If you are new to Darlene’s Story, here’s the gist: Darlene Whitman always heard that you can pick your friends but not your family. She realizes the lie in this statement when nosy eighty-two-year-old neighbor, Myrtle Crawford, insists on helping unravel the mystery behind the disappearances of her husband and father. Darlene discovers her father’s involvement in illegal cancer drug testing, which is also linked to her husband’s courier business. Her ties to Myrtle are more complicated than she thought, and now, she must piece together the truth before it’s too late to save either of them.
The last segment left off with Darlene alluding to Jeff’s multiple appearances/disappearances since his faked death eight years ago. (Jeff was Darlene’s father’s business partner and pseudo uncle.)
And now, for the next segment in the story:
Jeff’s eyebrows knitted together. Then, suddenly, he laughed. “Like the possum, I understand that faking can be key to survival. Sadly, Dottie and her husband didn’t have the skills.”
She gasped. “You killed them. And left my scarf to implicate me.”
Jeff shrugged. “I had to make you run. It worked.”
“That’s it? It’s that easy? You can talk about killing two people in the same manner you’d tell me you ate tuna salad for lunch?”
“Actually, I had a grilled chicken sandwich.”
“Look, survival is about one thing: kill or be killed. It’s not hard to choose which actions to take.”
With her elbow, Darlene pressed her tote bag to her side and felt the handle of Jeff’s stolen gun through the fake leather. “That, I understand.” Myrtle’s words ran through her mind again. If you need someone to confide in, Jeff is on our side.
“Tell me about my mom’s death.”
Jeff leaned back and sighed.
“You claim to be for justice. Prove it.”
He focused his stare on the faux wood tabletop. “It shouldn’t have happened.”
“Did my father inject her with aggressive cancer?”
His gaze snapped up and held Darlene’s for several seconds. His eyes, glassy with tears. “Do you remember how even the nurses tending to her wore protective gear from head to toe?”
She nodded and uttered a half-laugh. “It felt like the set of a sci-fi movie, with each face a pair of eyes peering over a sterile white mask.”
Silence brewed for several heavy seconds.
“So, he did it.”
Gaze averted, he muttered, “With his gun at my head…”
His lip quivered. “I-I did.”
Darlene narrowed her eyes. “What’s going on?”
“I loved her. Always did,” Jeff whispered. “He hated that.”
“Oh, God. Please don’t tell me you had an affair.”
“No! I loved her too much. Your mother was a pawn.”
“Her death served as a warning.”
“Did he love her?” Darlene’s voice sounded as hollow as her insides felt.
I wanted to write a special “thank you” to those who read, and voted for, the last segment I wrote to Darlene’s Story. It was a community-voted challenge and tied for first place. I appreciate everyone’s support and comments as the story progresses!
This is my response to the Trifecta weekly challenge, which is to write a 33 to 333-word response (mine is 333) using the following word/definition:
MASK (noun): 3.(a) a protective covering for the face; (b) gas mask; (c) a device covering the mouth and nose to facilitate inhalation; (d) a comparable device to prevent exhalation of infective material; (e) a cosmetic preparation for the skin of the face that produces a tightening effect as it dries
If you want to read other responses, or try the challenge yourself, click on link above to view Trifecta’s site. Happy writing (and reading!)
This continuation of Darlene’s Story is still in Darlene’s point of view. Click here for Darlene’s Story page if you want to read the entire piece. Thanks for stopping by!