Translation-Chapter 1

Sunday, May 2, 2010 6:32 PM By crosswaysnet , In

Chapter 1 (November, 2006 - New Kassel, Texas):

The woman had been staring at the computer screen for a long time. It was getting dark already and a gloom had descended on the office. It felt appropriate. Soon she would be expected home to finish putting food on the table.
A steely blue glow was beginning to reflect off the polished desk as the parking lot lights blinked on one by one. Sonja Blackman looked out the large bay of windows at the colorless form of her hybrid Toyota Camry sitting alone in the parking lot. She should leave right now, she knew. Still, she was drawn back to the screen trying to make the message mean something else.
It was just a spreadsheet - a bank of numbers - but the meaning of what she saw was apparent. But there must be some other explanation. There had to be. For two hours she had not been willing to accept it. Finally, dread was winning the argument inside her head, weighing it down until it landed on the desk in front of her keyboard. She sighed, then she cried.
"Everything we've worked for - for seven years, down the drain with this!" She spit out the words, hot and angry. There would be no washing this clean. No 'spin.' No way to salvage it. It was over. Everything was over. "No, no, NO!" She practically screamed as she banged her head a little on the desktop.
More tears.
Sonja's cell phone rang, shocking her upright. It was playing the Wedding March, instantly notifying her of the caller. She sucked in her breath and wiped her eyes quickly with her sleeve.
"Hi, honey!" The words didn't sound quite right, but she was doing her best. "I know it's late, but I was just leaving."
Mitch Blackman instantly heard the stress in her voice and it caught him off guard. Tuesdays didn't usually mean trouble, plus it was spaghetti and game night with the kids. That was always something that relaxed both of them. He stirred the pot a little slower with his left hand as he held the phone with the other.
"Hon, are you OK?"
Sonja had recovered enough to keep it straight. "Oh, yeah - I'm OK. Just some bad news today. Guess I'll need to fill you in a little later tonight. Did you need me to stop and get something for dinner?"
"Wow, I'm sorry to hear it... Uh, yeah. I was just calling to see if you'd pick up some parmesan cheese on the way home, but don't sweat it. Just get home so we can talk. Are you sure you're OK?"
"Sure, Honey. I'm fine. I'll be home soon. Go ahead and serve the kids."
"Will do. And I mean it - just come on home. There's no 'cheese emergency' around here.'"
"Bye, Mitch."
"Bye, Hon. I love..."
The connection was already dead, which bothered Mitch. He clicked off the cordless and turned back to the stove.
Sonja was thinking quickly and decided she needed a copy of the evidence. Quickly, she printed the spreadsheet, placed it in a manila envelope and pulled her large satchel up from the floor. She started to stuff the paperwork into the front pocket. She reconsidered a moment later and slid the envelope under her center desk drawer, tucking it on top of the two tension wires attached to the steel bottom.
She erased all the files from her desktop computer and carefully avoided re-saving the original to the office server so the modify date wouldn't change. Checking her desk one last time, Sonja gathered her things, turned out her desk light and followed the dim illumination of the 'exit' sign to the lobby door. She stopped to arm the system, seeing the engraved brass plaque next to it.
"Go in peace - serve the Lord with gladness!"
"Nothing glad about it tonight," she said to herself, choking up again. She felt anything but peaceful.
The countdown beep began. Sonja stepped out into the slight drizzle and chill of November, locked the door and made for her car. Inside, she hesitated again. Other than the faint buzzing of the street lights outside, the only other sound was the thumping of her fist on the steering wheel. She was suddenly dreading having to face her husband. She was conflicted and growing desperate. He would be devastated, she knew it. The news would rock his world in a different way. She was becoming very fearful of what might become of him.
Another fear suddenly surprised her. What if I'm not safe? It seemed paranoid, but the idea was growing more plausible as she sat there thinking about it. The author of that spreadsheet is dead, after all, she thought.
Sonja began to panic. She reached for her legal pad and began to scratch out a note. Perhaps it would give her the courage to tell Mitch everything if she prefaced it on paper:

Dear Mitch,

What I need to tell you tonight is something I wish to God never happened. I know it will hurt you. It will also paint me in a bad light. No escaping that. Please know that what's happened devastates me as well. I'm not sure I can bear it.

Sonja stopped writing. "This is stupid!" she yelled at herself. More angry now, she ripped the top sheet off the pad, crumpled it up and threw it on the floor. "He's my husband. I can talk to him. He'll know how to deal with this. He'll be OK." She started the engine and pulled onto the road carefully. It was raining now.
Mitch was not OK. He had stared at the empty place setting for an hour. He toyed with the Boggle pieces, slowly putting them back in their box. The kids were in bed and he was growing seriously worried. He'd gotten her voice mailbox twice now. Soon he'd be angry. Not that she'd never been late before. It was insane that the job of a church administrator could be that demanding.
The phone rang, and his nightmare began. It was ten o'clock and the ring indicated it was the house line, not the private number he was expecting. It was the last time that particular phone would ever ring.
Mitch answered cautiously. It was Jim Hughes, a family friend and member of their town's volunteer fire department. Mitch's blood was turning to ice.
"Uh, Mitch, I've been called out tonight."
There was a long pause with the sound of radios crackling in the background. Mitch heard Jim clear his throat.
"I'm sending Bill and KC over. Do you think you could come with them?"
"I've got the kids, Jim. What do you need to tell me? Is she alive?" The sound of Mitch's voice was flat and hinting at the rage to come.
"It's not good, friend. I'll have KC stay there as long as you need." Mitch could hear Jim's voice beginning to crack. He knew there was no point in pressing his friend further. He just hung up.
So far he was under control, but he realized a cracking sound was coming from the cheap phone in his hand. With a guttural moan he slammed it on the stainless steel counter, breaking it in half. He could hear it giving him the "If you'd like to make a call..." message. He grabbed the base unit and yanked the cord out of the wall.
Not thirty seconds later a soft knock came from the front door. Mitch Blackman grabbed his windbreaker and headed for the door.


cindy said...

cant' wait to read the next chapter!

May 12, 2010 at 2:42 PM

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