Thought I Knew You(5)

By: Kate Moretti

“Oh, my goodness, sweetheart.” She had a deep southern drawl, not Carolinas. Alabama, maybe. “I’m sure the manager would be happy to check the room. Can I call you back? What’s your number?” I gave her my cell phone number, and we hung up.

I sat in the dining room and stared out the window. I counted to seven hundred and fifty nine before my phone rang. I checked the display. Ten minutes had passed. Before I answered, I just knew he was dead in his room. His father had had a weak heart and died at fifty-eight. The phone rang again. I picked up and mouthed hello; the actual word stuck in the back of my throat. My stomach churned with fear.

“Mrs. Barnes? This is Carol Ann from the Fairmont in Rochester?” Yes. I know who this is. Please, is my husband alive? “Honey, I don’t know if this is good or bad, but I swear, I don’t believe he ever set foot in the room.”

My mind raced. He had checked in, but not used the room?

“Honey, are you still there? Are you okay?”

“Yes. No. No, I’m not okay, but I’m here. So you’re telling me he checked in on Tuesday, but you don’t think he stayed there? How could you know that?”

“Well, we put little welcome cards in the locks of all the doors, you know? Our guests have to remove them to swipe their cards, but his is still in there. The bed doesn’t seem to have been slept in, and the cleaning staff said they haven’t cleaned it because it didn’t need it. So either he never entered his room, or he wanted it to look that way.” She coughed nervously.

An affair. She thinks Greg was having an affair. Why didn’t I think of that? I laughed, a barking sound, like a seal. Greg with another woman? Of all the scenarios that had run through my head, another woman had never been one of them. Greg could barely make a move on me half the time. He was reserved that way. I had never seen him even look at another woman. He never went to strip clubs or commented about actresses. When I teased him about it, he asked, “Why would I look at other women when I can look at you anytime I want?” I used to think it was sweet. The thought, and the raw tenderness that accompanied it, brought tears to my eyes.

I hung up without another word and put my head down on the dining room table. Between thinking he was dead and then wondering if he could be sleeping with someone else, the tears came out of me like possibilities dripping onto the table. I wanted to collect them all, organize them into a list, and check them off one by one until only one was left, and then I would know what happened to my husband. I felt Mom’s hand on my back, patting me like an infant.

“Graham,” she spoke quietly into her cell phone. I couldn’t hear Dad’s response. “Come get the girls. We’re going to have to call the police.”

Chapter 3

Two police officers came to take the missing persons report. Though it hadn’t been forty-eight hours, they didn’t so much as utter the words ‘protocol’ or ‘procedure.’ Both were kind, accommodating, and seemed slightly wary of me. I answered all of their questions: Greg had brown eyes and light brown hair flecked with gray; he was thirty-five years old, five-ten, one hundred ninety pounds; he had no birthmarks or tattoos. They asked where he was when I last saw him and where did I believe he disappeared from, as well as some bizarre questions like who were his family doctor and dentist—I realized later that dental records could be used to identify a body. I was also asked to list all vehicles he could be driving—one, an Acura RL. Compounding the surreal quality of the interview, one of the officers ushered Mom into the dining room, questioning us separately.

For the first time, reality began to dawn. Initiating the report would be irreversible. The thought gave me an uneasy sense of permanence. Then, it occurred to me that the officers were ensuring we had nothing to do with Greg’s disappearance. That train of thought made me feel wildly out of control.

The detective interviewing me had kind hazel eyes and gray hair. He smiled comfortingly with every answer, and I gained confidence as we continued. After about ten minutes, Mom joined us in the living room. She put her hand on the back of my chair in a show of comfort and support. We gave them Greg’s spare hairbrush and about fifteen photos from the past year. The officer asked a lot of questions about our marriage: were we happy, did we have a fight, what was Greg’s relationship with the girls? After a few minutes, I realized he was trying to figure out if Greg ran away. When he finally finished, he put away his notebook and pen.

“Are adult men ever kidnapped?” I asked, controlled, not hysterical, not shaky anymore.

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