In the Chair

    Excerpt from The Perfect Solution

    Author: Ey Wade Genre:
    Rating


     THE PERFECT SOLUTION-A SUSPENSE IN CHOICES

    CHAPTER ONE-CONVERSATIONS

    Catrine Teddi rolled onto her stomach and pulled the pillows until the mound under her head was a little higher. She didn’t bother to open her eyes because she was so tired and angry with herself for wasting her sleep dreaming of Austin. Time had changed nothing. The man was still her every thought after nearly four years. He was the last thought she had at night and the first thought to wake her.
    Sometimes the regret was so over whelming she would find herself reaching for her phone to call him.
    Lifting her congested pounding head from the half dozen pillows encased in their flowered patterned cases, she pulled a Kleenex from the matching tissue box hidden in the pillows. Rubbing the scented piece of paper under her dripping nostrils, she yawned, ruffled her hair and focused her sleepy eyes on the square face of the clock sitting next to the telephone. Six o'clock? Six o'clock. I can't believe it. Where is Phalene?  She questioned the validity of her eyesight and the location of her sister within the same thought.
    "Jeez." She exclaimed out loud. "Have I been asleep all evening?" Continuing to talk aloud as was a habit when she was upset Catrine checked the time on the clock again. "I wonder why Phae hasn't brought Brhin home. She could have at least called to let me know that she would be keeping him at her house. Maybe she had called and I didn't hear the phone."
    Searching the table next to the bed, she saw the light flashing on the identification box sitting next to the phone. It showed that a call had come from The P.S. Center, but no message was on the answering machine. Phae, who could be an extremely impatient person, had probably started to call and didn't have time to leave a message.
    Pressing the buttons that would activate the intercom system on the telephone and the preprogrammed number that would dial her sister, Catrine pulled the blankets up to her neck and pressed her back into the pillows. Swiping at her nose and closing her eyes against the pain in her head, she waited for the answer.
    "Yes?" asked the cheerful voice on the other end of the phone line.
    "Hey," Catrine croaked. "Whatcha doin'?" She coughed to clear the phlegm from her throat. "I thought that you would have been here by now. You could have called."
    "Me, call?"  Phae bellowed angrily. "I have been waiting for you to call and apologize."
    Brushing her nose with a fresh Kleenex and clearing her throat again, Catrine pushed herself into a semi-sitting position and adjusted the straps to her gown.
    "What do you mean 'apologize'? What do I have to apologize for? Brhin didn't tell that silly little thing I told him about Road kill this morning did he? I was only kidding it was a joke."
    "Brhin didn't tell me anything. I want you to apologize for having me drive twenty minutes across town to get your kid from that stupid, death trap of a...."
    "I hate it when you call The P. S. Center by that name."  Catrine broke into the tirade. "Brhin loves it there. The center is very pretty and well equipped.”
    "That's all it is. You know how I feel about it, and you know how Frank feels. It is not a good place. You can't just go by the name, The Perfect Solution, ha." Phae's words sped out of her mouth in a tirade of irritation. Once she started on listing the faults of the center she was hard to stop. "None of the teachers have a clue as to why they’re there. The place is run in total chaos. You of all people, the owner of your own security firm should be worried about the way that center handles its business. They are so darn careless. What I want to know is how could you have me drive all the way across town to the center and then have Brhin not be there?  I had to rush all the way back to this end of town so that I could get my girls from school. I was barely on time for the Girl Scout meeting and now dinner will be late. You know…"
    "What." Catrine screeched and sat ramrod straight in the bed. The roughness in her throat caused her voice to rasp."What are you saying? What do you mean he wasn't there? Where is Brhin, then?"
    "Isn't he there with you?"
    "No, oh my God, what are you saying?" Fear knotted Catrine's stomach and made her nauseas. "I wouldn't have asked you to get him if he wasn’t going to be there. Are you playing a joke on me? I am not well Phae. My head is killing me and I don't find this in the least bit funny. Put Brhin on the phone."
    "Are you serious, Cat?" The anxiety in Phalene's voice was clearly heard through the phone line. “I thought that you had gotten someone else to get Brhin. He's not here.”
    Catrine looked at the small double heart picture frame that held a picture of Brhin in one heart and a picture of herself and Brhin in the other and her own heart skipped a beat. Dragging nerveless fingers through her already mused hair, Catrine swung her legs over the edge of the bed and stood up slowly. Her head felt as if it was about to burst and the pain behind her eyes made her want to lie back down.
    "Who else would I send? Phae, you are kidding aren't you? This is a joke, right? This can't be real. My baby is sitting in your den playing with your crazy little dog, right?"
    "No, he isn't. Come on, Cat, think. You’ve been really sick, running a high fever, taking medication. Maybe you asked a friend to get Brhin for you and just forgot. The little thing that was supposed to be substituting in his class told me that a friend of yours had come and gotten him. I just assumed you had called Linda."
    "No, I called you last night why would I call anyone else? Anyway, Linda goes to college now. She hasn't even been here in over two weeks. I called you. I even sent a note to the school to make sure the workers knew you would be coming. I should have called those idiot people this morning like I started to, but my head was killing me. I didn't even get out of the car when I dropped him off this morning. I just kissed him good-bye, watched him go into the building, came home and crawled into bed. I haven't even had the strength to get out of the bed to go to the bathroom. That Julioux woman from the office opened the door for him. I saw him take the note out of his pocket to give to her as I had instructed him and she waved it away. I should have gotten out of the car and gone in, but all I could think about was getting in the bed. Oh, God.  I think I am going to throw up."
    "Honey, breathe slowly. Try to calm down and think."
    Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, Catrine calmly questioned Phalene about the little 'thing' that had been in the classroom.
    "I’d never seen the little woman there before. She seemed pretty young and upset about something. I only saw her for a couple of minutes. I think she was getting off because she left the building right after I spoke to her. All of the children were in the television room. There was a lot of crying and talking and the television was blaring and the teachers were yelling...I couldn't tell what was going on. They said something about an accident. It was totally chaotic and after I was told that a friend of yours had gotten Brhin, I just left the place feeling really pissed off. And that's how I’ve been all evening; walking around here pissed off and waiting for you to call. Are you sure that you didn’t send anyone?  Cat, what did you say?  You sound so far away."
    Catrine, who had been rushing around the room, tearing off her gown, haphazardly yanking clothes from the dresser drawers and closet and putting them on without a thought or care of how she might look, moved closer to the telephone base, she leaned forward and talked loudly into the system.
    “I said who in God's name would I send? There is only you and I and your husband. I have no other family."
    "There is the baby's father. Do you think he might have gone to get him?"
    "No." Catrine almost screamed in frustration. She threw a crumpled used Kleenex at the mirror on the dresser. "I haven't seen Austin in years. Anyway, he knows nothing about Brhin."
    "And why is that?"
    "I don't want to get into that again. Especially not right now. You're making me crazy. I know you and probably God think it's wrong of me not to have told him and in time I'll get the courage or the nerves or whatever it will take to tell Austin, but it won't be today." Catrine blinked her eyes rapidly in order to hold back the tears that were burning her eyes. "I can't worry about what Austin is feeling or thinking. All I know is that my baby is missing and I may never see him again."
    "I just can't understand why you never told him. That's the stupidest thing I have ever heard. Why in the world would you have a man's child and not let him know? Did he beat you? Was it an abusive relationship or just some sort of casual fling you had?"
    "Why are we having this conversation? I can't understand this." Catrine threw her hands in the air exasperation. "Is that what this is all about? You're so worried about Austin's feelings that you would plan something this devastating in the belief you can get me to call Austin. You’re constantly getting on me about Brhin's father and within the past few months you’ve been doing it more than ever. Why is that? Are you keeping Brhin there as way to try and get Austin into Brhin's life? If that's the game plan you are wasting your time and this would be a great way to tear our family apart."
    "I'm not doing anything of the sort. I'm telling you Brhin is not here. I just asked the question because I feel that if I was a father and found out I had a child for almost four years and knew nothing about him, I would snatch him. I would probably take him away so that you could feel what a lack of knowledge could do to you. I’ve just been wondering of late whether Austin would think the same way. I would just hate it. I believe that if Austin knew and was able to spend time with Brhin, he wouldn't have the inclination to take him."
    "I don't believe he would do such a thing. If I know Austin correctly, he would confront me and argue about it. He wouldn't do anything behind my back. I don't want to talk about this any longer. I need to call the police. It has been about three hours since you went to the center. No telling where this person could be with Brhin. I just pray they are still in the city. Listen, I'm going to call the director of The P. S. Center and see if she knows anything. Will you come over here?"
    "Yes, of course. I'll leave the girls with Frank and I'll be right there."
    "You are serious, aren't you Phae? My baby is not standing by your side and laughing at me?" Catrine sat on the edge of the bed, closed her eyes and nervously chewed on her fingernail. "Your sense of humor tends to go to the extreme sometimes. Don't fu….."
    "Cat, watch your language."
    "How in God's name can you correct my language at a time like this? Phae I want to scream. I can't believe this is happening. I just want to stomp my feet and rant, rage and pull my hair out while screaming like a maniac."
    "I can understand that Cat, but cursing will not bring him back and acting like a maniac will destroy your focus. You need to concentrate on what you can do that will help. Think about absolutely anyone that you may have spoken with since last night. Maybe they mistakenly thought you were asking them to get Brhin and they have him. Maybe a co-worker or one of the ladies from the church called you. Everyone has been worried about you since you became ill. I wouldn't play with you over something like this. I know how you feel about that baby. Jesus, I know how I feel about him. Go ahead and call that director. I'll be at your house as soon as possible."
    "Hurry up. I feel nervous. My head is about to burst and my hands won’t stop shaking."
    "I'll be right there. In the meantime, take an aspirin, maybe two."
    "Yeah, right; like that will help." 



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