I drove around the city lost in thought for a few hours before I ended up outside of Carmen’s house. She’d transformed the original garage into a small guest-house/woman-cave, and I was lucky enough to have a key to “get away” whenever I liked. It was a little after one in the morning; I didn’t want to drive anymore, but I also didn’t want to go home. Derrick was the dwelling type. The kind of man who’d wait up just to continue the argument whenever you came home. I wasn’t interested in beating a dead horse. He was upset. I got it. What else was there to say?
Things were out of place when I pulled into Carmen’s driveway. Barnard’s car was in the there with the trunk open, and Carmen’s car was parked on the curb. Carmen never parked her car on the curb, she always worried someone would hit it. Plus, they’d spent thousands building a new garage that connected to the house and she always used it – always.
I pulled in beside his car, turned off my engine, and sat quietly observing the scene. The front door was wide open and all the lights were off inside, except for a small light coming from the foyer. Suddenly, Barnard appeared in the doorway. He struggled with something I couldn’t see before he gave up and leaned against the door.
“Gotdammit, Christy, we should just go. We can just leave her here, no one has to know we even stopped by…” As Barnard spoke, a leggy blonde exited the house, wheeling a large suitcase behind her. She wore what appeared to be Carmen’s favorite black dress, and had several of Carmen’s purses slung around her shoulder. I had no idea where Carmen was, but some shady shit was going down and I had an obligation to find out what was up in her absence.
“BARNARD!” I screamed and slammed my car door loud enough to wake the neighbors – on purpose. “What the hell are you doing….” I screamed looking around, “…and where the hell is Carmen?” A large plastic tub sat at our feet, its top slightly ajar.
“Amya, ah…. what you..what’re…ah…” Barnard’s behavior was alarming, making this scene all the more uncomfortable.
“I came to stay in the guest house. What the hell is going on here and who the hell is this?” My eyes fell on the leggy blonde he addressed as “Christy”. She was standing near Barnard’s car, staring me down, ready to pounce.
“Barnard who the fuck is this?” Christy demanded as if Carmen were her best friend and I was the random woman dragging belongings, and a man, out of a home that wasn’t mine at one in the morning. I ignored her and remained focused on Barnard.
“Where is Carmen?” I asked, turning my attention to the container at my feet. Was that a wad of …hair coming out…I inched closer to investigate. Barnard followed my gaze. “What’s this?” I asked reaching for the container’s top.
Before I could grab it, Barnard smacked my hand away, secured the top, and began dragging the container towards his car again.
“What do you need, Amya? This doesn’t concern you.” He motioned for Blondie to come over and help him hoist the excessive container into the trunk of his car. She huffed and rolled her eyes, but obliged.
“I need to know what the hell is going on. Where is Carmen?”
“I don’t know. We had a fight. She was drinking, I took her keys and she left on foot.” Carmen didn’t drink.
“What?” My face reinforced my disbelief. “So …. your wife left the house on foot, it’s after one in the morning, she’s not back, and instead of looking for her, you’re here moving shit out with some random?” I folded my arms and pursed my lips.
“I don’t owe you shit!” Barnard spat. He’d successfully forced the storage inside his trunk and slammed it shut. Now he stood, arms folded, staring at me. For the first time I got a good look at his face.
“Whoa…what the hell happened to you?” I stepped back, startled. Barnard’s face was severely battered. He had bruises cuts around his neck that insinuated he’d been strangled with a cord of some kind. Droplets of blood decorated his shirt like a print.
“Your friend happened. She’s lost her damn mind and I’m not going to put up with it anymore.”
Barnard and Carmen had been violent in the past. Sometimes, Barnard threw the first punch, but most times it was Carmen – and she always won. She was a female boxer and professional fight trainer, it was no secret she could handle herself in the ring or on the streets – and not just against other women. I’d seen Carmen knock out several men who got a little too handsy with us, and these were big dudes…linebackers and shit.
“What?…wait a minute, Barnard. This doesn’t make any sense. Why would she do this..and just take off walking…in the middle of the night?” I quizzed trailing behind him. Blondie appeared again with an armful of Carmen’s shoes and several of her expensive necklaces around her neck. I guffawed at the sight.
“And why is she taking all of Carmen’s stuff? Hell na…I’m calling Carmen.” I pulled my phone from my purse to call Carmen, but Barnard ran over and grabbed it before I could dial.
“You don’t need to do that, Amya. She’s not going to answer. She turned her phone off a long time ago.”
“How you know?” I frowned and snatched my phone back.
“Because I’ve tried calling. It goes straight to voicemail.”
I called anyway. The phone went straight to voicemail, just like Barnard said.
“I’m trying to understand what went on here Barnard. What’d you do this time? And why would she walk off and leave her car? She doesn’t even like to walk to the mailbox after the sun goes down.”
“I told you she was drunk…she was pissed. Who knows what the hell goes on in her head. Especially when she’s drunk.”
Who the hell was he trying to sell here? Did he forget who he was talking to? I’ve know this woman longer than he has. Carmen, rarely drink because she said it hindered her fitness. When she did, it was social, and even then she could barely finish a watered down cocktail.
“She don’t drink like that Barnard, and you know it. Tell me another lie.”
“You don’t know everything about her. She drinks, a lot. Way more than you know. ”
“Barnard.” I spoke firmly, my tone explaining I wasn’t in the mood for fairy tales. “I don’t give a shit if she brushes her teeth with liquor…where the hell is my friend? There ain’t no way she left this house on foot, DRUNK, this time of night.”
Barnard reached up to scratch the back of his head but said nothing. He turned his back to me and continued load his things into the car. I watched him, with suspicion, while he piled the last of the bags into the backseat. His accomplice sat watching from the passenger’s seat.
“Look, I don’t know what’s going on here…or why you have a walking blow-up doll in your passenger’s seat. But THAT…” I pointed to the thing watching us from the car, “…ain’t leaving here with my sister’s shit.”
I bypassed Barnard hoping to reclaim some of my best friend’s things from the car; but when I pulled on the handle, the door didn’t budge. The bimbo had enough sense to lock herself inside. She laughed and waved mockingly, Carmen’s jewels gleaming around her neck.
“Open the door, Barnard.” I demanded, calmly, my eyes on still on the bimbo.
“Amya, get away from my car, okay. All of this is your fault anyway. Just get the fuck away from my car!” He yelled and pushed me out the way.
Startled by the push, and his comment, I stumbled and hit the ground. Barnard opened the driver’s side door and climbed inside. Pain shot through my arm when I pushed myself up off the ground, but didn’t have time to think about it.
“What the hell do you mean this is my fault, Barnard? How do I have anything to do with any of this?”
Barnard looked at me as if I were the crazy one. I could tell he was sincerely shocked by my statement, and that puzzled me even more.
“You’re really going to act like I don’t know Mya?” He cocked his head to the side and threw me a quizzical look. “So…you’re still going to play this game, huh?”
“What game?” I asked, enormously confused. “What are you talking about, Barnard?”
“Are you fucking kidding me? You’re really serious right now, huh?” He put his hands on his head in amazement and let out a hysterical laugh. “You bitches been playing me from day one and you want to act like you don’t know?”
“Playing you?” I was genuinely confused. “Barnard, why can’t you ever take responsibility for anything you’ve done …why is it always—” I was starting to sound like Derrick Michael when Barnard cut me off, his voice loud enough to wake the neighborhood.
“So you really going to stand in my face and act like you’ve not been fucking my wife our entire marriage, Amya?”
My eyes widened and I froze. Backtrack. I thought, frantically. We need to backtrack. I said nothing.
“Ohhh…we’re silent now?” Barnard laughed. “What…cat got your tongue? Better yet…CARMEN’S PUSSY GOT YOUR TONGUE?!?!” His voice turned from laughter to anger. He spat as he spoke the last part of his words; veins bulged in his neck, sweat formed above his top lip.
“Yea…I know. I know all about it. I’ve always known. I know she’s in love with you and you’re in love with her too. But you’re too afraid to say you’re a dyke…that ain’t stopped you from fucking her all these years, though… Fucking hypocrite.” With that, he rolled up his window and sped away.
I’d come here to get way from the drama and walked into a Telenovela. What had Carmen told him? Better yet, why had she told him! Shit! Just one more problem I had to rectify.
The wind blew and a chill filled my body, reminding me I was outside in the middle of the night. I snapped out of my daze and went to grab my emergency overnight bag from my trunk. Barnard left the front door open, so I went inside to wait for Carmen. As I entered, I noticed her car keys were on the table in the entry-way, along with her purse and wallet, which was out and open. Her credit cards, bank cards, and cash were missing, but her ID was still in place. Odd.
I walked into the living room to turn on some lights and decided to head to the kitchen to make myself a drink to try and calm down. I grabbed a remote as I passed by the coffee table and turned on the television for some background noise. When I went to put the remote back I noticed Carmen’s prized possession, an over-sized rug she’d purchased while visiting South Africa last summer, was missing. I paused and looked around.
Something seemed off, but I couldn’t place it. I pulled my phone from my pocked and dialed Carmen. Voicemail, again. I was angry and concerned.
I went into the kitchen and began preparing myself a drink. I found some popcorn in the pantry and put a bag in the microwave. I wanted to take a bath, climb in bed, and get lost in TV for a while, but I couldn’t do that while Carmen was out there somewhere in the middle of the night, alone.
“Maybe I should go look for her…if she was on foot she couldn’t have gotten far…” I spoke aloud, talking to myself. I know if I were out in the middle of the night Carmen wouldn’t hesitate to come and look for me. I had to go look for her.
In a rush to exit, I spilled some of my drink on the floor and grabbed a wad of paper towels to clean it up. I was about to drop the soiled paper into the garbage when something gold and shiny inside the can caught my eye. I moved closer and peered inside. My heart stopped.
“Oh hell no…I know this ain’t…” But it was.
My body filled with dread as I reached into the garbage and pulled out Carmen’s iPhone; even more alarming, also in the bag were her credit and debit cards, plus her iPad. There was no way Carmen left this house on foot in the middle of the night without her phone, credit cards, or ID – and I can’t tell you the last time I saw her without that iPad. She even took that thing with her on jogs. There was no way Carmen put those items in the trash can on her own.
A knot developed in the pit of my stomach and I felt the pangs of a migraine forming. I came over here to get away from the drama and, instead, walked into a Lifetime movie plot. Wherever Carmen was, she didn’t leave on foot, and Barnard and his rent-a-bitch certainly knew more than they were saying. I’ll be damned if I let him get his Drew Peterson on – not on my watch. I grabbed my phone.
“9-1-1 operator, what’s your emergency?”
“Yes, I’d like to report a missing person…” I said, my voice shaking. “I think her husband may have had something to do with it.”