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Monday, August 16, 2010

Story (3)

For the next few days I resisted the urge to call up Robbie and yell at him "Why?!" and "What the hell was wrong with you?!" Truth be told, I was hoping he would call me and apologize, followed by a perfectly logical explanation. But he didn't.

When Friday afternoon rolled around, my curiosity overtook my pride. I dialed Robbie's cell phone number. I really liked him and, if he had wanted to dump me, there would have been much more sensible ways to do it. I could not quite accept such an abrupt and bizarre defeat.

The phone rang and rang with no answer. A mechanical female voice finally came on and told me to leave a message. I hung up, not knowing exactly what to say. Did he choose not to take my call after seeing my number? I waited for a few minutes and dialed again from my desk phone. I had never call him from this line and would not expect him to recognize the number. This time, Robbie's phone was picked up on first ring, but it was not he who answered. A deep male voice I did not recognize said tentatively, "Hello?"

"Hi..." I did not know how to go on.

"Who is this?" He asked.

"I ... I'm looking for Robbie," I replied. For some unknown reason my gut began to tighten.

"Who are you?" The voice insisted.

"I am his friend." I said evasively without a clear idea why.

"Girlfriend?" He continued to push.

"I ... not really," I was feeling increasingly uneasy. "Who are you?" It occurred to me that offense may be the best defense.

"I am Captain McLeod of the metropolitan police," he said gravely. I gasped. He continued. "Dr. Woods had a, uh ... an accident."

"Is he all right?" I asked. The knot in my stomach tightened.

"He is dead."

I did not react. It felt like a joke. After a moment of silence, he asked again, "May I have your name, please?" His tone was nowhere near as polite as his words. "And your relationship with Dr. Wood?"

I told him and briefly explained --- We were just dating. For three months.

"I ... where is Robbie?" As soon as the words slipped out I realized that I meant where his body was.

"Outside his apartment building," Captain McLeod said. "He jumped."

I had been to his apartment and knew he lived on the 10th floor. Suddenly I remembered the view from his window. It was a parking lot immediately below, if I remember correctly. Far away I could see treetops...

The captain's voice woke me from the stupor. I shuddered. "Miss, I would like to talk to you. We need to ask you a few questions. Will you come to the police station tomorrow?"

"OK..." I said numbly and hung up. I then realized that my hands were shaking. I dialed Barney's number and told him what happened.

"Oh, shit," he said.

"Oh shit indeed," I said. The knot in my stomach was so hard now that I wanted to lie down and curl up in a fetal position until my brain grasped what it all really meant, but still it did not feel quite real to me.

"Wait for me," he said, apparently alarmed by something in my voice. Perhaps it was the lack of emotion in it. "I'm coming home."

I thought he was going to comfort his old friend, but he hopped in and exclaimed, "Let's go. Let's go."

"Go where?" I asked.

"The crime scene, of course."

"What?" I stared at him speechless. "You, you want to go see a puddle of blood on the ground?"

"Of course, and his apartment where he jumped."

He looked so absurd that I laughed. It was a nervous laugh, but oddly enough it loosened the knot in my stomach a little. "Ugh. You're so morbid," I groaned. Then something occurred to me. "What crime scene? He committed suicide." Saying this made me feel depressed again. I heaved a long sigh.

He shook his head. "We won't know for sure unless we see it with our eyes, no?"

"I didn't know you were into crime-solving," I eyed him suspiciously. "Fancy taking up private investigation on the side?"

"Nope. Just curious," he shrugged. "Besides, if it really is suicide like you said, there is no crime."

As we drove toward Robbie's apartment, I said, "Isn't this strange? I was just thinking of him and calling him for the first time after that night, and it happened to be right after ... Do you think this was my premonition?"

Barney waved a hand dismissively, "Don't be superstitious."

"But it is strange, isn't it?" I insisted.

"Yes, it is strange." He nodded. "Did he seem depressed to you?"

"No!" I pounded a fist on the steering wheel. "Not the last time I saw him, nor on the dates before that. He seemed fine --- even when he was acting strange he did not seem depressed or remotely suicidal. He did not seem stressed out about work, either..." I threw a glance sideways at him and tried to smile. "Don't try to pin this on me. He was not madly in love with me, and I most certainly did not drive him to suicide ..."

"Maybe he thought you'd dump him after the strange behavior a few days ago and got depressed after that," he suggested.

I thought about it and shook my head. "First, he did not know that I was going to dump him, and I was not -- not necessarily at least. Second, in the three months I've ... I had known him, he had never seem fragile to me. He was sensible and calm, and fairly open. I really liked him,"
finally a lump caught my throat and I teared up.

Barney kept his eyes straight ahead on the road and said quietly to himself, "Still, it is odd..."

Out of the blue Robbie's face emerged in my head. Suddenly it hit me, and tears streamed down my face and blurred my vision.

"All right, all right. Pull over," Barney demanded. I did so. We switched seats. "I didn't know you loved him," he said.

"Oh, what's love got to do with it," I dismissed it. "It's the shock. I have never, ever had any friend die on me before," I blew my nose with wads of tissue paper. "No suicide, no homicide, not even natural death! I only pick healthy people to be my friends just because I'm afraid of this kind of thing happening to me."

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