She had fallen asleep at the side of his bed, her head resting on the back of her chair, and her feet propped up on an ottoman. She awoke to the sound of water running. Audrey let her eyes open slowly, her fatigue surprising her a little. Her son was still asleep in the bed and she checked her watch, it said six thirty. The little bedside lamp was still on and she watched as her son’s chest rise and fall in medicine induced slumber. The water running in the bathroom stirred her and forced her to get up; she noticed steam coming in from under the bathroom door.
Sleep vanished from her mind as she crept slowly to the bathroom door, the hair on the back of her neck and on her arms stood straight up. The door was slightly ajar, and she heard movement inside the bathroom, she stopped. Looking around the bedroom she found her son’s baseball bat in the corner along with a mitt and baseball. Tanner, a friend of Jake’s and a few other guys were on an after-work baseball team, The Hornets. She picked up the bat and held it tight in her hands, she was going to walk straight into the bathroom and beat to death whoever was in the house. She used the bat to push the door open; the mirror over the sink was fogged up with steam. Her heart thudded in her ears as she rounded the corner towards the shower; someone was standing behind the shower curtain, the silhouette of a man. With an unsteady hand she reached for the curtain and jerked it back, raising the bat high above her head. The man, having heard the curtain slide jerked around, soap in his face and screamed, sliding backwards.
“Jesus Christ Audrey!” her ex-husband bellowed, trying to catch his balance.
“Daniel!” she cried out, slumping backwards and settling her behind down on the toilet, breathing hard. She looked up from where she sat, at her naked husband who had lost the extra twenty-five or so pounds that he had gained during their marriage. He was rubbing the soap out of his eyes and rinsing his face cursing and carrying out. She started to laugh and laughed so hard she almost fell off the toilet. She clutched at her midsection as tears rolled down her face.
Daniel stopped cursing and given the awkwardness of the situation chuckled himself.
“If you wanted to see me naked Audrey, all you had to do is ask,” he said, sliding the curtain back closed.
“Oh… Oh, Daniel. You wouldn’t believe the day I’ve had. I thought you were a ghost,” she said. He pulled the curtain back and looked at her strangely. His handsome face lit up in a quizzical way, a few more lines around his eyes than she remembered. His grey hair plastered to his head, but his eyes were as blue as she remembered. She felt a tug deep inside her heart for the slightest second, remembering what could have been, what should have been.
“A ghost huh?” Daniel asked, grabbing for the towel.
“Yeah. Never mind. When did you get here?” she asked as he stepped out of the shower. He had been working out, his shoulders broader and his chest tighter. She kept her back to him as he towel dried off.
“About thirty minutes. The front door was unlocked and Jake and you both were sound asleep. I tried calling on the phone, but you didn’t answer. I was worried something had happened,” he said.
“Yeah. I gave him a Xanax, so he could sleep. You should have seen him Daniel, he was so sick and besides himself. I was afraid he was going to die from grief,” she explained, handing him his underwear and t-shirt from the sink, her back still turned to him.
“Did the police say anything else?” he asked as he slipped into his underwear. He talked to his ex-wife’s back, frowning. She looked great; she always had, if it hadn’t been for that last miscarriage they wouldn’t be apart like this. He wasn’t surprised that she came in at him with a bat; she loved and protected her Jake with fierceness. He wouldn’t ever accuse her of being a bad mother.
“You can turn around now,” he said as he buckled his blue jeans.
She did just that, looking up at him.
“Daniel, you should have seen him,” she said, putting her head in her hands.
“That bad huh?” he asked buttoning a short sleeve golf shirt that his friends bought for him.
“Yeah. I didn’t know he was having an affair with…that woman. I knew he was staying out late, and I knew that he was seen out, but, with her?” She exhaled sharply. Jessica had a bad reputation in town for being a heart-breaker, and then she married the single wealthiest man, a lead accountant for a computer firm, she was labeled a gold digger. Now she was dead, and the law was looking at her son.
“We will take care of this. How about you? How you feeling?” he asked, concern in his voice. She had dark circles under her eyes, and her face looked strained.
“I’m hanging in there. Daniel, how bad can this get?” she asked.
“That depends really. I mean, if he didn’t do it, he didn’t do it. We just must make sure that we can account for where he was and when he left. You said they were at a motel? Good. That means he had to check out at some point,” he said, the gears in his head turning.
“Daniel, there has been some other stuff happening in this area. This makes the third drowning in the past week,” she said, standing up. “He’ll be glad to see you.”
He walked over to her and wrapped his arms around her shoulders and she leaned into him letting him hold her. He let her go and stepped out of the bathroom, taking the baseball bat with him as he went. His son’s light was on above his bed and Daniel stopped dead in his tracks. Standing two feet away from the sleeping boy was a scantily clad woman. She was wearing nothing more than a t-shirt and a pair of panties, but something was wrong, her color was all wrong. Her bare legs were almost blue they were so pale.
“HEY! Get away from him!” he screamed, raising the bat up. The woman spun around, one of her eyeballs had exploded and hung limp on her face, her matted wet hair stuck to her head. Behind him he heard his ex-wife scream.
Daniels muscles bunched up and he leapt forward, bringing the bat up, his instincts taking control. The woman screamed, a gargled disjointed sound, and when the bat hit her square in the head, she exploded. Water sprayed him, soaking the front of his shirt, and their sleeping son, who woke with a start.
“What the fu…Dad?” The bleary eyed and confused son watched in astonishment as he wiped the water off his face. Audrey rounded the side of Daniel and reached for Jake to get up. Daniel turned his head to the open door and saw wet footprints. His body shook, his breathing was labored, and his curiosity piqued. While he left his son and Audrey waiting in the bedroom he followed the trail to its source.