Wednesday, August 31, 2022

First Word: Mary Judith Ress: Phone


 He sounded hesitant on the phone.

“I know.  It’s been a long time, but could I see you?”

“Couldn’t we just talk via zoom?” I answered, trying not to sound nervous. It HAD been a long time.

“I have something to show you—and it would be better to show you in person.”

“Oh, ok,” I said. “But I’m quite busy.” Although I really wasn´t.

I’ll come by this afternoon,” he said and hung up.

At five o’clock he was at my door.

He seemed to me to be a spent man: he no longer stood as straight as a soldier; he was terribly thin; and his now totally-white beard needed a trim.

“Come in, but let’s sit out in the patio and catch the last of the sunshine.” I motioned him through the kitchen and out into the garden.  He was carrying a large clay jug and, sitting down, he hugged it and then placed it carefully on the table.

“What’s this?” I asked, annoyed that he put the rather dirty jug on my treasured Guatemalan tablecloth.

“Look inside,” he gestured, taking off the lid.

The jar gave off a stench like a mildewed old coat that had been left out in the rain.  I squinted an eye and looked inside.  Fine grey dust….

Suddenly I was covered with goose bumps.  I could feel the blood drain from my face.

“Good God, David, who is it?”

I don’t know,” he sighed.  “Someone left it on my doorstep two days ago.” He shook his head and tentatively ran his finger around the jar’s rim.  “I-I thought it must have been a mistake…that the person who left it would come back for it…” She saw that he was close to tears. Clearly, he wasn’t telling her everything.  Now a deep foreboding crept over her.

David reached across the table and took my hand in his.  “Judy,” he pleaded, searching my face with bloodshot eyes, “will you help me find out who this was?”


And thus began the tale that would shape the last days of my life.

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