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Entry 34: Martin & Shaedra: Tuesday Aug.9
The police didn’t come today either. But someone did. I was still in bed when there came a knocking at the front door. Penny jumped up from her place beside me and began to bark. She certainly is a good security system, I’ll give her that. I hastily dressed and when I got to the door I discovered Mr. Martin was standing on the porch, fidgeting and shuffling from foot to foot. I have to admit I was surprised to see him.
“I didn’t call the police,” he stated matter-of-factly.
“Okay,” I replied, feeling a little more relaxed.
“Maybe it’s because of something you said,” he reasoned. “Maybe I’ve been fooling myself and I just needed someone to point it out.” He looked me square in the eye. “Yesterday when I found you in my house, in her room, I wanted to kill you. I felt like you were violating my world. My little world where Mischa is okay and coming home soon.” He looked down at his shoes, “But she’s not, is she?”
“No sir, I don’t think so.”
He nodded. “What of her letters then?”
I stepped outside and Penny followed me. She went down the steps to go out in the yard, while I motioned Mr. Martin to sit on the porch. I sat down next to him. “Do you really get them every year?” I asked him.
“Yes. They are typed, printed off a computer. She says she doesn’t have time to sit down and write a real letter.”
“Does she sign them?”
“Maybe it’s not her,” I suggested warily.
He didn’t say anything, only nodding to let me know he understood what I was saying. Finally after a moment, he spoke. “I want to know. I have to know what happened to my her. I know she’s just my stepdaughter, but I raised her as my own. When her momma ran off and abandoned us, we were all we had left. I love her just as much as if she was my own blood. Can you understand that?”
I said that I could.
“I’ve gone nearly twenty years believing she was still out there, and then you come along telling me you believe she’s dead.”
It was more of a question than a statement, so I answered it. “Yes, I believe she is.”
He nodded. “If you have guesses or theories, I don’t want to know. I only want proof. I want to help if I can, but I don’t want to hear a thing about it until it’s the positive truth. I can’t deal with just wondering if that’s the way things really happened. That would drive me crazy. That’s why it’s been easier for me to believe she’s alive.”
I understood that, too.
“But when you have the truth, please come to me and tell me. Promise you’ll tell me first. I don’t want to hear it from the papers or the police.”
“Okay, I promise.”
He smiled slightly and I saw a different man from the one who had once punched me on his front lawn. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a bundle of envelopes with a rubber band around them. “Her letters,” he said, handing them to me.
I looked at the envelopes. His address was typed across the face of them. I wanted to look at the letters right away, but I didn’t.
“Thank you,” I said. “I’ll give them back to you.”
“If they aren’t really hers, I don’t want them back.”
“Do you believe they are from her, Mr. Martin?”
He weighed the answer in his head. “I’m starting to see things differently. Things I thought sounded like her, I’m not so sure about now. Maybe someone else will see what I have refused to.” He got up and stepped down off the porch. “Come see me,” he said. “Just don’t break in next time.”
I grinned a little until I realized he was serious. “Thanks for not calling the police.”
“Don’t make me regret it,” he said, and then went to his car, driving away as fast as he could. Something told me he didn’t like it here so close to the church his daughter loved.
I looked at the envelopes in my hand. “Okay Mischa, let’s see what you grew up to be…”
The typed letters painted a pretty picture of a runaway girl who became a successful dress designer. So successful she didn’t have time for a husband or a visit with the man she knew as her father. But the promise to visit was always there, “if I can find the time.” There was the mention throughout the yearly missives of personal things. She asked about Tommy Blaine, but not of Eric. Only once did she mention him in her letters. “I miss Eric too, but I know no one liked him. He was still a nice boy.” She never mentioned her mother either, as if the woman was dead to her, if she had even existed at all. She talked of Mr. Martin as if he were the only family she had. For all intents and purposes, to her he was her real dad. Her discourses to him were long ramblings that at times seemed to me to be a case of a daughter buttering her father up before asking for something. But she never asked him for a cent. Maybe these ramblings were to keep him from wondering about where she’d gone.
The one thing I had noticed right away was she never included a return address. Yes, there was a New York postmark, but never a way to write her back. I found myself wondering why Mr. Martin never tried to find her. After that many years a concerned father would have hired a detective, or tried to discover her whereabouts somehow. But I guess he was blinded by what he wanted to believe. I’m the one who had to stir things up.
I had every intention of going over to the church and asking the secretary to view the old church records, to try and find out something about the Shifletts, and their strange nephew Eric, but I was sidetracked by yet another visitor. Shaedra.
She came by shortly after Mr. Martin had left, and the suspicious part of me wondered if maybe she had been waiting for him to leave before she paid me a visit. There was something different about her today though. No longer did she wear alluring clothing and walk in the sexually confident manner she had once displayed. Now she wore a long black dress, the top nearly buttoned up to her neck. No leg, no cleavage. Now she was asexual as possible.
“Morning Shaedra,” I said standing in the doorway. “Would you like to come in?”
She looked over at the repaired picture window and shook her head. “No, I just came over to tell you goodbye.”
“Yes, I quit my job as Mrs. Shifflett’s assistant. I’m leaving.”
I was kind of surprised at the news. “Why?” I asked.
She didn’t give me an answer, and I assumed what she did have to say had been rehearsed on the way over.
“I wanted to apologize for the other day. Trying to seduce you like that. And you being a married man. I am truly sorry.”
“It’s okay,” I replied, wondering where she was going with all this.
“I know you are a good man, and that you love your wife. She will come back to you; of this I’m sure.” She hesitated as if gauging what she was going to say next. “But you have forces swirling around you and this place.”
“Paul, I have always had an insight into things. I feel things that others don’t. I’m empathetic, for lack of a better word. And I feel there is something going on here that I do not want to be a part of. Not even as a bystander.”
“What do you mean?”
“There is an evil at work in this town. And there’s an evil somewhere over there.” She pointed at the church. “I don’t know if it’s this Mischa you talked about, but there’s something dark and evil here. I feel it was here when she was a child, and it’s still here preying on the innocent.”
“What kind of evil are we talking about?”
“I do not know, but it frightens me, Paul. It frightens me enough to want to change every aspect of my life and get as far away from here as possible. I do not want to be its next victim.”
“You’re not making much sense,” I said, trying to be respectful. “If there’s an evil here, why doesn’t it come forth? I can’t imagine it’s Mischa. So what is it?”
“Maybe she is connected to it. Hopelessly tied here until it’s gone. But it’s not without form. Sometimes evil walks in the hearts of men. Please remember that.”
She turned to go, but I grabbed her arm. She spun and tried to pull away, before seeing I wasn’t going to harm her. “Please Shaedra, tell me what you are thinking.”
She placed her hand over mine. “I am thinking you are a good man, but not all men are good. I have seen his face and I fear what lies in his eyes.”
“What do you mean you’ve seen his face?”
She removed her hand from mine and gently pulled away. “Listen to everything that Mischa has to tell you. Follow her signs.” She stepped off the porch and looked up at me. “In my Bible reading this morning, it said there shall be a resurrection of the dead.”
I got ready to ask her what she thought that means, but then Penny came around the house. Seeing Shaedra she barked in alarm. The woman looked at the dog and smiled. “Keep an eye on your master, would you?”
Then she was walking to her car. I came off the porch in a trot and caught up to her just as she’d opened her door and got in. “I can’t do this alone. Please help me find out what happened.”
She looked up at me sadly. “I can’t help you, Paul. Once, I was very attracted to you, and I thought the allure was physical, sexual, but I know now what drew me to you was her. She’s all around you. She’s around all of us. She draws us all into her sorrow. I thought it was you who was so sad and lonely, but it’s her. I don’t want to feel that anymore.”
She tried to close the door but my hand was on it. Still I knew I couldn’t talk her into staying. Escape was in her eyes. She wanted distance between herself and this whole town. “I wish you the best of things, Shaedra. I wish I could leave just like you, but I can’t.”
“I know. You are connected to her now. And for that you must be wary. Don’t let the evil that took her take you, too.”
She got out of the car suddenly, and flung her arms around me. She kissed me on the cheek and whispered, “for luck.” Then without another word she was back in the car, closing the door, and speeding away.
I stood there on the lawn, watching her go, and a thought occurred to me. Maybe this is what they mean by the one that got away. If that’s the case, I wish her Godspeed and safety, for I have a dread feeling something bad is about to happen…
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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.
Original text copyright 2007.
10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.