September 11, 2014

Elizabeth's story

by Jessica Knoll

Peter called me as I was climbing into a cab. "What are you doing?" he asked.

I covered the mouthpiece with my hand and told the cab driver to take me to 84th and 2nd. Peter groaned in my ear. "What's that for?" I said, slamming the yellow door behind me.

"Dorrian's?" he snorted, recognizing the address. I couldn't fault him for making fun—Dorrian's is the Upper East Side institution that serves as the gathering place for trust fund babies with overactive jaws and nepotistic business cards. It became infamous for the role it played in The Preppy Murder case in the 80s. Look it up. It's gruesome. "Let me guess, you're meeting Biz."

"You know she loves her sociopaths with popped collars," I said. "Isabel's coming too."

"Well, I'm just finishing up dinner with this guy your father wanted me to vet for a role at the company. Want us to come meet you?" Peter had been an associate at a small firm called MarketAxess when we met. Now, a year into our relationship, he was the head of development and sales for the credit derivatives market at my father's company. Daddy dear just adored Peter. Like the son he once had. It could make you sick, the way they carried on together, yuk-yukking it up over full bodied Bordeaux and bloody steaks at the 21 Club, but I was experiencing a momentary reprieve in the department of fury and self-loathing. For once, my father and I were getting along. My mother was smitten with Peter too, and her physical therapist said that she'd made some real strides over the last few months. I absolutely attributed that progress to the fact that for once in her life, my mother was seeing me in a healthy, loving relationship. For the first time in my life, it felt like I'd turned the corner. Like I could actually leave behind Bridget's blue body in that damp dingy basement.

"I'm sure Biz and Isabel would love the company," I said. Biz was single again, on a break from Peter's college friend, and Isabel, well, she was always prowling, always hustling. I bit into a sadistic smile, thinking how funny it would be to watch them duke it out over this guy Peter was bringing. Girls go crazy for a fresh kill.

- -

Campbell's place was nothing like I'd pictured it (which had been: third floor walk up apartment, scummy beige carpet, lumpy church basement brown couches, linoleum countertops in the kitchen and a naked duvet on the bed).

He lived in a house. A small but beautiful white house with exactly four black shutters, two stately columns flanking a bright red door, a trellis exploding with jasmine and morning glories perched on top.

Campbell noticed the look on my face and smirked. "Hard to believe a hillbilly like myself lives here, right?" He unlocked the front door and held it open for me.

"You're an even dirtier cop than I first pegged you for," I said, stepping into the foyer. Ebonized wood floors, a chest with floral-motif bone inlay in the corner, and an antique Moroccan silk runner leading to the chrome encrusted kitchen—there was no way, at twenty-something years old, Campbell could afford this loot on a detective's salary in bumblefuck, New York. It wasn't even about the expense—Campbell had taste. Old world and eclectic, but still modern. That's something money can't buy. That's a product of years and years of good breeding—or years and years of appropriation.

I followed Campbell down the hallway, toward the kitchen. A series of photographs hung on the walls. In one, a younger Campbell sat back to back with a striking strawberry blonde. They were both wearing white button downs and ill-fitting khakis—classic embarrassing professional family photo shoot garb and posing. It had to be his sister. The one who passed away.

Campbell hit a switch and the lights popped on over the slate bar, the edges so sharp and paper thin I imagine you could puncture your spleen if you ran into the corner with enough force. Campbell put two rocks glasses on the table and poured us each a thimble of Lagavulin. He tapped the rim of his glass against mine and slid it my way. "Bottoms up."

The whiskey burned a dusty path into my stomach, and instantly, courage bloomed. "How long have you known about what Abby did to my brother?"

The kitchen, in contrast to the warm autumnal tones of the foyer's decor, was cold metal, severe. Campbell's eyes looked more like the color of wet concrete than blue. "You have that backwards," he said, tracing his glass back and forth in the air, as if correcting the course of my words. "It's what your brother did to Abby."

I slammed my glass on the bar. "He never would have gotten in that car if it wasn't for her. She is the reason he's dead. She is."

Abby and my brother met at Exeter (of course Thayer got to go to Exeter, while I got shipped off to Miss Porter's like I was the delinquent. Every last dirty trick—straight down to how to make a coke shooter out of a BIC pen—I learned from my Arian God of a brother). They started dating sophomore year, and by the time they were juniors, Abby was a regular guest in our household over the holidays. You'd think her family would have missed her, but maybe her mother was just so pleased she was dating a Van der Deer that she bit her tongue. Thayer adored Abby—we all did. She was like the cool older sister I never had. Once, we even went through a wedding magazine together and picked out her fluffy taffeta gown and my blush colored bridesmaid dress, for when she and Thayer got married.

Abby had Bridget's gothic dark looks (or Bridget had hers, I guess), with one exception—her eyes, so blue they called for all sorts of cliché comparisons to a clear spring sky or the dazzling depths of a tropical ocean. I can't believe I didn't notice the resemblance before. Neither had my mother, come to think of it. Hadn't she seen Bridget when she'd gone to court? Or had she worn her grief as blinders, dulling the peripheral, the sharpest focus only and always on the pain?

The Friday after Thanksgiving, when Thayer and Abby were in their senior year at Exeter, they'd gone to a party at a classmate's house in Bridgehampton. They'd driven upstate in the present Abby's parents had gotten her for her 18th birthday—a hunter green Land Rover, in her name even though her parents would continue to make the payments on it. "So you can start to build some good credit," she said her father had told her.

Thayer and Abby fought at the party. He was flirting with another girl. Abby demanded they go back to the city. "I'm too drunk to drive," my parents maintain he said. Thayer would never get behind the wheel under the influence. Thayer could do no wrong. It was Abby who insisted. Abby who made them leave. Abby who forced him to drive. This was the version of events that gave my parents some iota of peace and that I came to internalize too, even though deep down, I knew it wasn't true. But my parents needed to believe that in his last moments, Thayer's strength of character remained.

The police found the hunter green Land Rover boomeranged around a maple tree several hundred yards shy of the on ramp to the highway that would have lead them home. Both passengers were unresponsive, the attending officer radioed in. Only one eventually became responsive.

My parents, in the madness of their mourning, needed to find someone to blame. So they went after Abby, the one who got to live. Criminally negligent manslaughter, their slick team of lawyers recommended. It had been Abby's car Thayer had been driving, Abby who "coerced" Thayer into leaving, despite his protestations.

"You really buy that?" Campbell asked.

"What does it matter how it went down?" I muttered. "Thayer is dead."

"It matters because your parents put Abby away for nine years for a crime she didn't commit," Campbell snapped.

Nine years. I did the math in my head. Abby would be getting out soon.

I motioned to Campbell to pass me the bottle of whiskey and topped off my glass. "How long did you know I had this connection to Bridget?"

Campbell waited for me to take another thick sip before delivering the blow. "Since before I met you."

I laughed, more of a bitter bark. I was about to ask why he hadn't just come right out and asked me about it when Campbell's phone rang.

He crossed the kitchen and lifted the phone off the receiver. "Campbell speaking."

I heard the deep hum of a voice on the other end, just the outline of words, and then Campbell's face went slack. "What are the coordinates?" he asked. Whatever the answer was, he nodded at it, before saying, "I'll be there in ten."

Campbell hung up the phone and looked at me. "They found something. In the lake."

I felt like I was gargling my heart. "What did they find?" I asked, even though I knew what it was. Bridget's car. The one Biz and I had driven into the water.

- -

I can't even say I was that surprised when I saw him, trailing Peter. He'd always had a taste for the finer things in life, would have found a way to work his way into our social fold, no matter what.

Peter gave Biz and Isabel a kiss on the cheek and me one on the mouth before gesturing at his companion, the one he had just vetted for a role at my father's company. "This is Brian."

Brian. What a pedestrian name.

Both Biz and I remained stony and silent, but Isabel leaned forward to shake Brian's hand in a way that showed off her cleavage. She raised an eyebrow flirtatiously. "I feel like we've met."

"I've had a million lives so it's very possible," Brian said. "I actually prefer to go by my last name. Campbell."

Biz was watching me, waiting for me to lose my mind.


35 comments:

  1. Oh geez...this is going to get crazy really quickly!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow!! Finally some answers!! Love this post.. so informative! Ty ty ty!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is getting so juicy!! Love Elizabeth's story line!!
    I just started my own blog, check it out :)

    http://lifebysarahxo.blogspot.ca/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed! But I need to stop reading these once a week and just do four at a time, or else I am just left like AHH can't wait for next week!

      www.poetsandheartbreakers.com

      Delete
  4. I'm a little lost reading there post. We finally found out about Thayer's death and Abbey. Question is if Thayer was driving how was Abbey charged for his death? She didn't push him to get behind the wheel and there weren't any witnesses to prove otherwise. Campbell went from being a detective to being a hedge fund guy? How is that possible? There are so many holes in this story. Even though each post is well written, some things don't make sense. I wish you could move the story along quicker. You post once a week and it seems like this is dragging.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not that it doesn't make sense, it's the that we don't know the answers yet. There are only holes if the story is finished and we don't have all the answers. I feel like just about every television program on the air does the exact same thing.

      Delete
    2. I disagree Denise. We jump around so much in this story and it's hard to keep track. So many things are foreshadowed and brought up but pushed on the back burner in the next post. With a TV show most things are resolved at the end. Here were left waiting and waiting for answers.

      Delete
    3. No holes, it's just taking too long to really figure out what is going on. Posting once a week, requires fewer cliffhangers and more of a wrap up at the end of each post. The theme here just isn't good for this type of posting schedule. It doesn't need to be so mysterious. I agree with anonymous 2, so much gets pushed back

      Delete
  5. I can't get enough of this story! Sooo sooo good!

    ReplyDelete
  6. @ comment from 2:27 could not disagree more.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Jessica,
    This post is really good! I've been reading since Josie's story was on Cosmo, and I feel that you're writing has really grown. You are very talented, and it's showing even more with Elizabeth's story. I love where the story line is heading. Keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Loving the storyline! Cliffhangers are frustrating, but they do keep us coming back, don't they? I'm picturing Campbell ending up as a Talented Mr. Ripley-type character. Can't wait to find out!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Loved the description of Campbell's house!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'm wondering if Campbell ends up becoming peters best friend she left him for??? But I can't remeber if his name was James or if that was fedora guy. Also, the writer could totally just decide to make him if the names don't match, wouldn't be the first inconsistency when people do flash back kinds of things. I kind of hope so, it would make the story so much more interesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm trying to remember all the names and connections from Josie as well. I'm pretty sure Fedora Guy was James, which I'm thinking is the college friend Biz is on-and-off with. So, I think you're right about the Campbell connection...
      Can't wait to find out!

      Delete
    2. Yes and I am also wanting to find out if Campbell is the father of her red headed baby son--the one she was trying to pass off as William's kid in order to keep her father's money rolling in. I'm too lazy to look it up, but I remember in Josie's story there was mention of the possible father being someone red headed from Elizabeth's college days. Don't recall Campbell's hair color ever being mentioned but he has been described as being pale....typical of red headed complexions....HMMMMM.....Anybody with me here??

      Delete
    3. I just re-read the post and noticed Campbell's sister was a strawberry blonde. I think we are definitely on to something here!!

      Delete
    4. I hate to burst everyone's excitement here but the name of supposed father of Elizabeth's child was a married guy named Andy Goodman. But maybe there could be a twist and the child could really end up being Campbell's or something! Lol idk, but I do think you guys are right about Campbell becoming Peter's friend and that's who Elizabeth leaves Peter for :)

      Delete
    5. I am sure you are right on the name, though I think I remember it being a rumor or someone's opinion - probably Peter- that he was the father. But the pale skin and strawberry blonde sister seems like definite foreshadowing. We shall see :)

      On the same topic, if I remember correctly, the last time we heard mention of Elizabeth in Josie's blog she was sitting in a park, crying her eyes out alone next to her baby. Could be postpartum depression, could be abandonment by the baby's father, could be that having a child didn't solve her problems like she thought it would. A very sad ending either way, and I hope we get to see Elizabeth find some sort of happiness after all she's been through.

      Delete
  11. First off awesome post!!!! LOVED IT :) second... As those who are saying it's going to slow or doesn't make sense stop reading or shut up and keep your opinions to yourself. So frustrating to read about how it's never what you wanted write your own. Anytime time tho you can stop putting her awesome work down

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shut up yourself. It's called an opinion, and we're allowed to have them. Some of us do write our own blogs by the way. We post anonymously to keep people like you, who can't handle anything negative, away from our blogs. We even like this blog, but people like you clearly can't handle criticism, even if it's constructive. Get a life honey, you don't even write this, no need to be so defensive.

      Delete
    2. First anonymous, stfu. So far the comments have been very positive. I don't see any comment that would cause your reaction. Why don't you grow up?here's a suggestion of the comments are too much for you, don't read them. Problem solved.

      Delete
    3. Hallelujah Melissa! Anon 2 here. Anon 1 is a whiny beotch. People like the story, they're just disappointed in the delivery.

      Delete
  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  13. I am predicting that Campbell knew Abby and Thayer in high school. He may be a small town detective, but his house indicates he comes from old money. The irony in all this--for all that Elizabeth's parents may have persecuted Abby--Elizabeth herself was a 15 year old kid when this all went down, so for those also involved in the Abby/Thayer mess shows that they are pretty damned messed up. She never even went to court to follow it. Campbell is an enigma and I like his character, but he hasn't even given her a chance--he is holding her accountable for her parents' actions. This is going to be a wild ride.

    ReplyDelete
  14. What a wild ride you are taking us on with this blog! I cannot wait to see what happens, but I agree with others that I believe Campbell is the best friend that Elizabeth left Peter for, and quite possibly the father of the baby. Strawberry blonde connection seems to be a hint at that, but we shall see. :)

    sheerluckandpixiedust.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  15. "He was somewhere in mid twenties purgatory. A natural blonde, like me. Pale and serious looking, the type of tall that people commented on."
    That's Campell's description from the first post in which he appeared, not a redhead :( But who knows! I can't wait for Campell & Elizabeth to get together <3
    I soooo wish we could get more than one post per week? Maybe a bonus post? :) I know you keep your schedule religiously and even though it's so far but I can't wait for it to get here, maybe an extra post the week before your book? Since it's obvious we'll be reading nonstop when it's finally out! :D

    ReplyDelete
  16. How far in the future are these flash forwards? When do Peter and Elizabeth actually start dating? And the a year into their relationship would be when?

    I feel like it can't be that large of a time gap and Campbell and Peter would maybe know each other?

    ReplyDelete
  17. Adult dünyasında yani porno dünyasında birbirinden güzel Porno videolar bulunur.
    Bir çok kişi kısa Pornolardan sıkılmış Porno film izlemek için arayışa girdikleri bellidir. Tüm bu Porno zevklerinin sebeplerinden bir
    de pornosikis-izle.com adında bir porno sitesinin açılmasıyla başlayan çok çeşitli Porno videolarıdır. Biz yine her zaman ki gibi
    Türk Pornoları ve buna benzer durumda olan sex videolarını izliyoruz.
    Kullanıcıların tamamı olmasa da arada bir kaç kullanıcı türkçe porno diye arama yapıp bu tarz Porno izlemek istediklerini söyledi.
    Adult videolar tamamen kişisel zevke göre yayılmıştır özellikler hd porno filmler son zamanlarda daha fazla rağbet görmüş ve
    türk pornolarının da bu özelliklere sahip olması beklenmiştir. Tabi birde ateşli fanteziye sahip olan sex filmleri var
    onları esgeçmeyelim. Her kullanıcı mutlaka kaliteli sex filmi izlemek istiyor. Donmadan hızlı açılan sex videoları
    tatmin edebilecek düzeyde olması beklentisi var herkezde. Bir kısım kullanıcı da türk türbanlı pornolar olsun liseli pornolar olsun
    bunların yanında liseli amcık resimleride arıyorlar. Porno izle ve Porno sikiş kelimeleride çok aranan kelimelerden Porno dünyasında zevkler sınır tanımıyor özellikle türkçe porno film izleyicileri
    götten sikiş pornoları arıyor. E o kadar Porno zevkine sikişenler sizce nasıl bir fanteziye bürünsün ki.
    Tüm kullanıcılar bunlardan ziyade bilinmeyen pornoları yani x porno arayışında. Bilinen videoların sanki hepsini izledik tükettik bunlar kaldı birde değil mi.

    ReplyDelete