Things to do in Freehold

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Chapter Eighty-one:

Sue Mackenzie (Late morning of September 14, 1994)

The doctor told me I did indeed have a concussion, but told me not to worry too much, seeing as how it was only that. The wound on my forehead was nothing more than a small gash from a piece of Jeff’s windshield. Even though I still needed stitches for it, I was consider rather lucky amongst other car accident patients.

Amelie, on the other hand, was going to need to stay overnight for all the drugs that were pumped into her system. “Bitch gave me enough tranquilizers to put down a horse,” she said to me as I sat in the chair next to her bedside. “Can you believe that?”

“That’s smart, actually,” I replied, to which she gave me a dirty look. “I mean, you are much bigger than her. She would’ve never won that fight otherwise.”

“That’s true,” she giggled. “I would have snapped her like a twig had I been conscious.”

“So why did you confront her? I thought you wanted to be discreet about us knowing.”

Amelie sighed and stared up at the ceiling. “I did, but then when I got to the sale and saw her there looking and acting so innocent, I don’t know, something in me just snapped. I wasn’t even thinking when I did it. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I was thinking about Ace and all the times he lied to me, all the secrets he kept.”

I bowed my head as Amelie began to weep. I couldn’t even imagine what it must’ve been like for her seeing her husband walk through that door.

“You wanna know what the worst part? I actually thought that he was going to fight for me or maybe, at least, step in and save me last minute. He didn’t do either, though.”

“Don’t worry; he’ll get what’s coming to him.”

“I sure hope so.”

Suddenly, I could hear a door open and close behind me. I turned around to see Zack, standing like a deer caught in the headlights. He stared at his mother with such a fearful look in his eyes as if he were looking at a ghost.

“Hey, Sweetheart, come here,” Amelie called for in a kind, silvery voice.

To which Zack ran over to her and gave her a great big hug. “Are you okay? I thought you were dead.”

“Dead? Oh please,” Amelie chuckled as she pulled away from him. “You ain’t getting rid of me that fast.”

Amelie continued to console him as I stood up and started heading for the door. “I’m gonna go check on Jake,” I mouthed to her before exiting the room.

Not too far down the hall had Jake’s room. Well, half of it was anyway. He shared it with a football player who had gotten hurt during practice. Earlier the doctor explained to me that Jake had a concussion as well, but it was a bit more severe than mine. Apparently, he took a blow to the back of the head with some sort of blunt object, most likely a shovel. The doctor said he’s lucky to be alive with how much lost.

I was about enter the room when I noticed a familiar face, peering into the room through the window. “Priscilla?” I called out, which seemed to have surprised her given how quickly she turned to face me.

“Hi, Mrs. Mackenzie,” she smiled, even though it looked as if she were about to burst into tears. “How are you? I mean, with everything considered, that is?”

“I’ve been better, but I think I’ll live. We both will,” I replied, looking over at Jake in his hospital bed, looking back at me. I waved, then directed my attention towards Priscilla again. “How about you? How are you holding up?”

“I’ve been better,” she shrugged, voice cracking near the end. She looked down at the tiled floor. “They found my dad today, his body anyway. It was in a dumpster near Turkey Swamp. He was chopped up into pieces, but all of him was there, so I guess that’s good, right? It makes it easier to identify.”

I gently pulled her in for a hug as she started to sob. Nuzzling her head into my shoulder, her tears soaked the top of my left sleeve. Poor thing; she didn’t deserve any of this.

“Anyway, that’s actually why I’m here: to identify the body, down in the morgue. You know, to make sure,” she continued, stepping back from my embrace. She quickly wiped away her tears as if she felt embarrassed about crying about her dead dad. “They were going to have my mom do it, but, um, well, we both know how that worked out.”

“You got someone you can stay with tonight? Family? Or a friend?”

“Yeah, my grandparents are going to be picking me up. The social worker said I’ll be staying with them from now on.”

“Okay, well, if you ever need to talk, you’re always to welcome to come by,” I told her, resting my hand on her shoulder blade.

“Thanks, Mrs. Mackenzie,” she half-smiled.

“Well, I should go and check on my son. I’ll see you around, though,” I noted, shortly before leaving her out in the hallway. I turned back to wave one last goodbye, but by the time I did, she had already started walking away. She had a nasty scowl on her face as she was doing such too. That’s odd, I thought.

“We’re famous,” I heard Jake say. Glancing back at him, I saw that he was staring up at the TV. On it was a news reporter, standing out in front of the Grace house and speaking on the events that transpired there last night. Of course, she didn’t know the full story like we did. “What were you talking to Priscilla about?”

“Oh, she just came up here to check up on us,” I told him, still watching the TV. “Apparently, they found her dad today.”

“Yeah, she told me about that.”

“You talked to her?” I redirected my attention back towards him.

“For a little bit. She asked me if I would be able to go to the dance this weekend and I said ‘no’. Even if I were to heal by then, I don’t think I’d be up for it.”

I sat down on the foot of the bed. “You’re still thinking about her, aren’t you?”

“We said we’d go together. Now, I just feel so stupid for actually believing it.”

“You’re not stupid,” I reassured him, placing my hand on his leg. “Gullible maybe, but not stupid.”

He smiled, then looked back at the TV. Shortly after, I did the same. “Did Priscilla seem off to you?” he continued.

“Off how?”

“I don’t know, but when I spoke with her, she just didn’t seem all there, you know? I don’t know, maybe it’s just the grief of losing both parents in the same week.”

Glancing back at the hallway, I remembered that expression she had towards and thought more about what it might’ve meant. Don’t be ridiculous, Sue. Priscilla isn’t anything like her mother. She wouldn’t hurt us, would she? “Yeah, must be the grief.”

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