THE LONG THAW
A Tina Tan And Marigold Murders Story (May be read alone but for the best experience read before or after the Marigold Murders Vol.1 )
At night I can’t sleep. For I’m haunted by visions of the past. The horror never fades away, it always seems to last. Cold sweats are commonplace. I swallow looking to taste. In the end I’m always haunted by her face.
Today I awoke in my own lake of sweat. It’s 4:30am but I’ve been up an hour. In the time I’ve managed to scribble a couple of lines and drink ¾ of a glass of wine. I feel sick to my stomach and my eyelids feel like they are made of lead. Nothing is softer than my bed, but even as I lay my head and pretend I had the girl of my dreams here nothing can escape me from the horror that is her face.
Tomorrow I take my officer test at the academy, so one might think it was jitters. Only I know that’s not the case. For years now I’ve had to endure her face. It's a trauma no child should suffer, no matter how little, or strong one might perceive them to be. Yet in the end who is to blame except fate itself.
I was twelve when it happened, and I still remember each moment as if they happened only seconds ago. I was on winter break when it happened. I was already used to cold mornings, but this morning was abnormally cold and harsh. The condensation that came with each breath brought some entertainment. My every breath and puff was cigarette or cigar smoke and for the moment I felt cool as James dean or Humphry Bogart. Still, even as I barely left the large barren and understyled home that my Filipina mom kept clean enough to eat off the driveway something felt off, and my heart was racing long before the moment that would forever change my life.
My mom was a miracle. She had came from the Philippines when she was a child, and became one of the top psychologists in Illinois. Today she owned her own practice, and was strong, single, and successful.
Even drowning in success and with a bank full of commas my life with my mother was a living hell. It’s strange you would think that a mother with an MD in Psychology would know how to handle someone's psyche, but not my mom. Whatever she did with clients was beyond me, but with me my mother was cold and callous. My father, well I never knew him, and around my mother he was to be treated like Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter and never be spoken of.
It's strange though, for in the horror of that morning I guess looking back there was some good that came of it. Because before that atrocious morning me and my mother were never very close, and in fact I’d even go as far as to say that we resented one another. That all changed that fateful morning, and while she may never have come to accept my lifestyle I at least knew she loved me, for that was the only day she ever held or hugged me.
So what brought such a cold stern woman to the point of hugging her own child. Well it was a morning that started not unlike any other. I was twelve and according to my mother overweight, so each day I would jog to the park and run two laps around the pond before heading home. That day started just the same, except for there was a briskness to the air that left me with goosebumps.
In fact it was so cold that even against my dire will and desire I had to keep a decent jogging pace just to stay semi warm. The jog blurred reality and provided a momentary release from all the anxiety that plagued me. It was always the same fears day in and day out that plagued me and the majority of them stemmed from my mother. Would I be good enough? Could I keep my grades up enough to please her? Would I make enough money to make her proud? Could I hide my sexuality from her or could I find a decent guy who I could at least tolerate enough to have some semblance of a relationship so that she wouldn’t know my true desires.
Up until now this had been my nightmarish reality of adolescence. A plethora of justifiable worries and concerns that probably plague most of the youth in America. It’s funny how fast your perspective can change. In the time it takes to snap your fingers your whole world can change. I thought I had fears before nothing prepared me for what I was about to see.
For in the blur of running around that great frozen pond I could make her out her shape from a distance. My heart, which was already beating at a good pace, went into overdrive and was beating like a jackhammer against concrete. My eyes opened wider than ever before, as if to tap into some super vision that didn’t exist. Still before I even approached her frame I knew I was staring at a body.
In fact I held my breath as I approached. The closer I got the more I wondered if my heart was racing from fear or morbid curiosity. When I first laid eyes on that pale ghastly face I think any morbid curiosity went out the window for a good while. I just stared at the blue face beneath the ice, lost, not even breathing. Instincts would have me glance around, but all I could see was the vast white emptiness of the snowy park, never have I felt so alone.
Then suddenly it was as if I became possessed and I knew what I had to do. I don’t know if it was the morbid curiosity returning, or something else that took hold of me at that moment. In fact its one of the rare times that my thoughts are blank and I see myself in motion but without thoughts or words. It’s as if I’m stuck in a silent film or music video and all I see is myself grabbing the biggest rock I could manage and smashing at the ice again and again.
It was a struggle at first, but by the third throw it feels good, almost exhilarating. My bloods pumping now harder than ever and each crack in the ice sends a tingle through my entire body that’s hard to describe. By the time the ice breaks I’m overwhelmed but on autopilot. I don’t even think twice or realize that I’m pulling this girl from the icy waters and it’s not till I take in the full view of the cold lifeless body before me that reality hits.
The body is blue and pale, eyes bulging, but that’s not the worst part. The worst part is she is a young girl a little younger than me. Her bodys mutilated and scarred yet adorned with Marigolds. I can see the pain and shock upon her face when I look at her and can only imagine the suffering she endured before she was finally put out of her misery. I taste my own tears before I even know I’m crying. I thought I was strong, but this is too much. I’m sobbing now and only want my mom. The icing on the cake is the blood stains that cover her jeans. I can see the trails from the staple marigolds, but the red blotch over her crotch makes me fall to my knees and vomit.
When I finally gain my composure, I just turn and run. I don’t stop or look back until I get home. From the rich aroma of chicken adobo that fills my nostril I know that she’s home. I don’t even close the door or utter a word. No, I just run into her arms, tears streaming uncontrollably down my cheeks. She must sense my distress because she says nothing either, as we embrace for at least a good five mins before speaking. Now mind you, my Tagalog has never been the best, but at this moment it is clear as the finest HDTV you could buy. When I tell her of the body she tells me I mustn't go back and that this is the exact reason I should be careful and stay away from boys.
I still recall looking at her and becoming frozen lost in shock. There I was waiting for her to erupt into action or at least with a significant reaction, but nothing. She goes right back to stirring her prized chicken adobo and tells me nonchalantly to be careful. I glance at her again wondering if it's real. To my dismay its real as day, and its just my mom's way.
It takes me a good two minutes to even muster up the courage to tell her something. “The body mom… I mean what are we going to do… We have to report it.” I stutter still consumed with fear and shock. “Pakialaman” She shouts back at me in Tagalog. It means mind your own business and from the look on her face I know she’s dead serious. I pray to myself that it will be over with that, but in a moment she continues. “You must mind your business if you don’t want to end up like that little girl. Mind your own business and stay away from men, it’s that simple.”
I don’t argue or go against her wishes, I just go to sleep. At least in that moment sleep would offer some relief. It’s not until the next day I hear of the Marigold Killer and the body I found. The horrible unspeakable acts he was performing to victims all over grabbed my spirit. I just don’t know if it was that or the guilt that made me want to join the force and track the sick fuck down. He had already been on a killing spree that rivaled that of the greats and I hoped that maybe, just maybe if I put an end to his reign I could put an end to the nightmares. For now at least I’d just have to make due with the night terrors. The cold lifeless face, and the shadow by whom since that day I’ve always been chased.