A Quest For Truth
Vida Janulaitis

There were too many people around and that didn't make my job any easier. I took this assignment a year ago and thought it would be solved in less than a week. People just don't disappear that easily, not without a trace. But I'm still getting paid to track down someone who walked away from her husband and a pretty decent life. In a way I'm still at it because even I want to know "why?"

I was here in El Paso strictly on a vacation when I checked out the carnival they had for the Civil war and Mexican revolution. A yearly event full of glorious colour. Ribbons twirling in the wind and little kids selling flowers to all the tourists.. I needed the good food, and the different atmosphere. I'd become too involved. She had dinner with him that last night and the next morning she was gone. Foul play was ruled out, her husband checked out, her credit cards, bank account hadn't been touched, her car in the garage, clothes in the closet, the only thing gone was her purse. Women never leave their purse, that's a given, their life is in it. That was my only clue.

Through the flowers and ribbons I saw a face I thought I'd never see. I followed her discretely through the crowds praying not to lose her. But she didn't look the same, she walked with a limp, and had aged considerably. Maybe I was wrong and it wasn't her. She flagged down a cab and I did the same. Just outside the city limits her cab stopped outside a beautifully groomed home. The plaque outside said El Paso hospice. I went inside to the receptionist and that's where my skills came into play.

" I just wanted to inquire about my friend to make sure she made it here okay. Would you please check for me? After all she's going through I just want to make sure. It's such a shame that these things have to happen, isn't it? Makes you realize how precious life is."

That day I learnt the reason she ran away. Her degenerative disease would eventually leave her physically and mentally destroyed. She wouldn't be able to talk, see, hear, think, walk and yes, she'd still be alive. Life and death, such a fine line, and add love to the mixture. How the hell do you cope with that? On either side.

I'm going to do something unethical now, I'm going to withdraw from the case. I'm going to tell him I can't take his money anymore.

I can't invade her privacy. It would cost me too much.

First published: May 2002
comments: knobs@iceflow.com