I Love You to Death

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Nai parks her car the next street over from the building, just in case anyone had set up surveillance to track who was coming and going from it. If Adam was being honest, he should be in Wyoming for a game right now. To test that, she pulls out her phone and pulls up a live stream of the game. To her fortune, it pans right to him at the batter’s mound; confirming he is indeed where he said he’d be. She thanks her lucky stars, as it means she should be able to search around without fear of him showing up. If she can, she’d like to avoid seeing him at all.

She gets out the car and makes her way to the building. She uses her key to gain entry through the back but looks around to confirm no one is watching before she enters. She quickly makes her way up to the third floor and enters Adam’s apartment. She flips on the light and is surprised to see it a mess. It seems that he may not have taken her leaving very well and didn’t bother to clean up before he left. Perhaps he’s more inclined to violence than she realized. Either way, she has no regrets.

She gets right to work searching through everything she can think to check. She doesn’t put too much effort into putting things back in place since the place is already disheveled, but she tries not to be manic either. When both the living room and kitchen turn up nothing, she goes to the more obvious place, the bedroom. She begins to search all the drawers, beneath the bed, under the mattress and all through the closet. She makes a final effort to search all around the bathroom, but she finds nothing out of the ordinary. The place appears clean.

She sits on the bed with a sigh. “Well, this was a great idea Nai.” She chides herself, feeling that this was a wasted effort after all. “As if he’d leave any damning evidence in plain sight.” She lies back across the bed as she thinks about what she should do next. The smart thing to do would be leave and let the police handle it as they intended, but the stubborn part of her wants to assist them in solving the case so that she won’t feel so useless.

She hears a click as a key is turned in the door and seconds later the sound of it creaking open. She jumps up in a panic and scrambles to find a hiding place. As cliché as it is, she opts to hide in the closet; closing the door just as someone walks in the room. He’s got a hood on and so she can’t see his face, but he might be the man from before. She’s worried he’ll notice things have been moved and start searching for an intruder, but he doesn’t seem to pay any mind to that and enters the bathroom.

She can hear him peeing in the toilet and its flush. He washes his hands and walks back out. “Seriously, I wish Peter would get the damn plumbing fixed in my bathroom. Mama would agree if he asked her....” He mumbles to himself in frustration, and finally leaves the room. She can hear the door open and close again with a click.

Nai finally allows herself to take a breath and slowly exits the closet. After listening for any movement for a moment, she quickly makes her way for the door and exits the apartment. “I think I really should just go home already....”

“I said I wanted it hot dammit! Can’t you do anything right?” Nai whips her head around when she hears someone shouting. She realizes it’s coming from the apartment to the left of Adam’s; 3A. That’s the apartment his elderly neighbor lives in. “Clean this up and fix it again!” She hears a clatter as though something was dropped to the floor. “Now get out of my sight!”

Nai crouches on the steps, preparing herself if she needs to make a run for it. She waits for someone to exit the apartment, but they don’t. She waits a few minutes longer, and just when she thinks no one is coming, the door begins to open. She tip toes down to the lower landing and prays he doesn’t look her way. However, that same hooded man exits the woman’s apartment and stomps into the one directly across; 3C, slamming the door behind him as he shouts out in a frustrated rage.

After another couple of minutes of silence, Nai thinks it’s time to get as far away from here as possible, but as she turns to continue down the stairs, she hears something that compels her to stay. “Peter?” It’s the same woman’s voice, just calmer now. “Peter, please come home, I need you here. I know you’re living your life, but it’s not the same without you. That fool can’t care for me like you do. He can’t make me happy the way you can. Please come home. Please Peter, come home to mama.” She can hear her begin to cry. “Fine, but I hope you know you’re breaking my heart.”

The woman begins to cry louder now and sob with so much pain. Nai creeps back up the stairs and notices that the door is cracked slightly. As the woman continues to cry, she feels the need to check on her. She’s not sure what her relation to that man is, but it’s possible he’s abusing her, and she has no way out. Perhaps he’s taking advantage of her for her money or other reasons and she’s allowing him to because she’s lonely. That might have been a family member she was just talking to, and for whatever reason they can’t or won’t come see her. Nai considers all of this and decides that she’s going to check on her. If she does need help, this is the only chance she may have to give it.

Nai approaches the door and considers knocking on it but decides against it as it could alert the man. She slowly pushes open the door and walks inside. The apartment seems to be much bigger than Adam’s and is decorated with a far more refined style. The kitchen is what she walks into, and to the right there is a bathroom. Further in down a narrow hallway is a closed door, and she assumes that must be the bedroom and likely where the woman resides.

Nai makes her way to it and this time she knocks, not wanting to startle her. “Have you gained some semblance of modesty to knock first, or are you looking for me to lick your wounds?” Nai hears her say this through the door. “Well, come in you dolt!”

Nai slowly opens the door and peeks her head in. “I’m sorry for intruding ma’am, but is everything ok?” She can see a graying woman sitting in a wheelchair. She must be disabled.

The woman looks at her with surprise and then her lips turn down to a frown. “Why are you here?” Her voice is cold and unfeeling.

“I heard screaming and got concerned so I came to check. I know Adam usually checks in on you, but since he’s not here, I figured I’d do it for him. I’m his girl-.” She stops herself short. It’s a habit, and she hasn’t broken it yet. “My name is Naomi and-.”

“I know who you are girl. You have some nerve coming here.” She speaks to her as though she’s dirt on the ground.

Nai loses her pleasant smile and raises a brow at the woman’s tone. “Excuse me? I’m sorry ma’am, but have we met?”

“Once perhaps, but that was a long time ago. I knew even then you were going to be trouble. But he didn’t listen. I saw you for exactly for who you are.”

“Who is he? I don’t recall ever seeing you before, so I can’t see how you could possibly know me. You must be confuse-.”

“I do know you!” She yells. “You’re the naive hussy that my Peter fell victim to and who he believed was his angel. He swore that you were the one and that he’d do anything to have you. He thought you were so pure and sweet, but I knew the truth. I knew you’d become a devil that would take what you wanted from him and let him nurture you into a strong and confident woman, just to leave him alone to whore around with the first boy toy that looked your way. Yes, I know just who you are Naomi Daniels. You’re the witch who charmed my Peter, stole him away from me and then broke his heart!” She verbally rips into her.

Nai takes a step back, her eyes widening in shock. She stares at the woman, unable to believe she said all those things as if she’d actually hurt her in some way, but then it clicks. She recalls the woman she’d met once the only time Adam ever brought her to his home. She remembers her glaring at her then and acting just as cold. It all comes into perspective.

“Oh my god, you’re Adam’s mother? How are you...? He told me that you were in a hospital due to your deteriorating health. You’ve been here the whole time?” She stares harder at the woman. “Adam is your son.” She tries to make sense of it. “If that’s true, then who is the man you’re talking about? Who is Peter?” She finally asks the question that was bugging her.

The woman wears a sinister smile and laughs. “Oh, my dear, that’s the wrong question. You should be asking, just who is Adam?” Nai begins to back away, terrified of her.

Suddenly she feels someone grab her from behind and cover her mouth and nose with a cloth. She tries to scream, but the strong odor of whatever is on that cloth fills her nostrils and lungs. She feels herself drifting away, and the last thing she sees, is the erratic eyes of a man who looks just like Adam.

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