Four years of marriage lead to skills Sarah always calls our ‘marriage-sense’. The tingling of a bridge close to being burn, of a line close to being crossed. Every relationship a tightrope, at least some of the time. I look up from the text message. “I –.”
She reaches over, pushing our laptop away from the table. “It’s been three days.”
“I know. I’m just so fu–.” I bite back words.
“Deana is sleeping,” she says. “And if you wake her, you’ll have more to worry about than me.” But my wife smiles as she says it, the smile fading as she runs her fingers over my chin. “You haven’t shaved in two days.”
“I know, I just –.” I set my phone on our small office table that’s only called that because of the bills drawer. “I know something is wrong, Sarah. I’ve known Aiden since we were six years old: he is – was – is my best friend. I was the first person he came out to.”
“He was the best man at our wedding,” she says. “And convinced me to stick with you after that one party at Clover Point.”
“Phone calls afterwards, three of them. About how long he’d known you, that the drinks must have been spiked. That he turned out to be right helped.”
“Everyone else calls me Frank. Everyone at work, even my parents.”
I nod, gesture to the phone. “He used ‘Frank’ in his last text to me. He never did that. Refused to abbreviate anything unless he was in a hurry, and if he was there would be a period so I’d know it was Franklin. So I’d know it was my name. He had a new boyfriend, and he’s always – well, he’d have called Steven before the flight, after it landed. He would anyway, but he was – is – always does with regularity at the start of any relationship.”
“He would have sent us a picture of some street in Vancounver during the first day.”
“And he didn’t. He flew halfway across the country, and we know he left the airport and then – nothing. The police have enough to look into it: they’ll try, but it won’t be hard enough. I could almost hear the interest change when they decided it had to be an affair. I wanted to ask if they wanted another Pickton to escape them, but that wouldn’t have helped anything at all.”
Sarah laughs, as much in shock as surprise. “No, it wouldn’t.”
“And Deana is two, I can’t get time off work. Even if we could afford the flight.”
“I looked into our credit cards,” she says, stepping behind me to run fingers over my neck. “We can’t afford it. If we borrowed, it would have to be a friend willing to wait two years at least to be paid back, love.”
“I know. I know. He could be dying. Be dead. Be in some – and there is nothing we can do.” I don’t delete the message on my phone. I can do that much. I can read Vancouver news from so far away. I can hope. We can afford hope, if nothing else.
I force myself to stand, heading to the kitchen for a night cap and then bed. There is nothing we can afford to sell, nothing I can think to do in a world that doesn’t work like a mystery novel. I don’t know anything about solving crimes, nothing about finding murdered friends. All I know is that it all costs money, and that’s one thing we don’t have.