Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day Two

Day 2: 03 Aug 2010

Slept like crap last night, which might be due to the fact that I ended up crashing on the couch.Yeah, I'll admit it. I fell asleep in front of my laptop with Trillian up and earbuds in, waiting for maninblack422 to show. He didn't, of course. Actually, no one IM'd me, but that didn't stop me from waking up every twenty minutes or so to check.

Still made it to work early, though. That's just how I roll.

"You look awful," were Marie's first words to me today. She was right, of course. I mumbled something about not sleeping well and turned on my computer (and, of course, Trillian).

So of course today was the day Jed Kiplinger made his annual visit to the office. The guy's 34 -- only ten years older than me. He inherited the company from his Dad, and as near as I can see, doesn't actually do anything that even really resembles "work."

"Trevor," he said, nodding as he walked into the office. "You look well." Never mind that my name's Travis -- says so on the desk. Or the fact that I look like shit. With another equally observant comment to Marie (or "Mary"), Jed vanished into his office.

No ships in today. There was one out, bound for somewhere in Estonia, but I finished all the numbers on that one last night. Jed bailed after 45 minutes, and Marie headed out for a long lunch at noon, so I had an empty office, no work, and time to think.

I hate letting my mind wander -- I prefer to know where it is at all times. When it wanders, it generally travels back in time. Six years back, to be exact -- and it does so even when I haven't been contacted by some random guy dropping my dead brother's name.

The last memory I have of Jared is when I was 18 -- he was 24, like I am now. It was early June in 2004, and I'd just graduated high school. School had been kind of easy for me -- school always was. Not so for Jared, who'd just gotten his B.A. at FSU the month before. He'd taken six years where most take four, but he wasn't regretting it.

"You're gonna love college, Trav," he said, swigging beer. Jared had come home to Appalachicola, FL to celebrate my high school graduation and his 24th birthday -- both good excuses to drink.

"Yeah. You'll have to come up next month and show me around," I said -- I was going to Florida State, as well. Hell, it was close. I'd never been more than a hundred or so miles from Appalachicola by that point. NoFlo (North Florida) all the way, I guess.

"Will do, little brother. You are not going to believe the girls at that campus," Jared said, smiling with half his mouth. Jared's smile was like that -- lopsided and goofy. His face was a little uneven, but that made him look. . . compelling, I guess. He certainly used his looks to his advantage -- when he was in high school and college, he had a new girlfriend every month.

I quickly got drunk after that, but that's the second-to-last image I have of Jared in my head -- that off-kilter, dopey grin.

The last image I have is from three months later, after I'd gotten off a flight at LAX. The Sheriff picked me up from the airport. He didn't say much -- just asked if I was Travis Sykes. He drove me out to a dingy, tiny warehouse just off a canal of some sort. There were a lot of other cops and forensic people around, all gathered by a filthy, wrecked car.

"Pulled it out of the port."

I'm not sure who said that -- my head was spinning, because the car was a 2002 Camaro with Florida plates. Jared's pride and joy.

"Is this your brother's car, sir?" someone in jeans and a police blazer asked me.

"Yeah," I croaked. "Was he inside the car?"

"We. . . found two severed hands in the trunk. Prints came back positive for your brother, Jared Sykes," the blazer guy said.

"Could he have survived?" I asked.

The cop shook his head. "From what we can tell, the hands were cut off while he was alive."

"He would have bled out pretty quick," another cop said quietly.

I nodded my head, and they led me out of the warehouse.

* * *

See, so I know Jared's dead. I know this maninblack422 person couldn't have found him, because there was no one to find.

Logically, I knew that he couldn't have survived both the dismemberment and the car sinking in the Pacific.

Logic failed again. I still spent most of the today with my eyes on my IM, hoping this guy would message me again and put the misunderstanding to rest.

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