“What do you mean you don’t know where she lives!?” Alex demanded to her older brother who had just gotten home that morning on a Saturday looking like he hadn’t gotten a wink of sleep.
“Why are you yelling?” Joshua asked her in the middle of a yawn. “And why are you surprised that I don’t know where the new girl is?”
“Because it’s you, you always seem to know where people are.”
“That’s Claude not me.” he yawned again and rubbed the back of his neck. “And besides it’s not like I know where the detective lives. Even with his job the detective likes his privacy with his family.”
“So they aren’t near the Liebert estate then?” Alex asked. She knew that the Liebert’s had an estate close to the water, a large home that could be considered a mansion in its own right that could overlook the town. When Joshua shook his head she asked. “Is it because… because the detective lost his wife?”
“Probably, but who can really say. Every family has its own issues, I mean look at ours and the things we all deal with. That girl is no different.” He then looked to his younger sister. “Why’d you want to know where she’s living? If you really wanted to know you could have asked her while at school, you had the whole rest of the week to do it.”
Alex was quite, during those days in school she wanted to ask Charla a number of things, sadly her cell or current home address, was not one of them. The only thing she could think at the time was the information the she had gone over in the book before and some research online about those with a personality disorder. However she didn’t want to jump the gun and start accusing this girl for things that Alex couldn’t possibly understand. But then perhaps Charla hadn’t a clue as to what was going on, though she must have with her reactions in discovering that she had been wandering around at night.
“What was I doing? When you saw me, what was I doing?”
No if that was the case Charla wouldn’t have asked that, she had to at least know something about it, right?
“I just… I just wanted to confirm or even be denied something that’s been bugging me since yesterday.” I don’t have her cell number so I couldn’t call and even if I did what the hell would I even say to her? How’d she respond? I have no clue… “Anyway if you don’t know then I’ll just look around I guess. By the way why do you look so tried?”
“You didn’t come home until late last night, where’d you go?”
He rested his hand along his own shoulder as if it were stiff. “That, yeah a friend of mine wanted to see me; it had been a long time since we saw each other so I went.”
“In the middle of the night?” she asked with a questioning stare.
He scoffed at her. “Yeah in the middle of the night, you think you’re the only one who’ll leave the house late at night and go meet a friend? Come on, I know that you always hang in front of the gas station with those friends of yours.”
She placed her hand on her hip. “True, but I never expected you to meet someone in the middle of the night being all secretive.” She added the last part with a short evil laugh. “Was it a rondeau maybe?”
He stuck his tongue out at her in response. “We all have our reasons for the things we do.”
“Sure you do.” She said with a grin.
Joshua shook his head at her. “Look I’m still exhausted and it’s the weekend so Dad wants you to help in the shop until the afternoon, that’s when I’ll take over. You can try to find where that girl is staying then but for now help Dad out, it might be busy today.”
“Sure,” she said as Joshua closed the door to his room to go and get some sleep. It wasn’t the first time her brother had gone out late to meet someone, though Alex never pushed to find out who it was or why, after all people did deserve their privacy on some level.
Besides, at the moment she didn’t even really know where to start looking for where that detective lived. Though maybe some of the people who came to eat might know.
Charla stared up at the ceiling while laying on her bed her arms outstretched above her before she turned her hands and balled them into fists where images in red flashed in her mind once again. But she couldn’t be sure if it was actually something from here and not something from when she lived in the city.
She covered her face with her hands and let out a breath. “What the hell am I doing…?” she muttered to herself as she let out a sigh before sitting up and went to grab her cellphone only to stop when she saw the picture of her and her brother. Her hand then fell back into her lap as she stared at the photo before her gaze looked to the mirror that was close by then back to the photo once again. “Other than the hair I really haven’t changed all that much… …Carlin. If you were here Carlin I wonder how much or how little you would have changed. They say girls mature faster than boys do but I don’t really think that’s true. Besides my chest and a little bit of my height I’m still pretty much the same… the same.” She frowned. “No, I guess that’s not right. I’m not the same, I’m different now, because of the accident.” She laughed. “And here I am talking as if you were still here with me. What is wrong with me?”
Getting up off the bed she grabbed her cellphone and opened the door only to stop and looked back at the photo. “See you later Carlin.” Then left the room and headed down the stairs to see that her uncle was here sitting at the dinner table reading the paper and drinking coffee.
“Oh you’re awake,” he said then glanced at the time to see that it was nearly seven in the morning. “It’s a weekend; you could have slept in if you wanted.”
“I don’t normally do that, we used to have people come over to my parents’ home, and I was told I should at least be a good example and be up to impress them. At least that’s what my Mom always told me, and since I’ve been taking self-defence I’ve been exercising a lot more and go for a jog in the morning at least on the weekends or if there’s no school.”
“I see, well that explains the way you’re dressed.” Charla was currently dressed in a light blue zip-up hoodie, a white shirt and track pants and white running shoes while her hair was tied back in a low ponytail. “I’m off today so that’s why I’m here.”
“Oh… is Nina still sleeping?”
“She is, but she normally wakes up at eight o’clock, though if I’m not here she tends to wake up earlier than that.”
“I don’t mean to pry,” Charla told him. “It’s just… odd to me. Why is Nina doing all of this by herself, the housework and such? Shouldn’t there be a caretaker or someone to help around the house when you’re not here so Nina’s not alone?”
Isaac’s expression changed to that of a remorseful yet self-loathing look. “We did do that two years ago, but the woman I hired stole from us, she tried to skip town when I caught her. After that Nina didn’t want anyone to come here.”
He nodded. “Only six years old and saying she’d do the work around the house. At first I didn’t take her seriously, she’s only a kid but… she kept to her word and began doing the work her mother used to do, and looking things up online if she didn’t understand something. She became completely independent; if I ever tried to help she’d get mad and said I was doing it wrong. But in truth I think she was doing it as a coping mechanism.”
“Because of what happened to your wife?”
He looked at her with slight surprise. “You remember that?”
“Vaguely, I know that it was a hit and run but that was also around the time my blackouts started, and I was also dealing with…” memories of the event of what caused it came back. “…other things.”
Other things? Isaac frowned slightly at this, what else was happening besides the blackouts that she now seemed to suffer from? And the tone she used too was filled with anger and dread too.
“But,” Charla continued drawing him out of his thoughts. “I guess we are all if different ways of dealing with loss. But it can’t just be her doing all of it herself, a number of things seems a bit much if ask me. Don’t her grandparents come by at all? Like your parents or, that of your late wife’s?”
“My in-laws do, they come by often, make food and assist with the house work when I can’t though right now her grandfather is in the hospital from a fall. Both of them are getting up there in age but her grandmother will often still send food for us regardless of what I tell them. Just like their daughter, don’t know when to stop.” when he said that line he had a small sad smile on his face.
Though hearing this did make Charla hope to at least meet these people at some point while she was here in Sharlton.
Isaac continued. “Besides, much of the heavy housework I tend to do, I can’t have someone that young do everything, I may get consumed with work but I at least do the larger portion. It’d be cruel if I didn’t. And with you here I’m sure it’ll make things easier on her too.”
That was at least good to hear, so Nina wasn’t fully alone, that was a relief.
There was a brief moment of silence before Isaac changed the topic. “I tried getting in touch with your father but I couldn’t seem to connect to him at all.”
“That tends to happen at times. My father told me that recently he had been dealing with a lot of pressure from those who work with him, if he calls me tonight I’ll let him know that you tried contacting him.”
“Is everything okay, Charla?” he asked her suddenly.
She looked at him with slight confusion. “Why would you ask me that?”
“Well it’s been a few days now. I was wondering how you were coping with being in this town instead of the city. That’s all.”
Charla thought about it before answering him. “I do like it here, though I know it’ll be a bit of an adjustment. But so far it’s good.”
He smiled. “Good, I’m glad to hear it.”
Charla went to leave the house only to stop when she opened the door, it wasn’t any of her business in how a person dealt with loss, but the fact that Nina always seemed to be alone bugged her.
“Uncle, you said that Nina cleaning and organizing the house was a coping mechanism for her loss.” She looked back him. “So if that’s true do you think that you constantly working non-stop and not coming home for days is yours?”
He looked at her with a slight shocked expression unable to say anything in response as Charla looked at him with an unwavering gaze.
“I’ll be back around ten or so, give or take where I go. See you when I get back unless you’re called in for work.” and then left before Isaac had the chance to say anything to her in response. In truth it wasn’t her place to say something like, but she couldn’t help but feel that no one had ever told him that. He should be a father first when it came to his kid, but then was Charla any better? Calling him out on how he dealt with his loss, sure it wasn’t the best but it could have been wore then what it was.
She stopped in her run to look back at the house. Perhaps I went too far with what I said… but I doubt no one else had seeing his expression made me realize that he hadn’t heard it before. At least not from family... She sighed. “But then I’m one to talk aren’t I?”
With one last look at the house Charla continued on her run.
She ran around areas that Alex hadn’t showed her, the town felt massive even though the area on the map made it look so small. When her father first showed her where it was located it was when she and her brother were only six years old. It was odd, thinking of it back then it only looked like a small dot compared to that of the city, but now being here, in this town that looked no more than a small dot on a map, ten years later, felt almost surreal.
Like it was nothing more than a dream.
But then she knew that wasn’t the case, this was reality, it wasn’t a dream in the end her own brother was dead and she had her head trauma, there was nothing more to it. Even if it still hurt no matter how many years went by.
Shaking her head from such thoughts Charla continued on her run until she reached the beach, the sun was still slowly rising but there were already a few people out, some fishing, others watching the sun rise, most of them in there elder years.
Charla closed her eyes and inhaled the sea salt air as the wind brushed through her flesh and hair, it felt almost calming in a way that brought a slight smile to her face.
She did like it here.
Her gaze was then caught by the sight of a large cave along the beaches rim in the distance. She looked at it and recalled what the news caster and her uncle had told her the night before. Along with the images she thought she had in her head.
Maybe… she thought to herself. Maybe if I go to that place then I could recall what happened. The city was too large, too many places to even guess as to where something like a fight could have happened. This town is big but not hard to move around. But if I do go there, and I remember what happened then what can I even do with it? She ran her hand over her face. “Why do things like this always have to be so damn complicated? Stupid brain…”
She looked back to the cave with slight narrowed eyes and began to move forward only to stop when a familiar voice called out to her.
“Heading over there might not be the best choice. You might get hurt.”
She turned to see a person that she really didn’t expect to see. “Mordecai?”
The upper class-man stood along the boardwalk wearing dark blue jeans and dark knit sweater, the white tips of a long sleeved shirt peaked out as he waved at her. “What are you doing here?” he asked as he joined her on to the beach.
“Jogging, I figured I could get a better idea about the town by doing this, besides it’s my normal routine, something I used to do back in the city. What about you? Why are you here, and with that camera?”
“Ah,” he held up what looked to be a rather expensive camera. “I come here often to take photos of things and people sometimes in the morning or sometimes at night. Or just around town, though I know it might seem a little strange.”
She gave him a puzzled stare. “Why?”
“So I can paint them.”
Her confusion grew as she tried picturing Mordecai putting paint on a random stranger, least to say it was a bit of a stretch. “Paint them?”
“I’m in the art club at school; I take photos and go over them, and the ones I happen to like the most I turn into a painting. Small or big it doesn’t matter to me.”
“Oh I see, that makes much more sense.” It was his turn to look puzzled but her gaze turned to that of the cave in the distance. “You said I might get hurt if I go to that cave, are you saying that because of the incidents involving illegal fight clubs?”
Mordecai looked to the cave as he held up his camera. “Something like that, though that place is one that they don’t go too. There are just a number of falling rocks from its ceiling that fall and people can get badly hurt from it. It’s one of the reasons why those who do those illegal fights don’t go because they don’t want to lose revenue or bets. But in the past few days the lot of them have been arrested with all their money stolen from some unknown person.”
Charla bit the inside of her cheek to stop herself from flinching. “Is that so?”
“Yeah, a vigilantly some folks here are calling it, stopping those that the police haven’t been able to find. Makes you wonder why though…”
Mordecai looked down at Charla mainly at the back of her head. “How are you feeling by the way?”
She turned to look at him. “I told you I was okay; I mean it’s been a week already.”
“No,” he said with a shake of his head. “What I meant to say or ask, if you were thirsty, you probably are after running so much. There’s a convince store close by.”
“Oh…” that’s what he meant. I really need to get used to the concept of people that worry other than my father. “Sure, I guess lead the way.” And then began to follow him. This isn’t the city, but… Charla eyed his back with a slight wary stare. Why do I feel like I know him from somewhere? If only I could remember, maybe I can’t because of the accident? But he isn’t saying anything so maybe I’m wrong…
The walk to the ocean side connivance store wasn’t all that long, but on the way they did pass a number of people that spoke openly to Mordecai, most of them seemed to be elderly asking how the new school year was treating him and how his older brother was with his new job as a detective.
Charla would back away slightly and look at her surroundings of the town but also listen in to the conversation. When the old women were gone on their way Charla and Mordecai continued on when he said.
“You don’t have to walk away from us you know; you’re more than welcome to join the conversation.”
“I figured you’d want some kind of privacy.”
“And yet you were still close enough to hear everything that we were saying.” She looked at him with slight surprise in which he added. “My brother and I do the same thing sometimes, he told me about it since he came back from the city been doing it ever since.”
“You don’t think it’s rude?” she said with a questioning stare.
“There are tons of people on the planet that would find anything rude; some people are just overly sensitive. Besides, here in a town like this people will talk about everything, to everyone regardless of what it might be.” he turned to look at her. “Like you for example.”
She frowned. “Me?”
“Yes, you’re the Liebert’s granddaughter, a lot of those in this town are wondering about you and what your like.”
“What I’m like, good question.” Mordecai looked at her as she put her hands in her jacket pockets. “I honestly don’t even know myself now. What I’m like, who I’m supposed to be like, or how I should act. Things like that just elude me now.” She offered him a slight warry smile. “But that might just be the head trauma talking.”
After a moment he spoke. “I guess, though I’m not sure what I really want to do either. Some have it all laid out, but I know I have options, like my photography, painting or music, but I enjoy the first and second one now much more then I had the third.”
He stopped to stare at her, something about the look in those golden eyes made her think that she really did know him from somewhere. “Because I lost my only rival…”
Lost his rival? “In what way?”
He paused for a moment before speaking. “He died. After his death and the like I saw no point in continuing on even though it was something my parents wanted I rebelled against it. He gave me the challenge I needed, that’s what I always felt I needed and he gave it to me.”
“Were you and him friends or just enemies?”
He gave a short laugh. “I wouldn’t call us enemies; we were friends in a sense since we were both doing music for our own personal reasons. He would never tell me what it was but I could guess as to what. And in truth I thought of him better for it. But when he died, I no longer had interest; I guess because of that it opened up my mind to that of the camera and art. I do still play though from time to time so feel free to ask me to play something for you I can.”
She laughed. “Really? You’d play me something?”
Mordecai gave a modest shrug. “I don’t see the problem for it.”
Charla’s smile became more somber. “As nice as it sounds I don’t think it’d be a good idea. My brother used to play, and… I think it would just make me sad. Sorry Mordecai.”
He merely shrugged in response. “It’s alright, but if you ever do change your mind I’m always in the art room so just come by and ask. I’m more than willing.”
“Thank you,” then she added. “Um, about your brother, I actually met him yesterday. You and Claude do look a lot alike.”
“Except for the hair,” Mordecai said suddenly as he tugged a lock of his. “Mine’s wavy but his is very straight. Some people wonder why that might be…”
“I think it’s fine, besides, mine is kind of straight it’s pretty boring. But uh, getting off track, your brother became detective really fast, I think that’s amazing.”
“It surprised my family to tell the truth. My brother just one day goes up to my Dad and says “I’m going to be a detective” and then left just like that. He shot up the ranks pretty quick to becoming a detective, faster than anyone else in the city from what I’m told then came back here two years ago and is now currently partnered with your uncle.”
I rephrase that from amazing to downright scary… “Why did he want to become a detective though?”
Mordecai shrugged. “No idea, I guess it was just something he wanted to do. My brother has the drive for it I’ll give him that.”
“He seemed nice when I met him, and my uncle seems to like him too.” then changed the subject. “By the way is this connivance store really all that close, it doesn’t feel like it.”
He pointed across the road. “Actually it’s right over there.”
“Oh…” she then followed him into the store, it looked rather small but it had everything that a connivance store would have, her eyes glanced around the area noting the isles and how the place looked rather clean and organized. Close to the window there was a rack of magazines, but all of them looked to be at least a month or so old. And at the back where the cold drinks were kept, one machine in particular had an out of order sign with its light flicking on and off and a wet floor sign next to it.
“A number of people tend to head towards the new mall that just opened last year.” Mordecai said as he handed her a bottled drink of water. “That’s why not many people tend to come by here all that often.”
Charla took the drink and began to walk to the man to the cash register when Mordecai spoke up.
“You don’t need to worry about that, it’s already been paid for.”
“But I could pay for it.” Charla said as she took out her wallet only to stop when she had unzipped it. Mordecai looked at her slightly in concern.
“Is something wrong?”
Charla quickly shook her head in response. “No I just forgot to take out some money. Is there an ATM nearby?”
“Yeah over there. it’s around the corner” he said pointing in the direction to the other end of the store before Charla then headed quickly to it as he called to her. “I already said you don’t have to worry about paying, I took care of it.”
But she didn’t say anything in response as she then quickly rounded the corner of the store and leaned against the wall and with a shaky hand she opened her wallet and began to count. “One… two… three… four… five…” then slammed her wallet shut. She grit her teeth then ran her hand through her hair and let out a breath. “This is bad…” she looked through her wallet at the money again before closing it again; no she couldn’t do it here. It wasn’t safe here too many eyes around.
Putting her wallet away Charla and rounded the corner and quickly going to Mordecai.
“I’m sorry but, I need to go. I have to head back home soon.”
“Is that so? Okay, just watch out for cars.” He said nether looking bothered or surprised by her sudden need of departure. “See you on school on Monday.”
“Yeah… same to you.” then quickly headed out of the small store and quickly headed home. When she got there, she quietly peaked into the house to see if her uncle was in the kitchen area which he currently was not. “Good he’s not there,” she still felt bad for what she said to him before leaving the house.
She’d have to give him a proper apology later but right now…
Silently, Charla moved up the stairs and headed into her room and locking the door before taking her wallet and dumping the contents of it on to the floor. There was a lot more money in here than before, counting it out she discovered there was at least eight hundred and fifty five dollars and change.
“Damn it…” she muttered to herself as she looked at the amount of warn dollar bills. “I really did do it again. What the hell?” only a small portion of sixty dollars was actually her’s but the rest was a complete unknown. Running a hand through her hair she reached to the back of her head where the scare lay from the accident and the subsequent surgery that she had two years later that now hid underneath her hair before she pulled out the elastic and lay sprawled out on the floor. “Why does this keep happening?” she looked back to the money and sighed. She couldn’t leave the money lying around, or in her wallet. Though it never did seem to last, what’s more it’d be gone in two days, she was sure it wasn’t spent since she could never find any receipts or anything new in that nature. It was like it would just vanish into thin air.
For now though, all she could do was hide it away in her dresser draw like before back in the city and try to figure out where it might have come from.
This shouldn’t surprise me. Just because you move to a new place doesn’t mean the bad things stop. It will always follow you Charla, even if you hope that it doesn’t.
She looked to her hands and grasped them together and let out a slow steady breath. For now she could only hope that at least for a time things wouldn’t get worse.