Mallory was a basket case; the idea that there was any suspicion that her parents were murdered made her ill. It was even worse to think that they thought she had something to do with it. She had to go to the funeral home to make arrangements, but she could not leave while she was this worked up. She sat on the couch and began measured breathing; trying the meditation techniques that everyone had been talking about.
An hour later her breathing was calm, and she felt as if her blood pressure had finally gone back to normal. She grabbed her purse and her coat and headed to the car for the short drive to the funeral home. As she opened the door, she was met in the foyer by the funeral director who offered his hand and his condolences. He ushered her into a small seating area to begin the final preparations.
He told her that her parents had pre-planned their funeral, and most of the arrangements were complete. She needed to provide some information for the obituary to be written and to pick out the flower sprays that would adorn the top of the caskets. He had mentioned that her parents had already been prepared and since there were no out-of-town relatives they could schedule everything right away.
Mallory agreed to a wake with a memorial service and the funeral the following morning. The wake would be the day after tomorrow with the funeral to follow. She worried, after agreeing to this schedule, if she could handle this. She was not your typical grieving child; she was estranged from her family, and it made it hard to shed a tear. She was sure the funeral director noticed this and could only imagine what was going through his head.
The entire planning session only took about forty-five minutes; pre-planning had been a blessing. Driving back to the house, she hoped that she would not run into anyone that she knew. She just wasn’t ready to start playing the bereft daughter. Her heart immediately got lighter when she pulled into the driveway and noticed Darby’s van.
Darby was her best friend, and she made the trip with her husband John and their daughter along with Mallory’s son. The drive to Boston from Atlanta was most likely nerve-wracking enough but do it with a small child, and a pre-teen had to have been torture. She headed straight for the door and enveloped her son in a tight squeeze.
“Mom, I can’t breathe,” he cried.
“Sorry,” she said releasing him a bit, “I missed you and I am glad you are here.”
“You were gone a day, geez!” He said as he went back into the living room; his attention glued to the tablet in his hand.
Darby came walking into the hallway with her daughter on her hip, “How are you holding up?”
“Eh, I’m okay I guess. You missed the fun this morning,” Mallory kicked off her shoes and hung her coat in the closet. She turned and put her hands on her hips, “Two detectives showed up asking questions because it seems that maybe the car accident wasn’t an accident after all.”
“What? Are you kidding? Jesus do they think you had something to do with it?”
John walked up just in time, “Had something to do with what?”
“Yeah, they wanted to know if I killed my parents or had reason to kill them.” As a nervous habit, Mallory ran her fingers through her hair. “I told them I had not talked to them in years. I also made sure they knew I am not inheriting anything, so there is no motive on my side. I hated my parents for turning their back on me, but I would never kill them.”
“Well, and if you had, your motive would have been greater all those years ago.” At that moment, Darby slapped her husband on the back of the head for making such an asinine comment. “What? It is true. Well, I will be your lawyer if need one.”
“I am willing to testify that you don’t have it in you do something like that,” Darby offered. “Thanks, I appreciate that. I just hope the fact that I was vocal about not talking to them does not make me more of a suspect.” Mallory walked past them and into the kitchen making a beeline for the refrigerator. She grabbed a bottle of water and held it up as an unspoken offer to them, and they both declined. “So I made the final arrangements at the funeral home. Closed caskets, the injuries were too severe to both of them,” she stopped and took a drink, “we are going to do the wake and memorial service the day after tomorrow and the funeral the day after that.”
“Are you sure you are up for a wake and memorial service? I mean that will be a lot of people questioning why you have been gone,” Darby was trying to be supportive.
“No, I’m not up for it, and I don’t want to do it, but I don’t have a choice. My father knew so many people who I know they will want to pay respects. If I don’t do the wake, then they will talk about me behind my back. This way they can do it to my face.” She smiled as she raised the water bottle to her lips.
“Do you think he will come? Henry’s father I mean.” John asked cautiously.
“I don’t know, and I am not sure if I am prepared if he does. Hell, I am not even sure if he is in town.”
~ * ~
The cell phone began vibrating on the table next to the bed; he reached for it and silenced the ringer versus answering it. A minute later the vibration began again meaning whomever it was felt the need to call back right away. He grabbed the phone and saw the caller ID and answered, “Hey mom, how are you?”
“You sound like I woke you up…did I?”
“Yes, as a matter of fact, you did. I had a late night, and I have a late call today, so I was trying to get some sleep.”
“Aren’t you almost done? How many days do you have left?”
“Today is my last day, why?”
“Well, I was wondering if you are going to be coming to Boston or if you were going to detour to somewhere else?
He sat up in bed, realizing there was an odd tone in his mother’s voice. She was always very direct in asking questions, and today it seemed like she was taking her time to get there. “Mom, what’s going on? I can tell you are apprehensive; I don’t get it.”
“Yeah, I just don’t know how to tell you but here it goes. Mallory Turner’s parents were killed in a car accident a few days ago.”
Chris took a minute before answering, running his fingers through his hair and wondering how he was supposed to respond. He didn’t want to give up to him mom that Mallory still had some hold over him. Instead, he decided to sound indifferent and almost cold-hearted, “That is horrible that her parents died but why are you telling me this? I am pretty sure you know that I am not involved with her any longer.”
“Chris she will be back in town to bury them; maybe you could take the opportunity to pay your respects and talk to her.”
“Mom, she up and left me without warning. I have spent years trying to put her out of my mind, and I don’t think seeing me at the time when she has to bury her parents is going to help either of us.”
“Stop, I know you have unresolved feelings for her, and you need to get them out. You need to have closure on this,” Lisa took a minute before continuing; “I know you think you’ve been hiding that the fact that you still have feelings for her but a mother can sense these things.”
He sighed heavily, “To answer your first question, I am not taking a detour; I am coming straight home. And regarding seeing Mallory; well I just don’t think it would help anything so can you, please drop it?”
His mother tried to protest, but in the end, she relented. She said her goodbyes and he hung up the phone and cursed that she stirred up the feelings that he had worked fairly hard at burying. When Mallory left, he was devastated, and he tried to find her with no luck. So, he did what most men do, he got back into the dating pool and got into another relationship. He was with Jessica for several years, and there was always something nagging at him. She had commented on it several times, but it was never identified or spoken about in detail. The nagging issue was Mallory; she was a ghost to him, and it drove him insane.
He remembered the talk in town when she had left that she had a major falling out with her parents. So it seemed her leaving was less about Chris and more about them. He never could understand why she had to break it off; he had moved to California, and she could have come out there with him. Now that he had these thoughts in his head again he wasn’t going to be able to go back to sleep. He got out of bed and went over to his laptop to Google the death of Mallory’s parents.
As he was reading the story, his buddy Josh walked into the trailer. Not only was Josh one of his best friends but he had made the decision to hire him as his assistant when he was on movie sets; this allowed him to have someone he trusted at his side and also someone who could keep him grounded.
“I thought you were trying to get some sleep, man. What are you doing awake? Josh asked as he threw himself on the couch in the trailer.
“My mom woke me up to ask if I was coming home after I am done with filming. Hey, did you know that Mallory Turner’s parents were just killed in an accident?”
“Yeah, my mom called me and told me; from what she said it was a rather fiery crash. I gave some thought to telling you, but I wasn’t sure if I should bring up her name.”
“Yeah the concern didn’t cross my mom’s mind evidently,” He said with a slight smirk. “She wants me to come home and to see Mallory and try to get closure; whatever the hell that means.”
“Really; are you going to do it?”
“I am going to go home, but I am not planning on going to the funeral. It isn’t that I am not sorry for her loss, but I just don’t know if I can handle seeing her. What does your mom know what happened or where she’s been?
“Not much, she said that Mallory had a fight with her parents, and she left. Her parents didn’t talk about her. Mom said it was weird, there were no pictures of her in the house, and her name was never mentioned. It was almost like she died.”
“I wonder what in the hell happened?” Josh was wringing his hands which to Chris meant that Josh knew something, and he was fighting to keep it quiet. “Alright man, I can tell you do know something. Spill it, what are you hiding?”
Josh gave him a look as if he was a deer caught in headlights. He let out a heavy sigh and said “I know it was about you. The fight she had with her parents was about you and the fact that you were pursuing acting. They didn’t think you were right for her and that she was getting in over her head and that you would encourage her to leave school and move to Hollywood.”
“So wait, they hated that we were together, and she fought with them regarding staying with me, but she still broke up with me and disappeared? Josh that makes no sense; do you hear what you are saying?”
“I know, I think they made her break up with you and she hated them for it. I think that led to more fighting, and she left because of what they made her do.” Josh walked over and put his hand on Chris’s shoulder, “Man I am sorry, I have known that for a few years but I didn’t have the guts to tell you. I didn’t want to upset you or make it worse.” “It’s alright, I know you were trying to protect my feelings, and I appreciate you having my back.”
“You know I am going to tell you I think your mom is right. It might do you some good to see her and exorcise the demon and move on with your life.
It was something to think about; he just wasn’t sure if he could handle seeing her again.