Chapter 1 – A Secret Revealed
Carolyn stopped counting and glanced up from her latest knitting project. She’d heard the front door chimes and hoped Frank had too.
“Frank can you get that, I’m in the middle of something at the moment.
There was silence. Usually Frank acknowledged it when she asked for help. He’s probably out in his workshop again she thought.
Carolyn sighed, made a note in her journal and headed for the door. Opening it she gave a cry of pleasure. It was her daughter and son-in-law come to visit.
“Come in, come in!” She shouted for joy as she opened the door wide to let them in.
“Can’t stay long, Sally Ann wanted to return some patterns you gave her and then we have to leave for an appointment.” Jack, Sally Ann’s husband looked at her meaningfully for confirmation.
“I can’t let you go without a hot drink and some of my cookies Sal!” Carolyn steered them to the kitchen while she bustled around to get them something to eat.
“Frank!” she called loudly. “Sal and Jack are here!”
There was still no answer.
“I’ll go and get him,” mumbled Jack heading for the back door and the tool shed in the backyard where Frank usually constructed his masterpieces.
“Let me take your coat?” Carolyn moved to her daughter to take the coat from her.
Sal shrank back into the corner by the refrigerator as she saw her mother approach.
“No Mom, I want to keep it on.”
Carolyn eyed her in surprise. “That’s not like you at all Sal. You hate coats now give it to me”
Sal held onto her coat tightly with both hands. “No Mom, I want to keep it on!”
Carolyn shrugged and went back to her preparations. Her female brain two hemispheres were working overtime as she thought about Sal’s reaction. Perhaps she wasn’t feeling well today so best not push her. Sal was a very private person and Carolyn had always respected that. The two women had a deep love for each other which didn’t have to be expressed as it was a force that flowed between them. And it was that bond between them which was pressing alarm buttons in Carolyn’s head. She decided to probe further carefully.
“How are the kids Sal. We haven’t seen them for a whole day.”
Carolyn chuckled as she thought of the happy noises in her home as they made their regular visits. She and Frank missed their children. Out of the three, two boys and a girl, it was only Sal who’d remained in their country town to grace them with regular visits. They loved all their grandchildren and doted on them all, but as Sal’s children were regulars there was that special bond there. She glanced at Sal who remained at a distance holding onto her jacket. There was something wrong with this scene!
Frank and Jack appeared through the back door interrupting Carolyn’s thoughts.
Carolyn looked at her husband with pride. At sixty years of age he was the picture of health. He stood tall and erect and his muscles rippled as he walked. He still did his five mile jogs early each morning before work at the mill where he was foreman, and in the evenings he visited the gym to work out. He was not into the bar scene much to Carolyn’s joy. Her own father had spent too much time in bars after work and though he was placid by nature there were times when he’d come home drunk. She shuddered at the thought. But her Frank was not like that. He was a bit of a health nut but she liked it that way.
Carolyn turned her attention to Jack. He was matching Franks bravado, but there was something about him that looked uncomfortable. She began assembling her observations looking for a conclusion to the odd behaviour of both of them.
Frank headed for his daughter to give her his usual hug and Sal shrank back still holding tight to her jacket.
Frank stopped in his tracks looking puzzled. “You OK Sal?”
Sal looked at Jack who spoke up.
“We really don’t have time for the drink and cookies Carolyn as we have an appointment and don’t want to be late.”
Frank eyed Sal and then turned to Jack. “You certainly do have time for a drink and cookies Jack, Carolyn has already prepared it.” He took Jack by the arm and sat him down on a kitchen stool, then motioned to Sal to sit. Compared to Frank’s six foot three Jack at five foot eight and much lighter always deferred to him. Both Jack and Sal looked uncomfortable.
They sat sipping their drink and chewing on a cookie while Frank and Carolyn glanced at each other. They had a close relationship and could almost read each other’s thoughts. Frank read concern in his wife’s eyes.
“Go get our camera Carolyn, we haven’t had a picture with Jack and Sal for a while and this is a good opportunity.”
Jack jumped in alarm. “We had one taken last weekend Frank. I think Sal gave you a picture didn’t you Sal?” Sal nodded.
Carolyn returned with the camera and handed it to her husband who handed it back.
“You can take the picture Carolyn I want to be in this one with the kids.” Frank went around the table and stood at the back and between Sal and Jack.
“Better remove this coat so we can take a more relaxed picture,” said Frank gently tugging at it until Sal let it slowly slide from her shoulders reluctantly.
“Take our picture,” commanded Frank.
Carolyn lifted the camera with shaking hands and the camera flashed.
“Take another one!” Frank said softly.
Frank glanced down at his daughter’s arms. They were bruised with blue and red welts in her upper arms.
“How did this happen Sal?” he said softly to his now sobbing daughter.
“She fell down the stairs and didn’t want you to know how clumsy she was. Now you’ve embarrassed her!”
Jack took the coat and grabbed Sal’s hand. Let’s go, we’ll be late for our appointment. He made a vain attempt to be convincing but there was fear in his voice.
Frank took Jack by the arm and steered him to the front room.
“OK Jack, I want the truth out of you, those kind of wounds don’t come from falling down the stairs. In my boxing years I’ve seen those kind of bruises on men and know how it happens. Falling down the stairs indeed. Out with it! What happened? She’s a woman for crying out loud, what were you thinking?
Jack sat sullenly taking in Frank’s healthy physical bulk.
“Sal attacked me and I was defending myself. She was hitting me and must have hurt herself as she did that.”
Frank picked up one of Jack’s arms, then the other. Then he unbuttoned the shirt of an unresisting Jack. He inspected Jack’s carefully.
“I don’t see any marks Jack can you explain that to me?”
There was a brief silence, then cries of pain and a scuffle.
Jack gasped in pain. “You’ll pay for this big time Frank.”
Frank nodded his head in agreement. “We can talk about that as I visit with you every day from now on Jack. If I ever see marks like that on my daughter again you and I will have a little time in the ring at the boxing centre and I guarantee, you’ll not feel good after that experience. This was just a little encouragement for you to be a good husband and father from now on. Falling down the stairs indeed!”
Frank looked up to see Sal watching him from the doorway. “That’s quite enough Dad, for all his faults he’s my husband and the father of our kids. Come on Jack, let’s go home.”
“I’ll be paying you a visit every day Sal from now on.” Frank laid his hand gently on his daughter so as not to cause her further pain. Carolyn hovered in the background showing concern. She’d never seen her husband so angry before and it frightened her.
To be continued.
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