Chapter 33: MOONLIGHT AND SHOCK

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 18

CLEAN SLATE

A Novel

Nicholas Cochran

PART THREE

Chapter Thirty-Three

 

 

We hugged each other between sips of wine and laughs. It was soon ten o’clock.

Softly, gently probing, content, “My darling Beth, are you still up for the moonlight walk?” She hesitated before inhaling and breaking a broad smile, “I am, my sweetie Mikey, but not a long one. I have to admit I’m feeling, well, exercised out,” lightly laughing, “mostly of the home kind.”

She finished with a widening smile and kissed me on the cheek, “I’m ready when you are; are you sure you want to go, Michael?” There was that odd tone again. I was beginning to feel as if I were in a play and had no idea of the ending; but Maureen and Beth did.

“I do, my darling; I need some salty breezes to clear my head.” 

Getting up and stretching, stifling a yawn, Beth, “Okay ,partner, we’ll lose the shoes and hope there’s some heat left in the sand.”

“Great, Betsy, I’ll grab a key and away we go.” I made a point of raising my cheery level. The days and nights activities were dragging me close to the canvas.

“All right, here we go, Betsy.” I locked the door, the gate, and headed straight for the waterline. We passed several couples. The moon cast their faint shadows on the warming sand. The waves were booming breakers.  I felt a sudden menace drape over me. I looked at Beth. In the moonlight she looked angelic. I decided to hit the topic and get rid of my peculiar apprehension. I took a good breath of the salty air.

“Beth, is everything all right? Mo visited me while you were upstairs earlier. She had a tone in her voice I had never heard. You had the same tone earlier this evening. Am I doing something to annoy or upset either of you?” Beth was silent. She slowed her pace and allowed the breakers to rise to her knees.

Hesitatingly, thinking,creasing her brow, “I don’t think so, darling, I can’t think of anything; everything has been oh, I don’t know the right words; I mean like heaven, but that doesn’t tell you or me anything at all. What I really mean is that I feel like, oh, well, you know, that we’re too lucky, too blessed; or as you say, too favored. I guess I’m thinking it is all too good to be true and you know the rest of that sentence.”

She stopped and turned to me.“I love you so deeply, Michael, and I know you love me too; it’s all so overcoming, overwhelming, whatever the right word is; know what I mean?” She looked into my eyes before turning and beginning to walk. 

The breakers became higher, louder, and—I thought—more menacing. I knew exactly what I was thinking: Mo and the sleeper wave. I stopped. Beth took a few steps before she realized I wasn't beside her. She looked back at me with a face of worry. Yet she had said she didn’t know why, other than sometimes things were too good to be true. I caught up to her.

“I can’t get the sleeper wave fright out of my mind, Beth. Let’s go a little higher up the beach and find some warm sand and some security.”
With a look of concern and understanding, “Sure Michael, I can’t imagine how all this must be torturing you. I’m feeling the effects of our loving; I’m also feeling a bit tired. We can come out here tomorrow night, okay?” I turned and headed up the beach.

“I feel the same, darling. I’m out of fumes—again.” We laughed. I put my arm around her waist and brought her a few steps up the beach when I saw it. It was not all that high, but definitely high enough to wash over us in our last waterline position. I grabbed Beth’s hand and pulled.

“Run.” She gave a shriek of fear. The water rolled toward us. It stopped as it flushed over our feet. We stopped, turned around, and watched the wave dissolve into foam and eddies.  A number of couples were up to their neck in water. Neither one of us moved for a minute, All the horror of Maureen’s death flooded my mind. I could sense Beth thinking the same thoughts. I swallowed hard and turned toward our house without a word.

After a few steps, shaking, with dry lips, frightened, Beth said. “How did you know about that wave Michael?” As we walked, she turned to look at me.

“I didn’t have any warning. I caught it out of my peripheral vision, which has protected me before tonight.” I shook my head. We were silent until we reached our gate. Beth was a moonlit memory for me. She was Beth and Betsy; maybe a bit of Elizabeth; a Greek sculptor’s dream; Michelangelo’s finest rendition of beauty and grace.

Once inside, I hugged her close to me and rested my head on her shoulder. I was down for the count. She tickled me and began to laugh.

“I can honestly say I know what you’re thinking, Mikey. I am too. But let’s sleep in my bed and watch the moon in each other’s arms and wake up to the sun and the sound of the surf.” She moved back and clapped her hands while she laughed; yes, the carefree laugh.

“I shall gather some sleepwear and join you in five, my darling hostess.”

*

I don’t know who fell asleep first, but it was Beth’s phone tune that woke us. It was now the darkest hour of the night. The windows framed a patch of black. Beth jumped out of bed, ran to her jacket, hit the button, and put on the speaker.

“Oh, Miss Fudge,” said Tammy Taylor through gasps of tears, “Sheila’s been shot. I hate to call you at this hour out there.” The poor young woman began to hyperventilate; then choked. There was a sudden silence while she collected her breath. She continued to cry.

“Hugo, her husband; he came right in here and shot her. I know she’s your client. Hugo yelled something about Sheila filing for divorce . . . and getting a restraining order. Oh, Miss Fudge; oh, I can’t ___”

“It’s okay Tammy. You were definitely right to call me. I’ll get there as fast as I can. Where is Sheila now?”

“She’s in the hospital. A couple of us called 911 right away and they were here in minutes.”

I was on my feet and grabbed my phone to set up the 747 right away. The guys and Danielle had been through this early morning drill before. A lot more action happens east of us than west, until you hit Japan. I got Leon on the second ring.

“Hey Leon, sorry to wake you, man. Emergency. I need to get to Ottawa ASAP. Please call Jeff and get me a takeoff time. I’ll load the car. I disconnected and called Jim and Danielle. He handles all the customs, Immigration, Homeland Security, visas; all the paperwork.

“Jim, Mike. I need to get to Ottawa right away. Can you get all the papers?”

“Yes, Michael. I have all the contacts from a few days ago. It will work. I’ll call Danielle. We have done this before. I’m all right on the San Diego end. I’ll start on the Ottawa end. I will ask some of our friends at SDI to call Ottawa as well.” He disconnected. Tammy was continuing through her crying.

“You know, Miss Fudge, the ambulance company next door. They were here right away and began treating her while they wheeled her to the elevator. They took her to the hospital. I don’t know if she’s alive or dead. Ooooh, Miss Fudge, I’m so sorry; Please come as soon as you can. I know it’s a terribly early time where you are.”

Leon called back and said thirty minutes was the earliest time we could be airborne.

“But there’s a hell of a tailwind, Mike. We could get over seven hundred per; that will take us to Ottawa in about four plus hours.”

“Thanks Leon; I’ll call Harry and see if the remodeling of the cargo area is okay for the Huracan. I need to hit Brookvale instantly. A good friend of mine—a client of Beth’s has been shot.”

“Sorry, Mike, very sorry. We’ll get you there ASAP.”

“Thanks, Leon. I called Jim. He’ll need to tackle the Canadian Government on the Ottawa end. But he did it last time. He’ll tell them it’s an emergency; a death in the family; anything to get us on the ground and in the Lamborghini as fast as possible”

“Gotcha.” He disconnected. I called the garage.

“Harry, Mike, sorry it’s so early. Death emergency. Can you take the Huracan to SDI and load it in the 747? Is that cargo door functioning?”

“Sure is, Mike. I’ve been working on it this weekend. Have the clamps and hooks set up. I’ll drive it over there right now. Sorry about the death, man, real sorry. I’m on my way. Will Leon and Jeff be there to get me access?”

“Yes, Harry. Jim is working on all the paperwork. You might need his help. But he’s The Man with the SDI staff. Maybe I’ll see you there. If not, thanks again, amigo.”

"Good luck, Mike.”

“Thanks, Harry. She may still be alive. She’s in the hospital right now with all the best they have there working on her. Catch you later, Harry.” I disconnected.

“She was bleeding from a few places, Miss Fudge, and one on the side of her head. Oooh. Sorry.”

“Tammy; Tammy, darling. Don’t be so sad. Sheila is as tough as they come. She’ll have a better than even chance. So try to maintain. I’ll call you from the plane.”

“Okay, Miss Fudge. I’ll call you when I know more. When do you think you’ll be here?” Beth turned to me.

“Hi Tammy, it’s Michael. We’ll have a tailwind. So with that and our car, we’ll be there in around six hours or less—in Brookvale, that is. We’ll go straight to the hospital if we don’t hear from you again, but please have someone at the hospital keep Beth and me up-to-date, okay?”

“Yes, sir. Thank you.” I gave her my number and the number of the phones in the plane and disconnected. Beth gave me a brisk hug and began to take off her pajamas while she hopped toward her clothes.

“I’ll shower later, Michael. What did Leon say?”

“A stiff tailwind and there in four hours or so. Jim and the guys are clearing customs and all the other paperwork. Jim will continue on the plane as we head for Ottawa. Harry finished the hardware to hold the Huracan in place in the cargo bay. I had the door done a month ago. He finished the first part yesterday. That’ll get us to the hospital in forty-five minutes. I have a red light to stick on the top if I have to. I’ll get dressed and throw in a bunch of stuff and wait for Jim."

Beth gathered only what she needed and raced down the stairs. The ‘darkest before the dawn’ covered us. I locked up. We ran to our left and along the lane to the street. Jim arrived as we hit the sidewalk. I opened the door and pushed Beth in. I followed her and closed the door.

“Morning, Jim. Bad news. Could be a death of one of Beth’s clients. Husband shot her.”

“I am so sorry, Elizabeth, so sorry. Well, hang on.”

 

End of Chapter Thirty-Three


Submitted: April 21, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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