Rodric Anthony is a writer of fiction and nonfiction. Creating new stories and seeing where they take him is his passion.
Jane Doe has not spoken to anyone. Hiram magically appears outside her room door, hesitating to go in, not sure how to act or what to say. Magic is how Hiram might describe it, though in reality he simply doesn't remember the journey from outside of the hospital to the patient, Jane's door.
“Hi! Hiram again... I think you are so hot, the way you looked all sickly and ghostly when I was carrying you to the church,” he utters in a high-pitched voice, quietly enough with his back against the wall near her room.
“Yeah. I say that to her she's gonna think I am a real freak! I cain't let it distract me!"
Why back out now? At the door outside her room, stealthily, he dodged the nurses' station and healthcare workers to get to the room. What's next?
“Should I," he ask having already made the decision to go into the room in his heart. A warm feeling slowly builds in his core—the type of feeling he wants regarding sending in his mission papers early. See, he wants to follow the same path his brother, Hib, took to serve as a missionary through his church.
He's just waiting to receive confirmation from the Holy Ghost of whether or not to do that, to turn in his missionary papers early. He hasn't decided explicitly to do anything because he's still sitting on the paperwork to get started! Regarding this issue, the boy thinks the Holy Spirit has him on hold, and the hold music's deafeningly silent!
Familiar voices emanating from the room breed no confidence in him.
Why back out now? He is at the door outside her room. Stealthily, he dodged the nurses' station and healthcare workers to get to the room. What's next?
Enigma is a small town in Berrien County in the great state of Georgia. There is one full-time officer in the town, Sheriff Smarts. There are a few unpaid deputies who volunteer when needed. No one ever does anything in Enigma.
Everybody goes to church, the same church. Enigma doesn't have enough people to have its own schools. All kids go to Centerville, the county seat for school. Having all the kids in the county go to the same High School makes the farming communities qualify for good AA football and basketball teams. Sheriff's been in office for five years with an abandoned train caboose as the sheriff's office. Seriously! It rests in what some might call the town center or square, except it is not in the center of the city and it is not a square--more like a few buildings on a street.
It's the only time she spoke. No one moves a muscle.
Sheriff Smarts is with one of the“deputies” attempting to coax a statement out of the mute girl when Hiram arrives at the hospital room door. The "hospital" or large clinic with emergency services, for a small town, is extraordinarily supplied and staffed.
Besides farmers in Enigma, several medical specialists, professional types--doctors, lawyers, and such--live in town because of the town's proximity to other metro areas in Georiga. In short, health services boom inordinately in the area with Enigma being an entire town of soccer moms. Centerville is where that happens, 15 minutes away by car, 40 minutes by bus.
Why does Enigma have its own personal sheriff when there is a county sheriff's department? It's an enigma. Actually, Smarts ran against the Berrien country sheriff and lost. Being that Enigma has an independent city charter, the people decided to elect their own sheriff, Smarts, in cooperation with the county. Some religious issues over Enigma being overwhelmingly Latter-day Saints in Baptist country did cause friction in the past; so, Enigma wanted one of their own heading up enforcement in their city. Funny thing is, the Berrien County sheriff is from Enigma and a Latter-day Saint. That is an Enigma.
Jane Doe is a larger problem than Enigma has resources to accommodate, however. Sherriff Smarts' suggestion to take Jane to Watson General Hospital in Centerville bestirred panic! Jane's eyes nearly separated from their sockets when the words left the Sheriff's lips!
“No, the boy has to protect me!”
It's the only time she spoke. No one moves a muscle. The sheriff does not notice Hiriam at the room door--backs facing the door of all three room occupants, Jane, Sheriff, and the "deputy."
Bewildered, Hiram plants in the door watching Sheriff Smarts attempt to soothe Jane back onto the elevated examination table. Having heard Jane's uttering, not knowing if she meant him, he grew flowers for the love of stillness!
Remembering the words Jane whispered to him as he ran with her in his arms, rain pouring, he remained, silent. He tried to kill me, were her words to him.
Where did she come from? What is her name? Where is this stranger that attempted to kill her? Why does Hiram feel so drawn to her? Fearing to go into the room to upset Jane, from the door Hiriam watches. Jane stares into the wall as if some interesting object entertains her as Sheriff Smarts reassures.
“No, the boy has to protect me!”
“Sweetheart,” coos Sheriff Smarts. “You take all the time you need. We aren’t going anywhere.”
“You think we need to call the county in Sister Smarts,” says her "deputy," Hank Marconi.
“I am on duty. Call me Sheriff, Hank.”
“Sheriff. Right,” blushes Hank. He's been trying to urge the Sheriff to hire him on as a city officer. "It's not in the budget just yet," is what she would tell him. It's true.
“We will call county tomorrow. I don’t want to get her going again," shoulders raised, shivering--purposely trying to communicate her displeasure at having the girl wailing in fear.
"Plus, the road to Centerville has washed out again. No one will navigate that mess unless it's a life or death issue. We'll probably be stuck here until it can drain off—especially since another storm‘s coming our way tonight.”
"Sheriff Spikes ain't exactly on our friendlies list," the faux deputy Hank acknowledges.
"Well, my husband is his bishop. We'll work it out. There's a reason we split from county..."
Hiram clears his throat with enough courage to walk into the room finally. The girl’s eyes rivet toward Hiram. “He tried to kill me,” she lists.
“What," Sheriff asks in disbelief pointing to her son. Hiram?”
The girl stares into Hiram’s surprised eyes slowly shaking her head from side to side answering the question, negatively to Sheriff Smarts' delight.
“He tried to kill me, and he is going to do it again. He will kill all of us.” The girl’s eyes glisten as a single tear falls.
“What in the world? Sheriff,” Deputy Hank puzzles. “I think we need to call county today.”
“We can call, but they won’t come until tomorrow. I will call. They are not much more equipped than we are,” smiles out of Sheriff Smarts' mouth at Hank--both knowing the white lie she told.
Centerville is much better equipped with detectives and police offices paid to do their jobs. Not like here. Not even Sherif Smart gets a salary. Enigma can only pay her for time spent working, which is not much.
“I know. You don’t have to stay up here with her if you can't. I know you need to get to that wife of yours and the kids."
"Now, Sheriff, I really don't think..."
"Go on, Hank. Me and Hiram will be okay here. I will let you know if I need your help, deputy.”
"Yes, Sheriff," Hank nods smiling at the deputy title. As he leaves, he pats Hiram on the back, who stands with his eyes fixed on Jane's eyes, who twitches a smile at him.
“Will you tell us your name, honey,” Sheriff asks again seeing and feeling the subtle change in Jane's temperament. The girl nods, not taking her eyes off of Hiram. Hiram helplessly looks into her eyes. Instantly a rush of memory flashes to mind!
“Mom, I know her.”
“What? And call me Sheriff when I'm on duty.”
“This is Mahogany.”
Instantly Sheriff gasps in horror, “the Wilcoxs' Mahogany?”
Even as the words leave her mouth, Sheriff Smarts sees evidence in the face of the girl who now regards her with those large doey eyes.
“He gonna find me and kill me and you too now,” Mahogany quietly and matter-of-factly relays. Looking again to Hiram, she adds pointing with her eyes, “He can protect us.”
“Sweetheart. Hiram is a kid like you. I will keep you safe. First, we need to….”
“No, him,” she interrupts, with little emotion. “I remember him; he must protect me. He promised.”
“Hiram, what’s going on? This is getting more strange.”
“Mom," completely ignoring her instruction to call her sheriff when she's on duty. "She looks like she's still out of it. Maybe the doc needs to come check her again. She sounds like a little kid.”
“I'll go get Brandon back in here,” Sheriff informs standing to get Dr. Ray. “She seems to trust you. Mahogany being back, and all makes, this a miracle and tragedy rolled up in one!”
Thunderclaps send Mahogany into a screaming fit as the lights flicker, threatening to go black. Instinctively, Hiram rushes to embraces her, quickly calming her.
“Hiram?” Sheriff raises her brow at the door. “What is this weird thing with you and the missing girl?”
“Mom, please, get Brother Ray. I'll tell it all, but she needs to sleep. She needs something to help her sleep.”
“I am counting on you telling me,” Sheriff puzzles from the hall. “She has been gone for seven years. I am definitely calling county in the morning.”
Mahogany was his first kiss. A kiss before she disappeared out of his life. Right after he promised her never to let anything happen to her. A promise he now intends to keep!
© 2021 Rodric Anthony
Rodric Anthony (author) from Surprise, Arizona on June 17, 2021:
Pamela, I am stepping back into something old with a new desire. I don't like writing Christian fiction because it makes me feel like I am trying to win converts to Christ with lies.
I am trying to get past that feeling with this. All my fiction tends to be based on my religious belief in God. I am trying to be as raw and human in this and others that will follow after without being preachy. I also don't want to promote lascivious behaviors. We have enough of that. It is a hard line with my Muse.
Rodric Anthony (author) from Surprise, Arizona on June 17, 2021:
Bill, you goader! It's working too. I am planning the next one out. This is one of the old projects that I told you about getting back to, or I should say, asked you about getting back to in the Mailbag recently.
Oh, that first kiss is a special milestone. I don't remember mine precisely. I remember my first kiss as a practicing Christian. It was a strangely spiritual thing and an exciting time, I tell you.
I need to learn from you on consistency. I set my week by the Mailbag.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 17, 2021:
It will be interesting to see where this story goes next, Rodric. I enjoyed reading this one, and it is rather strange. We'll see what is next.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 17, 2021:
And???? Don't leave us hanging. Let's have more, please. You are weaving a fine tale, my friend. Ahh, that first kiss. Who can forget it, eh? You have me remembering mine, now.