I turn on an overhead light as I enter the upstairs hallway. Three doors, two open, one closed. Bathroom to my right, bedroom ahead. To my left, the closed door; I turn the handle, push it open — three tall columns of large cardboard cartons, all unopened; two filing cabinets, no other furniture. There’s probably a wealth of information I could find here, but it would take time and I’d leave too evidence of my presence, so I close the door and walk into the bathroom.
There is a bathtub with a shower head but no curtain, and the shelves above the sink are empty. Looks like a guest bathroom, and based on the evidence here and in the closed room I’d just left, this home does not have many overnight visitors. With literally nothing to see here, I head into the bedroom.
I feel regret sink into my belly as I enter this last room. If Darci was searching for her car keys, I’d feel a bit uncomfortable allowing her to search through my apartment’s bedroom; I can only imagine how violated Murph would feel if he knew that I, a person from work he hardly knew, was investigating the place of his most initimate moments. But I’ve come too far to turn back now, and I flip on another light. Like the kitchen and living room, the bedroom is immaculate, bedsheets dressing the king mattress like a finely tailored suit, the side tables and dresses spotless, not a single article of clothing out of place. Clothes — to my right, on the wall across the bed, is a plastic hamper, waist high. I race over, lift the cover; the hamper is half full, and I begin sifting through the contents. Boxer shorts, crew socks, t-shirts … and panties, bras, nylons. Either Murph’s a cross-dresser, or a female most definitely lives here.
After closing the hamper, I almost leave the bedroom, confident that the evidence I’ve gathered so far has proven Steph’s existence. But I decide to peek into the room that held my greatest interest, the master bathroom. If you want to find the truth about someone, you have to search through their medicine cabinet and toiletries. I find the medicine cabinet on a wall to the side of the double-bowl vanity; in it are a few prescription bottles — statin, antibiotic, suppository — all in Murph’s name. Deodarant, shaving cream, razors … and tampons, vaginal cream, several other products for feminine hygenie. I close the cabinet, walk to the shower stall, open the door; there are two corner shelves, each with a different set of hair products.
“I’m done here,” my words spoken to nobody as I close the shower door. I’m halfway through the bedroom, on my way out of the house — and a detail from what I’ve just seen in the bathroom leaps to my mind. I turn, race back to the double-bowl vanity, and confirm that detail.
Each bowl had a toothbrush holder on the right side, and toothbrush lying to the left of the bowl, along with a tube of toothpaste. The arrangement of both bowls is identical, except — the tube on the right bowl is rolled up, while the tube on the left is full.
I race over to the shower stall, open the door, and check the bottles of hair products. One shelf’s bottles are partially emptied, but the other shelf’s are all filled.
Medicine cabinet — I don’t even bother closing the shower stall door. I examine each of the feminine products; none of them have been opened.
“Dammit.” I’m no longer curious, but rather suspicious, and more than a little enraged. I’m now convinced that Murph has created an elaborate ruse, has been fooling me all along with his story about his fake wife —
I hear a telephone ringing, from the living room downstairs.