“The door to the past is a strange door. It swings open and things pass through it, but they pass in one direction only. No man can return across that threshold, though he can look down still and see the green light waver in the weeds. “
It was late when Greta finally arrived at home. She opened the door and felt the sanctuary of her spartan home. She was exhausted. This was one of the days when the world felt incredibly loud and unbelievably close. She felt it encroaching on her inner sanctuary. Despite vowing never to drink again (a weekly religious observance), Greta took the bottle to bed that night. She shook her head disapprovingly at herself as she grabbed it out of the cupboard and crawled under the covers. In an attempt to keep the wolves at bay, she drank. She drank until she fell asleep.
The morning was cold and wet. Spring had left the Pacific northwest dark and dreary. Greta woke up angry with herself, embarrassed. She grabbed her phone and quickly checked who and when she had sent texts to in her drunken stupor. Sai, again, she had sent texts to Sai. The last person she needed to be texting late at night. As she scrolled through, she thought to herself, “this isn’t too bad…” until she saw that she had made plans with him on Saturday. And not some sweet innocent plan either, it was graphic, and suggestive. She knew that he was bad news with his band and his pentagram neck tattoo, but somewhat irresistible as well. She wondered what her nice Christian mother would think. “Fuck,” she thought to herself, “another goddamn mess to clean up, or another hot date.” She would make the call on Saturday, she felt shame, but still managed to laugh at herself. She was just doing the best she could with what she had. She smiled, jumped out of bed and promptly threw up on the floor.
When Greta and Janet finally pulled up to the beautifully manicured lawn of the Perkin’s home, they saw Annie sitting on the couch in front of her big picture window. She was peacefully reading a book and sipping her morning coffee. Greta thought it very off that Annie looked so calm and collected knowing that a decaying body had been found out her back garden just the day before. The forensics team had left a muddy trail around the side of the house. The tape was still up, yet there was Annie, sipping her coffee in a silky robe, all relaxed and peaceful.
Greta took a deep breath before knocking on the door. Annie opened the door with a smile and welcomed her in, like and old friend. Greta was taken aback by her easy, friendly and casual attitude, Janet seemed to take no notice. The living room was as perfect as the garden. Each item in the room was perfectly placed. All of the books lined up, all of the games were stacked neatly on the shelves. There were even glass cases of items from Eddie’s favorite movie, Pulp Fiction. Greta was tempted to walk around the room and move things. Just a tiny bit, she was fascinated by the thought of how acute Annie’s abilities really were. On accident, or purpose, or whatever, she brushed up against the small table as she entered the room. She heard a tiny figurine move, so slightly, so naughtily sensual. It felt good.
They sat on Annie’s perfect vintage couch. Another curious, thought provoking mind bender. “How in the hell did this woman buy a 50 year old couch, new?” Pushing aside her incredulity, Greta began to ask questions,
“When was the last time you were in the back part of your garden?” Janet asked.
Annie thought for a moment, closed her eyes and took a deep breath, “Last November.” It was clear that she did not want to give anymore detail.
“Greta wanting to hear more asked, “What were you doing in that area last November?”
Annie remembered but would never tell what was playing in her mind at that moment, she was able to satiate Greta with a very simple, “planting bulbs.”
Greta took a minute, she needed to move out of herself and into what she was faced with at that moment. Trying to push down the nausea and anxiety that was part of Greta’s existence took a lot of work. Thankfully, Janet, knowing both Greta’s strengths and faults continued with her questions.
“Do you know who the woman found in your yard is? Have you seen her before?” asked Janet.
Janet looked at Annie like she wanted to jump into her mind, like a child looks at a pool on a hot day.
Annie replied, “No.” and continued to lounge on her immaculate couch.
Greta began to feel frustrated at Annie’s reluctance to share, or maybe it was apathy, Greta wasn’t sure, but she was certainly feeling annoyed.
Janet asked, “Have you seen anyone strange around your yard or on your street lately?”
Again, Annie simply replied, “No.”
“Is there anyway we could speak to Eddie?” Janet asked trying to hide her impatience.
“He is at work.” Annie said, looking like the cheshire cat, relaxing on a brightly colored mushroom.
Feeling like they were not getting anywhere, and needing to discuss the way forward, Janet and Greta excused themselves, letting Annie know that they would be back the following day.
Out on the street in front of the house, Greta looked at Janet and said, “What the fuck was that all about?”
Janet shook her head and said, “I don’t know, but it was not at all what I expected.”
“What did you expect?” Greta asked.
“I don’t know,” sighed Janet, “but definitely not that. She just looked too comfortable”
They walked to their can and got in. Janet insisted on driving, Greta did not object. Janet said, “When are you going to lay off Greta, you look terrible.”
Greta closed her eyes and lay her head against the passenger window. Janet saw Greta for who she was, she knew how deeply these things affected her. Janet always admired Greta for being able to do what she did at such great personal cost. Greta truly was brilliant, Janet knew that. It was just hard to see her friend suffer so much.
Greta sighed the sigh of a million men and muttered, “When it’s done.”
Janet knew enough to leave it at that.
At the end of the day, they just needed to go back to the station and see where Claire was at with the dental records.
They pulled up to the foreboding grey cement building that housed their meager office, parked and walked in, not knowing what to expect. Unsurprisingly, Greta found Claire sitting in her chair at her desk, in her office, with her feet up, looking smug. Greta looked at her with a wicked grin and said, “What do you think you’re doing bitch? Get out of my chair!”
Claire, without breaking her smug little expression replied, “Solving your fucking murder for you, you lazy fucker.”
Greta laughed and said, “A cow like you can’t solve anything, thank you very much.”
Claire threw the file she had been holding on the desk, got up and walked out of the room. She stopped at the door and looked over her shoulder and said, “put that in your pipe and smoke it, loser.”
Greta waited a split second to make sure Claire could not see her greedily dive into the file. On the front page was the name of the dead woman. Genevieve. Genevieve Jones, age 23. College student at California State University. There was a school photograph paperclipped to the inside flap of the file. She was by no stretch of the imagination, beautiful. She had long dark, black hair and light brown eyes. She looked hopeful and sweet.
Greta continued to read through the file, she was an engineering major, she ran track, she was an award winning swimmer. She was brilliant and beautiful and had a future ahead of her. The file said that she had disappeared while running in Griffith Park. The date was November 13th. Greta added that to her notes, she would have to ask Annie about that date in particular. The body, or live woman, would have had to have been brought all the way from Los Angeles to Portland. Not an easy trip to make.
The case was weighing on her mind. Her phone made that familiar ding! Before she looked at it, she knew, it was tinder. Another Matt, or Chris, or Mark, or John or whatever stupid little familiar man name there was. She looked at her phone, ahhh yes, it was in fact Alex, Alex wanted to know how Greta’s week was going. This was very funny, should she tell him that the decaying body had to be wrapped in plastic to get it out of the garden and even still, one of the feet fell off when they were trying to carry it? Should she describe how one of the interns had vomited after picking it up with a latex glove and the skin slipped off of the tissue? How the team laughed at him as he tried to pick up the mangled foul smelling remains? Are those the details she should add when letting Alex know about her day? Greta remembered the first Alex that she had ever gone out with in highschool She ignored the message and slipped her phone back into her pocket.