I hired childhood friend and sorority sister, Lisa Turner, as my attorney. She was one of the best in the business and I knew I could trust her with my secrets, attorney or not. We’d met for drinks earlier in the day and she’d come back to my house to discuss additional concerns. We were wrapping up as my daughters arrived home from school.
“Look, you just keep a low profile and we’ll straighten this all out. It’s routine. They’re going to look at everyone. As long as you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about.” She smiled and patted me on the shoulder. I tensed.
“You…don’t…have anything to worry about, do you?” She asked, an eyebrow raised in concern.
“No. Nothing the police would care about anyway.” I said, lowering my tone at the sight of my oldest, Catrice, trudging into the kitchen.
“Well, unless it has something to do with Carmen’s disappearance, you’ll be fine. Trust me.”
I nodded and smiled, keeping my eyes on Catrice. She had her head in the phone typing away to some unknown friend. Whatever it was, it looked serious. Her phone rang and her face lit up…. she giggled before answering in a sing song voice.
“Hey babe…. hold on” she whispered poorly as she ran from the kitchen, “sorry, my mom was in the room.” I heard her say before she headed upstairs. When in the hell did she get a babe?
“Well, let me get out of your hair and let you and your family enjoy your evening.” Lisa said, packing up her laptop. We made plans to see each other the following week and exchanged final good-byes at the door.
“Mom, who was that?” I turned to find my youngest standing behind me, eating a bowl of pineapples.
“A friend.” I avoided the truth, they knew Carmen was missing, but had no idea I was being questioned. “What’s up? How was your day?”
“Fine.” She stuffed more pineapple in her mouth while she spoke. “Do you know where dad is?”
“I don’t” I hadn’t seen him. He’d normally be home by now but he hadn’t arrived, and hadn’t called to say he’d run late. He likely got hung up at the church. “Why, what do you need?”
“I needed him to look at my computer, something is wrong with it.”
“I don’t know. Looks like it might be a virus or something.”
“I’ll look. Give me a second to start dinner.”
I pulled some previously prepped chicken from the fridge and dropped it in the oven, before pouring myself a glass of wine. Then, I headed upstairs to Timaya’s room. When I arrived, she was standing in the mirror with her shirt raised, examining her barely existent breasts. I chuckled. She’s been obsessed with breasts as long as I could remember. I smiled at the sight of her poking chest out, trying to make them appear larger than mosquito bites. Thankfully (for me), hers hadn’t grown at the rate her sisters – she was still my little girl, at least for now.
“Hey lil’ bit.” I announced myself as if I’d just arrived.
“Oh…” she jumped and moved towards her desk. “Yea, it’s here mom.”
I sat down at her desk and proceeded to investigate the issue. The computer was extremely slow.
“What were you doing when you started having problems?”
“I was watching a video on YouTube, and I clicked a link”
“What kind of link Timaya?” I shot her a look of concern.
“It was a link to get free tickets to Disney.”
“Timaya…you know better! You’ve been using computers for years, why would you…”
“Mom, can you fix it or not? I need to get back to my research.” She rushed me as if she had something to hide. I was about to dig when I heard my phone ringing downstairs.
“Run downstairs and get my phone.” I shooed her away and continued digging. I wasn’t buying the “I clicked a link” lie. I quickly pulled up her browsing history and found nothing, she’d wiped it clean – which gave me even more reason to suspect something was up. I opened her installed programs.
“No, dad. I need your help with something…” I heard Timaya coming back up the stairs, “…I am but can you just answer one que— OKAY! OKAY!! Here, mom.” She handed me the phone with a huff.
“…dressed now…I’m on the way!” Derrick was yelling, frantically, by the time I put my ear to the phone.
“Wait – what’s going on?”
“Get dressed! I’m on the way to get you…they’ve found Carmen!”
“WHAT? THEY FOUND HER? ALIVE?” I jumped up, knocking over the keyboard and chair. I flashed out of the room and grabbed the first pair of pants and tank I could find. I didn’t even bother with a bra.
“How do you know?” I continued, “…and where are you? Where is she? I’m running downstairs now!”
“I’m pulling up in about three minutes, just hurry up. I’ll explain on the way.”
Without explanation, I darted out of the house leaving behind my girls and pound of chicken baking in the oven, hopefully someone would smell it. I made it to the driveway just as Derrick Michael pulled in.
“What happened?!” I jumped in the car without greeting him, “Where did they find her? Is she okay? What happened?” I had a million questions and wanted answers to them all.
He explained as much as he could on the way to the hospital. Carmen was found in an abandoned house on the other side of town. Some homeless teenagers who squatted in the home returned to find her body sprawled, half dressed, in a back room. She’d been hurt, bad, but she was alive. That’s all he knew for now.. I looked at the speedometer, he was going 80 in a 65. Still, he couldn’t drive fast enough. We had to get to the hospital.
We made it in record time – fifteen minutes, despite it being a twenty-five-minute drive. He dropped me off at the ER entrance and went off to find a parking space. I hurried into the building not knowing where to go. I was about to head towards the waiting room when I noticed some familiar faces coming through the entrance.
I spoke aloud upon seeing Barnard and Christy walk through the doors. I knew he was an asshole, but to bring this woman to the hospital, what a disrespectful piece of sh-
“Babe, you there?” Derrick Michael gently tugged my arm encouraging me to follow him. I was so stunned at Barnard’s showing up with his sidepiece that I hadn’t seen Derrick return. I nodded and allowed him to drag me along. We hurried down a hallway that seemed to drag on for miles before finally arriving at a waiting area. Barnard and Derrick went to the desk to gather more information.
“She’s in surgery, still. Someone will be out to give us an update soon.” Derrick returned from the desk with little news. I sat in a chair near a vending machine filled with unhealthy snacks. I thought it ironic they’d serve such junk in a hospital…anything to keep the business going, I guess. I watched Barnard pace back and forth and take call after call. He made a conscious effort to stay across the room and not look my way. I was fine with that.
“Do you know anything else about what happened? How did she end up in an abandoned house? And what’s wrong with her?”
Derrick opened his mouth but didn’t speak. Instead, he sucked in a breath and blew it out through his nose.
“I don’t think we need to get into all of that.”
“Derrick, just tell me what happened to my sister!” I demanded impatiently, now was not the time for redundancy.
“Okay…babe… He sighed again and rubbed his hands across his head. “She was…Carmen was found unconscious, in nothing but a bra top. She’d been raped, beaten, and shot twice, once in the head.”
“Whaaaattt?” The floodgates opened and water poured from my face. I felt my body weaken. I looked over at Barnard who was sitting across the room, his jump-off sitting faithfully by his side. He looked as if he were waiting on an order of fried in the drive through. No emotion, no concern. He even had the audacity to clasp hands with Christy, as his wife lay fighting for her life. I couldn’t take it, I stood and rushed across the room.
“Are you serious right now?” I walked over and slapped their hands apart.
“Derrick, get ya wife, man.” Barnard shooed me away.
“No, Derrick nothing! Why is she here??! She needs to go!”
“She’s my guest, it’s my wife in there, and you’re the one making a scene, if anyone should go it’s you.”
“She’s been my got damned friend longer than she’s been your wife.”
Barnard smirked and eyed Derrick, who was now standing behind me, trying to coax me away.
“You right. She is yours. She always has been, huh?”
“Shut up, Barnard. This isn’t about me! SHE needs to leave, NOW.” I grabbed Christy by the arm and attempted to yank her out the chair.
“Let me go!” Christy yelled out and jerked away. I was about to reach for her again when Derrick grabbed me.
“Amya, baby, calm down! You’re in the middle of a hospital! This is not the place!”
“I don’t give a damn about a hospital, Mike!” I shouted loud enough for the entire floor to hear. “My best friend is in there fighting for her life and he’s sitting in here with the same woman who helped him move out the night she went missing? NO! She deserves better than this, better than HIM!”
By this time, my outburst had attracted the attention of enough hospital personnel that security was called. They arrived on the scene just as I was going in on Barnard for a second round.
“You’re a cold-blooded bastard! I know you had something to do with this!”
“Oh fuck youuuuu, Amya! If anyone did anything to her it was your ass.”
“You think you’re going to get away with this, I’ll be damned!”
“I have nothing to get away with because I didn’t DO anything to her! You on the other hand…we both know you have a lot of secrets.”
“And so do you! Tell everybody what you did to Carmen, Barnard! Tell them!” I was still clapping back when the officers, along with Derrick, intervened.
I knew I needed to calm down or I’d risk being put out before I could see Carmen; but I couldn’t help it. His presence was annoying and his reaction, insulting.
“Ma’am. If you’re unable to calm down, we’re going to have to ask you to leave.”
“Fine!” I threw my hands up and stepped back in surrender. “I’m fine. I’m fine.” I straightened my shirt and moved to a seat on the other side of the room.
“….stupid bitch.” I heard Christy mumble as I walked away. Barnard laughed. Before I knew it, I’d turned around, grabbed Christy by the hair, and commenced to dragging her out of the waiting room.
“Barnard, I asked you to take the trash out, didn’t I?!!” I spoke plainly, attempting to scalp drag the big tittied bimbo across the room.
I felt strong arms wrap around my waist and pull me back, but my hands were deeply tangled into her hair. I’d rip the follicles right out of her scalp each time they tried to pull us apart; and if it weren’t for the officers returning, I would’ve done much more.
“You’ve got to go ma’am.” The officer chided once they’d pulled us apart. Christy decided to take a walk outside to “calm down”. Barnard stayed behind.
“I’m going, I’m going” I said, adjusting my pants. I looked around for my purse.
“She’s not family, she doesn’t need to come back.” I overheard Barnard tell the officers.
“I’ll come see her whenever I want.”
“Not if I have anything to say about it.”
“”I promise, I’m going to shit on your grave in celebration when you die…” I chunked a pack of napkins his way, almost hitting the female doctor walking up behind him. The look on her face forewarned of bad news. As soon as I locked eyes with her, I knew it wasn’t good.
“Mr. Smith?” She called out trying to connect a face with a name. Barnard turned and acknowledged his name, grief filled the woman’s eyes.
“I’m so sorry to tell you this but….”
“Ma’am, we’re going to have to ask you to leave, now.” The security interrupted the rest of the sentence, but I didn’t need to hear more. I saw Barnard’s color drain from his body, and he fell back in the chair. Carmen died on the operating table. She had a do not resuscitate order, so they couldn’t even try to bring her back.
The security kept his eyes trained on me, oblivious to the grief flooding my soul.
“I…I think they just told him my best friend is…dea…” the tears finished what I couldn’t say.
Derrick Michael said something to the officer who nodded and stepped back. My body grew heavy, I fell back into a chair and sat, staring in Barnard’s direction. I waited on him to say something, anything, to dispute what I thought I’d just heard. But he couldn’t.
Carmen, my best friend of the last fifteen years, was dead; and there wasn’t a damn thing any of us could do about it…except cry.