Coffee with Charlotte turned into dinner with Charlotte. We had a lot to talk about. Friday after work we met at a café, bought some overly-expensive coffee and sat in the corner. I was expecting to see a woman well put together and happy; I’d freed her of an oppressive uncaring life, but I didn’t recognize her when she first walked in.
She’d died and cut her hair – said that it had gotten in the way and needed a change. I understood that. She’s been through a lot, I can have sympathy for that. But she looked like she hadn’t slept in weeks. Her eyes were swollen and purple, the rest of her skin was pale, drained of color. And her hands looked thinner, they shook when I handed her the cup. She was sad, tired, and there was something behind her eyes.
That’s a funny word, madness. It seems like such a posh word when used in a sentence but it’s really kind of dirty and incomplete. Madness doesn’t explain how someone is crazy or deranged. It doesn’t tell you what they look or sound like. For example, my dear friend was once beautiful and sensible but the woman I spent Friday night with was crazed but hiding it, losing her grip on rationality, daring me to push her buttons.
I didn’t. I was too in shock.
The evening started calmly enough. We chatted about little things: the weather, local politics, the price of gas. Things quickly progressed to our public lives: stories from work – or in her case, searching from work; it didn’t take long to progress to more sensitive topics. For the first two months after Daniel “disappeared”, several reporters hounded her for quotes and leads, costing her a job interview. She eventually found a job – though she never did tell me what it was – and she’s making semi-steady income which makes her enough to earn some privacy.
I made the mistake of asking how she was coping with the mystery of her missing husband. That’s when we realized it had been several hours and she suggested we go to a restaurant for a “nice, hot meal”.
An hour later we were sitting across from each other with fake authentic Italian food in front of us and an inexplicably expensive bottle of wine between us. That’s when Charlotte looked at me and I saw the madness. She confessed that the reporters made her curious about Daniel’s disappearance so she spends her off-hours investigating what actually happened to him. After months, she thinks she’s close. Daniel was having an affair and when he threatened to leave his mistress, she killed him. Or he ran away with her.
I told her how sorry I felt for her situation and assured her that Daniel wouldn’t have left her for another woman. Which, of course, set her off. She’s now convinced that Daniel is dead and all I could do was apologize for her situation. She looked right through me and just whispered to herself for a few minutes.
I fear Charlotte. This path that she’s on is dangerous and could lead to a lot of messy situations.
I have to keep an eye on her. I need her to come closer to home. I tried to hint at it while we were at dinner but she wasn’t taking it. I don’t think anything I said got through to her. I have to keep trying.
Maybe we’ll go for drinks this weekend, mixing alcohol with crazy may straighten her out.
Wish me luck.
As always, dear readers,