Second Dead

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Chapter 18: Down the street

I pulled on the latch but it wouldn’t budge. “A little help here,” I said.

Chris came over. He pulled hard but couldn’t get it to move.

I pointed my light toward the latch. “It’s locked!”

“Good job, Sherlock,” Chris snapped.

Theo turned on the truck’s headlights. The service bay flooded with light and illuminated the source of our latest problem.

Chris jiggled the lock and sneered, “Kind of hard to miss, sis.”

There were a few things I thought to say. I bit my tongue and waited for Dad. He too pulled and shook the lock. I could only suppose with the deepest frustration that these men assumed the lock would pop free under their rather feeble jiggles. Dad stepped back and stared at the door.

“Well, I’m not gonna waste all night removing the door from the track. Theo’s just going to have to go through it.”

Theo and Chris both, at the same time because they were morons, exclaimed, “Sweet.”

Dad stared at Theo. “Sure you have this, or do you want me to drive?”

“Hell no. I got this.”

“All right then.” Dad’s tone did not convey confidence.

Amid a whole lot of grinding, Theo found a gear. The truck shook and lurched… backward. With a wild heave, the wrecker smashed into the equipment stacked behind it.

I expected Dad to blow his gasket. I held my breath. Much to my surprise, he just stood there in the glare of the headlights. Theo turned the dome light on and peered at the stick.

He rolled his window down. An embarrassed grin on his face, he said, “Yeah, about that.”

“It’s upside down, isn’t it?” Dad asked unexpectedly amused.

“Well, yeah,” Theo replied with a sheepish grin.

“Got it now?” Dad asked, the third time he had posed that very question to Theo this morning. Not that I counted.

“Well, I can’t do any worse, can I?”

Dad shook his head and pointed toward the door. “Don’t count yourself short, son.”

“Feeling the love,” Theo replied.

When we were clear, Theo, without all the nasty grinding that accompanied his first attempt, got the truck into gear. With a sudden lurch, he moved forward. A loud crash and he was through the door.

He jumped from the truck, a wild, stupid grin on his face. “Did you see that?” he yelled, both arms in the air.

Chris, pumped up himself with testosterone-fueled exuberance, hand slapped Theo and said, “Give me paw.”

Theo tickled Chris’s hand and they barked.

Boys, I sighed. What is it about men that give them such joy over senseless destruction?

“Settle down,” Dad said.

I couldn’t help but notice even my father grinned like an idiot.

“Saddle up, people. Susan, you’re with me. And, Anna, you’re with Theo,” Dad said and walked away.

We loaded the wrecker with diesel, our personal survival backpacks, extra water and ammunition.

George climbed out of Dad’s vehicle. He hopped through the snow toward me. “Dad says I can ride with you.”

Happy for the company, I replied, “Yeah sure, why not?”

“But only if Theo thinks there’s room.” George peered up into the cab at him.

Theo waved George in and said, “Always room for my buddy.”

“Come on, George.” I helped him climb into the truck. “It will be nice to have someone intelligent to talk to.”

“Hey!” Theo exclaimed.

Theo moved out with only the slightest of lurches. When Dad turned onto Mel, I could not help but laugh.

“What’s so funny?” Theo asked.

“You guys; you’re all staying in the proper lane.”

“Yeah, well, can’t afford any more points.”

Our convoy came to a stop at Klara’s house. Susan followed Klara to the door. I looked on while Klara opened the door and slid her note through the crack. She closed the door with a terrible finality.

Dripping with symbolism, I realized Klara just closed the door on a tragic period of her life. She hadn’t even bothered to see if Kevin had returned. She had cut ties with her past. More than the rest of us, she needed to begin a new life. My heart ached. I watched her return to Mom’s vehicle. Without ever taking the trouble to look back, she climbed into the SUV.

Klara had spent hours on the note. No, not a note, much more like an indictment. I caught glimpses of what she had written while she poured her unresolved feelings onto the two-foot by three-foot piece of cardboard. Much of what I read was not pretty. Things had gone on in her house beyond anything we ever imagined.

Something Klara said when she retold her story of the last harrowing days at her house crept into my mind. She had said, ‘her closet’. Her exact words were, ‘her brother locked her in her closet’. I felt a chill spread through my body. Damn. We had checked every door in the Bulger’s house the day we rescued her. One door and one door only had been locked, the door to the small kitchen closet.

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