June 21st, 2016
Two days ago, I found out exactly where he lives. Then last night, I made it into his living room. As I sit in my hotel room thinking back to it, I remember the second phone call I made, two days after seeing him flash by in the supermarket.
His place is opposite a park; it’s a fancy-looking apartment block in the heart of Presley. From afar, I couldn’t see much going on. I saw residents walking in and out of the block, going about their business. I thought about the problem I would have trying to get in. I’d have to press the right button and even then, I’d have to hope he’d let me in, which I highly doubted. I decided that I would convince an unsuspecting dweller to let me in in a plea of desperation, for whatever reason I could think of. I’d let myself into the condo, and at least once I was at his front door, I’d only a wall closer to going about my mission.
He seemed more accepting of the call the second time. It’s like he knew it was coming, or he knew it might be who he thought it was. He was still very distressed, but he co-operated.
“Hey, Bret.” I smiled behind the line.
“Is this really you?” he asked. “Is this Rose?”
“I’m honest. I pinkie swear.”
“….I need to ask you some inside questions first. Ones that only she would know. Otherwise I don’t know who the hell you are, and you need to leave me alone.”
I panicked. What if he asked me things that One never wrote down in her diary? I know she mentioned a lot of their private jokes, but there may have been words spoken that she didn’t put to paper.
“Go for it, Brad.” I said. He paused.
I need to make a mental note to stop calling him that, but I forget his name. Who knew a simple one-syllable name would slip straight outta my head? It drives up him up the wall! But it’s hilarious. He acts like he hates it but I know he finds it funny. Diary Entry. March 20th, 1998.
“Do you trust me now?”
“Ask me more questions, then.” I said, knowing I was rolling a die.
He thought about it. “…Do you know who killed you?”
“Of course I know. Why?”
He stayed silent for a few seconds. “…I don’t know… I was just wondering if you would have remembered that. If you’re real. Say it.”
“Tanner Holt killed me.”
“…Do you know why?”
“Because he was secretly a maniac. He had his problems with me, and he had a gun, so he used it. And I died, and he’s in jail now, and I’m somehow here again. It’s twisted, but it’s simple, too.”
The silence that followed was thunderous, almost as if he was choking on the other side of the line.
“Where are you? How are you calling me?” he erupted.
“You don’t need to know where I am, or how I’m here.”
“Were you at the store yesterday? I thought I saw you.”
“I might have been. I can be anywhere. I can be everywhere at once.”
“Are you a spirit? Are you… tangible?”
“I’m as real as you want me to be.”
“Stop messing around. Just let me know I’m not going insane.”
“You’re not insane, Bret. And I’m not angry, either. I just want resolve.”
“…Resolve? From what?”
“You know what.” I said, swiftly. I didn’t mean to be so abrupt, but my voice could easily be taken for malice. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he was scared shitless.
He didn’t answer. I could tell he was measuring out the possibilities of this being a dream, a catfishing or a weird, sick scam.
“Why are you doing all of this? If this is true, why now?”
“You’ll understand why.”
“Are you out to get me?”
“You’ll understand why.” I repeat.
This time, I hung up before he could.
November 17th, 1999
After the call with Naomi, Bret stares at the glass he broke. His body is a tense ball of red fire. He knew this was coming, but it still punches him in the stomach, like nothing else.
He wipes away his tears and stands up. He grabs his jacket and walks out into the cold. Lighting up a cigarette, he inhales deeply as he pulls out of this driveway.
The streetlights are a blur as he whizzes past them. Everything seems like nothing but a surreal landscape. The sun is one of Jupiter’s moons and the sky is the colour of rubies. Nothing makes much sense.
He skids onto the sidewalk ahead of Naomi’s house, slams his door closed once he gets out, and charges to the front door. He hopes his eyes are not bloodshot, or that he looks like he just fell apart. He knocks on the door, and Naomi answers.
He pushes himself inside the house, kissing her. She doesn’t have time to say anything. He holds on to her for a while, and she goes along with it.
“Just come to my room,” she beckons, grabbing his arm and taking him upstairs. “Don’t say anything.”
He follows silently, and they both fall onto the bed. They continue kissing, and soon they start undressing. As Bret buries his face into Naomi’s shoulder, he thinks back to the Independence Party, and how Rose’s gaze permeated through him. He tries to block out the thoughts, kissing Naomi’s neck and then her shoulder, stroking her skin and wrapping his arms around her waist, sliding his fingers between her thighs. But soon, he finds himself sobbing on her chest, under the sheets as they lie skin to skin. Naomi just strokes his hair, and she rocks him like a baby in his arms until he falls asleep.