A Crying Shame: A Jesse Watson Mystery (4 page)

BOOK: A Crying Shame: A Jesse Watson Mystery
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“As I said, my imagination was beginning to get the best of
me. I know how things can seem so simple and then turn into a major disaster.
I’m a little concerned about that phone call from the sheriff’s department.”

“See, I knew I should’ve answered the phone!” I hissed. I
looked over at Billy and saw his eyebrow go up… a sure sign that something was
bothering him. “Should we stop at the sheriff’s office first?”

“And invite trouble? I don’t think so! No, we’ll go to your
mom’s house as planned. If there’s anything terribly wrong, we’ll find out
then. At least it’ll give us a head’s up if there’s a problem. I’m sure it’s
nothing.”

“It better be nothing! My baby’s father is not going to jail!
Be honest with me, Billy. Do you think anything will come of this? You did the
right thing, but will Sheriff Hudson see it that way?”

The light turned green before Billy had a chance to answer.
As he drove through the intersection, the last thing I remember seeing was a
big yellow dump truck heading straight for us. The rest was a blur.

Chapter 4

The crash pounded in my ears at first, and then I could
barely hear anything at all. I kept fading in and out as the rescue workers
placed me in the ambulance. Billy was by my side, holding my hand and telling
me over and over that everything was okay as he held a blood-soaked rag against
his head. Finally, overwhelmed by the pain, I closed my eyes and succumbed to
the darkness.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Watson,” I heard a familiar voice say.
“We’ll just have to wait and see.”

“Wait and see about what?” I mumbled as I tried to open my
eyes. The soft light over the hospital bed cast shadows on the wall of an
otherwise dark room. “Where am I?”

I was having a difficult time remembering all the details,
but I knew one thing for sure—Billy and I had been in an automobile accident. I
didn’t know how bad the accident had been, but it must have been serious,
because I hurt all over. My arm felt restricted as I tried to move. I looked
down and saw the reason why. A cast ran from my wrist to the bicep on my right
arm. As if a light bulb had just gone off over my head, red flags went up. What
about my baby?

“Mom,” I moaned as I tried to sit up. A flash of pain shot
through my spine, bringing me back down. “Oh, God, that hurts. What’s wrong,
Mom? Am I okay? Is my baby okay? Where’s Billy? Is he okay?” I cried out in
pain. I couldn’t move without something hurting.

Mom reached down and touched me with her warm hand. “It’s
all right, Jesse. The baby’s fine. Billy’s fine. You were in an accident, but
you’re okay now.”

“Are you sure, Mom?” I cried. “Tell me the truth. I can
handle it.”

“Yes, honey. You know I wouldn’t lie. Now why don’t you just
lay back and try to get some rest? The doctor says you need to rest. Your body
will heal itself sooner if you take care of it.”

I tried to relax and go with the pain as I settled back down.
I lay my head against the pillow and drifted off before I had a chance to ask
Mom about Billy’s whereabouts.

I must have slept for several hours, because when I awoke, it
was daylight. The curtains in the room had been pulled back and the sun was
shinning through. Unfortunately, the beginning of a new day didn’t change the
pain that I was in. I gritted my teeth and called out.

“Billy! Mom! Where is everybody?”

A woman in hospital scrubs walked in the room. It was obvious
from her attitude that she wanted me to hush. “Please, Miss Blackhawk, this is
a hospital and there are other patients here who need their rest, too. What can
I do for you?” She walked over closer to the bed and checked the I.V. attached
to the top of my hand. “How do you feel?”

“I feel like crap. Where’s my family? I know someone must be
here.”

“Your mother was here, but I think she left a little while
ago. She’s been here all night.”

“Where’s my husband?”

“I’m afraid I don’t know. Perhaps your mother can tell you.”

“But she’s not here and I need...”

I looked up just as Billy entered the room. The right side of
his forehead had a large bandage on it and he sported a shiner. I wanted to
jump out of the bed and hug him, but that wasn’t going to happen. It took all
that I had just to sit up.

He came over, leaned down and planted a kiss on my lips. He
hugged me for a long time. His grip was firm and he held onto me as if he let
go, he would lose me.

“I’m sorry that I wasn’t here when you came to,” he
whispered.

“What do you mean
came to
? How long was I out?” I
asked when he released me.

He sat down in the chair next to the bed. He leaned over,
propped his elbows on his knees and placed his head in his hands. He stared at
the floor. When he raised his head, I knew something bad had happened. I could
tell from the look on his face.

“You’ve been in and out of it for three days.”

“Three days! Are you serious?” I let his words sink in for a
few seconds and then reached over and grabbed him by the sleeve. “Tell me the
truth, Billy. Is our baby all right?”

“Oh, yes, `ge ya. The baby is fine. Dr. Bryant has been
monitoring him very closely. Did you know that our little warrior could fit in
the palm of my hand?”

“You should see the look on your face when you talk about our
son. It’s so adorable…” I stopped short and looked into Billy’s eyes. “How do
you know it’s a boy?”

“I am a Cherokee; we know these things.” He smiled at me and
waited for a response.

“So it’s a boy, huh? You’re sure of it?”

“Yes, I am.”

It so touched my heart to see the proud look on his face. I
loved him more and more with each passing day. I smiled back at him. I lay back
and soaked in the news. For some weird reason, I had a strange feeling that
Billy might be right on this one. Chief Standing Deer swears that some of his
people have a special gift, so who am I to doubt him? He was right when he
predicted that I was pregnant. Maybe Billy has some of his father’s insight, or
maybe he’s just guessing. It couldn’t be but so hard. He has only two choices.
So it’s a boy, huh? This is going to be fun. I don’t know a thing about raising
a boy. What am I saying? I don’t know anything about being a parent. My mind
drifted back to the forlorn look Billy had on his face earlier.

“Why was I out of it for so long? Was I in a coma?”

“No, you weren’t. You were unconscious for a while and then
you were in and out of it. Dr. Bryant said you were fighting off the pain.”

“What’s the difference between being unconscious and being in
a coma?”

“You can’t roust a person who’s in a coma.”

“At least I’m awake now, and the three of us are okay,
right?”

“Yes, we are, but we have another problem.”

“What other problem?”

“How much has your mother told you? Did she tell you where
I’ve been?”

“She hasn’t told me anything. I asked her where you were, but
then I fell asleep. When I first woke up, I heard her talking to the doctor. He
said we’d have to wait and see.”

“He was right,” Mom said as she walked in the room carrying a
large, colorful flower arrangement. A small, cheerful card attached indicated
that the flowers came from Pat’s Floral Design in
Madison
,
Virginia
.

I thought it was odd how I noticed a simple little thing like
where the flowers came from, yet I could barely see well enough to read. I
guess it was because the name rang a bell. I remember Mom telling me a while
back that she met a nice lady at the Madison County Fair last summer who owned
a flower shop. They became instant friends.

“I asked him how long it would be before you were back to
your old self again, and he said we’d have to wait and see. I knew you’d be all
right. You’re one tough cookie, Missy. You remind me so much of your dad. He
always had that spunk in him. Nothing got him down.” She walked over and gave
me a hug. “Your dad would be so happy to see how you’ve turned out. You’re
married to a wonderful man and you’re going to have a baby. I wish… oh, never
mind. Let’s talk about something cheerful.”

“Thanks, Mom,” I said. “The flowers are beautiful.”

“I figured you’d need something to brighten up this drab
hospital room.”

I looked around. “Oh, it isn’t so bad. Actually, it’s pretty
nice. UVA is a terrific hospital. That is, as far as hospitals go. If I was
going to be laid up, this would be the place I’d want to be. I like the staff
here.”

“You are laid up,” Mom said and then chuckled. “I’m so glad
you’re okay, and your sister sends her love.”

The temperature in the room dropped. I could feel tension in
the air. I looked at Mom and then back at Billy. “Okay, let’s have it. What
have I missed? What happened besides the car wreck? Speaking of which, is the
truck destroyed?”

“You could say that it’s pretty much a goner,” Billy said.
“The dump truck tore off the bed. The rescue workers had to pry us out of the
cab. We were very lucky. If we’d been hit a few more feet in the other
direction, they’d be scraping… it probably would’ve been fatal.”

“We were lucky then, I guess.”

“God has a plan for everyone,” Mom said. “I’ve always said
that when it’s your time, you’re going whether you want to, or not. It just
wasn’t your time to go. Your work on this earth isn’t finished. For that, I’m
grateful. Both of you are too young to have…”

“That’s enough preaching, Mom. Let’s get down to the
nitty-gritty. What happened while I was incapacitated?”

“Carl’s missing,” Mom replied.

My first response was to ask who cared, but then reality set
in. If Carl was missing so soon after the kidnapping, I was sure the police
would think Billy had something to do with it. He did go to Carl’s house and
take the kids from him.

“I have a feeling I’m not going to want to hear this, but I
guess I have to,” I said, looking over at Billy and then back to Mom. “Okay,
who wants to go first?”

“The reason I haven’t been here the whole time while you’ve
been in the hospital is because I’ve spent a lot of my time answering questions
at the sheriff’s office. Wake
Hudson
came to the hospital the second day
and politely asked me to accompany him to his office for questioning. It seems
the D.C. Police suspect foul play. They have an eyewitness who said Carl told
her several days earlier that he was taking his kids on a vacation. She asked
him if he was getting back with his wife, and he said that he hoped so, but if
that didn’t work out, he had other plans. The night he went missing, she said
she saw the police at his house, and then later, a couple of guys showed up.
After that, the police showed up again. She didn’t suspect anything at the time
because she knows Carl has a lot of friends. She said that cops were always at
his house. When she went to bed around eleven, everything seemed okay. No one
has seen Carl since.”

“He probably took off to avoid prosecution,” I suggested.

“I told him Claire said she wouldn’t press charges if he let
me take the kids.”

“Yeah, but at the time he didn’t know that you were stealing
the kids right out from under his nose either, did he? Maybe he was afraid
Claire would have him arrested after he realized she had the kids back.”

“I doubt it. Where’s the proof that he did anything wrong? He
has shared custody and regular visitation rights. Any decent lawyer could get
him out of that mess.”

I had a gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach. For a split
second, I had my doubts about what really happened that night. I had to ask.

“Carl was all right when you left him, wasn’t he?” I looked
at Billy and immediately saw the hurt look on his face. “Forget that I asked. I
don’t know what got into me. I know you wouldn’t hurt a soul. Please forgive
me.” I felt like a jerk. I had doubted my husband and he knew it. Would he ever
forgive me?

Billy touched the side of my face and then I had my answer.
“It’s okay, `ge ya. I understand. It does look bad.”

“Carl’s such a jerk. He’s probably in hiding. What better way
to get back at Claire?”

“I could see that happening,” Mom chimed in. “It wouldn’t
surprise me one bit for Carl to pull a stunt like that. Any man who would steal
his own children would do anything. I’m just glad the kids are too young to
realize what’s happening.”

“I’m glad Claire’s finally divorcing the rat.”

“I’m afraid that Claire thinks I had something to do with his
disappearance,” Billy said.

“What?”

“Yeah,” Mom added. “That’s why she insisted the two of you
come over to the house the day of your accident. When Carl didn’t call her, she
called him. I guess she just couldn’t let it rest. I told her to let it go, but
no, she had to give him a piece of her mind. She called and called, but never
got an answer. After a while she made up this whole scenario in her head, and
before you know it, she’s throwing accusations around. She thought that Billy
had beaten him up, and maybe he was hurt and couldn’t answer the phone. I tried
to talk some sense into her, but she was in such a tizzy.”

“You’d think that she’d be glad to have her kids back,
regardless of how she got them. I know I would.”

“Like I said, she was in such a tizzy,” Mom went on. “No
sooner had she gotten off the phone with you, the sheriff showed up at our
front door.”

“Imagine his surprise when he found out the kids were back at
home,” Billy added as he rolled his eyes. “He immediately knew how that came
about.”

“Why did the sheriff show up in the first place, Mom?”

“He wanted to check on Claire and tell her the options she
had to get the kids back. He’s such a nice man. You see, the sheriff called us
the night Billy went to get the kids and told us that Carl had been questioned
and had told the D.C. Police that he was within his rights. His wife knew he
had the kids and it was okay. He said Claire used drugs and sometimes forgot
things. Can you imagine that? Anyway, before Claire had a chance to call you or
Billy and tell you what the sheriff had said, Billy walked in with the kids. We
were so glad to have the kids back home that we forgot to call the sheriff and
tell him. When he showed up the next day, he was confused.”

BOOK: A Crying Shame: A Jesse Watson Mystery
7.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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