Beth pointed at the browser window. “I don’t know how he got there.” She shook her head, teeth mangling her bottom lip. She wasn’t sure what she wanted Dave to do about it but it felt good to tell someone, even if it was just the guy from down the hall.
“You must have added him,” said Dave. “People can’t just add themselves to your friends.” He had knocked on the door to ask if she’d spare some milk. One look at her stainedred eyes and he’d asked what was wrong, why was she crying, what could he do to help. In desperation, she showed him the Facebook page.
“Yeah, I guess I must have.” She didn’t look convinced. “Maybe I wasn’t paying attention. I sure didn’t notice when he got added to my friends.”
“What did you notice?” His eyes were full of sympathy.
Beth got up and paced the room.
“His status updates. Originally it was something ineffectual, “Darren is going out,” or something like that. But it was at 2 AM, I was just looking at Facebook before bed. And I thought, who do I know who goes out at two in the morning? That’s when I saw his name.”
Dave’s eyes followed her. “You could have removed him at that point.”
“Could I? Is that even possible?” Beth shrugged. “I don’t know. Anyway, I didn’t even try. I thought, hey, Darren Miller probably isn’t that rare a name, right? So it’s coincidence.”
She stopped at the desk and fingered the faded piece of newspaper, as if trying to rub out the headline.
“I mean, it just seemed so paranoid. It couldn’t possibly be THAT Miller, right?” She resumed her pacing.
Dave stood up and walked over to the cabinet. “Do you mind?” he said, not bothering to wait for a response before getting out a bottle of brandy. He poured them both a measure of the amber liquid and then sat back down at the computer. “So how do you know it is him? You’ve never seen this guy, right?”
“No, just the descriptions from the paper. They never showed his face because there was never a case, everything was circumstantial.” She took a sip of the brandy and then gulped the rest. “And he doesn’t use a photo on the site anyway, just some black and white cartoon face. But his status updates were all about my sister. They were sort of vague at first, Darren is thinking about Susan, that sort of thing. I wrote it off as coincidence.”
Dave nodded. “There are lots of Susans in the world.”
“Well, yeah. But then they got more specific. Darren is dreaming about Susan’s auburn hair. Darren is looking at his photographs of Susan. Darren is remembering how Susan used to look straight through him. And then it got really freaky: Darren can still hear her screams.
Dave got up and refilled her glass. “But you still didn’t say anything.” It wasn’t a question.
“Like what? Beth thinks the psychopath who murdered her sister is on Facebook? I couldn’t really think of what to say. But I started watching his profile page and he was adding links to news story about the case. I couldn’t really call it coincidence anymore. And then, today, that’s when he mentioned me.
“Are you sure it was you?”
“I don’t know.” She took a deep breath to repress the whine. “Here, let me show you, see what you think.”
She strode over to the computer and clicked at the Facebook page. “Oh, wait, it’s changed again.”
Her face went pale as she read the words.
Darren is going over to Beth’s to ask for some milk.
Sylvia Spruck Wrigley is a German-American living in Spain who writes about things she sees in a room which isn’t there.