Jug meets me, and together we walk up to the front of the same police station where I gave my statement and confronted Vader a.k.a. Theodore a few days ago. We are the only two allowed inside. Everyone else waits outside. It's dim in the small waiting room. I am pacing. Again made to wait. Forever. A half hour passes, and no one is talking to us. I use this time to reassure, if not convince, myself that this must be the end of this wretched journey. So after this many days I can hold it together for at least a few more minutes. The people who told us to be here know what Natalee looks like. And maybe she is here and has told them her name herself! Still no one is in sight. I keep looking toward the office area behind the short swinging counter door to see someone – anyone – coming our way. We are all alone. Waiting. In semidarkness. Waiting. Until finally I lose my momentum for urgency and sit down in one of the blue plastic chairs.
More time passes. Then from the left a door opens, and detective Jacobs brings a woman out. Jug and I don't move. She looks like she could be an American. She has very dark hair. We don't know if she's a tourist or if she lives here, but she looks nothing like Natalee. And she is coked or cracked out of her mind. A smirk across her face suggests that she knows she is part of some crazed drama. She's high on drugs, and her head bobs like one of those bobble-headed dogs on a dashboard.
I can't believe I even let myself experience another feeling of "This is it." Why do I do this?
The answer must be hope. What else could sustain a person to endure all this? Hope is the reason I believed Natalee was going to come through that door. Hope is why we react the way we do at all of these strange and excruciating and ultimately disappointing occurrences. It's that glimmer of a promise that the answer will be revealed.
Silent, Jug and I simply walk out of the police station and go our separate ways. The women return to the hotel for an hour or two of rest. Jug rejoins the crack-house and brothel search. All the positive energy created with the unity of hundreds of people over the last day or two expires in one long exhalation. And my very swollen, unrecognizable face, photographed leaving Bubali station soon appears in the media.
One week ago this day Natalee was making plans with her friends to spend her last night in Aruba at Carlos 'n Charlie's. She left there with Joran van der Sloot and hasn't been seen since.