Chapter 17: Him
I just crashed, full on into Miss Eliza Rein! OH CRAP!
“Eliza! I mean—Miss Rein! I mean—hello! Um, hi. Sorry. I—I wasn’t—I mean, you… Hi.” She looks like I’m holding a gun to her head. “You okay?”
“Yeah. Brilliant.” She shudders out of it, her face washing emotion off. “Are you okay? I apologize. I ought to have been watching where I was going.”
“Yeah, I’m fine. I should have known better. I was just….”
“Lost in thought?” she ventured. “Me too.”
We just stood there awkwardly not saying anything. Come on, Jack! Be a man! Be cool! Say something!
“So. I’ll be going now.” She says, walking in the same direction she was going.
“Miss Eliza?” she stops, looking at me. “Do you want a drink?”
She stands there for what seems like forever. I take the opportunity of seeing her perfectly still to actually look at her. Really look at her. Silently. She may be only an inch smaller than me, but she’s built so delicately. She doesn’t look it, but her slight build gives her away. She’s so pretty. Blonde highlights, brown hair and eyes that could cut like a surgeon or penetrate like a killer. She looks like she’s been crying.
“Huh?” I say, breaking my concentration.
“Yeah. I’d like a drink.” She nods, stepping closer. “Lead the way.”
I take her back to the same café we went to when Thomas was an idiot. Man. Putting up with him today was awful. He wouldn’t really let me get all that much work done, so I told the boss I was taking it home. And I was. I was going home. But there she was. She follows me, one step behind me, very quiet. It seems like she does that sometimes. Just falls into these moments of thought that can’t be shaken. She looks so gentle that way. She doesn’t look like anything special, or someone with so much power when she’s like that. I wonder what she looks like when she writes her blog.
Man, Jack, you have got to control your stalker nature. She’s choosing to hang out with you again, isn’t that enough?
Yeah. Yeah. Just hanging with her is enough.
We sit down a few booths down from the one we sat at two days ago, and Timothy comes right over with our orders.
“Hello, Miss Rein. It’s very nice seeing you again.”
“Hello, Timothy. I hear you gave a good report of me to Mr. Daniels.” She speaks politely, no edge or harshness in her tone.
“Yes, ma’am. I am sorry I didn’t ask your permission, but he was asking.”
“It’s alright. You needn’t apologize.” She looks out the window, mind on other things. “You probably just saved my career. I thank you.” She looks back, totally sincere.
Timothy blushes. “It’s nothing, ma’am. Just my duty to tell the truth. Isn’t that what you do?”
She smiles, not showing her teeth. “Yes. But sometimes the truth is better kept inside my head than out my fingers or my big mouth.”
“Indeed, ma’am. But no one else will say it.”
She nods, very distracted. “And maybe for a good reason.” He nods to us and leaves us alone.
I sit there, letting her look out the window for several minutes, just drinking my water and letting her drink that crazy M&M hot chocolate stuff. She keeps very quiet, which is not what I know of this lady. Maybe she’s getting sick or something. She doesn’t make eye contact with me, and hasn’t since we literally ran into each other today.
“If you have something to say, Mr. MacPherson, please say it.” She says quietly after a long time.
“I … I just would like to… ask some questions, if I may.”
“Please. Go right ahead.” She looks at me, not very attentive, but showing that she’s at least trying to pay attention.
“Do you know who started the fire the other night?”
She nods, looking at me like it’s no big deal. “It was the girl who was in the room next to mine and some guy. Her name’s Jenny.”
“Wasn’t she the girl I saw last night?”
“Yeah. The cops picked her up right after I got back. Said they had enough evidence to make an arrest. She already told me she did it.”
“But you still brought her to the church?”
“Yeah.” Her tone has no sharpness at all, startling me. She doesn’t think I’m attacking her. What has gotten into her today? “She needed somewhere to stay, someone to listen. I was there, I picked her out. No big deal.” She shrugs.
“Even though she started the fire? Even though you could have gotten really hurt? And five people died?”
“Tell me this, Mr. MacPherson, if you were Jesus, what would you have done?” I sit there in stunned silence. No edge in her tone, but she was asking an honest question of me. She just wanted to know. What the heck?
“I—I-I don’t know what I would have done. I… if I were Jesus, I’d have probably just prevented the fire.”
“And let Jenny continue to wallow in her sin?” she leans forward onto her elbows on the tabletop.
“No. You wouldn’t have. But she’d never learn if she didn’t get caught.” She leans back. “I think that’s why bad stuff happens. To teach us something.”
“Like the snow keeping you here?” I ask and immediately regret it. Shut up, Jack!
She just nods, and goes back to staring out the window. “Yeah…” she says, and goes back to being silent.