For those who believe in the impossible ...
© Jan 20 2007
The rustle of old
tissue paper drew Walt Trudy into the upstairs attic of his home. For a
moment he watched his wife Elisa’s bobbing wispy red hair as she worked at
shifting boxes in an old steamers trunk until she paused. For most of the
summer she had been acting oddly - taking long walks into town and spending
them sipping tea from her thermos on the benches that were along
By the dates of the things she was looking through he knew it had to have been when they were first married, or before. Once in a while her fingers would linger over something, as if lost in her memories. Twice she came across things that he had placed away from common sight, and when he came home they were carefully placed where they should be. Today though, the digging and shifting had come to a stop. Not to alarm her he walked softly across the wood floor boards to gaze into the trunk and at the object of her search. It was an old cedar jewelry box that was carved along the sides with ivy and some other leaf. He could see her hands were shaking as she worked the hook clasp to open it. Walt’s eyebrow flicked upward. He had known the box was there all along. He had taken the time to sort and pack everything that had been sent to his wife when her grandmother had died. There wasn’t anything of value or interest in that particular box, all the gem stones were paste. There were a few odd rings that were now black from tarnish. Elisa withdrew the box and straightening her back, stood up properly.
“It wasn’t where I had left it before,” she said blinking at her husband.
Walt waved his hand at the trunk. “It was just easier to put everything together, Elisa. That’s all.”
Clutching the box to her chest she closed the lid of the trunk and made her way past her husband down the steps to the second floor. Walt knew she would be absorbed with the box for hours, as she had before when it first came. He was about to follow her when his cell phone rang. Glancing at the number he knew who was calling. It was time to go to work and earn some money. Sighing he strode down the steps and grabbed his jacket on the way out of the front door. He saw his wife sitting on their bed as he passed the bedroom door, and knew she would be there when he came back.
Three hours later he returned, nursing a few cuts on his fingers. Elisa was at the stove stirring the tomato sauce for their dinner that night. He nodded to her then took the steps two at a time to the upstairs washroom. Returning downstairs, he paused at their bedroom expecting to see the old jewelry box on the bed, or dresser. There was no sign of it, and he reflected later that she had stopped her searching.
Ten-year-old Molly Bishop sat in
the back seat of her father’s car flicking her long red curly hair around as
she wore a frown upon her face. The last thing she wanted to do this summer was
to go on vacation with her Father to a tiny backwater town like Cabot Cove when
she could be down in
Just because she had to go didn’t mean that she was going to make it a vacation for him, she thought with a smirk.
they have any water parks or beaches in
“In the lower part of the state you can sometimes swim in the ocean, but it’s a bit too cold this time of year where we are going, Cupcake,” he said briefly, glancing in the rear view mirror at her.
“Why do you keep calling me that? My name’s Molly,” she said, stamping her foot on the floor of the car.
Harrison Bishop sighed softly. A good thwap on the bottom or time out in the corner was what she needed more than the electronic games her mother kept plying her with to behave. He discovered that he couldn’t correct his daughter or make her do anything without it being reported by his ex-wife to her lawyer. He loved his ex-wife and daughter with all of his heart. Love, though, couldn’t keep up with her mother’s desire of a high lifestyle and when she left him taking his daughter with her she had left a note: “Left, don’t bother finding us.”
He had panicked and called the police, who tracked her to a motel through their credit cards. The police came back with a PFA against him. He spent the night in a jail cell waiting for everything to be straightened out. While there were no charges against him that were ever pressed, his ex-wife made it a point to tell everyone that he had been in jail and that if he ever came near her again, she would see him dead.
He informed the judge the next day that his wife had made some decisions in her life regarding her health, and suffered from periods of manic depression. Because of the HIPPA laws he was not able to access the records to prove this, however the courts children’s and youth service worker had witnessed a manic episode while she was waiting in the hall for the judge to return from chambers.
Until that point his wife had held
the upper hand. She had played the pitiful damsel in distress
perfectly. Medical records withstanding, the CYS worker took the time to
have the judge review the security tapes.
“My decision may not be popular, however, it will stand.”
Julie’s dismay, the judge informed her that
left him with 90% of the marital debt and demanded the maximum child support
the state would allow.
time share condo was nestled within the outskirts of the town. Everything was
within walking distance and from what his friend said it was one of the nicest
places you could ever raise a child in.
“What a dump!” were the first words from Molly’s mouth as they entered into the time share condo.
Molly walked over to the sofa and climbed on it balancing on the two cushions. She bent her knees and began to bounce.
“Stop that, Molly,” he said as gently as he could.
“No way, Dude,” she said, putting her weight in the bounce to go higher.
“Do you do that at your mother’s?”
She stopped bouncing and thought about it. “Nope. First time for everything, I guess.”
“Fine. Bounce,” he said, picking up her knapsack that held her electronic games and heading for the car.
She got off the sofa and followed him out. “Where are you going with that?”
“Until you begin to behave, your games are getting locked up,” he said, gritting his teeth. He knew it would be difficult at best to control her temper tantrums that would follow.
“You can’t do that!” she said, shocked.
He tossed the bag in. “Watch me!” he said, slamming the lid of the trunk closed.
Molly picked up a rock in her fist.
“That’s NOT FAIR!” she shouted, flinging the rock at him. Her aim was off and it bounced harmlessly on the ground, but the murderous look in her eye didn’t diminish. He knew that look well. Her mother had it in her eyes the night she came after him with a butcher knife. Since they were married, he had gently teased her that the barbecue sauce that she used wasn’t like what his mother had made. Finally after months of trying to please him, she went to his mother, asked for the recipe and informed her of what her son had said. His mother had given her a jar of the sauce. The night she had used it he said the same thing. It wasn’t like what his mother had made. He heard the snick of the knife off of the counter and turned as she charged him with murder in her eyes and the knife in her hand. Had the knife not stuck in the table with the first attempted blow, he had few doubts that he would have lived to see the morning.
Nothing was ever good enough for her after that. The first apartment they lived in was too small; the next one, the neighbor was always outside sitting on the porch and would speak to her if even in a friendly way, every day. He bought her a house, and that wasn’t good because a black snake made its way into the basement. She was never happy with her jobs, and moved from one office to another while she was in nurses’ training.
Patiently he paid for her education, and whatever else she
wanted. Even having Molly fourteen years into the marriage:
with no children, she refused to consider adoption, even of an older child.
Knowing that he could never match a vacation that her mother entertained Molly with, his friends and family did what they could to make sure that she would have some memories of what a family could and should be like. Family that said “I love you” when they came and went, Family that supported and cared for each other.
He sighed grimly. Sometimes he wondered if it was worth it.
Molly made a face at her father and then crossing her arms began to walk away from him. “Fine!” she said, stomping off down the street.
Ye Olde Tyme Mini Mart’s doors were propped open to allow the sea breeze to flow through to the back door. Earl Shapp was in the far corner of the store with the outdate code book and glanced up at the chirp of someone entering the store. Near the entrance was the boy he knew to be Grady Fletcher’s son, and with him just getting off of a bike was a smaller boy with dark hair. The Fletcher kid was explaining money to the smaller boy who was saying things with a heavy accent. Several people came and went after purchasing things, and he saw Tipper come in just after the boys had made their way to the pantry area of the store. Frank had a dog squeaky toy in his hand and was giving it a squeeze to see if Lucky would like the sound of it.
reached down as she came to the door and with a bump of her leg, knocked the
small sensor unit that made the chime off of its path, disabling it. She had
learned that from
Ian stood in front of the shelves that held cereal. He had several of them turned around and was reading the ingredients. Curious, he turned to Frank. “Is it any good, these things? I heard from Patty that some of the odd ones taste like cardboard, or are so rough it puts sores in your mouth. Where is that stuff that we had that Dr. Seth made when we were at Mither’s?”
over to another part of the
Ian shuddered. “I be liking the cinnamon, but the rest you can keep.” Ian walked up to the box of corn meal and gave it a sniff.
“What are you doing?” Frank asked.
Ian gave a shrug. “Mum does it when she is shopping, she will pick something up, and smell it, and if it’s pleasing to her, she will buy it.” he said with certainty. “How much does this cost, and do I have enough?”
Frank looked on the shelf. “I don’t know. Let me ask …”
Ian handed him the container and watched as he went around to where the front of the store was. Hearing something in the next isle he became curious. He could hear Tipper saying hello to Frank and the noise in the next isle caught his attention again. Hobbling over he saw a young girl stuffing the last of the candy bar into her mouth. She looked up as he came to her and saw the shock on his face when he realized what she was doing. Grinning she handed him the wrappers, and then with her hand free she placed the sticky palm across his mouth wiping the chocolate over his lips. She bolted, being sure to push him backwards into the shelves as she ran.
Ian heard a roar in his head as Earl loomed over him dragging him upwards by his shoulders. He could dimly hear Frank’s voice insisting that Ian hadn’t done anything. He could hear Frank’s voice, and the sound of someone singing. A tear came down his cheek as his eyes closed and his body went limp.
Earl shook Ian by the shoulders roughly as he dragged him upward. “Caught you red-handed, you stinking thief!”
“Let go of him!” gasped Frank, grabbing Earl’s arm to stop him from giving Ian another hard shake. Frank didn’t know what scared him more, the fact that Ian was limp, or the look of fury on Tipper’s face as she came around the corner of the aisle and strode to where Earl was still shaking Ian.
Her fist cracked Earl across the cheek bone, sending him backwards into the shelves. Frank caught Ian as he slumped to the floor then looked back up at Tipper.
“If I ever hear that you have even touched either of these boys, I will kill you Earl Shapp!” Tipper said as a crowd of shoppers gathered in the store, drawn by the commotion.
Kneeling beside Ian she picked up his wrist and tried to find a pulse. It was there, fluttering wildly beneath her finger tips. “Come on Ian - stay with us,” she murmured, lifting the small boy in her arms and holding him close to her chest.
“He just wanted to find something to buy for breakfast ...” said Frank softly. “I helped him down here on Aunt Jessica’s bike, I didn’t think that it would be too much for him with me pushing it, he just had to sit there …”
Molly stood against the row of cars a half block away from the Mini Mart slowly chewing on the second candy bar she had taken . She knew she should get away, but the shouting and mayhem that followed her exit of the store with no one after her or accusing her was too delicious to pass up. She hadn’t been seen. Excellent. No one would believe that scrawny little brat anyway. She knew that she could get a couple more times in before they had to go. She saw the police car pull up and the chunky sheriff hurry into the Mini Mart.
A thrill went through her body as she glanced down at the Honda Civic parked at the meter. There was something in the front seat. Looking both ways she ducked in and snagged the bag off of the seat through the open windows. Whatever it was, the people would miss it. If it was found in her father’s possession … well. Her mother would thank her - yes, she would be happy that Molly had figured out how to take care of the problem once and for all.
“And when Sheriff Metzger had Ian open his mouth up and stick out his tongue, there wasn’t any chocolate in him at all. He did find something he said old people use to open up letters, and there was what he called a partial print on it. It wasn’t Ian’s, though - Mr. Shapp wasn’t too happy about it. Oh, and the door alarm was de-activated. Dunno how. Tipper said it beeped when she came in, and it did when we came in because it scared Ian. Willie said they are taking Ian to the hospital for some tests while he takes his - clinicky something.”
Donna entered into the kitchen and opened up the cupboard door looking for a glass. She went to the sink and let the water run, testing it with her finger before filling the glass.
“His Clinical,” she began, being interrupted by the sound of the door bell.
The front porch door bell rang for the third time as Jessica crossed from the kitchen where they had been sitting to the living room. Glancing out she saw Mr. Carol Murphy and Gordon Charles, Vice Principal and Principal of the Joshua Peabody Elementary School of Cabot Cove. She opened the door for them and invited them inside.
“It’s a bit of a surprise to see you here, Mr. Murphy. Won’t you gentlemen have a seat?” she asked, leading them to the parlor where they waited until she had sat before taking a seat on the sofa.
“We understand if this may seem as an imposition, Mrs. Fletcher, but we do hope that you may be able to help us,” said Gordon Charles, smiling as he spoke. Jessica knew the man by reputation - he was honest, and fair with the students, but the budget had been very tight, and she had an idea why they were there. She was a bit surprised at what she heard, though.
have been contacted by a Mr. Andrews, who has proposed to give the
“We would say yes to the money, but we are not quite sure what sort of a man Mr. Andrews is precisely, and if using the money would be in the best interest of the school …”
afraid that I may not be the person to discuss this with. You would be able to
gather more information from discussing that with
Mr. Murphy nodded. “We will be going their shortly. We were wondering if you would please consider returning to teaching We would like very much if you could be our English teacher, taking over Mr. Eliot’s position. We understand it’s not about the money that you would be working for, but to help the community, and the next generation of writers …” he said with a congenial smile.
Jessica regarded both the men as they shifted where they stood. She could tell somehow that they had informed Mr. Andrews the vacancy in the position would probably be filled by her already. It was a monumental decision.
“Your offer is very kind gentlemen,” she began.
“Then, you will be joining us in a few weeks – splendid,” sighed Mr. Charles.
Jessica shook her head. “However, I must decline.”
She saw both men look at each other then back to her, waiting for an explanation. She was saved from saying anything by the arrival of Frank, rushing from the kitchen saying breathlessly, “Aunt Jessica, Mom’s sick again and she says she needs you …”
“If you would excuse me, gentlemen. Frank, could you see these gentlemen to the door?” Jessica said politely before she hurried to the back of the house.
Frank regarded the two men as he opened the front door, and Mr. Murphy beamed at him. “Mr. Fletcher, how wonderful it is to see you again. I trust that your studies are going well?”
Frank nodded, then taking a breath asked, “Is that why you’re here? We haven’t been back very long and I know that I am a bit late in sending them in, but Aunt Jessica said that I am ahead of schedule so they will be going out tomorrow, and by next week I should be ready for the final.”
“Oh, that is quite good to know. I will let them know at the school to expect the arrival of the materials shortly. Your aunt is an excellent teacher - I wish there were more like her,” said Mr. Murphy pleasantly. “We were in the neighborhood, and decided to drop in to have a chat with your aunt regarding another matter, though the outcome wasn’t what we had hoped,” he said with a shrug. “We were hoping that she might join our teaching staff.”
his hand through his sandy blond hair Frank regarded the two men then shook his
head. “I don’t think she would have time for the students with everything going
on. Mom’s been really sick, and she has been taking care of her – Dad’s
Murphy regarded the young man before him. Since the time school let out, Frank
Fletcher had changed, matured. “I hope the matters in
“That’s really hard to say. I hope you are able to find what you’re looking for, gentlemen, good day,” Frank said in his best way as he walked to the door and opened it for them.
Mr. Charles and Mr. Murphy nodded polity to Frank and then went out onto the porch. Frank closed the door and stood back, behind the curtained window. It wasn’t as if he was eavesdropping, he was just a bit curious as to why they stood there. Snatches of their conversation filtered through the screened window.
“Miss Samantha could teach English …” began Mr. Murphy with some hope in his voice.
“What would we do for an art teacher?” asked Mr. Charles, sighing. “If the school board hadn’t insisted on cutting the budget last year, this wouldn’t be such an issue. We don’t have enough teachers for every subject, or grade …”
Their voices faded as they left the porch and walked to Taylor and Willie’s home. Frank moved back to the kitchen window and looked through the porch. He could hear Aunt Jessica and his mother upstairs now. He was surprised to see that Ian was sitting on the steps of the porch with Willie working over the plants in the pots, giving them a sprinkle of water and turning them. Ian looked through the slats of the porch and saw something below. Their voices floated through the window.
“You missed one, uncle,” he said, pointing through the slats.
“Did I? I’ve all the vessels here.” Willie said, counting them again.
“Aye, look, it’s just a seedling I suppose. What is it?” asked Ian, leaning against the rail.
Willie bent over, and using a small pocket flash light peaked under the slats of the deck. His eyebrows raised slightly as he straightened up. “Nothing we are going to deal with this morning,” he said, dusting his hands off. “Your aunt would pull me by my ear for a proper scrub again if I went climbing under there just now.” He sighed then dusted off his hands again.
“It’s quite lovely - do you think I could have it to tend? It looks very much like a tomato. Might I raise it, Uncle?”
Willie took a breath and was about to tell Ian no when Mr. Charles and Mr. Murphy came around the corner.
Mr. Charles regarded the young boy that sat upon the steps. The cast on his leg was only evident by the absence of the shoe. There was a weariness upon the child’s face, as if it took all of his energy to just manage to sit up. There was also acceptance, a knowledge in the child’s eyes that spoke of a wisdom beyond mortal man’s comprehension. He didn’t duck away to be shy, telling Mr. Charles that this child was older than what he appeared to be.
“Ah, Dr. Razanur. We were hoping to find you at home, we were in the neighborhood calling on Mrs. Fletcher to assist at the school as an English teacher, and were wondering if you had time to consider the position of science teacher at the school. Naturally there are tests to be arranged, and verification as well …”
Mr. Murphy saw Willie hesitate. “If you need more time to think about this, please say so rather than saying no. And if you have any ideas of whom we could hire as an art teacher, that would be appreciated as well.”
“You lost your art teacher as well? Aunt Taylor is a lovely artist, she’s her degree in it,” piped up Ian.
Willie sighed. “Aye she does, and she would be a bonnie teacher for your students, but I would na be allowing her to do that”
polite cough from Mr. Charles drew their attention to him. “Wives have been
working for many decades without approval from their husbands in
Willie straightened his spine slightly. “My wife is expecting, Mr. Charles. The welfare of them will always be paramount in any decisions that I would consider. While you may feel it would be easy for her to do, there are certain things artist use that would harm the unborn. This affects my decision to teach at your establishment as well. I hope you understand.”
Mr. Murphy noted how pale she looked, yet there was a peaceful happiness upon her face.
“If you would excuse us, gentlemen,
we must leave for an appointment.”
stood wobblily. “There is a plant that I’ve asked
uncle if I may have. It’s quite lovely,” he
said conversationally to
“Really? Well, that will have to wait until we return,” she said, walking towards the car.
Mr. Charles and Mr. Murphy had no choice but to follow them out of the back yard. Willie took his time in getting Ian comfortable in the back seat, Taylor didn’t hurry him; she knew they had time before they had to go, but there was something that was bothering Willie, something that he would rather not discuss with Mr. Charles or Mr. Murphy there.
As the car pulled away Mr. Murphy looked back and saw Willie give Ian a kiss on the forehead before closing the door. “I don t know if it would be proper to continue to ask him to take the position, with everything he has going on. Not that he wouldn’t be a wonderful teacher, there just - seems to be much more that he is dealing with …”
Mr. Charles nodded. “It’s up to him, or if the school board has any other ideas.”
Jessica discovered Frank still
standing at the window after
“Frank? What is it, what’s wrong?”
He shook his head. “It’s not important,” he said softly.
Jessica walked over to the chair by the kitchen table and sat down. “I’m worried about Ian too,” she said softly. “I worry when your baby brother, or sister will be born, if things will be ok, and I have concerns about where you and your family will live - is that about the measure of things?”
Frank shook his head. “I’m worried about Mom. She’s been sick a lot, more than before, and she hasn’t been herself and that sandwich she ate earlier, marshmallow fluff, peanut butter and pickles, was disgusting. She knows she’s not to have the pickles, and she wouldn’t give them up … I feel like I am the parent now.”
Lucky lifted her head up from the floor and scrambling to her feet she walked over to Frank, nudging his hand with her head. Whining softly she lifted her paw up and touched his leg.
“Lucky seems to think that there is something else that is bothering you,” Jessica said gently.
“There are three more weeks left of summer, Aunt Jessica, and I will be done with the final in a few days. Dad will be back by the end of this week, and Mum still wants to go live with Grandma and Grandpa Mayberry. If the summer school is up, then, that means I have to go with them. I don’t want to.”
“You have your friends at school, but, besides Ian, you haven’t made any up here - younger ones that is.” Jessica said correcting herself. “Did you want to stay the rest of the summer?”
Frank sat down. Lucky came to him wagging her tail and letting it thump against the table.
“I would have to leave Lucky behind. Even if my glasses do help when they put me in the back of the class room, I still cant hear anything. Wouldn’t I do better in a smaller school?
“You would do well wherever you put your mind to it,” Jessica said, lifting Frank’s chin up. “Lucky will always have a home here.”
She saw his eyes fill with tears as
he bent over and kissed Lucky’s head. “I can’t help
but to remember what you said
“Well, it may be that the home that your parents will move into will allow dogs,” Jessica said, trying to encourage him to a more positive mood, “That would explain why she wouldn’t be here - he was aware that you were arriving.”
Frank said nothing for a moment. “You don’t believe in ghosts. You don’t remember when he told you that, and Tipper did find the quill in the tooth …”
Jessica regarded her nephew. “I have to believe that when people die, they find their resting place in heaven. That sometimes a face that seems familiar is because we’ve seen a photograph of that person and our mind makes a connection due to similarities.”
He looked at his Aunt Jessica. “Uh huh. And a healthy imagination is good to have until it gets you into trouble.”
“Have a good time?” he asked in an even tone.
“Mu-huh,” she said, scrubbing her face with the cloth.
She saw him hold the wrappers in
his hand. “Five of them is a lot to eat before
dinner. How much were they? They look good.”
“Your money is in your wallet, in your back pack. I saw the police car down at the Mini Mart - I would have hoped that your mother instilled better values in you.”
She strode towards him and lashed out furious at his leg with her foot. He side stepped the blow so that instead she came in contact with the side of the baseboard , kicking it hard enough to bend the metal back, and in the process, doing the unthinkable to herself. Her eyes widened in shock as she dropped to the floor screaming in pain.
Dinner was going to be late.
The pages of the exam book ruffled in the soft breeze from the open window as Willie sat for the second part of the exam. Glancing at the pages he scanned them quickly then standing up, walked to where the instructor sat.
Mr. Gibbon looked up at Willie. “Yes?”
Willie took a breath. “This one won’t do, Mr. Gibbons,” he said softly.
Mr. Gibbon’s eyebrows went up. “Pardon?”
“This test, it won’t do at all,” Willie said placing the book down with the back page face down.
“And why would that be?” Mr. Gibbons asked dryly.
Letting a second breath out slowly Willie answered him honestly. “During my time of practice, I wrote a great many papers, Some that are being used apparently for things that I didn’t know about. This is one of them.”
“You’re suggesting that you wrote this test?” stated Mr. Gibbons with a forced calm as he watched Willie nod, then flip to the back of the booklet before turning it around for Mr. Gibbons to see before extracting his identification card and placing it beside the booklet.
Sighing Mr. Gibbons picked up the second test and flipped open the booklet, then a third. He gave a groan, then closed them. Sitting back in his chair he regarded Willie. “You could have just taken the exam and not said anything.”
“I would know that it wouldn’t be a fair test.” Willie said simply.
Mr. Gibbons regarded the four others in the room who were deep into the test. “Wait here,” he said, standing up and striding across the room. In a moment he returned with Dr. Norris who held a folder in his hand.
“This way please,” Dr. Norris said, leading his way out the door to another room. He leaned against the desk in the room and placed the folder down.
“I did as you suggested and ran a search on your works, and on you. I’m impressed. I do have to ask, why you wish to practice - you don’t have to work, your research skills would be better served at a research institute. I understand you have your reasons. The booklets were an oversight, we could reschedule the exam, but, from my understanding from your interview, there isn’t time to do that, is there?”
Willie closed his eyes for a moment, shaking his head. “No, there isn’t, Dr. Norris.”
long while the two men looked at each other in silence before Dr. Norris said, “I
am convinced that you have exceeded the requirements to be a doctor in the
“What do you suggest, Dr. Norris?” inquired Willie, tilting his head slightly watching him as he picked up the folder and looking down at it.
“Book learning is fine, and many pass their boards from the book. But we haven’t seen how you practice medicine.” Dr. Norris handed a thin folder to Willie. “This is just the information that the nurse took and her observations noted on the side. Let’s see what you can do with this one.”
Willie flipped open the folder and glanced into its contents. Reviewing it, he sat down. “Ah, well. There is a wee bit of a difficulty with treating this young man, if we are to go by the nurse’s notes - they are inaccurate.”
“You haven’t even seen the young man yet,” said Dr. Norris, exasperated.
Willie closed the folder. “He’s my nephew, and he was brought here so that what’s going on can be discovered. From what we’ve learned, his eating patterns changed two years ago, he began sharing his meals with his younger sisters so that the food would nae go to waste. His mother noticed that his twin sister had outgrown him, and that he still fit into the same clothes as he did when he was younger. He does eat, now, not in large amounts at a meal, but in smaller bits.”
“Why wasn’t he taken to a hospital when it was first discovered?” inquired Dr. Norris.
“He was, and they had no answer for my sister except to feed him more porridge in the morning. He would eat what she served him, but it didn’t change his weight, or his height. I do understand the nurse questioning if there was abuse done to Ian, an aye, he has been harmed, but not by his mother or father. His step-uncle was the one who broke his leg, though by accident or design we will never know, Flynn’s not in this world any longer. The bruises on his shoulders came from an altercation with a shop owner this morning, and there is a police report that has been filed. Ian has times of strength and weakness that can not be explained. “
For a moment Dr. Norris stood contemplating Willie’s words before inquiring, “What would be the course of diagnosis?”
“Full exam, CBC to detect anemia, electrolytes, urinalysis. Thyroid function tests, hormonal studies, hemoglobin electrophoresis, though it’s unlikely that he would have sickle cell disease, and an X-ray to determine bone age.”
There was an unearthly wailing
coming from the waiting room as Willie and Dr. Norris approached. Opening the
door Willie looked into the room where he saw
pulled up a chair beside Ian and sat down. “What’s all this?” he asked gently.
Ian didn’t answer, only turning his head to hide against
“Ni scéal cinn chroim é,” Willie said gently to Ian.
Standing up, he carefully lifted
Ian into his arms and held out his hand to
As they passed through the door, the wailing stopped, followed by a snarled, “I was here before that - ” A string of descriptive nouns issued from Molly’s mouth. Willie felt Ian tense in his arms.
Ian felt Willie sigh before he heard soft words come from his uncle: “A wise person once said, ‘No question is stupid. Only people are stupid. Some are rude, and the rest are unlearned … anyone can learn, ignorance can be cured, but stupidity and rudeness are permanent.’ Does that about sum it up?”
Mort sipped from the coffee mug as
he paced in Jessica’s kitchen. “Don’t know whether to laugh about this or
cry, Mrs. F. Earl Shapp is one of those who
needs a good thumping for years, just never thought it would come from
Tipper. More paperwork than I want to deal with, and he
has half a mind to press charges against her. She was clearly protecting
Ian, though. Wasn’t too happy when I reminded him he was facing charges for
what he put Ian through. He closed up his store for today,
it’s a shambles right now. He said that he was going to call his
insurance agent and see if they would help with the repairs to the store. No
word yet from
shook her head. It had been several hours since the three of them left, and she
was beginning to be worried about what was happening. Sliding the plate of
homemade cookies over to Mort she took a sip of coffee herself. “
Mort shrugged. “Kids handle those cards all the time. Several were found on the discarded cards, and one matched the partial print on the letter opener, and we are running that set to see what comes up. No one saw anyone else in the store except Ian. I know all of the kids in the neighborhood, and none of them that are Frank’s size have red hair. Given that the chocolate was on the outside of his face, and he didn’t have the holo cards on him - the local kids just aren’t into that, not here. Where is Frank, by the way?”
“With Donna, while she takes a nap. He said he can watch over her, and study at the same time. His final is as soon as he finishes the last section, and he wants it done with. “ Jessica said with a smile.
Mort saw the lingering sadness in her eyes. “So, Donna has decided to move back with her parents?”
For the longest time Jessica didn’t
say anything. Finally she placed her coffee cup down and sighed. “There
are three things that will break up marriages - death, money, and illness.
Grady and Frank wish to stay in Cabot Cove, Donna wishes to be with her
parents. I understand the conflict that she is going through, and I feel as much a parent to Grady, and as much a
grandmother to Frank, as they would be my own flesh and blood. Frank being here
has been delightful. I’ve become used to him, and all the excitement that
children bring. I would love to have him see Cabot Cove decorated for
Christmas, and the excitement on his face opening the packages on Christmas
day. Maybe I would be selfish to hope that they would stay, Mort. I know it
won’t be easy for Donna no matter what she decides. Goodness knows the
excitement that will happen when
“When will you know?” he asked, gently reaching over to take her hand in his. It was ice cold. She closed her eyes for a moment, willing back the tears.
“Grady is due home at the end of the week. Donna has agreed to allow Frank to stay for the rest of the summer, and if the doctors that she saw before the wedding are correct, the baby should be born mid-September. If Willie is correct, the baby would be born in November …”
sound of a car pulling into the driveway next door interrupted Jessica.
She looked over Mort’s shoulder and saw Willie get out of the car and open the
Mort, before it gets dark, I would like a word with you outside,” Willie said
before turning to
Willie excused the two of them and
led Mort to the back of the house before pulling out his pen light and handing
it to him. “Ian found it this morning, before we were going to leave. I know
that it was not on the seeds that my gram gave to me, I’ve asked Wife, and its nae from her. I
Mort bent over and using the flash light regarded the plant that was growing under the back porch.
“Is that, what I think it is?” inquired Mort with a fair bit of surprise.
Willie faced Mort with a steady eye. “Aye. The Hebrews called it qìnçh boúem - reed of balm. Ian has asked if he may have it to grow he says it‘s pretty … he doesn’t ask for anything Mort, what do I tell him?”
Moving to the porch step Mort sat
and folded his hands. “I am going to be honest with you, Willie. The laws
sat quietly for a moment, his eyes thoughtful. Looking back up at Willie he
continued, “You had belladonna take over the town where you lived, you
understand the dangers of the youth being addicted. The plants that they are
using now are more potent, and dangerous that they were thirty years ago, and
even for this town, it scares the daylights from
me to know that somehow, it may make its way here. What would it take to be
able to do that type of testing? To see if we could identify if its from the same *reed of Balm* family or if its from
different sources? Everything we have is sent to
Sighing, Willie leaned against the rail. “You would need an area that was clean, one of those sanitary rooms. You would need a location that was secure, and you would need approval from the state to run the facilities at the very least. If you had that, and someone that was licensed to do the testing, it would soon become a full time job.”
“If all of that could be done - would you help with it?” Mort asked with his eyes studying the struggle upon Willie’s face.
“You know I will help organize it, Mort, even without asking. I’ve held too many that died from overdoses in my arms to let another perish from the greed of men. You should know, too, that if that Reed of Balm was the only way to bring comfort to one who was dying, I would prescribe it to stop the suffering.”
Drawing in a long breath Mort nodded. “I will start making phone calls to see what we can do. I know the others are waiting. After that, you and I will have a discussion with Ian about this plant.”
Willie nodded. “It will have to wait until tomorrow. He doesn’t have the strength right now to even wobble properly.”
Mort led the way back to Jessica’s
house where everyone was in the living room. Ian was snuggled against
“We can’t keep them in suspense much longer, uncle,” said Ian, still with his eyes closed.
“Ah, well then. I couldn’t take the paper tests they had for me because all of those tests had been based on cases that I had researched years ago. Dr. Norris picked a file at random from the patients at the facility and the one he happened to pick was Ian, who was there for testing anyway. We knew Ian was anemic, and we found his cholesterol level was extremely high. There were some other puzzles in the mix as well. We began a discussion regarding the porridge that the doctor told Sara to give him to eat, and he said he only could eat it if it had plenty of sugar on it. Therein lies the key. Ian has a copper deficiency. The amount of sugar that he was eating was blocking the copper from being absorbed. Iron anemia and copper anemia test the same, but are treated differently. So, it’s no more sugar, and copper with zinc supplements and things should improve fairly quickly. He might grow a wee bit taller and most defiantly a bit wider - we will know the difference in about two months.”
“You passed, then,” said Mort, smiling.
“Don’t know that officially, they have to turn it over to the state. There was a second case that I saw, the one the staff named the wailer - Ian and she had a meeting of the minds in the waiting room, though he hasn’t explained his dealings of it, I heard her side, and more,” said Willie, casting a side long glance in Ian’s direction.
with his eyes still closed snuggled against
“I believe that explanation will have to wait until another time,” said Jessica gently. She looked at Willie, then Taylor who had exchanged glances for the longest time. “What else did you find out?” Jessica inquired.
Jessica saw Willie sigh before murmuring softly, “It may not be all as bad as that. I didn’t see what the written tests were, and I have asked for copies of them to see where his education would be lacking. ‘Twas a long day for him, with more on his mind that the bits of paper before him. His grades in school last year were exceptional, so there is no understanding beyond the advancement of the deficiency to explain it.”
For a moment there was silence in the room as all eyes rested upon Ian. Willie turned back to Mort. “Oh, the young lass that Ian said took the candy and cards may well be one known as Molly Bishop, she and her father are staying at the Parkers’ for the next two weeks. She was at the hospital today getting her foot tended too, an while she fits the description that Ian gave earlier, that no one saw, she had quite forgotten one of the holo cards in her pocket that fell out when she was getting dressed after the exam. She left it behind.” Willie extracted a plastic bag that held the card, in the middle of it was a dried chocolate thumb print.
Mort’s eyes danced with amusement. “I take it you learned from Mrs. F regarding criminology? I will run the prints, and if there is a match, let Earl know.”
Shrugging Jessica smiled herself. “It runs in the family, Mort.”
Jessica saw the look of sadness in Willie’s eyes as Mort walked out of the room. Frank did too, and taking Donna by the hand he said, “Let’s get dinner started, Mum.” Donna allowed herself to be led out. Frank closed the door between them discretely.
waited until the steps were well away before saying to Jessica. “Aunt Jessica,
I have informed Mr. Murphy that I would na
be teaching at the school, though I was able to find some one who would. Mort
has asked me to help with something and I will - I will, as much as I can. Ian
has asked that we take him back home to be with his family if we feel the
treatments that he will be receiving are not effective. If we go … we won’t be
Jessica blinked back tears. She could see Ian stirring a bit, and didn’t want to break down completely.
Willie stood and went to her. “No tears now. He is still with us,” he said bending over and giving her cheek a kiss. “I have an errand to run, may be a bit, would you mind if Taylor and Ian took supper with you?”
“Not at all.”
Harrison Bishop sighed. It was late by the time they returned home, and he somehow knew the person on the porch was someone that could explain what his daughter’s involvement was earlier. He looked back to where his daughter was scrunched down trying not to be seen. “Molly. You are old enough to know this. If you do something wrong, there is a punishment for it.”
She hardened her glare at him. “You did plenty of things wrong to end up in jail.”
ended up there because your mother lied,” said
waited until they came up to the house. Molly took her time limping as
She was about to refuse, but something told her not to make things worse for herself than they already were. She nodded and then clumped off to the kitchen, pausing at the closet for a moment on the way there. They needed ice of course. She put different color straws in each of the glasses, and then with a satisfied smirk she carried the tray into the living room where her father was sitting. She had filled the glasses, and shoved one with a blue straw towards her father. “I get the pink one, and you get the green one, and you get the blue,” she said giving the drink a swirl. She noticed that her father’s grim expression didn’t go away. Picking up her drink she sat back on the sofa and waited. Nether of the men touched their drinks. Earl regarded her and she could see that he was very upset with her. Her father was as well.
“As I was saying, Mr. Bishop, it’s not so much the money to replace the broken shelves, or replacing the stock on the shelves, it’s, well, being closed the entire day losing those sales during tourist season is the real blow.”
absolutely agree, Mr. Shapp. I am a self-employed
business man myself, and I understand during peak times the loss can be
substantial. I had informed Molly earlier that if any damage was done by her
actions that reparations would come from her savings
account. While the local banks are closed right now, I can make arrangements
tonight to have the cash delivered to you tonight about nine thirty.
Would seven thousand be sufficient?”
Earl nodded. He wasn’t expecting it to be this easy. Most out of staters were adamant that their children were innocent. He knew that Molly hadn’t done all the damage - some of it had been done when Tipper had reacted. He knew she had a house, he could put a claim in against her and her home owners’ insurance would probably cover it with out blinking and if anything, Mort’s police report would allow the insurance company to cover his loss as well. He’d placed a call with his agent and left a message. Elisa Trudy had said she was going to be there later to see the damage. She was sweet eye candy. Reaching forward he grasped the glass with the blue straw and took a deep sip. It was bitter and sweet at the same time, yet soothing. He felt himself relax and agree that Molly would come down the next day to help with the clean up. Perhaps an honest day’s work would give her a greater understanding for how money was made.
“You can’t prove it was me! I wasn’t even there!!!” she shouted, jumping up from the sofa.
“Now see here, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have proof!” said Earl a bit thickly.
“That snot gob is lying! I didn’t take anything, he did!”
Earl pulled something from his pocket. It was a copy of the holo card with her fingerprint, the copy of the letter opener with the finger print, and the Child Find records that her mother had provided to CYS just incase something would happen and she would have to trace her daughter.
“I could believe that the letter opener would be coincidental, but you left this behind, and it matches the prints and the cards left behind. Mr. Bishop, the sheriff was kind enough to tell me that your reputation is outstanding. I will take your word that this will be resolved as you suggest tomorrow. I trust there will not be a repeat of this?” Earl said looking at Molly.
She swallowed and didn’t say anything. Earl saw a flicker in her eyes. Contempt. No doubt there would be a repeat, until she was caught and old enough to be taken into police custody. She watched as he stood, and drained the glass of lemonade with the green straw. The bell at the tavern began to ring as the two men shook hands.
the longest time
“What’s for supper?” she asked trying to hide her surprise.
“I ate at the cafeteria earlier. You said you weren’t hungry then, and seeing how you have had eight candy bars today, I would say you had more than enough calories for the day. You’re going to bed without supper.”
“And if I hear another word from you I will find out who that little boy was that you hit at the hospital and give him every thing that is in your back pack. In fact, its best you go to your room now, and get ready for bed.”
Molly was about to protest further but knew that she better not press her luck. Sighing she limped off to her bedroom and closed the door. Glancing about she sighed. From what her mother said, it wouldn’t take long for her father’s medicine to take effect. Leaving her games behind locked in the trunk was a wrench. She pulled out her over night bag and opened it. She had kicked it under the bed already packed with everything she was going to need. It felt lighter. Blinking several times she wrenched it open and found her father had unpacked everything. Panicking, she looked for the diary her mother had given her. It was gone. She burst from the room and stormed into the living room where her father was calmly sipping another glass of lemonade.
“Give it back!” she demanded.
“Give what back?” he asked, curious, leaning forward to look at her.
“My diary! You took it from my over night bag! “
Molly turned and stormed back to her room. Her mother had given her an open ended ticket; she had placed it in her diary along with the cab fair money that would take her to the airport.
There was only one thing to be done. She knew the money - her money - would be arriving at the store in a few hours. She would have to pretend to go to sleep, and then sneak out and get the money from the shop keeper to get home. Grimly she smirked. She had a fair idea of what the medicine was that her mother had given her - she wasn’t stupid. “Give this to your father and when he falls asleep, call a cab, and go to the air port. By the time he wakes up, you will be with us, and he won’t be able to do anything about it.” The rub had been that Mr. Shapp had taken some of her father’s drink instead of her father. There was enough to give him a second dose tomorrow night if she had to. Then she could call her mother and be with her.
Molly hadn’t thought about the fingerprints. She knew there were rubber gloves under the sink in her bathroom, and she would use them when she went to see Mr. Shapp about the money. There was also the matter regarding that snot-nosed snitch. She would have to see about him and make him pay for giving the police her description.
Tipper walked into where Willie was working the large loom. She knew that when he needed to think he wove. He had called her on his cell, asking if she could meet him down at the shop a bit later as he had something to discuss with her. She could see his shirt sleeve was torn, and there was a dark area under his chin.
“Willie! What happened?”
He looked at her with a wisp of
sadness. “Ah, well, found Earl Shapp at my doorstep
here drunk as a skunk as you say, and he took a swing at me because I had sent
his good friend Kent Fordham to prison. He’s due to go to the chair in two days
and Earl was in a right state. Said he would see me and mine dead before
Tipper took Willie’s hands in hers. The knuckles were split open again. “Let me get something for those,” she said, withdrawing.
He caught her hand in his. “No, let them be. Angela, I need to ask a favor and you’re the only one that I trust to do this.”
“Sounds serious,” she said, pulling up a chair beside the loom and regarding him.
“Mort is wanting a way to set up a lab to test certain things, the DNA structure of plants that people are nae supposed to be having, and he wants me to help with it. I can help set it up, but the work required to run it, well, with everything, life is going to be very busy for us for a while.”
Tipper nodded, understanding.
“I feel as if I have failed Ian. That if I had not been so concerned about other things, his diagnosis could have been sooner. I should have seen the signs straight away. His mother never told the doctors that he was hallucinating. She just thought that he was having fun with a make believe friend, but it went on too long.”
“A make-believe friend? Ian? Really? He never mentioned one … wait, he did mention someone a while back. Some one he called ‘Aurth.’ He said that Aurth was friends with his parents, that she told Sara not to go into work the day that the explosion happened - and about a Dr. Buhmer that was across the way that might help Ian get better. Are you saying that he made it all up? That he hallucinated this person and what they had said?”
Willie didn’t say anything for a while. He looked down at his hands and then up at Tipper. “Sara mentioned about the mysterious Dr, Buhmer. Ian just came up with that out of the blue one morning and drove them to distraction until they looked up every single doctor that began with a B, both, at home and everywhere they could think away was. He wasn’t found. It’s made him schizophrenic.”
“Oh,” Tipper said closing her eyes.
Willie sat in silence for a moment
before beginning again. “Angela, Ian has asked us to take him home, to be
able to die with his family, and we won’t be coming back. The pregnancy isn’t
going well for
Numb, Tipper nodded then asked, “Willie, what if Aurth is like Adam, or Gabe? That only Ian can see her?”
She saw Willie shake his head slowly. “I asked Adam. There’s no one like him that he knows named Aurth.” For a moment he sat in silence before the tears came spilling down his cheeks. Tipper gathered Willie into her arms as the sobs overcame him.
“She called me a snot nog, that I was a smelly odd beggar’s son and when I told her to get on with herself, she called Mum an old flah-bag. Then I told her she was a miserable sot and she popped me one. Well, I did her back and she got this look in her eye and she kicked me - had to be her sore foot of course, and she screamed and popped me again. I ducked it and drew on her chin and she went down like a sack of potatoes down the hamper. Her da was quiet like the whole time, like there wasn’t anything he could do to make her behave. She’s the same one this morning, who was in the shop and pushed me down,” said Ian quietly as he lay on the sofa with his head on Taylor‘s lap.
Jessica raised her eyebrows at his statement. “Ah, well, if your uncle would have known that I would imagine he would have used a larger needle for the shot she needed. Not that it would be sweetening her disposition though, not even a wallop. Your mother and father should have taught you better not to hit girls, though.”
“They said I couldn’t hit my sisters - they didn’t say I couldn’t to other girls.”
Closing her eyes for a brief moment to compose herself she drew in a breath. “While I haven’t known your uncle long, I have only seen him strike a man once, and that was to save Franks life. Healers do no harm. It’s part of the vow they take.”
The door opened. “Dinner is ready,” said Frank, regarding Ian with concern. “Do you want me to bring in a plate for you here?” he asked gently.
“I can manage to take it at the table, Zookie,” said Ian softly. “What are we having?” he asked, testing the smells coming from the kitchen. “Smells good.”
“Corn bread, greens, and chicken soup,” Jessica answered for Frank as he went to the younger child and helped him stand up slowly. Jessica saw Ian perk up.
“Is there a lot of corn bread?” he asked, curious.
Frank nodded. “We made up a couple of batches.”
“That’s a lovely smell, I could eat that corn stuff every day,” Ian said breathing in, a smile to his face.
“You wouldn’t get tired of it?” asked Jessica curiously.
Ian shook his head as he clumped to the kitchen. “Oh no. It’s easy going down and sets well, and on the coldest of days it wraps me up like a fluffy blanket all inside. I particularly like the grits that Dr. Seth made when we were at Mither’s - I would like to have that every meal if I could.”
glances with Jessica,
Frank looked between Jessica and
Taylor then to Ian as he settled into his chair. He was going to ask Ian if he
was daft or something, and to go for something substantial - like a thick
steak. Nether Jessica or Taylor or his mother said anything when Ian
helped himself to his fourth muffin. He watched Ian spread the fluffy
butter over each one carefully then savor each bite as if it was the grandest
thing he had ever eaten. After dinner was done, Frank watched
“Lesson 20, Pre Final Summary.
This is the next to the last summary of my English summer schooling taught by Mrs. Jessica Fletcher.
In the past weeks I have written regarding
the changes that I have encountered during my time here. I’ve learned about
growing up, dealing with issues that adults do, and come to an understanding
regarding a mature approach to events, even those that you can’t control. I
know the adults want to keep worry from kids. A healthy dose of worry is good
to deal with once in a while, but the concerns that I have are far beyond what
anyone should have. I worry about Mum, and the baby. Sometimes she is fine,
other times, I am the grown up, taking care of
her. Dad won’t be back from
Summer is almost over. Up here the leaves are beginning to change already. Leaf peepers have begun to arrive, and there is an entirely different feel in the air. A briskness, one of concerns that adults have exchanged, and I wonder if my cousin Ian will be seeing the snow’s first fall. I know that the adults are worried about him. I am worried, and I can see it in my Aunt Jessica’s eyes as she looks at him. There are things that they learned today when he was at the hospital, things about him that they don’t want to share just yet, and I see how ill he is, how, weak he is, and I know he is facing the end if he doesn’t get better soon.
I never knew
Tipper wrung out the scrap of cloth again and handed it to Willie. Pulling aside the chair she had been sitting on, she straddled it and then waited as he wiped his face, and then sat back as he pressed it to the back of his neck.
know you too well, Willie - you left
“You know the answer to that,” he said sighing.
Poking him in the shoulder she shook her head. “An answer that I half believe.”
She watched him tilt his head. “What would you believe? Do you really want to know the truth in all of this? Truth that no one would listen to if you told them, or if they did, you would be locked away for speaking it? Do you want to really know, do you really feel that when you do know, that you can believe it to be the truth about what I am? What Ian is, and what Wife will bring into the world?”
“I read the books - I know all about your family history …” She watched as he shook his head.
“That’s only the side that the
world wanted to believe. You know, they spoke of a gathering - that this place
here had an energy that would bring it all together, and the sword would be
what drew them. I don’t know if
“Things aren’t the way they were a hundred years ago, Willie! They don’t toss dwarves to the lions any more,” Tipper said, trying to hold in her frustration. She saw something in Willie’s eyes - fear. She saw him swallow. “Why are you telling me this?”
“You have to know - when your children are born, they may be smaller - they may be like us …” he began before falling silent at the sound of her pager going off.
Tipper groaned. She wasn’t on call. She hadn’t had a night off in the longest time. She glanced at the number on the pager and frowned.
“Who is it?” Willie asked, seeing her expression.
from Ye Olde Tyme Mini Mart
- well his pay phone at least. Don’t know why he would be calling me, I made it
clear he was to take
Sighing she slipped her pager back in the holster and took a step to the door. Willie stopped her. “Angela, I’m nae your father, but I wouldn’t let you go alone to the likes of Earl tonight alone. Let me get my coat upstairs,” he said as he took the steps two at a time. Tipper heard the bell of the shop ring and turned. A slender older woman with wispy reddish grey hair and twinkling blue eyes peaked in.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I was looking for a young friend of mine’s uncle - I thought I might find him here. Never could pronounce his first or last name. I have a message for him, but you can pass it on just the same? ‘Ivy will grow most everywhere, as does clover. A bird will only nest when it is safe; it’s safe to nest now,’” she said as she turned to go out the door.
“Wait, I don’t even know your name!” Tipper called as the woman closed the door behind her. She rushed to the door and opened it up, there was no one on the steps, no one on the porch, no one on the street, and she didn’t think that a woman that age could move fast.
“Who are you calling after?” asked Willie behind her. Tipper nearly jumped out of her skin. She hadn’t heard him come down the steps, or up behind her.
“A lady came with a message for you.” Groaning with frustration Tipper heard her pager go off again.
Molly stood outside Ye Old Tyme Mini Mart with the number that was on the shipping invoice wedged where she could read it and dial at the same time. It had seemed like it took forever for her father to fall asleep. It wasn’t hard to wipe off her fingerprints from the plastic wrapping and put his hand print on it then carefully, wearing rubber gloves, she tore the bag and carried it to the shop. She didn’t know what she was going to do with it at first, but after finding Earl sprawled blue faced in a corner of the store, she fought the urge to scream, then wrapped it around his neck and tied it with a bow. It wasn’t tight, but they wouldn’t look to see what else killed him then. She dropped the bag that held her father’s prints, and looking around, she saw the envelope that held her money from her account. It wasn’t open. It had fallen to the side with some other envelopes and invoices.
Carefully she ripped that open, and then stuffed the folded cash in her pocket. She was going to crumple the envelope and toss it, but thought better of it. She could leave it behind at the condo for them to find with her father’s prints on it, and she would have nothing to worry about ever again. She took the invoice and dialed the number again. She wanted someone to find him and she knew that she would have to hurry home to get into bed for her alibi. There was one other thing she had to get. She should have done it first, and the dim light from the coolers weren’t much help as she went to the automotive section to pick up the half gallon container. It was heavy. She knew she didn’t need all of it, and she could dump some of it out later once she was away.
She had looked up the airport and called them from her room. There were no more flights out that night to where she wanted to go. The earliest would be at 11 in the morning and she was sure she could slip out with her father’s habit of sleeping in and catch a cab elsewhere to go to the airport.
A noise up the street caused her to
jump. She hurried down the street to the safety of a clump of trees.
Hunching down she didn’t see anything, but heard a man speaking to someone
else, and a woman answering him. In the light from the street lamp she was able
to make out the street signs. She had over heard the woman with the snot-nosed
kid saying where he lived. She knew he had a dog, and she had heard
Peering in the dark she found the house and went up onto the back porch. Silly them to leave dog dishes outside. She gave the child proof lid a twist. No kid she ever knew was deterred by one of them. The rubber gloves were hot and sweaty. Resisting the urge to take them off she gave lid a twist again and tossed it aside. The container slipped from her hands and thudded to the porch splashing everywhere. Molly jumped back away from the path of the spilling liquid and fell backwards off the steps. She saw a light flick on in the upstairs window. Scrambling to her feet she fled down the street, going down a different way to where the time share was. Panting she gave the door handle a twist to open it. It wouldn’t budge. She knew she had left the door unlocked as she slipped out - no one ever locks their doors in back water towns! There was a slip of paper tucked under the mat. Curious she gave it a tug and in the light from the street she saw the word “Busted.” Wrinkling her face up she crumpled the note.
knew that if she wanted a bed that night she would have to knock on the
door. Frowning Molly replaced the slip of paper the way she found it
under the mat and stomped to the car. She had left her side unlocked, just in
case she had to plant something later. She had tossed the rubber gloves into a
garbage bin behind one of the shops - no one would notice them there. She
reached in her pocket for the envelope using the corner of her shirt to protect
against her fingerprints getting on it. Numbly she realized - it was
gone. Fine. That just made things better. She
hadn’t touched it. No one would make the connection to her until she was long
gone. She had seen the bus station in town, and it wasn’t that far. She would
get a ticket to
Striding grimly to his car Mort sighed. He hated to be the one to tell relatives that someone had died, even if it was someone like Earl Shapp. He knew Earl had some uncle somewhere out west, someone who cared for him. Willie had come down with Tipper, and both tried to do their best to revive Earl. There was a long latex thing that Tipper had said was hers, but it didn’t explain how it had happened to end up wrapped about Earls throat. Willie had admitted to defending himself against Earl, and Elisa Trudy had said Earl was in a weird mood. She had arrived after Willie, and she had been there when a courier arrived with a thick envelope. Earl had laughed, waving an envelope around and saying it was pay back for every snot-nosed brat who had stolen from him. She had taken photos of the damage, and then left him as he opened a bottle from the top shelf. He said he was in the mood to celebrate. Politely she had refused his offer to join him.
The envelope from the courier wasn’t there, though it was possible he had taken the money and put it in his safe, or the bank’s night deposit box. He had consumed a fair amount from the bottle. Glancing back at the long latex thing Mort raised an eyebrow. He knew he would find Tipper’s prints on the thing, and on the bag. He would have to trace who the courier service was and find out if he could what was in the delivery. The banks wouldn’t be open until morning, and his brain was working in overdrive.
Andy came out of the back room with a prescription bottle that was almost empty. He glanced at the date, and the label. Taking a breath he went back in and faced Tipper.
“Do you know anything about this?” he asked trying to keep his voice calm. “You know, this makes how bad it looks for you even worse …”
“I’m his dog’s vet, of course I know about that. I don’t know why there are so few pills in it, and yes, dogs can have chronic pain requiring narcotics. But it’s a baby dose,” she said as her pager went off again. Sighing exasperated she pulled it out of her pocket and glanced at the number, pressing a button, she read the text message that was attached.
“Who is it?” asked Mort, curious. He knew from Tipper’s statement that she wasn’t on call.
Mort swore under his breath. “Andy, stay with this. Come on,” he said taking Tipper by the elbow. “Its faster if I drive you there.”
“Antifreeze – it’s all over the back porch. I let her out and I saw her licking the deck, and I turned on the light … She’d just eaten - I don’t know how much she was able to get into her before I got her up off of the deck. I ... I made her vomit then gave her charcoal and egg whites - I didn’t know what else to do.”
Willie went behind
would do such a thing? She’s never hurt any one,”
Willie watched Tipper work over the
sink, listening to her soft words of encouragement to
Mort regarded her with some surprise. She saw his look and explained, “It gives the organs that would be affected something else to work on …”
Mort held up his hands. “You’re the doctor,” he said, raising an eyebrow as he watched Willie go to the cabinet and withdraw a bottle.
“Irish whiskey is what we have,” Willie said, handing it to her.
Striding out the front door Mort pulled out his flash light and began to sweep the yard with it looking for clues. He saw Jessica’s door open, and in a moment she was beside him with a two foot long bar. “Perhaps this will help?” she asked as she handed it to him.
“What is it?” Mort inquired, curious.
Jessica reached down and switched a button on the side of the bar making Mort wince from the odd purple light. “It’s ultraviolet light, a portable one. The younger generation called it ‘black light’ because it doesn’t really illuminate anything except certain things - things with sodium. The reason I use it is to find something that has been moved, or damaged.”
said Mort eyeing the bar. “Stay right here.” He went to the door of
“Ian has been with you this evening, hasn’t he?” Mort inquired softly.
Jessica nodded. “We tucked him in
on the parlor sofa not too long ago.
Mort slipped on a pair of gloves and carefully picked it up. “Something that makes it more complicated by the moment. From what Elisa Trudy said, Earl had a delivery from a courier service, and this looks like the envelope - no money though. Makes it looks like robbery was the motive, but this is the only thing that was missing,” replied Mort.
“Who was the person who sent the envelope? And why?”
Mort directed the beam of the flash light onto the envelope. Jessica could hear him sigh as he flicked the flash light off and clipped it to his belt.
“Molly Bishop. She’s the child that stole from Earl today. The same one who started something with Ian at the hospital. An unpleasant child if there ever was one.”
Jessica glanced at her watch. “It’s probably past her bed time - but some how I have a feeling that she is still up. While the evidence to this is circumstantial at best, it would warrant a discussion with her, and perhaps something to shed some light on things?” she said, nodding to the light bar.
nodded as he gave the area a final sweep before going to the trunk of his car.
Not that Cabot Cove was a hot bed of crime, and Sam Booth had questioned why
getting the pallet of Redi Pour Plaster for cast
making was a good idea - but it had been. Not only did it add weight to the car
during the winter months, with a few squeezes and a zip of the seal he could
have enough plaster to track bigfoot
Withdrawing half a dozen packets he handed five of them to Jessica, before striding back to where the hand prints were. He’d had enough of Molly Bishop. If she was even partially responsible for the evenings activities … Mort sighed as he poured the thick plaster in the impression of the hand then wrote the date and location with the stylus pen that came with it in the rapid setting plaster.
His father would have walloped his back side. Whoever did this had to have known what they were doing. Somehow the thought of incarcerating someone like her didn’t bother him. Seemed almost too easy, and he doubted if it would change who they were.
With the last one poured he dusted off his hands and returned to the open trunk. The other thing he had purchased in large amounts was kitty litter. He knew washing it into the soil would cause problems. Sighing he shrugged the bag over his shoulder and carried it to the porch where he sifted it over the spilt antifreeze. There was nothing to be done for the area where the container had been dumped, it was already in the soil, but he could at least mark where it was for removal later. Grinning he went back to the plaster casts and tipped up a corner. They had hardened in a matter of moments. He slid them into evidence bags and placed them in a secured box in the trunk before turning to see Jessica sweeping the ground with the black light bar looking for more clues as he went around to the front of the house.
was the sound of quiet sobbing from
ready to go to the clinic?” Mort asked gently. Tipper nodded, wrapping
It wasn’t much of a bus station,
thought Molly as she swung her back pack over her shoulder and tromped to the
bench at the curb. She had three hours to wait for the bus to
A shadow crossed over her as an older woman sat down next to her.
“Things just don’t happen, dearie, they are caused for reasons.”
Molly turned her head and regarded the slender older woman with wispy reddish grey hair and twinkling blue eyes. She knew better than to even begin to start a conversation with this woman.
“For example, that young man who walloped you today at the hospital. He had been told not to hit his sisters, but your not related to him, and you rather did need it… though most adults would say you needed a bit more sometimes… You should know - he doesn’t have a dog.”
“What? Who the hell are you?”
“He doesn’t have a dog. Someone totally innocent has been hurt tonight because you wanted revenge. She may even lose her unborn children because of the shock she has had, because of your actions tonight. No, the dog you poisoned tonight has never harmed anyone, Sweet little thing, well mannered. Her owner would sometimes take her to the children’s ward for the little ones to snuggle next to when they are very ill and have no hope. That won’t happen now,” the old woman said sadly.
“Lady, I don’t know what you are talking about!” Molly said, edging back. She saw the woman blink once and sigh, resigned.
“As careful as you were in preventing your finger prints from getting on the envelope, and other places, you forgot one thing… you left them on the inside of the gloves. Careless of you to leave them where you did as well, they will be found you know.”
“Get away from me!” said Molly, standing up and snatching her bag from the floor. She stumbled back, her heart pounding in her chest. She should have tossed the gloves in the water. There was only one thing to do, Molly thought - play ‘child in distress…’
“Hey, she’s bothering me!” she said, hurrying to the counter where the slim young ticket man stood speaking on the phone. Turning he looked in the direction that she was pointed to.
“Who is?” he asked, curious.
“That smelly old woman! Over there!…”
She saw the puzzled look on his face. “You’re the only fare for tonight, no one else is up at this hour around here.”
Molly whirled. The woman was gone, but the frantic pounding of her heart didn’t stop.
clock chimed on the corner of the building. She knew she still had an hour to
spend there, and if that old lady knew what she had done, if she had seen her …
She shook her head. No one had seen her. If they had, then the police would
have been there sooner. Snagging her bag she went back to where the chairs were
and sat in one where she could watch the comings and goings of the door. Maybe
the old woman had snuck in, and was in the ladies’ room. Her belly grumbled
again. The phone rang at the ticket desk making Molly jump. She was
tired too, and had a headache from all the goings-on. Stretching a bit, she
heard the ticket counter person say, “Yes, There is one to
Yawning Molly pulled her back pack onto her lap; she knew that the man would make sure she would get onto the bus on time. It was late, and she was over tired. Yawning again, she told herself that just closing her eyes for a moment wouldn’t hurt.
She thought she heard the screaming of an ambulance rushing by in the sleep world she had entered. Half awake, she heard the man answer the phone again, and say something. None of it mattered. All of this would be forgotten once she was on the sands of the resort with her mother and grandfather. Her lips curled in a smile as she thought about it. Her dreaming was interrupted by the sound of a woman’s voice saying to the ticket counter man, “Well, She’s quite young to be traveling by herself…”
“She said she does it all the time. Glad you were able to call when you did. The line called and said the bus was nearly full tonight.”
Jessica nodded, then placed her bag on the counter to be checked in. Sighing she went over where Molly was sitting up eyeing Jessica with wary interest, and tucked under her arm was the portable black light bar. The clerk came over to Jessica and said conversationally. “Saw one of those on an antique show. Do they really work like they say? Can you show me? We’ve got a while till the bus comes …”
Nodding, Jessica turned on the black light bar, then said to him, “It works better if the lights are turned off…” Grinning he strode to the light switch and flicked them off. Jessica moved it over the bench where she sat. “See here? It’s from someone who scraped the wood, probably with one of those rolling back packs by accident. You can see here where the wood is cracking, you may want to get that repaired…”
“Is that all it picks up, wood cracks and scrapes?” he asked, curious.
Jessica kept her voice light. “Oh, anything that has a high salt content, like sea water, or certain fluids will show up. Not like a soda, or milk, but heaver things, like car fluids.” She was careful when she raised the black light to bathe Molly in its glow. It illuminated the antifreeze splashes on her shoes and on her pants, all the way up, and even some splashes on her sleeves.
Jessica heard Molly gasp.
“Like antifreeze.” Jessica said, finally breaking the silence. Even in the black light’s glow, Jessica could see the look of defiance upon Molly’s face and that Molly had opened her mouth to deny it. The light switched on across the room. Mort stood there next to the light holding a plastic bag with the gloves in it. One of them was turned inside out, and she could see, once her eyes adjusted to the light, the trace of black powder that had been used to dust for fingerprints.
“Already had your prints on my desk. It was Mrs. F’s idea to check the dumpster lids for traces of the antifreeze … It’s all over the gloves, and some of it got on the envelope that you dropped when you fell when you put it on Taylor’s deck. I will bet a dollar to a dime that the mud on your pants will match the soil of their yard, and the grass stains as well. We’ve a few plaster casts of your shoes, too.”
Molly picked up her bag and swung it in an arc at Mort, who stepped back as she bolted from the room to the exit. Mort didn’t give chase, he only looked at Jessica and sighed as the sound of a THUMP and Molly’s cursing echoed in the room. Turning he walked calmly where she sat on the floor rubbing the palm of her hand.
took the precaution of securing the exits before we woke you up. I
understand you may be a minor, but there is something you should know,” said
Mort as he reached behind to unclip his cuffs. “We take murder seriously. Molly
Bishop, you’re under arrest for animal cruelty, the murder of Earl Shapp, abuse of a corpse and conspiracy to commit the
murder of Harrison Bishop. We found the medicine bottle that you left
behind, the one your mother faked the prescription for. You may also be
interested to know that a warrant has been served against your mother as a co-conspirator.
You have the right to remain silent, you have the right to an attorney, if you can not afford an attorney one will be provided for
you by the state of
Shrugging then giving him a nod, she felt him pull her to her feet then put the cuffs on him. “So, I get remanded to the custody of my family and pay a fine … I have money,” she said coldly.
Mort tilted his head as he slipped her bag into a large plastic bag and sealed it, writing his initials on the seal. “I guess you didn’t understand what I said - we take murder very seriously here. Your mother will be charged separately, as such with her incarceration, her wishes for your care are superceded by your father’s. You mother will be spending the next thirty years in prison. You, on the other hand, won’t be seeing the outside of a prison cell until the day they you are taken out in a body bag. Nor will you be able to see any of your mother’s family due to the nature of your crime. If your father’s family wishes to see you, they may. I wouldn’t count on it, though. This isn’t something that is going to go away with a check book, young lady. Which reminds me: according to the bank records that were provided, there was $7000 that was in that envelope. The bank did record the serial numbers of every single one of those bills. If they happen to show up in anything that you have, you will be facing additional charges of theft as well. Why on earth would you want to poison your own father?”
Her eyes flashed as they narrowed. “I hate him,” she said simply. “Mom wanted him out of the way, and I was happy to help her.”
“That’s a shame,” said Jessica softly. “Because the entire time the EMT’s were working on your father, his only concern was for you. He said to tell you that he loves you.”
Jessica watched as Molly’s face twisted as if she had handled something repugnant. “I’m not one bit sorry for what I did. That – Earl was trying to take MY money for something I didn’t even do! Stupid dorkkie Daddy GAVE him MY MONEY to make thing right! He was already dead when I got there anyway! I didn’t kill him. And I don’t believe that the dog didn’t belong to that snot-nosed kid from the hospital. He was buying a doggy squeak toy for it yesterday. No one just buys a toy for a dog if they don’t have one!”
Shaking her head Jessica corrected Molly. “Ian was helping my great nephew Frank pick one out for Frank’s dog. The dog you happened to poison belonged to my neighbor, who owns a very special little dog who didn’t deserve any harm come to her.”
“Like I would want to care?” answered Molly with deep sarcasm.
Mort shook his head, sighing “Lets go, ‘Princess,” he said, sighing.
Molly balked. Bending her knees she sat back on the floor. If there was one thing that she learned, it was how to become an immovable object when her father wanted her to go some where. Clamping her mouth shut she knew one other thing that had always gotten her way. Mort raised an eyebrow as she turned purple and slumped to the side. In a few seconds her color returned, accompanied by the sound of soft snoring.
“What the …?” said Mort softly.
Jessica stifled a giggle. “Exhaustion, no doubt. Something she didn’t count on happening… Well, it looks like your job has just become easier, Mort… though I have a better place in mind to keep sleeping beauty.”
“Oh? And where would that be?”
~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
“Dearest Wife, Angela knows her craft. She will hook her up to fluids and stay with her for the night. I know it’s natural to fret so, but you’re here because of the fret - and our little ones. You need to be calm now…”
“I am calm … I just need to – walk a bit before I find the person who did this and beat them senseless. She’s been a part of my life – she’s saved me… and if it wasn’t for her curiosity, we might never have met. I’m angry and I’m scared, and I can’t relax, I keep feeling the night won’t let me sleep because the evening isn’t done yet. I feel as if I should be there - I know I can’t be holding her paw, but, in case…”
The brisk ring of the phone
interrupted her. Willie stepped back picking it up off of the cradle.
“Come along, you’ll need to know,” he said, leading her across the back through Jessica’s rose garden to the back porch. It wasn’t locked - Jessica never locked her back door except when she was away.
Frank came flying halfway down the steps. “She’s up here!” he exclaimed then ran back up to his mother’s room.
Willie took the steps two at a
“I saw the lights on, I’m an old
friend, is there anything I can do? Would you wish for me to sit with Ian while
you help your husband?”
“Willie needs some bath towels and I can’t reach them.”
“I called the emergency number and told them it was time for the baby, but, they said that both of the ambulances were in use, and Dr. Hazlitt is at the hospital. She didn’t want you to be the one, you know … but I do.”
you, know it’s much too early for all of this,” said
She saw Frank take Donna’s hand and sit on her bedside. “I know.”
Ian’s nose twitched as he drew in a gentle breath. Something smelt familiar, of home, of his mothers embrace. Rubbing away the sleep in his eyes he saw someone sitting on the side of the sofa, holding his other hand. His face broke into a grin, then a puzzled frown.
“It’s lovely to see you again, but what are you doing here?”
“I had a bit of a word, with your gram the other day, and she said there was a need, so I came,” Aurth stated in a matter-of-fact tone. She didn’t let go of his hand as she sat waiting for him to absorb what she had said. For a moment Ian puzzled over her words turning his face curious he regarded her before looking up to the room where Donna was.
“Isn’t that why I am here?” he asked, curious.
Bending over Aurth kissed Ian’s forehead. “Someday, after a long journey, you may take that path again. But not today.”
“But they haven’t found that doctor you told me about… and nae what they are doing has made a difference. I know what they speak of Aurth. Let it be me an ye can go on helping people. I’m na important enough to fret over. I’m only another mouth to feed for the family…” he said, touching her thin arm with his hand.
“Ian. We spoke of this before… “
Ian flung his arms around her and clung to her for a moment. “Whereever my path leads, I wish it to cross yours many times,” he said.
She gave him a kiss on the head,
then slipping from his arms she disappeared into the darkness. Ian laid back down on the sofa, tears spilling over his cheeks.
He could hear the voices upstairs - Frank’s, urgent, choked with emotion,
Willie’s guiding, scolding,
A rushing silence filled the room. Ian saw Willie lift a tiny bundle upward , then lay it down, bending over it, Willie raised his head, blood was on his mouth and he lowered his head again for a moment, then raised it. Ian walked around to the foot of the bed and touched Donna’s foot with his small hand. He held onto her big toe as the rushing noise filled his head allowing him to hear a heart beat not so far away.
There was a sound in the silence. A mewling sound reached Ian’s ears as his tears splashed down onto Donna’s cold foot. Willie looked up, there were tears on his face as he lifted the tiny bundle into his arms wrapping it in the fluffy towels. Donna’s foot jerked beneath Ian’s hand. A moan issued from her as she stirred.
Carefully Willie placed the tiny baby in her arms. “It’s a wee lass. She’s beautiful. She has red hair and the bluest eyes I ha ever seen,” said Willie to Donna, who was craning her neck about to see her newborn child.
“She’s so tiny…” said Donna softly as the wail of the ambulance sirens came closer to the house. She regarded Willie curiously. “It happened just like in my dream, but, why didn’t I die?”
Ian spoke softly from the end of the bed. “It wasn’t your time to follow that path, Mum.”
Donna glanced down at him - he was still holding onto her toe. For a moment their eyes met, and then she nodded.
Mort drained the old coffee into
the sink and with a slow swish of warm water rinsed out the pot before placing
cold water in it to refill the machine. Letting it brew a while he dug into his
pocket and withdrew several quarters, plunking them into the hospital
vending machine. They had been in the emergency waiting room when the
ambulance with Donna and Willie had arrived.
The hospital had placed the baby in an incubator in Donna’s room and for a while Ian sat next to the incubator before placing his hand in. The nurse was about to scold him when they saw the most remarkable thing. The baby wrapped her tiny hand around his pinky, and sighed. Her vital signs improved and she breathed easier. They could hear him speaking to the baby, but only Willie could understand what he was saying. When asked, Willie smiled. “A bed time story…” he said then gave Ian a once over with a raised eyebrow.
After washing his hands Frank walked over to the incubator and shoved a chair beside it, sat and placed his hand in the waldo on the other side. Following what Ian had done, he felt his little sister wrap her hand around his finger as well.
Willie could see the nurse beginning to bristle. Such things were not done on her ward. It was only at the request of Dr. Hazlitt that the child had been brought into Donna’s room instead of the nursery with the other babies. Baby Fletcher had been born at home, had been exposed to germs already, had had to be resuscitated. Nothing that would be done at this point could change what Baby Fletcher’s chances would be.
“Mom? What are we going to name her?” asked Frank, playing his thumb over her tiny fingers. Not getting a response he looked up. Donna was curled up on her side watching the two boys, a sadness on her face.
“I … we will wait until your father comes home. It has to be a family decision,” she said at last.
Jessica watched as Donna clutched the blanket fabric, needing something to hold on to. She stood from the chair in the corner she had been sitting in and said softly, “I’m going to stretch my legs for a bit, I’ll be back shortly.”
Outside the room Jessica walked down the hall to where the window looked out over the parking lot. A warm hand touched her shoulder. She turned into Seth’s arms and laid her head on his chest.
“The baby doesn’t seem real to her, Jessica. Donna understands the odds, and she is distancing herself from her child because she knows if she gives the baby a name, Baby Fletcher becomes real, and losing her is that much harder.”
Squeezing away the tears Jessica said firmly, “We are not going to lose her! We can’t… We can’t lose her.” Balling up her fists she placed them on his shoulders. “We have to do everything we can, and then some to… to…” Words failed her as she opened her eyes and saw the sorrow on Seth’s face as he shook his head slowly.
“She’s too young, Jessica. Too underweight. Donna knows that. We can provide hydration, and nutrition and comfort measures, but it’s only a matter of …”
Seth saw anger in Jessica’s eyes as his voice faltered. She stepped back from him, distancing herself. “I am tired of losing friends, and family members just because doctors give up and refuse to try! If traditional medicine will fail, then isn’t it time that something nontraditional is used? Look what happened when Ian reached in the incubator and she took his finger! Didn’t her vitals improve? I’ve read where the youngest preemie responds to touch far better than any medication or treatment protocol, where they had given up on the children - holding them and the physical touch heals …”
Sighing, Seth lowered his head. “Dear, even if Baby Fletcher survives the night, and tomorrow, and grows up… there are hundreds of birth defects she may face that we don’t know about now… mental challenges.”
“Then we will face them Seth. I need to know right now if you’re just going to do nothing, or will you help?” Jessica demanded. She saw the look on Seth’s face.
know I will do everything I can, Jessica, and that this baby is as dear to me
as my own,” Seth said softly, using the palm of his hand to wipe away her
tears. “Now if you are quite done, I think its time that
passed Willie who was speaking to a nurse at the station as they went in. He
nodded to them and took a breath before heading for the elevator and walking
down the hall towards the sound of someone speaking in a very loud demanding
voice. There was no easy way to do this. Gathering up himself he strode into
the room where
“I’m to always have a private room!” she snarled to the hapless orderly.
“Ah, well, Deirfiúr, that’s because no one here wishes to be your room mate, and I am sure the young lass who is going to be moved in here will be wishing the same soon enough. But it’s the only empty bed that the hospital has that’s available, and perhaps some good may come of it after all.”
Willie closed the doors as the orderlies went out, shaking their heads. He knew that Molly was downstairs getting evaluated and admitted, and run through the tests that CYS had required from what Seth had told him. She would be a bit
“Hold your gab,
“Deirfiúr, your mother never taught you anger or hate or greed, you had that all on your own. Consider this a chance to look into a mirror of a younger self, and maybe make a decision of what’s right and good for a change.”
“I would, expect, Deirfiúr, that you would enlighten her as to what is ahead for her. Her father didn’t deserve any of this. From what I know of him, he is a good man. An’ we know that nothing coming out of her mouth would shock, or offend you. You’re well suited for each other.”
Jessica settled in where Ian had been sitting and with Baby Fletcher, holding her small finger she softly told her about her uncle Frank and the Fletchers, and the McGills, speaking until her voice was only a whisper. Frank had fallen asleep where he was. Donna lay still curled on her side watching Jessica.
The knock on the front door was insistent waking Willie from the tendrils
of bliss as
“Ahch, alright then, but no shoes… just would have to take
them off again when I climb back in with you,” he said, reaching over to the
chair and grabbing the first thing his hand came in contact with. He heard
Sighing he strode from the room taking a moment to glance through Ian’s door to see him still curled up under the covers. The wooden steps were cold under his feet as he scurried down them sideways. They would need an addition, or a change of design, he thought as he crossed the living room. Perhaps the lofts over the kitchen with a door …
His thoughts came to a halt as he opened up the door. A tall, well dressed thin woman with graying hair and hazel eyes regarded him as he stood bare foot with the robe about his shoulders and his wife’s powder blue with daisy sweat pants on.
“Mister Fletcher is
Gretchen blinked several more times. “I … I don’t quite know how to say what I have been told. Grady managed many of my family accounts for years, and while his leaving of the firm was said to be of his choosing, well, he still had access to all of the accounts for my family. Last night a large sum was removed after hours from my niece’s account and delivered to Cabot Cove by a special courier. The bank called me right after it happened and I drove all night to get here this morning.” She shivered in the brisk morning air that went through her stylish coat as she saw him furrow his eyebrows.
Gretchen hesitated, then nodding, entered into the house and glanced about. Offering her a place on the sofa, he started the water for the tea and returned to where she was sitting. He let out a breath and pulled up a chair next to her.
“First, Mister Fletcher was not involved with the funds transfer, your brother did to pay for damages that he was told your niece Molly did to a local shop. An’ that’s known to the police because the shop owner was found dead last night after the money was delivered. I have only just met your brother Harrison briefly, yesterday. He seems a nice enough chap, though, I am sorry to say your niece’s nae the best of children. “
Leaning forward he took her hand in his. “Miss Bishop, there is no easy way to say this except directly: she’s been taken into police custody for murder, and conspiracy to commit murder against your brother. Her mother’s been arrested as well for it.”
Willie held onto her hand and placed his other hand on her shoulder to keep her from bolting out the door. “He will be fine in a few days. She’s admitted that on her mothers instructions she was to give him a medication to make him sleep, and then she was to join them where they were. Molly decided to, make the arrangement permanent. She placed some in his lemonade, while Earl Shapp was calling on them – he was the shop owner that she destroyed shelves and merchandise in yesterday. Earl got some of the medication ether by accident, or design, and it killed him. Your brother had at least a full meal in him and when he was found, he was alive, and coherent. She snuck out after he had fallen asleep and went to get her money, took it, and then came up here to do more mischief. If she hadn’t, there wouldn’t have been evidence to connect her to the crime.”
Gretchen saw him lean against the wall. Patting the seat beside her she indicated for him to come and sit down beside her. Shyly Ian walked over and sat looking up at her as the whistle for the tea kettle called Willie into the kitchen. Leaning against the counter while the tea brewed he heard Gretchen say to Ian,
“I am very sorry,
that she has caused you distress. Her upbringing wasn’t by our choice, and we
have tried everything we can to change her behavior. Molly’s mother married my
brother because she believed he was wealthy.
Molly woke and tried to sit up. Frowning she opened her eyes to find herself in bed and something on her wrists that were wrapped with lambs wool. She gave a tug to free herself and found that she couldn’t move.
There was a chuckle of grim satisfaction from behind the curtain. “More
trouble than your worth.” A long gripper hand poked at the edge of the curtain
and moved it out of the way.
“I’m you, in about thirty years, if you live that long. Selfish, manipulative - you name a commandment, I’ve broken it more than once. You might think I got what I deserved… and you may be right. But when I look at you, I don’t see a pretty little girl, I see a monster, like me…”
“I got caught, because I did something very selfish. I forgot that others loved me for myself. I did learn that family is often more forgiving than strangers are, and that, in the end, there are all kinds of hurt in the world, you end up hurting yourself, more than others.”
Molly snorted. It was half a laugh, and half an exclamation of contempt. “Lots of times. He would take my things away from me and lock them up so that I would have to do things with him, Like stupid lame ass trip. And he sent me to bed with out supper last night. I’d say that was mean.”
Jessica looked up at the sound of footsteps entering into the room. She hadn’t realized that she had dozed off with her hand still in the waldo, still having Baby Fletcher holding tightly onto her finger. Donna was asleep, finally. Frank was awake, humming a nameless lullaby. She turned her head and focused on Seth who was regarding the incubator, and the baby within – watching the even breathing of the child. From the hour, she knew his shift was done. His voice was low as he approached them.
“I’ve been able to get a hold of Grady, he is on his way home … and I was able to take a peek at Earls autopsy report. There wasn’t enough Phenobarbital in his system to kill him, even with the mixture of alcohol and anti-depressants in his bloodstream. There was, however, enough of a certain tranquilizer in his blood to stop a bull elephant from charging at Macy’s and several round puncture marks on his chest from darts that delivered it. The type that Tipper uses. Two of them that close to the heart, in that dose would have killed him with in seconds.”
“Andy found them, and when he did he got a search warrant, and looked into Tipper’s car, and found the case under the back seat with two of them missing - her prints are on them, on the case, and no one else’s. Mort’s asleep now, so Andy took it upon himself to do it, Mort doesn’t know … Andy is going to wait until Mort is awake before serving the warrant for her arrest,” Seth explained with a sigh.
She allowed herself to breath. “No, we don’t. Though she was in the area prior to his death, just a few doors up from where he was found, and she did say she went to see him to clear her sheet, and if the prints are on the darts, it – complicates things,” Seth replied.
Shaking her head Jessica tried to keep the panic out of her voice. She could see Baby Fletcher was regarding her, and panic was not something that she wanted to relay to this precious bundle. “There has to be another reason for all of it… Seth, do you know where she is at right now?”
at all. I would be appreciative, though, if you would take me to the
clinic to see how Sydney is doing, and if she is well enough, perhaps transport
her back to Taylor’s house. I know that Willie will be coming here later, and
that it would be great relief for
Sighing, Seth nodded then watched as Jessica murmured something to Baby Fletcher and Frank. She extracted her hands from the waldo and slowly stood up. He knew that from all of those hours here Jessica needed sleep in her own bed, but she wouldn’t rest until she knew all was well with her family. And Tipper was family. The notion that she would use the tranqs on Earl was ridiculous. She had threatened to kill him, though… Seth let out a slow and steady breath. He hoped Andy was wrong.
Jessica noticed that the sign on the door to the animal clinic said CLOSED and the hours of the clinic notified people that it would open at ten. Seth took a breath and withdrew a key from his key ring and inserted it into the lock and knocked on the door as he opened it. There was no answer from with in. Jessica regarded Seth, who shrugged.
Closing the door
behind them and latching it, Jessica followed Seth through the waiting
room back to where the animals were kept if they were staying over night. The
walls around the door were covered with small needle-sized holes working
their way up from the base of the door frame to just above at shoulder
length. In a small doggie bed that had been placed on the desk lay
She saw Tipper yawn, and cover her mouth, then shrug. “Not much to them, they have two types, one that are pre-loaded, but those are for when we have to go after larger animals, say a moose or bear wanders into town, the others are loaded here, and then tagged with the right dosage, if we know were going after a porcupine. When we get a shipment in, they are counted and weighed - sometimes they get under dosed by accident then they are repacked in the box. We keep both here/ I carry a few in my trunk as well as one of the tranq guns. We have three for this practice, and the game commission has two - we load the darts for them too. When they are spent, or if they are duds, we turn them in for their brass, and the CO2 cartridges get reloaded.”
“Earl at the mini mart. He had the permit to handle the gas as a side to his bait and tackle corner. They were shipped to him too sometimes, there was a bunch of tree huggers who were tagging the white tail deer population a week ago. Earl had me load a few dozen for them. Why?” inquired Tipper curiously.
For a moment Mort just looked at Tipper. It was evident from the shock on her face she didn’t have any idea about the darts. He knew he should have been furious with Doc Hazlitt and Mrs. F for coming over to question Tipper before he could - but in a way, he wanted in his heart to believe that the young woman he knew, respected and cared for would be incapable of such a deed.
“When the blood work came back on Earl, they found a lethal dose in his system, and Andy went back to the store and found two of them with your prints on that had Earl’s blood on the tip, He obtained a search warrant for your car and discovered the box that had the serial numbers from the darts, and two of them were missing on the back seat covered with a coat,” Mort finished as he watched Tipper shake her head with disbelief.
“But I don’t secure my darts in the car area - they have a case that’s locked in the trunk with the tranq gun - and that one’s full. You know that, Mort - ever since that deer hit my car I can’t get the door to lock and I wouldn’t keep anything like that in the car,” Tipper said with exasperation.
Mort found Seth,
Jessica and even
handled every single dart that’s come into this county, Mort, but the thing is,
once they get loaded into the gun and fired, the energy exchange as they go
through the barrels would destroy any of the prints. When I last signed off on
the ones that Earl had, he had sixteen boxes of brass waiting to be dosed,
three for the tree huggers. I have six boxes, four for small animals, and two
for larger. I’ve got two of the small in my trunk and one for the larger, and
the other three are in the back pharmacy area. There is a log book that lists
each of the darts and that’s with them in the pharmacy area - anyone that uses
them has to sign off on when they were removed. The only reason why my car is
parked still in the community lot is that after I went to see Earl yesterday
after dinner I checked in on Millie’s kittens and had dessert with them. I went
to Willie’s shop, and talked to him. He had seen Earl after I did, and he was
alive enough to try to pick a fight with Willie, then I got two calls on
my pager both from Earls pay phone, Willie went with me and we found
him dead. A good twenty minutes had passed between the time
that I arrived at the shop and when we found him. Then we got the call
Seth drew in a breath. “I’ll go with you, I know where they are.” Leading the way, he opened the lock with practiced ease and swung the door open, holding it for Mort. Seth hesitated fighting an irresistible urge to lock the door with Mort inside and to encourage Tipper to run for it. Mort had the knack of dragging the wrong people into jail for half-baked notions. Sighing, he followed Mort in and closed the door between them. He had seen a look in Jessica’s eyes when Tipper had been explaining, and he had a notion Jessica had a few quick questions for their favorite vet.
Tipper glanced up at Jessica. Just as softly she said with worry in her voice “He said that Earl was at his door step drunk as a skunk and he took a swing at him because he had sent Kent Fordham to prison - he’s due to go to the chair in two days and that Earl was in a state - that he said he would see Willie and his family dead before Kent was, and that Earl started the fight when he turned about. He said he dumped a bucket of water for the dogs over his head and left him outside his shop nursing a headache. Jess - the Mini Mart is three blocks away. No one said they saw the two of them fighting the length of the street, and Willie wouldn’t have escorted him back to the Mini Mart…”
The sound of the men returning from the pharmacy
area made Jessica shake her head as she tried to digest what Tipper had said.
She had seen Willie before as he fought
“Well, yours are all accounted for, and now that we know how many boxes we are dealing with, we can figure out where they came from.” Mort waved the clip board that had the serial numbers “Why do you do all of these numbers anyway - they are just darts…” he asked curious.
Tipper didn’t answer at first as she carefully withdrew the IV from
“What about that group, the one you called the tree huggers, they would
have to have a permit then… how does that work?” pressed
Mort. He watched as she took great care to swab the area and tape a square of
She waved a hand to the clip board. “Each one they buy would be logged
and they have a deposit they pay if they aren’t returned. When they do return
the spent ones, they get the deposit back. They don’t travel that far and they
are easy to find. We’ve only lost about five of them to damage over the last
four years. That happens when they hit a tree instead of the animal.”
Tipper moved the blanket that covered
Tipper emptied the bag, sealed it then removed the tubing before
Mort hesitated. When he first had acquired them he had been pleased with how he had done it. Now he found himself swallowing, his mouth dry. Anyway that he would say it, she would become angry with him, at the very least, demonstrate the use of that sleeve she had.
“After you ducked out on him twice when he tried to fingerprint you the time that this Nightshade nonsense broke, Mort followed up on your gun permit, and obtained a copy of them from the state. They’ve been framed behind his desk on the wall for the last couple of years. He used them as a teaching aid for Andy and Floyd – its probably how they were able to make a match so fast with the darts and the box,” supplied Seth.
“I think a few
hours sleep in familiar surroundings would be an excellent idea. If
“Pecan Pie” he said at last folding his arms over his chest.
Jessica made the best Pecan pie he had ever had. If he was going to wait on
what she knew, it at least had to be worth his while. He watched as Tipper bit
her bottom lip and looked down at
The two women glanced at each other. Seth chimed in. “I’ll do the
peach pear pie…” Mort turned and regarded Seth. He couldn’t help but to
blurt out “What makes you think Willie did it Doc? Because that it the only
person left in the mix that Mrs. F would want to have time to talk with before
deciding what to do. You don’t even make your peach pear pies for the hospital
charity events- so it had to be someone in the family and you have a fair idea
why or you wouldn’t offer.” Mort eyed Tipper as she looked down at
Sighing Tipper sat down still holding
Letting out a long slow breath Mort shifted on the corner of the desk. “The timing is off. We have a statement from Elisa Trudy, we found the insurance claim for the damages on his counter and called her. She arrived after Willie and Earl got into it, and he was very much alive when the currier came with the envelope. Unless you have other reason to think he was involved after she left? Willie doesn’t seem like the type to be skulking in the bushes…”
“Mrs. F, that’s a bribe.” He had heard about that pie from the last Cabot Cove Fall Festival, heard that it went so fast at twenty-five dollars for a very thin slice that even the pie pan had been snatched up by Sam and he had been found in the closet of the kitchen area licking the juice from the bottom. That one pie had brought in almost five hundred dollars for the Theater renovation fund.
He gripped the edge of the desk and for a moment he regarded her.
“What time did
“The wee lass is alright, isn’t she?” he asked, allowing them to
enter. “Ohh, is
Upstairs the howls
stopped, then Willie came down stairs and saw Mort and
Seth looking concerned. “Everything is fine. Wife was getting dressed and Miss
Sydney didn’t like the door to be closed between them. Why are you all looking
so somber?” he asked, curious as
Willie blinked in surprise. “Oh. I expect she doesn’t but would she be needing it? She wouldn’t risk the children for a squabble
with Earl, nor did she have a way of knowing anything was amiss. She was with
Jessica until she came to feed
Mort blinked a few times. “Fine. We will leave your statement as that unless I find something else. I understand taking her in won’t do her health any good. In the meantime, perhaps it would be a good idea if Doc escorts Mrs. F. and Tipper over to Mrs. F.’s house and tuck them in while Willie has a brief discussion with Ian regarding horticulture.”
Opening her mouth and then closing it, Tipper was about to say she didn’t need tucked in and drawing in a breath said to Mort. “I’m okay. I will do better in my own bed. I just have a message for Willie and Taylor before I head home.”
Tipper took a breath and bent her head low so that she wouldn’t be over heard as she whispered to both Willie and Taylor, “The woman last night - the one who came to the shop, she had a message for you … at least I – she said she could never pronounce your name properly - I guess it must be you …. ‘that ivy and clover may grow anywhere, but a bird will only nest when its safe, and that it is now safe to nest.’ I don’t have a clue as to what it means…”
“She was older, her
hair had to be red at one time, and she had twinkling blue eyes. I know most
everyone in town, and she’s not a resident.” She
watched as Willie drew in a breath and for a moment he said nothing.
Giving a nod to her he thanked her for taking care of
“Something’s been planted that shouldn’t have been,”
“Do you have any idea what that woman meant?” Tipper asked, curious. “Willie said last night that, well, you were leaving to take Ian back home to ... to die and that you wouldn’t be coming back.” Tipper’s closed her eyes for a moment.
believed that each generation was taller than the next, but finding his father,
he realized that it wasn’t so. Toot’s taller than Willie, Ian is the next
generation. They are getting, smaller,” explained
“Size doesn’t matter!
What is he so afraid of? Being teased? And I don’t believe Ian is going to die,
I can’t believe it. He is doing better now. He looks better. I’ve never known
you to be the one to give up or in,
“Every myth has
some grain of truth in it - it’s what you believe in, actually. If you can
believe in something just on faith, anything is possible,” began
For a moment the two of them stood in silence before Tipper looked
“That’s’ – That’s –
what she was talking about.” Tipper gasped. “The bird, and the nest thing … I
thought it was a reference to the babies, but its
bigger than that.” Tipper tried to pull her hands from
Willie didn’t say anything for a moment. He had seen the acceptance on Ian’s face when he told him about the nature of the plant and how it had been abused by people. He had been resigned to the fact that Mort would want it removed and destroyed or at the very least, used in research.
“It will go to seed soon enough, and then there will be more of it growing next spring and how would I be able to explain that to the sheriff? You’re old enough to want for things, and with that comes the responsibility of them. What should be done?” Willie asked, watching Ian look down on the plant.
For a moment Ian regarded it, his small shoulders slumping down. In a breath how ever he looked up at Willie. “There are all and many ways of studying a plant, Uncle. If the thoughts that the sheriff have about studying this plant to see where it comes from are true, then it needs to grow, and seed and grow more. You can’ t know if the soil will change what makes up the plant itself in as much as changing the house that a child may live in to see if they become better. Am I just a plant as well to you, Uncle? One that you’ve placed in the ground to see what grows, or withers away? I’m a far cry different than Zookie and I know what shadows have been in your heart since I came. I’m na going around the twist. I know what I see, and hear to be true, and it’s been too long since you have known that in your heart.”
Willie grasped the rail of the porch. “Ian lad, I know the path you’re looking down. I can take you back, and hide you from the others, or I can hide you in plain sight as Gram did for me. It would do the family no good to lock you in a box to keep you forever safe. There are things that need saying, and things that need be kept with out saying. We are what we are, and some are lucky enough to find people like your aunt who pay no never mind to what others say. Your mothers determined that you hands and path do better than most…”
“Uncle, you can’t change my path. I’ve know for ages what I see an others don’t. I speak with Na Mairbh. They haven’t burnt any of us for a good, forty years now. I canna be what mum wants or what you want me to be. I have to follow the way that I was born to and you canna turn it,” insisted Ian.
“You have to, Ian. You have to work through what you are and work with the path to turn it in the other direction. I know you may not see the harm in following it for a while, but those who see Na Mairbh and speak with them too long become one of them before their time,” said Willie as gently as he could.
Ian placed his small hands over Willies covering the broken skin of his knuckles. “He found out, didn’t he. That Earl knew - he was a follower and he knew. Would he have told any one that they would have believed him?” Ian watched as Willie shrugged and shook his head sadly.
“Only three saw him after I did, Tipper, the insurance lady and the person who killed him. He’d not be the type to write that thing down. If he discovered it though, what’s to say others haven’t? You know now, and you’re of age. What would you have me do?” asked Willie gently.
For the longest
time Ian looked down through the slats of the deck then he glanced up. “I’ve
something that I’ve started here, and have to finish before I can answer that.
I did something with out knowing and I have to set it right. It may well finish
me. I’m like that plant below. Lovely to look at, good for some things,
bad for others that want to rip me up by my roots, to burn me and put an end to
the nonsense.” Ian drew in a breath. “Right then, Zook
will be done speaking to Aunt Bea Bea, and will be
too tired to drive in to the hospital safely. We can drop Aunt Tipper off at
her home for a rest up, and then take him to see the wee lass and it will be
done then. She’s due to have her first diaper changed and it’s time Zookie learns to do it from a professional, though I’ll let
him handle the gooie part with out the gas mask.
Aunt Taylor said she was wanting words with Aunt
“The nurse is taking her for a walk down the hall and she had some test they wanted to do, they said she had to get up for a bit, I told them I would stay with my little sister. Mom’s not herself, Dad. She – she doesn’t care about the baby. She hasn’t even looked once at her, and she doesn’t want to give her a name.” Frank shook his head sadly.
Glancing at Ian and Willie, Grady returned his gaze down to his son. “Why don’t we let Ian and Willie stay with our newest family member, and we can go find your mother. Naming our baby isn’t something that just one person can do. All of this was a bit early, and your mother may be tired. If what the doctor has your mother doing will take a while, we can grab some breakfast at the cafeteria.”
Ian looked up bemused. “Ah, ye never know though, unless it experience you’ve had, Zook, if a wee one will be lovely when they grow up, or plug ugly like my sisters.. Na a pretty one in the bunch. Now, I on the other hand got all of my parents’ good looks, an’ charm. Go on with ye, I can hear Zookie’s belly rumbling from here.”
Donna entered into her room and found Ian sitting on her bed holding the baby in his arms. The monitors had been turned off, and all that was on her were the IV tubes and the tiny tube wafting oxygen into her lungs.
With slow steps she walked to the bed and sat on the other side, lifting her feet up to stretch out. She studied Ian as he crooned softly to the baby. “Uncle explained to the nurses that none of those fancy wires will make a difference, an’ tha’ she should be made comfortable, so they took them off. There is something though, that will make a difference.” He said looking into Donna’s face, “Here,” and handed the baby to Donna, who glanced at it confused and held her daughter stiffly in her arms.
“No, she needs to be cuddled,” he chided, pushing her back to lay on the bed and guiding her arms around her daughters tiny frame. For a moment he sighed, then laid his head on Donna’s shoulder as he curled next to her. “There are things you should know Mum, about your wee one, an you. It’s best to start where you might understand better. When a man marries a woman, well, she’s left her family, and she hasn’t been bound long to her husband - so – there is a time when she is considered free to chose her path. It’s traditional when the bride an’ groom are dancing that she keep one foot on the ground at all times so that the wee folk don’t ha a chance to take her soul away.”
“Aye. Didn’t you know that’s where it is? Or the hands of the young ones before they learn to walk on their own feet because they use their hands to reach for the path they chose. Your soul directs you on the path you will follow - your feet carry you there. Why do you think they call the bottoms of feet and shoes Soles?” he explained to her. “The eyes are windows to the soul, too, but not where the soul is found, and all parts of you lead to it. When you’re young, you know these things for certain, like the creatures in the closets, and under the bed and how to scare them away with silly names. We hear and see things that adults have forgotten. Some at least - Aunt Tipper’s nae forgotten how. It’s why she bumps so. She’s seeing both worlds, an’ it can makes her wonder which way to step. Zookie sees things too.” Ian saw the look of sadness in Donna’s eyes. ”I’m nae addled.”
For a moment Ian regarded Donna, his hand touching the blanket that wrapped the tiny baby in her arms. “When she was born, I held onto your soul so you wouldn’t go, but I held on too long, an’ part of it made a journey. I ha’ to give it back to you so you’re a proper mother to the lass.”
“Oh, the lass will do fine. She will give you a merry chase an all the love in her heart at that I have that on good authority. Now give me your hand Mum an close your eyes for a tic. You will be back to yourself soon enough.”
Jessica had stifled a yawn as she watched from her parlor windows the departure of Grady and the others, then watched as Tipper worked her way back home. While sleep would be welcomed, she was too keyed up to fall asleep so easily. There was a wisdom that Seth had held, that they wouldn’t be any use if they were sleep deprived. She stood debating if she should have hot tea or steamed milk when a movement down her walkway caught her attention. The wind blew the wispy red hair about the chubby face of a short woman as she walked with hesitation towards the house half way up the walk, then pausing to look into the contents of the briefcase bag she was carrying she continued to the porch with the wind playing around the legs of her gray pants suit.
“What would Elisa want at this hour?” Jessica wondered out loud as she saw the younger woman come to the front porch and knock on the door. Letting out a gusty sigh Jessica opened the door to see Elisa shuffling papers from her brown portfolio.
“Oh, good morning Jessica, I will only take a moment of your time. It’s in regard to the claim that Earl Shapp filed against your nephews, well more precisely your great nephew and cousin’s child, but there is still blood relation and custodial merit with the boys. I’ve checked your policy and such damage is covered under your home owners policy, I just need your signature to release the check to him to pay for the damages.”
Clearing her throat Jessica regarded Elisa. “I’m sorry, but I believe Earl will have a difficult time endorsing the check.” The young woman glanced up from the papers and regarded Jessica over the rim of her glasses. Her wispy red hair fringed her brow. The girls at the beauty shop had giggled when they first saw Elisa’s hair – she had tried to have a perm to straighten it. Their giggles had ended in shock as the hair had begun to break off. It had taken Elisa almost a year to grow it this long, and her gentle curls had all but disappeared leaving a wispy dusting upon her head. She had refused to go to Loretta’s ever again. The experience had prompted Elisa to go into insurance claims and over all, she had been an advocate to get the full amount the people were due. Jessica saw Elisa struggle with her next words.
“The money is part of his estate. Earl is survived by a wife who has lost her husband and the source of income. The insurance company intends to pursue this matter so that they are not left holding the brunt of the claim if there are others that are at fault.”
“I suggest, Elisa, that you contact the sheriff for a copy of the police report. Earl attacked Ian with out provocation. If your insurance company insists on pursuing this matter, they will find a counter claim filed against the estate for fraud. I am aware that Earl extorted payment from Harrison Bishop, and the police report states you saw the courier arrive with the money, which has been recovered. I’m also aware that Earl demanded payment from Dr. Henderson, and Ian’s uncle, and that Earl started a fight that was finished by Dr Razanur. As for losing the source of her income, the store is still there. She chose a long time ago not to be bothered in helping her husband run it. She can sell it if she wishes, or she can go back to work and run it herself. I believe you are sadly mistaken to feel my family and I are easy marks for these shenanigans.”
Jessica saw Elisa blink several times with surprise. “Oh no! You don’t understand, Jessica, I have to follow form here, I can’t be see playing favorites. I have to show the home office and the others that I was following procedure the whole time. Its only been to protect them.” Elisa’s voice dropped to a whisper. “You see… I know the truth…”
She saw Elisa look both ways, before leaning forward. “I’ve known for years, since it first came out. My grandmother knew all sorts of things and she would tell me about them … what to do, incase I would meet someone like him. How to know them …”
“Your Dr. Razanur. I’ve know all about him, and his kin since I was a little girl. I learned that I would have to treat them the same as I would any other person, even if they are …well … special. My grandmother told me if a good turn was done, then it would come about again ten fold.” Abruptly Elisa stopped speaking and clamped her lips together and looked down at her hands where she twisted a ring that had an ivy leaf pattern wrapped around it.
Jessica regarded the young woman and saw the struggle upon her face, as if there was more to say on the matter. “Elisa, I’m sorry. I won’t be signing any papers and I have had a rather long day. If you would excuse me, I do need to catch up on my sleep before afternoon visiting hours.” She saw Elisa nod.
“Mrs. Fletcher, the world won’t miss people like Earl. Well, maybe his friends the tree huggers who use those darts to hunt will, but not any one in Cabot Cove, or even that awful man who’s scheduled to die tonight would pay any mind to his passing. The shame of it is, I have to do what I’m told to do.”
“They got permits for tagging the elk and moose, but Earl said they would hit the animal with a dart, and it would be knocked out. When they found a large animal they would transport it under the guise of thinning the herd and moving it to another location, but the only place that the animal ended up is on some one’s table with the rack above the mantle. Sometimes they would say the animal had a bad reaction and would die from the dose. My husband said that the drug breaks down and only works on suppressing the heart and breathing – they faint. In a few minutes it’s out of the system all together and it travels with the blood, so, if the blood is gone, the drug trace is gone and the meat is safe to eat. They were after one near Pirates Peek the night of the bus accident - a moose. Earl said they shot at any thing that moved and they didn’t care if it was day or night.” She gave her ring a twist with her other hand.
“My husband loads most of the darts; he told me they tell him how much they need for each one. Sometimes Earl had no choice but to have Dr. Henderson load them, and it’s odd, because hers work the way they are supposed to. They don’t want hers if they can help it. Earl gets stuck with them unless he can switch boxes, but then the numbers don’t match. Not that the tree huggers pay attention, they just get miffed when the first shot doesn’t kill the animal.”
“Oh, I couldn’t do that. I only had Earl’s word that it was what they were doing, and it wasn’t my place to question what my husband was doing. He was in a right state when he came to the store to pick me up. He doesn’t believe as I do you see.” Elisa took a breath then laid the papers on the edge of the sideboard. “I will just leave these here for you to look over when you have had some rest. I … I have to go. My husband will wonder where I am. “
Walking her to the door Jessica held it open and said briefly, “I don’t think I will be signing them Elisa.” She watched as the younger woman nodded, a bit distracted, turning just before Jessica closed the door.
“You have to take care of them, you see. No matter how they come into your life, with out them, the world, loses something.” Blinking twice Elisa turned back and walked down the side walk to where her car was parked.
Jessica sighed and closed the door, making sure to lock it. She didn’t know why she did that - she knew Grady and Frank had their own keys. She just felt a chill, as if something had changed in the world, and she couldn’t put her finger on it. A beeping from her study caught her attention, and she realized it was her fax telling her she had an incoming hard copy and that it was out of paper. Sighing she reached up and took the key off of the ledge and opened the door. She didn’t prop it open, rather let it close and latch again. She groaned as she picked up the three pages from her publisher - it was the contract for her new book and she would have to read each page then send them back and there were over forty-seven pages to the new contract. She glanced at the short sofa in the study as she loaded the paper into the machine. It and the contract would be enough to lull her to sleep in a heart beat. She felt the chill again, as if there was a window open. Sighing she pulled the coverlet off of the back of the short sofa and swung her legs up. Even though the windows were closed, and she knew Grady would help to put the storm windows in soon, the blustery pre days of fall would make her home quite drafty. She picked up the first few pages of the contract and began to read feeling her eyes grow heavy with each heart beat.
Tipper stretched as she got out of her small car and strode along the
path that ran along the
She saw some of the kids were crying and hurried her steps coming closer to the smell that told her what ever it had been had been there at least a week or so. She would have to identify what animal it was, and then determine the death, and if there were any illnesses that were in the animal. Tipper saw as she rounded the bend that all that remained were the internal organs of the animal and a great deal of blood. From the size, and the bits of fur she knew it to be a moose.
The strident call of code rang through the halls of the hospital maternity ward. Grady and Frank looked at each other then bolted from the table leaving their meal half eaten. There was a flurry of nurses and doctors entering into the room blocking Frank and Grady from going in. Frank moved around to where the window was, he could see his mom holding a bundle and she was crying, but it was something else that caught his eye: Ian was the one laying on the gurney with everyone crowded about him.
“I woke up and he wasn’t breathing,” he heard Donna say. Frank ran down the hall and up the steps to the room where he knew Willie and Taylor would be. He burst in to an argument between Molly and Jordan and gasped breathlessly to Willie, “Its Ian - Mum’s room – hurry!”
snapped irritably. She looked at
Willie was breathing hard when he pushed past to Ian’s side. He stopped one of the nurses from giving Ian an injection and pushed her hand away. For a moment he placed his hand on Ian’s thin chest then gathered Ian into his arms and lifted him up.
“Ye will only do harm if you don’t know what ails him,” he said softly carrying Ian to the chair where he sat down holding him against his chest. “And want of your medicines won’t heal him properly.” For a moment Willie regarded Ian and kissed his forehead. “Frank would grieve for you too deeply should you part from us. I canna allow that you know. Patti too- she would feel lost with out you in her life, every day. You know that lad. ‘Tis not your time to take this path.”
Frank half dragged Taylor from the elevator down the hall to his mother’s room and inside – he knew with her there it might be the only way that he could get in to see Ian, if even to say the words he couldn’t say. The gurney had been pushed out of the room as well as the crash cart - Willie had made it clear it wasn’t to be used. Frank wiggled in to stand at Ian’s feet and he grabbed one of them in his hand. “You can’t go, I won’t allow it!” he gasped through his tears.
Grady moved to Frank and placed his hand on Frank’s shoulder “We can’t …” Grady said, then stopped as Frank looked up at him with his tear streaked face. Taking a breath Grady said more firmly, “We can’t allow you to leave us.”
Things sounded far off for Jessica as she curled up under the blanket on the short sofa. There was the sound of a dog barking and a woman’s screams. The shrill sirens and voices pounding on the door, the sharp smell of something that dragged her deeper into bliss. She tried to shrug it off, she tried to wake herself and knew that she must. Jessica couldn’t move when she felt things fall around her or strong arms lift her up to carry her into the chilling damp of the front porch. She needed sleep – didn’t they know that? Tender lips pressed against her own - lips that she remembered – lips that she yearned for.
“Frank,” she murmured softly. Something wet licked her face again before the smell of plastic and cold oxygen filled her mind. She coughed, and then tried to sit up. Firm hands held her down, and for a moment she thought she saw Frank again, but the face blurred to Mort who looked exhausted, yet rather pleased with himself.
“You left the gas on your stove and your house was filling up with it - must have turned it on to make tea and forgot to turn it off all of the way before you took a nap. Lucky was out in the back yard, she’s ok. Grady called me from the hospital and asked for me to check up on you. Your phone didn’t ring, figured that you were on the computer or something. Sorry about your door,” he said, looking at her befuddled expression past the oxygen mask that was on her face. “I had to kick it in to get to you. The key wasn’t on the ledge.”
For a moment Jessica took deep breaths of the sweet oxygen before sitting up and removing the mask. “I never had a chance to make tea, Mort, and Lucky was still in the house when I came in here to add paper to my fax machine.”
“Yes. And I have a fair idea who … and why,” she said, regarding Lucky’s muzzle. Cupping her hand under it she turned Lucky’s nose towards Mort. There was a splash of blood on the side of the dog’s cheek. “My guess is that Lucky escaped when the back door was open, knew the person was doing something wrong, and left a lasting impression on the person.”
Grady nodded as he hung up the phone at the nurse’s desk and breathed a sigh of relief. For a moment he closed his eyes, willing back tears. Somehow, after all of this, I need a vacation… he thought to himself. Turning, he looked back into the room that held his wife and children. Donna was showing Frank how to change a diaper, a particularly foul smelling one with green slimy stuff. He wished Jessica could be there to see Frank’s expression, and for a moment, he leaned against the nurses desk listening to Ian tell Frank that there was a way not to breathe when doing it. The color had returned to Ian’s cheeks and he was still in his uncle’s lap nestled safe in his arms.
Safe? Why wouldn’t he be safe? wondered Grady to himself. The look Frank had given Ian, and then Willie told Grady that Frank knew Ian’s spells would only get worse. There was so much he had to tell Willie about the decisions that Gram had made, about Toot, and his sister and their children. Taking a breath he pushed away from the desk and started back towards the door when he noticed a woman coming down the hall heading in the direction of the room. Grady caught up with her as she was about to enter and gently pulled her back.
Grady saw her swallow before her hand closed in on his, pressing something into it. “He is of age,” she said before going down the hall as if she had just stopped to ask for directions. Grady watched her go, Her face went pale as she stepped back into the elevator, and for a moment their eyes met silently before the doors closed.
Grady felt his knees go weak. ‘Sainmhíniú’ - he had heard Gram mention that term with a quietness. It meant Seeker. He knew that much. Glancing down at what she had pressed into his hand he saw it was a silver ring with ivy wrapped around it. It was old - he somehow knew that by the style, and weight of it. Drawing in his breath he entered into the room. He went to Ian and regarded him then handed the ring to Willie. “She said he is of age. She said, ‘Sainmhíniú.’” He sat on the bedside as Donna lifted their daughter up into her arms. The baby’s head turned towards her mother.
Frank followed Willie and Ian through the doors of the private waiting room. He could tell there was something that worried Willie with the way that he exchanged glances with Ian. Closing the door he sat down across them and then leaned forward.
“Okay. I know everyone else sees me as a kid, but, after what I have been through this summer - as I call it, ‘Mortal Peril’ - more than the average person should ever have in their life time, I think I have the right to know what is going on, and what Sainmhíniú means just in case…” Frank didn’t expect an answer that would satisfy him. Most adults gave just the basic information on a need to know.
There was only a soft sigh from Ian as he nestled back into Willie’s arms. Frank saw something in Ian’s eyes. An acceptance of the end. Hot tears forced their way out and down his cheeks as Frank backed up.
“NO!!” shouted Frank. For a moment he stood trembling before Ian and Willie. “No,” he said again. “If that nutty old lady wants a Seeker she has to find another one,” he said, snatching the ring from Willie and bolting out the door.
Frank ran up the steps two at a time. He had to find that woman - he had to. He stopped, gasping for air after five flights of steps. He wasn’t even sure what she looked like. He had only caught a glimpse of her as she stood next to his dad. She was short wearing gray and looked a bit bald. She was fat, too. Well, ‘fat’ would be something his mother would say was unkind … chunky? Plump? She had left his father and he had heard a ding.
The elevator! She’d gone to the elevator! There was something odd, though. Something missing … Frank drew in a breath and ran up the steps with renewed energy. Flinging the door to the ward open he panted as he rushed to his mother’s room past the elevator. He could hear a man’s voice in the room with them. It wasn’t any one he knew.
Pulling back into the next room, Frank watched as the tall man in a white doctor’s coat strode from his mother’s room across the hall past the elevators. He paused at the trash recepticle,l dropping a wad of tissues into the pail. There was a clunk as he continued walking to go to the steps. Opening the door with a mighty swing, Frank heard the man’s footsteps travel down in a run.
Going to the trash Frank peeked in. For a second he didn’t see anything. He felt a rising sense of urgency as he drew back and hammered his finger on the button of the elevator. He could hear the faint Ding Ding Ding, of the elevator being out of service several floors below.
He could hear his parents discussing things in his mum’s room as the weight of the ring grew heavy in his hand. Drawing a deep breath in he wrenched open the door to the stairwell and rushed in. It was said by adults that kids have no sense of fear until they are over 22, but Frank knew fear as he took a few running steps and vaulted out into space feeling the world rush up to meet him as he grabbed the rail to brake his decent. Bungieing is what his peers called it, when your feet didn’t touch any of the steps all the way down. They had been informed that if they were caught doing it they would face detention. Of course the plan was not to be caught, and if lucky, the school nurse who treated their twisted ankles wouldn’t tell. Not that Frank made it a habit. He had seen it done, tried it a few times and ended up landing on his backside with his books everywhere.
The summer’s activities had changed him, though, the grass cutting and the space that he had to ride his Aunt Jessica’s bike. He knew his ankles would never be the same as he reached the last landing and saw the door slowly begin to close behind the person exiting. To whom ever it was, he was just a silly kid coming down the steps. He hadn’t been seen with any one. Frank jumped down the last step and caught the door with his finger tips just before it was going to click shut. Pulling it back far enough that he could squeeze through it he saw the man stride with purpose to the vending area where Willie and Ian were. The man paused. Frank saw him frown as he half stepped inside and glanced in the room, then stepped back and continued down the hall. Curious, Frank waited until he was well away before going to the room himself. Looking in he saw the chairs were the way they had left them, but there wasn’t any one in the room.
What the heck was going on? Frank had a heart beat to ask himself that before he felt a hand cover his mouth and pull him backwards. He didn’t struggle. He was familiar with the smell that was in his nose and he didn’t cry out when the hand let go. Turning he saw Willie with Ian riding piggy back. Inclining his head, Willie lead him back in the direction of the stair well where Frank saw it had never really closed, past it and down the hall to a darkened room. Once inside Willie closed the door properly. In the dim light Frank saw benches, and some candles lit in a corner. Willie guided Frank to one of the benches and motioned for him to sit while he caught his breath.
“We’d made up our minds to come after you when we heard the footsteps down, and felt something was amiss when you came down after him like a bull elephant. People don’t look to the side when they are in a hurry, both of you passed by us in your haste. But, aye, you’re right. There is something very wrong out there,” stated Willie tilting his head to the door.
Reaching in his pocket Frank withdrew the ring and held it out. “It has something to do with this, doesn’t it? You’ve almost the same pattern on your wedding ring, and so does Aunt Taylor. And I saw the same pattern on the rings at Mither’s - its part of your family crest. I know what a Seeker is. Well, at least in the gaming world a Seeker is a hunter - some one who tracks and kills the opposition. I looked up Ivy too when I got back – it lives off of the things that are dying. I learned along time ago that the stories we hear are based some how in fact, and I can’t think of one good thing that a seeker could be. Ian has too much to deal with right now, and it’s not fair to expect him to take it on …or you for that matter. She’s just got to have to find some one else to do it … and it will be over soon, right? The news said that Fordham is going to be punished for good soon enough. Why would there be hunters in your family when all along you are all healers?”
“The ring is what people make of it. Some would see it as those who protect the family at all cost, yet, once they have broken away from the family to do this there is no going back. We all have our paths to follow, and some are given to us early on. Toot followed that path. There is a bit of death in all of the healing that has been done, Frank. Each part of the cure is a bit of poison to that which ails us. It’s not by the hand of the healer which brings us back to life, but by what is in our own hearts, and what we believe to be true. This needs to be set right, but its best that one so young as you should not be burdened with the choice that has to be made.”
Willie held out his hand as he set Ian down on the bench beside Frank. Sighing, Frank placed the ring in Willie’s hand as he glanced about where they were. “Stay in here, until someone comes for you. Most likely whomever it is is looking for a man, and a boy, na two boys in meditation.”
The door closed behind Willie as he made his way down the hallway. Ian struggled to his feet and hobbled his way to the corner of the room where the candles were. “Tis an odd thing, how people see something like this to grant what they wish for. As if a bit of tallow would be the answer.” Gazing down at the stubby candles Ian fell into a brief silence before turning back to Frank. “It isn’t how faith is, you know. Faith isn’t something grand and mysterious. Its something that you accept and live with every day of your life.”
“How do you know? Ian… I heard Aunt Jessica and Dr. Seth talking. They said you didn’t do well on your test to place you in school. How do you know these things, and not something – well, that they expect you to know at your age?” blurted Frank.
“Was wondering that myself, and can only conclude its from when they were asking me things like how many people are in the house. As if it’s their concern that there are three of us here, but there were more back home. And some of the neighbors had up to fifteen under one roof.” Ian watched as Frank blinked a few times.
“Oh, then it can’t be right that I said all of the Senate had passed on long ago, was thinking of the roman senate. An’ I suppose a minister doesn’t govern the area where you live?” Ian closed his eyes for a moment and hung his head.
“You shouldn’t be in here … It isn’t right for you to be in here … None of your kind should have left the woods and white rocks where you sprang from, and we’ve paid for the barter ever since.” A voice interrupted them from the back of the room in the darkness as the sliver of light from the door closed behind it in silence.
Woods and white rocks? thought Frank. The graves? That’s where this person is talking about? But - only family has seen it…or .. Franks thoughts were cut short by the sight of Elisa stepping from the shadows, the struggle on her face evident. Her hands were clenched at her side, something heavy rested in her pockets.
Elisa’s gaze shifted to him as her head jerked in a stiff nod. “Yes. The Barter. They came from the white rocks and woods sitting along the streams that ran pure, the ones that healed men of their suffering, men who paid them in the best gold. Soon they came and asked for the hands of the winsome lass’s in hand fasting, and the children born spread across the land exacting the barter from others as well. And the people paid gladly to be healed … then learned they must continue to pay and pay to stay well, or all of the ills would return. The folk took the water by force, taking it away, and the waters stilled at the source, but when it was spilled to the ground from the vessel it ran blood. A new barter was made, to protect and find those who harmed those of wood and stone. They heal anyone, but never their own kind. The weak always fail and they had to be kept safe from harm so that the barter would continue and the waters would run again to heal. But if you find one and give them the task and they accept the charge, the barter may be ended. I’ve done what I could – I’ve seen the signs, I know this place, this town is the place of gathering … of a new stream that will heal again. The old debt must be laid aside once and for all. I’ve given the bond back - I’ve done what I could to protect - lay aside the debt now!”
“He doesn’t have the ring, he never held it. I took it before he could and I gave it to someone else.” Frank heard Ian gasp softly as he gazed into Elisa’s eyes. That was probably not the best thing in the world to tell her, he mused. Eyes that captured him and distracted the blur of movement in the darkness.
Frank felt his body being bumped and in a tumble fell between the benches. “Owww …” he groaned. He felt Ian’s hand cover his mouth shushing him before the weight of Ian shifted off. “Stay,” Ian had whispered.
“What’s been done was not for debt, or barter, but for the greed of men. In a thousand years you all have not learned that. Don’t look for healing, or waters that make the blind see and the lame walk,” said Ian, holding onto the bench back for support.
Frank tried to see what was happening, but all he could manage from where he was at was something brassy with a red tag sticking out of Ian’s lower leg. It was a shock to Frank to realize that it was a dart, imbedded in something, and meant for him. He could hear Elisa say something – but it was muffled from where he lay. Gathering himself up he crawled under the benches toward the back of the room in the darkness. Elisa’s voice was sounding a bit strained – becoming higher as she waved her arms about demanding things from Ian.
Who the heck does she think he is? Or what, for that matter? When I get out of this, I’m going to need some serious therapy… Frank wormed his way past where she stood then looked back. He could see Ian still standing but he was getting wobbly. It was with a shock that he saw the brass thing had been a dart. Scooting back until he was beside her he considered his options. Chances were she had more darts. Her shoes were the slip on type, not tied, so he couldn’t tie her laces. Ian couldn’t run - heck, he was looking like he couldn’t stand much longer. He could have made it to the door and be out, but he knew that he shouldn’t leave Ian alone. He wasn’t tall enough to swing any thing that would hit her and there wasn’t anything in there that he could have hit her with.
Dr. Walt Trudy sighed as he limped rounded the corner. He knew there were a few places that people could be in the lower area of the hospital. He had checked each of them carefully. Shaking his head he wondered how a man who dressed oddly carrying a little boy could have eluded anyone. He’d used his passkey to lock the elevators between floors before he went to see the Fletchers. The keys were all the same and the one that belonged to the hospital would be untouched. He listened. There wasn’t any sound of voices, no footsteps. Letting out another gust of air Walt turned and found himself face to face with Willie, who was sitting up on the side of the desk for the empty waiting area regarding him with a calmness.
There was a struggle on Walt’s face as it turned a particular color of pink. “My wife has been going on about you and yours since the story broke regarding that treasure. Things that I don’t understand - for that matter, I’m not sure if I want to… she’s gone a bit odd recently, saying she and her family deserved more for what they’ve done. That it was owed to them. I don’t know why she would, really … her family has money, I’ve my own practice, and I do rather well with it. She wants for nothing. She says too much sometimes, though, and I have to fix it right, don’t I? To tie up loose ends or others would know she’s quite mad, capable of doing, ‘most anything and take her away. Sometimes, I wonder if they should. She would be happier and well cared for.”
“I want that ring that she gave to you,” Walt said, lowering his voice. “She never knew how valuable it was. She always kept it locked in her show case. She was babbling last evening, how all the signs were there. She said it had to be returned to the rightful heir. I couldn’t allow that ether.”
Willie saw that Walt paled and wobbled back a step. Sighing softly Willie withdrew the ring from his pocket and held it in the palm of his hand. “Sad that something so small has lead to such grief in life. You asked for answers young man, and I will give you two. One has been granted. As for the second, you have a choice, to know the truth - but it is a bitter truth that will be ash in your mouth. Do you want to know it? Aye, you do. Well, then … this ring is just a ring carved long ago, not cast, from solid silver. It was given as a band of a promise, but not as one that has been given to it. It was simply a wedding band given to a bride long ago. The promise was to protect and love the bride and her children forever. Much like the wedding band given to your wife so many years ago.”
Frank moved to Jessica’s side and curled his hand into hers. Looking at the ring Willie spoke quietly from where he sat not glancing at Jessica and Frank but holding his gaze on Walt. “Ian helped me understand that something, changed over time in that love, and that vow. A feeling that more was owed than just love. Greed. The want for more, and larger and better outweighed the simple love promise given on that day. And, as most have happened, there was a parting of the two of them, perhaps by choice or reason, and the other made a vow to find them even if it meant going to the ends of the earth. The value of this ring for the weight of its silver is about five dollars. The promise of that ring was twisted… as has been the promise of the ring you wear.”
Jessica drew in her breath. “He was bitten by Lucky after he turned the gas on in my kitchen without lighting the pilot. You were afraid that Elisa would tell me the truth regarding your poaching activities, was that worth murdering Earl as well?””
Sighing, Jessica shrugged slowly, holding her hand up to show a dart that she held in a handkerchief. “You were very careful not to touch the darts. But you made a mistake: Tipper’s darts held the regular dose, and two of them wouldn’t have killed Earl… Your wife wouldn’t have known which of the darts were yours, or Tipper’s, but you would simply by a glance of the numbers on the box. As Frank reminded me, throwing them isn’t much different that throwing darts at a board…or at a wall. I noticed the holes in the door frame at the clinic, where you had been practicing. You’d been planning this a while, haven’t you? You couldn’t alter the records, but you could wait until some of the brass that Tipper had loaded was returned, and instead of changing the records to your name, you kept them under hers. It was just a simple matter of finding one of her boxes, removing two of them and planting it in her car. The two that Frank saw you drop in the trash by the elevator, perhaps? You’d ether forgotten them, or didn’t have a place to discard them until now, and given that Tipper was on that floor, you thought that the blame would be shifted on to her again.”
Frank shook his head and stepped up to Jessica. “No, she didn’t. She only threw it because she was testing Ian - she said so. She said a lot of things too. People do that when they find themselves caught. Like, that the tree huggers were paying you a lot of money to triple dose the darts to kill the exotic animals – the trophy animals. That you picked her up after she saw Earl, and that you had ducked inside to have a word with him about being paid extra for the moose they had brought down a while back. She may have been the last one to speak with him, like you said, but you didn’t say anything to him before you threw the darts that killed him. How else would you have know she was the last to speak with him before he died?”
Walt clamped his lips tightly shut for a moment as he glared at first Frank then Jessica. “I want to speak with my lawyer!” he said finally as Mort stepped into the waiting room area with hand cuffs dangling from his hand.
Tipper pulled up a
… just a day. Just through this day…”
Tipper rose from her chair and strode to Molly’s bedside where she placed her hands on Molly’s shoulders and gave her a sound shake. “You just don’t get it do you? You hurt an innocent animal! You are the lowest of the lowest scum that ever has crawled out of the gene pool and when you die your evil hearts going to call the shadows that will drag your soul to hell.”
Letting Molly’s shoulders go, Tipper took a breath and stepped
back. She saw Molly blinking with shock over what she had said.
Turning away she strode back to her chair, bent over and snapped her bag closed
then as she straightened up, she offered a hand to
Molly heard a tired sigh from
Seth closed Donna’s door to muffle the sound of so many people inside of
it as he met Jessica’s eyes across the room. Frank was sitting at the bottom of
the bed, Ian was snuggled in Willie’s lap, Grady and
Donna were together holding their daughter. Jessica was sitting in the
chair beside the bed looking very tired, yet pleased with Frank. Tipper was
sitting on the window sill, and
“… Once she was down Ian went over to her and told her to speak up, or else and she started saying some really – weird things. A real nuttier. And then Sheriff Metzger came in with Floyd and Aunt Jessica and took her away, then we went in search of Willie. If the dart she had thrown wouldn’t have landed in his pants leg over his cast, he wouldn’t be here. Lucky, I guess,” Frank finished.
Ian shrugged. “The path to follow isn’t ready for Bea Bea… as for naming the wee lass, I can only think of one that will fit her. It’s from the good book. Of a lass who was faithful and did what was needed in the proper time. Aurth.”
“He means Ruth,” breathed Grady softly. Looking to Ian for confirmation, Grady watched as a wise look came over Ian’s face. He knew bright tears would be in Seth’s eyes as he heard Seth say, “Oh my… Thank you.”
“Ruth was Seth’s wife. She died a few years after Uncle Frank … hang on,”
Grady said, leaning to the one side to withdraw his wallet from his hip pocket.
He sorted through the photos and then slid one out. “That’s from my first
summer here,” he said handing her the photo. “She was born in
“Oh … just something tha’ I should ha known,” he said sighing, happily then he looked down as his belly rumbled. “Do you think that the cafeteria would have any of that corn bread left over from lunch time? I’m near about half starved I am.”
“I think so… How about I go down with you and get some of those banana bars for Donna?” Grady asked as he slid off of the bed and scooped Ian up in his arms. “We will be back in a bit,” he said carrying Ian out of the room. Grady carried him to the elevator and had to blurt out, “How did you know?”
“That - calling me Zook, and Frank Zookie and Aunt Jessica Bea Bea. Only one other person knew those names… How did you know them? No ones ever heard them since… Since…” Grady found Ian’s fingers laid gently over his lips.
“Zook, you know the family. How paths cross and weave about. I didn’t know how connected things were til you showed her picture about. I know these things now, because I needed to know them. Though I reckon that you didn’t need any more to understand what faith would carry you to.”
Grady strode down through the hall and into the cafeteria where he set Ian down at a table and went through the line picking some things up to take back with them. Frank would need a proper lunch of course. Ian breathed in the corn bread and smiled.
It was a bit of a shock to discover upon the day that Ruth was brought home from the hospital and Ian had his cast removed that another arrival was waiting for Willie and Taylor on their doorstep with bags in hand and a note that was placed into Willie’s hand the moment he placed Ian down beside his sisters and his cousin.
“Mum’s taken to her bed on the advice of Gram, and Mither can’t look after all of us. That gent that Aunt Jessica knows brought us over and he said he had a proper errand to run this afternoon before he sees her,” piped up Patty as she hugged her brother in turn.
It was later that afternoon that Taylor and Willie with the children arrived at Jessica’s house, and as Patty minded the girls as they played tag in the front room, they joined Jessica, Frank Grady, Donna and Ruth in the parlor. Frank was sitting next to Jessica not speaking. He had discovered that morning that his father had taken away Lucky, telling him that he had found a better home for her than Grandma and Grandpa Mayberry who had said under no condition was that dog would be in their house with them. Frank hadn’t said the words that were in his heart. He wanted to scream, to shout, to tell his parents he didn’t want to be their son anymore. Closing his throat on his words, he remembered what Aunt Jessica had said - Lucky would only be there for the summer.
“So when we had a
proper look over Ian’s test results, we knew right away what had happened.
There isn’t many a proper lad from
Gretchen Bishop strode across the front porch of Jessica’s house and
hesitated before shifting the box she held as she knocked twice. She had
tried over at
The white door swung open. Gretchen expected to see an adult, but instead saw a young girl with pigtails who smiled up at her. Inside the house was a rich riot of sound coming from the kitchen and among them, Gretchen recognized Willie calling things to order before the sounds began again.
There was a steady thump clump as Ian waddled to the door frame of the parlor and looked toward his sister. “Let Mrs. Bishop in, Patty, she’s known to Grady. Hello, come in and have tea with us,” he said, waving her in.
A wild giggle and the running of feet came around the corner preceded mop-headed children who ran back with happy shrieks as their stocking feet slid upon the wood floors. Gretchen found herself smiling as she followed Patty to where the adults were sitting in the parlor. Ian swung another chair around for Gretchen who nodded to him, a bit shy of everyone and stayed in the door until Patty guided her in. to the where the chair was.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude on your company…” she said to Jessica. “I have only a bit before I have to leave for the airport.” Gretchen breathed in then looked down at the box. “I know there is nothing that can be done to make up for Molly’s actions, or for the sorrow that the death of your dog brought… I know that nothing can replace her.”
Maggie came skidding in to the room and stopped before Gretchen. Placing her hand on the box she leaned forward and sniffed at one of the holes that was at the side. “Arr Arr” she giggled, then was off again. Gretchen was distracted for a moment watching her work her way sliding her feet on the wood.
back to where Taylor and Willie sat, her mouth forming an O of surprise.
Realizing they were waiting she closed her mouth and swallowed before beginning
again. “The court has rescinded the joint
custody of Molly under the current circumstances.
In the parlor Frank leaned against Jessica’s shoulder and sighed. He knew the summer was coming to an end, and that his parents had made a decision, one that involved parting from Jessica – something he found almost painful. His father had said they had found a nice house and everything was moved in. Frank hadn’t seen it, he had spent every moment he could with Jessica and Ian.
“Who’s going to cut your grass and help you with your roses?” he asked her softly. Jessica placed a kiss on the top of his head. “Oh, I think I know of a few who may be able…” she said gently as she saw Ian pull Margarita onto his lap and give her a hug.
Frank let all of the air out of his lungs then breathed in the crisp sea air. Nothing was ever going to be as good as Cabot Cove, He had no idea where Boothbay was, it couldn’t be as wonderful as where he stood right now. Willie felt Frank pause as he closed the door to the front and stepped beside him.
“I’ve an answer for you Frank. One I should ha given you a while back, but you were too young to understand what you were asking back at the time. You’re a young man now, you’ve grown over the summer and knowing a great truth of an answer changes everything if you let it, or you may live with it as we do live with faith every day… its that total acceptance of faith that guides us. The motto of my family, you’ve heard it a fair few times. You understand what it means, don’t you? Believing in faith?” Willie saw Frank nod, then wait.
For a moment Frank didn’t say anything. Wordlessly he stepped into Willie’s arms and hugged him “Thank you…” he said before parting from him and climbing into the back seat with his sister. Willie kissed Donna through the window then closed Frank’s door. Shaking hands with Grady he gave a nod to Frank then turned back to where the kids were standing with Jessica waving good-bye. Sighing he leaned back into his seat.
Willie looked at her then saw where she pointed to a long sleek car arriving. He recognized the man that stepped out of the car, and was going to shoo her back in the house when he saw that instead of going to Jessica’s right away he was coming to where Willie stood, and he had a long package under his arm.
“Gram sent this back to you. She said, once the baby is born, and old enough to travel, that she and the others will be arriving to stay here. Said there was something inside you should see. Now, we’ve both gone over the documents, and I know your Gaelic is better than mine, but Gram said there were signs that this is the place now for all to be safe.”
“I am,” Willie had said. “Am what?” Frank asked himself, studying his tiny sister who laid swaddled in the hand woven blanket that Willie had made for her to keep her warm. Her little hand curled about his finger as she regarded him with her serious blue eyes.
“Home,” said Grady opening up the door to take his sister out of the car. Frank looked around as he got out then opened the door for his mother. “Willy told me this place was for sale before, it just took a bit to get the addition finished for the baby…” Frank offered his arm to his mother, she was still a bit wobbly from having his sister.
“But we aren’t at Grandma and Grand pa Mayberry’s. Where are we?” Frank asked, getting the door for his mother then standing on the back porch. He could see the ocean from where he stood. He could see the tall ships and hear the thrum of the boats coming and going and the wind whipping the flag against the pole and his father’s footsteps behind him.
“I tried for a place in Cabot Cove, but, there weren’t any that we could afford. But Boothbay is a nice town, much quieter than Cabot Cove … less of a crime rate. It’s only about five miles that way if you take the bike trail to Aunt Jessica’s house, and you will be going to the same school as Ian , so you will see all of them every day. In the meantime, sport, you have chores to do …”
“Yes, sir…” Frank said softly. It wasn’t as if he had any thing else to do. He had no desire to roam the hills as he had before. Closing his eyes he leaned against the rail. He was too big to cry. He was a young man, as Willie had said. He had been told a great truth by Willie one that he didn’t understand. It was something though that he had asked and he couldn’t remember.
“Okay, first chore is … this,” said Grady as he pushed something into Frank’s hand. Frank glanced down then turned around to face his dad with a puzzled expression on his face. It was a long lead that was new and went behind his dad who wore a grin.
“I am.” The words seemed to dance on the wind with the tantalizing familiarity of a whisper. Sighing Frank stopped to clean up after Lucky then gave her a pat on the head as he found a trash place to put it in. Willie had always answered his questions straight forward. “Race you home, Lucky,” Frank said, turning back up the hill. With a yip Lucky followed him, allowing him to win by a nose before going to her dish and getting a drink before laying down next to the baby’s bassinette.
Frank washed his hands then helped his mom make supper, then cleaned up the dishes while she fed his sister. It was later in the evening that he went to where his sister’s car seat was and folded the woven blanket. It smelt of fresh clover and sweet flowers. For a moment he just sat, holding it. It was the same weave he had seen on Willie the first day they had met.
He didn’t notice at first that there was someone in the seat next to him. He studied the man – at first he thought he was a kid, like him, for the man stood about four and a half feet tall. It was the presence of a stubble beard that was peaking through that convinced Frank that he was not a kid at all. The man’s head was tucked against his chest and soft snores were coming from him. Frank looked at him again. The man’s coat was rough dark blue linen, his shirt was – different. It had a woven pattern style that Frank had never seen before. The man had a silk scarf about his neck, and had a dark vest. In the vest pocket a slim chain lead to a gold pocket watch. Looking at the man’s head again, he saw his hair was curly locks, as if it hadn’t been cut for a long time.
Donna came over to where he was and pulled a chair up to sit on beside him. Her soft hand reached out and brushed away the tears on his face that he didn’t know he had shed. Her hand reached out and covered his as it held the soft woven blanket.
“Yes,” she said softly before giving him a hug. “Bed time now, we have a lot of unpacking to do tomorrow, and the next day is the first day of school. I know your father wants to show you the bike trail to Aunt Jessica’s tomorrow as well.”
Frank lay on his bed looking out his window at the stars. Lucky had curled up at the foot of the bed snoring gently. Knowing he couldn’t sleep he pulled his note book journal from under his pillow and clicked on the small book light he had purchased with the money his dad had given him at the beginning of the summer.
In the time that has passed for this summer, I’ve changed. I started out not caring, and then learning what its like to be a parent, to be responsible, to know sorrow, and fear, and love of family. I’ve learned that truth comes in many forms. Some simple, some great. I’ve been told a great truth … I Am. I understand about faith, and death, and destiny. Sometimes. I don’t know what will happen next, and sometimes I wish… I wished that I could have stayed home and not gone where I have. I’m glad though, that I did. I’ve met people that changed my life, and saved my family. I’ve fallen in love, and I know that she is always close to my heart, and I to hers.
Frank closed the journal and was about to turn off the light when he felt something slide from between the pages of the book to his bed. Using the light to search for what it was, he saw a glint of gold. “Hmm, that’s where it went to,” he thought to himself as he was about to replace the coin back with the pen. For a moment though, he hesitated. He had placed it in the book to make an impression of both sided of it, to study it closer.
Frank’s eyes went wide and he pulled back to his seat and leaned against the window as he shook his head. Even the man’s accent was right for one of the wee folk. Stories of what he should do flooded his mind as he could only gaze at this man with abject curiosity. Realizing the man wanted an answer Frank couldn’t help but blurt out, “No. Sir, are you a leprechaun?”
“I am,” Frank said to the gold coin. It twinkled in the lamp light. For a moment he gazed at it, then as he placed it in the drawer next to his journal and the book light he saw the face of the coin again in the diffused light from the hall. Just for a moment his world went still.
I understand it now what Willie told me today. I know the answer he gave me, and the question that I had asked of him. It is what we believe is possible, the unseen. The stories that we call fairy tales are based on some truths. I could believe in the gold, the wealth that turning the coin could bring, but that isn’t what would bring the happiness into my life. I know why they buried the coins long ago, it wasn’t to hide the truth that shows on the face of the coin – or the wealth that it would bring. There is a different wealth in family, in love and peace that money can not buy. If we are to accept that elves. fairies and leprechauns have walked the earth on faith alone, if that is the path that we believe and follow, even with proof, then we have not looked far enough. For there are also angels and the shadows as well that are out there. I thought that with all that I have seen over the summer that I had grown up, that I was mature, and had become an adult. I wanted to be a kid again. I needed to believe in something – great.
While this * is * the end of the Tabhairt Isteach Do series, and the summer that Frank Fletcher spends
with Jessica, it’s not the end of the adventures of those who have been created
with in these many pages. I don’t know when the wild plot bunnies will wish to
be woven into another tale, someday when I least expect I suppose. I have other
projects to attend to this year, the writing of a book that is original fiction
and getting prepared for my own wedding this August. I hope to make it, and the life I will share with the man I love as magical