Family Lies Chapter 19: Letter

Drawing of a partly-built brick wall with a sign saying: "Under construction." Caption reads: "Work in progress."

Family Lies Chapter 19: Letter chapter of work in progress by Iris Carden

It was strangely quiet, blocking Jack’s calls.  Emily didn’t know why she hadn’t done it years earlier, except of course, she had grown up with the kinds of phone it wasn’t possible to block someone on, and had simply never thought of it.

One problem man dealt with, just one to go, she thought to herself, as she wandered through the garden, taking her time walking back from her morning exercise in the pool house. 

She said “Good morning”, to a security person who was walking the grounds, then stopped to chat with Josh, admiring the roses, which were his pride and joy.  It was a gentle, relaxed morning, and there had been no word of Henry since he’d been granted bail.

Emily chose some roses for her mother’s room, and Josh obligingly cut them for her, carefully trimming the thorns. It was a morning ritual, choosing fresh roses for Elsie’s room. Today, Emily took extra pleasure in the little things.  She hadn’t realised just how tense she had been for months now. Except for the extra security, and her family not visiting, it almost felt like everything was back to normal.

She put the roses in a vase and took them to her mother’s room, where Jenny was helping Elsie into fresh clothes for the day.  Then she went to the kitchen to get herself a cup of coffee, took that into her office to check emails.  She saw two letters in her in tray, both with hand written addresses, and local postmarks.  Since snail mail wasn’t common, she decided to check those first.

The first was an invitation to an event an old friend was having. 

The second was a now-familiar semi-legible scrawl. It said: “The next bomb won’t be fake.I want my share.  I know where your daughters live and where your grandkids go to school.”

Emily dropped the letter.  Her pulse raced, her heart pounding.  She struggled to breathe.  “Just a panic attack,” she told herself, as she called Detective Carstairs’ phone number. After that call, she called Jessica, and then each of her daughters.

It seemed only minutes that Detectives Carstairs and Morley were there, along with Reg Jackson.

Shortly after, Jennifer arrived.

The detectives took the letter, for forensics.  

Reg Jackson suggested, if the threat were now against her family, perhaps the rest of the family should now come to Emily’s house, since it was patrolled by security staff.

Emily agreed to talk with her daughters, but asked if it would be an option to have security staff at their houses as well.

Reg said it was possible, but it would be spreading resources thin. He recommended locking Emily’s home down with everyone securely inside.

 * * *

Emily’s family had come to stay at the house.  Reg had doubled the security patrols.

While Emily was glad to see everyone, she was worried that having them all together might be what Henry had wanted, making them a bigger, more vulnerable, target.

Detective Carstairs rang to advise that on this occasion, Henry had made a huge mistake.  He’d left a fingerprint on the envelope the note had come in.

Police had gone to his work to look for him, but he was not there.  She had found the answer to the question of his being called “Geoff” at work.  He’d told the employer it was a nickname he’d gone by for years. So, while his wages, and withheld tax were under his real name, he’d been introduced to all the other employees as “Geoff”. The employer had noticed him cultivating a close friendship with Jack, but had not thought anything of it.  Jack was taken in for questioning once more, in case he knew his friend’s whereabouts.

Emily thought for a moment about the call that would inevitably come from Jack, then realised she would not get that call, because she’d blocked his number.  Even with with everyone in the locked-down house, she allowed herself a moment of relief and happiness.

Kym had brought art supplies, of course, and organised the children to paint a mural, on paper from a roll spread across the lounge room and along the hall. “Though it was best to keep them inside,” she said, as Emily inspected the work.

Alannah and Steve were in the kitchen, helping Carole cook dinner for everyone, and Jody was helping Jenny make up beds in the guest rooms.

With everyone busy, Emily was about to go check on Elsie when she heard her phone ring.  It was an unknown number. Perhaps it was Henry, and she would be able to get information from him that Detective Carstairs could use.

She answered.  It was Jack.  She hung up. He clearly hadn’t been questioned for very long.

Kym’s phone rang.  Emily could hear her side of the call: “Yes Dad. .. I know your friend Geoff was actually Mum’s half brother Henry.  We all know he was using you to get information about us. … Yes, I heard you called Mum when you’d agreed not to, and now you’re not getting any money. … Well, if you’d listened to your lawyer instead of Geoff… No. I’m not home.  Alannah and Jody aren’t at their places either. … The girls got pulled out of school. Henry, Geoff, whatever he calls himself threatened to bomb our homes and the kids’ school. … No, I’m not telling you where we all are.  … Well, how did he know where we lived? … If it sounds like I’m blaming you, it’s probably because I am.  Good-bye Dad.”

Emily went and hugged Kym, as she heard Alannah’s phone in the kitchen ring.  Alannah simply rejected the call.  From upstairs, they heard Jody’s phone ring, and Jody answer with a yell: “Bugger off Dad, you almost got us all killed.”

* * * 

They were packing away dinner dishes when one of the security guards knocked on the door. When Emily answered, he said: “Your ex-husband’s here.  He says he wants to talk to you.”

Emily replied, “No-one here wants to speak to him.”

Emily watched through the curtain, as the guard spoke to Jack, and Jack turned to leave, but stopped to put something in the letter box.

The guard saw it as well.  When Jack had left, he opened the letter box and picked up the parcel.

In an instant there was a loud booming noise, and the security guard seemed to spread out in all directions.  The window Emily was looking through burst inwards, and shards of flying glass pierced her body.

Chapters of Family Lies

Note, this is the first draft. What eventually is published as a book (if it is published as a book), will be edited, rewritten, and re-edited, and may not have much in common with this first draft.

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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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