The Guardian - 9

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Here I go again
Slipping further away
Letting go again
Of what keeps me in place
I like it here
But it scares me to death

Part Nine –All of this Past
My continued apologies for the delay

Previously…Alex’s apartment, early evening…

….even as he sat down to regain some strength for the task at hand; he couldn’t help anticipating that his best friend finally gotten her mother to recognize her only surviving child as Darla her daughter. And that Darla’s Aunt Jo was regaining a sister after her own estrangement with Darla’s mom as well.

The task of consolation would now be doubly challenging and painful and now cruel because he would have to find Officer Darla Farnetti to deliver that sad news that Beseema Farouk; Mossad agent and most recently an operative of some unnamed American agency…. Beseema Farouk was dead.

At the precinct, a short time later

Alex sat across from Captain Sayers; an odd late night at the end of a day off to be sure. Alex hoped his captain had answers, but his hopes proved immediately and expectedly futile.

“All I know is what that Chastain fellow told me – that her car was pulled out of the Harlem River yesterday afternoon. The Alphabet guys say as little as possible, and Mr. Chastain was no exception.” She shook her head in frustration.

“Body?” Alex mirrored the woman’s expression as Sayers remarked,

“Yes, but that’s all he’d say other than that we are officially instructed to ‘back off.’”


“Lisa Kovic has put in for a transfer; by the way….that whole breakup beat the hell out of her.” Sayers shook her head.

“When it rains it monsoons? Damn. Lisa’s a good cop, Cap. Maybe a week or so of red tape might change her mind?” Alex looked out past the office doorway into the precinct, mirroring Sayers’ head shake. She shrugged he shoulders in frustrated hope.

“We can only hope, but in the end, she’s got to do what’s best for her.” Alex nodded.

“Listen…I don’t trust this whole business with the feds…. Watch your back.”

“Well, good luck with that.” Alex laughed softly.

“Inshallah,” the woman replied with a pleasant smile.

“Amen to that, Cap… Amen.”

Alex walked out and hit the preset, hoping to get Darla. The call went directly to voicemail. He sighed and walked to the exit stairwell.

Jo Bianchi’s apartment shortly thereafter….

Jo had just sat down in the sofa when her cell phone blared through the evening quiet.

“Hello? Oh…. Hi Alex. What? She’s at Louise’s place….What? Oh God no. Jeez, Alex… no…. My sister…. It’s just a matter of weeks, Darla is … Yes…too much over the phone. You’re sure? Oh fuck…” Jo’s face grew hot from the embarrassment,

“Yes I know. Say …. We’re getting together tomorrow morning for coffee near her place. Maybe you can meet us…Yes…. How about nine or so…. you can drop by at ten? Thanks. She’s all I’ll have left….” Jo gasped at the thought of her sister’s imminent passing and was already beginning to sob by the time she ended the call, but she heard enough between gasps to discover hope.

“What? Yes Alex, I know you’re there for me too. What? For…forever? Oh…. Well…. good night….” She dropped the phone as she fell sideways onto the sofa and sobbed into the pillow; shedding increasingly confused tears.

Meanwhile. At the apartment of Louise Farnetti.....

Darla walked Louise to the bedroom and helped her into bed. Sitting down in the chair by the nightstand, she leaned close and clicked the table lamp on.

You want me to read, Mom?”

“Maybe in a little while? Oh…. Did I tell you I talked to your sister today?”

“You mentioned that Gina and the girls might be coming in a couple of weeks,” Darla faked a cough, turning away to try to hold it together. She could only hope that older sister would arrive in time.

“Well, yes, and they’ll be here in Thursday, God willing. And Paul got time off. But I didn’t talk to Gina today. I talked with Connie.” Darla hadn’t meant to, but her mother’s words evoked a gasp.

It was almost joyful to remember the sounds of her late baby sister’s voice. But the immediacy of her older sister’s arrival brought with it the fear of facing rejection. Louise had changed but sadly, there was no reason to believe that Gina would be as welcoming. Time and distance may have contributed to the estrangement. And even when Gina and Paul and the girls lived in Queens, Gina followed their mother’s lead in rejecting the woman Darla had become.

“Connie says you have to forgive.”

“I know, Mom… for my own benefit as much for Gina’s, but it just hurts so much.”

“I know.” Louise said, wincing only a little bit. She understood.

“It’s all my fault. No… It was my fault. But you forgave me, and I know I … I didn’t make it easy. I….” She smiled weakly. Darla rose and sat down on the bed and leaned close; giving her mother a kiss in the cheek.

“Don’t Mom…. It’s okay.”

“No, honey…” She gasped at the return of an endearment not long for this world.

“I’m okay, but what I did…. How I treated you? Gina always looked up to me and this is what my hate did to her love for you….” Louise frowned as tears fell freely, but her face brightened and she grinned. The same grin Darla remembered when Louise would find an extra few dollars for their birthdays. She rubbed her face with her pajama sleeve as her grin grew broader.

“It’s not okay. But….” She pulled Darla close while returning the gesture as she kissed her daughter; saying at last,

“Connie says it will be.”

At Jo’s apartment, 11:27 pm…….

Jo sat on the couch, exhausted. Her tea sat on the end table, cold and hardly touched; Sleepytime, ironically. An hour’s worth of crying brought no relief and a dull headache than only now that had begun to fade. The doorbell rang. She got up and closed her robe ; tying it off with the satin belt. Wiping the remaining tears from her face, she spoke from behind the safety of the double-locked door.

“Who’s there?” her voice broke; almost in a mixture of dread and hopeful expectation.

“It’s me,” Alex said. Jo’s hands shook as she fumbled with the locks. She opened the door slowly, her left hand pulling the top of her closed.

“Alex? It’s late… I was sleeping,” she lied. Alex stood outside; noting the tear tracks that Jon had missed. He smiled.

“Can we talk? Things seemed a bit… you….”

“I’m okay, Alex,” she said abruptly.”

“No you’re not.” She went to reply but he put his hand on her arm; gentle and not abrupt at all.

“Our call? You didn’t hit ‘end’ ….. I could hear you crying. I went to hang up but I couldn’t. I didn’t know what to say so I just sat there and listened.” Jo’s eyes flashed briefly in anger, but her expression softened as she noticed the tear tracks in his rugged face. Rugged?

“After about ten minutes, I just sorta prayed that… well… that you wouldn’t be so sad. “ Jo stepped back, attempting a retreat that was foiled since Alex had grasped her hand. She raised her other hand to her face; covering it in shame.

“I…. I wanted…. To hold you.” Alex let go, stepping a bit backward as he gave her space.

“You…wanted….Oh no, Alex…. Please….no.”

“You….I know Darla’s going through a hard time… the whole thing with the girl. And she’s never really gotten over Amani’s death… and now with her Mom….” He hadn’t meant to provoke. but Jo shook a bit.

“Listen.” He said sharply but quickly added, “please? Jo looked down slightly, relenting without a sound.

“You’ve been there for my partner…for your niece… through every minefield and every battle since Aldo came back as Darla.” Jo winced a bit and rather than backing away, Alex stepped closer, grabbing her hand once again.

“I…” Jo stammered, searching for an argument.

“I know how … I’m sorry….I don’t know how hard this is for you…. And I’m sorry that I may never know.” He pulled her close, wanting so bad to be the one to comfort her. But at this point she had to provide that herself even if he had to push her painfully into that insight.

“And I’m not sorry for what I’m about to say.”

“Wh…what?” Jo tried to pull away from him. He held fast; gently but firmly.

“I know everyone thinks the cancer has pulled your sister back to humanity, but that was just the end… the culmination.”

“What!?” Jo turned and tried to walk away, but Alex pulled her closer; face to face as Jo’s eyes flashed with anger.

“I do not want to diminish your sister’s transformation, but her illness is the end result of love; plain and simple.”

“I… I don’t….”

“Listen? Jo? Love…your love brought her back. Darla told me that you have reached out to Louise every day since she rejected you? How many years? Unfailing. And how many nights did you spend prostrate; crying out in forgiveness for her sake.”

“But… she’s dying Alex… I failed.” Jo pulled in hand away and covered her face. Alex pulled her hand gently away and kissed her palm; evoking a wince.

“That’s just it, Jo. In her deepest fears about death, your love finally broke through. Her heart? The change? It was your love…. And Darla’s… that brought her back.”

“I feel so useless…. What can I do? What do I do now?”

“You do what you have always done….” Jo tilted her head slightly. She wiped the tears from her noise with her pajama sleeve.

“What, Alex? What do I do now?” she repeated. Alex swallowed, anxiously hopeful that his next few words would suffice in the now-or –never moment in eternity.

“You continue to be the kindest person to walk the face of the earth and you keep loving…. And…” he paused to regroup. Smiling, he tugged her face closer.

“And you let me in…. let me love you.

He didn’t wait for her to answer but gently began to kiss away her tears; his own mixing with hers as his effort became a futile if entirely, overwhelmingly loving gesture. He tilted her face just a bit more and spoke,

“I love you so much Jo…. So very much. He kissed her lips briefly and she placed her head on his chest; sobbing in sweet release.

I like it here
But it scares me to death
There is nothing here
The light is beautiful
But I’m darker than light
And you are wonderful

12: 17 AM.

Jo lay asleep on the couch. A soft, peaceful coo escaped her lips; her face a mixture of rest and bliss. Alex stood up, gently placing a pillow under her head.

“You’re going?”

“Just to the kitchen for some water. Then to there,” he said, pointing to the recliner across the couch. He leaned closer and kissed her lips softly and whispered,

“Other than that, I’m not going anywhere….ever.”

1:12 AM, at the apartment of Louise Farnetti….

Louise lay under the covers in Darla’s arms.

“How…. How do I know,” she sobbed softly . Darla patted her mother’s face with a silk handkerchief she had retrieved from the dresser.

“What, Mommy?”

“If I’ve….did I make…. Can I be forgiven?” Louise sobbed in Darla’s arms.

“Oh, Mom… you already are….You already are,” Darla pleaded as she held Louise close. In just a few minutes, sobs had been replaced with soft, peaceful murmurs as they drifted into sleep.

I’ve tried and I’ve tried
But it’s taking me so long
I might be better off
Closing my eyes
And God will come looking for me
In time
All of this dust

Next: Sister

All of This Past
Words and music by the performer
Sarah Bettens

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