Picket Fences

The two women stare at each other with intensity until Sara breaks the tense silence.

“I should have known it was you when a house appeared in my name. You have a lot of nerve coming here. We agreed after Chicago that we would never see each other again.”  Angela pauses before responding, allowing Sara to have her moment. “I never thought I’d be here either, but I am. Are you going to let me in?” Angela asks. Sara swings the door wider, “I don’t really have a choice, do I? Come in …wipe your feet.” The two women sit down in the living room and Angela wastes no time getting to why she’s there. “Connie found me and she was working with Martin Cray who wanted revenge for his mother and he killed his father and—” Sara interrupts, “Wait … when they found his father dead in his car… that was you and Connie? My God…” Sara falls back into the sofa in disbelief. “Wow … that’s a lot to take in … How do I fit into all this?” Angela hesitates, “I need you to talk to a detective to get him off my back.”  “What?! No way …No way! The cops — I can’t get involved, Angela,” Sara replies. “I hate to say this, but … you don’t have a choice,” Angela responds, looking at Sara’s son playing outside. Sara feels a panic rush over her. “You are a monster. You would use that against me?”  Angela pulls a copy of a medical record and puts it on the table. “I don’t want to use it Sara, don’t make me.” Sara begins to cry quietly, Angela picks up her purse. “Desperate women do desperate things, Sara. Sometimes horrible things. And I’m no different. I hope to hear from you soon,” Angela says as she walks out the door, leaving Sara’s home.

But Sara isn’t the only one getting a surprise visit. 

Trisha and Madalyn are going over the plans for the investors’ dinner as Trisha gives Madalyn a tour of her beautiful home. “Now, I’d like us to start with drinks and cocktails outside, using the cliff as the backdrop, and then we can move inside for dinner and speeches can be in our great room,” Trisha orders. Madalyn takes note, trying to keep up. “Now, for the food, I’d love to have a five-course dinner — chicken, salmon, and steak and you choose the sides and then we can…” Being interrupted, both the women turn and see a very handsome man. Madalyn is blown away by the man’s milk chocolate skin and how the sun hits it, almost making him appear golden. “Hi Aunt Trisha. I’m sorry, I didn’t know you had company. Hi, I’m Jamal, nice to meet you,” he says. “Hi, I’m Madalyn. I’m planning the investment dinner,” She replies. “Nice. Speaking of that dinner, we need to talk,” Jamal says, turning to his aunt. “What about it? I’m sure it will be a success,” she replies. “People are starting to ask where Uncle Frank is. He hasn’t been in the office for months and investors are worried,” Jamal says looking worried.  “Everything is fine, your uncle is recuperating from his accident. He will be at the dinner. Let investors know the firm is stronger than ever,” she says, trying to convince him. “Maybe if I just see him and talk to him…” he pleads. “Maybe later. He’s resting,” she says. With that, Jamal walks off.  “Now, I think you and I should talk about your fee,” Trisha says, changing the subject. “I’m thinking 15% of the total budget of one hundred thousand,” Trisha says nonchalantly, leaving Madalyn to suppress her excitement. “Yes, that will be fine,” Madalyn replies.

Madalyn isn’t the only one with something to look forward to. 

Xavier pulls up to his grandmother Atherton’s house on Patricia Drive and it is just as he remembers it — just as grand and just as beautiful. He pulls out his phone to take a picture and texts it to Payton. “You still coming? This place is just like I remember it. Can’t wait to see you.” Payton quickly responds,” I’m packing my car now and I’ll be there tomorrow morning.” As he’s texting, Payton sees Sydney coming from across the street. Payton waves, “Hey, what’s up?” “Nothing much, Dad got free tickets to the county fair, and I thought we could go and hang out,” Sydney says. “I’d like to and that does sound fun, but I’m hanging out with a friend this weekend. Maybe next weekend,” Payton replies. “Okay …that’s cool… maybe I can come, and we all hang out together,” Sydney says, trying to invite himself. “Well, we really were planning for it to be just us,” Payton says, trying to let Sydney down lightly. “Well, you two have fun,” Sydney says, heading back across the street and devising a way to ruin this trip.

But Sydney isn’t the only one hatching a plan.

Trisha is having her evening cocktail when she decides to go upstairs. As she walks up, she stops at the bedroom, takes a drink, and pauses before opening the door and entering the room. The room is filled with medical equipment and the rhythmic beeping sounds of the monitors fill her ears. She looks at her husband Frank and remembers what a strong and proud man he was.  She asks softly, “How is he?” A nurse steps in to view, “He’s not good. He can barely remember who he is, I don’t think you have much time left with him, ma’am.”  Trisha wipes away her tears. “He has to get better. There is no other way. He has to get better or everything is gone,” she says, draining the bottom of her cocktail.