A Crying Shame: A Jesse Watson Mystery (5 page)

BOOK: A Crying Shame: A Jesse Watson Mystery
8.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

“I bet Sheriff Hudson’s mind was going a mile a minute.”

Billy stood up and walked over to the window. He turned to
look at us. “Let’s put it like this, what started out as a kidnapping case has
turned into a missing person’s case with suspicions of foul play. So you know
who they’re coming after now.”

“Why foul play?” I asked.

“The sheriff called the D.C. Police Department and told them
the situation, and they in turn paid Carl another visit.”

“What did Carl say?”

“He didn’t say anything because he’s missing and my kids
aren’t,” Claire said in an ugly manner as she walked in the room. “I guess that
does raise an eyebrow.”

“And you think for one minute that Billy is involved?” I
said, trying to crawl out of bed. “That’s stupid! You should know better.”

If my severe pain had not have kept me from getting out of
bed, I surely would have slapped Claire for this one. In my mind, I have always
threatened to do that when she got on my nerves, but I never have... or ever
really thought that I would. However, this time was different. I didn’t like
her attitude and I especially didn’t like the fact that she was talking trash
about my husband, the man who had rescued her children! I fell back in the bed.
Pain shot through my head like I had been hit with a ball peen hammer. Tears
slid down my cheeks.

“You ungrateful witch!” I said.

“Whoa! Wait a minute!” Mom said. “There’s no need for name-calling,
Missy. You need to calm down. It’s not good for you or the baby.” In a surprise
gesture, Mom turned to Claire, pointed her finger and said, “If you’ve come
here to give Jesse grief, I think you should leave. She doesn’t need this now!”

“I’m sorry, Jesse,” Claire said in a hushed tone. “I don’t
know what’s gotten into me lately. I’m a nervous wreck all the time.”

“It’s okay,” I said as I calmed down. I held out my hand.
“We’re sisters—we’re supposed to argue.”

Claire crossed the room and came to my side. She took my
hand in hers. “I was so worried about you. If I hadn’t been so mean that
morning this wouldn’t have happened.”

“Nonsense,” I said. “It wasn’t your fault. Things happen.”

“I’m going to the cafeteria to get something to eat,” Mom
said. “Anyone care to join me?”

“I could use something myself,” Billy said as he put his arm
around Mom’s shoulder. “How about you, Claire, care to join us?” He reached
over and put his other arm around Claire’s shoulder.

Immediately, as if in pain from his touch, she flinched.
Everyone had a stunned look on their face… except me. She couldn’t fool me.

“Are you all right, honey?” Mom asked.

“I’m fine. I slipped on the ice at Cole’s house and hit my
shoulder on the handrail. Let’s go get some lunch. I’m starving.”

“Bring me back a Pepsi, please,” I said as they turned to
leave. “I’m thirsty for a soda.” Under my breath I said, “And I’d like to know
what that was all about. Cole James, I have a feeling that the two of us are
going to have words.”

Ten minutes after they left, Dr. Bryant entered my room.

“Hey, Doc,” I said. “When can I get out of this place and go

“Let me see you get out of bed.”

I sat up and tried to throw my legs over the side of the bed.
That was a mistake. I felt dizzy and the pain in my head rushed back and
knocked me for a loop. I felt nauseated.

“I think I’m going to throw up.”

He grabbed the plastic trash can and held it for me as I
leaned over the side of the bed and did just that. Unfortunately, there wasn’t
anything on my stomach, so the only thing that came up was liquid. My throat
burned from the experience.

“I guess I’ll stay here another day.”

“I guess you will, young lady,” Dr. Bryant said as he put the
trash can down. “You have a serious concussion. I brought you some information
to read so you’ll understand the severity of your situation. Head trauma is
very serious. It’s imperative that you rest and heal so that you won’t have
problems later. Sometimes there can be side effects, and you need to be
prepared. I want you to read all of this.” He handed me a couple sheets of

“Oh, come on, Doc,” I said as I shuffled through the
paperwork. “It’s just a little crack in the skull. I’m more concerned about
this broken arm. I’m right-handed.”

He pulled the stethoscope from around his neck, leaned down
and pressed it to my chest under my hospital gown. “Breathe deeply,” he
commanded. After several seconds, he told me to roll over.

“That’s easier said than done,” I moaned. The minute I tried,
pain flooded my whole body and I cried out in agony. “Oh, Lord, help me.”

He stuck the cold object to my back as I imagined all kinds
of things he must be seeing. My gown was open in the back and I wasn’t even
sure if I was wearing underwear. I slid my hand over my hip to check. Ah, ha! I
did have on underwear. I felt much better with that bit of knowledge.

He laughed out loud. “Didn’t know if you had on underwear,
did you?”

“You know, I don’t think I like you anymore. You’re making
fun of me, and I was in a really, really bad car wreck. You should be pampering
me, instead of giving me a hard time.”

“My point exactly, Mrs. Blackhawk.”

“Now I know I don’t like you anymore.”

“Sure you do. Why else would you come to visit me so often?”

“It’s not by choice, I can assure you.”

“I want you to take this seriously, Jesse. Do you know what
actually happens when you have a concussion?”

“Sure, I do. You bang your head and then you get better.”

“During the process of your head being banged around, your
brain gets knocked around, too. Then it starts to swell. Been having any
headaches this morning?”

“Yes, I have… real bad ones.”

“Read the information I gave you. I don’t want you to be
driving down the road and get dizzy and not know that you need to immediately
pull over. After you’re released, you might want to hold off on driving for a

“Okay, I will. You scared me into it.

“Fortunately, you were unconscious when Dr. Arnold set your
arm. She didn’t have to give you anything for the pain.”

“I’m sure I felt it in my sleep.”

He rolled his eyes at me.

“The cast will have to stay on for a few weeks.”

“That’s what all the doctors say, and it winds up being six
months. I’ve had friends who were told that same tale. I had a friend who had
to wear a cast on his leg for eight months. David wasn’t happy about that. His
doctor told him he’d be like new in about six weeks. That was a joke.”

“The length of the time depends on the severity of the break.
I won’t bore you with medical terms, but in your case, the break was limited to
a fracture of the elbow. We’ll remove the cast and see what we need to do after
that if it hasn’t healed properly. However, I’m confident that you’ll make a
complete recovery. You’re young and your bones are still strong. If you were a
lot older, I’d be concerned.”

“It better heal properly. I’m pregnant, and nobody’s going to
be giving me drugs or doing surgery on me. God managed to make sure my baby was
safe from the accident, and nobody’s going to get in his way!”

“I see you’ve picked up a little religion from your mother.”

“Maybe a little bit.”

“Behave yourself, stay in bed, and get some rest. I’ll check
on you again before I leave.”

“Thanks, Doc. You can count on me.”

I heard him mumbling to himself as he walked out of the room.

What’s the matter with him? Doesn’t he trust me? I was just
about to drift off when I looked up and saw Cole standing in the doorway.

“Howdy, stranger,” he said. “I thought you might like to have
something of beauty to go along with your own beauty.” He held out an exquisite
arrangement of what appeared to be a couple of dozen yellow roses in full
bloom. “A peace offering,” he added as he set them down on the window ledge
beside the flowers Mom had brought. “I’m sorry for everything that has happened
to all of us in the past few months. I hope you’ll forgive me. I know I’ve
acted strangely, and for that I apologize.”

My heart was filled with awe. Cole had finally come to his

“Of course,” I answered. I was taken with his charm and for a
minute I had forgotten about my anger toward him. I had my suspicions about
Claire’s shoulder pain. I somehow knew he was involved in that so-called

Cole walked close to my bed, leaned down and kissed me full
on the lips… a long, lingering, tongue-in-the-mouth kiss… a kiss about as
French as it could get.

I was overwhelmed.

When he backed away and looked toward the door, I knew from
the grin on his face that I didn’t want to look up. I knew exactly what I’d

But, I did look up.

Billy stood there, looking back. He was heartbroken. He
dropped the can of Pepsi.

Chapter 5

Claire walked past
Billy, noticed the can on the floor, but forgot about it as soon as she looked
up and saw Cole standing by my bed. She walked over to him, smiled, and then
put her arm around his waist. He leaned down and kissed her on the cheek.

Mom bent down, retrieved the can of soda and said, “We’d
better be careful about opening this can or we’ll have Pepsi all over the

Neither Billy nor I spoke for a few seconds. I didn’t know
what to say, and I think he was afraid to speak at all. I was amazed at how he
kept his cool. When I looked up and saw him, I had expected the worst. I
expected him to fly across the room and attack Cole, but he didn’t. He remained
calm. I think he knew that what had just happened wasn’t my fault and that I
had no control over the situation. But still, it looked bad. Now I knew how
Billy felt about the situation with Carl. He wasn’t guilty, but it looked that

“I’m sorry about your soda, `ge ya,” Billy said as he walked
over to the bed and stood opposite Cole. He leaned down and kissed me on the
forehead. “I can get you another one, if you want.”

“Don’t be silly,” Mom protested. She tapped the can several
times with her finger and then released the tab slowly. The drink fizzed as if
to burp, but didn’t spray. “Your dad taught me that trick,” she said and then
giggled. “It doesn’t work all the time though.” She handed me the can.

I took a big gulp. I was too nervous to do anything else. I
was still waiting for the roof to blow off the building after what had just
gone down, but it didn’t happen. Instead, Dr. Bryant walked in the room with a
smile on his face.

“Hello, everyone,” he said.

We all responded with our greetings.

“Did you read the literature I gave you? Of course, you
didn’t.” He glanced around the room. “I’m sure someone will see to it that you

Everyone in the room bobbed their heads in agreement.

“We’re going to run a couple of tests first and then I’ll
have a nurse assist you in taking a shower. We don’t want that cast to get wet.
Have you gotten out of bed, yet?”

“No,” I answered.

“Well, let’s get the tests done, get you a shower, and later
I’ll come back when the results are in. If everything looks good and you don’t
have any dizziness, we’ll let you go tomorrow.”

“That’s great,” Billy said as he reached over and shook the
doctor’s hand. “Thanks, John.”

“My pleasure,” he responded as he turned and left the room.

“Maybe everything can get back to normal now,” Mom said.

“What about Carl?” I asked. I looked over at Claire. “What’s
the deal with him?”

“I don’t know,” she replied. “To be honest, I thought
something bad had happened to him when he didn’t answer his phone, and I blamed
Billy.” She looked in his direction. “I’m sorry about that. I should’ve known
better. My imagination got out of control.”

“It seems to run in the family,” he said. He smiled over at
me. “I think I’ve caught it, too.”

Everyone laughed.

“The day of your accident, I called you from work,” Cole
said, looking over at Billy. “But nobody answered.”

“Ah, so that was you?” Billy asked. “We were walking out the
door when the phone rang. Jesse ran back to check Caller ID. When she said it
was the sheriff’s office, we ignored the call. Sorry, I didn’t realize it was

“Sheriff Hudson told me to call you and request that you come
in and make a statement. He’d just left Claire, and he wasn’t very happy. He
called the D.C. Police and told them the situation. They went back to Carl’s
house, but he was gone.”

“Do you think the sheriff’s going to come after Billy for his
role in rescuing the kids and obstructing the justice?”

“I think Billy will probably get a slap on the wrist from
somebody over this.”

“I’ve been to the sheriff’s office almost every day to answer
questions since you’ve been in the hospital,” Billy said to me. “That’s why I
wasn’t here when you woke up.”

“He must be satisfied with your answers, because you’re not
in jail,” I said.

“I don’t think you need to worry about Sheriff Hudson,” Cole
added. “It’s out of his jurisdiction. He’s just helping the D.C. Police Department
out of courtesy. Our main concern is if they have anything.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Carl is still missing and…”

“The kids aren’t,” Billy added. “Under the circumstances, if
Carl doesn’t show up soon, they’ll go to his house and tear it apart. If they
find one strand of hair that shouldn’t be there, or a drop of blood, there’s
going to be trouble. You know how things can escalate.”

“We shouldn’t have anything to worry about then,” I added.
“You didn’t even go inside.” I thought about what I had just said and realized
how idiotic that statement was. I looked up at Billy and caught the look in his
eyes. He didn’t go in the house, but his brothers had. One of the main things
I’ve learned from doing private eye work is that a person leaves trace evidence
everywhere they go. Whether it’s a flake of skin or a fiber from clothing, they
leave something, and a good forensic team can find it. Crime scene technicians
are very good at putting pieces of the puzzle together. I know. I’ve seen them
do it on television many times.

“That’s not exactly true,” Billy said.

“Did you go in the house, or not?” I asked. “You told me you
stood at the door and talked to Carl.”

Our conversation was interrupted by a hospital nurse. “I’m
afraid your company will have to leave, Mrs. Blackhawk. We’re running a little
behind and the doctor has a test scheduled for you in twenty minutes. If we
could just hurry this along, I’d appreciate it.” She pushed a wheelchair up to
my bed as she ushered everyone out. “She’ll be back in about an hour,” she said
to them. She looked at Mom. “Maybe you could help us with the shower before she
accepts visitors again. I was told that you brought her some clothes.”

“Actually, her husband brought the clothes, but I’ll be glad
to stay and help.”

Billy gave me a quick kiss and said he was going home to
shower and take care of the dogs. He promised to be back soon. He got out of
answering my last question.

Claire and Cole also left. Cole’s mother, Elsie, was watching
the kids and Claire didn’t want to leave them with her too long. “She becomes
overwhelmed after a few hours, and I did promise her that I’d fix dinner
tonight if she watched the kids.”

I wasn’t even going to go there. I did, however, wonder if
Elsie was afraid that Carl would show up, but considering she’s Cole’s mother,
I figured she probably carries a gun, too. She could take care of herself!

Two hours later, after they took a picture of my brain (which
they swore wouldn’t hurt my baby) and after they had poked, prodded, and taken
way too much blood for my liking, I was fresh out of the shower and back in
bed, dressed in my sleeping attire—an oversized T-shirt and a pair of flannel
lounging pants. Normally, I just wear panties with my T-shirt, but this was
different. I was in the hospital and I didn’t want everyone looking at my rear
end. I was as comfortable as I could be under the circumstances, but I would’ve
liked to have been in my own bed at home. At least, I wasn’t dizzy anymore and
my headache wasn’t too bad. The nurse said I should avoid taking medication
unless the pain became extreme. Doctors don’t like to give meds to women who
are pregnant, unless absolutely necessary, she had told me. I agreed. I could
deal with a headache, but I wasn’t too sure about the arm. I would do my best to
work through the pain until I couldn’t stand it any longer. So far, I was
hanging in there.

By dinnertime, I was famished. My appetite had returned and I
was ready to gobble down everything in sight. I settled for spaghetti while I
waited for Billy to return. Looking out the window, I could see the snowflakes
beginning to fall.

“Mom, you should go home,” I said. “It’s starting to snow.
I’ll be fine. Billy’s coming back any minute.”

Mom walked over and looked out the window. “Oh, they’re big
flakes. They won’t amount to much.”

“Still, I think you should leave before it gets dark. Please,

“Are you sure you’re going to be okay?” she asked. “I can
stay until Billy gets back. I don’t mind.”

“I know you don’t, Mom. I’d just feel much better knowing
that you’re at home, safe and sound, instead of out on the roads while it’s
snowing. You know how quickly it can turn ugly out there.”

“That’s true,” she said.

“Call me as soon as you get home, so I won’t worry.”

“Okay, honey.” Mom leaned down and kissed my cheek. “I’m so
proud of you, Jesse.”

“Why?” I asked, confused.

“I just am,” she said as she picked up her purse and headed
out the door. “I’ll call as soon as I get home. Love you, honey.”

“Love you, Mom.” I blew her a kiss as she was leaving.

I’m so lucky, I told myself as I pushed the noodles around on
my plate. What happened to my appetite? One minute I was starving, and the next
I couldn’t fathom the idea of trying to swallow hospital food. What was I
thinking? Actually, I had taken a few bites and it was pretty good, but my
appetite was gone along with my husband. What was wrong with that man? Where
was he? My patience was getting short. I wanted an answer to my question. It
was apparent that Billy hadn’t told me the whole story. Doubts began to take

“How am I supposed to eat with my left hand, anyway?” I asked
out loud. “I’m not the most agile person as it is. I’m a fast thinker, but I’m
not that quick on my feet... or fast with my hands. But I’m working on it.”

“You’ll get used to it,” Dr. Bryant said as he came in the
room and walked up to my bed. “Or you’ll go hungry.”

“Where did you come from?” I asked, looking up from my plate.
“You always show up right in the middle of something.”

“Oh, I’m sorry to interrupt your conversation with yourself.”
He turned his back for a second and snickered.

“It seems to me that I once told you that you belong on

“Yeah, I remember that,” he said. “And I told you to take
care of yourself. It seems we both should pay closer attention to what others
say to us.”

His words cut quickly. I panicked. Was something wrong? Tears
rose and spilled down my face by the time I got the words out.

“Is there something wrong with my baby, Doc?”

Dr. Bryant look stunned as he spoke. “Your baby’s fine.” He
tried to calm me by putting his hand on my shoulder. “I’m sorry, Jesse. I
didn’t mean to upset you. I keep forgetting how emotional pregnant women can
be. Your baby is fine and your tests look good. You should be able to leave in
the morning.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” Billy said as he walked in the room.
He held a small bouquet of wildflowers wrapped in thin, white paper and tied
together with a small blue satin ribbon. He lay the flowers in the crook of my
arm—the one with the cast.

I smiled up at him.

After a short exchange of words, Dr. Bryant was gone.

“I guess we need to talk, huh?”

“I would think so, unless you want me and this baby to have
to live on food stamps, because his daddy is in prison and we had to spend all
our money on lawyers.”

Billy laughed.

I cried.

“You’re serious, aren’t you?”

I cried harder.

“Lord, help me,” he said. “And we still have seven more
months to go. Am I going to make it?”

“Seven months and ten days, to be exact… well, maybe,” I
said, correcting him. “They can’t be absolutely sure about the date, but that’s
their best guess.”

“Dry your eyes, `ge ya. I’m not going to jail. I didn’t tell
you every single detail because it was late and I was tired. If something had
gone wrong, rest assured, you’d know about it.”

“I think it’s about time you tell me everything.”

“There’s not much to tell,” he said, clearing his throat.
“Like I said, I went up to the door, rang the bell, and waited for Carl to
answer. It took him a few minutes. I figured he was checking me out through the
peep hole and trying to make up his mind whether or not it was safe to let me
in. He finally opened the door and we talked for a few minutes. He invited me
in for a drink and I accepted his offer.”

“No, way! Please tell me that you didn’t…”

“I only went…”

“Trace evidence—ever heard those words? How many times have
you warned me about leaving something at the scene? Don’t you follow your own


“I don’t think I want to hear anymore.”

“You need to. There’s something else I need to tell you… just
in case.”

“Just in case of what?”

“Regardless of what happens, I want you to know the truth.”

“Something went wrong, didn’t it?” Now I really was turning
into a nervous wreck. Something bad had happened, and Billy was going to have
to pay for it. I could tell from the tone in his voice that he was afraid. No,
that couldn’t be it, because Billy wasn’t afraid of anything!

BOOK: A Crying Shame: A Jesse Watson Mystery
8.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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