Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe, Orange County, California
Bewildered the three of us wandered through the cabin in the Saratoga Woods in awe. “This bedroom is the perfect size for all three of us. We can pretend we’re at camp and share secrets every night and no one will hear us way out here in the woods,” said Jeanne.
“You sound like a little kid, Jeanne,” I said. “But you’re right. We do have a lot of secrets now, and a lot of things to figure out.”
Krista walked over to a twin bed by the window. “This must be where I’ll be sleeping,” she said as she picked up a pair of straight leg jeans and a blue cashmere sweater. “Wow wee. How did they know my favorite type of clothes?”
“It’s gotta be George and his uncanny abilities,” said Jeanne. “I can’t wait to find out how uncanny he is.”
We had a much needed laugh. I felt tired and on the edge of crankiness. Jeanne flopped down on the bed in the far right side of the room.
“Soon enough. I’m going to take a shower. I can’t believe how dirty I feel.”
“I’ve got second dibs,” said Jeanne.
“No worries, girls,” said Mattie standing in the doorway with an armload of towels. “You are all welcomed to use my bathroom anytime. It’s straight down the hall.”
“Thank you for the towels,” I said, and grabbed the clothes from the bed near the door, kicked off my loafers, and unzipped my skirt. As it slid down, I saw the cuts and scrapes again. “Oh, I hope these cuts will heal without scaring.”
“I’ve got some ointment for that in your bedside table,” said Mattie.
“You think of everything. Thank you a million times over.” She smiled and I gave my aunt a joyful hug of gratitude.
The aroma of a great blend of spices lingered in the air as the after dinner conversation began. “That was a fabulous southwest dinner, Aunt Mattie. I’m delighted you remembered my favorites, homemade salsa and tortilla chips. And, the enchiladas were perfect. Just like you made them for me when I was a kid, not too spicy.”
“ I loved the salsa. I can eat this every day without a problem,” said Jeanne as she dipped another homemade chip into the bowl.
“I’ve overeaten tonight,” said Krista with her hand over her midriff. “It was all so delicious. Thank you Mattie.”
“I’ve got a big Thank You, too. Not only for dinner but for all the beautiful clothes. How did you know our sizes, and what we liked so much?” asked Jeanne.
“Well, George helped me with the sizes and described what you all had been hankering for the last time you went clothes shopping.” Mattie put her arm on George’s shoulder. “George, dear, why don’t you tell them how you sense things?”
George patted her hand and smiled. I saw a twinkle in his eyes, and noted that it was always there when he spoke with her.
“Let’s all get comfortable in the living room first. And Haley, I haven’t forgotten you want to call Eric. I’ll just take a minute,” said George.
“How did you know about Eric?” said Jeanne and Krista in unison. The two of them had been close friends for a long time. They now shared timing in their expressions of curiosity. They looked at me. I shrugged.
“I’ll explain in a moment,” said George with his hand up. Then he shoved back his chair and took his dishes into the kitchen.
None of us said another word. We quietly put our dishes on the tiled kitchen counter and went to the living room to find a comfortable spot.
I chose the floor in front of the fireplace that was not lit yet and leaned on a huge floor pillow. George chose an overstuffed easy chair with wide rounded arm rests, and put his legs up on a matching footrest. Mattie sat across from him in an unholstered hardwood chair next to Krista who sat on the available end of the leather couch where Jeanne had already stretched out.
“Let me tell you first girls, that what I am going to share with you tonight is not for anyone else to know. None of our neighbors or our friends have any idea about my abilities. I learned a long time ago that my life couldn’t be stable, or secure with people knowing what I might be able to do,” he paused and sighed. “There have been times when it seemed people from all over the world wanted my help. But, I just can’t do that. I can’t help everyone, so I moved here from back east, grew a mustache, and started a new life.”
“Cool. Incognito,” said Jeanne, and her face redden as she realized she had interrupted him.
Mattie spoke up, “When George courted me, we became very close. And then I came to know when he had these special feelings.”
“That’s just how it happened, girls. To me, Mattie is what people call a soul mate. She confronted me so many times just when I experienced something that I had to share my secret with her. Heck, I never wanted her to not to know, but I didn’t know how she’d take it. Then, it dawned on me that her tender heart for others, and for me, would make everything all right. And I am glad I did tell her all about it.” He sat back and twirled the left tip of his silvery mustache.
“George and I have a unique relationship. We share a lot of satisfaction in helping whomever we can, when we can,” added Mattie.
Chilling goose bumps on my arms chased away the calmness I felt earlier. I suddenly burst out, “How much do you know about what happened to us?”
“Did you know we were going to lose everything in our apartment?” asked Jeanne.
“And did you know that Mrs. Hamlin was going to get killed in my apartment?” asked Krista with a shaky voice.
George held up both hands to fend us off. “Hold on there, girls. One question at a time.” He shifted in his easy chair and leaned forward with both hands pointed together. “Now, first of all, I don’t know everything about everyone. I don’t need to. And, there are certain things I never know about. What I find out is not by my choice, though sometimes I try to concentrate on something I think is important and the answer would come, but…”
“But it comes days or weeks later,” Mattie finished his sentence for him. “We know this because that is what happened with all of you, and what’s been happening on Bush Street. It’s how we know that Eric has been watching out for you.”
“That is awesome,” said Jeanne. Her eyes were wide in wonder.
“Krista,” said George looking straight at her. “You’re a little sweetheart and I do want you to know that Mrs. Hamlin loved you. I felt it every time I had images of you with her. However, I didn’t know that she was going to be murdered. All I got were blurred images of her and a sense of danger, and that was when she was by herself,” said George. “Unfortunately, most of the time I am not able to tell to what degree of danger someone is in.”
George’s revelations had me mesmerized, and a glance at Jeanne and Krista showed me that they were entranced as well.
“What a terrible burden for you to have to carry, George,” I said. “How does someone with a gift like yours, know what to do with visions, whether clear or not? It must be hard to get to sleep.”
“Well, I’ve figured that it’s all part of the payment for having the opportunity to do some good for others.”
George turned toward Jeanne. “Now you all have a general idea of what I can, and cannot do. Jeanne. I know you are going to be one of my biggest fans. I haven’t forgotten you, dear, but I feel a strong need to tell you – to stay away from that cute guy from the Laundromat.” George said this with emphasis and we all listeded carefully.
“I sense a geat deal of danger every time I have a vision of him. Those visions are always blurry, and he’s doing something with a lot of noise in the background. My heart beats faster and I sometimes want to jump up and hit the wall or kick a tree. So please, stay away from him.”
Jeanne gasped and looked at all of us. “So you know, too, that I think he’s cute?”
Her sense of humor and timing came to the rescue again. The moment had been scary one.
George shook his head and smiled. A flash on concern showed for a second in his eyes, and he turned to me. “Haley, I have good feelings about that young man you just met. I sense that you feel the same way about him, too.”
I looked at George and saw a gentle face. His presence and the tone of his voice had been comforting for me. Then what I said next surprised us all. “George, will Mrs. Johnson be okay?”
He sat back and laid his hands on the armrests. “Yes. Yes, she is in good hands with that nurse. Nurse Geri is a bulldog. She’ll protect your friend.” George nodded his head in affirmation, and he smoothed the right tip of his mustache.
“I have more to caution you all about tonight,” said George. Jeanne sat up to pay attention. Krista and I didn’t move. We all waited for George to continue.
“No one can know where you are staying, and no one can know where you are from. Sticking to these rules and staying here with us will be safer for you than anywhere else at the moment,” said George.
“What do I tell Eric when I call him tonight? I’m sure he’s been worried about us all this time,” I 7said.
“When you call him at his aunt’s home, tell him you and your friends are safe, but that you don’t want to say over the telephone where you are staying for the night. Stall. Tell him you will call him again tomorrow night. Believe me. After all that’s happened, he’ll agree with you and go along with what you want to do,” said George.
“Can I at least give him this phone number?”
“No, it’s important you don’t. We’ll all be safe this way. When we go into Los Gatos tonight, you can make a phone call from a store a friend of mine owns. Oh, and tell Eric he’ll have his car back at his aunt’s house tomorrow morning.”
“How is that going to happen?” asked Jeanne.
George chuckled before he answered. “Well, I have my friends and my methods. Don’t you worry little gal. Don’t you worry.”
“It’s getting late. Let’s go call Eric now,” said Haley. “The sooner he knows we’re okay, the sooner I’ll stop feeling guilty. He’s been so supportive. I wonder if he’s okay.”
“I’m wondering what he’s told the police,” said Jeanne. “And Fire Chief…what’s his name? I like him. For some reason I feel akin to him.”
“I think,” interjected Krista, “they could be wondering if we’ve been caught and killed by the Serial Killer.”
“Krista! That’s an awful thought,” said Jeanne, “Especially from you, I didn’t think you would say that out loud.”
“Hear, hear. You’ve all had some big scares these last few weeks,” said Mattie as she dried her hands with a dish towel. “It’s not uncommon that when you finally feel a bit safe your fears come out into the open. Just take your time, Krista. Try to relax.”
I watched as she took her time fussing with hairpins in curls that were not out of place. Then she added, “I believe, that when you relax and enjoy these surroundings, you will feel more secure here.”
“Mattie’s right, girls. Let’s just take care of what needs to be done and then concentrate on making our home, your home for now,” George said.
Jeanne jumped up from the couch. “Okay. Let’s get the dishes done. I want to see what Los Gatos is like.”
“I’ve already rinsed them. They’ll be fine,” said Mattie. “Now, George and I picked out some beautiful coats and jackets for each of you. Look in the hall closet. Grab one and hop into George’s mini-van.”
My aunt never seemed to run out of smiles.
“Haley, after you make the call to Eric, George and I will treat us to the Rocky Mountain Ice Cream Shop. Sound like a good plan?”
“That’s the best plan,” offered Jeanne as we all got up to leave.
I saw tears welling up in Krista’s eyes, and I went over to hug her. “We’re going to be okay, Krista. We’re going to be safe here.”
She hugged me back hard and sobbed, her cries muffled in my shoulder. Then, just as quickly, she pulled away and wiped away her tears.
“That’s right. We couldn’t have anything better than this,” she said.
Mattie came over to us. “I’ve found that the gift George has is amazing. Along with his tender heart for people he has a strong protective instinct,” Mattie said. “Life is going to be very different for all of you from now on.”
“You mean that we’ll be safer, out of the reach of the Serial Killer, and that cop who has been harassing us?” I asked. “I’m sorry, but I can’t help thinking about the harshness of our lives these last two days.”
Mattie smiled and a tender look of motherly love spread across her face.
She gathered us in for a four-way hug. “I understand how you girls feel. In time you’ll all learn to trust George like I do.” She paused and said, “And I’ve trusted him with my life several times. He’ll come through for you, too.”
Copyright 2014 MillieAnne Lowe, Orange County, California