“I have never met this man.“
Marcie paused, took a sip of water, and sighed. She always started out her stories that way. A dramatic statement. An emotional sip of Aquafina. A push back of her perfectly platinum blonde hair. A sensuous stare. The routine became so overused that I often wondered whether it would be physically possible for her to start the fuckin’ thing without a bottle of branded water and Botanical conditioner already in the works. But Detective Bradley bit the bait.
“Like I told the last officer… our little sister met him online. We never did.“
Marcie gracefully handed the photograph back to the kind, heavyset police officer. He scanned the black and white picture himself for a moment, worriedly, before he passed it back to me.
“How about you? Have you ever seen this man before?“
I didn’t miss a beat.
“I’ve seen his picture before. Blair used to show it to me all the time.“
He nodded. He already knew that. Marcie said it to him before.
“But you never met in person?“
I paused. I shouldn’t have paused that long.
“No. Never in person.“
And then, I was a liar too.
The detective sighed. He didn’t add anything further as he shuffled through a stack of printed papers in a manila envelope. But my older sister already looked annoyed. She looked just the way she did when that meter maid wrote her a ticket, or when the grocery clerk told her she needed to bring her own bags. A white hot bolt of quaking entitlement began in her shaking feet and slipped all the way up to her unsurprisingly loose lips.
“Is there a reason we are repeating ourselves, officer?“
“Is something funny, officer? My little sister is missing and you’re laughing at me?”
“The reason you are here, Miss Walker, is because your sister is missing. Not just her, but a young boy, too. His parents are worried as well. Now, we don’t expect either one of you to be a suspect in her disappearance. But we have to establish that as a fact, not an opinion. These questions are part of that process. Do you understand, ma’am?“
Marcie nodded. The detective continued.
“Very well. Miss Cameron, can you please describe to me your activity on Saturday the twelfth?“
I acted confused. Also planned.
“My activity?” I asked.
“What did you do that day…” he clarified.
I cleared me throat.
“My sister, Marcie, and I went for a drive in the morning…”
The detective interrupted.
“Did you stop anywhere?”
I looked at my older sister in bewilderment. As if I didn’t remember quite clearly. As if the day was just a jumble of events. We practiced that too.
“No. At least not that I remember.” Marcie shook her head in agreement. “No,” she added.
“Okay. And how long was the trip?” the officer asked.
I paused and thought about it.
“Two, or about three hours. We got home at two.”
He arched a pair of furry eyebrows.
“Two to three hours and you never stopped once? Not to pee, or get a drink, or do anything else?”
“How about you just arrest us for enjoying a drive by the beach so you can find the sick kid who took my sister?”
The detective sighed and put a cap on his pen. He slid it back into his notebook and folded his hands neatly in front of us. I took a breath, imagining what would probably come next.
“Look, I think Blair is fine. It’s only been a day. Most of the time… most of these kids just run off with boyfriends and girlfriends and then come back once the love runs out. You girls might remember the feeling. But I need to ask these questions because it’s my job to ask them. I need to establish a timeline. I need to know who was in and out of the house at exactly what time. And I need to know, is there anything, anything at all you can tell me about this boy she met online? Was he dangerous? Was she frightened?”
Marcie piped up.
“Blair and Brandon talked online for two months. This was their first meet-up in person, at our house. We weren’t there when it happened but she texted us. We came home at three to find them both gone. So what the fuck do you think, officer? Any theories, Detective Dipshit? Yeah, he was a creep. He was a creep who preyed on my sister online. He took her from her home when nobody else was there to defend her. So go find him. Please find him.”
With that, Marcie got up from the table in a tear stained huff. Also rehearsed.
“Are we done here?” she asked. “We’ve been as helpful as we can be. Let’s go, Cameron.”
I quickly followed my bossy older sister out the door. Could this be it? The detective caught my shoulder on the way out. He didn’t say anything. He just handed me a plain white business card, with the words ‘Call Me’ scribbled on the back. I stuffed the note deep into my purse so Marcie wouldn’t see.
We exited the police station into the cool mist of a March weekday morning. We hopped into her hatchback and hit the parkway towards our house. I still didn’t feel human. I still felt like somebody else was controlling my body while the real me sat behind the scenes and screamed. Maybe that somebody was Marcie. She certainly looked the part. Her luxurious blonde hair was tied into a tight ponytail, now, to combat the wind. She looked at me with precious, wide open, bright blue eyes. She looked nervous. I wondered whether she rehearsed that one on her own. For once, the shit eating confidence drained from her features, and the worried look of a teenage girl stared back at me from the driver seat.
“Do you think he bought it?”
“Did you use the Lumi – whatever?”
“Luminol. And yes. I checked. The house is clean. You missed the exit.”
Marcie ignored me and began a rant about the detective.
“He didn’t know anything. They’ll be out looking for Blair in New York City before they think to check anywhere else.”
“You missed the exit,” I repeated.
Marcie turned away from the road and looked back at me. Her expression turned serious.
“We have to go check.”
I considered that.
“They’ll look at the GPS.”
“We’ll park the car at WaWa and walk.”
We drove in silence for a few minutes. Eventually, Marcie pulled the hatchback into the thankfully quiet WaWa lot. We got out, grabbed our shovels, and walked the short distance into Hawthorne woods. We passed the skunk cabbage. We passed the creek. We dipped down into the valley after about twenty minutes. We didn’t mark the exact spot, and I’m sorry for that inconvenience, but both of us knew it well enough at the time.
“We have to move them.”
I agreed. It was raining that day. The water made the ground wet and loose. The grave we dug seemed too shallow. I could see a disturbance of grass and dirt that would appear obvious to any crime scene investigator.
“Let’s get to work,” I said.
And so we dug. We dug for what felt like hours but probably only lasted about thirty minutes. The rain dampened and drenched both of us like wet rats. You might be able to find that in evidence. But we kept digging. We dug until Marcie’s shovel collided with the brass of Brandon’s belt buckle. Then we pushed aside the remaining dirt and took one long look at the decaying remains of our little sister and her boyfriend.
“He deserved it, you know,” she said coldly. “Blair had been clean for six months.”
I thought about it.
“You didn’t have to shoot him.”
Marcie laughed about that. The lack of remorse on her face made me sick. She made me sick. She loved all of this. She loved finding my good-for-nothing little sister shooting smack with some strange online guy. She loved putting that bullet between his eyes. Justice, she said, Marcie loved that word. I think she even loved the fact that Blair never regained consciousness. She loved every little second of the sick fucking nightmare we found ourselves living. And she even loved what came next.
“Do you see that? I said. “There’s dirt under her nails, Marcie. She was still alive.”
“So what? She’s not now.“
I don’t regret what I did. I just wish it happened sooner. My sister was sick. There was an evil that lived inside of her.
And now that evil lives inside of me.
Marcie never saw the shovel that hit her on the back of the head. It could have came from anywhere. She never opened her eyes for the second, and third, and fourth blows. She never spoke another word as that beautiful blonde hair leaked blood that melded into the dirt and the mud and the clay. She never said anything else and she never will again. My big sister died that day in Hartshorne Woods. I buried her body with the victims I helped her cover up.
My name is Cameron Joyner. This is my confession, and I am writing it of sound body and mind. This morning I woke up with one dead sister and tonight I have two. I’m sorry I didn’t call, Detective Bradley. I hope you’ll understand. I’ve already made a perfectly good grave just my size.