by C.L. Bledsoe

He stumbled up the stairs to his apartment like a drunken salmon. At the top, he leaned against the door and waited for the nausea to pass. After remaining perfectly still for several seconds, he forgot the nausea, and sucked air into his lungs. He fished his keys out, opened the door, and stepped inside; and immediately tripped on the rug, and fell heavily to the floor.

"Fuck," he mumbled.

He curled his legs into his chest and batted the door with his hand, slamming it closed. He lay for a second, remembering his nausea, then struggled up on all fours. He threw his arm over the corner of the couch, climbed aboard, and collapsed on the cushions. The remote lay in front of him on the floor. He grabbed it and turned the TV on.

"...The size of the boat does matter. So order Longer-tude now." He changed the channel.

"The body of a young woman was found early today in a field outside Tulsa." A face flashed across the screen. He leaned forward and said, "Jane."

"The woman has been identified as Jane Watson. Family and friends say she had been missing for three days. Her body was badly beaten and sexually abused; investigators are calling this a murder investigation."

"Now Gloria, do the police have any suspects yet?"

"Not yet Julie, but they say they should have some leads once the tests come back from the state crime lab."

"Thank you Julie, tragic story. Well, Terry, what's going on in sports?"

He rose slowly and went into his bedroom, suddenly sobered. He found his address book in a drawer in his desk and sat on his bed.

Jane; he hadn't seen her in months, not since that party at Eric's house.

He flipped through the book and found Jane's number.

They'd both gotten pretty wasted. She'd been really bad; just broken up with a boyfriend or something. He couldn't remember.

He picked up his phone and dialed.

He'd given her a ride home, helped her upstairs and stayed for a night cap, it was an innocent blunder; she didn't want him to leave, and he agreed. They'd both been wasted.

No one was answering. He listened carefully, leaning towards the phone.

Afterwards, they'd seen each other a few times, had dinner, gone to a couple movies; then it fizzled out. They didn't talk about it, really.

He counted eleven rings, then hung up. He flipped through the book again, looking for her parents, siblings, anything. He thought she had a sister.

She was young, a year younger than him. 24. Someone he'd slept with was dead. Jane. 24. He couldn't even remember what it'd been like. Had she gotten off? They'd probably been too drunk. He just couldn't remember.

He couldn't find a number for her sister, so he dialed hers again and waited, listening to the steady trill of the phone as it rang long into the night.

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