Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Snippet of the Day

October 22, 2013

“Well, howdy there, Doc.” Ray wiped his hands on a blue rag then shoved it into his back pocket. He tipped his Flyers cap. “What brings you by?” Dale was unsure what to say. She really should have thought this out first. If she came right out and asked Ray about the car, then Neil’s presence at her home would be all over town by tomorrow morning. She chewed the inside of her cheek, exhaling in relief when he gave her a way out. “Hey, you haven’t seen any strangers wandering around, have ya?”
Dale shook her head. “No, why?” She stomped the snow off her boots, her eyes leaving his.
“Picked up that Toyota.” He pointed to an old gray model across the impound yard. “It was about a mile down the road, not far from your place.” Ray dug at his scruffy beard, his green eyes tired. “The owner hasn’t shown his face. After looking at his credentials, I now know why.” He chuckled.
Dale’s spine stiffened. Was that Neil’s car? She bit back the words that were ready to roll off her tongue. He did say it was a piece of shit.
“Why? What’s wrong?” Dale’s heart raced. “Should you be calling the police?” Her stomach twisted. She swallowed past the anxious lump that was swelling in her throat.
Ray frowned. “Nah, he’s not a criminal, but his old man is.” Ray’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t you remember hearing about the Crest View scandal, you know, the assisted living facility out in Bucks?”
Dale jammed her hands into her pockets. Didn't Neil say he was from Bucks County?  “No, I—”
“You gotta get out of the house more, Doc.” Ray laughed at her. “Don’t you read the paper?” He waved her into the service bay, getting back to his work. “This old, beat-up car I’ve got sitting out here belongs to the son of Eugene Regal...son’s name is Neil.” Ray dipped his head below the rear tires, catching her eyes.
Dale leaned against the tool chest, trying to look nonchalant, but her mind was spinning. She needed to know more. Dread and terror braided together, tightening around her. This man was in her house!
“So you’re saying that his family owned the facility?” Her voice was hesitant.
Ray nodded in reply. “They sure did, for many years. The old man got busted for embezzlement, robbed those seniors blind, Medicare, too.” He shook his head again.
Dale took a breath. The pungency of gas and oil filled her nose, her stomach now nauseous. “Was he involved...did he know, Neil, the son?” Her voice cracked. Dale followed Ray around the undercarriage of the truck.
“Nope, and after his old man got arrested and charged, the missus dropped dead, heart attack.”
“Jesus,” Dale whispered, looking away, needing a breather. Her eyes landed on the battered vehicle, the front fender dented, the paint rusted and peeling.
“Yeah,” Ray sighed. “It’s a sad story.”
“Is the father serving time?” Dale blinked, her emotions rising, smothering the fear that had been lurking. This was the reserve that Dale had noticed in Neil. She certainly couldn’t blame him. The embarrassment he must’ve suffered in front of his community. That’s why he was leaving, running away from it all. Dale knew it all too well. Indiscretions were like part of the family. They weren’t something that ever really went away. They always hid in the shadows. The inflicted were never entirely free of ownership.
“Oh yeah.” Ray’s voice rose. “He’s serving time over in Fields Grove.”
Dale knew that Fields Grove was a state penitentiary out in Ohio. Had Neil been planning on visiting his father before he’d gotten stuck in the storm? The scenarios raced through her head.

No comments:

Post a Comment