5 empty cans of beer later and he was passed out on the motel bed, his dreams a maze of memories and murder, little girls with sashes made of flesh. He woke in the middle of the day and cursed himself for his immature behavior. He had his own self destructive coping mechanisms just like those girls, just like Nadine. He showered and changed clothes and checked out of his room.
He had half a mind to go straight home to Nadine and face the consequences of his rash decision to trek all the way across the country on a bogus lead for a case he wasn’t even calling the shots on. However he’d come so far and Rosette’s message had cemented his theory.
He peeled out of the gravel parking lot and headed towards Portland. The forums had been abuzz for months with mentions of a Japanese culture festival in Portland that the Lolita’s in the area were eager to attend and show off their most elaborate fashions. Hank wasn’t sure if Rosette would show her face there or if he would be able to recognize her if he did but something urged him to take the chance.
By the time Hank arrived at the convention center where the festival was taking place it was late. Most of the events were over and there was one ballroom with some sort of after party going on. He could hear the Jpop booming through the large double doors with the sign:no entry without festival pass printed in bold and decorated with a calligraphy rose.
The detective peeked his head in one of the side doors. He contemplated flashing his badge if anyone stopped him. Rave style colored lights glinted off the disco ball in the center of the room. Teenagers jumped around on the dance floor and huddled in corners with glasses of red liquid. Glow in the dark necklaces adorned a number of their necks. A few girls were dressed to the nines with platform Mary Jane’s and petticoats expanding their skirts far wider than their nubile hips, their curly ponytails bouncing in rhythm with the music.
Jarringly, a man’s voice entered the scene saying,”No looky-loo’s you pervert. Passes only.” Before Hank could defend himself the door was shut in his face and luckily that seemed to be the extent of his reprimanding. He was so close to one of them. He’d never seen a Lolita in the flesh and he’d been a mere few feet from one. He couldn’t know if one of them was part of the internet community he’d joined, if one of them was Rosette.
He exited the convention center and walked aimlessly around the back where all the shops windows were dark and the closed signs displayed in the windows. The architecture was typical brick and mortar remnants of the town’s youth. Hank stopped in front of an old fashioned confectionary Shoppe, hand crafted Lollipops and a taffy pulling machine displayed itself in the window under a doily curtain frame. A girl stood in front of the door. She wore a simple dress, burgundy under the flickering street lights, with a peter pan collar. He followed the flounce of the petticoat at her hem down to the ribboned socks that stopped just below her dainty knee caps. Her polished black buckled shoes glistened even in the darkness with the pool of blood at her feet.
A strip of material clutched in her gloved hand, she reached out to him. She looked about fifteen but faint creases around her eyes betrayed her for older. A dark glint in her eye confirmed it. “Fold me an origami rose”, she whispered.