Did you miss Chapter One?
Did you miss Chapter Two?
Did you miss part one of Chapter Three?
From Dying for Gold
Chapter Three Continued
Even though I tried to focus on her chatter, my mind was on the
bloody shoe. When we turned the corner to Jason’s block, a chill crept
up my spine. What exactly was I going to do with the shoe if I
We entered the alley, and a cat hissed at us, then ran off.
A black cat no less.
Wendy screeched, “Bad luck!”
I poked her in the ribs. “Don’t worry about that. It’s the neighbor’s
cat.” I said it to calm her down, but the truth was I was superstitious
The alley was curiously clean. There were no drops of blood like
before. It was as if someone had scrubbed the concrete clean.
I flipped open the lid of the black garbage can.
There was no shoe. There wasn’t anything, not even garbage.
“How weird! It was here,” I said to Wendy.
“Where?” she asked.
“The place is spotless. Garbage pickup isn’t until Monday,” I said.
“Somebody must have picked it up,” she answered.
I looked through the other bins quickly. The recycling and
compost bins were half-full and seemed the same as before. “It doesn’t
make any sense. Does it?”
“No,” she said. “It doesn’t make sense that you would drag me out
here to look at an empty trash can.”
I poked her shoulder for her to be quiet, but she was just getting
“It’s like the time you hauled me over to the Dress Stop to
rummage through the sales bins when the sale was already over. Do
you remember? Or the time—”
I pulled out my phone and quickly dialed Jason, glaring at Wendy
and shushing her as I left a voicemail for Jason.
“He didn’t answer,” I said. “I’m going to go up and see if he’s okay.”
Wendy flashed me a look of concern. “Why wouldn’t he be
“I don’t know. I’m sure he’s okay. That’s not what I meant. I guess
I’m just freaked out.”
She shrugged. “I know you were hoping for a proposal, sweetheart,
but sometimes the men, they keep us waiting. Give him some space.
Do you know how long it took your brother to propose?”
I wasn’t about to get into this conversation with Wendy again, so I
said, “Speaking of which, George is probably back from the mine and
wondering where you are.”
“Right. I’d better go.” Wendy wrapped her arms around me and
gave me a squeeze. “Walk me to Pine?”
Pine Street was only a short way down the street, and from there
we’d head in different directions. We walked in silence, then said
goodbye at the intersection. I knew she’d asked me to walk her this
way so that she could ensure I’d head home instead of going back to
I watched her leave, and when she rounded the next corner, I
doubled back toward Jason’s apartment. It wasn’t worth discussing
with Wendy. She didn’t understand that I needed to see him again.
I rounded the corner and sat on the steps of his apartment house
and called his cell again.
He was probably working, and it would be pushy of me to intrude.
After all, I’d already called him twice. Still, the matter of the garbage
being whisked away was bothering me. What if something had
happened to him?
No, I was being ridiculous.
I fidgeted on the stairs, not knowing whether to go up or not. I
imagined Jason surprising me at the top of the stairs with a ring.
Although he had been rather standoffish tonight, could it be he had a
black velvet box hidden somewhere in his apartment and was waiting
for the right time to ask me?
He was probably waiting for his promotion. Maybe he’d surprise
me with the news of the promotion and then pop the question. Yes,
that’s probably how it’d go down. Jason would make reservations at
the local chophouse for Friday night. That seemed fancy enough. It
wasn’t New York City fine dining, but at least they had white
Then Living History Day on Saturday; it could be my going away
party from Golden. All my friends would be there, and maybe Oro
Ignited would play after all. I’d be able to say goodbye to everybody in
style with a big fat diamond on my hand.
Oh, where was Jason?
I dialed his number again.
Forget it. I climbed the steps to his apartment and knocked at the
He’s probably wrapped up in his work.
Still. I had to at least see him one final time before heading home.
My forgetful computer genius kept an extra key under his mat. It
seemed that all he could keep track of were formulas and advanced
algorithms. Forget about keys and wallets. I unearthed the key, stuck
it in the door, and slowly pushed it open.
I peeked my head in. “Honey.”
I tiptoed into the apartment. It was eerily quiet.
Still no response.
I walked to the living room; his laptop was still aglow.
Where was he?
He’d probably gone out to get something to eat. Maybe he was at
The Spoon, our local burger joint, enjoying a greasy cheeseburger and
all the fries he could stuff into his face.
I turned on my heel and headed toward his bedroom, still calling
out to no avail, “Jason?”
Before I could push open the door to his bedroom, my phone buzzed.
Jason’s face illuminated the screen. “Hello?” I said into the phone.
“Frannie, where are you?” Jason asked.
“Where are you?” I asked.
“I’m at the Wine Jug looking for you.”
“Oh! I came back to your place. I was worried about you,” I said.
Was I imagining it, or was there a tone of panic in his voice?
“Yeah. I used your key from under the mat. I got worried about—”
“Worried? Uh . . . stay there! I’ll be right back,” he said.
“Sit on the couch in the living room. I’m coming right now,” he
“Alright, honey, no problem.” The cell phone reception started to
get spotty, our connection sputtering and cracking. “I’ll see you in a
minute,” I said, ready to hang up.
“Wait for me in the living room,” he said again.
“Right,” I agreed.
“My bedroom’s a mess,” he added by way of explanation.
“Don’t worry about that,” I said.
Why was he all nervous and panicked? Was he hiding something in there?
A black velvet box, perhaps?
We hung up, and I couldn’t resist. I pressed my palm against the
door to his bedroom and pushed it open.
The room was not messy at all. In fact, it was the opposite of
messy. It was nearly empty.
The bed was made and a few file boxes were sitting between the
closet and his nightstand, as if he’d been packing.
That was strange.
My stomach flip-flopped, an odd feeling spreading from my torso
into my throat. Certainly he was planning on proposing, he was just
packing up getting ready for our move to New York. That had to be
right. He was packed up to move with me . . . with me, not without me.
I carelessly opened one of his dressers. It was empty—no socks,
underwear, or small velvet box.
There had to be a mistake. Jason wasn’t going to leave without
proposing. He was going to propose; we were moving to New York
together. I knew that.
I slid open the mirrored door of his closet. Two dark suits hung
side by side like lost, forgotten soldiers. The rest of his closet was
I swallowed the dread bubbling up inside my throat.
God bless it!
He was going to leave! He was leaving me in Golden. He was
taking off to New York after the promotion on his own. He hadn’t
said anything to me about packing.
A mixture of sorrow and rage boiled inside me. I kicked the trunk
by the end of bed.
Was the trunk empty too?
Without hesitation, I yanked open the lid. An unexpected sight
burned my eyes, and a bloodcurdling scream escaped my throat,
leaving me woozy and aghast. Inside the trunk was the shoeless body
of Dale Meyer.
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