Friday, June 3, 2016

Chapter 58

Friday, January 29, 1965

And so we waited. I had given up on Gina appearing. I didn't think much of the odds to begin with, and I went back to teaching, having come to the conclusion there was no happy ending to this story. 

I won't say there was a happy ending, but Gina Scarpelli did appear. After lunch, I found the new secretary waiting for me outside of the dining room. She told me I had a guest in the waiting room at the front of the building. 

It was Gina Scarpelli. In spite of her new status as a civilian, she looked every inch the nun. She had short hair, barely covering her ears and no makeup. She wore the same institutional wire glasses, the emblem of a religious woman. 

"I'm Gina Scarpelli," she said. "You might remember me as Sister Angela."

"I do," I said. "To what do I owe the pleasure?" It seemed a ridiculous thing to say. 

"Guilt," I suppose. "Perhaps despair."

I said nothing.

"I have nowhere to go," she said, choking a bit. "Well, that's not true. I've been working as a nurse, thanks to good recommendations from my order. But I'm a fish out of water. I belong in the order, but I can't ... " She stopped.

I looked at her, still saying nothing. 

"It's all I know. The convent. I was raised there. It's my family, but now ..." She stopped again. "The boy? Is he well?"

"The boy? You mean, Dave Johnson?"

She nodded. 

"My son visits him," I said.
"He's doing as well as could be expected." I didn't bother saying that he would have nothing to do with me. 

"He didn't poison anyone."

I said nothing. 

"I did. The man deserved it. At least I used to think so."

"And now?"

"I watched him kill my father. He hit him with the butt of his rifle, knocked him out. Then he looked at me, turned around, and said nothing. He had this scar across his eye. Same as Father Fox. It was him. I know it was."

"And you poisoned him."

"There were yew bushes in front of the building. I knew it was a poison. Midwives used it as an abortifacient. Of course, I  never used it for such, but we learned about it in nursing school. I made a tincture, a strong one, and added it to the altar wine. It was an abomination that he pretended to serve the Lord. I thought it was a good way for him to die. On the altar, poisoned by the blood of Christ. I thought he deserved it."

"And now?"

"I don't know. I confessed it, but my heart wasn't in it, and I said so. The priest wouldn't forgive me without true contrition, and I don't blame him. But ... " She paused for what seemed like a long time. "It's the boy. I feel guilty about the boy. I felt it as soon as I heard. I haven't been sleeping well. It's the boy. As far as Father Fox goes, I'll take my chances with Our Lord. But having that boy's life be ruined because of something I did, I can't do that. Not anymore. I'm willing to turn myself in if it will help the boy."

"I expect it will," I said.

"Mother Lucia said your wife was very persuasive."

"She can be," I said.

"Any chance I can meet her?"

"If you don't mind walking over to the library, we can do that." I did wonder if she might change her mind on the way, but I thought not. She had thought about this for too long.
And so we went to meet my wife.

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