The following is the seventh section of my novel Cassandra on the Island. You can read the previous sections here.
Cassandra pretended to like fishing for Jonathan’s sake. She pretended to like getting up early (“At the crack of dawn, family! That is five AM!”) She pretended to like touching worms and baiting them and waiting. She pretended to like waiting a lot.
“Can’t we go home yet?” Lucy whined.
God, Cassandra thought, why can’t I be more straightforward like Lucy?
“No, honey,” the Reverend sighed. “You’ve got to give it some time. You’ll catch something sooner or later, I promise. I’m actually sure of it. Peter and I dug up these worms late last night. Right Peter?”
Peter didn’t answer. It was obvious to Cassandra Peter didn’t want to relive that memory. Peter turned away from his dad, then looked down at his line, and then back out to the ocean.
Well, he’s a little bit more like me, Cassandra thought, Now where the heck did Lucy’s personality come from?
Lucy sighed again loudly. The Reverend didn’t notice the sigh (he was too busy whistling), but Cassandra knew exactly what the sigh meant. Cassandra leaned forward and tapped her daughter on the knee. They made eye contact. Cassandra smiled. It was her patented, ‘Get through this and I’ll get you some ice cream later’ smile. Lucy and Cassandra had this quiet exchange of knowledge down to a science. That was mostly thanks to all the stuff the boys made them sit through (from Peter’s little league baseball games to events at Jonathan’s church). This was just another one of those moments…. Just a great, great deal longer.
Cassandra looked out and away towards the ocean. It was almost seven and the sky had an eerie color to it. And the air… The air felt too calm… She shrugged it off. I’m just not used to being up and on the ocean this early in the morning, she told herself, it’s probably always like this. Over a thousand mornings she let slip by without even considering to rise and watch. She promised herself that when she was old and the children were grown, she would study the dawn more. The colors were beautiful.
Jonathan noticed her gaze and turned to the clouds. “That is odd.”
“What?” Cassandra looked at him. “It doesn’t always look like this?”
Jonathan ran up to the controls of the boat. He turned on the radio. STATIC and then “… turned towards the island. We recommend that people beginning preparing for the storm. It is projected to hit the island later today. Wind and rain is projected to begin picking up in the next six hours. (Cassandra stood up and motioned for her kids to reel into their lines… Lucy didn’t seem saddened by that at all). Please keep listening to this station or turn your TV to the local broadcast stations for emergency information. Again, Hurricane Bonnie has turned and is heading towards Royal Carlton Island…”
Jonathan turned the boat and pointed it to the dock. Cassandra walked up to him and placed her hand on his. He looked down at her hand. “Don’t worry, Cassie,” Jonathan said as he steered the boat home to his dock. “I’m sure the town is all set for such an occurrence. I’m sure the right people have been trained and prepared.”
“When were you going to tell me my church was a designated safe house!?” Jonathan was on the phone with the Deacon. Cassandra couldn’t hear the other side of the conversation, but thanks to Jonathan’s reaction she didn’t need too. “How could you think this was not going to happen someday?! We live on an island in the ocean! Oops? Oops?? That is the best you can say? Oops?”
Jonathan looked at Cassandra and made an exasperated facial expression… He was good at those. Cassandra had seen them before. “No, there are no supplies in the basement,” Jonathan continued, “Again, Deacon how was I supposed to know? No, there isn’t a big mess down there. The only thing down there is the large room we use for dinners and meetings and my office in the back. Yes, the rec room and my office, that is right… No, the only supplies down there are some leftovers from the last pageant, but that’s it… Well, unless the people want to dress up like angels…. No, I don’t think that would be useful either.… Just an empty room and an office…. No, there are no canned goods.… Okay, please, I know you’re nervous about the storm, but stop and think for a moment, please. How silly did that last question sound? Why would I have a basement filled with cots? Yes.… Yes.… Well, it’s not like I have a choice. This is what we do. You hit the grocery store. Buy as much as you can. I’m sure the city will pay you back. Well, then put it on the church’s credit card and I’ll work it out later. Yes, you are welcome. I’ll be at the church. Oh, and tell the radio stations to tell people to bring their own sleeping bags with them. That should solve at least one of the problems.… Yes, I know.… See you there…. bye.” Jonathan hung up the phone.
Cassandra gave him one of her best reassuring smiles. He didn’t notice it. He was now pacing the kitchen floor. “Okay, this is what’s going on. Supposedly there are three designated safe houses from hurricanes- the high school gymnasium, Town Hall, and the basement of the church. And since it is a church and there is an act of God upon us, everyone will probably be at the church. Closer to God and all (he rubbed his head and sighed). There is so much I need to do.” He stopped pacing and looked at Cassandra. “Peter is going to have to help you. You need to first board the windows. There should be some wood left over from the new deck. And then you will have to pack some things. At least for a few days. I’ll try to sneak out and help if I can, but it is probably not likely. We should have about 6 hours, try to get there in at least 4. Don’t take too long.”
Cassandra gave another reassuring smile. Jonathan saw that one, smiled back, quickly kissed her and ran to the door.
“I think we were supposed to put the wood on the outside, mom,” Peter said.
Cassandra had two nails in her mouth. She removed them and looked at her son. “What?”
“Well, if the boards are on the outside of the house, the windows are protected.”
“Cassandra looked at the boards and back at her son. “Are you sure?” She wiped some of the sweat off her forehead and looked at the board she just nailed to the interior of her house.
Cassandra looked at her son again. “You don’t want to get punished, do you?”
Peter thought for a second and then gave the proper reply: “Looks good, mom!”
“Damn straight,” Cassandra mumbled to herself and went back to nailing.
Jonathan was not having a pleasant morning. He thought the room could hold forty at the most. Forty was a good number to aim for, but they had fifty. Fifty people in the rec room and growing! What could he do? He couldn’t turn people away from the church. Especially not at a moment like this.
No one came with food. No one came with their own sleeping bags. People only came with strange knickknacks they were worried about losing. Old paintings, pictures, lamps and oddities lined the back wall.
After two hours, the children in the room found the costumes from the last pageant. So now he had a bunch of shepherds, kings and angels running underfoot.
It was moments like this he was glad he had a whistle.
Everyone stopped and turned to him. “We have a few hours, we need to make another run to the grocery store for supplies. Who has a truck?”
“One stuffed animal,” Cassandra said to her four-year old for the sixth time.
“But I don’t want to leave them here, mom,” Lucy said quietly. “What if something bad was to happen?”
Peter was already waiting in the living room and Cassandra knew that time was counting down for them. She got on her knee by her daughter. “Lucy, honey, they’ll be fine, I promise, really I do. At the most, they will be a little wet. I need you to take just one.”
“We gotta go!” Peter shouted up at them. “It’s getting bad out!”
The drive over to the church was not pleasant. The lights were out on many of the streets already, and the rain was coming down worse than Cassandra had ever seen it. The drains were all clogged, so it was more like a lake than a road.
Lucy and Peter were quiet.
Cassandra tried to find a station on the radio to no success. “Okay, let’s sing a song. Name a Beatles song and we’ll sing that.”
“I don’t feel like singing,” Lucy said quietly.
“Cassandra! Great,” Alisha said and ran over. Cassandra motioned her children into the rec room as she studied Alisha. She seemed to have jumped into the role of Jonathan’s assistant in this emergency. She had on a bright yellow rainsuit (dry) a clipboard and an old rainhat that kept falling down in front of her eyes. Everything looked two sizes too big for her (They probably belong to Duke, Cassandra thought). “The radio and TV have been out for the last twelve minutes. Surprisingly we still have the phones up,” Alisha explained to Cassandra. “Yes, I see you Peter. Hello,” Alisha said politely.
Cassandra looked around at the crowd already at the church. Jonathan was right. In a natural disaster people will choose the church over a town hall or a gymnasium. “How are they with supplies?”
“Well, the amount of people here was quite a shock. They’ve been using Mr. Black’s truck for runs to the store. Right now, Jonathan is upstairs unloading one of the trucks.”
Cassandra thought about him upstairs in the rain carrying wet boxes. He hated shopping and carrying groceries in. He must have been hating the experience. Cassandra looked around the room and stopped… Something caught her eye.
Alisha was still talking. “…We are using the main room upstairs for the supplies. What? What do you see?”
Cassandra leaned over to her kids. “Why don’t you kids go see if any of your friends are here, okay?”
It was obvious neither one of them wanted to leave their mother’s side. Peter took Lucy’s hand and led her away. Cassandra stood back up and pointed Alisha to an older man standing to the side of the room. He was wearing a white tuxedo.
Alisha was surprised. “What is he doing here? Does that mean Mr. Monty is here too?”
Cassandra looked around. “I don’t know.” Of course, she had no idea what he looked like. No one knew what he looked like! Mr. Monty never left his mansion and would not even come downstairs for one of his monthly costume balls and galas. He enjoyed staying up in his private rooms, watching his televisions and tormenting anyone that bothered to give him the slightest time. Cassandra was not amused. She was not about to deal with Mr. Monty being in the same place as her for a few days. He was the only person that knew about her past besides Jonathan. He did say he would keep it a secret, but she couldn’t trust him. Well, he had been fine for the first 10 years, but in close quarters like this? And with an audience? Well, that might be a different story.
“Do you think he will tell them about us?” Alisha asked quietly. Her voice cracked.
“I’ll find out,” Cassandra said and walked over to the man.
The man in the tuxedo had found a chair and was now sitting relaxed, smoking a cigarette with his bow tie undone. He looked like a man who was taking his first true break in twenty years. “Cassandra, right?” he asked casually. “Reverend’s wife?”
Cassandra quickly nodded. “Is your boss here?”
“Nope,” he matter-of-factly answered. He took another slow drag off his cigarette. “Do you have any alcohol around here? I could kill for a drink.”
Cassandra didn’t answer his question. “Where is he?”
“Oh, Eugene (Eugene? Eugene was the first name of Mr. Monty?) said he would rather die than come here. So he is back up at the mansion. Probably waiting to die. Hopefully the power is off and that little bastard is in the cold and dark.” The man in the white tuxedo snickered to himself.
Cassandra turned away from the man. She looked down at her feet and then back up. She knew what she had to do, but she would have to move fast. She reached in her pocket and gripped the keys to her truck tightly in her hand. She walked back over to Alisha, trying to build up the courage she would need. “Tell Jonathan I love him and I will be back. Keep an eye on my kids.”
Alisha tried to interrupt. “What are you…Is Mr. Monty here?”
“No,” Cassandra replied, “he’s back at the mansion.”
“Take care of my family.” Cassandra grabbed her arm tightly and then let go. Before Alisha knew what was happening, Cassandra had run out the back door.
“How could you let her go?” Jonathan asked stunned.
“Have you ever tried to stop Cassandra from doing what she wanted?”
Jonathan paused. “You… You have a point there. But Alisha, there’s a hurricane out there! What does she think she’s doing?”
The phone rang in the office. “I’ll get it.” Alisha said and took off for the office. They both knew it was an excuse to get away from the interrogation.
Jonathan looked around at the crowd of people. “What does Cassandra think she’s doing?” he asked himself again.
“What the Hell am I doing? What the Hell am I doing? What the Hell am I doing? What the Hell am I doing?” she screamed at herself. She paused, took a breath. “What the Hell am I doing!?!” What was she doing? This man knew about her past. He could actually expose her and he did threaten to do it once, kind of… And this was the man she was going to save???
“Not even the man in the white tuxedo tried to save him!” She shouted at herself. That was definitely true. He was back at the church, relaxed, probably drinking some damn hot cocoa.
“At least traffic isn’t bad,” she joked to herself. She allowed a minute to go by for the joke to set in. It did. “Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!”
The truck was almost hydroplaning across the streets. She couldn’t be going very fast, but that didn’t matter since she was fighting for control of the vehicle every yard of the way. Every strong gust of wind seemed to move her over to the other lane. And don’t even talk to her about the scope of her vision, she didn’t have one.
Jonathan jumped up on a plastic chair. “Excuse me! Hello! Does anyone here have a truck!? I need a strong truck!”
No one answered. People looked among themselves.
“I need a truck! My wife is out there! Please, does someone have a truck!?”
A hand went up. It was Mrs. Allen. “I have a truck.”
“Great,” Jonathan said. “I need to borrow it.”
“It’s back at the house.” She was embarrassed at how stupid that sounded. She looked quickly at her friend. “But Mr. Black has a truck.”
“Can I borrow your truck?” Jonathan asked quickly.
“They are using it to collect supplies from the store, remember?” He shrugged his shoulders. “They should be back any minute.”
Alisha ran out of his office. She looked up at Jonathan. “The Mayor and the Anti-Mayor are on the phone for you.”
“What? Alisha, I’m busy… Wait, how can they both be on the phone?”
“The Mayor is on line one,” she explained. “And he wants to discuss with you the numbers at the Town Hall. And the Anti-Mayor is on line two demanding that you don’t talk to the Mayor since he is a dunderhead.”
Jonathan looked around confused. “Alisha, Cassandra is out there. I don’t have time.”
“Rev,” Old Mr. Schultz stood up. “Your wife is a smart cookie. I’m sure she will be fine. She’ll turn around if it gets too bad. You are needed here.”
“That is fine and good, Mr. Schultz., but…” Jonathan tried to say.
Mrs. Black stood up, hand in the air, and interrupted. “I agree with Mr. Schultz.”
Jonathan was annoyed. “This is not a vote! This is not a committee! We don’t all get a vote on my wife’s safety!”
Alisha touched his arm softly. “Jonathan these people need you. Take the call before the line goes out.”
Jonathan looked around at everyone. They were all looking intently at him, waiting to see what he would do. His eyes reached his children. They were sitting together in the back. They looked scared. No, he couldn’t leave them. Cassandra wouldn’t hear of it. He sighed to himself and looked at Alisha. “I’ll take line one, hang up on line two.”
“Right,” she said with a smile and headed back to the office.
Jonathan looked back at his children and tried to give his best smile… and it was at that moment that the chair broke under his weight.
The doors were all bolted. They were all bolted shut! She tried every damn door and they were all fucking bolted shut! She was already soaked to her skin. She had no choice. She wasn’t going to go back now. She looked down at the rock path below her.
A strong gust of wind! She almost fell over that time. She didn’t have much time. She grabbed the biggest rock she could find and threw it at the nearest window.
It fell back down, after first creating a nice dent and streak in the glass. It was a start.
She quickly picked it up and threw it again.
Success! The glass broke and flew out onto the lawn around her, caught up in the wind. She covered her face and crawled quickly inside.
She forgot how large the mansion was. She had not been back there since the first week she was on the island. For some reason, she thought it was going to be easy to find Mr. Monty, but in a mansion that size it could take weeks.
She grabbed the rock and whipped it at a wall.
She grabbed the rock and threw it at a glass sculpture. It shattered loudly and brilliantly.
“Who is down there!?” A voice demanded off in the distance. “Are you trying to steal from me during this storm? Think you can get away with it? I’ll call the police. They’ll put you away! You have no idea who you’re dealing with!”
She smiled to herself. He was up and to the left. She took off running.
There seemed to be three different camps in the church that day: the Panicked, the Talkers and the Celebrators.
The Panicked seemed, to Jonathan, to be the sane ones in the group. They were the ones (and seemed to be the only ones) to recognize the fact that a hurricane was about to hit their little island. They worried about artifacts left behind and people not there. They were mostly silent (Thank God!) and the easiest to manage. Now and then there was an almost silent question like “Are you sure the window boards will hold?” or “Maybe we should call ____ to see if he is okay?” or “Do you think that tree will stand the wind?” Good people, Jonathan thought, there is some common sense there.
The Talkers were unfazed. They seemed to huddle in packs and compare stories of past storms and disasters (“This is nothing compared to the hurricane of ’77”). Everything was strangely trivial for them. They almost seemed to laugh at the Panicked as they assured them again and again that this was all no big deal. Nothing at all. Just some wind and rain. This, Jonathan would quickly point out if he was nearby, was completely wrong.
The third group was the Celebrators. They were the worst. The absolute worst! Alisha earlier in the day made a joke to Jonathan that if they had to resort to cannibalism she would eat them first. Jonathan had to fight himself from laughing outloud at that joke. A reverend can’t laugh at cannibalism jokes. He was pretty sure there was a rule about that somewhere. The Celebrators were the ones wearing the old Christmas Pageant costumes; they were the ones who talked about putting on a play; they were the ones trying to play games; and they were the ones that would occasionally break into songs.
“It wouldn’t be so bad.” Jonathan said to Alisha, “if they knew better songs.”
“And they could sing,” Alisha stated. She handed him a new ice bag. He placed it against his ankle. If he wasn’t surrounded by the entire town, he would have had some nicely chosen words about that broken chair. He looked up at the crowds in his rec room. Well, at least his ankle wasn’t sprained. He had sprained it once in the past and he didn’t enjoy the experience.
His children had disappeared into the different groups. Peter was intrigued by the ghost stories and Mr. Reginald had promised to tell him a story about a pirate, so he was with the Talkers. But Lucy was with the Celebrators. Jonathan didn’t know either of these facts. He had enough to worry about with supplies, the masses and the fact his wife was still somewhere out there. They were in the building and that had to be enough for him. It has to be enough.
It was because of this frantic nervous energy and pain that made the next moment for Jonathan such a shock. Oh, it wasn’t a miracle, not in the logic of an Old Testament fashion. But it was… incredible and life changing.
It was Lucy’s voice.
The Celebrators started another song. This time it was a Beatles song, so he knew it would not be too torturous for the next few minutes… And suddenly that voice emerged, clear and wondrous over the others.
It was Lucy.
Everyone in the room stopped to listen. The Talkers stopped talking, the Panicked were suddenly distracted from their fears, Alisha slowly put down the box of food she was moving into the back office and the other Celebrators who attempted to sing along faded out one after another after another.
Little four-year old Lucy, wearing an old battered angel pageant outfit, had an incredible and beautiful voice. A once- in-a-generation or two voice. It was serene, like a sunrise, and moved across the room like a wave, entering the ears and lodging in the hearts. She moved on top of a table as if the stage of it was the most natural place for her to be. And no one in that room would have argued with her place on it.
“Wherever did she get that voice?” a shocked voice said behind Jonathan.
“I have no idea,” Jonathan mumbled back.
Alisha walked over to him. “Did you…”
“I had no idea,” Jonathan interrupted with an answer already prepared. “No idea at all.”
Lucy had the voice of an angel.
“Oh, God! Not you!” the person hiding under the blanket moaned.
Cassandra was not in the mood for Mr. Monty’s eccentricities. “We don’t have time for this Eugene. The hurricane is about to hit.”
An eye peaked out from behind the blanket. “I can’t go out there. There are diseases out there.”
Cassandra sighed quickly, walked over and whipped the blanket off of him. “What part of ‘we don’t have time’ did you not understand? I wasted enough time and…” Cassandra’s voice trailed off, lost for words. She was looking directly at Mr. Monty and… he looked like a child. He didn’t look more than 12.
“Why are you looking at me that way?” Mr. Monty demanded.
“How old are you?” Cassandra asked quietly.
“Thirty-seven,” the man replied. “Now pray tell me why that fact is important to you?”
“It’s just you don’t look… I mean, I expected you to look different…”
“That’s insulting!” Mr. Monty sat up in the bed. He was clad all in white. From the white baseball cap to the white sweater to the white khaki pants to the white tennis shoes. There was not a sign of a stain near him. Not a centimeter of dirt dared to touch him.
“It’s not insulting,” Cassandra fumbled for words. “It’s just I was expecting…”
“What?” he interrupted.
“I don’t know (Cassandra tried to think of something nice to say and failed) someone who looked older.” That was actually the best she could come up with.
Eugene’s mouth fell open. “What!?”
“Well, you look like a child.”
“What I mean is you look much younger than your age.”
“You think I look like a child!?”
“No, no, no, I didn’t say that.”
“Yes you did.”
“Well, if I did, I’m sure I didn’t mean it in a bad way.”
He was flabbergasted. “Bad way? Bad way? How can looking like a child be a good thing.”
“Hey, it’s not as if you don’t see yourself in mirrors.”
“Oh, don’t you dare turn this around,” he wagged his little finger at her. “You insulted me. Don’t make the insult into something I should have known.”
“How could you not have…” Cassandra was interrupted by the sound of a branch smacking the outside wall. This noise was the wakeup call Cassandra needed. “We’ll discuss this later. We’ve got to go.”
Mr. Monty stood up on his bed with his fists clenched and against his hips. No doubt about it. He looked like a white Peter Pan. He couldn’t have been more than 5-foot-1. “I can’t go out there,” he declared defiantly.
“We don’t have time for this.”
“But I get sick easily and the environment and crowds would…”
Another branch smacked the wall drowning out the end of Mr. Monty’s sentence. Cassandra looked away and quickly back at him. “Are you going to come peacefully?”
His mouth fell open. “What does that mean?”
“Right!” Cassandra clapped her hands as if that was an answer. She walked over, hoped her weekly aerobic classes were about to pay off and picked him up quickly (“What are you doing?” he screamed “Put me down!”). She didn’t say a word as she walked out the door with a disgruntled billionaire under her arm.
Lucy took a breath.
Always a long pause.
Then applause. Soon the air was once again filled with the voices of people requesting songs.
Lucy didn’t know that many songs. Oh, she could do practically any Beatles or jazz standard thanks to her Dad’s music collection. But that didn’t mean she wouldn’t try with the songs she didn’t know. She would make up lyrics and many times she came up with better lyrics than the original song. It was all so natural. People talk of gifts but this was more than that. It was a blessing.
Jonathan had not moved for the last ten minutes. That was his daughter! He had lived with her, raised her for four years! How did he not know about that voice? Was he a bad father? He had to be a bad father to not know about this, right? A voice like that doesn’t just appear out of nowhere, right?
No, he was a good father. He read her to her every night! Every night when he came home from the church he would make a point to spend at least an hour with both her and Peter.
“How does something like this happen?” He asked himself quietly. His head hurt. Lucy was singing ‘Hey Jude’ by the Beatles. It was too perfect. She didn’t even need an accompaniment; it was that solid a voice.
Alisha tapped Jonathan on the shoulder.
Jonathan looked up at her. “Yes,” he said quietly.
“It’s getting pretty rough out there,” Alisha said. “Have you heard from Cassandra at all?”
Cassandra? Cassandra? Jonathan thought. “Oh God,” Jonathan said quietly. “I’m a lousy husband too.” His head really was starting to hurt.
Mr. Monty was surprisingly light. Lighter than her nine-year old son, that was for sure. If it weren’t for his kicking, this would have been one easier adventure… Well, if it wasn’t for his kicking and complaining. “How dare you! I have a rare condition! I can’t go out in public! I’ll get sick.”
Cassandra walked through another hallway. “You weren’t in a bubble up there.”
“That room was specially prepared for me by my doctor.”
“Uh huh, sure,” Cassandra said quickly.
“You don’t believe me!”
“Nope,” she said. They were almost out. Just out the main ballroom and out the front door.
Eugene let out a fake cough. “See, I’m already getting sick.”
Cassandra looked down at the man under her arm. This was going to be cruel, but at the moment she didn’t care. She moved her face closer to his. “You wouldn’t dare!” He exclaimed.
She smiled and coughed in his face.
He gagged and she continued walking to the door. They were in the main ballroom.
“My sculpture! You broke my priceless glass sculpture!”
Cassandra forgot about that. She quickly smirked to herself. She didn’t have time for this. “There was no way that was priceless.”
“What do you know about art?”
“I studied art history at the University of Minnesota, I though you did the research on me,” she said in a condescending way. “And that was not priceless.”
He paused. “Fine, but that is still five thousand dollars down the drain.”
Cassandra smirked and carried him to the door. Now it was just to the truck and…
“I’m not going out there!”
“Yes, you are.”
“It’s wet and cold and there are people there and they will…”
Cassandra didn’t have time for this. She stopped and looked down at him. “What?”
“They’ll skin me alive. This town hates me.”
“I’m sure if you keep your mouth shut and show them some respect, you’ll survive.”
“No, no, no,” he shook his head. “They know I spy on them and know their secrets and…”
Cassandra sighed. “We’ll discuss this in the truck.”
She opened the door with her free arm and led him outside. The storm was worse. Much worse. There was no way she could safely walk through this wind and rain for long without being blown away. She reached out with her free hand and ran for the truck like a football player for a pair of goalposts.
“I’m done performing now,” Lucy said quite matter-of-factly. She took the fake wings off the back of her dress and handed them to the still-stunned Alisha. Jonathan was rubbing the temples of his forehead while staring wide-eyed at his daughter. He was dazed in all sense of the word. “Dear,” Alisha asked, “How did you… I mean, when did you start singing like that?”
“Don’t know,” Lucy said with a shrug. She turned to Jonathan. “Did you like it, Daddy?”
He nodded his head slowly.
“Good,” she said with a smile. She balanced happily back and forth on the balls of her feet.
“I think I’m going to take my family into the office until Cassandra gets back,” Jonathan said quietly. “Alisha, do you know where Peter is?”
Alisha looked around. “He’s over there talking to Mr. Reginald.”
Jonathan picked up Lucy in his arms. She kissed his forehead. She truly was happy he liked her singing. “Let’s go get your brother,” Jonathan said. He turned to Alisha. “Keep an eye on this crowd.”
“Well, first I would recommend apologizing,” Cassandra said for the tenth time. This concept was not sinking into Eugene’s mind at all.
“That won’t help,” he sighed. “They all hate me. Even Mr. Arter left me to die in the mansion and he knows me better than anyone.”
Mr. Arter must be the man in the white tuxedo, Cassandra thought. Cassandra had a hard time controlling the truck. She was pretty much driving on instinct now. She would only have occasional glimpses of an actual road. “Are you and Mr. Arter friends?” she asked. He was easier to deal with when he wasn’t under her arm.
“We talked all the time. Like when he is bringing me my dinner or the news or…” His voice trailed off. The realization of his true isolation was starting to sink in. “And he left me behind. I really didn’t know him. All I did was order him around.” He paused. “I deserve to be skinned alive.”
Cassandra looked back at him. She was going to say something nice and reassuring, but suddenly a large branch landed on top of the truck.
“No, there are no ghosts, Peter and no, there is no pirate treasure, Lucy,” The Reverend said for the tenth time.
“But Dad,” Peter said quickly. “He said that if you find the treasure of Captain 2-Finger McGillis whatever is your deepest desire will come true!”
“There is no treasure,” Jonathan stated. “Trust me, if there were one, it would have been found by now. We talked about this before, remember?”
“Yeah, but I didn’t know about the deepest desire coming true bit then,” Peter said.
“In here,” Jonathan said as he ushered his children into his back office. It was when the Reverend opened the door that he noticed the Duke. He was already sitting in his office. He was sitting in the Reverend’s chair and he was spinning it in circles.
“Duke?” the Reverend said surprised. He thought for sure he left the office locked when they started bringing people downstairs. “What are you doing in here?” No, wait, Alisha has a key. She must have left it unlocked when she was answering phones and running around. Where was his brain today?
“At the moment,” Duke said between spinning, “Spinning around in a circle.”
“I like to do that too,” Lucy said.
“Well, then jump on, girl,” the Duke exclaimed. “What are ya waiting for?” Even in a hurricane he still sounds like he stepped off the set of Gone With the Wind.
Lucy ran over to the chair and the Duke pulled her onto his lap. And as Lucy giggled, the Duke said to Jonathan, “She said no again.”
“Who?” Jonathan instinctively asked, but then quickly realized. “Oh, Alisha. How many times does that make now?”
“32,” Duke sighed, “32 marriage proposals. 32 no’s.”
The Revered was becoming frustrated. He really didn’t feel like he had time for this. A hurricane was hitting the island, he had a basement full of people hiding from the storm, he had no idea where his wife was and every time Lucy spins in his chair, she gets sick. AUGH! He knew she was going to vomit and he knew he would be the one to clean it up. Why? Because he was the only one who knew where the mop was, that’s why… but at this moment it was obvious Duke wanted to talk. Breathe in, breathe out. “Maybe she just doesn’t feel the same way about you, Duke,” Jonathan said. He knew it was a fast excuse, but he couldn’t think of anything else to say.
“Not love me?” Duke was stunned. “Nah, Rev. ya know better than that! We’ve been dating for almost ten years now and… Peter are you okay? You look flushed, boy.”
Jonathan looked down at his son. Yes, he did look flushed. He was fine just a few minutes ago. His fists were also clenched. “Are you okay, Peter?”
Peter didn’t respond, but his glare at Duke intensified.
“Why don’t you sit on the couch, Peter,” Jonathan said.
Peter quietly (without taking his eyes off Duke) sat down on the black couch… Jonathan turned his attention back to the Duke. Duke didn’t notice the frustration and fear in Jonathan’s perception or how distracted he was. All his thoughts were drawn to proving his point. “You don’t believe me?”
“What?” Jonathan was stunned. “No, of course, I do, I…”
Duke was on a tangent. “Watch.” He cupped his hands to his lips. “Alisha!”
“What?” She shouted back from the rec room.
“Okay!” The duke crossed his arms in an I-told-you fashion. “See.”
It was at that moment that Lucy vomited.
The power went out. Someone in the back of the room screamed in fright. The rest of the room went silent. They all listened to the storm outside.
Jonathan walked out of the office. He dropped his mop and looked around the room. The storm was hitting… Cassandra… He had trouble standing… No lights, no power.
“I’ll hand the candles out,” Alisha said at his side, but he didn’t hear.
Cassandra… She was out there. There was no way now… He should’ve gone out after her. Why did he stay? He should’ve gone after her and now…
Alisha was handing out candles. A dozen faces shining with candles in hand. All silence, just faces. They were all looking at him to say something. They all expected him to say something in this solemn moment. Did they want reassurance? Did they want a prayer? Did they want to hear that they would be alright, that this is part of a plan? Jonathan looked at their faces. He was speechless… Cassandra…
Behind him, he could hear Lucy starting to cry quietly in fear. Peter was silent. Alisha handed the boxes to Mrs. Black and walked past Jonathan into the office. Alisha was trying to soothe Lucy.
…And suddenly all sound stopped for Jonathan. Lucy’s tears. The wind. The rain. It all disappeared. He was alone… Cassandra…
Everyone looked back at the door. It was probably a branch, they all went back to looking at Jonathan… He had to say something…. What could he possibly say? She was his hope, she was his answer for everything, and without her he had no answers or hope to share…
Everyone turned back to the door. Jonathan woke up. Branches don’t make noises like that. He took off running for the door. Two of the men beat him to the door and were forcing it open. Soon rain and harsh cold were seeping into the room and behind it were…
Cassandra was carrying a small man in her arms. He looked like a child. He was wearing all white and seemed to be in a faint.
Jonathan grabbed her cold wet face and kissed her lips. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I should’ve came after you. I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
Cassandra smiled and quickly kissed him back. The other men tried to move them in and get the door shut. Jonathan didn’t notice. All he noticed was Cassandra and he couldn’t stop kissing her and smiling.
Someone took the body from Cassandra’s arm and laid it on a table.
“Who is it?” someone asked.
Cassandra had to hold Jonathan’s head back so she could speak. “It’s Mr. Monty.”
That caught everyone’s attention. And as Jonathan led his wife back to the office, to their waiting children, everyone else in the room turned their attention to the strange man in wet white clothing. This was the man who used to watch them through his cameras, talk to them through his speakers. This was the man that used to threaten them with secrets and tales of scandals. This was the man.
He slowly opened his eyes and looked up at the confused crowd looking down at him. He was stunned. He looked back for Cassandra and couldn’t see her. “Ah,” he struggled to think of what to say, “Sorry?”
Alisha ran up to Cassandra.
“Where is Duke?” Cassandra asked. “Did he make it here?”
“Yes,” Alisha said, “He’s in the bathroom cleaning the vomit from his clothes.”
Jonathan looked at Alisha. “Alisha, can you get something dry for Cassandra? And I want you to keep an eye on things out here. Don’t let anyone hurt Mr. Monty back there?”
Alisha nodded and ran off.
Cassandra got on her knees and hugged her children. They felt so warm, so alive. She was so cold, she must have felt so dead to them. She lovingly looked at each of them. She ran her right hand through Lucy’s hair. “I sang, mommy.”
Cassandra kissed her and gave her an extra hug.
“Is there anything you want, honey?” Jonathan asked quietly. He had grabbed a quilt from a nearby table and placed it around her shoulders.
“No,” Cassandra smiled up at him. “Just a nap.”
The family went into the office together and shut the door. And with her family close and safe on the couch, Cassandra fell asleep. She could not remember the last time she slept so soundly. Not even the rain and wind could disturb her dreams.