Our Great Summer Novel — Chapter 8: The Letter is Opened
“Think English!” Tater yowled. “Chinese turns my head sideways!”
“Sorry, Tater. I didn’t mean for this to happen,” Lina motioned toward Tater. “You ... this.”
It was as if tiredness sank through her shoulders and into her torso and Lina dropped into a leather chair across from the couch occupied by Chuy, who was breathing hard.
“I’ve missed you Tater. I should have never left you,” she said.
“Humph.” Tater thumped his hindquarters down on the wood floor. “I know what you did and you’re not who I thought you were. You know how to hide things in your mind. You’re evil and Davis doesn’t deserve this.”
Davis was angry, but wasn’t blind enough to take a chance with Lina’s Taser, at least not at this moment.
“What are you doing?” Davis spit out the words.
“Davis, I don’t owe you anything.” Lina stood up. The tired act was over.
“Kuai has issues, but I love him in a way you’ll never understand. Weird thing is, the two of you are so alike in some ways,” she glanced over Davis’ shoulder. “Don’t even think about it, Boots. This thing has plenty of juice.”
Boots, who had been edging sideways from the door, stopped.
“It was nice of you to bring the trunk. I’ll take it. Don’t follow me. I’m sure Chuy and Tater can fill you in on whatever you don’t understand,” Lina said, brandishing the Taser. Her face had a metallic hardness to it that Davis had never seen. With a flip of her dark hair, she turned and walked through the house to what had to be the door into the garage and was gone.
Davis moved to go after her. There would be an opportunity to separate her and the Taser while she got the trunk out of the Ford. She had never liked that truck and he doubted she’d take it for a getaway.
“Don’t bother,” Chuy moaned, sitting up.
And Tater padded in front of Davis, “She’s just going to him, Kuai, the Phony Monk. She’s already done her worst at your store. Besides, they won’t get far. I’ll wager Chuy has a bird on it.”
“Yes,” Chuy said. “Bisbee.”
“Bisbee?” Davis asked.
“Cockatiel. She talks. They all talk now,” Chuy said, rubbing his head. “Boots, you’ve cased this house enough. Please get me some ibuprofen.”
Boots went on his errand as the sound of a sedan starting and flooring it down the driveway came through the open front door.
“Are you going to be OK?” Davis asked, coming over to Chuy, who looked to be middle-aged, rather on the slight side.
“Yes. It was just a shock, I mean ... that was a bad pun,” Chuy sighed. “I didn’t expect this. Kuai was always intense, enthusiastic, positive energy. But when he got here a couple days ago with this Lina…”
Chuy shook his head as Tater jumped up on the couch beside him. “You must be Davis. Your name kept coming up between those two,” he said.
“They were up to something. I had just found enough to call the cops when she showed up ” Chuy said. “She crushed my cell phone. It’s over there. She hit me with the Taser to keep me from leaving.”
“So how do you know…” Davis started.
“I met Kuai on one of my trips to Xinjiang, a couple years ago. I’m in the turquoise business. He was interesting, a scientist. We’ve been friends since. He called a week ago, said he and his girlfriend were on vacation and were going to be in this area in a week. I asked them to stay with me.”
Boots arrived with the ibuprofen. “Thanks,” Chuy said, taking the bottle, shaking a couple pills into his hand. “I need some water.”
“I’ll get it,” Davis offered.
“No, no. I’ll be fine. I need to move,” Chuy said waving Davis off and getting up. He slowly walked toward the kitchen. “Besides, what’s that rattling sound?”
Tater leveled his most serious feline gaze at Davis. “I think you need to read that letter. I have a feeling about it.”
Feeling? Feelings? This was not the time for feelings. It was certainly not the time for opening a letter from your dead father, Davis thought as he ran his fingers through his hair.
“I hate to say it, but Tater’s right. You’ve got to open the letter,” Boots said in a quiet voice.
“OK, OK. Just give me some room,” Davis said, holding up his hands. Through the large living room windows, he spotted several highly cushioned chairs under a pergola just off the house.
“I’ll be out there,” he said, and walked away.
This was not the time, not the time, not the time, Davis’ mind echoed. But his gut told him it was, and he pulled the letter out of his back pocket.
Sitting down in a chair, he bent over with his elbows on his knees and flipped up the envelope flap and took out the letter. He slowly opened it, revealing his father’s choppy, bold handwriting.
The false bottom of a trunk may not be the best place to leave a letter like this, but then I’ve never been good at being upfront about personal things. Lina may have known about the false bottom when she sent the trunk my way, but I doubt it.
There are so many things I should have told you, but I could never get the words out of my mouth. As you grew up, it put a distance between us that only increased when you left the States for Asia, a place I couldn’t bring myself to return to. Even now, when the doctors tell me I don’t have much time left, dang cancer ... this is hard. I love you, but I guess I let my pride run the show. Sentiment wasn’t one of my strong points, as your mother knew well.
I’ve always wanted you to see me as a strong man. A man you could respect. A man who knew and did what was right, always. But I’m not that man and there is much I wish I could make up for. Things I won’t be able to put on this paper. They’re in the past and need to stay there.
But there is one thing I must tell you, even if you never find this letter.
You have a brother.