Melinda nonchalantly picked up the phone. “Hello.”
“Melly, it’s Angie. I need you to come to California as soon as possible. Can you do that for me?”
Melinda gripped the phone tightly. “My name is Melinda, Angie. How many times do I have to tell you to stop calling me Melly? “
“Okay, okay. Now can you come out here or not?”
“What do you need me for?”
“I can’t say.”
“Listen Angie if you can’t tell me what it is then it can’t be that important.”
“Will you stop being so damn selfish and show a little empathy for others for a change?
“Don’t give me that crap about not having empathy when I was the one who spent time taking caring of our mother while you played the precious little princess hosting parties for the phonies.”
“Look, let’s not fight okay. I need you.”
“And how am I supposed to get out there?’
“Drive, how else.”
“Are you serious? You want me to drive three thousand miles for something you won’t even tell me about?”
Angie sighed. “Okay, you win. We had a fire out here.”
“Yeah, I heard about that but I thought it was a good distance from where you live.”
“The main part of the fire was but you know how the winds are out here.”
“Actually Angie, I don’t being that you never invited me to your house since you moved.”
“Are you sure?” Angie said then cleared her throat. “I thought I had and for some reason you couldn’t come.”
“That’s bull,” Melinda spat. “You know damn well you never invited me because you didn’t think I was good enough for your high-falootin friends.”
“I’m sorry,” Angie offered her apology.
“You sound more and more like your phony friends, you know that? What ever happened to my sister?”
“So will you come?”
“Yes, I’ll come. You know it is going to take time for me to get there.”
“I know. I feel better already. Thanks Melly….Melinda.”
Melinda made some phone calls, then packed her bag and locked up the house.
Fighting to keep the duffle bag from slipping off her shoulder, Melinda hurried toward her gold Chevrolet Impala and cursed for having parked it so far away. She couldn’t believe this was happening. She reached the car and put the duffle bag in the trunk and set out on her cross country journey.
Four days later, tired and hungry, Melinda pulled up to Angie’s house and immediately noticed there were no signs of fire damage to the house or surrounding area. A thousand questions popped into her head but none of them had answers.
Angie opened the door after the second time Melinda rang the doorbell. “I am so glad you are here,” she said wrapping her arms around Melinda’s shoulders. She leaned back then gave Melinda a kiss.
“How was your trip?”
“Reckless,” Melinda replied. “I’ve been driving myself nuts wondering what happened that was so bad you needed me right away. I didn’t know if the house was burned down, or if someone was in the hospital. So tell me what’s happened you need my help?”
Angie led Melinda to the living room and sat down. When Melinda was seated Angie said, “Geez you look a mess.”
Melinda glared at her. “No kidding I look like a mess. I’m hungry Angie and I’m not helping you with anything until I get something to eat.”
Angie looked like a deer caught in the headlights. “Yes, well, um. You sure it can’t wait?”
The icy-cold stare Melinda shot her made Angie sit back in the chair. “I…I didn’t mean it like that ……it’s it’s just that the cook is not here and……”
Melinda stood up. “You’re hopeless, you know that. Where’s the kitchen for God’s sake?”
Angie nervously got up and led Melinda through a hallway into a spacious kitchen where Melinda set about making lunch for the two of them. Finally Melinda asked. “So what was so urgent you had to have me drive out here?”
Angie cleared her throat. “Brandon is missing. He’s been missing since the fire.”
Melinda shook her head. “Wait a minute. Hold on right there. Are you telling me that you had me drive all the way out here because your cat is missing! What the hell is wrong with you? I don’t believe this. You have gone bonkers. You are absolutely crazed you know that!”
“You don’t understand, there’s there’s more,” was the only thing Angie started to say.
Melinda jumped up. “Do you hear yourself for God’s sake? You had me worried sick for a damn cat. I can’t believe you did this. You’ve lost your marbles.”
Angie stood up. “I know it sounds crazy but Brandon has to be suffering from hunger pains now and maybe even dead. You know how much I love that cat,”
Melinda stormed to the door. “I’m going home.”
“Aren’t you going to help look for him?” Angie asked as if nothing of what she had said sounded bizarre.
Melinda waved her hand in disgust. “I’m going home.”
Angie watched as Melinda pulled out of the driveway. A tear trickled down her cheek.
Melinda drove to the end of the street and stopped. She glanced in the rearview mirror and saw Angie standing in her driveway watching her leave. She lowered her head and shook it. “Aaaaagh!” she screamed out loud and put the car in reverse.
“I have got to be out of mind,” Melinda mumbled to herself. “Why I ever let myself get suckered in by her I’ll never know.” At the driveway, she shifted into drive and pulled into the driveway making Angie jump out of the way.
Angie opened the door for her. “Thanks for coming back.”
“You owe me big time,” Angie said, then added, “The least you can do is get my bags out of the back seat.” She stormed into the house, closing the door behind her and headed straight into the living room where she plopped herself down on the couch.
May 1, 2014