Strangers of the Past: Part XVI
Posted on 02/01/2013
The warm Caribbean sun bore its merciless heat on top of Francis’ balding head and he scoffed, pulling his folded cap from his back pocket. With one furtive glance behind him, he crossed the busy street to the other side where a dilapidated stone building was jammed in between two renovated brick buildings. Shielding his eyes from the sun, Francis ducked into the shadowed doorway. “Hallo?” he hollered as he entered the empty lobby, eyes adjusting to the darker room.
“Over here!” someone hollered from a corner of the room.
Francis turned his head to the left and noticed a burly man waving from a desk near the window. With an acknowledging nod, he shuffled to the man’s side and immediately took a seat. His eyes noticed the pile of papers and pictures spread all over the table. “You’ve been busy…” he muttered in their native tongue.
Warren nodded as he gathered some of the pictures and handed them over to the seasoned police officer. For a few minutes, he watched the man’s weathered face, his wrinkled brow while he perused the pictures and the documents in front of him.
Francis sighed heavily after a few moments of studying each photograph with Ameya and Tomas, comparing the pictures that Warren had provided. Pictures he’d never seen before, of unfamiliar people.
“Strange, isn’t it?” Warren mumbled, reaching for another picture tucked under an envelope. “Look at this one,” he instructed, extending the photograph with his eyes trained on Francis’ face. It wasn’t a surprise when Francis’ eyes widened visibly and he leaned forward to study the picture more closely.
“Strange indeed…” the older man said, lifting his eyes to Warren, deep concern in the depths of his gaze. He sighed, lowering his eyes back to study the picture of Hannah, Mr. Jonathan Harris, his brother-in-law Officer Marcus and another woman whose striking features mirrored Hannah’s. “Very strange.”
Warren shook his head solemnly. “We can’t stay quiet or still about this,” he said firmly though his voice was barely above a whisper. “These men, they are here for her.”
Francis lifted his head, his brow furrowed. It was no surprise. They had met Ameya once at the police station, and now she was their tour guide. Of course it was clear that they had other plans than just letting her guide them through the exotic plains of St. Lucia. Still, Warren’s admission didn’t sit well with him.
“She doesn’t know them,” Francis replied adamantly.
“She doesn’t remember them,” Warren amended softly. They both could recall the day to the second when Francis’ son, a local doctor, nursed the pregnant amnesiac back to health more than eight years ago.
A vibrating sound interrupted Francis’ wandering thoughts and he blinked in attention, catching Warren’s worried stare.
“Your phone,” Warren gestured to him.
Francis nodded distractedly and reached for his flip-phone. His heart sunk at the caller id of “Son” on the screen. With one quick glance at Warren as if asking for permission, he hesitantly answered the call. “Neve…”
“Dad, I’m sorry,” a baritone voice said on the other end amid the raucous sound of rushing wind and a rumbling engine. “I don’t think I’ll make it home for dinner.”
“Oh…?” Francis answered hesitantly.
“Yeah, I’ll be at Ameya’s for dinner.”
Francis’ gaze fell on the picture with a content Ameya nestled in the arms of Mr. Jonathan Harris. He licked his dry lips. “I see…”
There was a pause on the other end. “Pops, you okay?”
“I’m fine,” Francis replied, lifting his worried gaze back to Warren. “Enjoy your night. Hmm, yeah bye.” Slowly, he lowered the phone from his ear.
“Hmm…” Francis shook his head. “We have to do something.” And soon as possible. If he remembered anything about those three American men that stumbled into his jail cell, it was the intense yet silent gaze of the tallest of the three as he stared at the woman he’d known as his wife, now a stranger in front of him. What man would sit still while his own wife didn’t remember him?
Neve stared down at the darkened screen of his phone with a furrowed brow at his father’s placid tone. Was he that disappointed that they were not eating dinner together? He shook his head in mirth. The older that man got, the clingier he became.
“Doctor,” a female voice above his head redirected his attention back to his work. Neve glanced behind him to the uniformed nurse. “You have a patient outside. Mrs. Faluna and her daughter.”
Neve refrained from rolling his eyes as he scooted out of his desk to stand. Why did Gene insist on coming in with her mother? He managed a smile. “Please send them in.”
The female duo stepped in just as Neve walked around the desk to greet them. He ignored Genevieve’s open gaze and instead focused his smile for her aging mother. “Mrs. Faluna, I didn’t think you missed me that much,” he teased in their native tongue. With one gentle but firm hand, he helped Genevieve escort her mother to the row of chairs in front of his desk.
“She’s complaining of chest pain,” Genevieve stated softly, settling in the chair beside her mother.
Neve perched on the edge of the table facing Mrs. Faluna and reached behind him for his stethoscope. “Where is it hurting you?” he addressed the older woman alone.
A half and an hour later, Genevieve asked Neve’s nurse to escort her mother to the pharmacy and Neve hid a groan when she pulled the door to close before facing him. “Will you stop already?” Neve asked in exasperation.
Genevieve scowled up at him as he rose to his feet. She jutted her chin out at him. “What exactly are you waiting for?”
Neve sighed. “What are you talking about? I’m not interested. I thought I told you that before.”
She hissed openly. “Idyo… I’m talking about you and Ameya.”
He blinked, surprised by her unexpected words, feeling the warmth spread from his cheeks to his neck. “W-what are you saying?”
Genevieve shook her head. “Eight years and still no progress, foolish man. Are you still in love with Ameya?”
Neve couldn’t speak, gaping at the defiance of Genevieve’s glare. Even after she begrudgingly left his office to join her mother, he couldn’t find the words to match what his racing heart felt.