“I’m gonna kill him!” Richard snarled.
“Stand in line. There won’t be much left after I’m done with him,” Heidi said, as she stared down at Violet who still remained on the floor hugging her knees and weeping into them. “You stay with her. Try to calm her, but if you can’t, suggest to her that she call her brother. He may be the only one to get her off the ledge, as you well know.”
Richard stared at her frowning. “And how do you know all that?” he asked.
She smiled slightly. “You weren’t the first ghost haunting her, Dear. I’ve gotten to know her—and you for that matter-- a long time before you even died. We can talk about that later. For now, Violet is our main concern.”
With that said, she drifted down through the floor and she was gone.
Victor stormed out of the door, but he hadn’t reached the car before he started regretting his harsh words. Not that he had a clue of their exact impact. He stared up at the only lit window in the upstairs part of her house. She was not there watching him leave as he hoped. As a matter of fact, he suspected Violet hadn’t been effected at all by their parting words and that just ticked him off all over again.
“Fine, be that way. See if I care,” he muttered as he slammed the car door shut and took off—not even bothering to buckle up.
Heidi sat beside him fuming mad. “I have never been more ashamed of my son in my life –nor in death!” she shouted. “How you could say such vicious things to Violet—the woman you love beyond all reason—when you know…”
She suddenly stopped her tirade and put her hand to her lips. “But you don’t know, do you? She never told you. I forgot she had not,” she said, mostly to herself. “Victor, my love, you must slow down. The road is still slick from the earlier rain. I won’t have you harmed because you are angry. You might wish to stop at your friend’s house so you don’t end up alone at home, drowning your sorrows in some vile liquid. I do believe you recall how well that turned out the last time you did that.”
On cue, he took a deep breath and let up on the gas. What was he in a hurry for anyway? To get home to an empty house and just sit there? He looked at the clock on the dashboard; only nine. Perhaps he could go somewhere. He simply didn’t wish to be alone.
“Freddy will still be up. It’s not too late. You can have a nice little chat with him…mostly about his mother. You know so very little about his parents and Violet’s. It may come in handy to learn something about them, don’t you think?”
Victor frowned and wondered why he all of a sudden had the desire to ask Freddy about his parents. He supposed he hoped to learn something about Violet in turn.
“We all have childhood baggage, after all. Why shouldn’t Violet as much as anyone else?” he muttered to the nearly empty car.
“Yes, my love, everyone does have baggage, and you will be all the better for keeping that in mind before you run off your big old month again,” Heidi said.
Victor pulled into the next driveway he came to and turned the car around, heading for Freddy’s. Much to his surprise, upon reaching the house, Victor found the very same man rushing out of it in an agitated manner and climbing into his car… until he spotted Victor.
Freddy then rush toward him and slammed his entire body into Victor, knocking him back against the car.
“What the hell, Freddy!” Victor shouted.
“What did you say to my sister?” Freddy growled, his fists balled up with Victor’s shirt, shoving him back against the car repeatedly. “Tell me, you asshole!”
Shocked, Victor just stared and allowed Freddy to vent his spleen on him. It’s not like it hurt. Freddy was barely taller than Violet and not much bigger.
“She just called me crying her heart out. What did you do to her?”
“She's crying? Nothing, I...” Victor said. “We were…I convinced her to finally get rid of Richard’s old clothes. She kept saying she had no room for the new things I bought for her this weekend so…she fought me on it a bit, but eventually she realized it was time and the right thing to do.”
Freddy glared at him, unconvinced. “Did you tell her she was going mad?”
“Well, dammit, Freddy, you would have too. She’s making me nuts with her…she keeps talking about Richard’s ghost as if it’s real. Every time we’re starting to get somewhere this imaginary ghost gets in the way.”
“What did you actually say to her?”
“I said she might go crazy if she continued to believe in ghosts.”
“You actually said crazy? You bastard!”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“It’s only the worst thing you could have said. She now believes she is!”
“Am I missing something here?”
“Has she not told you about our mother?”
“Only that she died when Violet was young,” Victor said.
The air seemed to leave Freddy’s lungs in a big whoosh, and he dropped his fists from Victor’s shirt. “She told you she was dead?” he whispered.
“I…well…maybe not exactly. I just assumed it. She never speaks of her… always changes the subject when I ask,” Victor stared at Freddy whose anger vanished as quickly as it came. “If she’s not dead, then where is she?”
Freddy shook his head. “If she didn’t tell you, she doesn’t want you to know. We don’t talk of it with anyone.”
“Freddy, I’m not just anyone,” he said. “We’re getting married.”
“Say what?” Freddy gasped.
“Some day…I hope. I already asked her twice. I even gave her an engagement ring and she didn’t throw it back in my face…yet,” Victor said, opening his car door. “Get in. I’ll take you to her and you can tell me about your mother on the way.”
Reluctant though he was, Freddy got in. “Not sure I should. She’ll kill me,” he said. "She doesn't want anyone to know."
“She doesn’t have to know that I know,” Victor replied. “I know how to keep secrets.
“So, does Violet. She didn’t tell me Richard was coming to her, too.”
“Too?” Victor said stunned.
“He comes to me and the kids…mostly in our dreams,” Freddy said, then gave a mirthless laugh. “Laurie’s thoroughly put out that he never comes to her. I keep telling her it’s cuz she’s so exhausted at the end of the day. I mean after running around all day with the kids and being pregnant, she doesn’t really dream.”
“Are you telling me you truly believe that you’ve seen Richard’s ghost?”
“Are you going to tell me I’m crazy, too?” Freddy snapped.
“I…No, I won’t,” Victor said. “Please, tell me about your mother. Where does she come in this?”
“She’s at Mason and has been since we were little kids,” Freddy said, rubbing his temples as if they ached which they did every time he thought of his mother.
“Mason University in DC?” Victor said, confused. “What is she doing there?”
“No, you idiot. Mason Mental Institution in Davenport,” Freddy snapped.
“Oh…” he said. “Freddy, I’m so sorry. I had no idea.”
“Of course you didn’t. Like I said, we don’t talk about it. It’s too painful.”
“And…what is she diagnosed with?”
“You name it. She’s seen a dozen doctors and not one of them has agreed with the other.”
Victor pulled into the driveway and parked the car. “Surely, you have an idea what is wrong with her?”
“Because my extraordinary accounting skills make me a fabulous psychiatrist all of a sudden?”
“I didn’t mean that. I'm sorry. Let’s not argue about this now. Violet is waiting for us,” Victor said, his hand on the door handle.
“No, you’re not going in,” Freddy said.
“You started this,” Freddy said, pointing a threatening finger at him. “She doesn’t want you here and neither do I.”
“Freddy, I’ll apologize to her. I’ll tell her I didn’t mean it that way.”
“You know nothing about this, remember? Don’t ever mention this to her, got me? Cuz if you do, I can guarantee she’ll never marry you. You’ll be lucky she ever talks to you again.”
“Come on, you can’t be serious.”
“Oh, but I am. Go home, Victor. We don’t need you here and if you want to live to a ripe old age, don’t mention this to anyone. Thanks for the ride. I’ll be spending the night doing damage control.”
Victor watched in impotent silence as Freddy climbed the steps and went into the house.
“What have I done?” he muttered to himself.
“The real question is, what can you do to help them or rather help their mother?” Heidi whispered.
The wheels in Victor's head started turning. He pulled the phone out of his pocket as he drove home.