Entry 38: The Mitchell’s: Friday Night Aug. 12
In the most important times in a man’s life he can behave quite stupidly. When others depend on him he does things without thinking how foolish his actions really are. With that said, I wasn’t thinking very clearly when I went to The Mitchell’s. I tried calling first, but lost my nerve the moment someone answered. It was a very feminine voice and I couldn’t bear the thought of delivering the news I had to tell over the phone. If this was Meagan’s mother, I didn’t want to just come out and say I think your daughter is dead.
It took me all afternoon to work up the courage to go to their house, but I finally decided it had to be done. I couldn’t keep it to myself, the knowledge that their missing daughter wasn’t coming home again. They needed closure, and I needed to know for certain that what I felt inside was true. Maybe the girl’s parents could give me the missing link to the whole puzzle.
I arrived at the Mitchell house shortly before dinnertime. It’s a typical two story suburban home, with an enclosed garage and front walk lined with flowers. On the porch is a welcome mat that says “God bless this home.” When I knocked on the door I should have just turned right around and walked away. If I’d known what was coming maybe I would have.
A woman answered the door. Dressed casually with an apron over her clothes, I knew right away this was the missing girl’s mother. And when she spoke, I realized this was the woman whose voice on the phone had caused me to hang up.
“Mrs. Mitchell?” I stammered nervously.
“Yes,” she replied, a cautious tone to her voice. Maybe she thought I was a reporter or something.
“My name is Paul and I work over at the Resurrection Church.”
The cautious look left her face and she smiled brightly. “Hi, how are you?” I could tell she was relieved. “How is Pastor Chiles?”
“Umm, he is fine. He hopes to see you there this Sunday,” I lied.
“He knows we’ll be there. Haven’t missed a service since…”
“Mrs. Mitchell, I need to ask you something,” I interrupted before she could finish. I reached into my pocket and pulled out the anklet I once believed belonged to Mischa. “Does this belong to you?”
A look of complete surprise came over her face, followed by a choked cry from her lips. “It belongs to my daughter. Where did you find it?”
“I found it in the church. I’ve been trying to find the owner based on the initials inside, and well, I saw the news earlier and your daughter’s name was mentioned… so I thought maybe it was hers.”
“Do you know our Meagan?” a voice said from behind her, and she stepped away from the door to let her husband stand with her. Mr. Mitchell was dressed smartly, and I could tell maybe he’d just gotten home from working in a law office or was an accountant or something.
“No sir, I didn’t. I mean I don’t.” This was not going to be easy, I could tell that.
“Where in the church did you find it?” he asked, and I knew he’d been listening all along.
“In the recreation room. I figure she must have lost it there.” I was starting to fidget on the porch.
“Well, thank you for returning it,” he said.
“No problem,” I replied, realizing he had just closed this conversation and dismissed me from my good deed. But I couldn’t stop, I had to tell them. “But I think something bad has happened to your daughter.”
They both looked at me as if they had never considered bad news, like any minute the girl would run around the corner and say, “hi everyone, I’m home.”
“I’ve been seeing some strange things lately, and I’ve come to believe that somebody did something terrible to her.”
“What kind of things have you seen?” the man asked curiously, yet with a hard look in his eye.
Uh-oh, here it goes, I thought. “A girl in a yellow sun dress. I first saw her in the church. No one was supposed to be there, but she was. And then I think she was in my house…”
“Your house!” the woman gasped in alarm.
“Yes, in my house. But I think something happened to her in the baptismal of the church. She keeps trying to tell me something.” I had started talking and then it came out like a runaway freight train. I didn’t realize how all this would sound to them.
“What was she doing in your house?” the man asked angrily, and I realized then I had crossed the line, that I’d made a mistake. Here I was, a grown man, telling them their missing teenage daughter was in my house. I had to ease things real quick.
“I mean she was on the television. In my house.” He knew I was lying; it was all over his face. And his wife was nearly in tears. “I didn’t mean like she was IN my house,” I tried to convince them.
“Would you like to come in for a bit?” the man suddenly asked, and all the alarms went off in my head. I tried to tell them I had to be going, but he insisted I come in and talk with them over coffee. The way I looked at it, I only had two choices: to go inside or run. I should have run…clear out of town.
We’d been sitting in the Mitchell living room talking and drinking for about fifteen minutes when there was a knock at the door. Mrs. Mitchell got up to answer it, and when she returned there were two police officers with her. Her husband must have called them when he went to get us coffee. The officers asked me to step outside for a minute, that they wanted to talk to me. When I got out on the porch, they turned me over to two other officers who were standing in the yard. Then they went back inside, I suppose to talk to the Mitchell’s.
“What’s wrong, guys?” I asked, trying not to sound nervous.
“You tell us,” one of the cops said.
“I was just coming over to return something I thought belonged to the Mitchell girl. I work at the church and…”
“Have you seen Meagan Mitchell?” the other one asked.
“Ummm, no. Like I said, I just…”
“We’d like you to take a ride to the station with us.”
“What for? What did I do?”
“We just want to ask a few questions and take a statement.”
They were lying I could tell it. They thought I’d done something to the girl. So I panicked. I bolted away from them and across the yard. They weren’t expecting it, and I heard them yell my name in alarm. Damn, they knew who I was already. I cut through a couple yards, leaped a fence, and was almost to the next street when they caught up to me. One had a gun drawn and was ordering me to stop. I thought maybe I should.
Things weren’t much better at the station house. They kept me there for hours, asking vague questions, trying to get me to tell them something revealing. I kept telling them I didn’t know Meagan, and finally a runt of a detective showed up and grilled me with questions like, “where is Meagan?” and “where did you get her things?”
“What things?” I asked stupidly.
He grinned. “The things we found in your house.”
“My house?” This wasn’t going good at all.
“In the duffel bag in the closet,” he pushed.
“Oh no,” I mumbled.
“Oh yes.” He smiled as if he had just solved the case of his career. “We found Meagan Mitchell’s clothes in your house. Her parents have already identified the items as being the last things they saw their daughter in.”
“I found those,” I replied.
“In the woods behind my house. There’s an old playground back there and they were in the bushes.”
He wrote something down on a notepad and looked back up at me. “Why didn’t you call the police?”
“I didn’t know they belonged to a missing girl.”
“And so you just decided to keep them?”
“Now why would you do that? Your wife couldn’t wear them. They aren’t her size.”
“I just finished speaking to your wife, Paul. She says you have been obsessing over a teenage girl lately. And that’s why she left you. Said you even told her the girl’s name. She thought you said Mischa, but I’d be willing to bet it was Meagan, wasn’t it?.”
“I didn’t do anything to her!” I yelled. “I didn’t do anything to anybody.”
He leaned real close. “Let me tell you something,” he said. “Right now, everything points to you. You had her jewelry, her clothes, and inside a side pocket on that duffel bag, we found something even more interesting.”
“Like what?” I stammered.
“A fingernail. It’s being tested right now, but I’d say offhand it’s Meagan’s, wouldn’t you?”
“I don’t know,” I said and closed my eyes. A thought came into my head, an image of the girl underwater in the baptismal, her fingers scraping across the tile, trying to find something to grab hold of.
“I think it would be best if maybe you called yourself a lawyer,” the detective finally said. He got up. “You’re under arrest for the abduction of Meagan Mitchell. It’s only a matter of time before we find out what happened to her, so when your lawyer gets here I think it would be in your best interest to tell us.”
I got angry and snapped at him. “You couldn’t find Meagan if she was sitting on your desk, asshole.”
He turned around and grinned. “You have anger issues. That’s not going to look good in court.” And then he was gone. As for me, they threw me in a holding cell. They slipped me a phone and allowed me one call. I didn’t know whom to call. I couldn’t afford a lawyer. Donna wasn’t going to be able to help and I don’t know if she would now anyway, so I called my boss, Mr. Larter. Maybe the church could get me some legal help. He said he was on the way and bringing a lawyer friend with. I hung up and waited in my cell for them to arrive. I put my head in my hands and cried. Everyone thinks I killed that girl.
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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.
Original text copyright 2007.
10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.