The silence fed on him like some primeval fog enveloping his mind and soul, and in the darkness, he cried out for restitution, but none was forthcoming. The sparse decor of the apartment only served to enhance the loneliness that he felt. Being lonely was not a new feeling, he had felt it many times before. It always seemed to follow him in everything that he did, in work or in play, it made no difference, there was always a sense of unfulfillment in his life. His fiancee, though lively and vivacious, did not fill the void completely, yet so far, she was the closest he had come to feeling whole.
He was tempted to call her, but he had already done so many times that night in earnest and in argument, and it was late. As the hour wore, the feeling grew desperate and almost unbearable. Tossing and turning in his bed the loneliness would not let him rest. And just when it seemed to be too much, he was saved from his private horror by a knocking at the door. Taking a breath to compose himself, he rose from the bed and checked the clock. 11:30 PM. His steps across the living room carpet were soft and muted. As he opened the door, the falling form of his fiancee pressed into his apartment. Taking her into his arms, he laid her onto the couch before trying to find out what was the matter. With the help of a little water, she recovered from her swoon to tell him that a friend of hers, Felicia Spencer, was missing. The man hadn’t realized that his fiancee was friends with this girl, but seeing that she was distraught, he strove to comfort her. At his first touch she melted into his arms and sought comfort in his warmth. Her movements quickly became languid and her touch, a caress. He had been confused, for this did not seem like proper concern for her friend, and tried to protest, but her lips rose and silenced his. Again he asked,`But what about Felicia?’ and this only recieved a disinterested `Who?’.
* * *
In the darkness the emptiness nagged at him and he woke with the space in his soul like a festering ulcer. His fiancee slept spent at his side. Taking pains not to wake her, he left the warmth of the bed, quickly dressed and slipped out into the depths of the night. There is a sense of comfort in the darkness, as if, while the rest of the world is asleep, those in the night share a sense of quiet camaraderie. Into this unlikely comfort he ventured to find the solace that he seeked. Gradually he made his way along the waterfront. The loneliness was no longer an unbearable burden but rather a dim dull ache that persisted in the recess of his heart. He felt a sense of searching, yet did not know what he needed to find. Like the proverbial wanderer he meandered aimlessly along the beach without thought or purpose. As he continued, he caught glimpse of a girl on the path also alone and felt compelled to draw nearer. Her long black hair shone like polished ebony in the pale moonlight, and her though he only could barely make out her face from where he was standing, he saw that her features were carefully sculpted to a crisp, defined state of perfection. Oblivious to the world he followed, matching step for step never closer and never further yet always just away from her view. Then at the edge of a breakwater, she stopped and gazed out over the water breathing in the salt air as if reveling in her solitude. Following suit he also looked out across the ocean and took in the sea air, and for that moment in the night, they seemed to share a common bond, a thread joining their spirits and in that one instant, he felt strangely fulfilled.
Standing there next to the golithian stones of the breakwater, he let the feeling suffuse through his entire body and marvelled at the sense of completeness that he felt. Then in the corner of his eye, he noticed that she had moved. In a frantic feeling of loss as he saw her draw away, he ran towards her in the panic that she would be lost in the darkness. As he neared the gap she turned around and stopped him in his tracks. Catching his eye she looked at him and smiled at him a small knowing smile and he knew that he had been found. In the silence, her gaze seemed to pierce right through him as though she knew his every thought and insecurity. Then as suddenly as she had turned to look at him, she turned away and resumed walking, the gaze leaving him powerless to follow. When the darkness had swallowed her, and he was alone again, he turned, thoughts in turmoil, and headed back to his apartment. The way home was haunted with images of her face and the taste of fulfillment left a maddening sweetness in his soul. The feeling was new and though it was what he had been searching for all his life, it left him confused and disturbed. Upon seeing his fiance in his bed he was once again unsure whether or not it had only been a vision, and as in a dream, only a plesant memory.
* * *
The haunting memory of her face captivated and preoccupied him until dinner and that memory only whetted a greater need to find out who she was and where she came from, a need to find out more. It was already seven o’clock when he remembered that he had a six thirty dinner engagement with his fiancee. Hurriedly he dressed and drove to her home to pick her up. A note at the door told him to meet her at the resturant as some of her old friends had come for a visit and were joining them for dinner, so they had gone ahead. Once at the restaurant the waiter led him to the table where his fiancee and her friends were chatting over a drink. Sitting next to her was a strange herculoidian man whose t-shirt sported the logo of a body builder and the words ‘Karl’s Gym’. Against the elegant setting of the dining room he seemed quite incongruous. Her other friends were two of her girlfriends that he hardly knew. `Karl’s Gym’ was leaning over his fiancee with an intimacy that could only be described as `familiar’. They toughed heads laughing over some trivial antecdote. His appearance was so sudden to her that she barely covered her flustered gasp with a nervous laugh. Motioning him to sit, she introduced her friends to him. Apparently `Karl’s Gym’ had been an `old flame’ from her high school days and had dropped in on his way to the national body building championships. His irritation at their intimacy quickly dulled in the presence of their incessantly trivial conversations. Shutting out the conversation enough so that all he had to do was nod or shake his head at his fiancee’s unconcious prompting, his mind once again drifted to the image of the mysterious girl the night before.
He was so caught in his reverie that he thought he saw he face in the plate glass window in the front of the restaurant. He lightly shook is head to clear it only to be shocked to find that it was indeed her face at the window. He again cleared his eyes as if she would disappear at any moment, but she only stood there and smiled back at him. As she turned away he stood up to follow not realizing that his fiancee had been talking to him and he had cut her off in mid-sentence. He left the table oblivious to the stares and whispers of her friends. His only intent seemed to be to follow that girl. Embarrassed and furious at her fiance’s behavior, his fiancee excused herself from the table and ran after him. Catching up with him in front of the restaurant, she launched into a tirade about how could he do this to her and embarrass her so. Her reprimand fell on deaf ears for he was looking up and down the boardwalk for any signs of the mysterious girl. His fiancee threatened that if he did not return to the table and apologize that she would insure he would regret it. She even went so far as to insinuate that their engagement could be put at risk if he did not. So unaware was he of her lecture he merely nodded and started off in the direction he had seen the other girl go. Furious with his behavior, his fiancee made one final ultimatum then stalked back into the restaurant in spite.
Though he had searched the entire boardwalk, he could find neither hide nor hair of his quarry. Defeated, he headed home feeling lonelier than he had ever felt before. Once home he immediately prepared to retire for the evening. No sooner had he closed the door however, there was a knock on the door. Answering, he found the mysterious girlstanding there on his door step looking a trifled embarrassed. However, when he invited her in, she smiled and did so without hesitation.
* * *
Morning crept through the window like a lazy vapor consuming the darkness with an undeterred hunger. In its presence the young man’s fiancee lay awake in her bed next to the man who had sported the `Karl’s Gym’ t-shirt only the night before. Having cheated on her engagement, she lay awake unable to sleep tossing and turning in the throes of guilt. She felt compelled to tell her fiance in hopes that he would forgive her for her indiscretion. Being careful not to wake the slumbering bulk, she called her fiance’s apartment. To her dismay she recieved only the mechanical voice of his answering machine. Because it was only just dawn, she decided that he must be asleep, so dressed to tell him in person at his apartment. In disarray, she drove to his home and urgently knocked on his door while trying to think of a convincing plea for forgiveness. Only after several minutes of pounding did the door creak open. Half asleep and only dressed in a robe, her fiance squinted in the morning light to see who was at the door. Just as she started to explain that it had been the wine and the anger that compelled her to do what she had did, she happened to look over his shoulder into the open bedroom beyond and see the sleeping form of a girl among his sheets. Instead of completing her apology, she flew into a tantrum and accused him of cheating on their relationship, conveniently forgetting that she had been guilty of the same indiscretion not more than a few hours before. He, however felt no guilt whatsoever at what he had done, for in finding the girl he had found absolute fulfillment and combined with hers, his soul had become complete. When her anger had expended she saw that she had not fazed him in the least. Not knowing what else to do, she ran away from the room in frustration. After watching her disappear down the hall and around the corner, he gently closed the door and returned to his room.
* * *
Four days passed and he had not been seen nor heard from by his fiance and as yet unwilling to submit herself to the indignity of facing him in person and clearing up the matter, she resigned herself to trying to find out about him from is friends and relatives. This however was to no avail, for apparently among them, she had been the last to see or talk to him. Finally, reason overcoming her pride, she gathered her courage and called him to talk about their relationship. To her dismay, there was no answer and a trip to his apartment also yielded fruitless results. In desperation, she came to wander the boardwalk where they had always dined. As she passed their restaurant she came to peer into the plate glass window to find her fiance and the mysterious girl sharing an intimate dinner by candlelight. Jealous to no end, she burst into the restaurant to find that they were already leaving. As he passed he didn’t even recognize her much less acknowledge her as he was so intent on the girl at his side. Her calls to him also had no effect. Only when she ran up and grabbed his arm did he finally take notice. When she asked again how he could treat her that way, he simply replied that he had found fulfillment in life with this girl and that he was sorry but could not see how their engagement could continue.
Minutes after he had passed his former fiancee stood in the middle of the boardwalk dumbfounded at what he had said. Even in her worst senario she did not imagine that he would break their engagement. She felt defeated and wandered home mulling over these recent events. Come morning she again went to his apartment to talk to him as she was not yet convinced that the previous night had happened. Being unlocked, the door swung open at her first knock. In the bathroom she could hear the sound of his electric razor as he shaved. She kept telling herself that there was a logical explanation for what had happened and that if they just talked it out that all would be normal again. However, as she stood there in the foyer, the girl who had replaced her as the most important woman in his life stepped out of the bedroom dressed only in his pajama top. In fury, his former fiancee lost all restraint and started calling her all forms of back-alley names, and when she did not respond, the half crazed woman began throwing things at her. First her purse,then her shoe, yet still the girl did not flinch. Looking around her for something heavier the former fiancee picked up the potted peony from the foyer tiles. Seeng her rival standing there so complacent under such a threat, she hurled it at her withall her might. The pot crashed bottom first into the girl’s head killing her instantly. However, as the body fell, her image hovered over the figure a while before dissapating completely. Convinced she had seen a ghost the man’s former fiancee screamed in terror and ran from the apartment.
Startled by the crash and scream the man dropped his razor into the sink and raced into the living room. To his horror he saw the inert body lying in a pool of blood. Crying in grief and anguish over the loss of his love he rushed over to the body and lifted it into his arms. But when blond hair instead of the ebony black cascaded from her head he dropped the body in the realization that it was not at all the girl that he had loved. Although still dressed in his pajama top, the body in his arms was a stranger to him. Transfixed by confusion and fear he felt his hands grow clammy and broke in a cold sweat. Then feeling a draft behind him he turned around to find his love behind him only she was not altogether tangible and she floated several inches above the ground. There she hovered, black hair in disarray and clad in a flowing white kimono. His terror seemed to reach a climax, when he happened to look into her face and saw that knowing smile and suddenly realized what it was she knew. Slowly she reached her hand out to him and in his new found calm he took it knowing that now and forever he and she were whole.
* * *
Los Angeles Times:
The body of missing student Felicia Spencer was found with the body of James Weiland late yesterday when a Julia Jacobson a classmate of both victims claimed to have accidently killed an unknown Japanese girl in the same apartment. However when police arrived at the scene, the supposed victim was not to be found. Instead Spencer was found with the same injury to the head that the supposed Japanese girl was killed by. Weiland apparently died of a premature heart attack after finding the body. His involvement in her disappearance is still unknown. Police are still investigating the incident which according to the officer in charge is fraught with mystery. Even more mysterious still is the smile reported on Weiland’s face when his body was found.