Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Chapter Twenty-Two

“Is something the matter, Mr. Ellis?” Mosby looked out at the rows of desks in front of him and realized there were thirty-seven fifth graders staring at him. He realized that sometime after his witting discussion of the founding of the thirteen colonies he had lapsed into a long, long silence. A quick glance at the clock confirmed that for at least ten minutes he had been standing, immobilized and silent before seventy-four inquisitive eyes while his overactive imagination was running wild with explanations of why he hadn’t heard from Lilly. He cleared his throat. “Well class, have all of your finished your list?”

“What list, Mr. Ellis.”

“The list you were supposed to be working on for the last ten minutes. The list of the causes that led up to the Revolutionary War.” He was literally saved by the bell.

“Well, if you didn’t finish, that will be your homework assignment. I’ll see all of you tomorrow.”

Again, Mosby went directly to Lilly’s shop. When he saw the boarded up glass and the police tape he felt himself going to pieces. In the last twenty-four hours he had tried to convince himself that there was a reasonable explanation for Lilly’s failure to call him. Over the past few years he had grown accustomed to her quirky ways and her peculiar world view. But he adored her and he knew the feeling was mutual. They made a strange pair – a thirty-year old teacher and a sixty-year old Romani woman. But they had both found relief from their isolation in their weird and wonderful friendship. Mosby would entertain Lilly with accounts of the antics of his fifth grades. In return she would tell him tales of the old country while serving him those marvelous soups and stews that she miraculously created in the tiny kitchen in the back of her shop. One day Lilly had made an unexpected request. “I trust you Mosby Ellis. I trust you not to laugh at an old woman so I will ask this favor of you. I will ask you, my friend, to teach me how to read.”

They had begun that evening using the copy of Peter and the Starcatcher that he had in his backpack. Lilly was a good student. A grateful student.

If she had been hurt, Mosby would never forgive himself. He couldn’t go home. Lilly had no family for him to call. As he stood there, trying to decide what to do next he became aware that someone was watching him.

“She was a friend of your’s, wasn’t she?”

“Yes. Do you know what happened to her?”

The old woman nodded. “I live right up there.” She pointed to a second story window of run down apartment building across the street. I heard the sirens a little after midnight. I was awake anyway. Don’t sleep so good anymore. I looked out my window and there were cops all up and down the street. And an ambulance. They took a woman away in handcuffs. A long time later they brought someone else out on a gurney. It was that woman that owned the tattoo parlor – your friend. She was dead.”

“How do you know it was Lilly?”

“I heard it from the cops. There were all over the place asking everybody if they heard anything. I’m sorry about your friend, Mister.”



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