Janefer stretched out on her bed, weary from exhaustion. Her mother had said that they could go visit Terrence in prison tomorrow. Wow. Prison?! She was extremely tired, but excited at the same time. She would be able to get the truth out of Terrence. She let her eyes drift close as she imagined what the conversation would be like…. “Hey Terrence, I heard you were in prison. Just wanted to squeeze out as much information out of you as I can because although I don’t believe you did it, I want to know the truth. Any chance you’ll crack?”
Her mind started to dream. She dreamed she was talking to Terrence, but she was a cop. A mean one. She was beating him on the head, trying to pry out information, and he was staring into open space, not saying anything, not even flinching. Janefer awoke an hour later, still dreaming about being a mean cop. She sat up, her hair and clothes mussed and disheveled. “What a weird dream,” she muttered to herself as she dressed into her pajamas. Everything was dark, and quiet. She decided she would go outside, to think.
Janefer tiptoed past her mother’s room where she was softly snoring. She opened the front door and closed it behind her gently. The cool air met her and breezed past her face, blowing wisps of hair that curled around the frame of her face. It was refreshing, and it gave her new perspective. She crossed over to the porch steps and sat down.
It had always been a habit for her to write things down. Papers, to-do lists, schedules, she loved writing, and it helped her sort everything out. She didn’t have a notepad, but she began to list the items in her head. “Okay, so what do I have so far?” She murmured to herself as she began to reason. Terrence is not guilty. This is a statement that is true. Lots of people have red cars, and Morris is one of them. I need to talk to Audrey again at the hospital, and Detective Whitby. If I saw Morris’s car, I would know. I saw the headlights, and I saw the color. Also, what if Mel heard something? What if she saw something? One other thing, if we were at the track, we would’ve been helped, but, unless, hmmm.. someone or something placed us into a different place? What if that person had a partner and while the partner held off everyone at the track, he or she pushed us into a ravine or something? I really need to talk to the Detective.
Satisfied that she had come to a conclusion, she got up and paced around the house, the fresh air clearing her brain. Dawn was cracking across the sky. “I must have been sleeping longer than I thought.” Janefer knew her mother would be up soon, so she tiptoed back inside and poured herself some orange juice. The sweet liquid wet her parched throat.
Realizing her mother wasn’t awake yet, Janefer scribbled a note: Mom- I’m going to visit Dad, then go to see Mel. Be back by noon. Janefer. She quickly got dressed, then hopped on her bike and sped down the driveway. After an hour of riding, she finally reached the hospital where her father was. Her father had been admitted into Rockford Health Hospital when he had suddenly collapsed while putting in a new light bulb. They had run tests, and had found out that he had leukemia. Janefer’s eyes filled with tears as she remembered the last time she had visited him. Last week. As she walked across the parking lot, Janefer knew she must compose herself. She furiously wiped at the tears and braved a smile as she walked through the automatic sliding doors of the hospital.
Janefer strolled over to the receptionist’s desk and waited for her to look up. She actually liked the feel of this hospital–cozy, comfortable, and sterile. There were pictures of smiling children who had been cured from cancer. Maybe there was hope. The receptionist looked up. “Hello, how are we today? How can I help you?” The woman with thick-rimmed glasses peered up at Janefer. There was something about that woman that was familiar. Maybe it was the soft southern accent, or the look of recognition that dawned on the woman’s face. “Why- ya’ll are-” She didn’t finish. Janefer filled in the blanks. “Yeah! I’m Janefer. And you are– Melba?”
Melba smiled, shocked. “Yeah! Well, what are ya’ll doin’ here?”
Janefer’s shocked smile disappeared. “My Dad is registered here.” Melba instantly apologized. “Oh, hon, I’m sorry to hear that. Ya’ll’s dad is Ray Davis?”
She smiled slightly as Janefer nodded. “I’ll show you his room, ” Melba spoke softly.
Janefer appreciated that Melba didn’t talk all the way up to her father’s room. She didn’t want to talk. I wouldn’t be a very good talking companion anyway.
The elevator’s doors slid open, and they stepped out. Melba ushered Janefer into his room. Janefer sat down next to him. “Oh, Dad,” she murmured softly. Ray Davis moved slightly and caught Janefer in the corner of his eye. He turned and grunted. “Dad, let me help you.” Ray just shook his head. Once he was settled, Melba left the room. Janefer took her father’s hand. It was a while before either of them spoke.
Ray squeezed his daughter’s hand without much strength. The chemotherapy his body was receiving was wearing him out. There’s not much of him left. One voice told her. Be hopeful. He’ll recover. Another voice told her. She shook her head and focused on her father.
“Hey Dad. How are you feeling?” Ray didn’t answer. Janefer kept on talking. “You won’t believe what happened the last few days.” Janefer’s voice was calm and low. “I won’t tell you about it now; when you get better I will tell you all about it.” Her father had fallen asleep now. Janefer used her free hand to wipe away an escaping tear. “Oh, Dad. Please get better soon. I miss you so much. I-I need you.” There was no use trying to wipe away her tears. Everything inside her hurt. Her heart ached with a longing for her father to get better.
After a moment of silent sobbing, Janefer checked her watch and realized it was already half past eleven. She hated to go, but knew she still needed to talk to Mel, and ride home. She groaned. I’m gonna be late. Janefer gently squeezed Ray’s limp hand, and stood.
“I’ll talk to you later, Dad,” she promised.
Janefer raced out of the room to escape the coming tears. Seeing her father like that was unbearable. Dad, please get well soon. I love you, and wouldn’t be able to bear it if you died. Mom wouldn’t either.
Melba caught her at the door. “Hon, is everything okay? We’re doin’ the best we can for him.” Janefer looked into Melba’s reassuring dark brown eyes and gave her a half smile. “I know. Thank you. By the way, why are you working here?”
Melba looked depressed. “I hafta work two jobs. Got my youngins at home that I gotta feed. My husband died last year.”
“I’m sorry, Melba. I wish there was something I could do.” Janefer honestly felt sympathetic toward the woman. It wasn’t fair for good ladies like Melba to go through tragedies like this. Melba nodded gratefully and added,”But God gives me strength. I wouldn’t be able to get through a day without His strength.” Janefer was about to argue that muscles give you strength, but realized she would sound immature and silly. Besides, I’m late. “I gotta go, Melba. My mom is gonna kill me if I’m late. She worries enough about me as it is. See you later!”
Melba waved Janefer out the door and returned to her work. Janefer checked her watch. It was quarter to noon. She frowned and sighed. Peddling furiously out of the parking lot, Janefer made it to the hospital Mel was staying in less than 15 minutes. Breathless, she tore across the parking lot of Magnolia Medical Center. She practically ran into a nurse, and grabbed a payphone at the entrance. After dialing her mother and letting her know she would be late, Janefer hung up. What room was Mel in again? She couldn’t remember.
Janefer asked the receptionist at the front desk which room she was in and decided to take the stairs. I need the exercise, anyway.
She raced up the first few flew flights, then tired and walked the rest of the way up to Mel’s room. Mel was laying in the hospital bed, thin and pale, but appearing better since Janefer had last seen her.
“Mel?” Janefer whispered quietly. Mel opened her eyes a crack, and, recognizing it was her best friend, opened them wider. She smiled weakly. “Hey, Jan. Coming to visit the sick?” Janefer grinned. “Yup. You looked pretty lonely, any way.”
Mel smiled again and closed her eyes. “What did you really come here for? Spill it, I know you, Jan.”
Janefer’s smile disappeared. “Listen, Mel. I need to talk to you about the crash. I know you might not be comfortable with revealing any info since you’re sick, but could you tell me anything you might remember?”
Mel looked sullen and turned away her head. Janefer thought she caught a glimpse of fear in her features. “Jan, I….. I don’t know much. I…. don’t even remember that much.”
Janefer knew she was hiding something. “Mel, tell me what you know! This could be important!”
Tears started streaming down Mel’s cheeks, and Janefer wished she could wipe them away, but she needed to know the truth. “I can’t, Janefer! Don’t you see? If the people who did this found out I know something, they could hurt my family! Or you!” She started sobbing. Janefer frowned. Mel definitely heard or saw something. She’s hiding it, but she’s also scared. “Mel, please. Tell me. I’m your friend, and I might be able to help catch the person who did this, whoever he or she is. You gotta trust me.”
Mel turned her tear- streaked face toward Janefer, wincing at the pain in her legs. “Promise you won’t tell a soul what I’m about to tell you.” Janefer nodded slowly. “I won’t tell anyone, but the police may need to know.”
“No! Don’t tell the police! The media and press will get ahold of the new information that there was a witness! A lot of people could get hurt!”
“I don’t know if that’s such a good idea,” Janefer contemplated. “Okay, fine. I won’t tell anyone. Unless, something happens and they need to know.”
Mel looked at her hard, as if trying to decide whether or not to trust her. “Okay. I’ll tell you.” She motioned for Janefer to come closer to tell her about it, and began whispering.
Janefer’s eyes got wide. “You heard the man’s voice?!”