Monday, October 10, 2011

Chapter 83: Something's wrong

“What’s happened?” Laurie anxiously whispered. “She’s back to being a zombie. She was so happy these past few months. Something's wrong.”

Freddy stared across the aisle at the next pew where Violet sat all alone staring into space and not singing along with the congregation. That was odd in itself, but she came in late, as well, hadn’t said hello to anyone--not even Freddy's gang-- nor smiled once. She looked as miserable and forlorn as she had last summer when Richard died.

“She and Victor must’ve had a falling out or quarreled or something?” Freddy said, turning to gaze at his wife. “You think they broke up?”

“Oh, gosh, I hope not!” Laurie whispered back, tears filling her eyes.

“Honey, don’t cry,” Freddy said, putting his arm around her.

“I can’t help it. Hormones,” she muttered laying her head on his shoulders.
He chuckled, kissed the top of her head and laid his hand on her protruding tummy. "There now. Don't fuss about it. You can't really break up when you weren't really dating, can you?"

"I...I don't know. It seemed like they were," Laurie said.

It certainly did, Freddy thought. He was quite sure Victor wouldn't think so, being a man used to having women throw themselves at him, but for Violet? It was as close to dating as she would get or allow herself to get, more like.

“I’ll ask her to come over after church, okay?” he quietly said and at the first opportunity, he’d have a talk with Victor.

“Auntie Violet, it’s time to go now,” Molly said, tugging on Violet’s skirt.
Violet stared at her niece for a moment as if she’d never seen her before. “I’m sorry, what?” she said.

“Church is over. Mommy and Daddy say you can come to our house today,” Molly said taking Violet’s hand now.

Violet shook her head. “No, sweetie, I...I can’t,” she said.

“How come?” Molly said, her innocent eyes wide. “Is it ‘cuz Uncle Richie only comes at night?”

“What did you say?” Violet said, her interest finally peeked.

“He toll me he only comes at night cuz that’s when we’re sleeping. Maybe if you take a nap after lunch he’ll come,” Molly said. “Please, come.”

“Molly, you mean you have dreams of Richard,” Violet said.

Molly shook her head. “Nuh-uh, he wakes me up and Daddy and Jimmy and Valerie and Nicky all see him, too. Mommy can’t cuz she don’t sleep too good.”

Violet gaped at the little girl. “What…what does he do…in your dreams?”

Molly giggled. “It’s not a dream. It’s really him. He tells me funny stories. My favorite is da one when Daddy pushed you into da pond when you were little kids and den you pushed him back. He went swimming wiff da frogs! Daddy said he forgot about dat. It was funny.”

“Yes, it was,” Violet said. “Surely…your daddy told you that story, not Richard. Richard is gone now, Molly. He died, remember?”

“Nuh-uh, I sawed him. He's a ghost and he comes through the wall and wakes me up and we sing your songs, too.”

“My songs?”

Molly nodded. “Oceans of Violet’s in bloom… he said it’s your song. I like it.”

Violet closed her eyes and tears rolled down her cheeks.

“Auntie Violet, don’t cry. Uncle Richie will come see you too if you fall asleep. I’ll tell him to go to your house, okay?” Molly said, getting up on the pew and she hugged her.

“Molly, go to Mommy, okay?” Freddy said, shooing his daughter away before he sat down beside his sister. “Violet, what’s wrong? What did Molly say to you?”

“Nothing,” she replied, wiping the tears off her cheek. “She was telling me about a dream she had.” She stood up and attempted a smile. “Well, I’ll be going now. Loads to do.”

“Violet, come home with us. We haven’t seen you since you started working at the garden. Laurie’s been so eager to hear about it. Please come,” he said.

“Maybe some other time, Freddy. I just have so much to do,” she said, grabbing her purse and avoiding his probing eyes.

“Like what?” he said, skeptically.

“Well, I…uh... I want to start a baby quilt for the new baby. Haven’t even looked for the right pattern. Do you know if it’s a boy or girl?”

“You know we don’t believe in knowing before it’s here. We like the suspense,” he said, grinning.

“Okay, then I’ll do something with loads of primary colors,” she said. “I’m sure Laurie…”

“Violet, we don’t need another baby blanket,” Freddy said, his patience wearing thin. “Please, tell me what’s wrong.”

“I told you, it’s nothing. Just have loads on my mind. I’ll see you soon. My love to the others,” she said and whisked away past several people who called out to her, but they were barely acknowledged.

Freddy followed Violet out of the church and watched her almost run to her car. He shook his head, took out his cell and dialed Victor. It went straight to voice mail. That boded ill.

“Guys, come on!” he shouted to his kids and motioned to Laurie.

“What is it, Freddy?” Laurie said, easing her expanding body into the front seat. “Is Violet coming?”

“No, I have to go see Victor. Something’s very wrong. I can feel it,” he said. 

After dropping off his family at home he went to the office. Perhaps Victor was there, but no, he was not. Next he checked his house. His truck was in the driveway, which was a good sign, but Freddy frowned at the mud on the tires and splattered all over the truck. Victor was not the type to do any four-wheeling about the country. That was more Richard’s thing.

Freddy got out of the car, walked to the front door and rang the bell. When no answer came, he banged on it. When still no answer came he tried the door knob. Perhaps, although he very much doubted it, Victor had become as accustomed to leaving his door unlocked as the rest of the residents of Catalpa Valley. To his utter amazement, the door yielded.

He stepped in and once again marveled at the grand foyer with its twenty-five foot high ceiling, marble floor and curving mahogany staircase leading to the rooms above. It always made him look up just in case Scarlet O’Hara was about to descend from her bedchamber.

“Hey, Vic! You home? It’s me, Freddy,” he loudly called, tentatively coming in and closing the door behind him. “I knocked, but…Victor? You better be home or this is breaking and entering.”

“Did you jimmy the lock?” Victor said. “If not, it’s just entering. You don’t look too dangerous, though, so, no worries. I won’t charge you with even that.”

Freddy gaped. He’d never seen Victor so disheveled. He looked as if he had slept in his clothes, if he’d slept at all. He was leaning on the archway leading to his formal living room with a drink in hand, something amber in a crystal tumbler. His skin was ashen, his eyes all bloodshot and it appeared he’d raked his hands through his hair at least a dozen times.

“Victor, are you sick?” Freddy said.

Victor shook his head a wide grin on his face. “I feel vonderfal,” he said, downing the rest of his drink before he slid down the wall and promptly passed out.

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