Witness by Chantel DaCosta
16.9.16 @7:41 am
“He smelled her.” Devon said, his voice laced with shock, disgust and wonderment.
“What?” I hadn’t been paying attention, not to anything outside of us.
“Look. Him, guy in the vest, he leaned forward and smelled that girl.” Devon pointed.
I looked. A man in green shirt with a yellow-orange work vest stood close to a petite girl/woman in dark skin tight denims and a floral purple and yellow top. I watched. The Friday morning traffic was at a standstill and I knew I would be late for work. Again. This would be the fourth day in a row of being late for work. I’d made it in just at the stroke of 8 on Monday morning and then the rest of the week had been shit.
“Oh my god. He is smelling her.”
I was still in state of disbelief. So I conjured up my own rational explanation.
“Well maybe they are friends. They must know each other. Right? I mean look at them, they are standing a part from everyone else at the bus stop. I think they are friends.”
Devon conceded. “Yes you are probably right.”
But as we sat there, waiting in traffic and as Devon moved on chattering about Christmas vacation, planning a holiday dinner for friends at our house and which of our families to visit first, I watched the pair. They stood apart from the cluster of people waiting for the bus. And as we eased down a metre or two then a little further down the line, I saw neither movement nor acknowledgement of the man’s presence from the girl. But the man, he kept watch of her. His eyes never left her back. They did not talk to each other, their bodies were angled away. A lovers’ spat, still close but separate.
Eventually we moved along. Traffic slothed along and I was late.
22.9.16 @1:17 pm
I swallowed the last bite of curried chicken, wiping my mouth with a crumpled bit of paper towel, I sensed movement close to me but I kept my eyes down. I tossed the napkin in the box. As I closed the lid on another unsatisfactory lunch, the guy from accounting, I think he was the administrative assistant slid into the seat next to me.
I wasn’t in the mood for chatting. And I was positive that my teeth were yellowed by the curry and that bits of chicken, carrots and green from the mush of steamed vegetables must be stuck in my teeth. Please don’t talk to me.
“Did you hear about the missing girl?” he announced himself.
“Yeah. Look. She was last seen on Friday. Never made it to work. Lives up close to your side just off at the bottom of the hills.”
I took the phone he offered and read the description of the missing woman, she was reported missing by her sister with whom she lived and her employers on Monday. I skimmed the rest and towards the end of the article that’s when I saw her picture. Pulled from an IG profile. It was her, the girl, a selfie, she was in clad in the same clothes from Friday, smiling, #OFTD #HappyFriday, #TGIF. The second picture, was a professional picture, a graduation portrait, her face retouched smooth and clear and lineless, her teeth big, bright white.
A shiver went through my body.
22.9.16 @7:41 pm
“Dev, do you remember that girl that that guy in the work vest was sniffing?”
“No.” He answered in that absentminded far off way, his eyes trained on the laptop, he was working again. Coding.
I sat down and waited for his attention. Then I explained, reminded him, thrusted my phone in his hand to share the news article proof.
“What if it was him, the creepy guy that was smelling her. We should call in and make a report.”
“Whoa, slow down. Hold up. We didn’t see anything worth reporting. Its not the same girl.”
“Yes it is. I saw her, look at the pictures. It is her.”
“No. The girl I saw at the bus stop was darker and she was wearing a pink top.”
I hissed. Devon didn’t even know colours.
At 8pm, I clicked on to the news. We didn’t really watch the nightly news but I wanted to know. They may have made a break in case, or had some updates and perhaps the visual aid on TV would proof to Dev that I was right.
She was the first in the headline briefing as the newscaster announced: “Body of missing Bayside Terrace woman found partially nude in Andrew’s Pen gully.”