A novel by Karen Lockhart
Copyright© 2016 Karen Lockhart
After Ellen mentioned Tina not calling, and also leaving that cryptic note, I started to get worried too.
I mulled over calling the house in Andover to settle my curiosity, but a look at Ellen's face stopped me.
“Ginny, don't call her. With Pete finding out she took off and that trooper sleeping, I'm sure that a hornet's nest has been stirred up.” Ellen paused. “If you or I start playing 'Nancy Drew' we could get in the way.”
I looked at her and smirked, ”We don't want to make Captain Smith crankier then he is right now, do we?”
Ellen threw a slipper at me hitting my shoulder.
“Thank God you throw like a girl.” I teased.
“I hit you didn't I?” Ellen responded. ”Where's that fireplace poker? I'll show you how I swing a bat like a girl too!”
By this time, I'm curled up on the sofa laughing, all thoughts of Tina forgotten for the moment.
“Truce, truce, I give up! You're the one who's cranky, not Pete; don't kill me in the living room with a poker, Colonel Mustard.”
“I haven't got a clue what you are talking about,” Ellen said. “Besides, I prefer a candlestick to a poker.”
We finished getting ready, then left for work without breakfast, deciding to do the drive-through at Dunkin Donuts. As usual, the line was long, and the service was slow. After getting bagels and cream cheese and a box of donut holes, we made the u-turn and into the project site. Since I drove this morning, Ellen hopped out to open the gates.
I parked next to the trailer, and opened the office door. Ellen got the bagels and donut holes. As first in, I turned on the Kurig coffee maker. I looked out the window,and added more water to the coffee maker.
“Oh Ellen, your boy friend is here,” I called, as Pete's cruiser pulled up outside with a cloud of dust and gravel.
Ellen groaned, “I hope that young Trooper is still alive, or at least counting those squirrels you spoke of.” This was said with a grin.
Pete came charging inside, only slowing to plant a quick kiss on Ellen's cheek.
“All right where is that dumb girl? If you two know where she is, you're not helping her by keeping her location quiet.”
We stared at him dumbfoundedly, until I broke the silence. “Pete,” I asked, “how's the squirrel counter doing?”
This evoked a blank look from Pete until he started laughing. “So that's where the expression came from. I got a panic call from a young kid who fell asleep on the job this morning, who said just that.”
“Okay Smokey Bear, have a coffee and some donut holes,and fill us in.”
I made Ellen a coffee, then Pete and finally mine, a Nantucket Breakfast Blend. Okay, I'm a coffee snob. Pete grabbed some 'Munchkins' from the box, and sipped the hot coffee.
“We checked the house in Andover and Tina's apartment in Swampscott. Nothing, she vanished like smoke. Can either of you add anything at all?”
“Pete, I gave the trooper Tina's note, that's all we know,” I said “Ellen and I are worried to death that Vinny or one of his men grabbed her.”
“Don't worry too much, if Vinny's responsible, he won't hurt her, and none of his guys would either.”
“What should we do if she calls us and wants something?” Ellen asked.
“Call my cell phone immediately, and do not, I repeat, do not meet or drop anything off for her. Do I make myself clear girls?”
“Yes Captain sir.” Ellen and I said in unison.
“You two are too much. Look just call me if she calls or anything, okay? Ellen, I'll call you later.”
“Go ahead, play kissy face with him, before he goes, Ellen.”
That got a notepad tossed at my head which missed by a foot.
“Now we see who throws like a girl,” I said, “I would have nailed you cold.”
We speculated for a while over coffee, then I started the never-ending paperwork that these projects run on, and Ellen headed out to check on the troops. I say that meaning it looked like a WWII beachhead with people swarming about everywhere. To me it looked like confusion, but I'm sure to Ellen it made sense.
Now that we had quite a few workers there, a Canteen truck stopped by at 11:45, This way, no one had to leave the site for lunch or coffee break in the morning. Most of these trucks had good food, the old “roach coach” was a thing of the past.
I got Beef Wellington which I shared with Ellen. Just kidding! Ellen had a beef stew and Diet Coke, while I bought a ham and cheese sandwich and a diet Dr Pepper.
More of the same in the afternoon, then home we went.
After a fried chicken and mashed potato and coleslaw dinner we settled down with tea in the living room. Then the doorbell rang and Ellen went to open the door.
After a little squeal, she opened the door of the living room and in walked Tina!
I jumped up, “Where the heck have you been? We've been worried sick!”
As Tina walked over to me, in the background I could see Ellen punching in numbers on her cell. I guessed she was speed dialing Pete!
“On my way to Andover I was stopped at the light on Essex Street when a street person started to pound on my window. It was my father!”
“What did he say?” Ellen asked, “What did he want? Where's he hiding?”
Now I knew, her phone was on, with Pete hearing every word.
“I don't know where he's been, but he wanted to tell me he was still alive, and don't try to find him. The cops would never find him either.”
At this point, Tina broke down and started crying. As I held her, I could see Ellen speak into her phone, than put it into her pocket.
“Tina, you had us so worried, the police were worried too, they were afraid your father's enemies had taken you to learn where he was if he was still alive.” I looked at Ellen. “Ellen wants to know how you got past the State trooper parked outside.”
That question stopped Tina's tears, and she even had the start of a smile when she answered, “That guy was sound asleep. I was scared, he looked like he was shot or something. Then I heard a snore.”
Now she really was laughing. I told her I thought the same thing.
Ellen jumped in,”Tell Tina what you said to the cop Ginny!”
I smirked, “I told him he was going to be counting squirrels in Adams when Pete found out he was sleeping on duty.”
Tina started crying again, but this time from laughing.
“Squirrels, in Adams?” she asked, “Where did that come from?”
I couldn't tell her the truth, so I said I had heard it on a television show that took place in Boston.
Tina got a funny expression on her face, hesitated, then said, “I think my father has found a girlfriend after all these years.”
Ellen looked at her and asked, “What makes you think that?”
“When he hugged me, I think I got a whiff of 'Obsession', you know, the perfume.”
Ellen and I exchanged glances, and I nodded and said, “Ellen, why don't you call Pete, I know you're dying to.”
To be continued.
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