Sunday, January 5, 2014

Waiting for Richard

Excerpt from Waiting for Richard:

Down at the police station, Skye settled in with books of mug shots, looking for the man from the parking garage, the short, scruffy, longish-haired, messy, blonde guy with the large nose and the bad complexion.  She looked at page after page, book after book of mug shots.
“No, not in here.”
“Would you like to talk with the precinct artist?” asked Detective Samson.
“No, not really.  I’m all criminaled out right now.  I’d like to go home and call Rita’s brother and then go get her things together to take back to the hospital.  We have each other’s spare key.”
“Okay.  Maybe later.  Officer Metz will take you home.”
“Thank you.” 

Later Skye drove passed Rita’s house, first just to look around.  Not seeing anything out of the ordinary, the second time she pulled in and parked in the driveway.  She went into Rita’s bedroom and gathered her robe and slippers, and a few nightgowns hanging in the closet.  Then she made her way to the chest freezer in the basement.  The plastic cream puff container was right there on the top.  Skye took the container and put it in the plastic bag she brought down with her, and went back upstairs.  Using Rita’s address book by the phone, she called her brother Ron.  No answer.  She hung up on the answer phone message.  It’s very impolite to tell someone his sister’s in the hospital with a gunshot wound to the head and in a coma by leaving a message.  This kind of thing needs to be done correctly, slowly, with compassion and a little finesse.  First, there’s the ‘hi, how are you’ part.  Then, the ‘Ron, I need to tell you something’ part, followed by the ‘Rita and I went out to dinner last night and she thought she was being followed’ part.  And finally, there’s the ‘Rita’s in the hospital, someone shot her, how fast can you get here’ part.  One just couldn’t leave all that in a message.  Skye sighed and called Ron back.
“Ron, this is Skye McKenna, Rita’s friend from work, remember me?  Um, Ron, we need to talk.  It’s about Rita and it’s really important.  Can you call me back on my cell phone 263-7544-1066?  Thank you, Ron.  Talk to you soon.”
She gathered Rita’s things and the plastic bag with the cream puffs together and went home.  She folded Rita’s things neatly and put them in a tote bag.  Then she sat down at the kitchen table and opened the cream puff container, about a dozen small cream puffs and an envelope inside.  Skye pulled the letter out of the envelope and smoothed it out.

‘Dear Rita,

Her cell phone rang.  Might be Ron.  She jammed the letter in her pocket and answered the phone.

“Skye! Good morning!  How are you today?”  It was Randy Ribretti, her old boss from the insurance agency.  “I have a question.”
“Good morning, Randy.  What’s up?”
“Skye, Rita didn’t come in to work today and there’s no answer when I call her house.  I’m swamped here.  Can you come in and help me out?  I know you’re retired and are happily writing children’s books now, but I really need you.  How soon can you get here?”
“Randy, Rita’s in the hospital.  She’s been shot.”
“What!  Oh, no!  What happened?”
“We don’t know.  I tried to reach her brother Ron to tell him, but he’s not home.  Randy, I can’t help you today.  I’m on my way to the hospital to see Rita.  But I’ll come in tomorrow and help you out.  Now I have to go.”
“Of course, Skye, of course.  What can I do to help?”
“Don’t know yet.  But I’ll talk to you tomorrow.  Bye, Randy.”
“Thank you, Skye.  Goodbye.”

Now, back to the letter.

‘Dear Rita,
       Hide this key.’

She shook the envelope and out fell an odd-shaped silver-tone key, unlabeled.

‘I borrowed some money from work to go gambling.  I planned to replace it the next morning, just like I always do.  Except, this time, I lost.  And I lost big. 
So I took a quick side job as a courier, easy money for some shady deliveries.  I saw a chance to payback the Weller Corporation and not get fired and arrested.  So I did.  But now I’m in a mess.  And I‘m pretty sure I’m being watched.  Keep this safe.  It’s my only way out.


Out of what?  Well, Rita said she thought her kid brother was in trouble.  She wasn’t kidding.  And what would this key unlock?  Ron gave no clues.  Just hide this key.  Skye went to her jewelry box and retrieved a long chain.  She threaded the key on the chain and fastened it around her neck and hid the chain under her blouse. 
“It’s very safe in there,” she said.  “Nobody’s been fondling these breasts for a very long time.”  She popped a cream puff in her mouth, put three in a small plastic bag to bring to Rita, returning the rest to the freezer.  She picked up today’s newspaper, gathered her things, and went to the hospital.  Skye got to the hospital and went in to see Rita.  She was lying there, looking pale and lifeless.
“Rita?  Hey, Ri, it’s me.  I did as you asked about the cream puffs.  I brought you a few.  I’m sitting them right here so when you open your eyes again, you’ll see them and know that I heard you and took care of the matter.  I have a call in to Ron, but as yet he hasn’t called me back.  I don’t want you to worry.  I’m sure your kid brother is okay.  All I want you to do is concentrate on getting better, okay?  And don’t worry about getting behind at work.  I’m going in for you tomorrow morning and I’ll handle everything.  I talked to Randy, so he knows.  He’s concerned and supportive, as always.  You know Randy, a hell of a great guy for an insurance salesman.

Now, I brought today’s newspaper and I’m going to read to you.  I’m going to read to you until I get hoarse or you get so damn sick of hearing my voice that you come out of that coma and yell  ‘Shut the hell up!' Okay? Okay.”  She began reading the paper.

Waiting for Richard  by Carol Ann Kauffman is available on in kindle format.

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