I got on the computer and went to my cell phone provider. I had originally set up Bethy’s phone to a child account. I never used any of the parental controls but for some reason I wanted them there just case. Today I put them to use. All calls into or out of her phone would ring mine and I’d be able to record the call. This is a hidden feature, but I hacked in and did it. I also changed it so the “beep” that legally has to be present in any recorded calls was almost too soft to detect.
I turned on the voice recorder of my phone and then went to the kitchen. I immediately felt guilty about all of my prep work. Why was I doing this? Did our trust go away? I could smell the coffee and bacon and eggs even before I got there. Bethy had made breakfast. I almost turned off the recorder and canceled the call forwarding feature. Almost, but something made me go into the kitchen.
“Hey, it looks like you made breakfast this morning,” I said.
She smiled at me. “It’s my little way of saying I’m sorry for how much of a bitch I’ve been lately.”
“Thanks,” I said. “There’s just been a lot going on. Anyway, I have very bad news for you. Briana and I are taking Maggie out for breakfast this morning. I thought I told you. But then, with all of the excitement last night, I know I forgot to remind you. I’m very sorry. I know you worked hard on this. I will steal a piece of bacon, though.”
“Oh, yeah, I think you mentioned it last week,” she said. “I know you do it every couple of months, I just forgot it was today. Why don’t you just have a cup of coffee while I finish my tea?”
“No, I really should be going, thanks,” I said. “And again, I really apologize for not reminding you.”
“Oh, come on, just one cup of coffee won’t kill you,” she said.
“No thanks, I really don’t need coffee this morning, I’m still feeling the effects of yesterday and just want to drink water today,” I said. I got a glass of water. “But I will steal another piece of bacon.”
“I insist,’ she said. She was beginning to turn red. “Just sit and have a cup of coffee.”
“I can sit with you for like two minutes and drink my water, but I’m not drinking coffee.”
“Just drink the fucking coffee,” she said.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“Sorry for being so testy, but after all of the work I did I just thought you could show at least a little appreciation by drinking some of the coffee,” she said. “You know how much I hate making coffee, yet I did yesterday without a thanks and again today. Drink some coffee.”
“I’m sorry, I thought I thanked you yesterday,” I said. “But the doctors recommended I skip coffee today and I will. Sorry. I’ll take some toast. And thanks for making the coffee, I really do appreciate it.”
“Coffee, now,” she said. “Do I have to pour it down your fucking throat? Now!”
“OK, OK, I’ll fill my travel mug and drink it on the way to work.”
“You promise? You will really drink it?” she asked. I nodded. “OK, here, take what I prepared here and pour this into the mug.”
“I wanted to get some fresh from the pot,” I said.
“No, this is already prepared. Take it.”
“I mean there’s a ton in the pot and I know you don’t drink it. I’ll just take it since it’s still hot.”
“No you won’t. You will drink what I made for you. All of it today, I saw you pour some out yesterday. If you love me at all, if you’ve ever loved me even a little instead of always being such a selfish bastard, you will drink what I made especially for you.”
without a word I poured the coffee from the cup into the travel mug, add a little to fill it to the top, kissed her on the cheek and left. I turned off the recorder as soon as I was out of the house.
As I was driving off all I could think was how strange she had been acting.
But then, so was I. I didn’t have a breakfast meeting, but I knew I couldn’t drink the coffee and if I sat for breakfast I would. As it was, I’d stop and get some fresh coffee and a muffin on the way into work.
Something strange was going on. It was like an outside force made me do things I normally wouldn’t. And yet this outside will seemed to be there to help. I shot a peek out from the hidden part of myself and felt a shadow of Benjamin, but he was leaving, his job done. I shot out to Bethy and only felt anger. She wasn’t the void I’d seen before. She was there but Benjamin wasn’t. His absence confused her.
When I got to work I walked to Barry’s office.
“Hey, Barry, can you do me a huge favor?” I asked.
“Sure, what’s up?” he answered.
“Can you have someone analyze this coffee?” I handed him the travel mug that had the coffee Bethy prepared for me.
“Sure. What are we looking for?” he asked.
“Start with prescription and over the counter medicine. Also look into typical household poisons,” I said.
He gave me a quizzical look. “Trying to kill someone, or is someone trying to kill you?” he asked.
“That’s what I’d like to know,” I answered.
I sat down at my desk and wrote out the agenda for the day. The first thing I would do is shut Bethy out of every bank account so at 9 I called the bank.
As I waited for a human to pick up the other end I thought of Amelie’s words. Benjamin wanted me alive and whole. For whatever reason Bethy wanted me dead, or so it seemed. His tool had gotten out of his control and had gone off the deep end. He sometimes sacrificed his tools. At this time I had to consider Bethy a rogue agent working for her own ends.
“Please stay on the line, your call is important.”
What I couldn’t figure out is if this latest twist helps or hurts me. I would give Bethy a call in the early afternoon and find out.
New to “The Halley Branch”? Start form the beginning!