THE MISSING WOMAN
By Michelle Passante
The old brick apartment building hadn’t changed much from four years ago. Ivy still climbed up between the windows, none of which
were open on this cool October evening. The lamplights near the front door brightly illuminated the front entrance. Koreen pressed
the name Jonathan DeCata on the buzzer system to gain entry, but the buzzer appeared to be out of order. She then turned to see a
note on the front door stating “Security System Out of Order. Front Door Is Open.”
Walking in, she inhaled the familiar musty smell. The apartment building was quite old, reportedly built in the 1920s. Looking around,
she didn’t see anyone, but then she remembered it to be a quiet building. Walking down the dimly lit hallway towards Jonathan’s unit,
the fluorescent lights overheard flickered off and on, as if the bulbs were starting to die out. Koreen came upon his unit and
discovered a note on the door: “Koreen, Come right in. I’ll be back shortly.” Jonathan told her that he would be home the whole
evening, so she thought it odd that he chose to step out without calling her first. Glancing at her watch, it was almost 10:00 p.m. Why
would he choose to step out at this hour?
Koreen stood there hesitating, unsure if she wanted to enter his apartment alone without him there. Goodness knows she practically
lived there at one time, but she still felt a bit uncomfortable. Nevertheless, she tried the door and walked into the apartment. Once
inside, she stood near the door, still undecided if she should stay. The apartment was completely dark. Glancing around, she did see a
light coming from the kitchen. Perhaps Jonathan was home? “Jonathan, are you home?” she called out. There was no answer. She
called out again, and he still didn’t answer.  Finally convinced that Jonathan was not home, she flicked on one of the living room lamps
to help settle her nerves.
Looking around the apartment, Koreen noticed that not much was different since the last time she was there. The same furniture still
stood in the same place, as well as the same pictures on the walls and the same knickknacks. The hardwood floors underneath her feet
needed a good cleaning, but otherwise the apartment appeared to be fairly clean and tidy. Glancing over at the fireplace, she saw that
Jonathan had been burning a fire recently. She also noticed that the Persian rug he loved so much was no longer in front of the
fireplace. The rug had been a much-beloved heirloom from his deceased grandmother.
Walking into the kitchen, the strong aroma of freshly brewed coffee and chicken soup filled the air. Obviously, Jonathan remembered
how much she liked his homemade chicken soup. The soup was simmering on the stove, so she assumed he would be walking through
the door at any moment. Looking around the kitchen, she saw that the same ugly wallpaper—green and brown leaves on a beige
background—still remained.  Of course, the Jonathan she knew was never much into decorating. Glancing at the kitchen table, she saw
another note: “Help yourself to the soup and coffee. I ran out to get something. I’ll be back shortly.”
Koreen started to feel a little more comfortable. Getting a bowl and coffee mug from the cupboard, she helped herself to the soup
and poured herself a cup of coffee. She then sat down at the kitchen table to eat, all the time thinking about Jonathan and the five
years they were together. Four years ago, she left town to pursue a dream out West. Unfortunately, Jonathan chose not to follow her,
but their parting was amicable. They even stayed in contact with the occasional e-mail. However, she was now back in town to stay. In
their hour-long phone conversation a few nights ago, Jonathan had expressed interest in getting back together. Part of her didn’t want
to rekindle an old flame, but part of her also longed for the good old days with Jonathan.
After she finished eating, Koreen went back into the living room and turned on the TV. Glancing at the VCR, it was 10:15 , so the
local late-night news was on. She reassured herself that Jonathan would be arriving at any minute. Looking down at the couch, she saw
that an afghan was covering the seating part of the couch. She thought that to be a little odd. Lifting up the afghan, she noticed some
faded reddish stains on the couch. Perhaps Jonathan had spilled some wine? Sitting down on the afghan, she turned her attention to the
news.
While watching the newscast, she found herself becoming very sleepy. She thought that to be a bit odd, especially since she purposely
drank the coffee so she could stay awake. She turned up the volume on the TV and flicked through the channels in an effort to stay
awake. However, she still could not keep her eyes open and ended up dozing off.
About fifteen minutes into her nap, Koreen was awakened by a blood-curdling scream outside in the hallway. Bolting up, she heard the
scream again, and it definitely came from a woman. Needless to say, she was now wide awake. Listening closely, she then heard
moaning, like someone was in pain. Going to the door, she was too frightened to open it. But what if someone needed help? The
moaning became louder. Opening the door just a crack, Koreen peeked out into the hallway to see a woman lying on the floor. The
woman’s back was turned to her, so she could not see the woman’s face. The woman wore a short black cocktail dress, and her long
fishnet-stocking legs were sprawled out.
Standing behind the door grasping the doorknob, Koreen was in such a state of shock that she didn’t know what to do. Finally, she
mustered up enough courage to speak to the woman. “What happened? Are you all right?” There was no answer except for the
moaning from before. Koreen walked out into the hallway so she could see the woman’s face. The woman looked up at her with dark,
watery eyes. Her shoulder-length black hair surrounded milky white skin. She wore black lipstick and dark eye make-up, the latter of
which streaked her face. She appeared to be in her early to mid-thirties.
Kneeling down, Koreen put her hand on the woman’s shoulder; her shoulder was surprisingly very cold. Looking down at the woman’s
dress, Koreen gave a loud gasp—the woman’s torso was covered in blood! At that moment, the woman lifted herself up but only to lie
down on her back. The blood on her torso appeared to be from a stab wound, for the front part of her black dress was ripped.
“What happened,” Koreen asked the woman again. “Who did this to you?” Still there was no answer from the bleeding woman. Koreen
was suddenly overcome by a wave of fear. Was there a murderer loose in this building? Quickly, she ran back into the apartment and
picked up the phone to dial 911. An impersonal voice answered, not seeming to make much of the fact that there was a bleeding
woman outside in the hallway and a possible murderer on the loose. However, the 911 operator assured her that the police and an
ambulance would be there in minutes.
Walking back out into the hallway, Koreen said to the bleeding woman, “I just called 911. The police and paramedics should be here at
any moment.” She paused, looking around the hallway in fear. “Come, let me take you inside.” She kneeled down and gently put her
arm around the bleeding woman’s shoulder in an effort to help her stand up. Surprisingly, the woman got up with little help. Koreen
then led the bleeding woman inside the apartment, all the while feeling that there was something strange about the woman. She was no
longer moaning like before, and the way the woman looked at her was kind of creepy. It was like she wanted to tell Koreen something
through her eyes. Also, she seemed to walk unusually well for someone who had just been stabbed and was bleeding profusely.
“Let’s go into the bathroom,” Koreen said to the woman.
While they walked, blood trickled on the floor from the woman’s bleeding abdomen. At least the floors were hardwood and not
carpeting. Koreen helped the woman into the bathroom and had her lie down on the floor. She didn’t really know what else to do.
However, looking down at the woman and her bloody dress, she felt guilty doing nothing. Grabbing a towel from the towel rack, she
told the woman to press on the stab wound with the towel. She realized just then that she had left the door to the apartment open.
“I’ll be right back,” Koreen told the bleeding woman.
Going to the front door, Koreen saw a pool of blood outside in the hallway from the woman. She shuddered and closed the door. The
apartment was suddenly feeling very chilly. Looking at the thermostat, it read 62 degrees, although it was set at 70 degrees. How could
that be? A few moments later, the doorbell rang. Answering the door, she met two police officers and two paramedics with a stretcher
and a medical bag.
“Thank you so much for coming,” Koreen said to them. “She’s in the bathroom. Please come this way. Please don’t step in the blood,”
she added, pointing to the pool of blood in the hallway. The four men gave her a strange look.
Entering the bathroom, Koreen was shocked to see that the bleeding woman wasn’t there! Where did she go? How could the woman
have left without her seeing?
“She was lying right there,” she said aloud, obviously trying to convince both the four men and herself that she wasn’t crazy.
Examining the spot, Koreen was even more shocked to see that there wasn’t any blood on the floor tile or anywhere else in the
bathroom. But how? The tile surely would be blood-stained from the woman’s stab wound, even if she had been stabbed in front. She
was bleeding so heavily just before.
The police and paramedics stood there, giving Koreen odd looks. They all looked at one another and nodded, like they thought she
was crazy or something. However, Koreen was determined to prove them wrong.
“Come,” she said, “Remember the blood from the hallway?”
They followed her to the front door, but when she opened it up, she caught her breath—the pool of blood from before was no longer
there.
“Look, I am not making this up,” Koreen pleaded with them. “She was here. She was lying here out in the hallway. She was bleeding
from a stab wound. Remember the blood outside here?”
The four men shook their heads, looking at her like she was out of her mind. “Okay, ma’am,” said one of the police officers. “It is no
problem. This isn’t the first time we’ve been called to this building to deal with a false alarm. Just please don’t do it again.” He then
took out his notepad. “I will need your name, address, and phone number, though.” Koreen gave him the information. The four men
then turned to leave the apartment.
“Please don’t leave!” she begged.
“Look ma’am, we have serious business to tend to, not to deal with matters that don’t exist,” replied the other police officer. About to
exit the apartment, the officer took a piece of paper from his coat pocket and handed it to Koreen. “Here,” he said. “Why don’t you
take this? We’ve been giving these out to everyone around town.”
Taking the piece of paper, she saw that it was a missing person flyer.
“She’s been missing for the past two weeks,” said the officer. “She was last seen on the eastside of town with some guy.”
“Okay, thanks,” she said. She then closed the door.
Glancing at her watch, it was now a little past 11:00 p.m., and Jonathan still had not shown up. Perhaps he wasn’t coming home that
night? Looking down at the hardwood floors, Koreen saw that there was no trail of blood from before. She went back to look at the
bathroom, examining it for signs of the bleeding woman. But no, it was like she had vanished without a trace. Even the towel she had
given the woman hung from the towel rack with no trace of blood.
This place was starting to give her the creeps. Perhaps this was all a dream? Or was she really going crazy? Sitting down on the couch,
Koreen finally looked closely at the flyer, and froze. On the flyer was a picture of the bleeding woman who had vanished! She sat
there, her heart beating fast. Reading on, it gave the woman’s name and description:
Katrina Iverson, 33 years old, female Caucasian, 5 feet 8 inches tall, 130 pounds, shoulder-length black hair, brown eyes, fair
complexion. She was last seen leaving the At Random nightclub with a man in the early morning hours of October 2. She was wearing
a sleeveless black dress and a black shawl. Foul play is suspected.
It then gave a detailed description of the man she was last seen with:
Male Caucasian, 35-40 years of age, 5’ 11” to 6’ tall, slim build, olive complexion, short dark brown hair with a goatee. He was seen
wearing a long black leather coat and round dark sunglasses. He also reportedly had a tattoo of a skeleton key on the right side of his
neck.
Koreen lifted her head, a cold chill penetrating deep within her body. The description matched Jonathan almost exactly! She literally
started to hyperventilate. How could this be? Could this be Jonathan? No, she told herself, it certainly couldn’t be. He could never
harm anyone—at least not the Jonathan she knew four years ago. However, the skeleton key tattoo was a dead give-away. She was
there when he got the tattoo on New Year’s Eve almost six years ago. Also, the leather coat and sunglasses was a trademark of his
when he went out on the town.
Koreen’s mind raced for answers: What was the missing woman doing here just before? Was she a ghost? Did the woman’s spirit come
back to tell her something? The woman certainly had seemed strange, and ghosts don’t leave blood behind. Looking down at the
couch, she remembered the reddish stains underneath the afghan. Could it be blood? Did Jonathan kill the missing woman? Perhaps he
went crazy in the past four years? Did Jonathan purposely invite her here this evening so he could kill her? Perhaps he tried to drug
her with the chicken soup and the coffee?
Looking down at the couch, she pulled up the afghan to look at the stain on the seat of the couch. Examining it closely, it definitely
looked like faded blood. Lifting up the cushions, she noticed a key underneath the cushions. The key appeared to be the key that
opened up Jonathan’s locked oak cabinet. Koreen remembered it to be a cabinet where Jonathan mostly stored important documents.
What was the key doing underneath the cushions? Was Jonathan purposely hiding it? Was he hiding something in the cabinet?
Taking the key, Koreen walked into the dining area where the oak cabinet stood. She nervously inserted the key into the cabinet.
Opening it up, several contents fell out of the cabinet on to the floor, like it all had been stuffed inside. To Koreen’s surprise, on the
floor lay a black shawl, several empty pill bottles, a few Polaroid pictures, a pair of black fishnet stockings, a pair of black pumps, and
a woman’s hand purse. Looking at the pill bottles, there were no labels on them. Was Jonathan taking drugs? Maybe that is what was
making him crazy? She then looked at the pictures.
One picture was of a woman lying on Jonathan's couch. The picture was a bit blurry, but she appeared to look very much like Katrina
Iverson, the bleeding woman who had just vanished. The woman’s eyes were open in the picture, and she was only covered with a
blanket from her neck to her knees. Examining the picture more closely, it almost looked like she was covered with Jonathan’s Persian
rug that used to be in front of the fireplace. The other picture was a close-up of the woman’s face, and it most definitely was Katrina
Iverson. Looking at the third picture, Koreen shuddered. The picture was too grotesque to examine, but it confirmed that Iverson was
murdered.
Picking up the shawl, Koreen examined it for signs of blood. The flyer mentioned that Iverson was wearing a black shawl the night she
disappeared. She then picked up the hand purse and looked inside. Inside was a hair brush, black lipstick, a package of tissue, and a
driver’s license. The driver’s license read Katrina Iverson. And the picture and description on the license matched what was listed on
the missing person flyer.
Koreen sat down on the floor, her head in her lap, breathing heavily. She was now totally convinced that Jonathan had killed the
missing woman. Standing up, she walked over to the phone. Picking up the receiver, she nervously dialed the number listed on the
missing person flyer. This time a pleasant male voice answered the phone. Koreen was literally speechless when the man answered.
“Hello, hello?” said the operator, after meeting silence on the other end. Koreen only answered with heavy breathing.
“Hello, is anyone there?” asked the operator again.
Koreen finally spoke in a barely intelligible voice, “I know who killed her.”
“Pardon me?” the man asked.
“Katrina Iverson,” said Koreen softly.
There was a long silence on the other end accompanied by some ruffling of paper. “Katrina Iverson, you mean the missing woman?”
asked the man in a surprised voice.
“Yes,” she said softly. “I know who killed her.” She suddenly caught her breath. The sound of keys jingling came from outside. The
doorknob startled to rattle. Koreen panted into the receiver, her eyes wide open.
“Hello? Hello?” said the 911 operator. “Is anyone there?”
In her terror, Koreen dropped the receiver. She took a step back, clutching her chest while holding her breath.
The door opened, and in walked Jonathan.