31 | Ashley's Asylum

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An incessant knocking drew Karl from his lounged position on the sofa. He snapped open his front door to be faced with the young officer who'd been plaguing him with phone calls.

"I've got nothing to say to you" Karl mumbled, scratching at the stubble on his jaw.

His other hand posed on the door ready to slam it shut. Officer Charlie Johnson notably stuck his foot in the doorway to prevent it.

"You've got nothing to say" Charlie mimicked snidely. "Your girlfriend goes missing again and you've got zip all to say?"

Karl glared at the officer with unwholesome dislike. Every time he saw him, Officer Johnson lost a little more of the professional glimmer that his senior partner Watts had exalted. Johnson reminded Karl of the bad cops in TV shows with the chip on his shoulder and a no doubt twitchy trigger finger. 

"What do you want from me 'officer'?" Karl growled.

The whites of Karl's eyes were bloodshot and from the looks of the creases and smell, he'd slept in his clothes. He looked like someone who wanted to talk to nobody. 

"Can I come in?" Charlie asked.

Karl snorted. "So you can case the place?" he leered. He shook his head before releasing his hold on the door. "Sure, come on in."

Charlie whisked past him, his shoulder clipping Karl's just enough to suggest a temper. Karl stuck his tongue in his cheek, sucking in all his anger like sucking the poison from a snake bite. He'd dealt with bigger assholes than Charlie. The officer would have to do something really special to get a rise out of him, he'd spent a year at Dale-creek Hill which was practically a home for wayward assholes.

Charlie placed himself in Karl's living room, letting his eyes roam around like intruders.

"So, you're telling me you don't know where Ashley is, not even the faintest idea?"

Karl leaned against the living room doorway with folded arms. 

"No, and even if I did know, I certainly wouldn't tell you. If you're saying she ran away, she did it for a reason" he mumbled glumly. 

"Even if she ran into the arms of two serial killers?"

Karl and Charlie shared at heated look. He was first to look away.

"Maybe she ran away because she was sick of people treating her like she was guilty" Karl bit back.

Charlie chuffed.

"Think about it Karl, she spent a year with them and you weren't present for all of it. Then she had three weeks alone on the run with big old Sam and pretty boy Michael. D'you really think your little lamb's wool was white as snow when she trotted her way back here?" 

He got close to Karl, close enough to whisper. "Do you really think it's a coincidence that Ashley joined the same Asylum that held her big brother prisoner? After all the benefits of doubt, after all the trouble we went to find and rescue her, she disappears-"

"The word coincidence was created for a reason," Karl cut in stubbornly.

After a tense second, Charlie grinned and slapped a chummy hand on Karl's arm. 

"Sure, whatever you say" he mocked.

"I'll let myself out" he added as he slid past Karl towards the front door. 

Karl clenched his fists to keep himself still, counting down the seconds till he heard the door swing shut.

"I will find her" Charlie called back, "-and she'll have to answer for her disappearance."

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