When I overheard someone say the word perturbed recently, the word danced around in my head until I put pen to paper and wrote this vignette.
The police station hugs the railroad tracks in this rural New Jersey town. I contemplate retirement most mornings and especially today, as I skip over rain puddles to the precinct door. When I climb the steps, an umbrella pokes my neck. Inside I turn around and observe a woman hiding a closed umbrella in a corner. Then she walks toward me, her hand extended and says, “I’m Dolores.”
Usually, I am not quick to shake hands, but do so automatically and introduce myself. “Officer Hawkins. How can I help you?”
“My husband went missing last night.”
Her voice is raspy. Her long jet-black hair parted on the side, frames the opposite eye. I wish I had gotten a haircut, or at least trimmed my mustache.
I respond. “Standard procedure is to wait twenty-four hours,” then stomp my feet on a rug, “your guy will probably show up before that.”
“Officer Hawkins, it’s so unlike Steven.” Her doe like brown eyes fill with tears.
“Well, file a missing person’s report if you want.”
I walk behind my desk, and search for the appropriate form. Dolores eases into an interview chair uninvited, and slips off her raincoat, to reveal; what my ex-wife called, a sweater dress. She trembles at the sight of the paper work, reacting as though it is a hot potato.
Reluctantly, I complete the form for her. She describes Steven as tall, dark, and handsome. Then quickly produces his wallet. The contents spill out. She gathers the singles and worn scrapes of paper with her hands and almost perfectly manicured red nails. The index finger nail is broken.
I say, “Tell me what happened last night.” Her lips purse together before she responds.
“I was perturbed.”
Her pronunciation; emphasis on the first syllable without ignoring the rest, grabs my attention. I confirm her intent. “Perturbed. . . As in annoyed, agitated, or troubled.”
“Yes,” she studies the ceiling, “so. . . I took the dog for a walk,” she pulls nervously at a sleeve, “when I got back, Steven wasn’t there.” She tugs repeatedly at the dress to cover her knees. “I was perturbed.”
I mimic what she says, “You were perturbed?”
Now her doe eyes light with anger as she contains her passion. “Yes, perturbed,” she slips into her coat and stands, “what don’t you understand? Surely you’ve been perturbed, Officer Hawkins.”
She is guilty. But of what, I do not know . . . yet.
I watch her leave the building perturbed.
. . . . just saying
(You don’t need a wordpress account to comment. Two ways; in the comment box below or above the picture and to the right of the title there is an icon that will change color. Click on and you can comment. Ignore request for a name or username and write your comment. Press post or save.)