Scene 13

It had been nearly a month since the incident. Things around the Jackson family had become normal again. Melody finally finished her room, having lined all of her walls with shelving and color coded boxes, each according to a printed database which hung upon a clipboard swinging from a nail at her desk.

None of them really spoke again of the strange night. Except for Chazz’s weekly all night vigil across the street, there were no further reminders of it. Neither the woman in white nor the Bardo made any further appearances.

Lonnie looked out through the curtain. The first few weeks she had sat on the grassy hill with her friend. She brought her food, as she seemed emaciated, brushed her hair and talked about such things as when she first met the two of them. Chazz however, so distraught and focused on Malika’s senseless departure was practically inconsolable.

“I hear that she spends the rest of her week researching and hunting down the cowboy.”

“Any luck?” Melody asked, hopefully. She felt extremely guilty about the situation. Not that it was her fault necessarily, but because maybe if she had followed through with getting that little house torn down then perhaps none of this would have happened.

“I’m not sure,” she said, craning her neck as to get a better view. “She’s not exactly coherent when I talk to her. I’ve just heard from a couple of her friends that this has become quite the obsession with her.” She pulled away from the curtain. “Not that I can blame her, mind you. I just wish I could help her move on.”

“She just needs some time,” Bernie said, applying peanut butter to a semi-fragile cracker. Bits of the stuff flaked off and flung onto his shirt as he made the attempt. He seemed not to notice.

“Well, thank goodness this affair didn’t make you loose your appetite any,” she said.

Melody smiled evilly. “Hey Dad, how long would it take you to get over mom getting pulled into the lair of the Bardo?!”

“That’s not funny,” Bernie said, pointing his peanut butter knife at her and flinging more crackery bits around the house in the process. “That’s one of those annoying things your mother is supposed to ask me, so you’re quite outside your jurisdiction.”

Melody raised an eyebrow at her mother, and then Lonnie picked up the baton. “Yeah,” she said. “I was kind of wondering that myself.”

Before Bernie could bat an eyelash in indignation, however, their conversation was interrupted by a ear-piercing wail from across the street.

“Poor Chazz,” Lonnie said, looking out. “I wish there was something we could do.”

Bernie and Melody nodded.

“Like burn that place down,” Melody said, and shivered.

“I don’t find that very productive,” Lonnie told her, not turning to look her way.

“At least it might displace her obsession a bit.”

“It might also might make her plunge into the deep end.”

“There’s a bigger problem then that,” Bernie said, suddenly. “That Bardo thing might be on the loose.”

“You don’t know that,” Melody told him.

“I don’t NOT not know that, either,” he said.

“Well, let’s worry about the not nots later,” Lonnie said, coming away from the front window. She sat down on her chair with a book. “I think maybe the best thing we can do is be there for her when she needs it.”

“Agreed,” said Bernie, who promptly returned to what his daughter affectionately termed his “inanities” – a retro broadcast of some nineteen-seventies game show.

Melody crept up to her mother and sat down next to her. “Mom,” she said. “What do you really think happened to Malika? You don’t think the Bardo is torturing her, or has her in some cave of madness or something, do you?”

“Well,” Lonnie said setting her book down. She retrieved a bag of knitting from a lower cabinet and set it in her lap. “I would like to think she’s okay, and maybe someday she’ll find her way back to us.”

“Don’t tell dad,” Melody said. “But I’m going to research it a bit further.”

“I didn’t think I could stop you if I tried,” Lonnie said, half-smiling. “Although, Melody, and I’m not blaming you for what happened one bit... But maybe next time you happen upon a mystery, don’t look into it so closely.”

Melody grimaced. “I can't make any promises, Mom,” she said. “You know that.”


It Happened on Lafayette Street

Season One: Episode One

Melody Jackson

vs. The Woman in White

by BMB Johnson

Scene 13

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