Rachel Alexander 09 - Without a Word

Free Rachel Alexander 09 - Without a Word by Carol Lea Benjamin

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Authors: Carol Lea Benjamin
fifty miles north of Fairbanks.
    Still, I wrote down the address and the phone number, but I didn’t plan to call. I thought I’d walk by, see how big the building was, see if there might be some way, by hook or by crook, to talk to Celia Abele face-to-face. It was too easy to hang up the phone, and too tempting, too, especially with the glut of telemarketers invading what used to be the privacy of your home.
    I turned on the computer and typed in Classmates.com. They’d been after me weekly to sign up and get in touch with my old classmates, something I had no desire to do. What would they think of the life I’d chosen? I couldn’t imagine. Or maybe I could and that was why I’d had no desire to get in touch. But I did finally accept Classmates.com’s invitation, signing up not as Rachel Kaminsky, the name I’d had in high school, but as Sally Bruce because it was her long-lost friends I was hoping to hear from, not my own. I backtracked to the year she would have graduated, then back four from that to give the range of time she’d attended Lincoln. Now all I had to do was wait and hope.
    If Lincoln was like any other New York City public school, its senior class would have had around a thousand kids in it. I didn’t know the chances of anyone recognizing Sally’s name and responding. I figured they were slim, like everything else in this case. All the more reason to try anything I could think of.
    At a quarter to eight, I called Leon. Dashiell and I headed a block and a half west to Greenwich Street, then a few blocks north to Bank Street. I could see Leon sitting on the steps out front, a black gym bag on his lap.
    He handed me the bag. “I hope this helps.”
    “Me, too,” I said. I weighed the bag by hoisting it up and down. “Not much in it.”
    “I wasn’t sure what you wanted.”
    “A diary would be nice,” I said, thinking I’d get a smile. “There was one,” Leon said. “But when the police came, I couldn’t find it.”
    “You don’t think she took it with her?”
    “She didn’t even take a purse. Just a light jacket, her keys, some pickup bags.”
    “And Roy.”
    Leon nodded.
    “Did it ever turn up?”
    “Excuse me?” I had the feeling that even with something this important, Leon only half listened.
    “The diary?” I sat on the top step, putting the bag on my lap and unzipping it, hoping to see the diary lying on top. “Never did.”
    I looked inside the bag. There were some notebooks, the kind you use in school, the yearbook Leon had showed me with Sally’s graduation picture in it, a manila envelope with two rubber bands around it. “What happened to her books,” I asked, “her clothes, her stuff, you know, hairbrush, bracelets, ice skates, bowling ball, family pictures, cartoons she cut out of the New Yorker and hung on the refrigerator, anything that might tell me something about her, something that might give me a hint where she might have gone?”
    “Madison has her clothes and some of her things.”
    “She didn’t tear those up?”
    Leon shook his head. “The books are upstairs. Do you want to see them?”
    “Yeah, I do.”
    Leon got up. I reached for his arm. “You can show me which ones were hers when I come in the morning.”
    “All of them,” he said. “Well, most of them. Not the photography books. Not the history.”
    “I’ll see you in the morning,” I told him, not wanting to tell him I was heading out on what no doubt would be a fool’s errand, not wanting to tell him any more than I had to lest I get his hopes up only to dash them a moment later. I was going to wait until he went inside, but Leon stayed put, waiting for me to go. So I headed back the way I’d come, and when I got to Bank Street, I turned back to see if he was still standing there. The stoop was empty. I walked back that way, passing the entrance to Leon’s building and heading for the comer of Bethune Street. When I glanced up, I saw the light go off in Leon’s living room. I

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