Chapter Twenty-Five

Her surgery was at four in the afternoon. I spent most of the morning packing the clothes I wanted to take with me and throwing away everything that was in the refrigerator and freezer. I took the garbage out to the curb even though the city would not be by to pick it up for three days yet, but I wasn't planning on being around to take it out to the street at the proper time.

By three in the afternoon, the phone had rung at least a dozen times. Every time, looking at the caller ID, Park Nicollet Hospital appeared as the source of the call. I knew it was Dr. James and I refrained from answering. At six pm, the calls had began again. At eight pm, I ignored the knock at my door and quickly hit the mute button on the remote for the TV. The car I saw driving away when I finally felt it was safe enough to peak through the curtains of the living room had not been Mrs. Brogan's.

The next morning, kicking myself a little for buying a motorcycle instead of a car, I strapped a pair of small suitcases to the rear passenger seat of the bike and headed for the bank to wait for it to open. I pulled out $75,000 and change, closing my account, taking cash against the advice of the bank president. He asked for an explanation. I told him it wasn't his business as politely as I could and checked into a Motel 6 a few miles from Katelynn's home in Richfield. I still had no idea where I was going to go. I hadn't planned on having to leave so soon and hadn't really given it any serious thought yet.

After a few hours of mindless TV, I couldn't wait any longer and dialed up the Hospital. When someone answered the phone asking where I wanted my call directed, I realized once again that I had no idea what Katelynn's last name was.

"I'm trying to reach Katelynn Brogan," I said, on the off chance that she had assumed her old name, though she hadn't gotten divorced and I wasn't surprised when the receptionist informed me that they had no patients by that name.

"Sheís a nurse there herself and was in surgery yesterday for her appendix," I said, hoping she could connect me based on that information.

"Oh! Um, just a moment, please," she had replied, sounding like she knew who I had meant.

I waited for a few minutes while listening to a Musak version of some Beatleís song without the lyrics when it was interrupted by a couple of clicks and a voice cut in. "John?"

I hung up the phone. It had been Dr. James.

Worried that the Hospital might also have caller ID and the receptionist would be able to tell Dr. James where the call had come in from, I packed up and was checked out of the motel less than ten minutes later.

Having no where to go, my chosen life style not providing me with any friends close enough to barge in on with my current dilemma, I headed for the only other place I could think of to hide out for a little while, 14 Crimson Lane.

* * * * *

Although Katelynn's surgery had been routine and successful, though at that point, that was only an assumption, I still wanted to see her again, and not just because that was what I had promised her. I wanted to see if her numbers had indeed changed since the operation. I was now of the opinion that the numbers I had been seeing were not representative of the senders death, but merely a bodily malfunction, yet it was still just a theory. I needed to see Katelynn's numbers to prove that my new theory was correct. But I was equally as adamant about not going to the hospital to find out.

When I arrived at the stone gate outside the castle, this time not being expected, I had to ring the buzzer on the intercom to gain entrance. Chancey had answered and opened the gate without hesitation after I had identified myself. He was waiting at the oversized front doors for me after I parked the bike and walked up the steps to its entrance.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Johnson. I'm afraid no one is here right now except myself and Mary. Harry is not expected back for a couple hours but he did leave this for you in case you should arrive when he wasnĎt here."

"Thank you, Chancey," I said, taking the shoebox he was holding out for me. "And please, call me John."

"Very well, sir," he replied, maintaining his usual stoic face. "May I show you to your room?"

"My room?"

"If you will inspect the contents of your box, I believe you will understand, sir."

Still standing in the doorway, I lifted the lid off the shoebox and peered inside. There was a key, a note, and what looked like a garage door opener. I looked up at Chancey who was waiting patiently to shut the door behind me as soon as I got out of the entryway.

"I believe the note should explain, sir."

The note was from Harry.

'Welcome, John. The items accompanying this note are the gate opener and a key to the house. Have Chancey show you to your room. I am at the hospital with Benny right now and will be home by 4 PM. Make yourself at home and don't be afraid to ask for anything you might need. I will see you later. Harry'

I looked up at Chancy. "Would you like to get your bags and see your room at this time, sir?"

* * * * *

Upstairs, Chancey led the way to 'my room'. He pointed out Harry's room and Randi's room as we walked down a long hallway towards my own. Before entering, he stopped to point out farther down the hallway which doors belonged to Paul, one being his study, the other his bedroom. There were two more doors down at the far end of the hallway that he didn't mention.

"Will there be anything else you need at the moment, sir?" he asked, still yet to call me John.

"No thank you, Chancey. I'm fine."

"Very well, sir. Mary and I are in the kitchen should you require anything at all."

I thanked him and laid my bags down inside the door as he turned and left me alone. The room was quite large and had its own bathroom. The bed was huge, complete with a dark blue canopy that matched the dark blue curtains on the north wall that overlooked the back yard and the lake. The walls had two more seemingly fuzzy paintings from the same artist that had decorated the small parlor Randi had fine tuned my new talents in. There was a couch and a coffee table under one of the paintings and a dresser next to a walk-in closet under the other. A bedside table had a phone and a remote control for the TV, there was a small TV on a swivel stand in one corner, beyond that the room was empty. I placed my suitcases on the coffee table, opened them up but left them packed. I didn't know how long I'd be staying. I had only planned on staying until I could make contact with Katelynn.

* * * * *

I skipped dinner that evening, staying in my room trying to devise a plan on how to reach Katelynn. Chancey had been the one that knocked on my door around 5 PM to ask if I was going to eat with the others. I didn't ask who the others were and he didn't question my refusal. I waited for Harry to arrive at my door next, once hearing him talking to someone out in the hallway, but then I heard a door shut that I assumed was his own and only quietness followed for the rest of the evening. I went to bed early, deciding to let my subconscious work on the problem while I slept. When I awoke the next morning, no solutions had come to mind.

By 9 AM, hunger and a raging nic-fit finally drew me out of the room and down stairs to the kitchen. Harry was sitting in a chair next to the walk-in refrigerator, his face hidden behind the morning paper.

"Good Morning, John," Harry said, looking around the paper with his usual pleasant smile and cheery disposition when he heard me enter the kitchen. "Is your room okay?"

"Yes, thank you," I told him. "Itís fine. I would like to know how you knew I was coming, though."

"Well I didn't know when you were coming, but as I had told you before, you are one of us, John. I was pretty sure you'd be along before too long."

"Well I am not sure how long I will be staying," I told him honestly. "I have a couple things I need to figure out and then I plan on leaving this area for good."

"Where ya gonna go? Whatcha ya runnin' from?"

I told him all about the last few days, emphasizing my desire not to allow Dr. James to have his way with me. Dr. James, I knew, would never understand my selfish desire not to use my talent to benefit the sick or the advancement of medical science. I didnít think he could actually force me to do anything I didnĎt want to, but I wasnít sure to what extent he would try and had no intentions of giving him the chance. I just wanted to be left alone, to get back to my eventless, reclusive life. Despite my deeper feelings towards Katelynn, a bigger part of me didnít consider myself even worthy of her and I felt she would be better off, too, if I were to silently take my leave before we traveled any farther down the path we had discovered on that eve before she had gone to the farm. I guess her mother had been right about me after all. I was only going to break her heart, but at least if done sooner, maybe it wouldnít break as much and might mend all the quicker.

"How 'bout I stop in and pay a visit to Katelynn to see how she's doing when I go to see Benny today?" he suggested.

"That might work," I said. At least then I would know for sure that the operation had gone as planned "But you can't tell her where I am. It'll be better if she doesn't have to lie when Dr. James questions her about me. But I still want to see her before she leaves again for the farm so that I know her numbers have changed. And there's something else," I suddenly remembered while we were on the subject, looking down at my feet. If I was going to leave, I felt at least someone should know this other fact. I figured Harry would know what to do about this information better than anyone else. "I saw Randi's numbers the other day too, though she doesn't know it."

"And?"

"Something will happen to her in seven years."

"Let's just take one step at a time here, John. Seven years in a long time away. A lot will happen between now and then." Harry folded up the paper. "Letís get us some breakfast and see if we canít figure out what we can do about your first dílimma for now."

* * * * *

Over breakfast, Harry and I discussed what we might do about getting me in touch with Katelynn. He ended up leaving me with his cell phone. He was going to drop in on Katelynn when he went to visit Benny and give her the number to call. That way I could find out what time she was planning on leaving for the farm and maybe I could meet her at her home before she left and get a chance to confirm that her numbers had indeed changed since the surgery.

Outside, after breakfast, while I was enjoying my first cigarette since the previous afternoon and Harry was tinkering with his Honda GoldWing before he left for the hospital, he asked me what I was going to do about my house.

"I'm not sure," I had said. "I figured it would be a safety net in case I ran out of money. I also figured that I could probably return in a year or so. If Dr. James was still looking for me, I could simply tell him that my ability to see inside people's minds had vanished over time. Maybe that my hiding out and its lack of use had caused the ability to be forgotten in some manner, like forgetting a learned foreign language after not using it over time. I don't think he'd believe me if I said that right now, but in a year he might."

"What if someone in our family bought it from you. It could belong to us, our group. Then if you wanted to buy it back sometime, you'd know you could get it back. Those of us from out of town could stay there instead of hotels when this house is full, which seems to be happening more and more these days. As I said before, those that can afford it have already bought second homes in the area. But not all of them can afford to do that."

I really hadn't wanted to sell the house that I had been born in. Even though I was planning on leaving the area and was going to tell the few people that I knew that I was leaving for good, I had always planned in the back of my mind on returning to it some day.

Harry saw my hesitation and continued. "Benny would be happy to pay whatever price you are asking and we'd put it in the name of someone that Dr. James hasn't met which would avoid suspicion if he went so far as to look into who bought it. Personally, I think Dr. James will forget about you a lot quicker than you apparently do, but this way, he won't make the connection to Benny or myself if he is persistent."

"What about all my stuff, my furniture? I don't have anyplace to put it or store it."

"Leave it there. No one would actually be moving in there. It'll be our extra space when we over flow here."

"I guess we could do that," I said, still not really sure I wanted to sell it at all, but that would pretty much tell Dr. James that I had really left and unless he was determined to try to follow or find out where I had gone, he may just give up and consider me gone for good if he knew I sold my home.

"Very good," Harry said, before I could change my mind. "I will talk to Benny about it today and we'll figure out whose name to put it under. And it'll still be your house, too."

It was almost annoying the way he kept assuming I was going to be a member of this family but I was tired of telling him I wasn't planning on sticking around and I tried to change the subject. "So what's wrong with Benny anyway?" I asked.

"He has a brain tumor that won't stop growing. It's still very small but it's in a particular spot that they can't operate on without a major risk of likely doing some other type of damage to the brain in the process. Benny told them he'd rather die keeping his wits about him than possibly living a few more years as an invalid. It's a matter of stubborn pride on his part. I'd rather see him take his chances on the operation, but he doesn't want to be anybody's burden. So instead, he consented to all kinds of new experimental drugs and procedures to reduce or stop the tumor without surgery. They haven't done any good at all so far."

"I'm sorry," I said, seeing that Harry was somewhat unsuccessfully trying to conceal his sadness at the thought of losing his best friend.

"Happens to us all eventually," Harry said, standing up. "I better get going. Benny's gonna wanna win his money back from yesterday's round of poker. You keep that phone with ya. I imagine your lady friend will be callin' ya as soon as she can."

"I will, thanks, Harry."

* * * * *

Chapter Twenty-Six


Michael

Front Desk

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The Master Plan

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen
Chapter Fourteen
Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen
Chapter Seventeen
Chapter Eighteen
Chapter Nineteen
Chapter Twenty
Chapter Twenty-One
Chapter Twenty-Two
Chapter Twenty-Three
Chapter Tweny-Four
Chapter Twenty-Five
Chapter Twenty-Six
Chapter Twenty-Seven
Chapter Twenty-Eight
Chapter Twenty-Nine
Chapter Thirty
Chapter Thirty-One
Chapter Thirty-Two
Chapter Thirty-Three
Chapter Thirty-Four
Chapter Thirty-Five
Chapter Thirty-Six
Chapter Thirty-Seven
Chapter Thirty-Eight
Chapter Thirty-Nine
Epilogue