan before dropping his head to kiss her. She clung to him as they continued to kiss, her hand slipping underneath his shirt. Soon, they were having unprotected sex right there on the living room floor. Then I saw Kayla taking a pregnancy test, looking at the results in horror. Next, I saw her seducing her then-boyfriend for the first time.
“Scar, Scar, can you hear me?” Matt shouted, gripping my shoulders in his hands. He was hurting me, but I couldn’t find the words to tell him so. The headache had fled as quickly as it had hit, and I was a bit disoriented when I realized that Matt and Kayla were both staring at me. Matt had concern on his face while Kayla’s face was displaying something more complex. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I didn’t really give a damn, either.
“Matt, I need to talk to you in private,” I said, standing up abruptly. “Kayla, don’t go anywhere. We’ll be right back.” I had no illusions about what Kayla would do the minute Matt and I were out of her sight, but that didn’t concern me at the moment.
“Wait, what about Danny?” Kayla whined, thrusting out her lower lip. I came close to clipping her on said lip, but held my temper in check.
“I have to talk to Matt first, then I’ll get right on it. It’s urgent.” Not bothering to wait for a respond, I strode out of the living room and into the kitchen with Matt hot on my heels.
“Scar, what the fuck is going on?” Matt hissed, keeping his voice low. “I thought you were having a damn seizure or something, and now you’re perfectly fine. Explain.”
I didn’t answer as I poured myself a glass of purified water. My throat was parched as if I had just journeyed across the Sahara Desert with no water. My head didn’t ache any more, but I was chary of trusting that the pain wouldn’t come back. I wished I had some Excedrin, but I hadn’t brought any with me. I’d be damned if I asked the bitch for some, though she probably had a whole pharmaceutical at her very long fingernail tips. I leaned against the counter, not saying anything for a minute. This was the first time I’d ever experienced an episode like this, and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. More to the point, I wasn’t sure I could trust it. I knew what it was telling me, but what if it wasn’t true? I knew, though, that it was; I just had to find the courage to tell Matt as he needed to know.
“I had a vision,” I said slowly, not knowing quite how to phrase what I had to say. Matt looked interested, not knowing the punch I was about to throw at him. “Matt, I have to ask you, did you have sex with Kayla after you broke up?”
“Why?” Matt’s face immediately shut down, which was an answer in itself.
“Matt, come on. I’m not playing here. You asked me to do this, which means you have to cooperate. Did you or did you not have sex with Kayla after you broke up? Maybe during one of those times you were trying to comfort her?” Matt didn’t say anything for the longest time. Just as I thought he wasn’t going to respond, he did.
“Yes, we did. God, Scar, she was going through a bad patch, and well, it just sort of….” He didn’t finish the sentence, which made me feel better about him. I hated ‘it just happened’ as an excuse, and it would have greatly disappointed me to hear it from Matt. “Once. That was all.”
“You didn’t use protection, did you?” I didn’t want to ask the question, but I had to know. Matt looked as if he wanted to snap my head off, but he finally nodded. I rubbed my forehead with my hand, not knowing how to tell him. I decided to blurt it out and deal with the aftermath that followed. “Matt, Danny’s your son.”
“What? No fucking way!” Matt looked thunderstruck. That probably wasn’t the best way to tell him, but I couldn’t think of any less damaging way to say it. “That creep, Bobby Taylor is Danny’s father. That’s who she was with at the time.”
“Matt, listen to me.” I grabbed Matt by the arm, startling him with the intensity of my voice. “You are the father. You have to trust me on this. Or, you can ask Kayla.” I didn’t want to hurt Matt any more than I already had, but he deserved to know the truth.
“What the fuck? You’re telling me that Kayla knew and didn’t tell me? No, no way she would do that to me.” Matt pulled away from me, his face darkened with anger. “That’s fucked up, Scar. I know you don’t like Kayla, but—”
“It has nothing to do with not liking her,” I said through clenched teeth. “Will you just fucking listen? I saw the two of you having unprotected sex. I saw her taking a home pregnancy test which turned out to be positive. I saw her having sex with Bobby that night for the first time. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
“That’s….No, no, no!” Matt began shaking his head as if to ward away my words. “No, not, no!” Matt had wanted children for as long as I’d known him, and I knew it was tearing him up inside to find this out. It was like a sick good news/bad news joke. Matt, the good news is you have a son; the bad news is that his mother is a psychotic bitch, and, oh yeah, he’s missing. “Kayla!” Matt bellowed, striding out of the kitchen and back into the living room. I hurried after him as I wanted to make sure he didn’t kill her. He had the right, but I didn’t want to have to deal with the cops if I could help it. Kayla wasn’t in the living room, so Matt made his way to her bedroom. Again, I followed.
“Matt, calm down,” I said, though I knew it was futile. He had every right to be pissed off if what I’d told him was true. I just hoped he didn’t completely lose it before the night was through.