The Basket – Part 4

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This is a work of fiction.


Laine must have read the article on Friday.
Poor Laine. Even though she’d said she didn’t like him, it was possible she actualy did like Arnie, the man who’d gotten the night off while she’d had to work.
I needed to talk to her, but first, I was going to go to Grandma’s and pick up Laine’s purse and the letter Grandma had written to her.
I checked on Mimi, who was curled up asleep on Laine’s bed, and then went outside to my car.
As I drove, I couldn’t help but remember what I’d read.
An eighteen-year-old girl named Jocelyn had been killed.
Her parents and older brother, Jerry, had been at a concert.
I kept imagining them coming home, happy and laughing, opening the door, and finding poor Jocelyn lying dead in the living room. (The article didn’t say where she’d been killed, only that it had happened at home.)
I could almost hear her mom screaming, see her dad’s shocked, horrified face, and feel Jerry’s distressed, confused thoughts.
Why? Why her? Why Jocelyn? Oh my god, why?!
I started to cry and had to pull over until my vision cleared.
As I sat there in my car, looking out the window at the bright April day, I wondered if Laine knew Jerry or Jocelyn.
Eventually, I stopped crying and started driving again.
Grandma’s house felt so empty with nobody but me there.
Quickly, I found the letter addressed to Laine, picked up her purse from where I’d left it in the room she used when we stayed here, and took them back to my car.
Did Laine believe he was innocent?
The article hadn’t said what had led the police to Arnie.
*
“What are you doing here?” Laine asked, as sooon as I walked into her room.
“I wanted to bring you your stuff, and to tell you that Mimi’s fine.”
I handed her her purse.
She opened it and pulled out her phone, which rang.
The screen lit up, and I saw the name Jerry.
“So you do know him.”
I hadn’t meant to just say that, but the question came flying out of my mouth before I could reconsider.
Her face went very pale, and the phone fell out of her hand and onto the bed.
“Shut up,” she whispered.
She looked down at the phone, but made no move to answer it.
It rang once more, and then fell silent.
Probably gone to voicemail.
Was he leaving her a frantic message? An urgent one? A calm one? A weepy one? A loving one? A concerned one?
Who was she to him? Who was he to her?
Who was Arnie to her? A lover? A man she worked with? A man she didn’t like? A man she pretended not to like?
I sat down on the chair.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
I reached into my pocket and took out Grandma’s letter.
“Grandma left everybody letters,” I said. “I wanted to give you yours.”
I put it on the bed beside her.
She made no move to pick it up.
“Should I leave so you can read it in private?”
Before Laine could answer, a doctor came in. She was in her forties, looked tired, but smiled at us both.
“Would you like me to leave?” I asked.
“I’m Dr. McLean, and that’s up to Laine.”
“You can stay,” she said, not looking at either of us.
“Laine, do you understand what happened to you??”
“Yeah. I had a heart attack.”
My phone rang.
I excused myself and stepped into the hallway.
I pressed Accept.
“Happy Easter!” a woman’s voice said.
“Um, happy Easter. Who is this?”
“Oh don’t be silly. Who do you think?”
I looked at the number, but didn’t recognize it.
“I think you might have the wrong number.”
“Well screw you!” she screamed in my ear.
I put my phone away, feeling unsettled by the strange call.
I didn’t think I should just walk back into Laine’s room while the doctor was there, and I didn’t want to distract her with a text, so I decided to go to my parents’ house and keep Mimi company.

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