Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Episode 23

A cold winter wind blew directly off Pine Lake as Helen Kallias exited the post office. She walked down the block, preoccupied with a dozen different problems, mostly having to do with her two daughters. Engrossed in her thoughts, she didn't immediately register that the man coming out of Rainbow Bar was her husband, Nick.

Her first instinct was to call out to him, but a nano-second later, she wondered what he was up to. Why would he be at the Rainbow in the middle of the day, especially since he had made a point of telling her he was going straight to Taverna to work on the new menu with the chef?

Helen stopped in her tracks. Against the biting wind, she stepped close to the shelter of the nearest building, turned up the collar of her coat, and covered her head with her scarf.

To her further surprise, Biff Monroe also stepped out of the bar. Helen watched the two of them--one older, one younger--stand together, talking as if they were old friends. Something is definitely wrong with this picture, she thought. Nick had always gone out of his way to either ignore or bad-mouth Biff.

Maybe ten years ago, when Biff was a kid, he'd been wild, but as far as Helen was concerned, he seemed like a decent enough young man now. He was always very polite to her. Still, Nick had continued to be unreasonable about Biff. When their daughter, Selena, began dating the fellow, Nick carried on as though she would completely ruin her life if they so much as had dinner together.

Helen pulled her scarf more closely around her head. Of course, it wouldn't conceal her identity if Nick turned around. After nearly thirty years of marriage, he would recognize her in an instant. But for the moment, she preferred to see, rather than be seen.

For the first time in her married life, she wondered how well she really knew her husband. That Nick would have anything civil to say to Biff was too far out of the ordinary to be insignificant.

She flashed back to the afternoon a few weeks earlier when Nick had cut his hand. In the emergency room, she had sensed an unspoken communication between the ER nurse and her husband. That nurse was Claire Monroe. Claire, who was Biff's mother, had been shunned in the town of Pine Lake for raising her son by herself, refusing to reveal the identity of the boy's father.

Nick had known Claire since high school. It wasn't a giant leap for Helen to wonder now if her husband might possibly be Biff's father.

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