When Yesterday Becomes Tomorrow by B. B. Wright
It was 3:20 in the morning when Louise switched on her night-table light and sat up in bed. Placing her pillow and the one beside her at her back, she picked up the novel “The Light Between Oceans” by M. L. Stedman from the table, leaned back and tried to read.
Disturbed by her movement, Pepper stood up, circled a couple of times before plopping down hard against her and resuming his sleep.
She struggled to finish the chapter she was reading but her mind kept drifting back to her conversation with Ethan the previous day. Inserting the bookmark, she closed the book and placed it on the table. Pepper was now snoring beside her. The running shoe he had retrieved from the rocks at the beach lay beside his head.
Though she and Ethan had spent three hours over lunch catching up on old times, she had been unable to elicit any information about what he knew about the case Tom had continued to work on shortly after he and Ethan had gone their separate ways.
Or did they go their separate ways? I never thought about that possibility until now, she mused. “Hmm.” Tom became so distant then. Why?
Uncharacteristically, Tom never discussed anything related to his new position in 33 Division even when he returned home one day with a badly bruised cheek. Often, he would disappear for weeks at a time. “It’s police business,” he’d say. “So don’t fret, dear, it’s not another woman. But, I can tell you this. When this case breaks wide open there’s going to be a few high level heads rolling.” It was the only time she remembered him breaking his silence.
Louise recalled how thankful she had been that Sheila, Ethan’s wife, had continued to be friends. Sheila’s friendship had been a boon during Tom’s long absences. Not a day went by that the two of them hadn’t been out on some kind of an excursion whether to buy new clothes, attend live theatre in Toronto or Thursday morning breakfast at the nearby Tim Horton’s. Then, one day—a year later—it had all ended with a call from Sheila. The conversation on the phone had barely lasted twenty seconds. No explanation! Caput! Finished! Nothing!
Consternation and remorse still easily bubbled up in Louise whenever she thought about that day. Friends, she thought, don’t just pick up and disappear like that…unless… she really wasn’t a friend.
Begrudgingly, she had come to accept that for all of the time she and Tom had spent with Ethan and Sheila she had really never known them. A conclusion easily reached when she learned that Sheila had run off to Vancouver with Ethan’s new partner who became the head of the newly formed Drug Investigative Unit there.
She reflected: How does that John Lennon quote go? Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
Her conversation with Ethan the other day about that time troubled her because he had treated the whole thing so nonchalantly. He had been unwilling to divulge so much as a modicum of information that might have shed some light on what had happened. When she had pressed him on it, his demeanor changed dramatically and he became quite defensive. So much so she had to quickly back off. Their conversation had remained strained for a time afterwards but by the time they parted any hint of it had clearly subsided. His reaction, though, continued to confuse her and—to her way of thinking—there was something that just didn’t add up. But, what it was, for the moment, eluded her.
She glanced over at Stedman’s novel on her side-table and let out a long, forlorn sigh. Tom was the name of one of the main characters in her book and she couldn’t help but feel that her life, similar to that of Isabel’s, Tom’s wife in that novel, was about to unravel. She wished she hadn’t agreed to have supper with Ethan this evening. But, curiosity had got the better of her. Unfortunately, she remembered what curiosity had done to the cat. What bothered her the most occurred when Ethan had admitted their meeting in the park had not been an accident. She wondered what was up his sleeve. Would he drop it on me during the main course or during dessert? She mused. She guessed dessert. Life’s short, eat dessert first, she thought with a smirk. For me, it’s the time of greatest flavour.
Easing herself out of bed so as not to disturb Pepper, she headed downstairs for a glass of milk and the last slice of chocolate cake from a bridge party she had hosted the previous week.
As she sat at the kitchen table looking at her reflection in the window, she wondered what it was that Ethan needed to show her and why he felt it was so important that it be shown in privacy. Picking up her fork she cut through the triple layered wedge of chocolate cake and savored the morceau in her mouth before downing it with a drink of milk.
She glanced at the wall clock. It was 4:30. Getting up, she walked over to the cordless phone and brought it back to the table along with her address book and sat down. After she finished the remainder of the cake and milk, she opened the address book, found the phone number she wanted, punched in the numbers on her phone and waited for the pickup at the other end. She didn’t have to wait long.
“This had better be good Louise,” said the gruff, groggy voice of Jeffrey Deaver, the recently retired Captain of 33 Division, who picked up on the first ring. “You know what time it is?”
Louise smiled: “Of course I know what time it is.” She quickly discerned she was talking to empty air.
“Good! You didn’t wake up Meredith! Now what’s up?”
“I bet you were snacking in the kitchen like me. Old habits don’t die easily even in retirement,” she sniggered. “How’s that wife of yours handling you being underfoot?”
“Meredith’s doing just fine. But, why don’t you just cut to the chase and tell me why you called.”
“Do you remember Ethan Cranston?” She shifted the telephone to her other ear and stood up and walked into the living room. “Your silence is deafening Jeff.”
“Yeah… I remember him. So?”
“He’s in Meaford and it’s no accident.”
“Fuck!” He mumbled under his breath. “He’s always been a lose cannon. And Tom knew that especially…”
“My sentiments too, but you have such a poetic way of saying it.” She opened the candy dish and popped a chocolate in her mouth and sat down on the couch. “What were you about to say?”
“Nothing, nothing important. Did he tell you why he’s there?”
“He says he’s investigating a murder, if that’s what you’re asking?” She turned on the table lamp when Pepper came down the stairs and jumped onto the couch and settled in the corner opposite her.
“Hmm… Did he say what murder?”
“I guess I’ll find out this evening.” Patting her side, she looked over at Pepper to invite him to snuggle against her which he readily acceded to.
“This evening?” Jeffrey queried with more than a hint of astonishment in his tone.
“Uh-Huh. He’s coming here for supper. Even bringing it,” she replied smugly as she ran her hand softly along the top of Pepper’s head and down his back. “By the way, how’s retirement?”
“Just okay? What the hell does that mean?”
“I’m going to bed,” he retorted.
“Wait! Help me out here. Ethan hanging out here has opened old wounds. Whatever happened between him and Tom?” Silence greeted her ears. “Nothing? You’re saying nothing?”
“Are you okay with inviting me to supper?”
“Just say yes or no.”
“Yes,” she replied, unable to hide a tinge of reluctance.
“You’d better tell him to bring lots because I’m bringing Meredith, too.”