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Chapter 15

Closeted in my downstairs bedroom with Kates shoe box, I remove her journal again and prop myself up in bed. I already tried without success to view the contents of the three Lexar flash drives from the box. Each flash drive is protected by a security program that requires a password even to view file names and types. Ill have to ask Drew tomorrow if he knows any of Kates passwords. If Kate stored intimate photos on the drives, maybe he was privy to that information, so that he could borrow the drives sometimes and view them. If not, Ill have to hire a professional hacker to open the files.

After adjusting my reading light, I reread the opening passage of Kates journal, then wade into the body of the work. Her voice seems mature for her age, which I would expect from a senior bound for Harvard. But theres something else here, an unguarded honesty I didnt expect. Ive been sent many manuscripts by published and unpublished writers over the years, and one thing Ive learned is that people who write unflinchingly from the heart have the capacity to move us, where more polished craftsmen often fall short.

Kates journal begins in the early summer of last year. As I read the early entries, my hunger to know more about her more recent months causes me to skip ahead. What quickly emerges from the pages is a picture of a girl maturing very fast, changing from a bored overachiever concerned with the social politics of high school to a fully engaged young woman ready to ditch the standard plan in order to be with the man she loved. By the time Ive skimmed to the halfway point, I find myself mourning Kate Townsend more deeply than I would have thought possible.

Realizing that I might have missed important information in my haste, I go back and start again, this time folding down the corners of pages that seem representative of the arc of her final year, and also of those that hold information that might be helpful in defending Drew.

Theres the early stuff, where Kate was still a part of the high school as most adults imagine it. Drew was recuperating from a knee injury, and thus home all day with Kate and Timmy.


Mia got voted head cheerleader today. Makes me wish I never even tried out. Well, she deserves it. She actually seems to give a damn about the stupid games, or at least about cheering. Im not sure why I tried out except that its what youre supposed to do. Im such a retard. Its too late to quit now though. Damn, damn, damn.


Steve and I went to the lake today. He was really moody. He keeps asking me what Ill do if I get into Harvard or Princeton. As if I would turn one of them down! Its so obvious that were going to split up when that time comes. I dont know how I can keep playing this role until then. I already cant remember what made me date him in the first place. I mean the physical element is still there, but aside from that, its hell. He cant carry on a conversation thats not about baseball or deer hunting or what so-and-so looks like. And hes so VAIN. I dont think hes ever passed a mirror without looking into it. Hes always fixing his hair and asking me how it looks. Hes such agirl . Nobody would believe it, but he is. God, I want a guy I can talk to. I hope like hell the guys at college are different. The ones at colleges around here sure arent, though; theyre the Steves that left high school two or three years ago. Please let me get in early decision.


Played tennis with Ellen Elliott after work today (6-2, 6-1). She was so pissed. I wonder if they still make love. I really doubt it. Mom told me she heard that Ellen cheated on him a couple of years ago. Why would she do that? Shes got a guy most women would give their left ovary for and shes cheating with some stupid tennis pro? Is there something I dont know about Drew? Is he terrible in bed? Brilliant and interesting but incompetent between the sheets? No way. That cant be it. They sleep in different rooms now. He says its because of his knee, but Ill bet that dates back to the tennis pro. I bet I know why she did it, too. Ive seen the insecurity in her, that need for constant reassurance. Like the breast implants.Way too big. Dont ever let me be that pathetic.


Drew talks to me like an equal. None of the condescending crap I get from most adults around here. That drives me bat-shit . Most of them havent read a book in twenty years other than John Grisham or Nora fucking Roberts. The other day I made an allusion to John Updike and Mrs. Andersen thought I was talking about an actor. Hello?!!! Sometimes when his knee is really hurting, Drew asks me to read to him. I love it! He lies there on the sofa just looking at the ceiling. He lets me pick what I want to read, too. I read him a play by Paddy Chayefsky, one of Keseys books. Part of Goat. An essay by Ayn Rand. He asks me where I come up with this stuff. Nabokov would be too obvious, but once I tried to embarrass him by reading an incestuous sex scene from Ana"is Nin. He kept a straight face for about five minutes, then closed his eyes. When I got to the really explicit part, he started to snore. I really thought hed fallen asleep! Bastard!


Ellen wont look me in the eye when were in their house. On the tennis court were fine, but if she comes home while Im keeping Tim, she wont meet my gaze. Its weird. Its like she sees me as a threat. I go out of my way to speak to her, but she cuts every conversation short. Has she caught Drew looking at me when Im not looking or something? Has he talked about me to her? Maybe she feels Im usurping her position with Timmy. If it werent for Drew, Id want out of there.


Drews knee has gotten a lot better. Hes talking about going on the mission trip to Honduras after all. Ellen told me I should go along, that its the kind of real-world experience that a lot of the kids going into the Ivy League may already have had. I mean, what? When I asked why she doesnt go, she told me once was enough. She apparently got a case of dysentery in the Dominican Republic, and that killed her desire to help the unfortunate in any way except by writing a check. If hes serious about letting me come, Im going to do it! Why not? Id love to see Honduras, and Id really love to be with him somewhere without Ellen and Timmy. Just to see how we are.

On August 18, Drew and Kate flew to Honduras along with a team sponsored by a local church.


This is a journey into the unbelievable. Never have I seen people so poor, so sick, so helpless. Yet never have I seen smiles so broad, eyes so bright, or heard laughter so pure. Ive shot a hundred pics already. My admiration for Drew grows every day that I watch him work. There are five other doctors with us-some of them specialists-but somehow Drew is the de facto leader of the team. Ive watched the other doctors gape in awe as he works. Yesterday he removed four cancerous masses from a miners neck. Two of the other doctors warned him not to do it. They said the patient needed a hospital and general anesthesia. Drew said the guy would never get either, and that the cancer would probably cut off his air supply within a month. The operation took place under a tarp stretched over a picnic table. Drew injected the man with lidocaine, told him to be still, then cut on him for about an hour. He had to inject more lidocaine throughout the procedure, but the miner just smiled and murmured encouragement all through the operation. He somehow knew Drew was his last, best hope. I know one thing now: thats the kind of man I want. Not a doctor, necessarily, but a man wholl take risks to do what he knows is right. Who wont be paralyzed by anxiety or rules or anything else. I want someone who acts. When Drew walked out of that tent, I waited until no one was around and then hugged him as tight as I could and told him I thought he was wonderful. Corny, maybe, but I dont care. Anybody with eyes to see would have said the same.


Today I asked Drew if he believed in God. I mean, this is a mission trip, right? But it doesnt seem to me that hes into all the praying and Bible stuff the others talk about every night. He told me he doesnt believe in the conventional concept of God. He said the idea of a God that watches the sparrow fall, that intervenes in human affairs, that rewards the faithful and punishes the wicked is a wishful fantasy. I asked him about life after death, and he just shook his head. Come on, I said. What happens after you die? He looked at me like he was a thousand years old and said, Kate, when you die, youre dead. I think hes watched a lot of people die in pain. So this is all there is? I asked. He nodded and said, All well ever know as individuals, anyway. Then I guess wed better do all we can to be happy, I said (which I believe). He looked so sad then, but he said, I think youre right. And then I made this colossal blunder and said, Are you happy with your wife? I NEVER meant to say that. I meant to say, Are you happy with your LIFE, but it just came out, and I let it stand. He looked at me for a really long time without saying anything, and then he turned away. And then I knew. I guess Id always known. He wasnt happy, and he hadnt been for a long time. And I wanted to make him happy, wanted it in a way I never wanted anything before. I wondered what would make him happy, and whether maybe I could. I knew then that Id do whatever it took to take away the pain and loneliness in that face.

The mission team soon returned to Natchez, but too much had happened to go back to the way things were before.


It finally happened! We were talking in his workshop (fourth time I sneaked out) and it was really hot. His air conditioner was broken. I said we ought to go over to the Johnsons pool, since theyre out of town. Drew was worried at first, but then he said yes. We slipped through the trees and then across the open grass to the edge of their pool. He looked at me like he was unsure what to do, so I went first. I took off my top and my shorts, and then I walked into the water. I turned back and watched him strip to his underwear-boxer briefs. I couldnt stop shivering. Id seen him in just tennis shorts before, but this was different, because we were alone. We swam for a while, keeping our distance, talking from a few yards apart. But then finally we came together, and he held me while we talked. He moved out to where the water was about five feet deep, and I wrapped my legs around him and laid my head on his shoulder. We talked for a long time, and then we stopped talking. I asked if he wanted to kiss me. He didnt say yes. He just raised my head, looked into my eyes, and did it. My whole body was quivering. Id waited SO LONG for that moment. His kiss was so tender and knowing, not like Steves at all, not like anyones (except maybe Sarah Evanss-which is weird because Drew is so masculine). And then he said, I want to see you. I knew what he meant, so I slipped my bra straps down and then my whole bra. He looked at my breasts as though appraising them, and then he covered my nipple with his mouth and I started to lose track of everything. I literally melted into the water. I felt him against me down there. After a while he made this shocked sound, and then he told me to put my hand down between us. That kind of scared me, but I let him pull my hand down. The pool water was cold, but between us the water was very warm, like someone was peeing in it. I thought for a minute that maybe hewas peeing, and that he was weird about that or something, but then he said, Its you, Kate. Thats you. And I blushed so deeply, because I realized it was. Drew held me tight and pulled me against him-still with his shorts on-and started moving against me. Then he whispered in my ear, Is it all right if I climax? I literally could not speak. I just nodded into his shoulder. And then he did. There was this explosion of air from his lungs, not grunting or anything like Steve. And then he just shivered the length of his body. I was crying, but not from sadness. I was overwhelmed. I wanted to look in the water, but I didnt. He walked to the shallows then, still holding me up, then he walked up out of the pool like I was a little girl. He carried me over to this big padded chair the Johnsons have on their patio and laid me down in it, and then we did it for real. God. When I think about it now, sitting here in the cold air-conditioning, all I can really remember is clinging to him and feeling things Id never felt before. I kept thinking, Hes married, stupid! but I didnt stop or tell him to. After he finally stopped moving, I tried to sound calm when he talked to me, but I wasnt. I was freaking out. My heart was just pounding, but I didnt want him to know. Im still shaking. Its 6:30 a.m and I dont want to go to work! How can I look at Ellen now? If I go late, I wont have to see her. Shell be playing tennis or getting her hair done or something. And Timmy, God, this is going to be so hard. And so weird. I feel guilty, but thats only part of me. The other part cant think of anything but him. Last nightwanting it again, that ineffable closeness. I cant believe that was our first time. Where do we go from here? I hope hes okay with it, not freaking out because Im so young. He looked SO HAPPY. I think he was crying at one point, but I didnt want to say anything. He needed me so badly. Have to sleep some now.


Two lives. Thats what Im leading. Its the strangest experience ever. I have a day self and a night self, and the two never flow together. During the day, Drew is a vague feeling, always there yet indistinct, a heaviness in my stomach, a tingle in my forearms. Life goes on around me and with me, yet the Real Me is hibernating. I cant eat-a new experience! Ive always eaten ravenously, but now I cant eat anything. The excitement and anticipation fill me in some way Ive never been filled before, turning my heart into a huge balloon that presses down my stomach and rises into my throat. Is this what love is? When I first see him, that balloon rises so high into my throat that I cant speak. But the sleep deprivation is starting to get to me. I feel like Im hallucinating sometimes. If I dont get some rest, Mias going to take valedictorian, and I cant afford to lose that until I hear something from Harvard. Maybe I should quit the cheerleading squad. That wouldnt affect my transcript, and I could take naps in the afternoon. Maybe

As I read on, Kates amazing self-awareness shows me how Drew could become so captivated by her.


I know some people will say Im looking for a father figure, and my first instinct would be to say, Bullshit. I already have a father. He just happens to be a prick. But really, what if I am? What if one of the needs Drew fills for me is a protective presence who takes care of certain things? Whats wrong with that? Everyone needs some of that, and I was certainly shortchanged in that department growing up. If Drew is happy being that for me, and if he makesme happy by being that, wheres the fault in it? A lot of people would be happy to tell me, of course, but screw them. What do they know? Half of conventional married couples end up divorcing, so there. Is this relationship going to stunt my emotional growth or something? No. Most people wholl criticize us probably stopped growing themselves years ago-emotionally and intellectually-especially in THIS TINY TOWN.

After two months of nightly rendezvous, Kate has developed into an accomplished lover, and her hunger seems to have no bounds. Yet just as in the past, she continues to measure herself against others.


Tonight I had eight orgasms in two hours. Two clitoral, six vaginal. Drew is amazing. Or maybe I am. Do other women respond like this? I hope so, for their sakes. But I know Ellen never did. And I know my girlfriends dont. Except maybe Karen Carr.


Drew wants to test my testosterone level. He thinks a libido like mine has to be driven by something other than the normal hormonal flow. I think he must be right, with the crazy things I want. Theres still so much I havent shown him! Sometimes we get to a place where it hurts me, but instead of wanting it to stop, I want it to intensify. Once when I was on top, his hand was on my breastbone and it slipped up around my neck. I pressed it there with both hands to show him what I wanted. He squeezed for a little bit, but he didnt really cut off my air. I wanted to tell him that Steve used to do that for me (at my request, of course) but I felt too weird to say it. Drew would probably understand, but Im not sure. If I tell him how that gets me off, he might think Im messed up somehow. Of all the things weve done, hes never suggested anything that involved pain. I could tell him I read somewhere that some people like oxygen deprivation when they climax (he probably knows that already), and try to get to it that way. I could say Karen told me about it. I dont know. Maybe I am sick or something. But if I want it, it must be natural, so whats wrong with it?

All I can think about after reading that entry is the autopsy report. Cause of Death: Strangulation. Could it be that Kate wasnt murdered at all? That she died during what was, for her, normal sexual activity? Im still wondering this when the name Ive been searching for leaps off the page as though written in letters of fire.


Tonight I met Cyrus face-to-face. Cant talk about why, even here. He wasnt at all what I expected. He looks young and old at the same time. His face is young but his eyes are old. He reminds me of Drew that way. Cruelty and kindness living in the same soul. I found myself wondering who would win if he and Drew had to fight to the death. Like that stupid Mel Gibson movie: Two go in, one comes out! And what would they fight over? Me, of course. A scary image. But it turns me on, too, in a weird way. Seriously turns me on.


Fuck, fuck, fuck! No letter from Harvard! Clearly I didnt make the cut for early decision. After school, Mrs. Parrinder pulled me aside and told me Mia got into Brown. Thats probably true. I remember Brown had the same ED notification date as Harvard. Thats weird, too, because Mias so straight compared to me. Youd thinkId be going to Brown and she to Harvard. Of course she claims she didnt even apply to Harvard, but I know thats bullshit. She had the SATs, and who wouldnt apply who had a chance of getting in?


Tonight Drew and I talked about maybe bringing someone else into our lovemaking. He says hes never done that before, and I like the idea of making him experience something he never has. Ive sure never done it. The only girls I know who have are sluts who pulled a train when they were drunk or something. Or Susie Drane, who let Chris and Chip both do her on the football field one night. Ugh! The obvious question: should the third be a guy or a girl? When Drew asked what I thought, I said girl to make it seem less threatening, but the truth is, Id rather it be a guy. Id love to see Drew do things to a guy, and vice versa. But I also want to know what it feels like to be completely full. When I finally admitted that, Drew didnt seem threatened by it. But clearly there are problems with this kind of thing. Do you pick a friend you both know really well? Or a total stranger you know youll never see again? A stranger reduces the emotional risks but increases the medical ones. The easiest way to start would be Sarah Evans, of course, since Ive already been with her. But when Drew asked if we could trust her to keep quiet, I realized I wasnt sure. Sarahs been kind of stalking me lately, and this would make that worse. Drew said maybe the best thing would be to try a couple, a guy and girl at the same time. That way wed all have the same things at risk, and nobody would feel left out of the sexual stuff. I asked Drew if there was a woman he fantasized about having, or if he had a friend he could trust to try something like this. I was afraid he was going to say, Mia Burke. But he really surprised me. He said maybe Penn Cage, the writer. Drew trusts him, and Penns girlfriend (fianc'ee?) is like 33 and hot. Caitlin Masters is her name. I played tennis with her once at Duncan Park. Shes from Boston, and she dresses sort of risque sometimes, so maybe shed be into something like this. It seems weird even to be writing about this, but if its something you desire, what are you supposed to do? Pretend it never popped into your head? Drew said we shouldnt rush it, though, and I think hes right. Theres time for all this.

While the shock of reading this passage settles over me, I see Cyruss name lower down the page.


Cyrus wants me. And hes so fucking open about it! Far more open than Drew ever was. Maybe its a racial thing, just to be out with it like that. Or maybe hes just used to getting whatever girl he wants. He kept pulling on his package while he talked to me, just like the black guys on MLK Street. Like I wasnt seeing it or like he didnt give a shit if I did. Its such a double standard! What if those guys wives and girlfriends walked around rubbing their clitorises (clitorisae?) all the time? Theydflip out! All that practiced cool would evaporate in about two seconds. And somewhere behind that double standard is the belief that Its different for men. That men need it more, think about it all the time etc. IF ONLY THEY KNEW!

A month passes without major changes in Kates pattern. Then Cyrus reappears, like a supply ship that arrives once a month.


Cyrus is definitely getting to be a problem. Tonight he walked me into a corner and murmured stuff right in my ear. He asked if I had something against niggers. His word, not mine. I told him I didnt, but that I was in love with someone else. He asked who. Some gay-ass white boy? he said. God, I wanted to tell him about Drew. That would have made him step back! He just stared at me like a wild man, like he blames me for driving him crazy. Then he touched my right breast-not too hard, just a tweak to my nipple. I was wearing a bra, thank God, because my headlights definitely came on, from fear, Im sure. He could probably see them, but too bad. Hes making himself crazy. I just hope I dont have to do this much longer. But its all in a good cause, right? At least I see it that way. The cops definitely wouldnt.

This passage makes me think Kate was seeing Cyrus to buy drugs. Im ecstatic to find evidence of Cyruss obsession with Kate; I only wish I could show selected portions of this journal to Shad Johnson. A dangerous game.


Tonight I told Drew that the best kisser I ever knew was a girl. Have to be honest, right? Nothing ever aroused me faster than Sarah Evanss tongue in my mouth. It anticipated every want before I even wanted it. Drew asked if she kissed me down low better than he does. Again, yes, but I think she had an unfair advantage! She knows the territory better than any man could. At least Drew doesnt freak out like other guys about other sex Ive had. (How can he though, hes been with like 22 women-21 before he got married.) Of course Ive never cheated on him. That would probably be different. In fact, I know it would. I never want to find out! I never want to see him truly angry!

As I read the last line again, I know I can never show this journal to Shad. Here is the smoking gun that the D.A. would give anything to be able to read aloud to a jury.

By mid-February, Kate is growing less obsessed with sex and more concerned with the future of her relationship with Drew.


Ive always heard people say, Youth is wasted on the young, but I didnt understand that until Id been with Drew awhile. Now I look around and see people my age living from moment to moment, jumping from thing to thing without thought. On one hand its beautiful to be completely in the moment, but its also like being less alive, almost living like an animal, without past or future. Except people arent truly like animals, because theyre haunted by insecurity. Kids dont realize how much freedom they have to screw up, over and over if they need to, because thats the true gift of youth-time. The need to be accepted drives everyone to crazy extremes, even adults. But in my peers its almost a manic need. And girls are the WORST. It isnt even acceptance that most of them want, but ATTENTION. My god, the things theyll do to get it. Alter their voices, act out, give blowjobs to guys they barely know, Look at me! Look at me! Notice me! I talked to a couple of friends about it, but of course they think I dont understand their problems. They all say Im so beautiful and smart and assume Ive never had to deal with self-doubt. A couple of years ago I was a pathetic wreck, I just hid it better than most. Guess I learned that from Mom. Thanx, Mom, if you ever read this.


Mom knows! Oh, my God. I dont know how Im going to tell Drew. Im only writing because Drew didnt get on the computer. Hurry up! Hes going to freak, but I have to let him know somehow that its all right. I cant believe it. All that anxiety Ive had about Mom finding out, and shes known for TWO WEEKS. Shes played it so cool. She wouldnt even tell me how she knows, but she acted like shes seen us together or something. Maybe she followed me over there. Maybe she walked in on us here and didnt tell me. Its so weird. She said she knows I think Im in love with him, but thats only natural since Im so young and hes such a good guy in so many ways. Shes really concerned with Drews feelings, I think, and she wants to talk to him. Actually, now that I think about it, Drew will be glad its come to this. I mean, I think he will. I guess I should look at this as a test. If he panics and doesnt want to talk to her, then hes not serious about wanting to be with me. Im just a diversion. God, that would kill me! But if thats how he reacts, Ive got to face it.


Every time I go to Cyruss I tell myself its the last time. But then I have to go again. Its just taking so LONG. Longer than Drews worst estimate. Sometimes I feel stupid for waiting, but thats par for the course, I guess. I should talk to some other mistresses about this. Im sure were a silent sisterhood, suffering alone, yet all dealing with the same issues. I feel your pain, girls!


Mom and Drew talked tonight! He actually came over to our house at 10:30, and the two of them talked in the kitchen for like two hours. I went over to Lessleys before he got there, because Mom wanted to see him alone. She called me home at one a.m. She had tears in her eyes when I walked in, but I think she was happy. I asked her what was wrong, and she said, I dont know why Im crying. And I said, What happened? Tell me! She just hugged me and said, He really loves you, honey. He loves you in a way no one ever loved me. Youre very lucky in that. Youre just unlucky in the circumstances. She said a lot more, but I cant sit still to write it! Im going over to Drews in twenty minutes. Oh My God. I cant wait for him to talk to Dad! Hes one person the great David Townsend sure wont intimidate. I think Mom wants to see that encounter too. It makes me realize how Daddy has used his education and his gender to intimidate us. I want to see what hes like when that advantage is neutralized by superior strength and intelligence. Hell, yeah!


Moms been worrying lately. She trusts Drew. She even worries for him. Her main worry is Timmy, I think. She doesnt know whether Drews love for me is strong enough to make him leave Tim. I understand Drews conflict, though the irony is devastating. Because one of the things I love about him is that hes NOT like my dad. Yes, he could divorce Ellen, but he could never abandon Tim. Hell always be the father he needs to be, and thats just something Im going to have to deal with. I mean, I love Timmy too, even though he isnt mine. And Drew and I can have our own after a while, anyway. Its going to be all right. I know it is.


Got my acceptance letter! YEAH! Now I get to drop the H-bomb like all the other Ivy League brats. And now Im second-guessing myself, of course. Before I got in, I thought I wasnt good enough for Harvard. Now its likemaybe its too clich'e for me. Its like Woody Allen said, Id never want to join a club that would take me as a member. Plus, I saw the same juvenile shit in Cambridge that I did when I visited Ole Miss. Stop overanalyzing! You got what you wanted. Live with it!

Then Kates final entry:


Five days now. Never been this late before. Drew told me to get a test at the pharmacy, but Ive been too nervous. I dont want to know yet. Theres so much stress already, I dont want to add my being pregnant to it. Drew doesnt need that. Neither does Mom. Neither do I . But I keep thinking about that senior party at the lake, when I got so drunk. I know I missed my pill that day, and maybe even the day after. Shit, what if I am? I always thought Id get an abortion, but now that its real, thats not such an easy call. I mean, what if I had the baby? Drew already told me that its my decision, he wont pressure me either way, and I know he means it. In some way it would be such a relief. My future would be decided, at least in that way.

Drews been talking to a med school friend about practicing medicine in Boston. He said he already took the boards or whatever. He was saving that as a surprise, but I think he wanted to ease my worry about the future. He definitely loves me. Hes shown me so many times, in so many ways. If a baby comes, so be it. That child would be the two of us alive in the world as one, and how can that be bad?

With that the journal ends.

Less than twenty-four hours later, Kate Townsend was dead.

I close the book and drop it onto the floor beside my bed. Im too tired to try to analyze what Ive just read. I switch off the ringer on my phone, turn off my reading lamp, and roll onto my stomach. As sleep slowly takes me, one aspect of the journal remains at the forefront of my thoughts: Kates voracious sexuality. Seventeen years old, and already she was considering the risks and rewards of a m'enage `a trois with a stranger. More disturbing still, in light of the way she died, was Kates desire to be choked during sex. This opens up so many possibilities that I must wait until Ive rested to consider them. But one thought refuses to leave me alone: it now seems less impossible than it did yesterday that Kate Townsend could have died at Drews hands.

Chapter 14 | Turning Angel | Chapter 16