Deadly Deceit

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Chapter 1

Submitted: February 05, 2019

Reads: 314

A A A | A A A

Submitted: February 05, 2019

A A A

A A A

 

 

DEADLY DECEIT

written by

CARLO ARMENISE

 

 

 

 

Carlo Armenise

237 Duck Hollow Ave

Las Vegas, Nevada 89148

415-350-9039

 

CHAPTER ONE

“THE BEGINNING”

Raven Redman was an orphan. Her father died of cancer when she was two and her mother was killed in a car accident when she was nineteen. Raven was in the car with her mother when she lost control, drove over a cliff and crashed at the bottom of a deep ravine. And even though her mother died, somehow Raven survived. Survival is a relative term when you’re talking about the injuries Raven suffered. Her skull was cracked, both her lungs collapsed, several of her internal organs damaged, and the all the bones in her ribs, arms and legs were either broken or fractured. In fact, the damage to her right leg was so significant it had to be amputated below the knee.

The one inevitability all human beings share is death; and our preoccupation with how and when it will happen. And even when death is certain, we still refuse to accept it and will try everything to stay alive. No matter the circumstances or cost, we always want to live. But in Raven’s case, considering the extent of her injuries, if given the choice she might have chosen death.

Raven was placed in a chemically induced coma on life support for almost a year while she underwent numerous surgeries to repair her injuries. But because of the severe trauma to her head, doctors were afraid when she came out of the coma, she would have irreparable brain damage.

Fate has a plan for all of us, and Raven’s fate, if she lived, was to be alone. Not only were both her parent’s dead, but she was an only child with no other family, so there was no one to give her emotional support as she began her recovery. And if she did recover, her life would never be the same. There would be no happy home life filled with encouragement and love to go back to, and no parental guidance to help her understand and cope with life after the accident.

Experiences in life happen in two different ways; those we see coming and know about, and often bring on ourselves, and those that happen without warning, leaving us helpless and unprepared. And as damaging as the accident was to Raven’s body, something else was also affected, her future. Before the accident, she was a beautiful, intelligent, vibrant, young woman, just starting her Sophomore year in college and on her way to achieving her dreams of becoming a teacher, like her mother. She didn’t know it yet, but those dreams were now in question. The accident had taken away both the life she had and quite possibly the life she planned.

As soon as her physical injuries were healed, the doctor’s removed the body cast she was in and brought her out of the coma. The bones in her arms and legs were held together with metal rods and plates, and a prosthesis was created for the amputated portion of her right leg. And while she didn't have any brain damage, she did suffer significant memory loss and couldn’t remember the accident, her mothers’ death or any of her pre-coma life.

The human quality that allows us to continue, despite obstacles, is determination and even though no one would have blamed Raven, given her condition, if she stopped fighting and gave up, that wasn’t her. She was determined. Determined to not only heal, but to be like she was before the accident. So to give her the best chance of recovery, she was taken to a hospital specializing in rehabilitation, and for the next few years underwent intensive physical and emotional therapy. And because of that determination, Raven recovered full use of her arms and legs, learned to operate and maneuver her prosthesis and walk with just a slight limp, and started to regain limited memory of her mother.

“Where’s my mother?” She asked her therapist during a therapy session, “Why isn’t she here?”

The therapist paused, caught off guard by the question.

“You remember your mother?” the therapist asked.

“What do you mean? Of course, I remember her, where is she?”

The therapist hesitated again, not sure how much to tell about her mother, considering her condition.

“Answer me,” Raven insisted.

“I’m so sorry, Raven,” the therapist said as he took her hand, “your mother died in the car accident you were in.”

At first Raven didn’t believe him, “You’re lying,” she said as she pulled her hand away, “Where is she?”

“I’m sorry,” was all the therapist said.

Realizing he was telling the truth, Raven started to cry.

“Oh, my God! My mother’s dead,” Raven screamed as she sobbed, “How did the accident happen?”

“No one knows for sure. Somehow your mother lost control of the car.”

Raven paused as she processed what the therapist told her.

“Did she suffer?” she asked.

“No, it was determined she died instantly.”

“And her body?” Raven questioned.

“She was buried in your hometown.”

“Why did I survive? I should have died, too,” Raven screamed as she continued to sob. “I don’t want to live without my mom.”

Loneliness for a healthy person feels like being trapped in a maze desperately waiting for someone to take your hand and lead you out. But for Raven, alone and still healing from her injuries, the only person who could lead her out was gone. She loved her mother so much, and until the accident, was never without her unconditional love and positive influence. She had always believed in, encouraged and inspired Raven, even when Raven doubted herself. She wasn’t just her mom, she was her best friend, and without her, life would never be the same. As her time in the hospital went on, and the sorrow over her mothers’ death deepened, Raven became severely depressed and refused to continue therapy.

“I don’t want to get better,” she told the therapist. “It won’t bring my mother back.”

“I understand your feelings, but you’ve got the rest of your life to look forward to,” the therapist replied.

“Look forward to?” Raven said angrily, “What have I got to look forward to? I don’t have my mother and I’m deformed and covered in scars. I’m hideous,” she said as she looked at her prosthesis.

 But just as she said those words, she suddenly had a memory of something her mother told her, ‘while you can’t always control what happens in life, you can control how you choose to react to what happens.' At that moment, Raven knew she had to make a choice. She could either give in to her depression and remain permanently damaged, or she could finish her treatments and be as prepared as possible for life after the hospital. So even though she was tormented by relentless sadness over the loss of her mother, she chose to move forward and complete her therapy.

“I have good news,” said the therapist after her most recent therapy session, “you’re ready to leave the hospital. Your recovery has been remarkable. You should be proud of yourself.”

“But I still don’t have my memory back, and I’m not able to walk without limping. I need more time here to recover,” Raven said.

“You need to try to manage your expectations,” replied the therapist. “You know there’s a chance your memory will never completely return, and considering the damage your body sustained, you shouldn’t expect to be physically like you were before the accident. You have a remarkable spirit, and as you live your life and challenge yourself, you’ll continue to get better.”

“Yes, I will,” Raven said with determination. “I will.”

“Oh, by the way, happy birthday,” the therapist said smiling.

As it turned out, the day Raven was told she was going to leave the hospital was her twenty-fourth birthday. And while to most people, a birthday is a joyful, celebratory event, Raven only felt pain. To her, it was just another day without her mother.

“Where will I go?” she asked the hospital discharge administrator, “I don’t have any family.”

“Your mother left you her house and a life insurance payout to get you started,” the administrator said. “And your hospital bills have all been paid by donations from people who heard about your accident and wanted to help. So, your new life is waiting.”

So now Raven knew she had a place to go and money to live on, but she had no idea what her new life had in store for her.

The next day, Raven left the hospital and was taken back to her hometown to move into her mother's house. On the way she couldn’t help but feel both sadness and peace. Sadness, because she would never live there again with her mother, and peace because she was going back to the home where she grew up and the place that might help her remember.

“I want to remember all the good times we had here, Mom,” she said as she walked into the house.

As she set her suitcase and backpack down in the living room, she paused and looked around. The room was furnished with an overstuffed leather couch and ottoman, a coffee table, two leather chairs, two matching end tables and lamps and an old television set. The walls of the room were decorated with framed water colo and on each of the end tables there were hand-made pieces of decorative art and photos of Raven and her mother taken at different celebrations through the years. And draped over the arms of the couch were two beautiful hand crocheted blankets. Raven picked up one of the photos of her and mother taken at her mother’s fortieth birthday and sat on the couch. In the picture Raven’s mother was  blowing out candles on a cake with the words “Happy 40th” written in frosting while Raven stood next to her smiling.  The two women looked so much alike, with their long blonde hair, piercing blue eyes and slender, fit physiques, they looked like sisters instead of mother and daughter.

“You were so talented and beautiful, Mom, and and I miss you so much,” she said as she set the picture back on the end table and picked up a small, hand-made ceramic dish.

“Please help me remember my life, Mom,” she said as she looked up to heaven, closed her eyes and clutched the dish tightly, hoping it would help her remember, but nothing happened.

Saddened, she couldn’t remember, she set the dish down, picked up one of the crocheted blankets and wrapped it around her shoulders.

“Thank you for these, Mom,” Raven said. “They’ll keep me warm and close to you."

Then she picked up her suitcase and backpack, walked out of the living room and down a hallway. On the right side of the hall was a small, whimsically deorated kitchen, with a hand carved wooden kitchen table and four wooden chairs. Raven walked into the kitchen and sat down at the table.

"I know we must have shared a lot of wonderful things at this table, Mom. I just wish I could remember what they were," she said as she got up from the table and and continued down the hallway to a bedroom. 

Besides a single bed populated with stuffed animals and music and sports posters covering the walls, there were two samll dressers, a bookcase and a small closet filled clothes and accessories that were obviously Raven's.

“I wish I could remember why I collected these?” she said sadly as she looked at one of the music posters.

After she set her suitcase and backpack on the bed, she walked into the closet and looked at and touched every piece of clothing, hoping something would bring back memories, but nothing happened. Disappointed, she walked out of the closet and over to a large bookcase. On the shelves were high school yearbooks, family photo albums, trophies and more pictures of Raven and her mother taken at various occasions and ages. She picked up a college picture of herself with her arm around another woman and looked at it.

“Who are these people?” she said sadly, as she set the picture back in the bookcase and picked up one of the high school yearbooks.

“Maybe this will help,” she said as she sat on the bed and looked through the yearbook.

The book was from her senior year in high school and showed pictures of Raven as a cheerleader, President of the Student Council and in different clubs.

“So, I was a cheerleader,” she said smiling. “That must have been fun.”

There was also a Drama Club picture of Raven dressed as a pirate with her arm around a pretty black girl, named Julia Jackson, also dressed as a pirate and the heading, ‘Pirates of Penzance’. As Raven looked through the rest of the yearbook pictures and read all the well wishes from classmates, she became frustrated none of them triggered any memories and put the yearbook back on the bookcase and picked up a photo album. The album was filled with family photos of Raven, her mother and a man Raven assumed was her father at various ages. The pictures chronicled the family celebrating different holidays and vacations and as Raven looked at one of the photos of her as a baby being held by her father, she started to cry.

“I’ve forgotten my entire life,” she said sadly. “But I’ll remember it someday. I just need to manage my expectations like the therapist said,” she said as she put the photo album back in the bookcase and left the room.

She continued down the hallway and went  into another bedroom that was obviously her mother’s. The room was filled with her mother’s clothes and other personal effects, untouched since the accident. As she picked up different pieces of her mother’s clothing, she held them up to her nose, hoping the scent of her mother’s perfume would trigger memories, but nothing happened. As she continued to look through her mother’s things, the reality of her mother’s death upset her so much she had to sit down on her mother’s bed.

“What will I do without you, Mom?” Raven said tearfully.

On a nightstand next to the bed was a picture of Raven and her mother taken at Raven’s high school graduation. In the picture, Raven was in her graduation cap and gown, and was hugging her mother and laughing. As Raven looked closely at the picture, she smiled.

“I’m so blessed to be your daughter,” she said. “And I wish I could have told you again how much I loved you before you died."

Over-come with sadness, Raven thought about her mother and the fact that she would never be able to tell her she loved her again. She realized she took for granted that her mother would always be there, and there would be plenty of time to say I love you. But now, with her mother gone, she regretted not telling her when she had the chance. And while she was grateful for the all the reminders of her mother in the room, the sadness she felt looking at them, knowing her mother would never be there again, made her decide not to go back in the room again until she was emotionally stronger. So, still wrapped in the crocheted blanket, she took the graduation picture, went back to her bedroom, removed her prosthesis and laid down on her bed.

“I need to get some sleep,” she said as she put the picture next to her pillow, hugged one of the stuffed animals and fell asleep.

The next morning, Raven woke up to the sounds of someone knocking on the front door. She got out of bed, put on her prosthesis and a pair of jeans and sweatshirt from the closet, went to the door, looked through the security peephole and saw an older, dark-haired, casually dressed woman, holding a basket. Raven opened the door.

“Can I help you,” said Raven.

“You don’t remember me, do you?” the woman asked.

“No, I’m sorry. I was in a car accident and lost my memory,” Raven replied.

“My name is Muriel Manfred and I was a friend of your Mother’s. I heard you were back in town and came over to offer my condolences and bring you some of my famous blueberry muffins,” she said and handed the basket to Raven.

“Thank you, Muriel, that’s so nice of you. They look delicious. Please, come in.”

Muriel walked into house.

“Forgive the condition of the house,” Raven said, “it’s been empty for a while.”

“Don’t worry,” Muriel replied smiling, “it looks better than mine.”

“Would you like some coffee?” Raven asked.

“Only if you were planning on making some anyway.”

“I am, if I can remember how,” Raven replied as she limped into the kitchen.

“Let me help you,” Muriel said as she followed Raven.

 Raven put the muffins on the kitchen table and helped Muriel start the coffee, then the two women sat down.

“They’re not really famous,” Muriel said.

“I’m sorry?” Raven said, not understanding what she was talking about.

“The muffins,” Muriel replied smiling.

“Then we’re even, because my coffee’s not famous either,” Raven said returning the smile.

“I’m so sorry about your mother,” Muriel said.

“Thank you.”

“She was an incredible woman.”

“Yes, she was,” Raven replied.

“The whole city turned out for her funeral.”

“I wish I could have been there,” Raven said sadly.

“The local paper said you were undergoing treatment, but it didn’t say where. That’s why no one came to see you.”

“It wouldn’t have made any difference, I was in a coma for a year after the accident and then had to relearn how to live,” Raven said as she pulled up her pant leg and showed Muriel her prosthesis.

“I’m so sorry,” Muriel said.

“But I’m getting around on it pretty good, don’t you think?”, Raven said as she got up from the table and limped back to the coffeepot.

“Yes, you are. Here, let me help with that,” Muriel said, as she carried the coffee pot to the table. “Where are your coffee cups?”

“In the cupboard above your head,” Raven replied.

Muriel opened the cupboard, took down two coffee cups and brought them to the table.  

“I’m sorry I don’t have any milk, I haven’t gone to the grocery store yet, so I hope you like your coffee black?” Raven said as she sat down at the table again and poured two cups of coffee.

“That’s perfect, I’m lactose intolerant anyway,” Muriel replied smiling.

Since Muriel knew her mother and about the accident, while they had their coffee Raven pressed her for information.

“So, you were a friend of my mother’s?”

“Yes. I’m a substitute teacher at the high school and worked with your mother,” Muriel replied.

“And you said details about the accident were reported in the local newspaper?”

“That’s right,” Muriel replied, “they published a few articles about what happened to you and your mom.”

“Did you save any of them?”

“I saved them all.”

“Can I see them?” Raven asked. “I want to know more about what happened.”

“So, you don’t remember anything about the accident?” Muriel asked.

“No,” Raven replied, “I don’t remember anything before the coma.”

“Will your memory come back?” Muriel asked curiously.

“They don’t know, it may not,” Raven replied. “That’s why I want to see the articles.”

“Are you sure? Muriel asked, “The details are pretty gruesome.”

Raven paused, gathering her courage.

“Did they show pictures of my mother’s body?”

Afraid of upsetting her, Muriel didn’t respond.

“Please, Muriel, I need to know.”

“Yes, and pictures of you, too,” Muriel replied.

“I need to see them,” Raven said. “Please.”

“Okay, I’ll bring them over later,” Muriel said as she finished her coffee and stood up to leave. “Well, I need to get home. Thanks for the coffee and enjoy the muffins.”

“I will,” Raven replied with a smile.

“And if there’s anything else you need, don’t hesitate to ask.” Muriel said as she walked out of the kitchen.

“Thank you, Muriel,” Raven replied as she escorted Muriel to the door.

That afternoon, Muriel brought several newspaper articles to Raven and she spent the rest of the day reading about the accident. Muriel was right, the pictures of the accident scene were horrible. One picture showed her mothers’ sheet covered body lying on the ground next to the car; which was just a crumpled ball of metal and made Raven cry.

“Oh my God!” Raven said through her tears.

The articles that accompanied the pictures detailed the accident and included an interview with the city’s Chief of Police, Ronald Manfred. He was quoted as saying there was nothing mechanically wrong with the car, and that Raven’s mother apparently just lost control and drove over a cliff. He also said the autopsy on Raven’s mother didn’t show anything unusual; no drugs or alcohol and no organ abnormalities or disease. And like Muriel said, the articles also talked about Raven being alive and undergoing treatment, but that she would probably die.

“I should have,” Raven said as she set the article back on the coffee table.

Depressed by what she read, for the rest of the day she tried to forget and kept busy cleaning the house and going grocery shopping at a near-by store. As she walked through the grocery store and tried to remember what she used to buy, she smiled.

“Since I can’t remember,” she said as she picked up a box of cereal. “I’ll just start over.”

After shopping, Raven brought the groceries back to the house and made herself something to eat. And as she sat down at the kitchen table to have dinner, there was another knock on the front door. Raven went to the door, looked through the peephole again, and saw a pretty, young black woman. Raven opened the door to find a woman Raven’s age, dressed in distressed jeans and a t-shirt with the phase ‘A good head is a terrible thing to waste on a bad haircut’ stenciled on the front. The woman had short hair, styled in corn-rows, had peace tattoos on her arms and was carrying a backpack with a pink breast cancer ribbon stamped on it. As the woman saw Raven, she ran in and hugged her.

“Oh my God,” said the woman, “I’m so glad to see you.”

“Do I know you?” Raven asked as she pulled away.

“Do you know me? What do you mean?” the woman replied, “it’s me Julia. We were best friends before your accident.”

“That’s right, Julia Jackson,” Raven said. “I saw our Drama Club picture in an old yearbook.”

“Yeah, that was a terrible musical, but we had fun doing it,” Julia replied smiling.

“I’m sorry I don’t remember you,” Raven said, “The accident affected my memory.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll get you up to speed,” Julia said as she walked over and took a seat on the couch.

“You and I were best friends?” Raven asked as she sat next to Julia and looked at the way she was dressed.

“Oh, yeah, I always dress like this. I was the class outcast and you were the only one that understood and accepted me. I’m so sorry about your mom.”

“Thank you. Did you know her?” Raven asked.

“Are you kidding? We used to spend every afternoon here, hanging with her and talking. She was like my second mom.”

“I don’t remember any of that,” Raven said sadly.

“Don’t worry, you will,” Julia replied smiling.

“So, you stayed here in town after high school and didn’t go to college? Raven asked.

“I wasn’t college material, like you,” Julia replied. “My parents got divorced and my mom got breast cancer and needed my help, so I got my cosmetology license and became a hair stylist here in town. That’s why I wear these,” she said as she pointed at the slogan on her t-shit. “They’re my marketing campaign. Catchy, huh?” she said smiling. “In fact, your split ends could stand a little Julia magic,” she said as she touched a section of Raven’s long, blonde hair.

“Is your mom okay?” Raven questioned.

“No, she passed away last year,” Julia replied sadly.

“I’m so sorry,” Raven said. “So were both without our moms. What about your dad?”

“The asshole walked out on us when my mother got sick, and I haven’t heard from him sense.”

“That’s too bad,” Raven said.

“No, it’s not, we didn’t like each other. And besides, I like being on my own,” Julia said.

“I guess now we have that in common, too,” Raven said.

“Yeah. But don’t worry, you’ll get used to it,” Julia replied.  “Where did you get these?” Julia asked as she picked up one of the newspaper articles off the coffee table.

“A substitute teacher friend of my mom’s, who lives down the street, brought them to me.”

“You mean ‘Muffins Muriel Manfred’? Julia asked.

“Yes, but why do you call her Muffins?”

“Because she was always bringing her crappie muffins to school for the other teachers. Your Mother said she liked them, but I think she was just being kind,” Julia said smiling.

“She did bring me some muffins. I thought she was nice,” Raven replied.

“Well, if you want my opinion her and her husband are both assholes.”

“Who’s her husband?” questioned Raven.

“Ronald Manfred, the chief of police,” Julia replied with a sneer.

“That’s right,” Raven said. “I remember seeing his name in the newspaper. Why is he an asshole?”

“Because he is. He’s always hassling me and accusing me of things I didn’t do. He’s a super conservative, bigot and runs the police department like it’s his own militia. And he’s also the father of your old boyfriend.”

“Old boyfriend?” Raven asked.

“Paul Manfred. He’s a cop, too, like his dad. You guys were hot and heavy before your accident.” Realizing what she said, Julia stopped talking and looked at Raven’s prosthesis, “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t worry, you can talk about it, I’m better now,” Raven said smiling.

“What about you? Do you have a steady boyfriend?” Raven asked.

“No, I like to play the field. It’s more fun,” Julia replied laughing.

For the rest of the night Julia told Raven all about their pre-accident life and all the fun they had, and for the first time since the accident Raven was able to momentarily forget her grief and enjoy herself. Julia told her all about their different experiences and all the dreams and aspirations they shared.

“You were head cheerleader and president of the student council,” Julia said.

“I saw that in the yearbook,” Raven said.  “But I didn’t see your cheerleading picture.”

“Are you kidding,” snickered Julia, “I wasn’t a cheerleader, I was the head troublemaker, but you liked me anyway.”

“I can see why,” Raven said smiling. “Did you read the articles about my accident?” Raven asked.

“Yeah, but I don’t believe any of it. Your mom was a great driver, she drove us all over the place. She wouldn’t have just lost control of the car,” Julia replied.

“I wish I could remember what happened that day,” Raven said sadly.

“Don’t worry,” Julia said as she grabbed Raven’s hand, squeezed it and smiled, “I’ll help you remember.”

“Thank you, Julia.  Listen, can I ask a favor?”

“Name it.”

“I don’t have a car yet, so can you give me a ride to my Mother’s gravesite? I want to pay my respects,” Raven said.

“Absolutely. I’m on vacation this week, so I’ll pick you up tomorrow morning and take you anywhere you want to go until you get a car,” Julia said as she stood up to leave.

“Thank you, Julia.” Raven said as she walked Julia to the door.  “I can see why we were best friends.”

“I’m so glad your back,” Julia said as she hugged Raven. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

The next morning, Julia, wearing another t-shirt reading ‘the only thing worse than climate change is a bad haircut’, brought Raven to the graveyard and waited in the car while she took flowers to her mother’s grave. A headstone had been placed at the grave with the inscription, ‘Alice Redman, loving mother of Raven Redman’ and as Raven took flowers out of her backpack and set them on the graves, she started to cry.

“I miss you so much, mom,” she said as she reached out touched the headstone.

At that moment, Raven suddenly had a memory of her and her mother  riding in the front seat of her mother’s car the day of the accident. In the memory, her mother was driving and laughing lovingly at something Raven said, and then reached over and took her hand.

“A Sophomore in college,” her mother said. “I’m so proud of you, Raven.”

“And I’m proud of you, too, mom,” Raven replied smiling.

Caught off guard by the memory, Raven quickly pulled  her hand off the headstone, and the memory stopped.

"Oh my God! I must be getting my memory back," she said with excitement as she touched the headstone again, but the memory didn't return.

 And even though she was disappointed she couldn't remember more, she was grateful for the wonderful recollection of her and her mother, and happy she was starting to get pieces of her memory back. As she left the grave and walked back to Julia’s car, she smiled and looked up to heaven.

“God bless you, mom,” she said.

As Raven got back in the car, Julia could see she had been crying.

“Are you okay?” Julia asked.

“Yes,” Raven replied smiling. “While I was at the gravesite, I had a memory of my mother.”

“Really? What was it?” Julia asked.

“The two of us were in the front seat of the car laughing before the accident,” Raven replied. “Laughing, like we did all the time when she was alive,” she said smiling as tears swelled in her eyes again.

“See, I told you you’d get your memory back,” Julia said smiling. “Listen, there’s all kinds of fun places I want to show you,” Julia said trying to change Raven’s mood. “What do you say?”

“Sure,” Raven replied as she thought about the gravesite memory, “But first, I’d like to go to the police station.

“Why?” Julia asked.

“I want to talk to Chief Manfred and get a copy of my accident report.”

“You sure that’s a good idea?” Julia questioned.

“I have to know what happened, and not just from newspaper articles,” Raven replied.

“Fine,” Julia said. “But trust me, you don’t want to meet that ass hole on an empty stomach, so we’re going to have breakfast first. I know a great place.”

“Okay,” Raven said smiling, “I am hungry.”

After they left the graveyard, Julia took Raven to a small, fifties looking diner called The Food Oasis.

“The name is lame, but this place was our favorite hang-out in high school,” Julia said as the two girls walked into the diner.

The inside of the crowded diner was decorated like a fifty’s soda shop; with tables, booths and a long counter in front of a small kitchen.

“This place is so cool, I can see why we hung out here,” Raven said.

“Yeah, right? Come on, I’ll take you to our favorite booth,” she said as she led Raven through the diner.

As Raven limped after Julia, everyone stopped talking and stared.

“Don’t mind them. They’re all ignorant,” Julia said as they sat down at a booth.

“It’s okay,” Raven replied, “I’m used to it. So, what did we used to have?” Raven asked as she looked at a menu on the table.

“Chocolate shakes and fries. This place is famous for them.”

“We had a shake and fries for breakfast?” Raven asked skeptically.

“Absolutely, for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Julia replied smiling.

“Okay,” Raven said. “But I can’t remember ever having a milk shake.”

“Oh yeah, we called you Little Miss Milk Shake, because you had so many,” Julia said laughing.

At that moment, a waitress the same age as Raven and Julia walked up to the table.

“Hi, Raven, how are you?” the waitress asked

“I’m sorry, do we know one another?” Raven replied.

“I’m Alice Perkins. We went to high school together.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry, my memory isn’t good since my accident,” Raven said.

“Yeah, she doesn’t remember you, so could we just order please?” Julia said rudely.

“Sure. What would you like?” Alice said as she opened her order book.

“We’ll have two chocolate shakes and two orders of fries,” Julia replied.

“No problem,” the waitress said as she wrote down the order and walked away.

“Why were you so rude to her?” Raven questioned.

“Because she’s a bitch,” Julia replied with a sneer. “She was always making trouble between you and Paul. She liked him and tried to get you two to break up. In fact, while you were in the hospital, she latched on to him and got him to purpose to her.”

“I appreciate you looking out for me, Julia, I really do, but it’s not like I was around.”

“I know, but she’s still a bitch,” Julia replied.

After breakfast Julia drove Raven to the police station, and as they walked in, several of the officers recognized Raven from the newspaper articles and stared. Paul Manfred, Chief Manfred’s good-looking, twenty-five-year old son, dressed in his police uniform, saw her and walked over.

“Raven, it’s so good to see you,” he said. “And you, too, Julia.”

“Sure, it is,” Julia said sarcastically as she gave him a dirty look.

As Raven looked at Paul, she remembered his face from the yearbook.

“It’s good to see you, too, Paul,” she said.

“My mother told me she saw you. How are you feeling?”

“Besides having a new friend,” Raven said as she pulled up her pant leg and showed him her prosthesis, “and not having my memory, I feel good. Julia told me you’re engaged, congratulations.”

Feeling guilty about not waiting for Raven, Paul shifted nervously.

“Thank you.”

“When’s the wedding?” Raven asked.

“Ah, we haven’t set a date yet,” Paul said and then quickly changed the subject, “I’m really sorry about your mother.”

“Thank you.”

“I tried to come and see you right after the accident, but they wouldn’t tell anyone where you were.” he said.

“It’s okay. I wasn’t in any condition to get visitors,” Raven replied.

“Yeah, I imagine the whole healing process was really hard?”

“It was, but I’m better now and moving on,” Raven said with a smile, “just like you.”

“Yeah,” Paul replied with an uncomfortable smile. “So, what brings you into the station?”

“I came to see your dad and get a copy of my accident report,” Raven replied.

“You sure? It’s pretty gruesome,” Paul said.

“I know, I’ve been told, but I still want to see it,” Raven replied.

“All the files are locked in my dad’s office,” Paul said, “and he’s out on patrol. But he’ll be back later this afternoon and I’ll tell him you came in.”

“Thank you. Well, it was good to see you, Paul,” Raven said smiling.

“You, too,” Paul replied and then watched the women leave the station.

As they walked back to Julia’s car, Raven thought about Paul.

“Paul seemed nice,” she said.

“Trust me, he’s not,” Julia replied. “He’s a jerk, just like all the cops in this town. And for the record, he didn’t try to see you after the accident, he was too busy screwing Alice.”

“Oh well,” Raven replied. “So, what else do you want to show me?”

“Let’s go check out our old high school, and I’ll show you more about your past.”

“But it’s Saturday, isn’t the school closed?”

“Yeah, but I have a way to get in,” Julia said smiling. “You up for it?”

“As long as we don’t end up in jail,” Raven replied with a nervous smile.

“I can’t promise anything,” Julia said jokingly.

Julia took Raven to their old high school, and Raven watched as Julia took a small, metal nail file out of her backpack and proceeded to pick the lock on one of the back doors.

“Isn’t there an alarm on the door,” Raven asked.

“Not anymore,” Julia replied smiling as she picked the lock.

“Where did you learn to do that?” Raven questioned.

“I watch a lot of crime shows,” Julia replied. “By the way, if you ever need to break into someplace, you can borrow my key,” Julia said as she put the file back in her backpack and laughed. “Come on, let’s check out some of our old classrooms.” Julia said as she opened the door and led Raven into the interior of the empty school.

“Are you sure it’s okay for us to be in here?” Raven asked nervously.

“Not really, but that’s part of the fun,” Julia replied. “Come on, let’s look around,” Julia said as they walked down a hallway.

“Is anything coming back to you?” she asked.

“No, nothing,” Raven replied sadly.

“Maybe this will help,” Julia said as she led Raven into one of the empty classrooms.

“What class did we have in here?” Raven questioned.

“We had algebra with Mrs. Winslow,” Julia replied, “She was another jerk.”

“Why?” Raven asked.

“Because she made us do algebra,” Julia replied laughing. “This was your desk,” Julia said as she pointed to one of the desks in the front of the class. “You always like to sit in the front.”

“What about you? Where did you sit?” Raven asked.

“In the back near the door, so I could sneak out when Winslow wasn’t looking.”

“You really were a rebel, weren’t you?” Raven said smiling.

“I told you,” Julia replied laughing. “Come on, I want to show you your favorite place in the whole school,” Julia said as she led Raven out of the classroom and into the school gym. “This is where you performed as a cheerleader,” Julia said. “Still nothing coming back?”

“No, nothing," Raven replied as she looked around the gym.

“Look over here,” Julia said as she walked over to a wall of framed photos of high school basketball games and pointed at one of them.

Raven walked over and looked at the photo of herself dressed in a cheerleading uniform standing on top of a cheerleading pyramid.

“That was you in our senior year, cheering at our championship basketball game,” Julia said. “We lost, but you were great.”

“I wish I could remember,” Raven said as she stared at the photo.

“Don’t worry, it would be better to remember a game we won,” Julia said laughing. “Come one, let me show you one more classroom.”

“Lead on,” Raven replied as she looked briefly again at the photo, then followed Julia out of the gym and into another empty classroom.

“What class did we have in here?” Raven asked.

“We didn’t, this was your mom’s old classroom,” Julia replied.

“My mother’s classroom?” Raven said as looked around the room, and then walked over to the teachers’ desk and sat down.

“It feels like she’s still here,” Raven said sadly as she rubbed her hands across the desktop.

At that moment, she suddenly had another memory of her and her mother, but instead of being in the car, they were sitting at the kitchen table having breakfast the morning of the accident.

“Don’t forget, we need to leave for the college right after I drop off some lesson plans for the substitute covering my classes today, and have the oil changed on the car,” her mother said. “I shouldn’t be more than a couple of hours.”

“I’ll be here,” Raven replied. “I’m all packed and ready to go.”

“You excited about starting your Sophomore year?” her mother asked.

“So excited, but I’ll miss you.” Raven replied smiling.

“We’ll see each other at Thanksgiving,” her mother replied and then suddenly doubled over in pain, “Ow,” she said as she grabbed her stomach.

“Is your stomach still bothering you, Mom? It's been almost a week,” Raven said concerned.

“I’m fine. I'm sure it's just a touch of the stomach flu,” she said as the pain subsided. “But I made an appointment with Doctor Kim for tomorrow to have it checked out.”

“Good,” Raven said and then got up from the table. “So, I’ll see you later, I’ve got a few friends to say good-bye to.”

“Don’t be late,” her mother said.  

“I won’t,” Raven replied as she kissed her mother and walked out of the kitchen.

As Raven left the kitchen, the memory faded.

“No,” Raven said as she rubbed the desktop again, trying to get the memory back, but it was gone.

Confused by why she had that specific memory, Raven got up from the desk and let out a deep sigh.

“Are you alright?” Julia questioned.

Raven took a moment to regain her composure before she answered.

“Yeah, but I’m getting tired. Can you take me home?”

“Sure,” Julia replied.

On their way back to the house, Raven thought about the memory and didn’t say a word until she got out of the car.

“Thank you for today, Julia, I appreciate you taking me to the high school, and for teaching me how to pick a lock,” Raven said smiling.

“You’re welcome,” Julia replied. “How about if I come over tomorrow and maybe we can go see a movie.”

“Great,” Raven said as she walked into the house. “See you then.”

That night, Raven read all the newspaper articles about the accident again and didn’t find anything in the autopsy statements about there being something wrong with her mother’s stomach. Still trying to understand the significance of the memory, Raven set the articles down.

“Strange,” Raven said as she went to bed.

The next morning, Raven woke to the sounds of another knock on the front door. Expecting it to be Julia, Raven got dressed and opened the door without looking to see who it was, but instead of Julia, Raven saw an older man dressed in a police uniform holding a manila envelope.

“Good morning, Raven, I’m Chief Manfred.” he said.

“Oh, good morning, Chief. Come on in,” Raven said as Manfred walked in and she shut the door. “Can I get you a cup of coffee?”

“No thank you, I can’t stay. I want to offer my sincere condolences about your mother. She was a great lady,” he said.

“Thank you. Did you know her well?”

“When you’re the police chief in a small town, you get to know everyone pretty well, including you,” Manfred said.

“You know me?” Raven asked.

“Oh yeah, Paul was on the basketball team and we saw one another at a few games when you were cheering. You don’t remember meeting me?” he questioned.

“No, I’m sorry, I don’t remember anything before the accident.”

“That’s too bad. How are you doing otherwise?” the Chief asked.

“I’m still healing, but doing much better,” Raven replied.

“Yeah, it was terrible accident and you’re lucky to be alive,” he replied.

“That’s not how I felt at first, without my mom,” Raven said.

“I know, must be tough. So, Paul told me that you were at the station yesterday asking to see your accident report.”

“That’s right,” Raven replied.

“Are you sure you want to do that? Wouldn’t it be better just to let the accident go and move on?” he asked.

“I can’t move on until I know what happened.” Raven replied.

“Your mother just lost control of the car,” the Chief said, “that’s what happened.”

“Maybe so, but I’d like to see the report anyway,” Raven replied.

“Suit yourself,” he said as he handed her the envelope. “But I need to warn you, it’s pretty graphic.”

“Thank you for the warning, but I’ll be fine,” Raven replied.

“And after you read it, if I you have any questions, just come by the station,” he said.

“I will,” Raven replied.

“Then I’ll see you later,” he said as he walked back to the door. “And again, sorry about your mom.”

“Thank you. And thanks for the report,” she said as she held up the envelope.

“Your welcome,” he said as he walked out of the house.

As soon as Manfred was gone, Raven limped into the kitchen, poured herself a cup of coffee, sat down at the kitchen table and opened the envelope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


© Copyright 2019 carlo armenise. All rights reserved.

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