As you've probably guessed I haven't been doing great lately. After what happened yesterday, with the apartment, I don't know I've been really out of it. Anne was on the phone with the doctor again last night, and told him she was afraid I was going into shock or something. I wasn't paying a lot of attention.
I guess I did kind of shut down, there's been too much going on, and I just sort of phased out.
But I'm getting off topic.
So I slept in really late this morning, and woke up to find that Anne wasn't there. She was kind enough to leave me a note saying she had to go to the store for a little bit. (I'm starting to feel like Anne has declared herself my mother or something.)
So I wandered around a bit and eventually went outside. It was raining fittingly enough, so I sat down on Anne's porch and watched cars drive by, and waited for her to get back. It was after a few hours of that, when I noticed it.
It was her car. It was Aggy's car! I may not be the most observant person in the world but when I saw the beat up Ford Explorer I knew there wasn't any comparison. It had been her Dad's before her's and I spent hours listening to her gush over that thing, and now here it was, parking itself in front of Anne's house.
For a brief moment of euphoric joy, I thought Aggy was back and that she was going to jump out of the car and everything would be alright somehow.
But then someone else got out of the car.
He had longish black hair, and a really small and girly kind of look. I didn't recognize him but I was immediately on edge.
He however, looked like rather relieved when he saw me, and he smiled and walked towards me.
"Hello," he smiled. "You wouldn't happen to be Opal Jones? Would you?"
I didn't answer that, instead I just asked him where he got the car.
"Your friend gave it to me," he said, as though that was fine. "She gave it to me in exchange for this," he pulled out a green notebook out of his jeans and handed it to me. He frowned and looked worried. "Do you know where's she's been, what she's been up to?"
What was I supposed to say to that?
"Why no, complete stranger in my missing friend's beloved car, pray do tell me what hilarious shenanigans my friend has been up to, while I ponder over this new delivery and compare it to the rest of my horrifying mail."
Instead I asked him what he knew about Aggy.
His frown deepened at that, and he looked nervous. "I know enough to be able to tell you're both in danger," he said. "She asked me to give this to you,"
I was freaking out again at this point, and I was getting the jitters as well. The ones that told me I should sit down and take it easy before I passed out a second time.
"Who are you?" I asked him. "Are you one of Aggy's friends? Where is she?"
"Somewhere in Nevada last I saw her," he said. "But by now, who knows." I remember he looked distracted like something else was bugging him. "I'm just a courier, it's not really my job to ask where or why something is delivered." He stopped and looked at me very hardly for a moment. "Please, please, read everything in that notebook carefully. Whatever's in there could be what keeps you safe. If not, it'll at least help you piece back together what happened to your friend."
Happened, what happened to Aggy...I remember that part really bugged me. Like there was nothing to be done about any of this.
"What's going on?" I demanded. "Is she okay?"
Then I realized something. What if this was the guy who had broken into my apartment, or what if he was in cahoots with the guys who did.
"Are you in on this?" I yelled. "You can't just throw all this at me and expect it to be fine!"
He fidgeted a bit'. "Please Miss, it's difficult to explain. If anything I'm in the business of protecting you from what you're going to find inside the notebook in your hands."
It was the first time I actually really payed attention to the notebook. It was a light green color, and a pretty intricate design on the cover. It gave me bad vibes all over, and the jitters got worse and my hands started to shake.
"She's okay." he said, "She's on the run from some people who are going to try and hurt her, though. The sooner you read this book and find out what's going on the sooner you can find and help her."
"But who's chasing her, what's going on, and where do you come into all of this?" I sounded less suspicious now, and more like a whiney kid who was looking for it's mother. I really disgust myself sometimes.
"Listen, I really can't explain everything to you right now." he sighed. "Everything you'll need to know -everything Aggy wants you to know - is inside that notebook."
"as for me," he said. "like I said earlier, I'm a courier. I help people like your friend get what they need to stay alive."
I don't know what it was, but when this guy talked it made me feel like a little kid. He wasn't all that much older than me, but he had a mommy vibe about him. Like Anne except much less discreet.
I wasn't going to let any mommy vibes stop me from finding out what I needed to know.
"I don't trust you," I told him, and I wasn't lying.
"You shouldn't," he smiled. "but you can trust Aggy can't you,"
Then I don't know. Maybe it was the mommy vibe, or the fact that I was pretty much destitute, or that in little over a month my life wasn't mine anymore, and that it had become this dark horrifying place I didn't recognize, or maybe just because I really friggin' missed Aggy, but I lost it.
I broke down and just started sobbing like an idiot, in front of this random stranger who I had every right to call the cops on. And of course he was right beside me comforting me and telling me that it was all going to be fine even though we both knew he wasn't sure.
It must of looked pretty hilarious now that I'm thinking about it, me out in the rain in my bathrobe crying my eyes out, and a girly looking guy with his arms wrapped around me trying to get me to stop crying.
Aggy would've laughed at me, and told me that only I could get into such a situation.
So eventually I pulled it together, and managed to stop jittering a bit.
"Just tell me one thing," I asked him.
"What is it, sweetie?" he asked gently.
I'm impressed that I ignored the odd pet name and cut right to the chase. But of course this was the one thing that had been bugging me so much, ever since Aggy disappeared.
"The symbol, the circle with the X through it. What does it mean?" I told him about the drawings Aggy had made, and the ones I found from when I was a kid.
He stiffened up immediately, and was quiet for a while. I guess he was contemplating wether or not it would be fine to tell me.
"...It's called the Operator Symbol," he said "It's nothing but bad news."
Then he stood up.
"Miss Opal," he said. "Please be careful. These next few days are going to be dangerous, I can tell. What you'll read in that notebook...Will be difficult to believe. But I want you to trust everything in there as fact."
I nodded and stood up myself, when I realized something else.
"The people who are after Aggy, they're after you too aren't they?"
He nodded. "For a long time, but I have a family, and people to keep me safe. That's a luxury I'm afraid you and Aggy won't have for a while."
Then he gave me a very serious look. "Opal..." he paused for a second. "Find her, nothing is going to be worse than facing this by yourself."
He gave me a business card if I ever needed to get in touch with him. I'm looking at it now and it's a pretty odd card.
RETURN TO SLENDER
"You pay, we deliver."
I gave him my phone number in turn, in case he ever needed help. Then he got in Aggy's car and left.
And you know what? I actually felt a little bit better. At the very least, now I have something to do, and I know that Aggy's still out there somewhere.
I checked the notebook to make sure it was her hand writing, but I haven't gotten much farther than that.
I'm going to have to read it at some point, but I know when I open this thing this little scrap of my old life is going to go out the window, and I'm going to have to face the facts about the situation. I'm not sure if I'm ready, but I guess that really isn't my choice. All I know is that I'm going to leave Anne's tonight.
I'm going to Nevada, and I'm going to find Aggy.