Friday, June 17, 2011

The News

"James is dead."

Rita stood at the table, her mouth agape. She had to remind herself to close it and swallow. "He is?"

None of them look at her. Some tapped at their glasses already in front of them. Others were bouncing their legs under the table. The one who gave her the news had looked up at her accidentally when she placed the tray on the edge of the table and blurted the words out as if he understood all the implications of her indirect tie to James. But after he'd blurted the words, he'd looked away from her and said no more.

Rita's heart contracted. "How're Vivian and Jimmy? Are they okay?"

More fidgeting. More looking away. Rita felt ready to start shaking them if they wouldn't tell her.

"Yeah, they're all right," one of the other men said finally.

Frank came up from behind her, placing his hands on her hips. "Rita, come on. Let them have their drink."

But Rita was shaking. Something wasn't right. She could feel it. It hurt that Frank knew it too and was trying to distract her.

"You know, don't you?" Rita wheeled on him. His hands fell to his sides as she moved, and he looked away. "What is it? Was Jimmy hurt? Was Vivian hurt?"

No one spoke at first. It was Shawn who finally spoke up. She looked at the men all avoiding Rita's gaze and then faced Rita. Her baby face serious enough that she almost looked her age for once. "It's Jimmy. No one wants to tell you. Jimmy killed his father."

Rita shook her head. He was only a boy six years old, soon to be seven. There was no way he could have done it. Before she could deny it, Frank's hands were on her shoulders, holding her steady, sliding down her arms to pull her to him.

"It's true." He said it like a whisper meant only for her ears though everyone was watching now. Everyone had looked up to see her reaction.

The others around the table nodded. Many of their frowns lengthened, the mood suddenly taking a dark dive now that it was out in the open. It seemed everyone sat stewed in their own thoughts, unwilling to speak any further on the subject.

Frank led Rita over to the bar. His grip on her arm was strong. "Don't get involved." He spoke it as they stood behind the bar, his voice low and only for her. "It's over."

But it wasn't over. It wouldn't be over until she saw him for herself. Rita slipped her apron over her head.

"Rita, let it be." Frank sounded stern and he looked angry, but it was nothing more than a desperate plea.

"Frank, I already failed him once in a big way, and many other times in many other small ways. I can't do it again." She looked away from him, her voice becoming nothing more than a wisp of breath.

"You don't even know if he's alive still."

Rita hadn't thought of that. She grasped at her heart, afraid that she would never get the chance to see him again. Behind her, at the bar, someone softly cleared her throat. Frank and Rita turned to look at Shawn.

"He's still alive."

Rita could feel Frank's frustration. "Will you take me to him?"

Shawn thought about it even as a horrified hush fell over the room. The men behind her probably had the same look Frank wore. "No. I will take you to see Henri though. He can decide then if you can see him or not."

Frank gave a gasp that sounded more like a groan. He reached out for her, but Rita was already on the other side of the bar before he could grab her, standing beside Shawn. Meeting the leader of the Southlands was not something she looked forward to, but she would do anything to be able to see Jimmy and somehow not fail him this time like she had so many times before.

Next Chapter -->


  1. Gotta love these little insights into the pasts of these people. Unfortunately, a bunch of questions typically get raised with each one that I want answered ASAP, curse you *Shakes fist angrily :P *

    Ah, but there's so much depth to this story, you can't help but love it, and be intrigued :)

  2. Thank you, poida! It is reassuring to hear from you. Sometimes I worry it's too much, but if I tried to wait until I had it all written out, I'd probably be old and retired!

    Thanks for stopping in.

  3. You are so good at giving us little snippets which are followed by trillion least in my head.

  4. Okay now I wish I hadn't posted my last comment...

    There really is something I don't get about Rita's attachment to Jimmy. It is maternal, almost more than maternal. The way she keeps reminding herself that she failed him as if she abandoned him is striking. I am looking forward to her and Henri in the same room.

  5. Really well done. I still don't get what's going on with Rita. Is she Jimmy's relative? Her emotional reaction is so maternal. I can't imagine thinking that much and that deeply and with that much guilt and responsibility about another woman's child.

    Fascinating stuff!

  6. Speechless, thanks. I do this to myself too all the time. And then I try to write everything down as it comes. What a mess my head is! And don't even get me started on all the journals.

    Gayl, aw why're you wishing you hadn't posted the last comment?

    Rita is a special woman in my head. She stands out for this reason. Hopefully, she'll give more clarity on it (though I don't see her actions as being rational at all).

    S.B., she's definitely not being rational here. She's very young, but hopefully there will be some clues in the next couple of updates.

    Thanks for reading and commenting. :)

  7. Ah! Last week's chapter makes a lot more sense now. I remembered that Jimmy killed his father but I wasn't positive where we were in the timeline yet. I somehow didn't realise he was so young when he did it (maybe because you didn't say?)

    Like Gayl, I'm also thinking about Rita's attachment to Jimmy. She feels so much responsibility towards him and even talks about having failed him in the past. I do wonder where that's all coming from. She's definitely an interesting woman I can't wait to hear more about.

  8. Carla, Hmm. That's true, I never actually said how old he was when he killed his father. I knew something was also missing from last week's chapter. D: *covers eyes and doesn't look back*

    Rita is a woman of strong convictions. Hopefully I can shed some light on it this week!