Someone We Know - Shari Lapena


Friday, September 29

SHE’S STANDING IN the kitchen, looking out the large back windows. She turns toward me – there’s a swing of thick, brown hair – and I see the confusion and then the sudden fear in her wide brown eyes. She has registered the situation, the danger. Our eyes lock. She looks like a beautiful, frightened animal. But I don’t care. I feel a rush of emotion – pure, uncontrolled rage; I don’t feel any pity for her at all.

We’re both aware of the hammer in my hand. Time seems to slow down. It must be happening quickly, but it doesn’t feel that way. Her mouth opens, about to form words. But I’m not interested in what she has to say. Or maybe she was going to scream.

I lunge toward her. My arm moves fast, and the hammer connects hard with her forehead. There’s a grisly sound and a shocking spurt of blood. Nothing comes out of her mouth but a gasp of air. She starts to drop even as she raises her hands up toward me, as if she’s pleading for mercy. Or maybe she’s reaching for the hammer. She staggers, like a bull about to go down. I bring the hammer down again, this time on the top of her head, and there’s extra force this time because her head is lower. I have more momentum in my swing, and I want to finish her off. She’s on her knees now, crumpling, and I can’t see her face. She falls forward, face down, and lies still.

I stand above her, breathing heavily, the hammer in my hand dripping blood onto the floor.

I need to be sure she’s dead, so I hit her a few more times. My arm is tired now, and my breathing laboured. The hammer is covered in gore, and my clothes are streaked with blood. I reach down and turn her over. One eye is smashed. The other is still open, but there’s no life in it.

Monday, October 2

Aylesford, a city in New York’s Hudson Valley, is a place of many charms – chief among them the historic downtown along the Hudson River and two majestic bridges that draw the eye. The Hudson Valley is renowned for its natural beauty, and across the river, an hour’s drive on mostly good highways can get you deep into the Catskill Mountains, which are dotted with little towns. The Aylesford train station has ample parking and frequent trains into New York City; you can be in Manhattan in under two hours. In short, it’s a congenial place to live. There are problems, of course, as there are anywhere.

Robert Pierce enters the Aylesford police station – a new, modern building of brick and glass – and approaches the front desk. The uniformed officer at the desk is typing something into a computer and glances at him, holding up a hand to indicate he’ll just be a second.

What would a normal husband say? Robert clears his throat.

The officer looks up at him. ‘Okay, just give me a minute.’ He finishes entering something into the computer while Robert waits. Finally, the officer turns to him. ‘How can I help?’ he asks.

‘I’d like to report a missing person.’

The officer now gives Robert his full attention. ‘Who’s missing?’

‘My wife. Amanda Pierce.’

‘Your name?’

‘Robert Pierce.’

‘When was the last time you saw your wife?’

‘Friday morning, when she left for work.’ He clears his throat again. ‘She was going to leave directly from the office to go away with a girlfriend for the weekend. She left work as planned, but she didn’t come back home last night. Now it’s Monday morning, and she’s still not home.’

The officer looks at him searchingly. Robert feels himself flush under the man’s gaze. He knows how it looks. But he must not let that bother him. He needs to do this. He needs to report his wife missing.

‘Have you tried calling her?’

Robert looks at him in disbelief. He wants to say, Do you think I’m stupid? But he doesn’t. Instead he says, sounding frustrated, ‘Of course I’ve tried calling her. Numerous times. But her cell just goes to voice mail, and she’s not calling me back. She must have turned it off.’

‘What about the girlfriend?’

‘Well, that’s why I’m worried,’ Robert admits. He pauses awkwardly. The officer waits for him to continue. ‘I called her friend, Caroline Lu, and – she says they didn’t have plans this weekend. She doesn’t know where Amanda is.’

There’s a silence, and the officer says, ‘I see.’ He