RTN 10

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“Nothing As It Seems”

True to his word, Sid took me to Aj. We found him at a campground down the road from my house. I’d heard of this place before. It was where the homeless and runaways passing through town slept. I bravely walked up to two guys sitting at a picnic table and asked if they knew who Aj was. One of the guys replied that he was over by the fire but to be careful…because Aj was sort of odd. “Aren’t we all?” I thought to myself as I made my way over the fire pit. When I sat down next to him, he stared at me in shock for a few moments. It was like he’d seen a ghost. Then it passed. Tears had formed in his eyes and he said, “I thought you were her. You ALMOST could be her. But you’re softer. More innocent looking.” He made me sound like I was a saint or something, but I ignored it. Then with a hopeful expression he asked, “Has there been any news of her?” I shook my head and said, “Unfortunately…no. But I have a few questions to ask you. Were you her boyfriend?” He wiped a tear from his cheek and responded, “Jennie didn’t want to put a label on it but yeah. And I loved her. More than anything. I haven’t been the same since she’s been gone. Don’t think I’ll ever be over her.” It was hard not to believe him. But still I had to ask…”Did you ever hit her?” I asked. An incredulous look passed over his face. “Never. And I would’ve killed anyone who laid a hand on her.” He seemed so sincere. But sometimes nothing is as it seems. I narrowed my eyes at him and asked “Why didn’t you come forward after she disappeared? You and Stella were the last ones to see her that day.” He looked confused. “I didn’t want to bring any attention to myself because of the drugs. That’s the only reason. But we weren’t the last ones to see Jennie…she got a phone call while we were at Stella’s.” Then he gave me a wary look and continued, “Jennie told us she had to go back home.”

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