“The time has come to speak of many things.” The young man leered at her and laughed, revealing large yellowed teeth.
He had been wearing a black leather jacket, but had taken it off and tossed it on the grass and was now sitting down upon it. He leaned back on one elbow and stared at her.
She didn’t—it was weird though; there was something about him that tweaked her memory. She stared, observing him closely.
He was the type who made her skin crawl—pimply face, spiked hair and beady eyes—a real nerdy looking guy, but with this added creep factor that induced a tingle of fear.
“You really don’t know me, do you, Cuz?”
“Cuz?” She looked at him with a puzzled expression. “Are you saying I’m related to you?”
“My name is Cal, Cal Ripley.”
She went pale. He saw her fear.
“So then you know, don’t you?” he said gleefully, rubbing away the stiffness from the back of his neck and baring his yellowed teeth.
“I only know what I’ve been told, which isn’t much, believe me—I was not privy to any family secrets.”
“Ya, I wouldn’t doubt that—not like Alicia to tell much—likes to hold her cards close to the vest, that one.”
“You know Aunt Alicia?”
“Know her? Not directly, no—that wouldn’t do, for her to have anything to do with the likes of me or our side of the family.”
“Look, I don’t know anything about this rift between the McAdams and the Ripleys other than it goes back hundreds of years.”
Again, the yellow-toothed leer. “You might not know much about it, milady, but you profited from it. Went to the finest schools, lived in the family manse, ended up as a professor at the university.”
His eyes gleamed. “Naw, I wouldn’t exactly say you were hard done by.”
Suddenly, his eyes narrowed and she felt her blood freeze.
“Now, you take me,” he drawled on, affecting a broad cockney accent, “one of the less-deserving from the other side of the family tree. Did I grow up with all the creature comforts that you had? I think not.”
“Look, Cal, I really know nothing about any family feud—as a matter of fact, all my life I’ve been kept in the dark about family affairs.”
“Really—Is that so?”
“You have to believe me—that’s the truth. I just found out in the past few days that the woman who raised me was not my mother. I went to confront Alicia concerning that and the fact that Clare’s remains were hidden in a wall in the back garden of the family estate. Honestly, I know nothing about what goes on in the McAdam clan.”
“So, you know about Bernie Sigel, then?”
“I know he was married to Aunt Clare—I mean my mother and that he had a child by her—Birdie. Believe me, that’s all I know.”
“YOU LIE!” He was shaking with rage and pointing his finger at her as if it were a gun.
“You are part of the plot—don’t you think I know? I know everything, Whore!”
*It dawned on her: “It was you who scrawled that word on my door—Why?”
His face contorted into such a malevolent stare that she knew he intended to murder her—there was not a doubt in her mind that she would die today on this ridge.
Ironic, she thought.
The special place she shared with Brad, would not become what she hoped—a sacred memorial to their hopeful future, but would become instead, the site of her unmarked grave.
A deep sadness overtook her as she realized she had once wanted to die, but that was before she knew the truth about Clare, about the prospect of a future with Birdie and Brad—before she realized she had a reason to live.
© 2017, John J Geddes. All rights reserved.