The Ringer

Vote by December 8, 2013!

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In Episode 2, readers voted for Scarlet’s father to be there because he’s come to tell Scarlett he doesn’t believe her sister’s death was actually a suicide.

Episode 3

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think it was important… May we?” He said with the tentative motion of his hand towards the door behind Scarlett and Evie.

“What’s this about?” Scarlett responded, trying to avoid any and all reasons for allowing him into her home.

“Please, just give me 5 minutes to explain inside why I’m here. It’s about your sister.”

“Alana? What about her?” By now Scarlett was thoroughly livid, not only that he would show up unannounced, but that he would then bring her sister into it. It was hard enough losing Alana to suicide but to hear him talk about her when it took so long to heal was flat out insulting.

Her father got a look in his eye reminiscent of a man broken down over years of anguish, and Scarlett’s conscience took over just briefly enough for her to turn around, leading him through the front door and into the kitchen.

Remembering what he did to their family, she plopped her hand on the counter as she turned around and said, “You have 5 minutes. Now what do you want?”

It took him a few attempts to start speaking before he finally found the words.

“I don’t know how to start this conversation so I’ll just get straight to the point. I don’t think Alana’s death was a suicide, and…” seeing that Scarlett’s look of disgust meant she was going to interrupt him he continued a little louder, “I know it sounds crazy! But you knew your sister as well as any of us. She had a great job, a great marriage, a great house in California and even when her and Mark split up, none of us had any doubt she would find a way through it. God knows where you girls got it from, but she’s one of the strongest people any of us had ever known, and if we were going to bet anyone would find the good in a bad situation, it was her! Hell she even started to almost seem happy again and then all of a sudden the police are on our doorstep claiming she ended her own life?”

Scarlett’s eyes welled up with tears as she recalled the police explaining to the three of them that Alana had used an overdose of pills to take her own life the night before. It took them all by surprise, that much was true. But as resilient as she was, divorce could break down even those who seem the happiest. She began to tell him he was just still in denial and needed to let it go, but he continued.

“Trust me, I know it sounds crazy. But I found out last week from her friend’s father that she was seeing some shady guy less than a week after she and Mark announced her divorce… Do I think she was having an affair? No. Of course not. But any guy going after a woman before she’s even divorced is someone you just can’t trust, and if she was seeing someone that conveniently none of us knew about and she never mentioned, then it’s entirely possible he was involved in her death!”

Scarlett paused for a moment, swimming in the irony of her philandering father telling who could and couldn’t be trusted around married women. Oh how the anger boiled inside her, yet she found herself reflecting also on how it was so much more difficult to move on from grieving for her because she, too, had always wondered in the back of her mind if it really was as simple as being upset about the divorce. No, she couldn’t bother with those thoughts anymore.

“Look. You need to let this go. It took years to accept her death and yes, it was hard to believe we didn’t see her in that much pain. But no good can come from these ridiculous thoughts. If there was someone in her life that wanted her dead, she would have known and stayed away from them, not chosen to spend that much more time together.”

“I know but just listen…”

“You need to leave. Now. And I would appreciate it if you didn’t show up unannounced at my home ever again.”

He looked defeated, but before leaving he said, “Fine… Just think about it. I have tried letting this go, but I have nightmares every single night about some unknown murderer killing one of my daughters.  I am constantly worried that either the same person or some other lunatic is gonna get to the other one. You can hate me and I understand why, but please, if you think of anything else or want to talk more about it, just call me.” He placed a business card on the counter and walked back out the front door.

Scarlett sat there for what seemed like a long time before Clark, Clay’s co-worker, came in the back door.

“Hey, are you okay?” Clark asked.

“Yeah I’m fine… just the second of two very unpleasant visitors today so far. And hey, thank you so much again for what you did today. I really don’t know what we would have done if you hadn’t acted as quickly as you did. If there’s ever anything we can do for you please, please let me know.”

“Not a problem. I was a cop for a few years so I’ve taken down one or two drunkards in my day.”

“Haha.. well he definitely is that, a drunk. I can’t believe how this day has turned out.”

“It does seem pretty unlucky… Lovely lady like yourself deserves nothing but good luck, not like the kind you’ve had today.”

Scarlett took a second to appreciate his kindness. With Clay’s job putting their relationship on the rocks and the day she just had, she certainly needed that bit of kindness.

“Anyway,” Clark said, smiling at her, “I actually came in here to let you know Clay is looking for you out back.”

“Oh, right I’m sure he is… Well, thank you again.” She said as she stood up from her chair heading towards the door. Clay came in as she got there and they almost collided. Clay hugged her immediately and Clark slinked out the open door, closing it behind him.

She and Clay just stood there for a moment, and it dawned on her he had no idea who was just here. She decided not to tell him. What did she expect him to say to it anyway? And she didn’t want to dwell on it any longer.

They talked the rest of the night after Clark left about what had happened that day, and for about a week their lives went back to normal; Clay working all day and night and Scarlett finding ways to fill her time. One evening Clay came home with a big idea, and after dinner he excitedly shared it with her.

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