“Bring her back home,” Samuel had said, leaving off any
appellations that would suggest politeness or a request. It was an order and
Jed knew Samuel would have liked to have been able to carry it out himself, but
the risk was too great, so he had waited for Jed to return from the fool’s
errand McBurney had engineered, aware that they both might be too late. But
there had been enough time, since Anne had revealed McBurney’s plan and Jed had
driven the horses to a lather, time enough for Samuel to issue his directive
and for Jed to arrive on the dock where Mary lay, her fever spiking and her
beautiful dark eyes confused. She had reached for his face, her hand trembling,
and when he’d caught it in his own, she had murmured his name Jedediah but it was a question and not a
confirmation. The book Anne found was heavy in his pocket, slapping against his
thigh as he knelt beside Mary on the stretcher they’d carried her on, through
the streets and in a rude wagon; she would have whispered bits of the Tennyson
to herself between coughing spasms, fretful when she could not recall a word,
unable to wipe the tears from her cheeks.
The woman Miss Dix had sent to be Mary’s escort had looked
both stern and helpless. Jed had seen that she knew how ill Mary was and how
cruel her task would be but without his intervention, there was nothing she
could do but take Mary ever closer to her grave. Her protestations were made
without any vigor and he heard the relief in her voice when she acquiesced to
his curt commands. She had not blushed or lowered her eyes when he picked up
Mary in his arms, wrapped in the paisley shawl they’d covered her with, the
thinnest veil of propriety. He had been distracted almost immediately by how
light Mary was, how the illness had wasted her strength except for her soul’s
fortitude. It had taken McBurney’s cruel expulsion into the lonely night to
weaken her spirit, the explanation for how readily she laid her head against
his chest, the sigh she’d given when he tightened his hold on her. He had
bitten back the words that had no place on a steamship dock, oh my dearest girl, oh sweetheart, I’ve got
you, just a little while, stay with me, darling, darling, and tried to
consider what to do. Where to go, where he might take her and care for her—he
could not solve it and he must. She shivered in his arms and she burned,
moaning softly when he shifted her, a sound that could break him.
Samuel had demanded he bring her home, but where was that
now? Not Mansion House, where McBurney remained a grave danger to her, not the
hotel Hale frequented when Anne refused him her bed and a whore obliged. He
could not ask Emma’s family to take in a delirious Yankee nurse and he would
not risk the schism their refusal might create, between Emma and her parents or
Emma and the chaplain. If he had had more time, he would have taken rooms in a
boarding house run by a respectable widow or made arrangements with the wife of
the garrison’s commanding officer, a Vermonter who would have taken pity on her
ill countrywoman. Jed wished he had not given up the house he had leased for
Eliza, that it stood empty and waiting for them, with rooms enough for a
contraband servant to sleep or one of the Quaker women living just outside of
the town who might be induced to care for a suffering soul. There would be a
roof over their heads and a bed to lay Mary in, a lamp to light and a chair to
draw up next to the bed, where he could sit facing her and watch over her until
dawn broke. He felt how it taxed her to breathe and when she opened them, her
dark eyes were full of pain; he had no time to waste and no solution.
Dorothea Dix’s woman had helped him get a carriage so he
didn’t have to carry Mary through the dusty streets but when the driver had
asked him the destination, he had not the faintest idea. Want Jed, get him for me, please, please Mary murmured with her
cheek pressed against his beating heart and Jed heard himself say “Mansion
House” before the horses’ hooves and Mary’s catarrh filled his ears. When it stopped
in front of the steps, he knew he could not carry her through the door and
expect her to live so he returned to where he had started.
“Mr. Diggs? Have you seen him?” he asked Charlotte Jenkins,
who evidently slept lightly and in her serviceable dress and apron. She had not
even rubbed her eyes or yawned, just regarded him steadily, how he stood with
little grace, Mary clutched in his arms, the hem of the paisley shawl with its
silken fringe trailing in the dirt.
“He got called to the ward. Dr. Hale…needed his assistance.
A hemorrhage, I think,” Charlotte answered. Jed felt the last certainty slip
away, the confidence he’d had in Samuel solving the problem he could not,
Samuel still waiting for Mary’s return as Mary had once waited for his.
“Oh,” Jed said, the exhalation what passed for a word, the
beginning of a sentence he had no idea how to finish.
How much Dayquil did u
take the whole bottle I told u I’d cover
SO HELP ME PHINNEY IF WE
LOSE THE GRANT BECAUSR OF YOU BLOODY COW
There’s no way I’m letting u drive home u belong in bed u
just texted me in Spanish
??? WTF ??? Who’s texting me
about a grant
M– u didn’t silence your alerts
think you meant to text me
<cat emoji> <mouse emoji> <caution sign
“Well, well, well. What do we have here? The source of all
the distraction, it would seem, the ruination of yet another meeting. Hand it
over, Miss Phinney,” Clayton McBurney declared, his blue eyes glaring at her;
they had an uncanny resemblence to marbles or maybe glass eyes and Mary had
wondered whether the man could be blind and just fooling them all. It was the
kind of thing people would wonder
about Clayton McBurney, their interim director, along with what meds he was on,
should be on, had abruptly stopped taking or whether he was the first encounter
with a poorly constructed Cylon. His head was shaped somewhat like a toaster
and Mary was momentarily distracted by the image of the chrome sides gleaming
atop McBurney’s shoulders, the toast popping out half-burned making her
nauseated. That was another sign of her illness and her ineffective treatment,
the aforementioned bottle (and-a-half she would not admit to), her
woolgathering when her boss was gearing up to eviscerate her in what would at
least prove to be a more interesting staff meeting than usual, albeit sadly no
“Are you wearing mascara?” she blurted out. The chorus of
gasps and half-choked laughter was distant, kept that way by the throbbing ache
behind both her eyes and outlining her sinuses beneath the pale cheeks she’d
forgotten to conceal with cream blusher.
“How dare you!” McBurney yelped, his voice high-pitched,
tinny. The Cylon theory jumped up in her differential and she closed her eyes
to try and remember what she was supposed to do next. The phone, which she had
managed to switch to vibrate from the ping, buzzed in her hand; she didn’t want
to try and figure out who was writing back. When she opened her eyes, Jed was
looking at her with concern and not amusement and McBurney was red-faced and
“Sorry,” she mumbled. She sounded like a sullen teeanger,
the small part of her that was not overrun with virus or cold medicine
observed. Her response drew an outright laugh from Anne Hastings, a mean,
gleeful cackle that meant Anne thought she could use Mary’s remark to her own
ends. If she could have cared about it, she would have, but she mostly knew she
needed to make sure McBurney did not wrest her phone from her hand and peruse
the jumbled, embarrasing texts. She couldn’t remember exactly, but in addition
to scrambling the recipients, she was pretty sure there were a few choice words
about McBurney. Possibly the Cylon thing.
“I. Want. That. Phone,” McBurney said, reaching towards her
with all the malevolence of a ferret. She tried to draw her hand back but she
was too slow and McBurney’s hand closed around her wrist.
“You don’t want to do that, Clay,” Bridget said calmly.
“You’ll bring the whole HR department down on your head. And with reason.”
“Do you think I care? I’m no lily-livered coward!” McBurney
declared, tightening his grasp on her, squeezing her when she coughed
convulsively. She saw Jed rising from his seat, felt Sam shift next to her.
“She’s got the flu, anyone can see it,” Sam interjected
softly. The staff were well aware of McBurney’s concerns about contamination
and infection, how he was conveniently called away to meetings for three full
days after any visit from an elementary school class. McBurney dropped her hand
abruptly, as if he’d been burned by her. He raised his hand in front of his
face and inspected it with a sort of horror. The phone buzzed again.
“A dose of Tamiflu’s what you need,” Bridget remarked. “Let
me take care of things here—I’m sure if you call your doctor, they’ll be able
to get you sorted properly. That’s that,” she finished, McBurney racing through
the door leaving a stack of liberally Post-It-noted binders behind in his wake.
There was a sense of relief in the room as they all took a moment to look at
each other as if to confirm the bizarre tornado that was McBurney had gone and
that they were all undamaged, a Main Street of houses in perfect condition.
“Now you, Mary, I don’t know what you were thinking coming
in today,” Bridget began, gesturing at Jed who’d already slung his messenger
bag over his shoulder. Mary searched for words but it was difficult. She could
feel every hair on her head and they all hurt.
“S’jus allergies,” Mary tried, letting herself sniffle for
“There’s not even one crocus in bloom and the high is
twenty-seven degrees today. Allergies! I don’t know whether it’s the flu or
just a cold, but you best get home and don’t you think of driving yourself.
You’ll end up God knows where,” Bridget said.
“Come on, I’ll take you home,” Jed said. He’d managed to
shove all her things into her bag and had a hand at her elbow, collegially, as
if the whole of the museum staff didn’t know how they felt, how close they were
to Jed moving in, how much more interested Mary had become in 18th
century wedding dresses.
“Okay,” Mary said, dimly aware of the chorus of “Get well
soon” that ushered them out the door. The trip to her apartment passed in a
fog. She came back to herself, to a degree, once Jed had gotten her tucked up
in her bed, an array of hot and cold drinks on her bedside tale, the remote,
her iPad and her phone on the folding tray she usually used for breakfast in
bed, her pillows carefully plumped and the blinds adjusted to only let in a
half-light suitable for napping the day away.
“If I could, I’d stay with you all day and only take care of
you, but duty calls…I’ve gotta go back for a while, but I’ll come by after work
with some soup and to make sure you’re all right,” Jed said.
“Just all right?” she asked. It was intended to sound
flirtatious but it came out plaintive.
“I think you’d better listen to Dr. Foster tonight, Sister
Britten,” he said affectionately, grazing his fingers across her cheek, pushing
back some of the hair that was loose around her face. “And for the love of all
that is holy, lay off the texting. I have never been so glad to have won that
argument about pet names as I was today. But you still might freak out old Mr.
Van der Berg and he’ll pull his collection of military insignia if you send him
a bunch of instructions for making estrellita sopita in Spanish. And if you go
all emoji on Professor Beaufort, she’ll think twice about that paper you guys
“Was it that bad?” she said, wanting the truth, wanting a
lie, whichever would feel better and not knowing how to choose. Jed would have
to know. He stroked her hair again, then squeezed her shoulder through the
pilly fleece she’d dragged over her head, still cold under the covers.
“I mean, not really. You didn’t make a lot of sense, but it
was mostly just misdirected. And a lot of typos. But next time, you have to
listen when I tell you to stay in bed,” he reassured. It occurred to her that
he really couldn’t know how bad it had been without canvassing everyone, which
would be even more embarrassing, but at least she had not sent that photo she’d
considered. She hadn’t, had she?
“No, Mary, you didn’t send a picture. I can tell you’re
wondering. Trust me, if you had, that meeting would not have ended that way,”
he said, smiling. He knew which one she had considered and probably how her
finger had hovered over the touchscreen and thank goodness, he was the only
one. “Go to sleep and I’ll try to be back before you wake up, mi pobrecita. Doctor’s orders.”
The morning’s light has revealed a town in ruins. Ferguson, Missouri and the surrounding area saw a night of violent protests which ended in arson, vandalism, looting, and clashes with police. An entire section of the town has been deemed a crime scene and is not accessible by media or the public. Many are reporting that ‘there is nothing there, everything is either burned or smashed.’
Image 1 show a beauty store/salon which was just one of at least 2 dozen buildings which was ignited during the unrest, this shop along with a Little Caesars, an Auto Zone, and an antique shop were burned to the ground.
Image 2 shows a row of cars which was set on fire at a car dealership. The cars were left unrecognizable.
Image 3 shows people gathering outside Cathy’s Kitchen to clean up the damage left behind after protestors attacked the restaurant last night. This is especially frustrating since the business was a supporter of the protestors and owned by a Black woman who fed the demonstrators for weeks.
Image 4 shows protestors in a 'mass die’ this morning on the streets of Clayton. This has been seen around the country in the wake of several controversial deaths, protestors will drop to the ground and pretend to be dead to symbolize those killed.