The Promise and The Tip-Off
Jaz walked into the living room, and nearly dropped the load of plates they were carrying. For a moment, they just stared at their father in shock, and moved out of the way as Marnie walked past, chuckling at the “joke” Bennie was practicing.
It only took those moments for the rage and hurt to rise to the surface, and Jaz took a deep breath and yelled at Bennie to stop. “Stop – RIGHT NOW.”
In shock, Bennie stopped, and just held the microphone for a moment.
Jaz continued, “I can’t believe you. Dad, this is ME you’re poking fun at. And my coming out isn’t funny. It’s not a joke!” Jaz took another deep breath and tried very hard not to burst into angry and hurt tears.
“It was funny as heck!” Bennie replied, confused at Jaz’s apparent anger.
“No, Dad. It’s really not. It hurts. Promise me you will stop practicing that routine. Promise me you’ll never perform it.” Jaz wiped a stray tear away from their cheek, and Bennie sobered up almost instantly.
He couldn’t see why Jaz was so upset – but he realized that he may have crossed a line he didn’t fully understand. Moving to put away the microphone, he nodded. He wasn’t about to say sorry, because he didn’t know what he’d done wrong, but maybe he could placate his daughter. “Fine. I won’t.”
“You promise??” Jaz asked sharply, wiping away more tears.
“Okay, Jazmyn. I promise.” Bennie replied, and watched Jaz pick up the dishes she had been cleaning up, and take them into the kitchen.
Slightly bewildered – he hadn’t seen Jaz that emotional – maybe ever… (and he didn’t deal well with emotional females) … and very confused as to what exactly he’d done wrong, Bennie sighed and left the room. He felt terribly disappointed that what he regarded as the best comedy sketch he’d ever written now apparently had to be scrapped. He needed new material – and fast. But, after Jaz’s emotional plea, he wisely dismissed the idea of using Jaz in any more routines.
Marnie and Myles packed up to go to the Geek club meeting, both looking forward to seeing friendly faces. Marnie couldn’t wait to tell her friend Bella about the coming baby, and Myles was looking forward to doing some Voidcritter training and fighting against Alexander’s critters. Both had completely forgotten about Jaz’s issues, and were more focused on their own cares.
Upon arrival at the Library, Marnie joined Bella at the chess board… and immediately noticed that Bella didn’t have her usual smile.
“What’s wrong, Bella?” Marnie asked, worried about her friend.
“We were burglarized. The kids were at friends’ houses, and Mortimer and I were out on the town. We came home to find the house ransacked, and so many valuable things missing. The alarm wasn’t even going off!” Bella confessed in a low voice, looking to see who might be nearby to overhear. “We called the police right away, and they contacted the alarm company, but nothing appears to be wrong with the alarm. The burglars got so much. They even took Cassandra’s prize violin!” Bella promptly burst into tears, and dropped her head into her hands.
Marnie looked at her new friend in shock, wondering what to say. “I’m.. sorry, Bella.” She paused, considering the information she’d been given. “Did you maybe forget to set the alarm when you left?”
Bella stopped crying, and considered this for a moment. “No, I’m very sure Mortimer set it. I watched him do it right in front of me. The company apologized, but they have no idea what could have happened, and they’ll have to investigate. The worst part is that violin. It’s priceless, and a family heirloom. If the police can’t find it, there’s no way it can be replaced. Cassandra is beside herself.”
“That’s horrible!” Marnie said, feeling really bad for her friend and her daughter. “What did the police say?”
“The detective, Scott, was extremely sorry about the whole situation, but apparently there have been a rash of burglaries all over the place lately. They’re working with other police departments, trying to figure out if they’re all connected. Most have been smaller incidents, but he did say that the Landgraabs had a major break-in while they were gone on Winterfest vacation. They came home to find all their electronics were gone, and the alarm company had never gotten a single alert the whole time.” Bella replied, wiping away tears, and glancing around to see who might have noticed her uncontrolled emotions.
“Winterfest, huh?” Marnie said, her mind reeling. She looked away, wondering if she ought to say something about Benji’s sudden influx of cash around that same time. She didn’t want to involve her son, but it wouldn’t be the first time he’d stolen something. It would, however, be the first time it was something big – that is, if he were involved. She shook her head and Bella kept talking, but Marnie wasn’t able to listen. Benji certainly had had a lot of money available to make that Winterfest possible, and he hadn’t exactly said where he’d gotten it. Feeling guilty for ignoring her friend, Marnie looked back up and tried to pay attention.
“We don’t know what to do. The police are not hopeful that they’ll be able to find any of what was stolen.. and a violin like that would be easily sold on the black market, apparently. We will likely never see it again.” Bella continued, looking morosely at her friend. “I don’t know why someone would DO this?!”
Marnie swallowed. Her friend needed her. It had been so long since Marnie had had a friend who actually needed support from her, and she truly wanted to help. But the thought of giving up her own son.. that hurt. Trying to decide between her new friend and her son, Marnie tuned out the next couple minutes of dialogue. Finally, she couldn’t take it anymore.
“You know, Bella..” Marnie broke into her friend’s miserable monologue, “Benji came into a lot of cash around Winterfest. He wouldn’t say where he got it, and he has been known to steal. Maybe I could ask him about your robbery. Perhaps, if he were involved, we could at least get back your violin?” Marnie smiled, as if she’d just come up with the best solution in the world.
Bella looked at her in utter astonishment. “You think just getting back the violin would be enough?? No way, we’re prosecuting whoever did this to the full extent of the law!!”
Marnie’s jaw dropped for a moment. She hadn’t thought things through, apparently. Suddenly, she realized that she could very well have just gotten her own son into a huge amount of trouble. “No, if it was Benji, I’m sure he didn’t mean any harm!!” she exclaimed, worried. “If he could just return the things, it’s no harm done, right??”
Bella shook her head, and gave Marnie an accusing look. “You’re naïve if you think that would solve the problem.” She stood up, and called to her son. “Alexander! We must go! Now!”
Alexander looked up from his science table, and immediately ran to grab his coat and follow his mother out the door. He looked apologetically at his club friends, but clearly his mother’s distress was more important than taking a moment to say goodbye.
Myles looked up from his very interesting book on Vampire Lore, surprised by the sudden departure. Seeing the stricken look on his mother’s face, he rushed to her side to give her a hug. “What’s wrong, Mom? Are you okay?”
“I think.. I messed up.” Marnie said absently, but then refused to say anything else about the matter. “We should go home…”
Obediently, Myles ran to get their coats, and say goodbye to his friends.
It was a miracle that the police chief was still at the station when Bella Goth stormed through the front doors, demanding to see the officer in charge.
“Mrs. Goth! What a surprise! What can I do for you??” Police Chief, Scott Barrier asked pleasantly.
“I must talk with you. I have a possible lead on our case!” Bella said, urgently, looking around the empty waiting room nervously.
“Certainly, Mrs. Goth, Lets go to my office?” Scott replied. standing up to lead her towards the gate by the reception desk.
She followed obediently, and took a seat in front of his impressive desk. “My friend Marnie Malone mentioned something tonight that I knew you needed to know about. Apparently her son, who has a history of stealing, came into a large amount of money around Winterfest…”
“Oh? Really? … What’s her son’s name?” the chief asked, shuffling some papers on his desk as if looking for something.
“Benji Malone. He just recently moved to San Myshuno after graduating high school..” Bella said, trying to hide how very upset she was.
“Benji, huh?” Finding the file folder he’d apparently been looking for, Scott pulled out a paper and wrote down some notes. “I very much appreciate your tip. I assure you, we will investigate this .. Benji?.. along with our other leads, ma’am. Is there anything else?”
“I’m afraid not. Have any of your other leads looked promising?” Bella asked, wringing her hands together.
“I’m afraid I can’t divulge that information at this time, Ma’am. I promise, we’re doing everything we can, though.” Scott said, standing up to escort her back to the waiting room. “I advise you to go home and get some rest. It’s late. Try not to worry.”
Bella sighed, and grabbed her purse, following Scott to the front door. “Thank you, Scott, for taking the time to see me.” She said, then headed wearily to her car, parked haphazardly in the handicapped parking space.