“Why do you keep calling it murder, Detective? That implies a singular event. Truth is, sir, you’ve stumbled
across a double homicide, set in motion nearly a quarter century ago.
“What’s that? Start making sense.
“I am, Detective. I knew her back then, back when we were both gloriously young. I imagine you and
whoever’s watching from behind that mirror would like me to tell you about the first death?
“Very well.
“I met her at the end of freshman year. She bounced down the hallway and into my life with this arched
smile, this mane of silky hair and these pale blue eyes that sparkled with mischief. And if they ever sparkled at
you, Detective, for even the most fleeting of moments, you got to thinking that maybe, just maybe, things
were going to turn out okay. Then she paused, as though sensing my voyeurism, turned and peeked straight
into me, a direct inquiry that captured my soul. Yes, sir, that’s exactly how it all began.
“Terribly shy, shaking, I walked over and introduced myself. Somehow, as we approached the dorms, an
introverted mutt like myself got up the nerve to ask her out. We ran around together until the school year
ended and sent us both home to different towns for the long summer break. A couple of movies, pizza, long
walks and an evening spent at the lower campus lift bridge, pinkies entwined as we watched the barges float
up the river. Meals in the cafeteria found me quizzing her, wanting to get lost in all her minutiae. Falling deep
into those blue eyes and never wanting to surface.
“I remember how she smuggled me into the women’s bathroom on her floor, dragged me right in front of the
mirror above the sink and then pointed to the full-length mirror aligned on the opposite wall.
“‘Watch this,’ she stood sideways between the two mirrors and brought her hands up and down in front of her.
Her reflection ping-ponged back and forth, mirrors within mirrors and I watched as her hands fluttered and
waved across an infinity of identical images. I grabbed her hands in mine and pulled her toward me, stared
into the mirrored millions and saw images of us together for as far as the eye could see, Detective.
“Unexpected emotions are always the deepest and purest and rawest and scariest and sweetest, chewing on a
dried yellow leaf in the fall and having mother work that sliver out of your pint-sized finger with a needle.
Your first Halloween, your first snow and your first kiss. I first kissed her right then and there, standing
between the mirrors. I felt her breath in my mouth.
“What’s that, Detective? You want me to move my ‘sappy shit’ along and cut to the chase? But you need to
understand, the answers...all of them...really lie in the past. Your tape recorder’s running, so just sit back and
give me a moment.
“By my twentieth birthday, everything was at my fingertips—a GPA of four-point-o would indicate a certain
amount of maturity, one would think, wouldn’t they, Detective? In my case, nothing could be further from
the truth. Never comfortable in my own skin, I’d spent most of my life away from the crowd, hidden away,
nose in a book. Psychologically I was twenty going on ten and attempting to have a relationship with this
perfectly charming young woman.
“I was never sure how to act or react around her. God knows I said things I didn’t mean. And I truly meant
things that I could never find a way to put into words. In the end I was a little lost boy, flailing the wrecking
ball back and forth in the darkness.
“And, after a couple of second chances, I drove her away.
“At the start of junior year, I tried to set it right. I met her at a watering hole and told her how she meant
everything to me. Everything. She looked down into her coffee and said I was embarrassing her. I apologized,
but told her it was how I felt. And it was truly how I felt, Detective. She then oh-so-subtly slipped in
something about having a...boyfriend.
“I felt gutted, carved up inside, couldn’t eat or sleep for days. I forced myself into the boy meets girl, boy loses
girl, boy gets girl back mode of the old romantic comedies, you remember those, because, if there was one
certainty in life, she and I were meant to be, just like the infinite progression of images in the mirrors, the ones
I told you about—together for as far as the eye could see.
“Let me grab a Kleenex here, wipe my eyes. This part always gets to me, feels as though it were only
yesterday. There, much better.
“I spent the rest of that school year orbiting her periphery, perpetrating the farce that we could still be friends.
And one day, Detective, as we sat on the steps of the campus auditorium in the afternoon sun, she got around
to showing me her left hand. The third finger from the thumb sported an engagement ring. And she told me in
the softest voice that she was getting married.
“I held it together long enough to feign bent smiles and dumbstruck congratulations. I mumbled an awkward
goodbye and walked out of her life. Perhaps I made it as far as the Student Union before the tears spilled down
my face—boy loses girl and boy will never ever get girl back.
“My own would be the first homicide, Detective. You know, the one that went unreported those many years
ago.
“There’s really no need to shout ‘bullshit!’ It’s uncalled for. The main part of me ceased to exist that sunny
afternoon on the auditorium steps. The perfect definition of murder.
“Do you believe that time heals all wounds? You do? I guess I’m more of a romantic than you. Love doesn’t
carry an expiration date as though it were a carton of milk. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t go all nebbish and
fetal-positioned up behind my sofa. I dated again, saw other people and even married for a brief while, but the
ache never left. It remained, percolating quietly beneath the surface—a silent river running deep—forever
cutting. It got to the point where it could no longer be ignored. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, Detective. They’
re right about that old adage.
“You’re asking me if I had an accomplice?
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how the Internet did the heavy lifting, Lieutenant. It is Lieutenant, isn’t it?
Thought so. The search engines the Internet provided me were truly remarkable. Find that special someone
from years gone by in a heartbeat, one site advertised, for just a handful of quarters. In fact, the Internet
allowed me to search some of the same sources used by law enforcement—how’s that for irony? All sorts of
public records; goodies I’d never have found on my own. Never in a million years. I blame the web,
Lieutenant, that information superhighway. Everything was at my fingertips, and, try as I might—I just
couldn’t let it lay.
“Once I unearthed his name, Lieutenant, it was off to the races. Phone numbers, current address and a history
of addresses throughout the past decades. Seen a bit of the country they had. I was able to bring up a satellite
image of their home. I even got a description of their house based on their property ownership. It were as
though I already knew where to roam, to see what might have been, Lieutenant—once her husband and I had
our get-acquainted chat.
“Speaking of her husband, I even surfed his web site. Turns out he owns his own consulting firm, software
something or other. He officed out of their home. Lucrative deal that must be, huh, Lieutenant?
“MapQuest led me from the airport to their doorstep. The smiling fellow even answered the door barefoot in
jeans and a polo shirt. I’ll have to admit he was quite pleasant—at first, anyway. He let me in when I told him
how I was an old friend of his wife, from our college days, who happened to be blowing through town. But as
I explained how I came to be there, much like I’m doing with you right now, Lieutenant, in a calm and
friendly manner—wouldn’t you say I’m being calm and friendly? Thank you. I thought as much.
“Anyway, he became quite nervous near the end of my narrative; agitated, actually. I began to question what
she saw in him. Perhaps it was best he worked at home. And he kept getting louder and louder still, insistent I
leave at once...until I couldn’t think or talk and I...I had to make him quiet. I never meant to hurt him,
Lieutenant, but how could I possibly face her after these many, many years and have to compete with that
level of noise?
“But when I was through, I carried him downstairs and placed him, very gently, on the recliner in the family
room, right in front of his large screen TV. It was as though he were taking a much-needed nap. You saw
how peaceful he looked, Lieutenant.”
“What happened next? Well, she and I met of course.
“My rental blocked her from entering the garage. I watched from the front window as she turned into the
driveway and parked beside my Saturn. She must’ve been used to his having clients over for meetings. I
watched as she bounced up the steps, and let me tell you something, Lieutenant, the years had been kind to
her. Even with two kids of her own away at college, just a couple of smile lines is all.
“I opened the door and let her in. She didn’t recognize me, not off the bat, anyway. After all, I wear glasses
now and my hair has turned quite gray. We said hello and she asked if he was getting what I needed. I nodded
politely. She asked if I wanted a glass of lemonade; how terribly sweet of her. ‘Sure,’ I said. ‘I love lemonade.’
She headed past me toward the fridge. I inhaled deeply, the smell of her hair, her perfume, her smile, her
everything—and in that instant, that second in eternity, I was young again.
“Handing me a glass, she headed down the hall. I called after her. I guess it was my voice, Lieutenant, the
intimate nature in which I spoke her name—as though from a lifetime ago—she stopped in her tracks, turned
and stared back at me, a perplexed look in her eyes. And then I watched as the past and present blurred, as the
years peeled away, as the realization sank in. I said hello again and, after all of these unforgiving years, she
came toward me, a half smile on her face. So many things I wanted to tell her, so many things I needed to say.
“But then the moment moved past and all of a sudden she wanted to know what I was doing there and where
her husband was. I explained how he was napping in the other room and how nice it would be if we could do
some catching up. But she couldn’t find it in herself to relax. She backed away from me and went looking for
him.
“I slowly finished the lemonade. I wouldn’t want to be rude now, would I? Then I walked down the steps to
the family room. And there she sat, Lieutenant, the love of my life—cupping one of his hands limply to her
heart—the phone cradled in her lap.
"Together, we sat and waited...”
The Reuniting