Scene 5

In the morning, feelings weren’t much brighter. The Jacksons were still shaken up by the events of the previous night, but at least most of that fear was dwindling.

“I wish I had gotten a glimpse of the license plate on that van,” Lonnie said.

“I don’t think it had one,” said Bernie.  “Besides, if it’s here again next week, we can check then.”

Melody didn’t like the implications of this woman in white being more than a local problem.  If outside parties were interested, then it would be harder to get rid of. 

What did they want?  Was it to study the phenomenon?  Then why so secret? Was the government involved?  The military?

Mostly though, the item weighing on her mind was the possibility that her family had been the cause of the woman in white being grabbed by the strange creature, possibly with only eternal torment to look forward to.

Bernie slammed a small glass jar and a plastic bottle in front of Melody.  “Hey, Rodin!” he said.

Melody looked at him,  shook her head and gave her father a stern look that told him, “why are you interrupting me?”

“Jam or syrup on your waffles?”

“I don’t care!”

“I’ve been talking to you for five minutes.”

“Fine.  I’ll have jam.”

“Strawberry or seedless blackberry?”

Melody’s eyes narrowed in frustration.

“Strawberry it is,” Bernie said, and began to spread the thick berry blend on top of Melody’s toasted honeycombed cakes.

“I still think it’s our fault,” Melody said, suddenly.

Bernie winced as though in pain.  “This conversation was going so well, too,” he said, shoving a larger than appropriate portion of waffle into his mouth.  “Wha whas?” he tried to say.

“The woman in white,” she clarified, knitting her eyebrows into small sweaters at her father's lack of decorum.

“I'm afraid you’re probably right,” Lonnie said, and Bernie shot her a look.  “But I’ve also been thinking about it, and I think she still might be okay.”

Melody cocked her head to the side, and made a whimpering dog sound, and then her eyes grew large.  “Oh, you might be right,” she said.

“But I haven’t even said it, yet,” Lonnie said, frowning.

“The looping nature of the event.  When we interfered, we completely changed it from its former loop.  It changed this time because we stopped her from running out of her house.  Next week, the event should repeat again just as before.”

“Yeah, that’s what I was going to say, alright,” Lonnie said, sighing.  “But it took me all night to figure it out.”

“Don’t worry, mom,” Melody said, turning her attention to her waffles.  “My synapses are younger.”

“Yeah,” Bernie said, tapping his wife on the knee.  “Your synapses are all old and rotten.”

“That still leaves the matter of that mysterious van.”

“I’m hoping it was Scooby and Shaggy,” said Bernie.

Melody sighed and shook her head.  “Unlikely that it will be your cartoon heroes,” she said.  “Besides if they were real people they would be dead by now.”

Bernie began to tap his fork on his plate as though banging on a war drum.

“I'm hoping,” Melody continued.  “it was just some group of ghost hunters making a television show, or something dumb like that.”

Bernie nodded.  “Yes,” he said, half smiling.  “That would make everything better,”

Lonnie, now standing, picked up her now waffle-free plate and placed it in the sink.  “Well,” she said. “I think we should head over to the library, or maybe even stop by the Historical Society when y'all are done.  I want to look up Madeline D’amarite. Nothing about her came up on the Internet."

“Did you spell her name right?”  Bernie asked.

“Yeah, mom, maybe we should ask the ghost to spell it out next time.”

Bernie snorted, but continued eating.  “We should look up what used to be there before it was just an empty field, too.”

“All very good suggestions that my old and rotten synapses had already considered,” Lonnie said.

“I’ll talk to the boys, too.  Maybe they have a bead on that unmarked van.”

“Well I’m going to eat the rest of these waffles and watch some television,” Bernie said.

“You’re going to take a shower and come with me to the library,” Lonnie told him.

“When, exactly,” Bernie said, “did we become the Jackson family detective agency?  I was hoping to relax this weekend.”

“When the ghost calls, you have to answer,” Lonnie said.

Bernie smirked.  “Who says?”

Melody smiled at him.  “Every horror movie ever made.”

When Melody returned from her discussions with “The l'il Lafayette militia”, as Bernie was now calling them, her parents were in the car waiting for her.

“Anything?” her mother asked.

“Nope,” Melody said.  “Wasn't on their radar.  I think it might have been past their bedtimes. Sadly they only have so many night-vision cameras.”

“Well, that’s actually comforting,” Bernie said from the passenger’s seat.  “I wasn’t entirely thrilled with the thought of Little Brother watching everyone’s move on this block.”

“What have you got to hide, Bernie Jackson?” his wife asked him, one eyebrow raised.

“It’s not a matter of criminal behavior,” Bernie said, uncharacteristically serious.  “It’s a matter of personal freedoms and hard-fought liberties. Also, there’s a definite creepy factor.  Does anyone even know where this army's allegiance lies?”

“I was just joking,” Lonnie admitted.  “Also, I don’t recall the last time you fought for any liberties.”

“Well, someone did,” Bernie said, folding his arms at his chest.  “And we shouldn’t squander them, no matter how cute the transgressors.”

Melody smiled at her father, but didn’t have anything to add to the discussion.  Bernie in a serious moment was not something often witnessed, and she didn’t want it cluttered with a bunch of chatter.  Although she soon discovered she couldn’t help herself.

Her mother started the car and they were soon on their way.

“Can we pick up a new journal while we’re out today?”

“Um, sure,” said Lonnie.  “Why?”

“I want to record the moment when dad takes a stand against oppression.”

“I thought girls wrote in diaries not journals?” Bernie asked, looking at her in the rear-view mirror with a goofy grin on his face.

“Cancel that order,” Melody said, smirking.  “The moment has been ruined.”

“It was just a matter of time,” Lonnie laughed.

Once Lonnie turned on to Powell, she pointed the car towards downtown and turned on the radio.  From that point on the Jackson’s retreated into their own minds for much of the rest of the trip.  Bernie made his usual concerns about going to Central library verses a closer branch, to which Lonnie reminded him of its proximity to the historical society.  Melody also chimed in noting Central’s collection of newspaper back issues and other research potential, which most branches didn’t have.

“Also,” Lonnie said.  “We should go to the zoo before our membership runs out.”

Bernie exploded.  “This is turning into a whole thing,” he said.  “Do you know how crazy that place is going to be on a weekend?!”

“Okay,” Lonnie acquiesced.  “Then no zoo. But I'd like to at least go to that button store.”

“Oh, that place that you’ve been salivating over?!  This entire ghost thing was just a ruse to look at buttons for four hours.  I knew it. I bet Madeline D'Albright was one of your friends from the craft barn.”

“It's D'amarite, and now you’re just being ridiculous,”  Lonnie said. “Besides we’ll be there twenty minutes, tops.”

Melody, was also in favor of the idea of going to the button store, giggled from the back seat.  “Try to stay focused, Dad,” she said. “You’re starting to act paranoid.”

“I just wanted to sit and relax today and watch PBS in my underwear.  Is that too much to ask? It’s the one thing I look forward to. Why on earth this family gets involved in so much madness is beyond me.”

Lonnie shook her head.  “It’s just a button store,” she said.

“I’m talking about this ghost!” he exploded again.  “And I’m talking about this secret, unmarked van that scares me.  And this little army that runs around our neighborhood videoing everything in the dark.”

Lonnie shook her head.  “You make it sound like this sort of thing happens all the time,” Lonnie said.

“You’re kidding, right?  Lafayette is a supernatural hot spot.  Take my missing sweater? How it was in a drawer for years, and then suddenly it ended up in the attic.”

Lonnie groaned.  “You mean the one your mother bought for you four Christmases ago?  The one you never wore. I stuck it up in the attic as an interim step to see if you would forget about it before I donated it to the thrift store.  Mystery solved. Another case closed by the Jackson Family Detective Agency!”

Melody laughed.  “That probably solves a lot of Dad’s supernatural mysteries.”

“Quiet, you,” Bernie said.  “How about the scratches that appear on my arms, and the tears in my pants that occasionally show up?  Poltergeists!”

Melody jumped in.  “That’s probably more to do with clumsiness than anything,” she said.  “I’ve seen you climbing through the blackberries more than once.”

“Blackberries?”  Bernie shook his head.  “I have never been in the blackberries!”

“You really need to though," Lonnie told him.  “They’re getting out of control back there. Pretty soon they’re going to eat the swimming pool.”

He snapped his fingers.  “What about that weird bell sound you guys heard?”

“Yes,” Melody said.  “That was a simple case of 'what was that?”  We didn’t know what it was, and it wasn’t something we could really investigate.”

Bernie growled.  “There’s other things, but I just can’t think of them.”

Melody giggled some more, but soon stopped.  She suddenly began to worry about her father’s health.  She knew that his memory wasn’t that great, but forgetting that he was entangled in the blackberries on more than one occasion seeming a little hard to believe.  Maybe she should suggest a brain scan.

Instead, she said.  “Dad, are you taking an aspirin every day?”

He turned around to look at her.  “Yeah, why?”

“Just checking,” she said.  She turned to her mother. “Mom, does our insurance cover preventative EKGs?”

Lonnie turned to Bernie.   “Your daughter is worried that you might be due for a stroke,” she said.

Melody jumped in quickly, knowing how her father might react to that statement.  “And it’s not because you’re old,” she said. “Anyone of any age can have a stroke.”

He turned around and gave her a look that seemed to say, Then perhaps maybe we should shove you into that tiny tube.

She shook her head.  “Well, not twelve-year-olds.  That’s just dumb.”

Bernie turned back to face the front of the car.  “Are we there, yet?”

Lonnie sighed.  “How I made it as a single mom with two annoying kids, I’ll never know.”

It Happened on Lafayette Street

Season One:  Episode One

Melody Jackson 

vs. The Woman in White

by BMB Johnson

Scene 5

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