Grey and Lifeless

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"Sometimes, we believe we know people... and we're wrong. But I'm not saying it's the case here. Just the usual questions."

Lillian nodded and told me more about them. She described me a good man, kind and down to earth, and I could find no obvious reason for him to leave. Sure, there was this friend of his, Evelyn, but they had known each other for a long time, and if anything more than friendship could have blossomed, it would have done so long ago. I would check this lead, but deep down I knew it wasn't that simple. I had stumbled upon a true disappearance case.

I saw her off, promising to do my best. And it was a promise I was eager to keep. Not because of the money, or because I wanted to leave a good impression. Though both played a part. I wanted to help her because I could still remember a different time, a different me, when I was recently married and carrying a baby child in my arms. It had ended up poorly for me, but maybe I could help Lilian get her happy ending. It was The Case, alright.

So I went on a quest. I asked around, showing Adam's picture at his office, talking to his boss. Adam was a good asset and he hoped he would be back soon. Any rival? The boss laughed, telling me the devil himself would want to befriend Adam.

And I started to fear he was right.

Evelyn was harder to find. Cute girl too, but with a quiet personality. She didn't talk much, and I thought her grey eyes were kind of lifeless. Not an unusual sight in this city. She didn't talk much and I learned nothing from her I didn't already know. They were friends, not lovers. She had no interest in love. Not unusual either.

It was still raining when I got home, head down, hands in the pockets of my raincoat, with a heavy heart. The lamp posts blinked meekly, as if they were going to give up and shut down forever, plunging the city in an eternal night. They would, in time.

The day after, I stayed in my office, gazing at the dusty dartboard. I was done investigating. I had promised myself I would solve this case, and I had. I knew what had happened to Adam, and all I could do now was wait.

Lillian called me in the afternoon to tell me Adam was back. She sounded relieved, and I tried very hard to share her enthusiasm. Adam was tired, but he was okay. Tomorrow, she would ask him where he had been.

I waited. One day. Then another. And finally she came back to my office. Visibly distraught.

"What's wrong?" I asked, knowing the answer better than she did.

"Adam is not himself. I don't know what happened to him, he won't tell me. He can't tell me. Says he forgot all about it. I asked him if he had drunk, but he can't even answer that."

"He probably got scared," I lied. "Drunk misadventures can do that to you. And don't even get me started on shame. I know all about it, trust me. He needs time before he can talk about it openly."

"But he doesn't seem to care... He's changed. The way he stands, the way he talks, even the look in his eyes... it's all off. Not by much, but I'm his wife and I can tell. I don't know who came back to me, but it's not the Adam I knew."

Here it was. I sighed, because sometimes I don't like being right.

"Like I said, he's probably shaken."

"He hurt himself. He dropped a glass of water and watched it shatters, as if it was the most fascinating thing in the world. When he tried to gather the shards, he cut his hand."

She was going to talk about the blood. And that made me sad. Once you notice the blood, it's all over, you can't go back.

"His blood was grey, like ashes," she said. She waited for my reaction. When I offered her none, she almost shrieked. "Grey blood! Am I going crazy? What kind of... substance did he had to ingest for his blood to lose all color? Drugs? Was it Evelyn that gave them to him? She's been stoned for a month now."

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