Nowhere Else to Run
It was another typical night in Isla Vista complete with drunk twenty somethings meandering through the streets in a desperate attempt to make it to a party on Del Playa Drive, or as the locals call it, DP, without getting arrested for public drunkenness. As soon as I walked into the party I regretted leaving my house at all. The stench of stale beer was so strong I was sure these guys mopped their floors with warm keg beer after parties, if they mopped at all. As I made my way to the bar I saw nothing out of the ordinary, just a few people on the dance floor dancing so close and so intensely that it wouldn’t have shocked me to learn they we were having sex, a couple of girls in the kitchen making out, and a group of five awkward looking boys with red cups, obviously freshman. I cringed after reaching the bar when an acquaintance from the dorms greeted me with a high-pitched screech:
“Maddy!!!!!!! O My God! You look great, how’s life? I’m so drunk I could pass out right here. Wanna take a shot? Tequila or Bacardi? I’ve already had three, but It’s been so long since we hung out we’ve just gotta take one together!”
As she paused to take a breath I took advantage of the gap in ‘conversation’ to decline her generous offer, “I’ll stick with beer tonight, and if you’re so drunk, you should probably lay of the shots as well.” Advice given too late seeing as by the time the words had left my mouth she was on the bar taking a body shot of store-brand tequila off of her equally as drunk, equally as annoying, equally as unnaturally blond and tan, sorority sister. I love the sorority girls at UCSB, they judge you by how blond your hair is, how hot your boyfriend is, and how skinny you are, the anorexic body being the ideal. No wonder it only takes three shots for them to get wasted.
Feeling drunk enough to sleep through the night I decided to walk home. But something made me uneasy. Even with the Foot Patrol doing their rounds, the streets of IV are never very safe at night. The cops would rather ogle at the sluts strutting past than uphold any kind of social order, they’re worse than the drunks at parties trying to get you into bed. On the walk home my ex-boyfriend Jake called, I wasn’t in the mood to talk him so I let it go to voicemail.
When I got to my room I could hear my roommate and the sleazy guy she’d been at the party with going at it. Thank God for alcohol, how else could I ever get sleep in this debauched zoo. I stumbled over some boxes and dirty clothes, I still wasn’t used to the new set up of our room, I liked it much better when my bed was where my roommate’s is now. Eventually I made I got my bearings, just in time to pass out in my bed.
The next morning my roommate was gone uncharacteristically early, she usually sleeps until noon, but her man was still sound asleep. I couldn’t even hear his breathing. When I got up I noticed that Lisa’s cell phone and purse were on her desk, but her keys were gone; strange, she doesn’t even go to the bathroom without taking her cell phone.
“Alright dude, up and at’em. Lisa’s gone which means you leave too. Hey!!! Wake the fuck up I have got shit to do and you are definitely overstaying your welcome.”
The guy didn’t move, in fact he was eerily still. I walked over to her bed to shake him awake, but his body just rolled over when I touched it. I’d never seen a dead body before that morning, let alone one that looked like that. He was completely fucked up, it looked like he’d gotten in fight with a two by four. Before I could call the cops I had to throw up. Something was really wrong. Where was Lisa?
I called 911, absolutely useless. All they could do was tell me to calm down. How could I calm down? There was a dead guy in my room and my roommate was gone. Calm down!?! When the cops came they brought the paramedics who declared Sean, at least that’s the name that was on the license I found in his jeans on the floor, unconscious, not dead as I had thought, but honestly, what’s the difference? My roommate was still missing and there was still a fucked up guy found in her bed. The cops decided he probably just got too drunk and fell on his face trying to walk, not an uncommon injury in Isla Vista. As for Lisa, nothing could be done. She couldn’t be reported missing until she’d actually been gone for twenty-four hours and no investigation would start for another forty-eight. I knew something suspicious was going on and I didn’t trust this Sean character one bit seeing as I found three hundred dollars cash, a small sack of weed and some unmarked pills in his jeans pockets as well. None of which I told the police about.
I knew Lisa wasn’t just out shopping or running errands like the jackass cops had suggested. As the paramedics left to take Sean to Cottage Medical Clinic one of the cops told me, “Don’t worry your pretty little head darlin’. She’ll be back soon, stop bein’ so dramatic.” Then and there I decided that they would be useless in trying to find Lisa. If anyone was going to find her, it would have to be me.
Lisa had recently started drinking a lot more and had gotten into some light drug use. Nothing serious, just weed, at least as far as I knew. I went over to Chase’s house, he sold Lisa her weed, and I felt like that might be where she met Sean. It felt awkward going over to Chase’s, he lives with, Jake who I hadn’t seen in about two months and whom I’d been broken up with for four. Not a good history there, the guy is a no good cheater. I hoped against hope he would be gone. Luckily, he was out at the harbor sailing with his dad, strange, they usually sail in the evening. Jake always used to take me out on the boat at sunset, “Red sky by night sailor’s delight.”
Turns out I was right about Sean, Lisa did meet him at Chase’s. He was Chase’s supplier and into much more hardcore drugs than weed, as was Lisa evidently. Chase said the pills were ecstasy—no wonder Lisa and Sean hadn’t paused for even a second when I walked in on them fucking. Apparently Sean had some enemies.
“Maddy, Sean’s a rich kid, and those are the worst kind. He’s greedy and he’s letting it get to his work. That weed he’s been selling is shoddy it should go for half as much. And all those pills—questionable as to what’s even in ‘em.”
“Are you saying this could be drug deal gone bad? Lisa’s got nothing to do with his business…and how would anyone of even known he was with her. How would they have known where to find him?”
“Word gets around quick. If someone’s pissed enough, they’ll find who they’re looking for. Aw shit, Jake just pulled up, I don’t think you want to see him, why don’t you go out the back. I’ll call you if I hear anything.”
With that, I darted out of the house. No way did I want to see Jake again, especially now when I’m upset about Lisa. I’m definitely still attracted to that prick. He was such an asshole, so controlling, and had recently begun calling me again. I can’t believe the shit I went through with him while he was cheating all along.
I decided to walk down to the beach to clear my head, the sound of the waves always has a soothing effect. On my way there I took out my cell to see if anyone had called, and they had. Four missed calls from one of my roommates and no messages. Shit, it had to be urgent.
“Hey…what’s going on I got all your calls.”
“Jesus Maddy, Where the hell have you been!? The cops are here, something about Lisa. Some jogger found a body downtown at the harbor and they think it might be her. Her car was parked down there too.”
“O god, I’m on my home. O Jesus please don’t let it be Lisa.”
I can’t even remember the walk home, or maybe I ran. My thoughts were racing through my head. If Lisa’s dead than whatever motherfucker did this is gonna pay. When I got home the place was crawling with cops. I guess when there’s a body involved the investigation starts right away. I saw the pictures of the dead girl, it was Lisa alright. She didn’t look hurt, just strangely peaceful, her skin was a weird pastel blue, but so serene—seeing the photographs actually gave me some closure, at least she wasn’t suffering. While the cops were searching our house for clues they mentioned that Sean’s head injury was pretty bad, he was comatose at Cottage Hospital and it didn’t look good. I didn’t really care seeing as that jerk was the cause of this whole mess.
Chase called. He said I needed to come over, that Jake wanted to talk, and that I would want to hear what he had to say. I trekked back to their house. For how much I hated Jake, I knew he’d have some answers. When I got there Jake was standing outside smoking a Parliament and he looked like hell. When he saw me he put his cigarette out and opened his arms for a hug.
“Cut it out Jake, and give me a cigarette. What do you know about Lisa?”
He took out two cigarettes and smoked with me. He always chain smokes when he’s upset, I could tell the news about Lisa had really affected him.
“Maddy, I was down at the harbor with my dad when they found her.”
“Did you see anything?”
“I saw the body as they were covering it with a sheet. She wasn’t hurt or anything. They were sayin something about drowning and that she was probably drunk or on drugs.”
“Well no shit. I saw pictures of the body and I saw her last night, I know she was drunk and on drugs. Is that all you’ve got for me? I should’ve known better than to come to you for answers.”
“No that’s not everything Maddy. Sean wasn’t a good guy, he ran with a bad crowd.”
“Are you much better? I don’t think you’re the best judge of character.”
“Shut up Maddy. Give it a rest, I want to help. Whatever happened to Lisa is pretty fucked up and it seems like Sean had something to do with it. Chase told me he’s at the hospital. Good that guy was a worthless sleazebag.”
“Jesus, let’s get down to business. What do you know about Sean and who do you think could’ve done this? The police are pretty worthless. I know they aren’t gonna do much especially with all the drunk idiots that fall off the cliffs around here and die. Her death doesn’t really stand out all that much for Isla Vista.”
“Well these guys came over late last night, they said Sean had ripped them off with some shitty weed. They were talking to Chase but he didn’t know where Sean was so I told them he would probably be at your place with Lisa. I don’t know why. I just. I didn’t think anything like this would happen.”
No wonder Jake had seemed so agitated and shaken up. I could tell he was really upset, I wanted to be mad, but it wasn’t really his fault. He couldn’t have known Lisa would get hurt. I took his hand and told him everything would be alright and he said he still loved me. It took every ounce of energy I had not to say it back. All I wanted was the comfort of lying in his arms. All I wanted was Lisa back, and I knew Jake would be able to help me forget she was gone. I just wanted to stay there with him and forget everything: the way he had cheated on me, the way Lisa had changed so much, the fact that she was never coming back. I kissed him passionately gripping the backs of his arms as though I’d never let go and then I left the room to talk to Chase. My mind wasn’t working right, I couldn’t let Jake get to me again, no matter how vulnerable I might be.
“Chase, who were the guys who came over here asking about Sean last night and why didn’t you mention this earlier?”
“O those douche bags, they couldn’t of done shit, they were so fucked up.”
“Well Jake slipped up, he told them where to find Sean so it seems pretty obvious to me that they’re responsible for this, or at least they know who might be.”
“OK Maddy, I’ll take you to their place. They live on DP with like ten guys, so I won’t let you go alone if you’re gonna start trouble.”
We left right away. Deep down Chase was a really good guy and I knew that he meant well, but I wished he wasn’t coming with me. Without him Lisa and Sean never would’ve met. As I walked down the driveway I turned to look behind me. Jake was in the doorway watching me leave, but I could see in his eyes that he knew it wasn’t for good. I’d be back; we needed each other.
When we got to the house on DP I recognized it. I’d been to a few parties there. It was more of a shack than a house and the deck seemed as though it might fall into the ocean any minute. No one answered the front but we could hear the sounds of Nintendo inside so we went around back. The whole deck was littered with empty red cups and cigarette butts, inside was even worse. It smelled like mildew covered up with cheap cologne and the whole place was hazy because of all the smoke. The guys playing Nintendo were familiar and as one of them looked up from his bong rip I could tell he recognized me.
“Hey Chase. Maddy right? You lived in Anacapa dorms with Zoe.”
“Ya, that’s me. Sorry, I don’t remember your name.”
“I’m not surprised, you never liked me much. I used to hook up with Zoe and you’d get so pissed when I was around.”
He was obviously stoned beyond reason. His eyes were half closed and he was talking so slowly it took my undivided attention to remember what he had said by the time he finished his thought. Chase informed that this was one of the guys he had talked to the previous night. It didn’t seem very plausible that he could be involved in this, but maybe he had some information. Jake probably got himself all worried for nothing. This was bigger than some stoner being pissed about bad weed.
“So anyways, what brings you our way Chase? We don’t need any weed right now, we’ve got plenty unless you’ve got some new variety for us to try.”
“Actually Chase brought me to see you. I need to ask you about Sean, you were looking for him last night?”
“Was I? Shit I don’t remember much from last night except getting stoned and drunk. I was sooooo cross-faded I could hardly function. Hah it was so sick.”
Chase told me that these guys were pretty harmless. They were mad at Sean last night but they’d probably forgotten anything Jake had told them by the time they left the house. After seeing them I had to agree. They were your apathetic stoner type, all talk no action. Back at square one. I went back to Jake’s with Chase. I wanted him to know that what he told those guys had nothing to do with Lisa’s death. I wanted to tell him that I still loved him too.
When we got back there Jake was in his room sleeping. I crawled next to him in the bed and nudged him awake. He kissed me hello and it just felt right. I needed something good right now, something to ensure me that life’s not all bad. I told Jake what happened and he was so relieved he had no words for me. He pulled me close to him and held me tight, kissing me so hard that I had no choice but to give in. I never realized how much I missed him and being with him now was exactly what I needed. I pulled away from Jake and made him swear never to hurt me again. He said he could never make that mistake twice; that he couldn’t live without me. I let Jake and the sheets envelop me. His heat and strength made me forget the world. I slept folded up in his arms all night and for that night the world was safe, yesterday had never happened.
Jake woke up early to go surfing. That’s how he deals with his thoughts surfing or sailing, they ocean puts him at ease. I stayed in bed and slept for another few hours trying to keep my memories of the day before at bay. At eleven I couldn’t make myself sleep anymore. Jake’s phone kept ringing and my mind wouldn’t stop going back to Lisa. Who the hell kept calling? I grabbed Jake’s phone from his bedside table and looked at the missed calls. I couldn’t help being suspicious seeing as he had cheated on me before. Fucking asshole! Some girl named Joanna had called three times. I was pissed, if he wanted me to take him back he better show me that he had changed. I started looking through his text messages to see how many girls he had on the back burner at the moment. I felt like a fool for coming back to Jake and was so consumed with myself that I completely banished Lisa from my thoughts. There were no texts to other girls, I really need to learn how to trust again, but there was something weird. An unsent draft to my phone number from the other night. I wondered why he didn’t send it so I opened it to see what it said. Nothing could have prepared me for what was written there:
“Its Lisa, I’m with Jake and I’m really freaked….”
I couldn’t believe what this meant. Jake had been with Lisa that night? The night she died? I tried to think of some other reason they might have been together, but this message was written at 3:46 am, well after I had come home and gone to sleep. I got out my cell phone to check if there were any text messages I hadn’t read, none. But there was an unchecked voicemail. I checked the voicemail, it was from Jake, he had called me on my walk home. He said something about wanting to see me that night, and he sounded pretty drunk. Jake was down at the harbor when Lisa was found, he almost never sailed in the mornings. O my God Jake was there with her, he knows what happened. He’s responsible. I started thinking why on earth he would have hurt Lisa or Sean when it hit me. He didn’t know we had rearranged our furniture. Drunk, in the dark, he thought Lisa was me.
Before I could fathom the idea that Lisa was dead because Jake had come to see me, he walked into the room. He looked strangely happy and completely refreshed. As he approached the bed where I was sitting I couldn’t stand the thought of him trying to touch me. I chucked his cell phone at him as hard as possible screaming, “I know you know what happened to Lisa. Get away from I’m calling the cops.” I was hysterical and he grabbed me, telling me to calm down, saying I was acting crazy and that I was just upset because Lisa was gone.
“Get your hands off me! Don’t touch me! You killed her, you KILLED her!”
“Maddy, Maddy, Maddy, I love you. How could you think I would hurt you like this? Be quiet.”
Chase ran into the room after hearing me scream and I got free from Jake and ran out of the house. I called the cops and they came immediately. Jake was still clueless as to how I knew and tried to play dumb, but he was sweaty and nervous, shaking all over. I told the cops about the voicemail, and the text in Jake’s phone, about our recent redecorating and Jake’s sailing habits. They said they’d need me to come in for questioning later, that right now it was Jake they needed to talk to. When Jake realized the situation he confessed to everything. He wasn’t a cold-blooded killer. He was simply a misguided romantic. He had come over to ask me to come back to him, but when he walked into my room Lisa and Sean were fucking in what he thought was my bed, and he got jealous. By the time he realized Lisa wasn’t me Sean was knocked unconscious by Jake’s punches. In her hysterics Lisa thought Sean was dead and freaked Jake out, so Jake grabbed her and her car keys and drove down to the harbor. They went out onto his boat so he could talk some sense into her, but she was to fucked up on drugs, alcohol, and trauma to calm down. She tried to run off the boat, and ended up falling over the side. Jake wasn’t a murderer, he was scared, so he ran. I guess we all run from our mistakes one way or another. Lisa and Sean ran to drugs, I drank so I didn’t have to deal with a best friend who was messing up her life and an ex-boyfriend who messed up mine. There’s nowhere to run now, this is the end of the road. Jake got charged with involuntary manslaughter, Sean woke up but got booked on drug charges, and I am continuing on as best I can.