While at Frank’s parents’ house, Marka gets a call from her mother. She doesn’t think it’s all that strange until her mother says she’s had one of her accurate, and sometimes frightening, premonitions.
“Something’s wrong though, I can hear it in your voice. Don’t be evasive, Marka.”
Marka walked into the living room. Quietly and quickly, she told her mother what had happened over the last few days.
“Keep an eye on your man,” her mother cautioned.
“Something’s going on that’s more than either of you realizes. I don’t know how I know things, Marka.”
“But you’re hardly wrong, Mom. That scares me. I can’t tell you how much. Something is wrong. And it’s all to do with Ralph.”
“Not entirely. Tell Frank to call. . . .” She paused, like she was listening. “It’s a name. Jay or Ray? No. Shay. Tell him to call Shay immediately.”
“What? Now? Mom, he’s been drinking. . . .”
“It really can’t wait. Shay. Tell him that. He’ll know.”
“I will, Mom. After dinner. . . .”
“Now.” She hung up.
It wasn’t the weirdest conversation she’d ever had with her mother, but it was among the top five. She walked to the back porch where Frank was smoking a cigarette with his father and drinking another beer. They were laughing loudly, probably something sexual, because they stopped abruptly when she came out.
“Frank, this is going to sound really weird. So listen and don’t say anything.”
“Okay.” He half rose from his chair.
“Do you know someone named Shay?”
Fully erect, he rolled his shoulders uncomfortably. His mouth firmed, his jaw working fast and furious.
“How do you know that name?” His voice and stance grew menacing.
Tom advanced, tongs in hand, standing between his son and Marka. Although they were the same height and build, he seemed dwarfed by his son. Negative emotions radiated from Frank. His eyes burned with dark fire.
“Marka?” His tone was cold, penetrating. He wanted an answer.
Paula, seeing something amiss, came onto the porch. She stood by protectively, waiting.
“This is going to sound crazy. My mother senses things. She knew before I even told her, that something bad was going on. While we were talking, she told me to tell you to call Shay. Immediately. She said you’d know. She told me it was very important to call right away.”
Frank sucked in his cheeks, eyes narrowing. Nostrils flaring, he whipped out his phone. Turning away from them, he punched in a number and waited. They heard him talking in low, clipped tones.
Purposely ignoring him, they talked quietly together. Marka explained what her mother had said.
“Normally, that sort of thing wouldn’t make much of an impression,” she concluded. “But Mom’s never been wrong. Her impressions are always on target. She’s so accurate, it’s spooky.”
“To know a name like that,” Paula said. “Shay isn’t a common name.”
“It sure got a rise out of Frank. He knew exactly who you
meant,” Tom said.
“I know.” Marka shuddered. The expression in Frank’s eyes terrified her. It was like gazing into the pits of doom.
Tom put his arm around her. “He’s got a lot of secrets, Marka. He can’t help that, considering what he did in the Army. Give him time.”
She nodded, hugging herself. Paula led her back into the house and gave her a hot cup of tea. Frank was on the phone quite a while, talking in rapid, hushed tones. He looked and sounded angry. No, not angry, Marka deduced. Terrified.
He slid the phone back in his pocket. Snatching up his beer, he gulped it down and lit another cigarette. His father handed him a beer. He took it with a nod. Leaning against the railing, he downed it, puffing agitatedly on the cigarette. Another beer appeared in his hand and he finished it too before turning around.
Paula led Marka outside, keeping in front of the younger woman. She kept her distance from her son. His father was the only one who stood close to him.
“Colonel Arnold Shay was my commander in Iraq,” Frank began without preamble. “He’s now at the Pentagon and a very hard man to get ahold of.”
He didn’t explain how he’d managed to get through without too much difficulty. No one said a word, waiting for him to continue.
“For you to pull that name out of thin air was—disturbing. I haven’t even thought of him since we buried Clay.”
His hands shook as he tried to light another cigarette. His father lit it for him. He barely acknowledged it.
“As a matter of fact, he’s been trying to reach me at home.”
“Why didn’t he call your cell?” Paula asked.
“He had his reasons.”
He wouldn’t give anymore than that, even if they begged him. Paula didn’t press.
“Why did he want to talk to you?” Marka asked, sensing that he wouldn’t answer her.
“If I told you, I’d have to kill you.”
© Dellani Oakes