Insight is a spell binding suspense thriller that will keep you intrigued and always wanting for more. The debut novel of author Valerie CJ McGee follows a blind woman, Samantha Robertson, on her search to discover why she has been bound to a woman she has never met.
It is through the eyes of Rachael Maxwell that a blind woman, Samantha Robertson, has been able to continue to see. They share this sight only through dreams. When Rachael plunges ten stories in Brooklyn, New York, it is Samantha who unwittingly becomes the only eye-witness.
Who will believe a blind woman in California could have seen what happened? Discovering that Rachael did in fact exist, Samantha leaves the safety of her home to discover why they are bound to each other.
Samantha encounters a young detective, Brian Reynolds, who has continued to investigate Rachael's case after it was closed. Together they uncover answers to questions they never knew to ask.
Long held secrets are uncovered and the haunted man who set off this intriguing search for Insight is drawn out. Once you get pulled into the story you won't want to put it down.
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Samantha gently brushed Dexter’s hair. She had already removed his harness, scratched, massaged and embraced him just as she has done every time they returned home for the day. Samantha couldn’t quite imagine how life would be without him. They had already been together for seven loving years. He would leave her sometime within the next decade. She was all too familiar with loss and had come to accept it as a natural and inevitable part of life. It had been a long troubling day. There was nothing she wanted more than a hot bubble bath and the sweet release of sleep.
In a way, the baths were a gift from her mother. Frankly, she couldn’t function without the feel of soapy bubbles enveloping her body. Dex lay down in his favorite spot, where the hot afternoon sun could lull him to sleep. He raised his head for only a moment when the front door slammed and a heavy pair of feet made their way through the first floor of the house, before Dex drifted off to sleep. There was no need to be alarmed, that was the norm whenever Tim was around. Timothy worked crazy hours and no right-minded being would attempt to keep track of his comings and goings. Often, he wasn’t around for several days at a time.
Tim flicked on the bathroom light as he entered. Not realizing Samantha was in the bathtub, he nearly sprayed the walls when she let a giggle escape her lips.
“Damn, I wish you’d either turn the lights on or lock the door Sam.”
“Why? I can’t see you and with the bubbles all the way up to my neck, I doubt you can see much of me either!”
As he pulled up his zipper, “That’s not the point! It’s embarrassing!”
“With all your girlfriends, I wouldn’t think you have anything to be embarrassed about,” she laughed.
They had gone through this routine countless times before.
“Sam, when you’re finished bathing, we’ll talk, even though I don’t know why I bother. Suppose it was one of my friends, instead of me. I don’t need any of them seeing you in the tub, bare-ass naked.”
“Well, then let them use the downstairs bathroom.”
“We’ll talk later, okay?!” He yelled over his shoulder, while walking out and shutting the door behind him.
“And wash your hands! God! You’d think by now you’d know better,” she yelled back still obviously amused at his discomfort.
The past few weeks, Samantha had not slept well. Both physically and mentally exhausted, she had taken to leaving work early and taking naps in the late afternoon. She finished her almost ritualistic cleansing and entered her boudoir. It was a true reflection of her essence. Silver satin, soft, sensual and practical, all at once, the sheets seemed too delicate to lie on, yet, when light struck in just the right way, they gave the appearance of cold harsh metal. Easy elegance was all around her, the only ornaments were a few sculptures she had acquired—a bust in gunmetal, the bronze head of a horse with its mane flowing, a pewter dragon and more of the same. Throughout the house, beyond the confines of her sanctum, were creations of her own gifted hands. The warm Pacific air wafted an easy breeze through her opened window. Sliding between the sheets, remembrances of family outings at sea came to her mind. They too, were sacrifices she’d been forced to make, along with all hopes of becoming a private investigator with her big brother. As far as she could recall, they had planned on being partners in daring dos. Intrigue, she knew now it would never be. Even Tim had settled for following in their father’s footsteps, with a career in law enforcement. Proud as she was of his promotion to detective, it just wasn’t the same. But, at least he’d gotten closer to their fantasy than she could ever hope to.
Samantha floated off to an easy sleep. Soon, she converged into her own private world, a rather odd dream state achieved without any conscious desire to do so. These peculiar dreams had existed all of her life. Even after more than two decades, she could think of no logical reason for them. At times, she dreaded them, but, there was a larger part of her that welcomed the strange escapes from her reality. They allowed for a much more diverse perspective on life by living on both sides of the proverbial fence. As a child, she knew what it felt like to be orphaned, to have no one with whom to call kin, even as she enjoyed her close-knit family. Then, as a teenager she fought fiercely for her independence and soon had lovers, a couple of diehard friends that she hungered for when awake and under the protective eyes of her father and brother.
As Rachael, she knew the thrill of conquering all the obstacles fate lay in her path, not so unlike her real world. Most important of all was the gift of sight. It was an odd but grateful exchange. When she lost both her mother and her sight, she had the vision of her dreams. In her other self, she gained surrogate parents and saw as much of the world, money and opportunity allowed. The dreams gave her an insight that extended beyond her limitations, becoming a woman that made her often regret waking from.
They were not like normal dreams where everything and anything are possible no matter how bizarre. There are things that no one can do, except in dreams, but these dreams weren’t like that. She simply became someone else. She looked the same, liked a lot of the same things, but as Rachael Olivia Maxwell, nothing of any great importance remained, except for the middle name and the indomitable spirit of a fighter.
Timothy had almost forgotten to have his talk with Samantha. He wasn’t quite sure he was up to it. Explaining broken dates to his assortment of women friends was mentally exhausting. Anyone who had ever had the misfortune to get into verbal battles, which is what their talk would’ve become, knew it required a lot of mental stamina. He peered into her room and for a moment, couldn’t help but admire how extraordinarily beautiful his sister was. She looked so much like their mother, that all who entered their home for the first time were immediately convinced that the large sculpture in the living-room was of Samantha. In truth, she was the sculptor but it was a likeness of Adrienne, done by memory. Timothy looked instead exactly like their father. At four years old, Tim had his heart set on a little brother. That long hot summer at his grandparents made even worse, the fears of his best friend, Brian. But the moment those big doe-like brown eyes peered out from within the folds of a baby blanket, it was love. Other than Brian, Tim couldn’t think of a single person that didn’t fall helplessly in love with her. Watching from the doorway, a deep pain coursed through him. She was far too wonderful a person to spend the rest of her days alone. He knew that sooner or preferably, later, he’d settle down and she was far too independent to agree to live with him. Adrienne’s sudden death made the awareness of their mortality become very much a destiny they all would have to experience. After the death of their father what would she do?
“Well Kiddo, I guess we’ll talk later,” Tim whispered. He blew a kiss and left for the courts.
It was seven o’clock Pacific time. Daniel strode into the front door like always. He was quite use to his son’s disappearances, they were not unlike the ones that had almost threatened his marriage in its early years. Adrienne had gone through a number of changes during that time. Daniel knew he’d been luckier than most of his colleagues in that they were able to recapture the mutual love and respect they had for each other. If anything, their marriage was stronger for the near destruction of it. Even before he was informed of Adrienne’s death, Daniel felt the loss deep within his soul. Daniel threw his briefcase haphazardly on the sofa, wondering at the feeling slowly crawling through his being.
The table, which was always set, and the usual smell of food did not greet him. No music, no nothing, just a loud silence. Glancing around, he made his way through the first floor to the kitchen. For the most part, all was as he’d left it early in the morning. Partially eaten toast, butter left out, already turned soft and a jar of strawberry preserves still open.
“Well, I know either Tim’s been here or Goldilocks,” looking at Dexter’s food and water dishes.
“Hmm, she’s been home since I left too,” Dan headed through the swinging door adjoining the dining room.
“Sammie!? Dex?” he called out. Dex’s sudden appearance didn’t alarm Dan but his behavior did. Akin to his mistress, Dex was tough, strong-willed and proud. Neither was capable of pleading. Samantha had begged God to spare her mother’s life. She swore never to do so again, when her request was denied. Dex- ter’s whimpers frightened Daniel all the more, as he quickly followed the dog up the stairs to her room.
At first glance, Samantha appeared merely to be asleep. Reaching for the lights, Dan heard the front entrance door slam. Samantha’s skin looked pale; she was drenched in sweat and seemed almost entwined in her linens.
“Tim! Get up here, hurry!”
Timothy bounded the stairs. It took less than a minute for them to appraise her condition. Tim slapped her, not to hurt, but to wake her. Dan ran into the bathroom for a wet wash cloth. They’d both gone through this routine before, countless times. From deep within, both knew somehow, it was worse this time. When none of their ministrations worked, an ambulance was called. Her pulse was weak and breathing was labored. The paramedics wasted no time in getting her to the hospital. Both father and son saw through the other’s brave attempt to hide the fear in their hearts. They’d both long ago, faced the fact that they needed her probably more so than she them.
The night was painfully long. When she finally opened her eyes, Samantha instantly went into such a state of hysteria that the physicians immediately sought to restrain her. She was a very instinctive fighter and tie-down restraints were ordered when more than a couple of nurses got hurt. Four orderlies were having it no easier a time. Tim used the authority of his detective shield to negotiate a request to intervene. Had he not had intimate knowledge of the existence of her odd dreams, even Tim wouldn’t have attempted to intervene. For the first time it seemed even to him, that perhaps Samantha had gone over the brink of sanity. Tim, like both his father and Sam herself, had no logical explanation to offer the so-called experts. He had heard of kids who had imaginary friends, as most of us have. But unless something is wrong with the person, it is usually outgrown. It hurt to hear the hospital staff referring to her as an EDP (or Emotionally Disturbed Person for us regular folk). The fight she put up with him made their accuracy seem quite likely. The doctor reluctantly left them alone in the room.
Tim had a special bond with Samantha, which had grown stronger the past eight years, since the accident claimed Adrienne’s life and Sam’s sight. In his arms were solace, security and a genuine desire to understand. Even Daniel, as close as he was to her, knew no one was closer nor held the power Timothy had. It only took him a moment to realize that she was fighting someone or something not in the room they both occupied. He carefully took Samantha into his arms and cradled her protectively as though she were but a babe, newly born and rocked. Sweet calming words were whispered into her ear. It took a while but eventually, Samantha decreased her fighting in synch with her hysterical ravings. Once they petered out, he maintained his movements, as they each tried to adjust to the environment. She to the faint sounds emitting into the not quite soundproof room, as well as the almost overwhelming medicinal smells. Tim tried in vain to relax. Stark white hospital walls made him uneasy, since he arrived after the accident. Having been away at school in New York, he’d flown in with his Aunt too late to say a good-bye to his mother. Looking at Samantha, he saw that she was every bit as fragile and frightened as he’d found her eight years before.
“Okay,” he said calmly, “as best you can, tell me what happened.”
Samantha paused to collect her thoughts. Everything seemed jumbled, but just knowing he was there gave Samantha the inner strength she needed.
“Timmy, the past few weeks has been really crazy.” Even she had to giggle at her choice of words. In that brief moment, he regained hope that she could be all right, after all, she hadn’t lost her sense of humor. “Anyway, I kept, I mean Rachael, she was getting these strange messages on her answering machine. I don’t know who it was, even as Rachael. I still didn’t know who was doing it. Well anyway, he kept saying that Life, you know, that creep I go with when I’m her. The caller says he, Life, was somehow involved with the assassination attempt on Governor What’s—his name from New York.”
“Governor Kilroy? That was on the news for months.”
“Yeah well, this guy was talking about all sorts of illegal stuff Life is supposedly involved in. Most important though, was the botched hit. She…I…I…I mean Rachael! Oh God, sometimes I get so confused.” Samantha shook her head as if it would help clear her thoughts.“Timmy, I get scared that maybe I really have lost my mind. Well. Anyway, at first she didn’t want to believe it, I had no problem with that theory when I’d wake up, but Rachael is really in love with that creep. I just don’t understand it. She’s chief prosecutor for the District Attorney for Pete’s sake, you’d think she’d know better. Then this big package shows up right there at the office. It had all sorts of pictures and such with him and some organized crime people out there. I could never figure out why she loves him so much. I mean, he’s really tall and good looking and all, but under that is a repulsive piece of crap. He acts all distinguished and all in public, but God, you’d think she’s too smart for that. When they’d have sex I’d be sick to my stomach for days afterward.”
“Is that what happened tonight, ugh, did you dream you were intimate with him?
“No, actually it started after the pictures came. I called someone to check him out.”
“I don’t know, I did it as Rachael but she didn’t mention any of this to Life. I kept hoping he wouldn’t find out but he must’ve somehow, ’cause when I laid down to take a nap for real, that’s when I drifted out there to New York. She’d been really upset and so was I, as myself. When I became her, I was home there too, which was kinda strange, cause it was about 4:30 here.”
“That’s just about when I left the house.”
“I’m guessing the time, ’cause it had to be only about 1:00 there and she’s stricter than I am about playing hooky. Rachael was dozing too, because I kept drifting in and out. You know, I can only be her while she’s awake, but I guess he came in while she was dozing.”
“He broke in?”
“I suppose she gave him a key, because he was just suddenly standing there. Neither of them seemed all that surprised to see the other, even though I was, the real me, of course. I would’ve thought it was Miss Ruby. Well, anyway, he came in and just sorta stood there, looking really strange. I looked around to see where the packet was but I didn’t notice it. That’s when I completely became her. I was thinking as she’d think, felt what she’d feel, I wasn’t me anymore, I was Rachael. I’m not sure how I became me when I did or I’d probably be dead now.”
Tim looked totally confused. “What happened to you or her that would’ve made you die? When Dad and I found you, it was close. We almost did lose you. What’d you dream?”
Fresh tears formed in her eyes. “He stood there staring at her, without saying a word. I remember that the Sleeping Beauty Ballet was playing.”
“Good Lord! You even dream classically. I heard it playing softly when I looked in on you, so we could talk,” Tim joked, trying to lighten the mood.
“Uh, no that was Scheherazade I had on, the ballet was playing there in my sleep.”
“If I had to listen to that music, even in my sleep, they’d put me away for a good while.”
“Timmy! Cut it out, I’m trying to explain what happened.”
“Okay, I’m sorry, continue.”
“Life walked over and turned on the radio instead. He isn’t one much for classical music, anymore than you are. He turned it to some really fast paced record, which is why it was so strange when he asked me to dance.”
“What’s so strange about wanting to dance?”
“Because she didn’t really want to, that’s just not our type music.”
“Rachael doesn’t dance to contemporary music? Shit! I’ve seen you get into it on rare occasions.”
“True, but there was something crazed about him and honestly, I was scared to. It was like he was someone different. Then, when I stood up, Life grabbed her around the waist and started dancing slow, really slow, like cheek-to-cheek.”
“Maybe he saw it as a compromise for turning off her music,” Tim offered feebly.
“No! You don’t understand! It was weird, I mean, it’s like here we were dancing to that crazy stuff you and your stupid friends listen to, but we’re dancing slow. I looked at him like he was flipping or something. Life always plays his music loud, but this was loud, even by his standards. His eyes were kinda spaced out, as if his mind were elsewhere.”
“He’s on drugs!?”
“No, despite the fact that I can’t stand him, I honestly believed him when he told us he rarely drinks and never uses drugs. That why his behavior seemed so, I don’t know, spooky. It was like, all of a sudden he asked me, uh Rachael, if I would tell him if she knew anything about anyone asking questions or making any accusations against him. I’m not stupid. So I told him, as sweet and innocent as I could, ‘Of course not!’ Don’t you think I’d have told you something like that?’
“Did he buy it?”
“I wasn’t sure, at first. Life just looked really disappointed. Then, said that if I really loved him, I would. I felt nauseous when he said that. But he just kept on dancing, all over the living-room. He started kissing me and whispering over and over how much he loved me, er, Rachael.”
Samantha grabbed Tim’s hand tightly before continuing. “He was holding her so tight I thought my ribs were going to burst. Then we danced right out onto the balcony. I’ve described it to you before. Usually, I love it up there, but suddenly I felt terribly afraid of him. He kissed me again, so hard my lips hurt, but he stopped suddenly and kept right on dancing. It was as if the music was playing in his head. Suddenly, he spun me out away from him, his back was to the balcony wall, I spun back toward him. Suddenly, he…he…”
“This can wait Sammie, you don’t have to…”
“No! You’re wrong; I do have to tell you. You have to call the police out there!”
“What police?! Where?!”
“New York! Downtown Brooklyn, I think it’s the Eighty-second Precinct.”
“Samantha, are you listening to yourself? It was a dream Sammie. Obviously, worse than your usual, but still just a dream. Brian works out there, so your subconscious mind put it there.”
“Oh my God! You don’t believe me!” She yelled angrily, while pushing away from Tim.
“Sammie, calm down will you! I believe you!”
“No, you don’t. You think it was nothing more than a dream; it couldn’t be like I tell you! He killed me! I mean her! Rachael!”
“Sammie! Do you hear what you’re sayin’?”
“Tim! Listen to me, damn it! I saw it all. See, once we were on the balcony dancing, then he made some crazy ninja move, kicked my feet out from under me, before I knew what was happening, he’d flung me over the edge, I couldn’t stop screaming. I felt my feet strike the wall and for a moment, I thought he’d pull me back, but he let me fall. Everything was speeding past me so fast. I reached out; I tried to grab one of the walls beneath mine. I felt the flesh ripping off my hands, my legs and arms hit so much, I’m sure they were broken. I couldn’t feel much then. It was hard to breathe, I didn’t want to die. How could he do that to me? He’d finally said, he loved me, how could he? I loved him, he knew that. I hit my head, it hurt. I don’t want to die. I saw the ground coming at me, I couldn’t stop it. Oh God, I wanted it all to stop.”
Samantha was shaking uncontrollably as Tim took her into his arms. He waited patiently ’til she regained her composure, then asked, “Sammie, do you realize how this sounds. I mean, there are no marks on you.”
“Don’t you see, it wasn’t me, Samantha, he killed, it was Rachael.”
“And she is where now?”
“I guess dead, I’m not sure. I must’ve hit my head, again. Then I woke up here. All those people kept grabbing me; I didn’t know what was going on. Then I heard your voice and felt your touch.”
She cried for a moment then stopped just as suddenly. “Tell me, do you think I’m crazy? That I’ve finally gone over the edge.”
Tim, ever the comic, remarked, “Now that’s an odd choice of words, but no. Maybe this was just your mind’s way of getting rid of her. I mean it does make sense, doesn’t it? The doctors told you a long time ago that maybe you’d find a way to get rid of her, on your own. At least you didn’t turn schizophrenic on us, it could’ve been worse, I guess. You could’ve been like that chick in the movies with the split personalities. At least yours only came out in your dreams. It could’ve been worse, let’s just hope they’re over for good.”
Samantha was still sobbing, but more or less stable. Tim was out of explanations and silently prayed that his guess was on the mark. Cradled in his arms, Samantha trembled like a frightened bird murmuring just above a whisper. “Timmy, I didn’t know who I was anymore, Samantha Olivia Robertson or Rachael. I’m so glad you’re here.”
They sat there clenched in silence. Tim was grateful she couldn’t see his expression. He didn’t like what he was thinking and was relieved when she broke the lack of noise that threatened his facade.
“You said Daddy was with you when you found me. Where is he?”
“Just outside the door, you know hospitals, one at a time. He actually found you first. I was shootin’ hoops. Came in right after he found you. Dex seemed pretty worried too.”
“What are they going to do with me?”
“Sammie, it’s gonna be okay. Let me go get Dad, so he can see his Baby Girl with his own eyes, then you can both rest okay?”
“Can you see if I can go home?”
Daniel James Robertson knew the bond between his children. It never would have occurred to him to pull rank and see her first. It had been some very lonely years since he became a widower. Timothy and Samantha gave him the sustenance he needed. Even as a toddler, Sam was different. At first, the strange dreams were amusing, but after a while they seemed more and more peculiar to him. Adrienne was the one who intervened on those occasions when they would get out of hand. He never understood why they manifested themselves in his daughter’s mind the way they did. Listening to his wife’s half-baked explanations, that never quite made sense to him, he agreed to let her handle it. Immediately after the accident, there was no time to do much pondering. Fate had played a nasty trick on him. After all the years of her worrying that he’d be killed at work, she dies in a car accident. The other driver was too drunk to care that Adrienne was slowly bleeding to death or that Samantha would never see again. Then it was an ongoing battle with the so-called experts, throwing a bunch of medical lingo at him.
Daniel was a reasonably intelligent man but it was still over his head. He stayed in a functioning level of shock. Adrienne’s sister, Alexandra, had flown Tim home and immediately took charge. Dan had always suspected that somehow, she’d known what had happen even before he called. Realizing that the idea was too wild to suggest aloud, Dan would’ve bargained with the devil himself, if he thought it would save Adrienne.
Calling New York was one of the last requests made of him when the last breath escaped her lips. He became numb to most anything and everything else. Alexandra had kept her grief within and took care of all of them, as if it were normal for her to do so. It seemed reasonable, since she had actually been best friends with Dan long before she introduced them. She was the only other person, as close to his wife as he. Xandra was the introverted docile one, that is, until Adrienne died. It seemed as though they had finally merged into one. Even now, pacing the hallway, Dan wondered if he should tell her what had happened with Samantha. Alexandra was every bit as strange as his wife had been and his daughter was now. Alexandra both called and wrote often. Yet, she had never visited since the funeral was over and Samantha was medically stable. Anything not covered by his medical coverage or insurance was mysteriously taken care of. Typically, Alexandra denied responsibility but Dan knew better. Just as quietly as she’d arrived, Xandra had flown back home. Her parting words were precise, leaving Dan with the strange feeling that somehow, both his wife and her sister- in-law knew precisely why the girl had the dreams. Were they protecting him, was it somehow his fault that Samantha had the alternate-life dreams? While awake she seemed the normal, albeit highly quizzical, child. But, then would come the dreams. Plenty of the time they were fascinating but nothing to be concerned about. Then, just when they didn’t seem to be a problem, Samantha would awaken screaming and hysterical about something done to her, as Rachael, in her dream. All through her childhood, Daniel was convinced by Adrienne that the Child Psychologists were wrong. What Samantha experienced was perfectly normal. Despite doubts of his own, Dan abided by Adrienne’s wishes. Now, for the first time in a long while, Dan was plagued with doubts. He could’ve lost her this time. Daniel knew that he’d rather die than endure the loss of either Timothy or Samantha. Lost deep in thought, he almost didn’t see his son approaching. Despite the bright smile spread across Tim’s face, Dan saw fear the in his eyes.
“Dad, she’s okay now. I guess the best way to explain what happened would sound a bit over simplified, but she, uh…well see, Sammie had a nightmare and it scared the shit out of her,” Tim offered matter of factly.
“Dream, you mean, she became that girl again right!?”
“Uh, no, she just had a regular bad dream.”
“Tim just how stupid do you two think I am?” Dan seethed.
“Dad, we don’t, really! It’s just that…well…you see, she’s been keyed up lately at work, so she came home and had a really bad dream. Probably a flashback from the accident, that’s all. She’ll be just fine. You want to go in now. I told her you were out here pacing the floor.”
“Yes, I won’t be long. Lord knows, I won’t get any more out of your sister than I got from you.”
Daniel walked into the room and felt as though his heart would burst from joy. She looked so much like her mother. It was incredible. Still visibly shaken, her bronzed brown coloring had returned and though obviously exhausted, Samantha looked considerably better than when he’d found her limp form. Like Tim, she did her best imitation of a toothpaste commercial.
“Hi Sugah! You all right?”
“Sure Daddy! I’m just fine, sorry I scared you like that.”
“How typical, I wish you’d stop worrying about me?What happened? Do you remember? Are you up to talking about it?”
“Uh, well, actually I don’t remember much of the dream.”
“Was it a Rachael dream?”
“Timmy said that!?”
“No, was it?”
“I really can’t remember, probably a flashback from the accident or it could’ve just been a regular nightmare.”
“Sugah, I don’t think people generally go into deep states of shock from regular bad dreams. You sure you don’t remember, you sure it wasn’t like the ones you used to have.”
“Yes, I mean, no…what I’m trying to say is that, yeah, I’m sure it wasn’t a dream about Rachael. I told you a long time ago I stopped havin’ them. I’m fine. Daddy, really. Don’cha worry ’bout me, I’ll be just fine…ask Timmy.”
Daniel knew his son and daughter well enough to know that she’d just cued him not to question any further.
“Daddy, if I have to stay, you two can ahead and go home now…it’s got to be pretty late. What time is it? They took my watch.”
Reaching into his pants pocket, he replied, “Actually, it’s early in the morning Sam. I’ll drive Tim home, check on Dex, he was pretty worried, looked almost as bad as you did. But Tim has got to be exhausted. You know him, even better than I do and when he’s in his super-hero mode, it’s hard to slow him down. I don’t need both of you here, so I’ll take him back, pick up some things for you and come back later on, after you’ve had some rest as well. Anything special you want. Anyone special you want me or Tim to call for you?”
The latter statement was more of a plea. When she was small, he wondered what kind of man would take her from him. Now his greatest fear was that none would. Samantha was too much woman to spend her life alone. He’d long since lost count how many men called to speak to her. Always pleasant, she would decline every offer made. He disagreed that all of them were pity calls, as she put it. And certainly those that knew Tim or himself would have to be suicidal to be up to no good. There were so many things she had in common with her mother, but then there were times when Alexandra came to mind. He could never figure out why his sister-in-law and best friend had never wed either.
“Here’s your watch. Tim grabbed a couple of your things. I want you to get some rest, okay?”
Leaning over to kiss her, he marveled for the billionth time how she favored her mother. Three of them, he thought to himself. The good Lord made three of a kind. He truly felt blessed to have had them in his life. Each was different, yet alike, and he loved them each differently, yet equally as intense. Oh, how he wished Adrienne was still with him. He missed her no less now than when he first was told that his wife was dead.
“Rest Sugah, don’t worry your pretty head about a thing.” Brushing her hair into place, Dan stayed a while until Samantha had dozed off. Tim entered briefly to put her things where she’d expect them to be before the Robertson men quietly left.
Daniel rode home with his son in a disturbing silence. He knew better than to even attempt to get any further information about Samantha. Likewise, Tim was aware that to resort to idle chitchat or lie would be an insult to Daniel’s intelligence.
Walking through the door proved hazardous as an anxious Dexter leaped into Tim’s body. Trying to calm the canine was useless. Hoping that perhaps his mistress was waiting in the car, Dex ran out, circled the area sniffing and finally demanding in his own way an explanation from Dan as to her whereabouts.
Dragging up the stairs, Tim stopped at the top and prayed a silent prayer of thanks. It could’ve been considerably worse. A smile passed his lips briefly when he thought of their earlier encounter in the bathroom. The light from his answering machine beckoned for his immediate attention and frankly, Tim wasn’t in the mood for any prattle from his admirers. As exhausted as he was, Tim knew that sleep was still some time away. Sitting on the side of his bed, head cradled in hands.
The sound of Dan’s muffled cry faintly traveled to what Sam referred to as the pit stop. Hearing the only man he’d ever held in reverence moved so, made his heart muscle pound with more intensity than it was meant to. Retreating finally to the shower, Tim let the water mingle with his own tears. There he remained until he heard Dan’s bedroom door close.
Emotionally and physically drained, Tim returned to his haven and threw himself across the bed, realizing even as he did so, that his sister had made it up. She always did. Guilt filled his soul. Even with her disability, Samantha did far more toward the running of the house than the two men combined. It was greatly appreciated, yet, Tim couldn’t recall her ever being thanked. The light was still flashing. Reluctantly, the play button was activated.
“Who the fuck is it now?” He muttered to himself. He’d only half-heartedly bother with any of his women. One major drawback from having a sister like Sam was the subconscious comparison. He’d vowed not to marry any woman that wasn’t at least half the woman he knew Samantha to be, even with her crazy and almost fatal dreams.
He quickly broke into a grin of total relief, upon hearing the voice “…it’s me, Brian. I’ll be at my desk ’til about Oh Four Hundred your time. If you get in by then, give me a shout out, need to talk. Seeeee yyyaaaaah!”
Tim had hundreds of acquaintances and colleagues, but only one lifelong friend, his blood brother sealed in spit and all. He knew the sound of forced cheerfulness when he heard it.
Adrienne had babysat Brian from the time he was first brought home with his natural parents. Two wealthy, cold-blooded people, who foolishly believed a child, could repair their icy marriage. Two years Tim’s senior, Brian was a ready-made companion. Nothing, not girls, money, time or distance had ever divided them. Neither could think of anything that could put a dent on the armor of their camaraderie. Tim couldn’t even recall dialing the phone when a sluggish, but familiar voice answered. “Squad, what can I do for ya.”
With a deliberately deepened voice, Tim thundered, “What can you do for me?! Is that the way you were trained to answer a department phone?! What is your name officer?!” Tim could practically see Brian sitting bolt right up.
“Uh…no Sir, this is Detective Reynolds, Sir. Eight-two, Major Case Squad, Sir!…Uh…How may I assist you?”
Tim burst into laughter, “Gotcha!”
“Tim?” Brian caught on and joined in, “Man! Stop F’ing around when I’m at work. You had me goin’ there for a minute.”
“Minute my ass! Uh, no Sir, This is…” Tim couldn’t continue from laughing so hard. “…Thanks man! I needed that.”
“Hope your day hasn’t been like mine. Yo Tim Man, I think I’ve finally had enough of this shit. Hell, I’ve got a degree, right!? I can always get another job. This ain’t all I’m capable of.”
“Damn Brian, what the fuck’s up with you? This don’t sound like you, what’s eatin’ you? Must be somethin’ in the air. Why’re you flippin?”
“Nothin’, forget it. I’ve just got some serious thinking to do. You sound beat, you just gettin’ in?”
“Not really, we’ve been back from the hospital about half ‘n hour, I guess.”
“Hospital? You all right?!”
“Me? Yeah, I’m okay.”
“Uncle Dan? What happened?”
“Naw, Dad’s all right, under the circumstances. It’s Sammie, we had to take her…she’s fine. They just kept her for observation. I don’t really feel like talkin’ about it, not sure if I could explain it if I tried. Tell me what’s got you in a tither. I’m the hyped up one, remember? Somethin’ made you call.”
“Give me a break. You know damned well we both need to take out stock in the phone companies, we call so often. Since when I need a reason?”
They took turns calling each other, no less than thrice a week, no matter what. But Tim’s purpose wasn’t missed on Brian. Whatever had happened to Tim’s sister was too private for discussion. Samantha was the only person as close to Tim as Brian. Tim was notorious for his mouth, but if there was a secret to be kept by his sidekicks, it would follow Tim to his grave.
“Since you called after two my time, I call that late. You’re too much the gentleman to call this late, unless, of course, somethin’s up. So, talk to me, since when you can’t tell me what’s buggin’ you out?”
Brian looked around the Squad Room, taking careful note that no one was within hearing range of him. “I don’t know. Maybe I’m just exhausted. I’m on my eighth hour of O.T. now and it don’t look like I’ll be gettin’ outta here anytime soon, either.”
“What’cha you catch? You got a collar?”
“No, I wish we did, that Fin’ Joe. Man, I swear sometimes he can get on my last nerve. Does he always have to be a friggin’ company man.? I mean, damn!” “I still don’t know what the fuck you’re talkin’ about. Lord knows, you know him better than I do, but the Joe we both know, is always like that. What could he possibly have done so different from his usual? Hell, you two are almost as tight as we are. At least, that’s the way it always seemed to me. What’d he do?”
“Yeah, you’re right, but when he starts this yes man shit and frankly, I’m so pissed right now, I could snap his F’ing neck.”
“Oh Lord, you just started takin’ fucking jive ass karate lessons and now you think you’re all that?”
“Nah, I guess it’s not his fault. I don’t know. I mean, I know he was ordered to do it, I just wish he could’ve bought me more time to prove my point.”
“I wish you’d tell me what the fuck the point is, ’cause right about now, I have absolutely no idea what the hell you’re talkin’ about.”
Brian took a moment to compose himself, while Tim re-situated himself on his bed. “Tim, you remember the chick I told you about?”
“You’ve got hundreds of ‘um on your heels you keep dodgin’, so which one you talkin’ about?”
“The classy one.”
“You mean the lawyer? Stacked, ladylike, but tough.”
“Yeah her. You remember when I first met her in court, a couple of years back? She was different. I’ve tried to find the right time to ask her out, always wanted to get to know her better. Man, that was one truly beautiful woman. She hardly wore any makeup and she was still the finest thing you’ve ever laid eyes on.”
“I take it that your eyes are all you’ve laid on her, so far?” Tim teased.
“Come on Tim, this is on a serious tip.”
“Sorry. So, what’d she do? Joe busted her or somethin’?”
“Naw man, see we were gettin’ ready to get off, call comes over the radio— Woman Down, you know, a jumper. So Joe figures that’s some easy O.T. and we go over there. Kinda ritzy neighborhood, not too far from the courts, near Prospect Park. I never knew where she lived, so the address didn’t mean nothin’ to me.”
Tim had done this kind of work long enough to realize where this story was heading.
“Good God, no.”
Brian’s voice was starting slowly to tremble as he continued. “I get out the car first and walk over to the body. Man, Tim, I’ve seen so many of them, I’ve long ago lost count. Usually doesn’t bother me at all, unless it’s a kid or somethin’. So, anyway, I look at it and Man; I think everything I’ve eaten for the past few months came up. At least, I made it to the curb first. It was her. Everything else was sorta twisted around like some sort of human pretzel. Even dead, the face was still as beautiful as ever. Then, as if I hadn’t already humiliated myself enough, in front of a couple of rookies no less, I started cryin’, I couldn’t stop. And Joe, I don’t think he knew what to do first, take care of me or handle the case…” Tim knew that Brian wasn’t doing much better, even as they spoke. “…He kept telling me to get in the car. Thought I was probably gonna faint or somethin’, as an encore. So, within minutes, it looks like a convention. There was brass from all over. Then the Commissioner shows up and I hear the District Attorney is en route.”
“Well, at least they obviously respected her a lot. I mean, everyone doesn’t get all that, do they?”
“That’s just it. I finally got my shit together. So, I go upstairs. They’d already gotten her neighbor to unlock the door. Tiny little woman. Nobody was listenin’ to her. She’s cryin’ her eyes out and all. Said they were like mother and daughter. Matter of fact, she was listed as next of kin on all the papers we found during the search. And Rachael even had her last name legally changed, so that the only thing they hadn’t done, was legally adopt each other.”
Tim sat up startled. “Brian, wait…Brian…” his whisper quickly rising to a crescendo. “…Brian stop talking.”
Brian didn’t realize Tim had said anything, until he was almost yelling.
“Wait Brian! Uhm…back up just a bit.”
“Huh? Oh, I was just sayin’ that she insists that Rachael didn’t off herself. I mean…”
“Brian, what did you say her name was?”
“Who’s, the old lady?”
“Brian! Damn it, answer me!”
“Did you say her last name was Maxwell?”
“Yeah, now you remember? I’ve talked about her enough times.” Brian heard a soft thump and then silence. The line was still open. “Tim, what’s wrong!?”
The receiver on the floor, between his feet, Tim grabbed his throbbing head, as if to prevent it from bursting at the temples.
“Tim…Tim…Tim!? Damn! Now what?”
Almost dazed, Tim reached over and gingerly put the phone back to his ear, not unlike it was capable of searing his flesh. “I’m here man, I’m here,” Tim muttered.
“You okay? What’s wrong? Don’t tell me you know her?”
“What made you say that?”
“I don’t know, I guess because I asked her a couple of times if she’d ever been out your way.”
“Rachael said she hadn’t. I thought it was kinda odd, ’cause there were times when it seemed she knew as much about livin’ out there as you would. So, do you?”
“Do I what?”
“Know her, I doubt even a dog like you, would forget if you’d met her. She was one helluva woman.”
“The old lady, what’s her name?”
“Mrs. Maxwell, Rubasina Maxwell. She knew Rachael ever since she was a baby.”
“Hey! That’s what she told me to call her, the old lady. Come on Tim. You are holdin’ out on me. What’s up!? You sure, you don’t know her? She’s a few years younger than we are, so I doubt you’d know her from school or anything. But let’s face it, you were what? Fourteen, when you guys moved to California. She didn’t grow up in Queens, but it’s still possible you two met before. You were back out here for college too, remember?”
“How could I forget, if I’d stayed out here like Mom asked me to, I’d have seen her before she died.”
“You still on that crap? Tim, I’ve told you a hundred times, Aunt Adrienne was just worried somethin’ bad would happen to you out there. I promised to keep you out of trouble and amazingly, I did. She wouldn’t want you blaming yourself. So, stop it, will you? There was no way any of us could’ve foreseen that?”
“Yeah, well, you still haven’t told me what it was that’s got you pissed at Joe.”
“They’re calling it a suicide. Miss Ruby says Rachael’s boyfriend killed her. Shit, you’d think since she was Chief prosecutor, they spend more time determining if it was a homicide or not. The S-O-B she worked for, decided that the negative publicity won’t help him in the elections next year.”
“Did you question the boyfriend?”
“Yeah, Joe did. He admits he saw her not long before it happened; swears that they’d had words. His story is that he broke up with her and left. Of course, he says she was still very much alive when he left. He even volunteered to take a polygraph and passed it with flying colors; not that it would’ve been admissible, even if he’d failed it. He looks like one’a those guys in fashion magazines. But, somethin’ about him reeks evil.”
“You gonna be all right?”
“I guess so, eventually, but I still might leave.”
“I think you could use a rest. But quitting is a bit extreme. I mean, you didn’t know her all that well. You don’t want to do somethin’ you’ll regret later.”
“I already did.”
“Naw, I just mean waitin’ so long to get to know her. Always thought, time was on my side. Now, I just don’t know. Maybe I didn’t really know her but I know in my heart that Miss Ruby is right.”
“Yeah, me too. Look, if you’re okay, I’m gonna hang up now. I don’t feel too good.”
“I’m better than I was before we talked. Thanks, I owe you.”
“Brian, you don’t owe me anything. But you could do me a favor?”
“Trust me, don’t ask me to explain just yet, but would you please fax me copies of anything pertaining to this case.”
“Okay, I won’t ask and yes, I’ll send whatever I can. Though I still think you know her or something.”
“Brian, I give you my word. I never met her. And even if I tried to explain this, right now, I can’t make sense of it. But I think Samantha may know of her. And right now she’s in the hospital. So just fax whatever you’ve got, please.”
“Okay, no sweat.”
“Thanks man, I’ll check you out later.”
“Yeah, seeeee yaaaa.”
Tim lay back and sat for several hours, clutching the phone and staring into space. He sought desperately to make sense of what he’d just heard. It had never occurred to him that perhaps Samantha’s weird dreams weren’t dreams after all. What disturbed him even more was that, if his suspicions were correct, Samantha was somehow an eyewitness to murder. Probably, the only witness. But, who would believe it. Even if he told her. Sanity was not something she had a firm grasp on. Would this new information help or hurt? For that matter, would anyone else even believe it? Tim felt as if he was losing it himself. As he fell into a deep sleep, his last conscious thought was to try to find out the truth.
Samantha lay awake in the hospital room. The darkness of the early morning sky meant nothing to her as the sound of a news commentator’s voice wafted into her hearing range from the hallway. Somehow his banter had penetrated beyond the outer reaches of her mind. Once there, it struck as violently as a powerful clenched fist. She could only catch bits and pieces of what was being said. But very clearly, Samantha heard the name of her alter ego. At first, she tried to ignore it, assuming that perhaps her mind was playing another cruel trick. Most of the verbiage was dismissed until quite clearly she heard him say the name, Rachael Maxwell. Immediately, she sat up stiff and erect. The bed was much higher than hers and the nurse who’d awakened her to take her temperature had placed the telescoping table rather inappropriately in her path. Sliding off the edge of the bed gingerly, Samantha paused to consider whether to search for the slippers Tim had left. Time was too precious. There was no way for her to know they’d been pushed beneath the bed. She stubbed her toe on the wheels of the bed, which sent a shock wave up her leg. Finally, Sam made her way to the open door. The voice was clearer and drew her like a lighthouse beacon through a storm. A television was on in the room just opposite hers. The main portion of the story having been told, the commentator added his own personal touch, as they are prone to do. “Well,” he mused callously, “she certainly wouldn’t be the first person in the Big Apple to be pushed, so to speak over the edge, I do think it’s a terrible shame though, when such a promising young woman could become so despondent. Not so long ago, while on assignment in New York, I had the pleasure of meeting Rachael Maxwell. Like everyone who knew her, I expected great things from her in the near future. It’s a shame.”
He went on to introduce the weatherman. That was lost to Samantha, as the words she’d heard, burned into her mind. They played over and over like a broken record. She backed away as far as she could go, then slid down the wall that blocked her path. All these years…her whole life…psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors—she’d talked to them all at some time or other. Only her mother had truly believed she wasn’t disturbed. Even her father and Tim had bought into the experts’ theories. Mercifully, Dan had not allowed them to medicate or put her away. She’d heard it all, “repressed hostility toward her family, anger over her mother’s death and her loss of sight.” You name it and it was probably given as an explanation. Everything that is, except for the only thing that made sense to her now. They weren’t dreams; they were telepathic transmissions from a woman who’d died at the hands of her lover. Rachael had been real, not a figment of her imagination. And if she understood correctly what the newsman had said. It was being dismissed as a suicide. A low moan, emanating from deep within her soul, escaped pass her lips. A nurse passing by, followed the sound. She found Samantha sitting on the floor, tears flowing freely.
“Miss Robertson,” she scolded. “What on earth are you doing in here? Let me help you to your room.” The nurse calmly helped Samantha to stand and started guiding her back across the hall.
“I need to speak to the doctor, I want to go home,” Samantha pleaded.
“Okay Honey, I’ll tell him when I see him okay.” They were almost back to the bed.
“No, you don’t understand. I have to see him now.”
The nurse rang the buzzer for assistance. She’d been told of the earlier skirmish the staff had with Sam. “Are you having trouble sleeping? Dr. Schwartz prescribed something just in case you needed it.”
A sense of urgency assailed Samantha’s calm. “No damn it!” Samantha yanked free of the nurse’s grasp. “I don’t want to sleep, I want to get the hell outta here. Do you hear me?! How would you feel if you were in a hospital and nothing was wrong with you?! Samantha seethed.
Two orderlies entered the room, one holding a straight jacket. “Problem?” The larger man asked.
“Is that the doctor?”
The nurse had just half lifted Samantha onto the bed, who had not yet realized their intent.
“Ms. Robertson, you need to calm down. I told you, I’d let the doctor know you want to see him. For now, I can give you something to help you rest. If you’d do so voluntarily, it will be better for all of us.”
Samantha realized that she was in a precarious situation and tried to ease back off the bed.
“Look Honey, I don’t want to fight with you. Please get back on the bed.” The nurse side stepped, to allow the orderlies optimum access to Sam. The moment she felt the large hands on her, Samantha began to fight. Upset, by the realization that someone special to her was now dead, sent her into a frenzy.
“What the hell are you doing? There’s nothing wrong with me. She exists, damn it. Rachael isn’t just in my mind, she’s real! Life killed her. It was just on the news. Why won’t you listen to me. I know it’s hard to believe, but she’s dead and I was her when it happened. Why won’t you call the news station or a paper, somebody must know about it. Please, you’ve got to listen to me. Let me go. Please let me go. I’m not crazy.”
Samantha felt the needle and the chemicals seemed to burn through her soul. She knew it was a matter of time ’til consciousness slipped away. Angry and frustrated, Samantha made a silent vow to prove her sanity, find out why she was mind-linked to Rachael and to prove she had not killed herself. The last tie on the restraints were fastened without resistance, as the drug took effect.
Daniel had forced himself to sleep. He didn’t feel particularly rested when he awoke. Peeking in on Tim, he was glad to see his son sound asleep. Dex had held vigil at the front door, waiting for Samantha to return. “Hey Boy! Yeah, I know, I miss her too, but she might be coming home today, I’ll keep my fingers crossed.”
Dex got up and followed Dan into the kitchen.
“Good Grief! What are you trying to do, get me in trouble? You haven’t eaten. Boy, you got to take care ’til she comes home or she’ll have my hide. Matter of fact, maybe we can get my silver-tongued son to talk those people into letting you visit her, if she’s not coming back today. I’d forgotten how empty the place seems without her here.”
Daniel could hold back his tears no longer. The dog at his side, he knelt and prayed. He didn’t hear his son enter but felt Tim kneel beside him, placing an arm around his father’s shoulder. When Dan said his Amen aloud, Tim added his, before helping him stand.
“Talked to Brian early this mornin’.”
“How’s he doing?”
“He’ll be okay. Ran into a case that kinda upset him.”
“Yes, well, it comes with the job. When you find that none of it matters to you at all, it’s time to quit.”
“Maybe we can sit down and talk about some of the things he told me?” Tim offered, hopefully. “I figured you weren’t workin’ today. I called Sammie’s job, told ’em she wasn’t feelin’ too well. And it so happens, I’m on a four-day swing.”
“Tim, I’d rather go see about gettin’ Sam home. We can talk about Brian’s case later.”
“But Dad, uh…you don’t understand. This is important. He’s sending me a fax of everything he’s got on this case and it’s possible that it’s somehow connected to what…”
“Tim! I realize that whatever it is Brian’s working is intriguing to you, but do you think perhaps you can put it on a back burner just a bit, until we find out if your sister is okay?!” Dan yelled, not knowing Tim’s intent.
“But, nothing!” Dan bellowed. She could’ve died. Do you realize that? And we can’t be sure it won’t happen again! I’m taking Dex for a walk. When we get back, if you’re not too busy, I’d like for you to go with me. If they want her to stay, perhaps you can at least get her a chance to see Dex.”
Tim stood silent, hurt that his father would even think that Samantha didn’t matter to him.
Both men spoke to Dex only. Once there, in silent agreement, Tim did his best imitation of Samantha and made their way to the nurses’ station.
“May I help you?” The nurse queried.
“Came to see Samantha Robertson, I’m her father.”
“Sir, I’m very sorry, but she’s not allowed any visitors.”
“Why? Did she get worse? We talked just before I left and she was certainly capable of conversation then.”
Tim dropped the facade of needing a guide dog. “What happened?”
“Sir, if you’ll wait in the solarium, Dr. Schwartz can explain better than I can. And you’ll have to tie up the animal outside.”
“Dad, she couldn’t have had another dream, Rachael is dead.”
“So is your mother but that doesn’t stop me from dreaming about her. This isn’t even a real person, so forget your theory.”
“But what if they weren’t just dreams?”
Dan looked at Tim as though he were a wayward child. “Tim, I’m sure you mean well. But you keep talking like that and you could find yourself admitted in here with your sister.”
Tim knew it was pointless to try explaining any further. Daniel would believe whatever the doctors said, unless there was irrefutable proof otherwise. When the doctor entered to speak to Dan, Tim made his way to Samantha’s room. He wasn’t sure what he expected, but finding her so heavily drugged that she didn’t even recognize him, tore at his soul. With Dex, he left the hospital and took a cab home. Entering his room, the first thing he noticed was the stack of papers Brian had sent. Picking them up the first thing that caught his eyes were the front page photos on all of the leading New York City papers.
CHIEF PROSECUTOR OF BROOKLYN D.A.’S OFFICE JUMPS TO DEATH OVER MOB LINKED BOYFRIEND
Had Tim not known the impossibility of it, he’d have sworn the face shown was Samantha’s. Nervous sweat formed on his brow. It didn’t seem logically possible. He carefully read everything, noting that the so-called boyfriend, Cornelius Dupre, aka Life, had carefully cleared himself. The media seemed more than happy to accept the suicide theory fed by the District Attorney himself. Tim realized that the only way he could present this to either Daniel or Samantha was to find the answers to the questions they were sure to have. Like him, they’d need to understand, “How it could happen.”
Days passed slowly for Daniel, as he mentally beat himself up for whatever sins had cost him, first his wife and now, perhaps his daughter. Tim did more reading and researching than even he would have thought himself capable. For him, time flew by. So much to learn, so little time. Samantha was oblivious time had lapsed, as the days became weeks, which began to turn into months. Tim conferred with many people and one dog.
“Hey Dex, I wish you’d answer some of this for me. I’ve just about figured everything out, except for one piece that’s missing.”
Daniel stopped in the doorway and spoke to his son for the first time since their parting at the hospital. Tim refused to see Samantha all doped up. “Tim please, not you too.” Dan said, only half-joking. They’d avoided each other so effectively, that it actually startled Tim to see him there.
“Your sister insists that this Rachael person was real. Then, when the doctors won’t listen, she gets hysterical. She’s even tried to escape.”
“Good for her! ’Cause she’s right. Rachael did exist,” Tim cheered.
Dan suddenly looked very tired and sad, not wanting to believe that Tim chose to accept the delusions of his sister. “You’re not helping by talking the same craziness.”
“I’m crazy huh? Well then, I guess we all are then.”
“Tim, what in heaven’s name are you ranting about.”
“These,” Tim handed Dan a thick expanding folder. “You look at all of this and tell me she and I are crazy. Rachael Olivia Maxwell…”
Daniel pulled out the top page which was a color photo of the dead woman. He broke into an instant sweat and practically staggered to Tim’s bed and plopped down. Not only was she born around the same time as Samantha, but they look identical, damn near, and she died exactly when and how Sammie says she saw it happen.
The older man’s hands trembled, as he looked at Tim’s collection. He had now added to it, the actual papers. Articles ran most of the week. Included was an expose’ in two New York magazines.
“The only problem is that the only person who actually did see what happened, was Sammie and who the hell gonna believe that a blind girl in California was an eyewitness to a murder in New York. Especially, since the assholes out there said Rachael killed herself and the ones here say Sammie is nuts.”
Daniel sat there reading everything. The pictures were obviously provided by co-workers, with the exception of the morbid news shots of her body lying on the ground. Tim paced like a caged animal. This whole situation had become his life’s purpose. When it seemed Dan had read the last of Tim’s case. He looked honestly puzzled.
“Why hadn’t you brought this to me sooner? How long have you known all this?”
“Ungh, ungh…,” Tim protested. “You’re not puttin’ this on me again. I tried to tell you what Brian had told me the morning after! You didn’t want to hear it, you thought I’d put his concerns before Sammie’s welfare.”
“But if you could prove she wasn’t delusional…”
“Nope, don’t even go there. I tried to tell you again at the hospital. You were hell bent on believing whatever those stupid doctors said. You always have. That’s why she only told me and Mom about the dreams. It’s hard to tell you something, when your mind is already made up. Matter of fact, the only person who could ever change your mind was Mom and Aunt Alexandra.”
“No, you’re wrong. And I’m sorry for being so pigheaded. So happens your Aunt has stopped talking to me also, for the same reason you did. I wouldn’t listen to her either. Seems you weren’t the only one who believed Samantha was telling the truth.”
“Aunt Alexandra?! How did she know?”
“Who knows? She wouldn’t explain to me why she was so insistent about it. But then, she’s out in New York and publishes that magazine. I’m sure she heard about the Maxwell girl’s death, too. I told her what the doctors had said. She’d asked if I had seen the pictures. Any idiot can see there’s something to it.”
“So what do we do now?”
“Get your sister the hell out of there.”
Arriving at the hospital, one would’ve thought it was a hostile take over. Daniel asked for whatever papers were needed to discharge her. When being polite ceased to work, Tim forced his way into her room with Dex as the guard. She was in a fog. It had been a couple of decades since Tim had last dressed her. He’d seen hundreds of women’s bodies, but this was different. Samantha was his sister and though he did succeed in clothing her, his face stayed flushed with embarrassment. Taking off bras was fun. He’d never put one on someone before. So he took the easy route and put her clothes on over the hospital gown.
When the siblings emerged, Daniel was having a shouting match with the head nurse who demanded they await the doctor. Dex growled a warning to the Hospital Police that arrived. Samantha had put on weight and Tim was quick to note that, as he lifted her. She had no idea what was going on, as they took her home.
It took longer than either of the Robertson men had anticipated for her to seem her normal self. Samantha spent the first couple of weeks sleeping most of the time. Except to eat, bathe and relieve herself. Even when the hours she stayed awake prolonged, there was no desire on her part to communicate with them. Dex stayed with her and became her sole conversant. They both began to wonder, if perhaps, they’d been hasty in releasing her. Lethargic and always hungry, that was not the woman they loved.
It had been almost six weeks, since her return home. Samantha was quiet and withdrawn. She said very little to either man. At least thirty pounds heavier than her usual svelte size, the only exercise she got was from playing with Dex and that was generally in her room with the door shut. Just when things had fallen into a strange but repetitive routine, she woke up in the middle of the night and began to pace. Samantha thought about the voice she’d heard from the news program. The realization, that both her most trusted confidant and her father had believed her to be crazy, tore at her heart. Despite all his assurances that fateful night, Sam had heard the fear and doubt in Timothy’s voice, despite his attempt to conceal it.
During the eight years, since she’d gone blind, Samantha had honed several of her skills. As kids, she and Tim used to compete who could memorize the most license plate numbers. As she called the airline and placed her reservation, she was grateful for those games. Her oversized carry-on and duffle bags were quickly and methodically packed for both herself and Dex. Standby wasn’t exactly what she was hoping for, but it was better than nothing. The last time she’d flown cross-country, was when the family had made their exodus fourteen years prior. The taxi cab came precisely on time. Luck seemed to be on her side. Perhaps God had taken pity on her for all her tribulations and had decided to let her have her way for once. A couple about to elope canceled at the last minute, when the groom ran into an old flame. Amidst the ensuing commotion, Samantha was allowed on the plane. She’d braced herself for her own anticipated battle, about letting Dex fly with her. Perhaps the rules changed or someone had made a serious error, but he was allowed on without further word. They didn’t bring it up, so neither did she. Before second thoughts had a chance to take shape, Samantha was thousands of miles from home. Where she would stay, hadn’t been work out, but she was certain things would work themselves out. Last time she’d flown, she and Adrienne had raced back and forth from one side of the plane to the other, identifying features from below. It seemed quite fitting that there was little to see, since she could not see anyway. Aunt Alexandra was the only relative known to reside in the Big Apple. But knowing that, not only was she still very close to Dan and apparently not too fond of Samantha, left that as an option for life or death emergencies, not a place to stay.
Daniel was from Missouri. He had a huge contingency of honorary family members as a retired Detective Lieutenant. But other than his Police family, all the rest of his kin were in the midwestern states. Adrienne and Alexandra had moved out from their parents and lived together, until her parents had wed. She couldn’t really remember seeing her mother’s favorite sibling. They had two brothers also, but the one they’d been close to had been killed in Viet Nam. The other no one ever really talked about. She felt a bit guilty for not leaving, so much as a note. But Samantha knowin’ in her guts that anything she’d said, would lead her overprotective men folks directly to her. Tim knew her too well and Daniel had too many hooks to risk it, especially in New York.
Destiny called to her. Whatever she’d been experiencing, all her life had been in preparation for whatever lie ahead. She was unaware of falling asleep, until awaking over New Jersey. Her eyes opened as the announcements to buckle up were being made. There was a renewed sense of purpose. Her sleep had been sound and that realization of why hit like a ton of bricks. The dreams had stopped. A large part of herself had died with Rachael. For the first time ever, Samantha was truly without any vision. The only pair of eyes through which she’d been able to see, were closed forever. Thinking back to Rachael’s final moments, brought tears to Samantha’s eyes. Sitting huddled in her corner, she mourned a woman she knew her whole life without knowing at all. Unanswered questions plagued her mind. The answers were all here. And she meant to find them all. Rachael had been a champion all her life, jumping every hurdle in her path. She had the right to be honored in death. Not dismissed and forgotten for all. She’d accomplished.