It’s been over a month and a half since I’ve been at work. Our office, which is a payroll service, has pared down to only two employees—usually there are six of us--just to keep things operational. I only had one month of paid leave, and now I’ve been using my accumulated sick days. I think I had about three month’s worth because I haven’t been sick that often in the nine years I’ve been working there. With all the free time I’ve had, you’d think I’d visit with friends more, but I’ve been reclusive. I’ve been overtired and stressed from my “marital conflict”.
On the weekend, I went over to Grace’s instead of the coffee shop. I decided it would be nicer to see her away from work, plus we could visit longer than just her 15 minute break. She offered to come over to my place when I called to invite myself over for coffee, but I made up a lame-o excuse that Joel was still home from work because of his leg being infected. I told her he was grouchy and I’d like to just get out of the house for a while, if it was okay with her. Being the good friend she is, she welcomed me over for coffee and butter tarts.
Grace and her husband Corey are considering taking their sons, Mitchell (age 6) and Sammy (age 3), to where they have a cabin by Bonnet Lake, an hour east of Bromley. Her and Corey would just take time off work and get out of town. I told her about Jamie Robinson and her family staying at their cabin in the mountains, and Grace agreed that it’s probably a good idea.
“I’m terrified for my family,” she said with tears. “This is not just the flu we’re dealing with anymore. This is bullshit is what it is!” She suddenly yelled and jumped up and stared out the window. She sat back down after she rinsed her face in cold water at the kitchen sink. “I’m sorry, Katherine, but this seems unreal and I don’t know if I can handle it. I know you’ve believed it all along, but I just couldn’t! I saw Paul Mennings yesterday.” That made me almost choke on my coffee.
“What? Where?” I asked.
“After work I took the garbage out to the big bin behind the building. I went to huck the trash bag over the edge when I heard something moving inside the bin. It took a lot of courage, but expecting a cat or something, I took a quick peek and almost shit myself when I saw Paul sitting on a pile of bags at the bottom of the bin. He was tearing them open and when he heard me gasp, he got up and tried to get out, but the bin was empty enough that he couldn’t reach the top. That’s the first time I’ve seen one of them, Katherine. I believe it now. I really didn’t believe it before yesterday.”
“What did you do?” I asked her.
“Called the cops. What else? I sat in my car with the doors locked until they got there, which was only about five minutes. Four cops in these weird rain suit things showed up in a van, and used one of those things with the loop on the end that dog catchers use... you know.”
I nodded yes, urging her to continue.
“They put it on him, then literally pulled him out of the bin by his neck, then dragged him to the back of the van and lifted him again by his neck to put him into it.” She looked haunted. “One of them slammed the bin shut and put a padlock on it and slapped on one of those biohazard stickers, and then they just drove away.”
“They never even got a statement from you or anything? I guess what difference would it make?” My stomach was starting to reject the coffee and tart.
Quickly changing the subject, Grace said, “You and Joel come with us. We’ll all just stock up on a shit-load of groceries and stuff, lock up our houses and just get the hell out of here!” Grace pleaded.
I explained that Joel was not well enough to travel. I couldn’t bring myself to tell even my best friend that I had my zombie husband locked in my basement. Everyone thought he was just healing up from the dog bite and couldn’t walk well so that’s why he wasn’t back at work yet. His boss didn’t mind him taking extra time off.
“Well, when Joel goes back to work, you come out to the cabin and stay with us. I think we’re going to leave this Friday, right after work.”
Oh, Grace. You don’t know how badly I wish I could go with you.