A novel by Karen Lockhart
Copyright© 2017 Karen Lockhart
Finally it was Friday; all the trades were off this weekend. The project was even a week ahead of time, thanks to a drought, so we could leave early!
After getting the morning squared away, Ellen and I sat down to a leisurely coffee and donuts. I could tell something was bothering her; she kept staring off into the distance, and wasn't really joining in the conversation.
“Hey, what is bothering you Ellen, you're awfully quiet,” I asked, “Is it about Tina?”
“Huh? Oh yes, that too, but I was thinking about Wendy's Social Security Number. You used your real number when you changed your name legally. That way, when you retire, you qualify for Medicaid, and a small retirement check. If Wendy has a phony number, she won't have any of that.”
“I was a little uncomfortable with that myself Ellen, even though I was the one to ask Steve about it.” I thought a minute, “Do we have her trust enough that Wendy will tell us her real number?”
“You mean the one the hospital filed for when she was born?” Ellen looked thoughtful, “Yes, if she doesn't trust us by now, she will never will. Should I ask her, or would it be better if you did?”
“I think it would be easier on our relations if I do. At the same time, I don't want to make Steve feel bad; after all, he asked and received a favor from his pal.”
“Ginny, don't worry about Steve's feelings, he did recommend you use your own number. The only thing that worried him was the chance of you being found by the bad guys, and at the same time, the police.”
“I guess I don't need to worry about that, now that Pete Smith knows. Should I ask Wendy at lunch, or wait until we get home this afternoon?”
“What are you making for supper?”
I gave Ellen a look, “Now, tell me, what does that have to do with anything?”
“Well, I was thinking, If you made her favorite, it would be easier.”
“So, like an army, Wendy travels on her stomach?”
“I was just saying...”
“Okay, done. Instead of cooking, we do take out from Taco Bell, and get a little of everything. We might as well swing by on the way home. What's her favorite ice cream?”
“You are going all the way, Ginny. I think she loves 'Cookie Dough' the best, but for you and I, how about 'Coffee'?”
Now that that was settled, Ellen and I went back to work, anticipating going home at 1pm.
The coffee truck came at 11:45 as usual. Ellen and I just got salads and Diet Cokes, and warned Wendy we would probably eat dinner early.
On the way home, Ellen went through the city of Lynn, stopping at Taco Bell. This had Wendy excited.
“Oh wow,” she said, “I didn't even have to beg you guys, thanks!”
When I ran into the grocery store and came out with ice cream, her curiosity was raised and she asked what the occasion was. Ellen and I remained mum and let her ask the rest of the way home.
After washing and changing our clothes, I called the girls into the kitchen, where I had spread out the meal. For a while all that was heard was the sound of chewing and the clink of silverware.
Before taking seconds, I brought up the idea of using her original Social Security Number.
Surprising Ellen and I, Wendy just nodded and asked why we didn't do that first, and not involving Steve Brady?
Talk about being flabbergasted! Ellen's and my jaws just dropped, making us look like guppies, as we tried to respond.
“Cat's got your tongues?” Wendy asked. “I love both of you; of course I'd trust you with my real number, and if you guys ask, I'll tell you the town I'm from too.
Now that was settled, we could take care of the paper work for her learner's permit and driver's license. While we were at it, she should get a passport in case travel to Canada, Mexico, or even Europe was planned in the future.
About 9pm, I spooned out ice cream for the three of us. We watched “Blue Bloods” before going to bed. I think Tom Selleck is a hunk!
I had forgotten all about calling Tina. Well, we'd see her the following day at our riding lesson, so no problem. I just hoped she was there.
Bright and early on Saturday morning, after three women took turns in one bathroom, we sat down for coffee and English muffins and jam. Wendy surprised us by insisting on making the muffins and getting the boysenberry jam from the refrigerator.
We were headed north by 9am and as we pulled into the parking lot, I saw Tina's cute little red Mercedes had beaten us there. I know, did Tina come in the car, or did the Mercedes come alone? Ellen always teases me about the way I say that.
Tina was sitting in the tack room as we walked in. She quickly looked up and said, “Can you believe it, now the cops are saying my father ran some drunk over and kept on going, not stopping to see if she was still alive.”
Before either Ellen or I could react, Wendy jumped in saying, “That's bull, she wasn't a drunk, she was walking her dog in a crosswalk!”
“How would you know? Besides, he wasn't even there, he told me.”
“I would know, because I was an eye-witness, and so were Aunt Ellen and Aunt Ginny! Besides, I'm taking care of her little dog for her, until she gets out of the hospital,” Wendy retorted.
“That's not true! My father was a criminal, but he would never do that. You're all wrong! You are lying, the lot of you!”
With that, she grabbed her jacket and ran out of the room. Soon we heard the roar of the Mercedes' engine and the spray of gravel. That was followed by a loud crash.
We jumped to our feet and raced to the door. Tina's Mercedes was wrapped around a tree and a white mini-van straddled the road with smoke pouring from the engine.
Ellen yelled to Wendy to call 911, as she and I ran down the driveway. We were joined by Cathy and her husband at the wreckage. I looked into the mini van and saw two young children in the back seat and a young woman who I guessed was their mother slumped over the steering wheel. It was hard to see how badly she was hurt because of the deployed airbag.
Cathy's husband was checking out the woman, while I helped the two children from the car. Frank looked at me and shook his head. I immediately burst into tears, not helped by the children calling for their mommy.
Meanwhile Ellen and Cathy had opened the door to Tina's car and were helping her to stand up, leaning on the fender. She was holding a bloodstained handkerchief to her forehead.
In the distance, we could hear the sound of approaching sirens. I waved to Cathy as Wendy helped me get the young boy and girl to a nearby seat so I could check if they were hurt.
My heart was melting, as the kids were crying for their mother even louder. A State Police cruiser and a Newbury police car pulled up closing off the road, quickly followed by a fire truck and two ambulances.
Ellen directed one of the ambulances my way. This was a relief; the children would soon be checked out by the EMTs. The firemen got out some tools and with the help of one of the EMTs, started to work on the wrecked van. After the ambulance driver examined the woman, work slowed down prying her from the wreck.
In the meantime, Tina was now walking back and forth waving her hands like a windmill. Ellen stood back and as soon as the trooper approached, crossed the street heading for Wendy and me.
More and more police cars arrived along with a van that said something like 'OFFICE OF THE MEDICAL EXAMINER' on its side. After thirty minutes or so, a red pickup truck drove up on the shoulder. The driver ran to the mini-van and fell to his knees crying. The EMT helped him to his feet and pointed to where we were standing in front of the barn.
The kids saw him and started shouting “Daddy, Daddy, Mommy's hurt, but we're okay!”
It was enough to make your heart break. Cathy, Wendy, and I now were crying ourselves sick as the tearful father hugged his children. Ellen soon joined us crying her head off.
“Boy, just when you think you know someone! That bitch is blaming the dead woman for cutting her off, forcing her to hit the tree.”
Cathy and I were shocked. We couldn't believe what Ellen said. I knew Tina was upset about her father, but this was unbelievable!
As we watched, the State policeman was reading Tina her rights, as he put handcuffs on her. Then he assisted her into the back seat of his car.
Ellen's cell phone began ringing. 'Pete', she mouthed. She turned away speaking on the phone quietly. After five minutes or so, Ellen walked back to us.
“What did he say?” I asked.
“Pete wanted to make sure we were okay. When I said Tina flew out of here, killing that woman, and why she was so upset, his only remark was 'The apple doesn't fall far from the tree'.”
The children were in their father's truck, he was sitting beside them softly talking to them. The EMTs left, the Fire truck was pulled over to the side of the road, and a tow truck had scooped up Tina's car and driven off. The remaining firemen helped load a stretcher carrying a large black bag into the Medical Examiner's van. The police swarmed around the mini-van taking hundreds of photographs.
Cathy looked at us and said: “No lesson today, none of us could do it after that.”
We gave her a hug and slid into Ellen's car. A policeman directed us to leave by the other driveway. All the way home the SUV was filled with the sound of three women weeping and choking.
By the time we got home we were dehydrated. Ellen and I proceeded to re-hydrate with a big glass of wine. Just this once, we allowed Wendy to join us.
I don't think we were home ten minutes, before I heard Pete Smith pull into our driveway. Wendy was still sobbing when Pete gave her a big hug and a kiss, saying, “Do you still want to drive honey? If you do, in a short amount of time, you have seen two terrible accidents, both caused by stupidity.”
She looked up and said, “This will not happen with me Mister Smith, I'll be careful.”
To be continued.
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