Too Small to Scream.
Mandy Rose shivered as goose bumps gathered on her naked arms. Was the A/C up too high? Nope, she was nervous.
She swung the white T-Bird into a “Visitors” parking spot and frowned. Not too many visitors. Mostly empty spaces.
Her shoulders produced one more shiver as she pulled the emergency brake. These buildings were dirty red, turned-to-brown brick. They crowded together, not bothered by a lack of air or green grass. Not a single tree.
Mandy knew this was where Clyde was being kept. That’s all she knew.
If you weren’t a spouse or family, information was withheld. Held with pit bull insistence. Confidentiality, of course. And she agreed. But what about the people who want news concerning their loved ones? They’re shut out, left to worry and feel the pain of not knowing.
Rummaging around in the past, she acknowledged that finding Bertie’s green Porsche saved her from the bullet Felix Guidry meant for her. He’d be away for a long time, not in a mental institution like Clyde.
She climbed out of the low-slung car and shouldered her bulging pocketbook. Would it work; to tell the admitting office she was a social worker, here to help Clyde Boudreaux? She doubted it but had to try. Play it by ear.
She slammed the car door and locked it, then looked up at the grand ancient front entrance. Limestone accents and a slate roof completed the elegant portico. The footpath seemed ignored by comparison. Rain would leave great round puddles to step around. She squared her shoulders and hurried to the massive doors leading to who knew what.
Inside the dimly lit building were high ceilings that did little to mask the musty odor. The lone occupant sat at a huge oak desk, typing. Boney hands paused over typewriter keys and shiny lavender curls bounced as the stiff senior looked up. A questioning expression.
“May I help you, young lady?”
“Uh, yes please. I’d like to know when I’ll be allowed to visit someone who’s a,” she paused, “resident… here.”
“Is this person a family member?”
Mandy squirmed at having to tell this curt old woman her business, but she kept her voice even; discarded the idea of impersonating a social worker. “He’s the father of my daughter.”
“Are you married?” Spoken as though a crime had surely been committed by the girl standing in front of her desk.
Face reddening with anger, Mandy twisted the strap on her purse and her voice cracked. “No, ma’am. We’re not married.”
Adjusting her spectacles, the woman leaned forward and peered into a wooden file box. The lid squeaked. “What’s the name please?”
The old lady mumbled, “B, B.” Then she said, “Are you sure he’s in this building?”
“No, I’m not. Is there another building?”
“If this man is exhibiting florid symptoms and/or is considered a danger to himself or others, he will be in the back building. Who is Mr. Boudreaux’s doctor?”
“I don’t know.”
The wrinkles smoothed a bit on the aging face. “Let me check elsewhere.”
A few steps away at a tall metal file cabinet, she pulled open the top drawer. On her tiptoes, she pushed her glasses down to see into the deep drawer. Her fingers slid the files back until the motion halted.
“Ah yes, here it is. He’s in the back building. Doctor Romano is his physician, though he’s presently on vacation.” The woman’s face grew dark.
Mandy had to sit down. A wooden bench leaned against the far wall. She headed for it and fell heavily into it. Her purse swung off her shoulder and hit the floor with a solid thump.
The old woman’s brow furrowed as she scurried over and patted her on the shoulder. “It’s probably just temporary miss, uh, what is your name?”
“Mandy, Mandy Rose Bokum.”
“Your young man’s doctor is expected to return within the next day or two. Possibly three. Try calling him again. He’s the only one who can arrange a visit for that building. It’s typically not allowed.”
Mandy sat up straighter.
“Sit there a minute. Your color looks better. Would you like some water?”
Mandy was ice cold again and her mouth was desert dry. Her mind whirled, dark thoughts erupting like swollen boils, and the future lost its promise. She soothed herself. “It’s just for today, not forever.”
“Are you feeling better dear?”
Mandy took the paper cup of water and nodded. “I’m fine. If you’d be so kind as to give me Clyde’s doctor’s number, I’ll contact him.”
“Of course, dear. Stay right there. My name’s Mabel. Mabel Casner.”
The water helped rejuvenate Mandy and so did Mabel’s change of attitude. She accepted the folded paper with the doctor’s information and pushed it into her pocketbook. Managing a feeble smile, she thanked Mabel and left the building.
Back in her car she headed toward her apartment, her thoughts on fire. She craved some sister talk. She knew Laura didn’t approve of her attachment to Clyde; wanted her to make a clean break. Part of her agreed with Laura. It would certainly be easier, especially since right now their daughter, Hannah, was not in the picture. Was not found. Was still missing.
But according to Angus, things were being done to find the children that had been taken. That included Hannah.
It took her less than twenty minutes to get home. Her multi-unit building was dark as she mounted the stairs leading to her second-floor apartment.
A male voice intruded. “Hey Mandy, c’mon over to Jake’s. We’re doing Hurricanes. Have the official glasses.”
“Um, I don’t know Mark, I’m kind of tired. Maybe some other time.”
The building Mandy lived in was not as quiet as she’d hoped when she signed the lease. In spite of the bloated rent, noise and partying were common occurrences.
Will I ever stop trusting everyone? Wish I had Laura’s Watcher.
“Whatever you say, Mandy. I hope you change your mind. You’re only young once. We’re right upstairs at Jake’s.”
Mandy knew Mark had a thing for her. “I’ll see. Maybe later.”
Mark gave her a soft salute and continued to his own apartment on the same floor as Mandy’s. She noticed how his faded blue jeans hugged his slim hips.
Each apartment was spacious; occupied by someone single and under thirty. And almost everyone had a cat. No one was poverty stricken, and nobody talked about their families or money.
Mandy keyed into her place and headed to the far end where her bedroom was. The quietest part of her apartment. She muttered to herself, “Maybe I’ll go over to Jake’s later; maybe later.”
Shoes got kicked off before she lay down, fully clothed, and fell sound asleep in minutes.