Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Cardboard Box Part II Chapter 17 "Unanswered Questions" by Julianna Rowe (Property of Diane Ogden)

Chapter 17
“Unanswered Questions"

           I must have been shot.  I must have died.  If I were dead why could I still feel pain and why did it feel like I was suffocating while drowning.  Was I having an out of body experience?  Hell no!  You can’t feel this awful when you are out of your body.   You are supposed to float above the room and watch everyone including yourself go nuts crazy trying to save you.  Nope, I was drowning! I didn’t recall falling in any body of water although I really couldn’t recall what happened to me.   Suddenly voices came flying at me like swift pointed darts piercing my brain making my eyes water.  God I didn’t need any more pain from any direction.  I needed  air.  And then it happened. Fresh clean peaceful air surrounded my ascending body.  Then all around me beautifully colored balloons were floating with me.  I had been so bogged down in mental mud the past weeks this was exhilarating beyond my wildest imagination.  There was no more dreaded thinking.  No more pain.  No more wondering what was next.  Just me, the air I was breathing, and peace.  I must have decided to check out because I wasn't suffocating any more.

Why the hell does someone always have to ruin my peace every time I think I might be just about to truly meet God?  Or Buddha? Or whoever rules beyond our atmospheric veil.  What is that horrible smell spoiling my floating down the lazy river experience?  So I was “up floating,” you get it.  I flung my arms out ahead of me choking for more of the perfect air that had somehow turned to sulphur from hell.  It continued rising through the delicate membranes of the two precious holes in my face God had blessed me to breathe through.  The other facial cavity was screaming obscenities at the so and so who ruined my beautiful peaceful dream.  I was beginning to feel like a cat with thirteen lives.

And then my eyes opened and my mouth shut for an exhilarating moment.  There stood Duke directly in front of me jumping up and down and crying like a lost dog that had finally come home.  Duke had been the one drowning me with his slobbering excitement. And Tom!  Tom was sitting on the floor next to me holding my hand like the father I never had.  His old black hand cradled my lily white hand gently into his like a mother would hold her child.  My heart cried tears of joy and my brain danced as I hugged both Tom and Duke for a very long time.  Not that Duke sat still for any of it.  And so the reconnecting party went on while my repetitious questioning continued….who kidnapped you and Duke?   Tom said Duke was already there when he arrived at the mansion blindfolded. He never saw who knocked him down and dragged him off.  He did recall he was thrown in the back of a pick up truck.

Tilton interrupted saying Timothy Haines had left the building. I didn’t really care.  I suspect he had considering he found out his brother had followed the family generational curses that ended his life in the very house they began in.  I was in total agreement we should also depart its bad energies back to the city. 

Tom told of Jake's arrogance toward him and Duke while being held against their will, but that they had received proper nourishment as well as an old television to watch.  Tom told me later in private how he saw the ghosts of the dead man and woman walking the third floor.  In fact he didn’t see them first, Duke did.  Duke would whine while he followed something in the room with his eyes.  Tom reiterated that when he shut down some of the lights he could see the white mist of the entities.  They didn’t seem harmful rather they seemed lost, Tom said.  He felt sad for them.  Duke on the other hand wasn’t as sure how he felt about these misty characters. 

I asked who the person was that took Duke out to relieve himself.  Tom told me it was either Pam or Jake the snake. 

It was time to leave. Tilton’s fancy corvette couldn’t hold Tom, Duke, and me so we rode with Tim Haines’s who had left the building but had remained on the property strolling outside among its memories. Tom rode back with Tilton.  We were dropped off at old Tom’s shack which I am sure made for interesting thoughts for both men whose facial expression gave them away as stuck ups.  I wanted to shout at them!   I have a beautiful pink Cadillac and a million bucks. But I kept quiet.

Stuck up Tilton reminded me to call him when I was ready to view the…..I stopped him dead from saying the word Church in front of Tom who knew nothing of my latest undertaking.   Tilton looked at me like I was crazy although I think he might have thought that to begin with.  Not crazy maxed out, but somewhat tilted.  I assured him I would be fine and thanked him profusely for all his help in solving the highway mansion mystery.  It had been the talk of the town for years in the past.  That days incident would give it new life for many more years to come. As for me, I would be long gone living on the 76th floor of a high rise looking out into space at all the bright city lights every night for the rest of my peaceful life.  Hey, living in a fantasy world is the best way and I did it well, off and on that is.

When we arrived Shamika ran out the front door to her Daddy’s arms where they held one another a very long time.  Tom reached down scooping up his little Granddaughter letting her know she was included in the family circle of love.  Duke and I walked into the house to say hello to Shamonta Baird who was full of smiles to see us.   Duke had been more traumatized then I realized because he wasn’t leaving even an inch between us.  In fact he had become my shadow.  I gave him extra attention to the point of keeping him on his leash always near me.  Thank God Tom was with him during his time away from me.   I doubted I would ever let Duke out of my sight again as long as I lived.

All this hugging and loving and chatter had not hidden the true facts from my mind.  In fact it was like we were standing on top of a bridge happy go lucky yet under the bridge lay the remains of all that happened this past couple weeks as well as what might be next. 

Did Tom still have a job?  Where would Duke and I stay and for how long?  When would I view the church property?  Was this mess over and could I get my beautiful pink Cadillac back now?  Were there more drug dealers ready to shoot me down? Then suddenly I realized there had been no FBI people following me as before.  Why?  Reed always had me followed.  I needed to get to the hospital to see Reed but they would never let Duke in and there was no way to disguise the old hound dog.  No way could I leave him with anyone just yet.  

We stayed at old Toms for a few hours then I called for a cab to take Tom and me to the hospital to check on Reed.  Again there we were the old black man and the young white girl trucking around Amarillo like it was acceptable fashion when in fact it was not.  But I didn’t care.  I told Tom we would tell folks he was my steward.   He carried my luggage and tended my dog.  Or maybe we would say nothing and let them chatter away.

The funerals were small.  Pam was laid to rest at the local St. Mary’s Catholic cemetery.  Jake was Lutheran, go figure the family was split up in every sense of every direction religion included.  Not so sure rest in peace would come into play this round.  In fact I wondered if Jake and Pam would wander the third floor residence of the old mansion with her dead step-father and his murdered mother.  I would have hated to be the next person staying on that third floor or anywhere in that house of horrors.  Odd how our cells have memories and how the generational curses invite themselves back into our minds with never ceasing vengeance.  The bad curses are the worst.  The blessed cells passed onto us are more often than not too quiet and free of strife. They don’t always fight the fight we need.  Pam had fallen into the family well of curses.  I usually jump into those wells with people as I am a rescuer.  I was learning how to throw them a rope vs ending up buried as Pam did. 

 Timothy Haines was the only living relative left behind after the death of his brother Jake the Fake Frenchman.  I wondered if Pam knew he was a fake and loved him in spite of it. I mean come on she told me she was FBI working undercover.  Surely she would have had Jake checked out. Pam died taking with her a lot of secrets untold.  I am forever thankful to her for telling me Duke was on the third floor just before she killed herself and her lover Jake.  I recall thinking how odd it was she had it wrong where the secret staircase was.  She told me it was behind the fireplace wall in the kitchen, but Tim Haines new exactly where it was.  In the kitchen pantry. There were definitely a couple of pieces of the Haines’s Mansion puzzle missing and I really didn’t want to play Nancy Drew any more in any way.

The taxicab pulled up to the hospital entrance as the driver asked if he should wait. I said yes and instructed Tom to stay there with Duke who had a meltdown when I walked away into the hospital.  I figured I would be visiting with Detective Miles Reed for some time regarding all the occurrences of the day as well as how I could get my Cadi out of impoundment.  But to my shock Miles Reed had checked himself out earlier that day.  The head nurse informed me he seemed upset and left against doctors’ orders. I headed over and down the stairwell of the old hospital when I saw Tom sneaking up with Duke. Duke had become stressed at the length of time I had been gone. Tom would not allow Duke to be left in the cab alone so he took a huge risk of getting caught by hospital security. I asked him what he thought he was going to do when he got to the nurses station on the 2nd floor with a dog.  He said he hadn’t figured that out yet.  Tom and I looked at each other while at the same time Duke was looking back and forth at us looking back and forth at each other.  At least some things were back to normal. We both snickered and then I noticed the worry on old Tom’s face as we stood in the stairwell of the hospital’s 2nd floor. 

“What’s up Tom?  You look as though you lost your last dime?”

 He responded that he had.  I didn’t understand even though I should have.  My head was so full of “under the bridge curses” from our day outta hell that I missed something important.  Amazing what a million bucks in the bank does to the money thinking portion of a brain.  Old Tom had no job that he knew of.  Hadn’t worked in a couple of weeks nor given his daughter any monies for food and other necessities.  I felt as stuck up and tacky as Tilton and Timothy in their fancy man boy toy cars.  Mine was a fancy bank account, not that my car wasn’t fancy schmancy too. Not to mention my dog.  Never the less I knew what being poor was like.  As a kid we didn’t have much lest I ever forget.  

I humbly said as I reached out and hugged the old man, “Tom, your family was taken care of in your absence. Not to worry. And we will see about your job tomorrow. Okay?” 

He humbly thanked me but then Tom was always humble.  An action many could learn from him.  He quoted me verses from the Bible on humility as well as he lived it.  He was a preacher man without a doubt with the voice of a radio announcer.  I aimed to find that man a flock to tend and a church to hold ‘em! 

  The cabby had waited twenty dollars’ worth mostly on a count of I forgot he was out there. Tom, Duke, and I raced down the stairs to the front entrance and into the back of the cab giggling like kids. I told old Tom to sit up front with the black cabby so Duke and I could sit in the back together. 

Directly the cabby says, “Where to ma’am?

This time we decided to go to Miles house.  I needed to get some clean clothes and a few more travelers’ checks. Then we'd go be good to go.  Again I told the cabby to wait out front considering I didn’t see Miles car in the carport.  I couldn’t understand where in the heck Miles Reed could have gone?  Surely he wouldn’t leave the hospital early to go back to work.  The nurse said he was upset when he left.  There went my brain into overdrive.  Like how do you tell if an FBI agent is upset?  Was he crying?  Was he angry?  Did he stomp his feet and whine? There was simply nothing cool about any of it.  

I guessed I would be staying at Miles that night although nothing was for sure and I hated unsure.  Security should have been my middle name.  Julianna Needs Security Rowe.  Or Julianna “requires security” Rowe.  All I knew for sure was I never wanted to go back to the old Haines Mansion ever ever again.  However I knew this mess wasn’t over.  Someone had shot at me.  Reed had been in a car wreck and was now missing after checking himself out of the hospital. Pam and Jake were dead in a murder suicide.  And come to think of it why did Reed interrogate me for so long mostly about Pam if in fact she was FBI working with him? I needed my Granddaddy’s two shots of Canadian Club and a good long shopping day.  And then my mind came back to reality as we piled back into the taxi cab. That was after freshening up and grabbing a quick sandwich with milk and cookies.

Directly the cabby says, “Where to ma’am?

My God and Mary and all the Angels I had no idea where to go next.  I was fairly happy no one was shooting at us though I hadn’t really expected it yet I probably should have.  Tom looked at me and me back at Tom and Duke at both of us looking back and forth at each other while the cabby was looking at Duke looking at us looking back and forth at each other.  Then we all busted out laughing as we realized the scene.

Cabby said, “Ma’am my meter is still running. Where would you like to go next?”

I told Tom I wished to drop him off at his house and I would head down to the FBI offices before they closed.  I hoped to be able to get my Cadi back with or without the assistance of Detective Miles Reed.  And so it was. When we arrived back at Tom’s home I slipped him some cash as he got out of the cab.  

As always he said, “Be paying you back ma’am.”

I said, “Yes you will Tom Baird. No worries for now and I’ll be in touch very soon.”

I could see by the look on the old man’s face he was scared to let me go off alone.  And I imagine he might have been a bit scared for himself and his family considering he had been kidnapped and held against his will.  I waved and shouted, “It will be alright Tom.  Really it will.”  Hell I had no idea if anything would ever be alright again.  I was so good at shucking out positive sayings regardless. As the cab pulled away I turned to look out the back window raising my hand in a gesture of love and watching Tom until I could see him no more.   
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