Vanished

ONE

The newspapers and people on TV never got it right about Abbas. They used words like disappearance, and presumed dead but they never said a word about the truth. The speculations that even the police couldn't deny. Our own sense of truth from the facts that we clung to and couldn't reject, they all spelled out - vanished. As far as I was concerned, that was what had happened, no matter what journalist (even the well-dressed ones when his story went national) could convince me otherwise. He hadn't wandered off on his own, or was lying dead in a ditch somewhere - he had been here one moment and then vanished the next.

They put him in the run away category those first few days, and I'll admit that was what I had thought too. He had left on his own before, taken the beat up truck that his father bought him for his seventeenth birthday and not come back for days - the point was though that he always came back.

That first night, after Mr. Brody called me and asked if he was here with me I dreamt of him. Abbas standing in my bedroom doorway with his leather jacket slung over his shoulder. All I could see was the outline of his form; blue and black limbs curving. I called out to him: "Abbas" I said, "What took you so long?" I remember standing up in the dream as though to go to him but he took a step back, closing the door and leaving me alone in darkness. I woke up chilled, covered in a cold sweat and for the rest of the night I dialed his cell phone number over and over, never getting an answer.

People would love to know that fact - they had a psychic on one of the news programs who speculated that a man in a red car had taken Abbas. Saying that he had in fact been murdered for drugs. She knew that he never left the house without his leather jacket (even in the dead of summer when it was so hot you could barely breathe.) She knew that he had uncharacteristically left that same jacket on top of his bed that day, but she didn't have any idea about my dreams. The producers from that show had called me wondering if I would be interested in coming on as a guest to talk about Abbas: "My Boyfriend" they had called him; my Abbas. I hung up on them, and eventually they stopped calling.

On the second day I went to school. I still wasn't worried, just aggravated that he wasn't answering his phone. I walked to my classes, ate lunch, and at the end of the day I went home. Mr. Brody reported him missing later that night, he called me afterward and told me about the jacket. It was only then that I started to panic. I could feel it in the pit of my stomach first - like how I first felt when I met him. That wild feeling of nervousness that makes you forget to eat, forget what day it is, how long it's been since you last saw him.

I didn't go to school the next day, the police had questions. They seemed concerned that I might have been the last person to see him since... ("He Left" which was what they were calling it at this point.) I sat in a room with two detectives and Mr. Brody who was already beginning to show signs of fatigue. "Victoria when was the last time that you saw Abbas?"

"Saturday." It was Tuesday now.

"What time on Saturday?" The detectives were both women; I hadn't expected that, usually on TV they were always men.

"Afternoon and late evening, it was just the two of us!" Mr. Brody worked on Sundays and didn't get home until late, but by then Abbas was already gone.

"What were you doing?" They're eyes narrowed on me, hard and slanted. It was never the guns holstered to them that scared me or their loud voices in that small room. It was their eyes that made me feel uncomfortable.

"We were putting up Christmas lights." I was beginning to speak in factual form rather then sentences, and I realized where this was going and I eyed Mr. Brody helplessly.

"Where did you put up the lights?"
"Around the garage, and the windows!"

"What else did you do Victoria?" Both detectives were calmer now, they too could see where this was going.

"That's private!" My voice was so meek I could barely hear it.

Both women looked at each other: "Mr. Brody" one of them said. "Let's go outside, I have a few more questions for you." She ushered him off leaving me alone with the other one.

"Its all right Victoria no one is accusing you of anything, whatever you say here is between us but it could help us find him. We need to know."

"We went upstairs and... You know?"

"What?" We were goading each other.

"We had sex!"

"And then what?"

"I left!" There was more but I wasn't ready to say it yet.

"You left! At what time?"

"I don't know, around nine that night."

The questions continued, on and on. The same one's over and over. I had no idea where Abbas was; I didn't then and I don't know. If I did know, then I wouldn't be writing this.

That night I dreamt of him again. Trying to put the puzzle pieces together in my head before falling asleep. Dialing his cell number twice before giving up. I knew that I was dreaming when I looked up and saw him standing in the doorway. So silhouetted that I could only tell that it was him by his leather jacket. "Where have you been?" I was livid, if I hadn't been scared he would leave again I would have gotten up and slapped him. "Well?" I yelled when I got no answer. He just took a step into the room and closed the door behind him. Most of the lights were off but he was becoming clearer now. When he was close enough he cupped his hand on my cheek - I'll never forget how cold his hands were - and he slung his jacket over the headboard on my bed and laid down with me. The pressure of him on top of me felt uncomfortable but I wanted him to stay. When I woke up I could still feel that pressure, and I didn't realize until later that night that the bottom half of my white sheets were covered in mud. His boots, I thought. Abbas.

On Wednesday the whole town knew about it, but it wouldn't start running on the local news programs until the next day. He was still just a runaway. I pulled on an old sweater and jeans and walked the half-mile from my house to his. It was quiet and cold; the last of the quiet days at the Brody house, and Christmas was only two weeks away. When I knocked on the door Mr. Brody answered and let me in. Neither of us knew what to say to each other, we both just hovered in the silence until I asked if I could go to his room. "Sure," he said with a small smile (one of the last smiles I would ever see from him). I walked up the stairs slowly, letting my feet shuffle the path to his room. I knew the way by heart but I felt lost. When I opened the door I got the strong scent of him - herbal and aromatic and the heavy flare of his aftershave. The bed was unmade and his leather jacket was folded near the pillows. When I picked it up I could still feel the skin and bones of his shoulder blades, the way that his back arched and curved. I put the jacket on and laid down on the bed. I hadn't cried at all yet, just wondered and worried and for a second I thought that I would. I could feel the sting behind my eyes and my throat got tight but an image of Abbas walking through the door and saying something to the effect of: "Why are you acting like this?" As though we had just had a fight, stopped me.

The sheets smelled like him and the leather was warm like his hands always were. I couldn't think of what else to do but lay there. Listening to the silence and moving my eyes around the room. I didn't touch anything - Abbas was one of those people who could walk into a room and the first thing he sees is something that's been misplaced or moved. Abbas, I thought, as though I was still dreaming, where are you?