August 29, 2015     For Truly Virtual Web Art Museum    2015 Copyright LastPlace.com

 

 

Orchid of Tears

By Sara Walker

 

     The rain was just starting to sprinkle down as Kassandra made her way up to the restaurant. By now it was dark. She had no idea what she was doing. She was acting on pure emotion. All she knew was that the world she has known a few days ago felt like it had never existed at all, like a dream of some kind.

      Kassandra felt eyes on her as she made her entrance in her blue dress. She quickly found a spot at the bar. Everything was so black outside. The growing storm was taking forever to loosen its wrath. The bartender approached her it was Gina.

      "What's up, buttercup," she asked, her green eyes twinkling.

     Kassandra's own hazel eyes looked back her hesitantly. She was silent for a minute. "Tell me honestly, Gina. Do you know where he is?" Kassandra asked the question sternly. Gina rolled her eyes.

     "I don't, girl. I haven't seen your man in days. I would tell you if he had come here while I was on shift. I told you that." Gina placed a shot of tequila down in from of Kassandra. "Drink up, forget about him. How long did you know him anyways? Like four weeks? He's just some guy from God knows where." Gina turned to attend to some tourists. Kassandra downed her shot and squinted at the bitterness. They had drunk tequila together the night they met. Jake from San Diego. With those blue eyes. How many nights had they spent together at her bungalow? Almost every night. Except for the nights he had those business meetings up at the hotel. Kassandra regained her focus. The hotel was her destination tonight. If Jake was anywhere he had to be there. He had mentioned his meetings at the hotel in the month Kassandra had known him, but she had never been there with him. They had spent their days together at the beach, hiking in the jungle, and nights in her bungalow.

     "All right Gina thanks." Kassandra left the bar and headed out to walk along the cliffs to the hotel. If Jake wasn't there, then perhaps he had truly left her and if he was there, why hadn't he contacted her? Either scenario seemed bleak. Kassandra slowed her walk. Maybe she didn't want to know the answer after all Maybe she should just chalk it up to a fling that she could remember as wonderful and never know why it had ended. But then, as the strengthening rain drops kissed her face harder she wondered if something terrible could have happened to Jake. Maybe he was in the hospital with no way to contact her The hotel was the one place where she may be able to find out She could see the lights in the distance as she picked up her pace again. Just then, Kassandra heard shuffling behind her heart jumped in surprise.

     "Kassandra!!" The voice called with urgency. She spun around, and at the same time gust of wind almost knocked her down.

     "Kassandra!!" It was Gina. She had been running after her "What's wrong?!" Kassandra asked her eyes wide.

     Gina stopped and took a few breaths. "I have to get back to work," she said, "but you have to look at this It just came up on my phone in my news feed." Gina was still panting, and handed Kassandra her cell phone. Kassandra took it, and turned to shield it from the rain. She could barely focus on the phone with all the rain, but what she saw stopped her cold. It was a picture of Jake, on the news, in a video, at the hotel she was on her way to She looked up. Along with the hotel lights she now saw red and blue lights as well, and could hear the faint sound of the ambulance and police sirens.

     "Oh my God!" Kassandra didn't even stop to give Gina her phone back, she just ran. By now she was soaking wet and as she took off, and she could hear Gina calling after her Kassandra had only one goal. To make it to the hotel immediately.

     Once she arrived, Kassandra saw yellow tape, police and ambulances. There was also a coroner's vehicle. "Excuse me ma'am, but you can't be here. No one can go in, this is a crime scene. Please move on." Kassandra looked at the officer through her drenched her, which was covering most of her face. "Who's dead?" She asked, "Please tell me. My boyfriend's missing!" Boyfriend? She hasn't used that term for him before. The officer gave her an odd look. "Ma'am, what's your boyfriend's name?"

     "Jake." Kassandra said, her voice starting to crack. The officer then put his arm around her shoulders and turned her around. "Ma'am, is that the man you're speaking of?" He pointed to the glossy front doors of the hotel. There he was, his blonde hair a tousled mess, two officers on either side of him, leading him to a police car. Jake's face was mostly obscured by the darkness, but just as the officers were about to put him in the police car, he looked up and focused on her for a brief second. He had no expression. And then he was gone into the car. The officer had to shake Kassandra gently to get her attention. She was just staring, even after the police car was gone.

     "Ma'am, I'm not sure who this man was to you, or what kind of involvement you had with him, but we're going to need you to come to the station for questioning. I'm sorry, but can you please come with us now?"

     Kassandra let herself be led away by the officer and they took her down to the station. She had still not said anything. All that was running through her mind was the way Jake's hand would caress her cheek before she would fall asleep at night. It was at the police station where she found out that this man who called himself Jake was actually responsible for the deaths of two women at the hotel, and the attempted murder of a third. Apparently they had linked him to three other deaths in two other states. He was a serial killer. His hand, caressing her cheek, for a month.

     After hours at the police station, Kassandra managed to make her way back home, with help from Gina. The Red, blue, and yellow bungalow was bright as ever in the dawn light. Kassandra didn't know if she could come back here after was had just transpired. But then, as she walked through the orchids, which greeted her with sympathy, she realized this was her sanctuary. Life would go on her love affair, and ultimate brush with death would be a lesson to her that life was indeed fragile, and she had been spared to go on with her life and be grateful for every breath.

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