Ian’s walk to Eastvale would take a couple hours but at least he would be moving away from the epicenter of the crime scene. Police sirens from any nearby scene were no longer audible, but he still felt it risky to hitchhike. After all, maybe this walk would clear his head of all the negative thoughts that may impair his thinking.
It didn’t. On the contrary, his walk turned into a few hours of nothing but guilt, remorse, and regret. There was no way his life could be the same. His parents, his friends, all of his colleagues – Rebecca. None of them he could ever talk to again. According to every living connection he had, he would be gone.
I’m sorry, Ian. I’m sorry. It was an accident – the words echoed in his mind. There was no excuse, there was no reason. He got what he deserved. It was just a shame it came at such a cost – Why did I have to be forced me into a situation like this? Everything was fine two days ago.
Every step he took, felt like a dream sequence. He felt disassociated with reality around him. Flashes kept blinding his conscience. The sounds, the blood. His hands were shaking as he trekked down the sidewalk, trying desperately to hold on to his stolen laptop, that frequently slipped in his sweaty palms. Every so often, a set of tears would roll down his cheeks as he recollected.
Why me? He shook his head in disbelief. Everything was fine. My life was normal. It was a dream from which he couldn’t awaken. No, it was real.
He passed by a small neighborhood. Children played in the streets. The sound of a basketball bouncing echoed through the air. The sound of laughter and shoes skidding across a nearby driveway made him almost feel safe for the moment. No one knew who he was or what he had done. No judging facing, no one rushing to call the police on him – just laughter and smiles.
There was a dog on the other side of a fence at another house barking at him as he walked by. It was a small dog, one that could be carried in one hand. “Rooster!” a voice from the dog’s owner called as she tried to quiet the dog down. “Sorry about that! He gets a little rowdy at times,” she laughed.
“It’s okay,” Ian said with a faint smile, cherishing the normal human interaction as he walked by. He wasn’t sure how much long he’d be able to enjoy such luxuries.
Based on the directions he memorized from Google Maps, he was still a few miles away but he could tell that the direction he was headed towards was yet another lower income area. One good thing about low income areas, however, is that when the police do show up, they typically have a reason to do so. Domestic disturbance, drug deals, gang activity – all things that would prove to be sufficient distractions from him merely walking down the street.
As he got closer, he saw that the quality of the houses and apartment complexes decreased dramatically. The houses looked more dilapidated, there were bullet holes in some of the walls, broken windows, a distinct feel of uncertainty and a lack of safety. It was certainly not a place one would choose to walk through alone.
He recalled some of the street names as he passed each one – knowing he was getting closer. Juniper Drive, Eucalyptus Road, Hibiscus Avenue and in a few more streets, he would come up upon South Tamarisk Road.
He heard a car drive by behind him on the otherwise desolate street. His nerves shook as he saw it was a police car. However, it drove right by him before he had the opportunity to launch into a full-blown fight-or-flight panic. He watched as the police car approached what would be South Tamarisk road, but it made a left instead of a right. Ian took a sigh of relief as he continued down one block away.
Before long, he saw himself stumble upon the street in question. South Tamarisk Road. He looked at the houses and structures on the road and looked at the numbers painted on the curb. He followed the numbers until he finally arrived at the location. Jebon’s location.
257 South Tamarisk Road had a dilapidated building with, as Jebon said, a brown door. A brown door with a surveillance camera and a speaker above the doorbell. Ian approached the door with his heart pounding almost as hard as the incident.
He rang the doorbell and looked into the surveillance camera. Immediately, he knew – his face was now on record along with a location. He may have changed his color and style but it wouldn’t take much for an investigator to make the match. It was too late to turn back. The speaker made a crackly voice sound scratching the words, “Who do you need to see?”
Without knowing specifically how to pronounce Jebon, Ian said “Jeebon. Jehbon. Jebone,” before he could finish, a series of unlocking sounds occurred, and the door opened. A rough looking man in his thirties opened up the door and instructed him to come in. The rough man closed and locked the door behind him. The room smelled like cigarette smoke and ammonia. Another man came out of a room. He had short black hair, bags under his eyes, and was pale, late twenties and muscular. He said, “and you are?”