Deciphering The Scrolls
by Azurenon & Savanna Mac
Please see part one for all disclaimers.
Janice had been sitting in a secluded, sheltered nook between several boulders, tears streaming down her cheeks at intervals, anger boiling in her gut at others. And a deep sense of melancholia settling over her like a heavy wet blanket; one that was getting heavier with each passing moment.
She could have sworn Mel would be different. She would have staked her life that she wouldn’t run off this quickly. And yet, what did she really know about Mel? Too damn little, she thought. You fell for what you saw in her eyes. No, what you thought you saw. What you wanted to see. What the hell did I ever do that I deserve to be treated like this? she wondered. Was this just the way of this lifestyle? One she knew she hadn’t chosen. No, being attracted to and falling in love with women just came natural like a fish to water... ducks to a june bug... moths to a flame... and flies to shit, she concluded, tossing a rock into the surf. "I am so god-damn stu-pid!" she cried aloud. "Shit, shIT, SHIT!!!!" she cried, laying her head down on her upraised knees.
She dreaded going back to the cottage, but knew she had to. She needed to order those timbers. The men could work the dig without her, but not without the timbers. She was going to have to pull herself together, at least long enough to take care of this bit of business.
She wiped her eyes on her sleeves. "Get a grip," she grumbled, as she got to her feet. I hope if she’s going... she’s already gone, she thought, because, I wouldn’t want to see her like this. Wouldn’t want? Couldn’t handle seeing her like this. I’d make a complete ass of myself, I know it. Please god... if there is one..., she added, ....spare me this humiliation, at least!
To Janice’s relief, as well as disappointment, the long dark sedan was gone when she reached the cottage. A ray of hope burst into her mind, as she walked in the door. She could smell Mel’s powdery perfume. Did she dare call out? Would Mel answer? Had she sent him on his way? Could this stroke of good fortune possibly have come to pass? Could this be the one time her lover stayed? Instead of calling out, she headed towards the bedroom, which she knew would offer up the best evidence. From the hall doorway, she could see the closet door was open. That was enough for her. She didn’t need to go any further; her questions were answered.
A deep sense of sadness settled over her once again, feeling as if it were seeping into her very bones. Janice turned abruptly and ran over to the desk - where she kept the truck keys for Mel - and flung open the drawer. Keys in her hand, she propelled herself out the door, almost forgetting to shut it behind her, so great was her haste to get away.
Tears stung her eyes, as she pumped the starter on the old truck. "Come on, goddamn it!" she screeched. The motor finally turned over and she shoved it into gear. The slick tires spun on the rocky surface, then caught, sending a heartbroken woman, half-blinded by tears, jostling down the bumpy road.
Mel came back to the car, from the dig site, a grave look of concern on her face. "No one has seen her since lunch," she announced to Chuckie, who was sitting in the car.
"Doubt they missed her," he mumbled.
"I said... we must have just missed her," he responded. "Somewhere along the way."
Mel shook her head slowly. "No, I don’t think so," she said, her mind wandering back to the expression on Janice’s face at lunch, as she left the table. "I need to find her," she mumbled.
"We don’t have time for that, Melinda," Chuckie put in.
"We’ll make time," Mel grumbled. "We’ll get you a room in town... like you should have done to start with and... I’ll go with you to Amphipolis tomorrow," she suggested, scanning the surrrounding terrain for a glimpse of her lover.
"No can do," Chuckie announced. "My plane leaves at noon, day after tomorrow. We won’t have time to get there and back. Not to mention I’d have to get back."
"Take another flight," she grumbled.
"I’ve already paid for the ticket... round trip. It was cheaper that way. Besides, there’s not another plane to London for two more days. And I need to get these papers back to the States. Leave her a note or something, what’s the big deal?"
"You wouldn’t understand," she mumbled and sighed heavily. Leaving a note was not what she wanted to do. Having Janice beside her in the city: going shopping, seeing the sites, that’s what she wanted more than anything right now. And she felt that if she could just talk to her lover, she could convince her to come along. Where the hell is she? she wondered.
"Melinda, I haven’t got all day here," Chuckie said, impatiently tapping the steering wheel.
"This is your mess, Chuckie, not mine," Mel retorted. "It’s your ass that’ll be in a sling, as it should be."
"Yes, Melinda, I know that, but... it’ll be your house you lose if you don’t sign those papers, pronto."
Mel spun around and stuck her head in the car window. "The house? Chu-ckie, what the hell are you talking about?"
"It’s a long story," he mumbled. "But I’d suggest you leave a quick note, so we can get going."
Mel flung open the door of the car. "Well... don’t just sit there like a knot on a log, give me a piece of paper, will ya?" she grumbled, climbing in beside him. "Damn you, Chuckie! And you were worried about Janice being my partner, hmph! Maybe I should be the one worried... about you being my lawyer. Ooo!" She shuddered with anger. "I swear, you e-ver pull another stunt like this again, I’ll... never speak to you for as long as I live."
"Calm down now, Melinda," he soothed. "It was just an oversight. Anyone could have made the same mistake."
"I’m not talking about that, Chuckie. I’m referring to the way you handled this... whole thing to... satisfy your own whims. You could have brought the papers here and you know it. Even I know it, by god. And when we get to Amphipolis, you’re gonna straighten out that little thing you set up about the money! I’m not going all the way over there to sign for it again! Instead, you’re gonna send it straight to the bank in town! You got that?!"
Chuckie stared at her for a moment, then slowly nodded. "Here, write on this," he said, handing her the telegram she had sent him last week, along with a pen from his shirt pocket. She glanced up at him and frowned. "It’s all I’ve got handy," he offered.
Mel quickly scribbled out a quick note to leave for Janice with Solanos, the foreman, and delivered it to him personally, making sure he understood Janice needed to see it, as soon as possible. When she returned, she demanded that Chuckie stop by the cottage. She noticed the truck was gone, right off. She assumed Janice must’ve had something to do in town, which more than likely stemmed from whatever she was concerned about at lunch. She reasoned that Janice more than likely assumed Chuckie was here for an extended visit and wanted to give them time to catch up on one another’s lives, while she carried on with her own concerns. At least, that’s what she’d do for Janice, if someone came visiting. So, surely Janice was doing the same for her. Mel made out a much longer, more intimate note this time, leaving it on Janice’s pillow, where she was sure her lover would find it.
The sky was darkening as Janice drove up the bumpy road to the cottage. She glanced up briefly, noticing the darkened windows. "Not going there tonight," she said, tears stinging her eyes, as she continued on by. She knew she would see Mel everywhere she looked, if she stayed there tonight. "Hell, the place even smells like her," she murmured, remembering the last time she’d been inside.
She had a cot at the dig site she could sleep on tonight. And perhaps several nights to come, she thought, knowing how sentimental and maudlin she could get. She also had all the comfort she thought she would need - for at least a night or two - in the form of the three bottles of gin she’d purchased in town. One of which she’d already opened on the way home and was, at the moment, firmly seated between her thighs, as she shifted into a lower gear, climbing the hill to the dig site.
She reached down and retrieved the bottle, bringing it to her lips, as once again the days events replayed in her mind. She mentally kicked herself for going back to the cottage at lunch time. Should have stayed at the dig site, she chastized herself. And yet, she had needed something to eat, since she hadn’t packed a lunch, knowing she’d be going home. Of course, she had also went there with the absurd notion of putting up a fight for Mel. Possibly even tossing Mr. Charles B. Harrison III out on his well-dressed keester. All it had taken to quell this notion, however, was that one smile from Mel when he said, "So are we," referring to them being close, while taking her hand in his. It was somewhat evident then that Chuckie had not been exaggerating about their relationship.
"Friends my ass," Janice grumbled, noticing the workmen had already left for the day. "Wine and dine ‘til the sun comes up," she added, mimicking Chuckie’s southern drawl. "Have yourself a fine time, Miss Melinda Pappas. I hope to hell Chuckie makes you happy."
Grabbing the three bottles, she exited the truck. In situations like this, she knew that people often consoled one another by saying: "It’ll hurt less tomorrow". Janice knew this wasn’t true, however. At least it never had been for her. And so, she intended to drown her sorrow so very deep inside one - if not more - of these bottles of gin, that she’d more than likely sleep through tomorrow. Of course, she was well aware the pain would still be there, when she sobered up, but she’d cross that bridge when she came to it. All that mattered right now, was numbing the pain she felt at this very moment.
And that’s gonna take a whole lot of alcohol, she thought.
Janice had no idea what time it was when she woke up. It took awhile for her drunken mind to even sort out where she was. She did know, however, that it was light outside and she had to go to the bathroom. But, oh how her head hurt when she raised up. She’d really tied one on last night. Her mouth was so dry, she felt like she could actually spit cotton. And her heart was so shattered, the pain still so great, she thought the jagged pieces might well be slicing up her insides.
She stumbled out of the tent and immediately threw her arm up to shield her eyes. A few moments later, she nearly fell flat on her face, when her boot caught on a rock she didn’t see. How she regained her balance, she didn’t know or care. Rounding the side of the tent, away from the dig site, she took care of the pressing issue at hand. Usually, she went far afield to the bushes, but not today; for, she felt she’d be lucky if she made it back inside the tent without falling down or passing out. She’d never been this drunk. Not ever. And it showed.
Solanos was waiting at the door flap when she returned. "Miss Mel said to give this to you," he said in Greek, holding out a piece of paper, in her direction.
Janice merely grunted and walked on by him, not even offering to take the paper.
"Doctor, Miss Mel said this very important," Solanos added, following behind her.
Janice stopped at the small wooden table close to the door and leaned against it. "Alright, alright," she grumbled, reaching out and snatching the small yellow piece of paper from his hand. "You gave it to me, okay? Thank you," she mumbled, glancing down at the small type.
She knew from the look of it that it was a telegram, which didn’t make any sense. She squinted, focusing on the top two lines: "To: Charles B. Harrison III... From: Melinda J. Pappas," it read.
"Oh good grief!" Janice grumbled, crumpling the paper in her hand. "Kick a woman when she’s down, why don’t you, Mel!"
"Bad news?" Solanos inquired.
"Yeah... she was," Janice grumbled in English, tossing the crumpled bit of paper aside. "Don’t you need to get back to work?" she asked in Greek, waving him away with her hand.
"I also come to tell you, tunnel will be clear soon," he responded.
"What?" Janice asked, stumbling to the cot now and easing down on it.
"Tunnel... it will be clear soon," he repeated. When she looked up at him and frowned, he went on, "We break through the rocks in front. Behind it, there’s not so many more."
"Hmph," Janice grunted, laying down now. "Well... at least there’s one bright spot," she mumbled, concluding that Solanos was saying that the whole tunnel had not caved in. "Good job," she offered, a bit louder, as she closed her eyes, the sound reverberating in her ears.
She heard Solanos when he exited the tent and breathed a sigh of relief. Then she reached underneath the cot for the bottle she hadn’t finished off last night.
Mel arrived home late that afternoon, still angry with Chuckie. Although he had apologized, seemingly sincerely, over dinner the night before - finally pouring out his story of heartbreak and woe, which had tugged at Mel’s heart strings, as always - he’d also had the unmitigated gaul to grab her at the door of her room and kiss her, despite her protests. Mel had subsequently slapped his face, something she’d wanted to do many times, but had never had the courage. Chuckie had then turned into a sniveling child, blubbering and apologizing profusely, afraid Mel was going to fire him as her lawyer. Mel had sent him off to his own room, saying she’d have to think about it. And Chuckie had been bugging her all the way home for an answer.
When she saw the truck wasn’t in front of the cottage, her anger turned to concern. Where’s Janice? she wondered. What’s going on? Has something happened at the dig? A breakthrough? Another cave-in?
As soon as Chuckie set her suitcase and packages down, Mel hurried him out the door promising not to fire him right now. She’d say anything to get rid of him; for, she wanted to find out what was going on with Janice. First things first, she thought, heading for the bathroom.
Coming out of the bathroom, zipping up the men’s pants she’d purchased just this morning, she noticed the bed out of the corner of her eye. It appeared it hadn’t been slept in, unless Janice had suddenly changed her habit of not making it up. Standing in the doorway now, she could see the note still on Janice’s pillow, where she’d left it.
"Oh my god," she gasped, fearing the worst. Several long strides later, she was out the front door, headed towards the dig site, as fast as her new boots would carry her.
Topping the rise that separated the cottage from the dig site, she spotted the trunk parked on the road below. "Thank god," she breathed, her mind having conjured up gruesome scenarios about Janice lying broken and battered in some hospital room or along the roadside or... even worse.
She paused a moment, catching her breath and scanning the site for her lover. The workmen were busy hauling rocks and doing various other tasks, as if it were a normal day. Nothing looked out of the ordinary, except for some timbers still stacked in the bed of the truck.
So that’s where she went yesterday, Mel surmised. But, wait that didn’t explain why she hadn’t been back to the cottage last night. Something had to be going on, she concluded. Perhaps they had broken through? Perhaps Janice is in the tunnel right now, carefully removing that piece of metal she’d found. Or better yet, a whole treasure trove of ancient paraphernalia. Maybe even another tomb! Yes, that would explain everything. For, Janice would surely want to stay close to the dig, if they found anything valuable. "That has to be it," she murmured.
Mel descended the trail now at a bit more moderate pace, her eyes scanning the cave entrance, in case Janice emerged. When she got to the cave, herself, two men were coming out, pushing a cart heavy laden with rocks between them.
"Doc-tor?" she inquired, knowing most of them understood little, if any English and she spoke very broken Greek, although she understood it well enough. One man shrugged, the other merely looked her up and down. "Solanos?" she tried again.
The man who had shrugged, now nodded and pointed towards the tunnel. Mel took off in that direction, hearing the two men begin conversing behind her. One laughed out loud and the other said, "Ooo-la-la." Mel ignored this and proceeded into the tunnel.
Heads turned as she entered and male eyes followed her progress as she passed by. She felt a bit uncomfortable suddenly, yet knew she’d feel better, once she found Janice. One man said something something suggestive in Greek, which Mel understood. He had commented on the way her pants fit so snugly across her behind. She called out for Solanos.
"Here," a voice answered, further back in the tunnel.
Solanos soon met up with her, grumbling to the men along his route to get back to work. Mel inquired after Janice in broken Greek, letting all within hearing range know she understood their language. Solanos informed her that Janice was in her tent. When Mel frowned, he explained that she was drunk.
Solanos accompanied Mel out of the cave, apparently sensing her discomfort. When she continued towards the tent, however, he didn’t follow. She heard several hoots and snickers, as well as, a few suggestive remarks behind her and stepped up her pace.
The day was overcast and dreary and when Mel opened the tent flap she saw it was even darker inside. She lowered the flap and paused, giving her eyes time to adjust to the interior. After a few moments, she could make out the outline of a human form laid out on the cot along the back wall. She proceeded in that direction. Her boot suddenly struck a bottle on the dirt floor and sent it spinning into another one close by. The sound of glass striking glass filled the air.
"Whaddaya wan’ now?" A voice slurred from the vicinity of the cot, as a hand fell off the side and dragged the ground.
Mel stepped over the bottles now and walked right up to the cot her drunk lover was sprawled out on. Janice’s hair was still pulled back in the usual manner by a rubberband at the base of her neck, although most of the hair had slipped out and was lying across her face. Mel noted she was still wearing her clothes from yesterday, as well as, her boots. If she hadn’t already known Janice was drunk, it would have been evident now; for, she could smell the gin. The aroma was so heavy, she wondered if Janice had tried to bathe in it.
One heavy lidded, blue-green eye fluttered open, as her lover muttered, "I sai’ whaddaya wan’?"
Mel offered no response, because she couldn’t decide what to say. She’d never seen Janice like this. And had no idea why she was this way now. Something was wrong, that was evident. But what?
"We-ell... spi’ it out," Janice grumbled, the one eye rolling around, struggling to focus, as the hand hanging down, began moving around, as if searching for something. "Don’ jus’ stan’ there, spe’k up," she slurred.
Mel reached down and grabbed the nearly full bottle of gin Janice’s hand appeared to be groping around for. "Looking for this?" she asked, moving it closer to her lover’s face.
The blue-green eye focused on the bottle, the hand moving towards it, as a frown contorted her lover’s features. The hand slowly dropped, as Janice’s one-eyed gaze now appeared to be taking in more than just the bottle. The frown deepened, when she slowly raised her head off the pillow, both eyes wandering up Mel’s body. "Who the..." She stopped in mid-sentence, when her gaze met Mel’s. "Fuc’in’ dree-em," she murmured, closing her eyes and laying her head back down.
"Janice," Mel said softly.
"Go’way," Janice mumbled. "You’re gon’."
"I’m back," Mel corrected. "And you’re drunk."
"Tell me su’thin’ I don’ know," Janice murmured, her hand again searching the dirt floor.
"I’ve got what you’re looking for," Mel announced.
"Hmph!" Janice grunted. "Yeah... I though’ so too, ‘til you lef’."
Mel stood there a moment considering what Janice had just said. "Didn’t you get my note?" she asked.
"Umm... yeah... go’dam tele-gram to... Chuck-ee... ni-ice touch."
"No, the note I wrote on the back of it," Mel corrected, bending down on one knee, so she’d be eye level with her lover. "Janice... look at me."
"I don’ wanna," she slurred. "Hur’s too go’dam much. Go’way," she added, waving her hand slightly.
Mel reached out and took this hand in hers. The blue-green eye fluttered open again. "Why does it hurt to look at me?" Mel asked softly.
"Go’way, bi’ch," Janice spat. "Go’way an’ leave me ‘lone," she added, shaking her hand lose from Mel’s grasp. "You ain’ real."
"Yes, I am real," Mel countered, indignantly, feeling a bit hurt herself now. She then reached out and took Janice’s face in both her hands. "Janice, what the hell is wrong with you?" she asked, staring into her lover’s shifting eyes.
"Ge’ outta my face, bi’ch!" Janice exclaimed, suddenly shoving Mel backwards.
The latter sat back on her behind with a thud. She watched Janice sit up on the side of the cot, then stand up briefly and stumble out of the tent.
Mel wasn’t sure which hurt more, her butt or her heart. Janice was obviously terribly mad at her about Chuckie. If she hadn’t read the note she’d left, then was her lover thinking that she’d just up and left? But why? She’d never given Janice any reason to doubt her, had she? No, she’d tried every way she could to let Janice know what she had to do. Solanos had said he’d given her the note, so why hadn’t she read it? This wasn’t all her fault. Part of it was Janice’s for not trusting her. Mel scrambled to her feet, feeling miffed now, and went after her lover, intending to set her straight.
She found Janice behind the tent, apparently having a hard time zipping up her pants, as she swayed on her feet. "Umph... you again," Janice mumbled, taking note of her presence. "Stop fow’lo-win’ me, will ya?" She swayed a bit more, almost losing her balance. "Damn! Loo’ at me, I’m losin’ my fuckin’ min’, talkin’ to a fi-ja-ment of my i-ma-ga-ja-nation," she slurred, mispronouncing the large words, as she fumbled with her belt.
Figment of your imagination, huh? Mel thought. Well, maybe if you sobered up, you would be able to see that I’m real. And I’d be able to talk some sense into that thick head of yours, she mused, as Janice began stumbling towards her. Mel took a step back, not wanting to be in Janice’s direct path; the back of her leg bumping into a small table, containing a pan of dirty water.
"Ev’ry time I turn ‘round, there you are," Janice mumbled, stumbling by her. "Go’way, bi’ch."
Mel’s tempered flared now. She quickly turned and snatched up the pan of water, raising it up, then dumping the contents over Janice’s head. The latter yelped and stumbled around, shouting profanities, as she wiped at her eyes. The drunk archaeologist tripped on a washed out rut on the ground and fell to her knees.
Mel took the pan to the water barrel close by. After dipping it inside, she calmly walked over to her lover, just as Janice sat back on her behind. "Come home when you sober up," Mel said clearly and calmly, as she turned the pan up once again, dousing Janice one more time.
Hearing laughter, Mel quickly glanced up and saw many of the workmen watching. Some were even urging others out of the cave to come and witness the spectacle. Feeling embarrassed beyond belief, Mel abruptly dropped the pan and made tracks for home, leaving the cursing, sputtering, intoxicated archaeologist to fend for herself.
Mel felt bad about what she’d done, as soon as she was out of sight of the dig. She stopped in her tracks and glanced back, though unable to see anything except for the rise behind her. She’d left Janice sitting there, because she felt angry, shocked and most all of embarrassed by her own behavior, as well as, that of her lover. She’d intended to help Janice up and into the tent, possibly even half-carry her home, depending on her lover’s reactions. Yet, the men staring and laughing; more gathering to watch; her lover cursing with every breath; the possibility of Janice striking out at her, if she tried to help, had all been too much for Mel. She couldn’t handle hearing anymore of those bitter, hateful words spilling from her lover’s lips. Especially, the ones directed at her. The word "bitch" still stung, as if Janice had actually slapped her across the face with it. Which was the reason Mel had doused her with water in the first place. The second dousing had been to sober her up.
My god, how did things get so out of hand? she wondered, beginning to pace now. "I’m gonna strangle that Chuckie when I see him!" she vowed aloud. He started this whole thing. Everything got screwed up because of his scheming! "I’m gonna ring his scheming little neck!" she exclaimed, wandering away from the path now, her gut boiling with an intensity of anger she’d never felt before. Or perhaps, never allowed herself to feel.
"A refined woman never lets her anger show," she could hear her mother saying, "Only mad dogs get mad, dear, you remember that now."
Mel’s feet carried her even further from the path, as her mind reeled with a vertible kaleidoscope of thoughts. What should she do now? Go back to the dig site and try to explain things to Janice, which is what she desperately wanted to do, or go home and wait for her? If she ever showed up that is, she thought. My word, what must she be thinking of me? she mused. That is, if she’s even sober enough to think. Damn it! I shoulda helped her to her feet and back inside the tent, as least, she chastized herself. But no, like an embarrassed school girl, I ran away! What the hell is wrong with me?! She’s the one who’s drunk and I’m the one acting like a child.
Mel turned around then, got her bearings and struck out in the general direction of the dig site, having strayed from the path in her musings. "I’ll just have to reason with a drunk," she mumbled, wondering if Janice would indeed try to push her away again, or call her a bitch. "Well then, I’ll just have to wrap my arms around her and tell her that I lo-ov...."
Mel’s pep talk with herself was suddenly cut short, when the ground beneath her gave way so fast she didn’t even have time to scream. She dropped like a rock into a deep, dark hole. Her feet hit bottom first, pain shooting up her legs. Her knees buckled instantly, arms and hands thrusting out to catch her fall, a little too late. Her head hit the ground with a resounding WHACK! Darkness, far deeper than the hole she’d fallen into, now enveloped her.
Janice had scrambled to her feet and stumbled into the tent, straight to the cot, where she’d sat down. She was soaking wet, pissed off and confused as hell. Her intoxicated brain was now struggling to make sense of things, but her head was hurting so badly that this was nearly impossible.
Mel was the only clear thought she had. She’d been dreaming about Mel being here. But, if she’d only been dreaming, then how’d she get wet? she wondered. Was she still dreaming? The throbbing in her head felt real enough and so did the water trickling down her body and dripping from her hair. She reached up and ran her hand through her hair, snagging it on the rubberband. She yelped, attempting to wrench the rubberband free. And that sure felt real enough, she thought.
Boy-oh-boy-oh-boy, I must’ve been hallucinating. No, hallucinations were things that weren’t real. The water was real. The hallucination had been Mel pouring it over my head. Yeah, well, that makes no sense, because it doesn’t explain how I got wet. If Mel wasn’t real, then the water wasn’t either, which could only mean one thing... I’m still dreamin’.
"Dreamin’," she mumbled, burying her face in her hands. "I’ll go back to sleep and wake up dry." Now this made sense to her sobering brain. No sooner had she raised her head from her hands, however, than the tent flap was slowly pulled back. Janice glanced up, her heart skipping a beat. It resumed its rhythm, as Solanos entered the tent with a cup in his hand.
"You need black coffee," he said in Greek, starting towards her.
Janice grunted. "How’d I get wet?" she asked, in his language.
As Solanos handed her the cup of lukewarm black coffee, he told her what had happened. Or at least what he’d seen and gleaned from others who had seen much more.
"It couldna been Mel," Janice disagreed. "She’s gone."
He shook his head. "She is back."
"Then, you’re telling me... I wasn’t dreaming?" she asked, taking another sip of the lukewarm coffee. "And I’m not dreamin’ now?"
He shook his head. "Not dreaming. Drunk."
"Where’d she go?" she questioned.
"Home," he answered, pointing in the direction of the cottage.
"What the hell did she come back for?" she mused aloud, in English. Solanos frowned and shrugged. "Sorry, I wasn’t really asking you," she apologized, taking another sip of coffee. Must’ve left something, she surmised. Then why’d she come here? Ah-h yes, the partnership... probably wants her money back. Or the scrolls! "Shit!" she cursed aloud. "That’s it... she came back for them. I shoulda known."
But wait... she could’ve just taken them, if that’s what she wanted. They’re right there in the cottage. Well then, it’s gotta be money, she decided. Yep, she wants her money back. Well, she’ll just have to wait, ‘cause I ain’t got it. Well, yeah, I have it in the bank, but... I’m not cleaning my life savings out. I’ll be damned if I’ll do that, just to buy out her partnership. Hmph, bet her lawyer husband, Chuckie, has some papers for me to sign or something. Well, fuck’em," she concluded, absently watching Solanos as he walked towards the door and picked something up. He turned around, unfurling a crumpled piece of yellow paper. Janice vaguely remembered it from the night before, so when he walked over and held it out to her, she waved his hand away.
"You didn’t read this last night," Solanos said, in Greek. "You read it now, hmm?" he added, still holding it out.
"Why? It’s just a telegram from her to..." Janice paused, as her eyes focused on handwriting and not printed type.
"You read the other side, last night," Solanos explained. Janice reached out and took the piece of paper now.
Gone to Amphipolis to sign some papers. Chuckie’s mistake.
Have to leave today. Could lose my house. Tried to find you..
Wanted you to come, too. Be back tomorrow afternoon.
Janice sat there, mouth agape, hardly able to believe what she’d just read. So, she read it again, this time more slowly. She swallowed hard, as tears stung her eyes once again. Only this time they were tears of joy. "She really is back?" she asked slowly, looking up at Solanos, though it was more a statement than a question. He nodded and smiled. And Janice realized that she was smiling, too. "Oh sh-it, you mean... oh god, what all did I say to her? Oh boy, what a mess..." she mumbled, starting to stand up. She ended up sitting back down rather quickly, however, her head throbbing and her stomach rolling. "Umph, I need something to eat before I go an-nywhere." She glanced up at Solanos. "You got anything to eat?" she asked in Greek. "And anymore of this coffee?"
"I find something," he answered and made tracks out of the tent.
He came back a little while later with an apple and a biscuit, "best I could do", he said, and another lukewarm cup of strong black coffee.
Not long after the usual quitting time, Janice was in the truck, headed for home; the timbers having been unloaded before the men left for the day. She was happy, yet trying not to get overly enthusiastic. There was still the possibility that Chuckie was around and that they’d gotten married last night. Yet, Janice didn’t want to believe so, because Mel’s note hadn’t sounded that way. Then again, who knew, he might have changed her mind.
When she topped the hill, she was relieved to see Chuckie’s car wasn’t there. Hot damn, she thought. But then her mood sobered again, as she drew closer. There were no lights on in the cottage. Uh-oh, it’s possible she’s gone again, she thought. Then again, it wasn’t yet dark outside. But, it should be inside, she mused.
Afraid of what she might find, Janice hesitantly opened the front door. The hinges squealed in protest. The interior was dark, the only illumination coming from the fading sunlight streaming in through the open door. But, it was just enough for Janice to make out Mel’s suitcase and several wrapped packages piled near the sofa. As she flipped on the light switch and closed the door, the aroma of Mel’s perfume hit her square in the face, nearly bringing tears to her eyes once again.
She stared at the suitcase and the packages. What was she supposed to make of this, with no Mel in sight? she wondered. Was she packing for leaving again, or was she home to stay? And if the latter were true, then where was she? Asleep, perhaps? Yeah, that would explain it.
Janice hurried to the barthroom and flipped on that light to illuminate the bedroom, without actually entering and possibly waking Mel up. Disappoinment flooded over her, as she saw the neatly made bed. But, what’s that on my pillow? she wondered, moving closer. She snatched up the paper and turned on the lamp. Mel’s handwriting again. She eased down on the side of the bed. Her heart sank at the first few words "Dear Janice..."; for, this reminded her of "Dear John letters". Yet, she took a deep breath and continued reading:
As I said in the note I left with Solanos, I have gone to Amphipolis.... The letter continued on, going into more detail about Chuckie’s mistake. Then it became a bit more intimate than the previous note: I’ve tried to find you, but I guess you had to go to town. I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon. I so wanted you to come with me. I thought we could do some shopping and sight seeing together. Maybe even stay over another day or so and take in a movie or play or something.
I’m babbling, I know, but I just wanted you to know my thoughts. I’m sorry about lunch and having to take off like this. I wouldn’t be doing it, if I didn’t have to. I’ll miss you. See ya soon.
Janice laid the paper down in her lap. "If you really meant this Mel, then where are you?" she asked aloud.
She glanced around the room, searching for some clue as to where her lover might be. She noticed the closet door was still open and went over to look inside. Most of Mel’s clothes were still there. Then she walked into the living room, looking around. She had no idea what she was searching for, she could only hope something would stand out and suggest a direction for her to go.
Out of sheer curiosity and feeling guilty, at the same time, she opened Mel’s suitcase. Inside were the clothes and boots she’d worn yesterday, a couple of pair of underwear, toothbrush, toothpaste, perfume and other assorted things needed for an overnight stay. Nothing that would suggest she was planning to leave again. So where the hell was she? She snapped her fingers.
When Janice came back from outside, having checked to see if Mel was chopping wood, she decided she might as well eat something while she awaited her lover’s return.
Continue to Part 8
alt fic index <> homepage