"What's up, honey girl?" Glenn asked as she came in the house.
"I just hadn't seen you in a while," Melora smiled, but she wasn't fooling Glenn, at least not for long, "You haven't seen the new garage, carport and deck. Let's go up there; I'll bring some lemonade."
"I'll get it," Glenn insisted, "You know you need at least one hand on the bannister."
Everyone close to Melora knew that she didn't like stairs and was clumsy to boot. John had always teased her, saying,
"She trips over dust. How can anyone dance so divinely and then be such a klutz?"
"This is gorgeous!" Glenn said as they sat down and enjoyed the view looking out into the cove. There was a nice breeze and the lemonade was home-made; the best kind. They just spent time catching up, mostly talking about their grown children and what was new in their lives.
When it got too hot on the deck they decided to take a dip in the pool. Afterward they stretched out on chaise lounges. By and by Melora's cat meandered out to check on things and get some attention.
"So is John getting along with the cat better or is he still jealous?" Glenn laughed.
"Actually he's become fond of her, in his own way," Melora said, crouching down to stroke the animal.
"What's her name again?" Glenn asked.
Glenn winked and sang with enthusiasm,
"Blacker than night were the eyes of Felina,
Ricked and evil while casting a spell.
My love was strong for this Mexican maiden,
I was in love, but in vain I could tell."
"Yes, I was thinking of that song when I named her. Not bad singing either, Glennie," Melora laughed.
"Oh, yeah, right. You're the singer, girl, not me. But I admit Marty Robbins was pretty good in his way, too. Anyway, you'll have to come over and meet my little Chiquitita--funny how we both ended up using Hispanic names for our pets. Gareth called her a rat-dog, but she's a cutie."
[Marty Robbins and El Paso (lyrics included)]
"I haven't seen your new place either so I promise I'll come by soon."
"What about later today? When's the old man get back? Where'd he go anyway?" Glenn was almost always irreverent about John; they'd grown up together and only she and their other childhood friend Jim Candeloro had dared to give him a hard time. They felt it was their duty to do so at every opportunity and he usually returned in kind.
Just for a second she could detect a slight hesitation and frown from Melora, just a flash and it was gone.
"He had to go to Atlanta on one of his quarterly checks. He was supposed to get back on Monday, but he called this morning and said he might stop by Lassiter Contractors in Charlotte on the way back which will add another 36 hours probably. I'd rather come by your home another day, though, if it's okay. There are projects I should get done around the house while he's gone; it's easier for me when he's not interrupting."
Glenn pretended not to notice the pause and nodded her head,
"Sure, any time," then she referred to the information about John hitting Charlotte after Atlanta, "He might as well take care of it on the way home; that makes sense."
"Well, why don't I make us a late lunch," Melora spoke brightly and the subject was effectively closed.
It was getting dark and Glenn knew she should head home, but Melora was beginning to worry her. For one thing, she'd been almost too cheerful through dinner, and there was a niggling feeling at the back of Glenn's neck. She wondered if Melora was nervous staying alone while John was out of town. But after all these years she'd seemed to be fine whenever John was gone; he always called twice each day at those times and, anyway, they had an excellent security system. Nevertheless Glenn was loathe to go and suggested a quick game before she left.
When they were finally finished she stood up and said,
"Well, toots, I guess I'd better shove off and let you get some sleep."
"Thanks for coming over," Melora said as she turned off the game and the television. Suddenly she looked so alone to Glenn. And vulnerable. Poop on this.
"Okay, kid," she said, "Let's get down on the floor for one of our old-time gabfests and you can tell me what the heck is going on. My radar is going crazy."
Melora appeared stunned for a second but then, looking resigned, she sighed and nodded,
"All right, we haven't done that in a long time."
They sat cross-legged on the rug and Melora said,
"You have to understand; these are just feelings. I'm not sure about anything. And I haven't told you before now because I didn't want to put you in the middle."
Glenn kept her face expressionless. John, old pal of mine, what have you done?
Melora went forward with her concerns, her suspicions and doubts. She told Glenn everything.
[Chapter where Melora first begins to suspect John is "stepping out" HERE]
"There must be a reasonable explanation," Glenn said, trying to figure it out, "Because I know that man loves you more than his life. He always has. Have you...asked him directly?"
Melora answered with understandable sarcasm,
"Well, no, I haven't said 'Oh, John, honey, I was wondering; are you having an affair?' But a couple of different times I've asked if something is bothering him and he always says that everything is fine, no problems at all. After that, for a couple days anyway, he's his old self again and practically chases me around the house. I don't want to insult him by asking if there's another woman if he's doing nothing wrong. Besides I couldn't bear to even voice my concerns out loud," her throat seemed to close up and she closed her eyes for a moment, but then she gained control and went on, "But now for the last couple weeks he's really been more remote than ever and I just don't know what to do anymore."
"Well John's been distant and tight-lipped with the rest of the world since he was learning to talk, but you've always been the exception; he's always told you everything as far as I can tell. I admit it doesn't make much sense," Glenn agreed, "Do you think he might be ill?"
"He had a complete physical a few months ago and they said he was in tip top shape, at least that's what he says. He looks better than ever, in fact, which is infuriating sometimes. WHY do men age so much better?"
"Probably it just seems so because society doesn't expect them to have unlined rose petal skin, perky breasts and firm thighs forever. So their wrinkles are referred to as "craggy" and they are described as "ruggedly handsome" and their gray hair supposedly makes them "distinguished". The egotistical bums," Glenn cracked, "Although I personally see plenty of badly aged men with man-boobs, bald spots and pot-bellies. All men seem to see themselves through rose colored glasses, glossing over any defects while women look at themselves as cubist sculpture seeing every single imperfection through a magnifying glass. Even the most beautiful woman will tell you her flaws without having to think about it. Of course, John is not one of the pot-bellied old men out there and you wouldn't want him to be, either."
"I might prefer it now," Melora muttered darkly.
"Listen, I'm sure there's nothing to it, but how about I check around and see what I can find out?"
"You mean like a...private eye?" Melora looked apprehensive.
"I was a good one, you know; I'll come out of retirement," Glenn mouth quirked and then she said seriously, "I'm sure there will be some good reason for his actions that is easily explainable, and then you can relax."
"Oh, Glenn, you two are so close; I couldn't ask you to do that. I know you love him," Melora shook her head.
"Well, I love you too, you know, and I don't want you to be worrying over what might be nothing."
"Thank you so much, Glenn, it has been so good to talk to someone about it. I love you to pieces, but I'm going to have to struggle through without you doing that. It's just not fair to you."
They both stood up and Glenn hugged her saying,
"Honey girl, it will work out; I know it will. Because I know how important you are to him. I know my boy."
As she drove home Glenn thought about all she'd heard and began to worry. Do I really know my boy? Melora had said she couldn't ASK her to investigate but she hadn't actually said Glenn could NOT investigate on her own. And the sooner the better, she decided. She had many questions. Was John really in Atlanta--or elsewhere? Why had he suddenly extended the length of his trip? Was he telling the truth? Atlanta, that was the place to start. She'd find out if he was, indeed, where he said he was. Although she loved John her former profession as a cop in New York and later a P.I. in Atlanta and Charlotte had made her rather cynical about what people would or would not do. She wanted and needed to do this for Melora, but she was suddenly sick at heart. What if she found out something terrible...?
Next blog update: Lalique Flynn Ch. 4 Goodbye to All That
Glenn Caswell Ch. 8 Heard It Through the Grapevine Pt. 1
Glenn Caswell Ch. 8 Heard It Through the Grapevine Pt. 1