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10

PARTY TIME

 

I couldn’t remember when it started. Fifth grade? Fourth? Whenever Mom first let me buy some of my own clothes. She’d say that a proper girl doesn’t dress like that. I’d say everyone at school is dressing like that. I’d adjust, she’d adjust, back and forth, back and forth. It was like Federer vs. Nadal, a sort of unending series of volleys, until finally I’d wear a slightly modified version of what I wanted to wear the whole time anyway.

So I figured that when she saw me dressed for this party, she would semi-freak. But I also guessed that our little battle would distract her from talking about anything else, i.e., Miley. I walked out into the living room wearing a form-hugging silver-grey cocktail dress and stiletto heels. To my utter shock, Mom didn’t freak. She said matter-of-factly, “Let’s go.”

In the car, driving, Mom said, “I can see your underwear.”

I scooched the dress down a couple of inches. “I’ll try to watch that.”

“So will everyone else. I think it’s a reasonable plan.”

I hated that I looked surprised. I also hated that Mom could register changes in my look without even turning her head from the road.

“Riley, you didn’t really think I’d let you go to this party right now without Anton’s full explanation?”

Anton hadn’t given her the full explanation, or at least he told me he wouldn’t. But I didn’t like her attitude. “Since when do you let some kid you barely know have power over your life and mine?”

“Since he seems more concerned with finding Miley than you do.” She sighed.

“We’re both putting a lot of faith in him. But if that goes wrong…I’m glad we’re not on the hook. I don’t want another talk with Principal Merrill like I had yesterday.”

I said, “Mmmm.”

“You make sure you keep all three of them in your sight at all times – Kamran, Scott, and Jessica. If any of them leave the party, I want you to text me immediately.”

“Scott’s not gonna leave, it’s his house.”

“Young lady, did you hear me?”

“Okay, fine, yes I did.”

“The rules don’t change tonight. You are still required…”

“…to answer your texts immediately. Got it.”

“You have cab fare and the phone number of the cab company?”

“Yes, both.”

“And Riley, I know you drink a little…” I opened my mouth, but she said quickly, “Skip the phony outrage, because that’s not my point. My point is please keep your wits about you tonight. It’s important.”

I didn’t want to say anything, but then I saw where we were. “Yes Mom, I understand. Can you pull up over here so I can walk the rest of…”

“You’re sure you can walk in those heels?”

“I’ll manage.” She pulled over.

“I love you honey.”

“I love you Mom.” We hugged and I walked the two remaining blocks to Scott’s house.

The party was totally off the hook. The house was packed with hot guys and well-dressed girls. Tight music was playing and everyone was drinking. It was like, almost all seniors, and probably even older kids that were, like, Scott’s friends. This was the party I had waited for my whole high school life. You know how stuff like that never lives up to your expectations? This exceeded mine. It’s also possible that I may have just been naturally high just having all the Anton-Casey-Miley stuff out of my hair for a few hours.

It’s a little hard to tell, because I got a little unnaturally high too. Nothing crazy, but I knew I had gone too far while I was talking to Veronica.

“Veronica?”

“Riley?”

“Have you had your back against the wall this whole party?”

“Are you kidding?”

“There is something I have always wanted to ask you. Why do you wear an eggshell-locket every day?” Some days it was white, some red, some others, but always that same egg shape. I know a lot of girls have a favorite piece of jewelry, but this style didn’t even look good.

“Why not?”

“Cause it’s annoying.”

“Well, maybe it symbolizes fertility,” she said way too easily. “I just like it. Also my dad says that people remember you better if you have a sort of trademark.” Was she branding herself?

“Is that why you’re so popular?”

“You think I am?”

“How did you become facebook friends with Kamran?” I sorta gasped at myself for being so blatant.

She said, “Have you been wanting to ask me that all year? Or just wanted to talk to him yourself?” Yes, but don’t make me say it, bitch.

Of all times in the world, right then I got a text from Anton. It said “jessica’s father is parked outside scott’s house now”. Just to clarify for you, it’s not like Anton had some mighty surveillance web. No, he was standing somewhere near Scott’s house, getting ready to go dig at Jessica’s. Jessica and Scott lived about six blocks apart. Which wasn’t really that big of a coincidence when you consider that this was the nice part of town. Anton’s next text said “im making my move”. Frak. That meant it was time for me to make mine, before Anton ruined my life any further.

I told Veronica see you later, and found Kamran. I got lucky that he wasn’t speaking to anyone else; he was nonchalantly filling his red cup from a keg on Scott’s back patio. He made even that look good.

“Hi Kamran,” I said on my approach.

“Hi Riley,” he smiled. He knew my name, good start!

“Great party,” I said. I was running out of things to say.

“Yep.”

“Are there gonna be more like it?”

“Probably. I’m sure Scott’ll have at least one barbeque over the summer.”

“And how does a girl get invited to something like that?”

“She gives me her digits.”

I tried to smile mischievously as I put my fingers into his fingers, clasping his hand. He said, “What are you doing?”

“Those are my digits, you know, my fingers.”

At the worst possible frakkin’ moment, Jessica Chabot appeared on the patio. She was talking to someone else, but she shot us a look that could have melted glass. Kamran quickly yanked his fingers free.

“I was just kidding,” I said.

“I know, look, come over here.” He walked me around the house’s corner, out of the light, where no one was looking. “Jessica’s not jealous, I mean, not exactly. It’s not what you think.”

He was wrong. It was exactly what I thought. It was because of Miley. Everything in my life was prevented because of stupid goddamn Miley. Jessica thought I was trying to trap Kamran or something, which I so wasn’t. Well, okay, fine, but not that way.

Kamran said, “Jessica is under the impression that you…” I would not give him the chance to talk about this; I threw my arms around his neck and kissed him like I was sucking on a snorkel. He was into it and even slowed me down. Our tongues played gently, softly, like a slow song. Oh my frakkin’ google, I felt fireworks. I had been dreaming about this moment for two years. I felt like I could see myself from above, like when people say they’re dying or whatever. I raised my leg, just a little bit, on his.

Two dudes I’d never seen rounded the corner and saw us and cracked up laughing. “Nice one Kamran!” one of them said before they both stumbled off.

We opened our eyes and he looked at me with his tender expression. “Ignore them.”

“Do you care if they bring other people to look at us?”

“Do you?”

I bit my lip. “Uh, sort of.”

“Do you want to go…someplace more private?”

“Yes.”

We walked back into the house and into the party. Maybe some people were looking at us, maybe not; the room was blurring. I felt like I was in a living dream, like I could barely feel myself walking, like everything felt strange but also familiar all at once. Like my face was both underwater and had the sun burning it. Was I about to have sex? With the hottest guy in school?

Kamran turned around and whispered in my ear. Just his breath made me want to jump out of my dress. “If we both go up that big staircase together,” he whispered, “they’re all gonna ooo and ahh. I’ll go up first and make sure we have a nice room. Wait two minutes, then come up, like you’re looking for the bathroom. I’ll leave the correct door open a little.”

Okay, this didn’t sound like the first time he had ever done this. But what did I expect, that he was a virgin? Hardly. Would he care if he knew I was? Don’t over-think it, Tyler.

Kamran went up the stairs. A couple of people looked at me; I grabbed my phone out of my tiny handbag, just so I would look busy. Anton had texted me twice and missed-called me once. He was about the last person I wanted to think about.

His first text said “lights off in house, starting to dig”.

His second text said “lights on! need you to distract police”

Distract the police? I knew he was crazy, but this was now like, check-into-a-rubber-room insane. He was trespassing on a policeman’s private residence! It would not be my fault if he wound up dead.

Wait a minute. What if somebody at the Chabots called Kamran, and stopped us? No frakkin’ way. I couldn’t wait the whole two minutes. I ran up the stairs and tripped on my spiky heels. I ignored whatever loser I heard laughing, and scrambled up.

I found the door that was open a crack and ran in and shut it behind me. Whoa, it was dark. I said, “No lights?”

I heard Kamran’s voice. “Do we need lights?”

“Not really.” His hand found mine and pulled me onto a bed. We lay back and started making out more intensely now. Oh my google I loved it. For a second I thought, what if I have Anton’s final words saved on my voice mail? Then I went right back to kissing and grinding. Then I heard breathing…other breathing.

I stopped Kamran. “Is someone else in here?”

“Do you want there to be?”

“No.”

“Then no.” At that, I heard a man’s laughter right next to us. I reached for a light and turned it on. There were two other people lying on the floor near us!

“Hi, I’m Jessica,” said Jessica Chabot. She shook my hand.

“I’m Scott, this is my house,” said Scott. He also shook my hand.

“This is…too weird,” I said, standing.

Scott said, “We can leave, no problem.”

As he said that, I got the robin-chirp on my phone. As always, I had to look. My mom’s text said, “Call Anton right now!!!!”

I said, “You guys work this out. I’ll be right back.”

I stepped out into the upstairs hallway and found Anton’s texts and called the associated number. It rang, like, half a ring before he picked up.

“Come here now,” he whispered into his phone.

“Dude, I am not gonna…”

“She’s here. I’m looking at her. Your dead sister.”

I felt like someone had just dropped a refrigerator on my head.

 

11

UNEARTHING THE TRUTH

 

I hung up on Anton immediately. I almost threw my phone in the nearest toilet. I wanted to puke in it, wherever it was, but somehow I held myself back.

Scott and Jessica came out of that room. As I knew from court proceedings, Scott was also an amazing-looking guy in that quarterbacky, Tom Brady kind of way. At any other moment, I might have thought more about that.

Jessica said, regarding Kamran, “He’s all yours,” in a tone that implied that she’d always have the better of me. I wanted to punch her smack in her Katy Perry face.

I walked back into the bedroom a lot more slowly than I had the first time. Kamran had left the light on. He said, “What’s the matter? You look like you just saw a ghost.”

“Yeah.”

“Oh come on, they were just joking. Don’t take them seriously. Come here.”

I sat on the bed with him. He stroked my hair. That felt nice. He put his lips on mine. That also felt nice.

Let’s assume Anton was telling the truth. Why did I need to go? Why didn’t he get LaQuisha to do it? Maybe she was already doing something else?

Even if Miley was there, who said I wanted to see my sister’s desiccated corpse?

Does anyone else think this much while they’re making out?

Kamran was kissing me, but still hadn’t put his hand on my leg. I had been waiting for this for two years. Two years. Since the first time I laid eyes on him. He had been wearing a suit. He was in that lawyer’s conference room. Had he really done anything?

I stopped him for a second. I said, “Take off my shoes.”

“Okay,” he said and did.

Two years also since Miley went missing. Technically, I’d been waiting longer for her than I had for Kamran. I missed her. Of course I missed her. Was I betraying her right now?

Or did she betray me? Did she make me a different, harder person? Or just give me an excuse to be who I wanted to be anyway?

And who was I? The kind of girl who makes out with her fantasy boyfriend when someone finds her dead sister and asks for her help?

I pushed him away. “I…can’t do this.”

“Riley, I like you. A lot.”

“That’s…not why.”

“I think I understand.”

“I don’t think you do.” Then I thought, maybe he does. If so, I didn’t want to hear it.

“Is it…”

“Don’t say anything,” I interrupted. “I want a rain check.”

He smiled like he was about to wink. “There are no guarantees in life.”

“You’re telling me.” I meant to kiss him goodbye quickly. Then as my lips were planted there, I realized this might be the last kiss of my old life, a life where I could pretend I wasn’t a girl with a dead sister. It was almost like I was going off to war or something. So I swirled my tongue for a definitive last spin, and then stopped it. “Bye Kamran.”

I grabbed my shoes from off the floor and shot out of that room and down the stairs. I ran out the front door, dashed down the walk, and saw a parked police car. That should be Officer Dave Chabot, Jessica’s dad. He was on his police radio. I couldn’t tell if he was getting an alert about his own house yet. I guess I’d know if his car started.

Frak. It started. So did the siren.

I ran down the sidewalk in bare feet. Obviously, in stiletto heels, I wouldn’t have been able to run as fast. Even when I asked Kamran to take them off, deep down I knew I was going to go along with Anton’s stupid plan and run the six blocks to the Chabots.

Bye-bye, old life. Goddammit. I swung the sharp heels of my shoes and banged on car windows as I went. I was so furious with everything and everyone, I was almost ripping my shoes as I swung them. Anton had joked that I should set off car alarms as I ran, because if police were called to the neighborhood they might check on those first. I decided to take his joke seriously, frak it.

It’s not like I would have known the neighborhood layout without planning the whole thing with Anton that afternoon.

Oddly, I couldn’t manage to trigger any alarms for the first half-dozen cars or so. Then I got one. Nice and loud. It scared the crap out of me. I kept running and got another one just after. I turned into a side-street; Officer Chabot drove another way. I had a little short-cut. I would probably arrive at his house at the same moment he did.

Then why, I asked my running self, should I go there at all? I don’t want to be arrested for trespassing or anything else. Anton had told me, you’re just a person showing up to a house. They can’t exactly arrest you for wanting to know about your sister. And I had to show up to identify her before anyone tried any funny business.

Goddammit, this wasn’t funny.

The Chabots lived on a corner, so there was this sort of side entrance that led to their back gate. As I approached, I could see flashes of light coming from inside the backyard. What the frak was going on in there, an alien invasion?

I opened the back gate into the large fenced backyard. The lights turned out to me no more than Anton taking pictures with his cell phone. I could hear the police car arriving.

Anton looked over at me. “Riley? It’s about time.”

Oh my google, I thought. This was crazy. I was about to see my dead sister.

Suddenly we were flooded with light, brighter than the sun in the middle of the day. We heard a voice on a megaphone. “THIS IS THE POLICE. DROP EVERYTHING AND PUT YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR.”

I dropped my shoes and handbag. Anton dropped his phone and shovel.

Officer Chabot approached us with his own flashlight, just to shine a tiny bit more light into our eyes.

“What the hell do you think you kids are doing here?”

Anton answered, “It’s…her sister.”

I said, “Don’t put this on me!”

“What are you talking about? You two are lucky you didn’t just get killed!”

He came closer to us. Anton said, “Somebody else wasn’t so lucky. You see?” He pointed into Mrs. Chabot’s old patch of petunias. “That’s what I’m talking about.”

Officer Chabot looked down into the hole. “Oh God!” he said.

Three other policemen came into the yard. “Everything okay, Dave?”

Officer Chabot’s tone changed from like, military to NPR as he said, “We’re secure, but no, everything is not okay.”

One of these newer officers, a young black guy, walked up to Anton and said, “I’m going to search you, all right?” He did. “This kid’s not packing anything.” He looked at me in my dress. “Yeah, I don’t think she is, either.”

Officer Chabot’s shoulders relaxed. He looked at me and said, “You’re…Marie Tyler’s other daughter?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Is that…is that your sister?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t looked down there.”

“Well, what are you waiting for?”

I actually gulped. “Do I have to? I mean, do you guys make a habit of traumatizing minors?”

An Asian cop said, “Do you guys make a habit of trespassing on private property?”

“Kevin,” Officer Chabot said, “It’s kind of, uh, ghastly. If she doesn’t want to see it, I’m sure we’ll find another way to identify it.”

The Asian cop peered into the hole. “Oh! Wow. I see your point.”

I said softly, “I know we’re not supposed to be here, but…could you just turn the lights down a little?”

“Yeah, we can do that,” said Officer Chabot. “Do it, Kevin.”

The Asian cop left, leaving three cops standing there. I said, “And maybe…I don’t know…could two of you leave?”

The black cop said, “We’ve been looking for her for two years.”

I said, “So have I.”

He replied, “This is a crime scene.”

Officer Chabot sighed. He said to his fellow policemen, “This is my house. Scram. I got this.”

In a moment, there were much lower lights, and just me, Anton, and Officer Chabot. I knew I didn’t have to look. I could have chosen not to. But part of me knew I’d regret it if I didn’t.

Now, if you’re like me, you’re thinking, doesn’t a corpse deteriorate into a skeleton after being shoved into the ground without a coffin? Turns out the answer is yes, but not as quickly as you might think. There’s this whole science called taphonomy, which is the study of what happens to bodies after they die. If a body is buried in a shallow grave, yes, it can become a skeleton within a year. But if it’s buried six feet deep, as my sister was, it takes from five to ten years to become naught but bones.

In other words, yes, I looked, and yes, I saw a hollowed-out, zombie-like version of my sister Miley. Miley. I felt my whole body spin, like I was para-sailing and somebody decided to flip me around. “Miley,” I whispered. A can of corn lodged in my throat. “Miley.” I was suddenly sweating and freezing. I was seeing myself from above, below, and everywhere in between. This was everything I had dreaded, feared, expected, waited for so I could get past it, and because of the last one, hated myself about. “Oh God, Miley. Miley. Miley!” I wasn’t joking anymore. I broke down weeping. Anton embraced me. I was too frazzled to even remember to call him a stalker.

Officer Chabot said in a quiet but firm voice, “I am so, so, so, sorry. I have no idea who is responsible for this. But rest assured, they will be brought to justice.”

As Miley used to say: Cheyeah, right.

 

12

VEERING TO VENGEANCE

 

The next day was the service for Casey Campbell. They weren’t exactly going to cancel it just because we found Miley.

I didn’t sleep the night before. Or barely. Two cops brought me home and they explained everything to Mom. I stopped listening after the second time they said “no evidence of sexual assault” like that was supposed to be some comfort. After the cops left, Mom insisted that we sleep together. She crawled into my bed, and it was almost like we had changed roles or something. She wept every so often. It might sound creepy but if you’re from a family that lost a teenager you won’t think it’s that weird. I wanted to listen to my music but I realized Mom needed me more than I needed tunage.

That morning, we didn’t even talk. The silence was getting weird until I finally broke it while Mom and I were both putting on our most conservative black dresses.

“Why do we have to go to this service? I’m sure they’ll understand if we’re not there.”

“We’re going, and that’s all there is to it,” she answered. We were both using the only long mirror in the house, in my room.

“Are you planning something for Miley? You want to know what’s in at funerals this year?”

“Young lady, I want you to hold that tongue of yours. Not just from me, but from everyone today. I’m going to do the same thing. If anyone comes up to you with condolences, you just say ‘Thank you very much’ in the lowest tone you can.”

“Like Elvis?”

“If they mention Casey, you say, ‘It’s tragic’ or ‘It’s such a loss’ or ‘She was great’ or something. Nothing that takes longer than that.”

“Mom, I’m sixteen. How much longer are you gonna tell me what to say and what not to say at social functions?” She curled her lip. “Mom, we knew all along, right? I mean, we knew it was likely, didn’t we?”

“Sometimes,” she said, “You have to respect people who had hope. You have to respect that not everyone processes everything at the same rate. Can you do that for me today, Riley?”

Sure, I could do it. Because I realized just how quick Mom’s processing rate was. The real reason she wanted us there was because she’d already gotten over the shock of truly, irrevocably losing Miley.

The real reason was she’d moved on to seeking justice. In her case, I’d say a better word would be vengeance. At the service, she wore her big old sunglasses and checked out everyone there to see how they looked – and at how they looked at her and me.

The service was in our local Baptist church, performed by an old crusty minister who was no Father O’Brien. He said “When we see a young, smart, beautiful girl taken from us, so full of life and hope and promise, we ask why?” At that, Mom squeezed my shoulder.

The minister went on. “Perhaps some people are sent here just to remind us how precious life truly is. Casey proved this to be true far before her untimely demise. Now, we know that the children in our pews sometimes appear a little restless. But have you noticed that not all our restless children look the same? Some of them are bored, I know, but some of them look like they have something important to do. Casey Campbell was in this second category. She came here to do things. In her young life, Casey had already finished in the final rounds of a science fair and a spelling bee. In her young life, her Girl Scout troupe had already earned awards for helping disabled children. In her young life, she helped feed and clothe the less fortunate members of our community even when it wasn’t Thanksgiving or Christmas. She helped lead the school’s debate team to a first-place finish in Columbia, and she supervised a yearbook that has received stellar reviews. One can only imagine how far her dreams and abilities would have taken her.

“Casey’s life was in God’s hands the entire time. Sometimes that’s hard for us to see. Casey, sweet child, I know the Lord must have needed you up in heaven.” At this, Mom squeezed my shoulder so hard she almost broke a vein. She only let go because she was crying like I had never seen her cry, a full-on shoulder shake. Holy crap.

The minister finished, “Keep looking down on us, Casey, and forgive us if we can’t help but look up at you from time to time. We will follow your example. God bless you, amen, and hallelujah.”

Mom was still shaking. I hugged her a little. This was almost harder to take than seeing Miley’s zombie-face.

But I wouldn’t cry here. No frakkin’ way. Because somewhere in this crowd might be the people that killed Miley. And they would never see the satisfaction of my tears. Ever. Not before I ripped their eyes out and skull-frakked them with a rusty knife.

Yeah, I guess I had veered over to vengeance too.

Anton came up to the podium. He had time to cross-check every page of the yearbook, dig up my sister, and come up with a speech? What a multi-tasker, I thought. I should have him do my homework.

“Mr. and Mrs. Campbell won’t be coming to the podium today. They’ve asked me to say a few words on their behalf. First, Charles, Emma, thank you so much. I know you’ve known me such a relatively short time, and it means a lot to me that you would trust me with this speech. It’s got to be a special one, because Casey is, uh, was quite a special person. Still can’t quite get that pronoun right.

“Casey and I met about a year ago, when the debate society went to a convention in Kansas City. I was a lowly sophomore who managed to, well, debate my way into a seat on the bus. As a junior, Casey was already known as one of the team’s best debaters. But when I met her, she had just been offered the position as yearbook editor for the next year. I say offered. She fought like a tiger for that position – you could probably say she successfully debated Mr. Studie for it.”

A couple of heads turned to Mr. Studie, which is how I found him in the crowd. His face wasn’t so inscrutable now. He was weeping. Whoa.

Anton continued, “I think Casey’s second-biggest debate of that weekend was whether she would continue with the debate society. Creating the yearbook would be almost like a full-time job. Especially…the way she wanted to do it. Eventually, I think I helped convince her to give up debate for her senior year. Pending, of course, the outcome of her first-biggest debate of the weekend. No, not the one where she helped the team win our silver-place trophy. That was third-biggest. The first-biggest was about whether she should really take a chance on this nerdy dude she met named Anton. Uh, that’s me.” Some scattered laughter.

“I want to tell you what immediately drew me to Casey. She was gorgeous, okay, that didn’t hurt. And she was smart, God, I never met anyone smarter, and I’ve met Kevin Spacey.” More laughing. “But she was so…passionate about things. If she cared about something, my God, it was like that thing was in a greenhouse, under one of those special bulbs, getting more light than it knew what to do with. If she cared about you, it was like you couldn’t feel the earth under your feet, you were walking on a cloud all day. But also…to see the way that she cared about even people she didn’t know. I don’t consider that liberal, I consider that Christian.”

“Amen,” several people said.

Anton went on, “She had a passion for justice, and a passion for life, and…these things weren’t dimmed when she lost, or thought she lost, her dear friend a year before I met her. If anything, that experience only intensified those passions. It was because of Miley that…well, I hope that just as Miley served as an example for Casey, Casey can serve as an example for us, of how to live every day as though it is a tremendous gift and not to be wasted. One of her last statements was that she didn’t want to live in a world where friends don’t help friends. If we can all remember that she said that, then none of us will have to live in that world. God bless you Casey Campbell, and I will always love you.”

The crowd got up and applauded. There were so many people crying, you would have thought it was the end of Marley and Me. For a second I wanted to say, hey, he hugged me twelve hours ago! Then I was like, frak, maybe I am going crazy.

After the service, everyone stood around the church garden, eating finger foods and chatting. Several people came up to my mom and were like, “I just heard. I am so sorry.” She said “Thank you very much” in her Elvis-ish low register. People didn’t really walk up to me. Some of Casey’s friends were there, but like I said, she didn’t have the sort of facebook friends list that would indicate a lot of popularity.

Wasn’t anyone gonna talk to me? Hello, just found dead sister! Not even Anton? Was he too good for me now?

Finally, someone said, “Riley Tyler?” I turned around and it was one of the cops from the night before. He was Chinese or something. “Hi, I’m Officer Tsui, but you can call me Kevin.”

I actually laughed. “Oh, sorry. It’s just…you’re Chinese, and your name is Kevin?”

He handed me a business card. “I’m going to be your liaison during this ongoing investigation. I want you to call me or text me if you learn anything new that may help us find the killers of either Casey Campbell or your sister.”

“Uh, okay, fine, sure.” My mom saw what was happening and walked up to us.

Officer Tsui said, “I want you and your friends to come to the police station tomorrow.”

“My friends?”

“I just spoke to one of them, Anton Forster. He said he would text the other one, LaQuisha Carter. Would noon work for you?”

“Am I in trouble?”

“No. I just want us all on the same page.” Please tell me he wasn’t making a lame joke about the yearbook. Please tell me he didn’t know about the yearbook.

“We’ll both be there tomorrow,” said my mom. “What are you doing to help us, right now?”

“We’re gathering evidence from your daughter’s, ah, remains. We have a few leads.”

“Yes, your colleagues have told me that for two years,” answered my mom. “Is Officer Chabot on this case?”

“Maybe we should save the details for tomorrow.”

“You should be treating him as a criminal suspect. She was in his yard!”

“I understand your feelings.”

“No you don’t, Officer, you don’t. And never tell me that again.”

Oo, burn.

Hayley, Susie, and Leslie had been texting me all day. Facebook and twitter had reached, as Susie put it, an “innuendo crescendo.” See, she’s smart enough to think of something like that.

When Mom and I got home I finally had time to text back my girls. I just told them the truth. Their texts back were pretty much: “Oh I’m so sorry about Miley. So sorry. So sorry.” And that old chestnut: “I’m here for you.” I mean, I know, but so what? It wasn’t like there was anything they could do except maybe yell at a few commenters. What could anyone do?

That night I had some mourning time with Bruno Mars, Trey Songz, Lady Gaga, Fall Out Boy, and Sugarland. How did people deal before they could put any song directly into their ears at any time? I didn’t want to know.

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