- 2014 Community Novel Project of the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library
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Downloading Superimposed Chapter 13 by Mari White
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Read Online: Superimposed Chapter 13 by Mari White
Holly froze in place and looked around. Pesha was there, looking deep into her eyes, and he had a firm grip on her hand. He kept saying, “Trust me.”
Holly thought, “How can I trust him? I have never met him, I know nothing about him, and I have never trusted anyone in my life before. Everyone I trusted ended up abandoning me.” Holly started to cry. “But…” she thought, “he just saved my life. What am I supposed to do?”
Pesha silently stood by, patting her hand. He gave her a few moments to gather herself. Then he said softly, “We have to get away. Joe’s family is here.”
Holly gave one last snuffle and put on a weak, lukewarm smile. Pesha was right. They could not stay here in the library. She was not even supposed to be in here. She was the hospice nurse. And her client had died. She quietly held her head up high and made a decision, saying, “Come on – this way.”
At the back of the library behind a tapestry was a hidden passage. Joe had shown it to her recently when he had started to trust her more. Joe had thought it was funny to have a secret entrance to the library. Holly remembered how Joe had laughed when he’d pulled back the tapestry and told her that the library was like the game of Clue. Holly grimaced as she looked over at the heap of Clara’s body and thought of her fake southern drawl. She wondered to herself if she was indeed in the middle of a real live Clue game. Maybe she was Miss Scarlet.
Key in hand, she grabbed Pesha’s arm and made sure she had the money in her back pocket. They quickly slipped behind the tapestry and out the hidden door. It led to a dark hallway, which they followed to another larger room that Holly had never seen before. It was obviously Bella Mia’s room.
Holly stopped in awe at the beauty of the room. She stared at the calming rose and yellow patterns and the wall-size portrait of Bella Mia. “Wow!” she said. Bella Mia had been so beautiful. No wonder Joe had loved her so much.
Holly and Pesha quietly eased the door open into the main hallway. Towards Joe’s room, Holly could hear the family arguing among themselves as Victoria let them in. “What a joke!” Holly thought. “Family – really? Just a bunch of jackals.”
Once they were certain that no one was in the hallway, they were able to sneak into the garage and around the back.
Holly noticed that the security guards were strangely absent. She thought it really unsettling that with Joe’s apparent paranoia about everything and his need for such security that there were no guards around. “How strange,” she thought and wondered if Pesha had truly planned for everything. She really knew nothing about Pesha and was finding it difficult to trust him.
“I thought you had not been here before,” she said to Pesha.
He said with a frown, “I have been here once before. I like to plan for many possibilities.” That really unsettled her, but she wondered what other options she had at the moment.
Pesha had parked his blue Mercedes Sedan away from the main drive. “We will leave discretely, via the back entrance,” he announced. Holly wondered how he knew to take this route that she had never noticed, but she did not say a thing as she climbed in. She needed to save her questions for more important topics.
“Call your boss and make your excuses,” Pesha directed her as he drove.
Holly pulled out her phone and dialed Karen’s direct phone at the hospice agency. She was relieved to get her voicemail and felt self-conscious leaving her message as Pesha listened. “Hi Karen, it’s Holly. Since Mr. Grimaldi passed away this afternoon, I’m headed home after I stop at the store to pick up a few things. I’ll catch up on paperwork later, okay? Talk soon.” Holly hated to lie, but she really could not tell her boss she was almost strangled on the job and that there were now two dead bodies to deal with at her previous worksite.
Pesha was a steady driver. He said nothing as they drove north on Auburn road, but he kept glancing at Holly with a knowing smile. Holly noticed and wondered what that was about.
Holly had to ask, “Now what? Joe asked me to fly as quickly as I can to Istanbul before his so-called family comes out of the woodwork.”
Pesha turned west onto the interstate and said, “Yes. I have a private jet in Manhattan, and I’m a pilot. I’ll fly you there quickly without airport security asking questions. Trust me.”
His request to trust him was hard to accept. Holly really wanted to know more about Pesha. She closed her eyes to think of another question to ask. Where to begin? She was so profoundly exhausted emotionally that she fell into a fitful sleep before she asked her next question.
A little more than an hour later, Pesha touched her arm and gently woke her. “We are here,” he said. His light touch sent electrical sensations down her spine. “This is not right,” Holly thought. Her reaction to Pesha upset her.
“I called the flight plan to the controllers while you were sleeping. All is ready,” Pesha announced. While Pesha settled her into her seat on the airplane, he told Holly that he had become a pilot in the military and had flown many missions in Afghanistan and all over Europe.
Holly stayed quiet during takeoff, alone in the aircraft cabin. Once the plane reached a cruising altitude, Pesha invited her into the cockpit. Holly suddenly felt the need to talk. She told Pesha about James – that he was in the military, was also in Afghanistan, and had suddenly vanished off the face of the earth. Pesha took this in with a smile, nodding his head to continue with an all-knowing glimmer in his eye.
Holly saw the similarities between James and Pesha and noticed how different she was from both of the men. “I’ve never really traveled,” she said. “I carry my passport, you know, because I want to travel someday. Things just always get in the way. James and I were going to travel after we got married. But now…” She sighed and looked up, but Pesha was nodding and looking interested.
“May I ask what happened?” Pesha asked. He was watching her closely.
“He disappeared.” Holly said the words, and they came out harsher than she’d intended. She tried to explain. She said quieter this time, “It’s all so weird – I thought he loved me. We were perfect together. I don’t know why he went and joined the army. That never made sense to me. And now it’s been a year and NOTHING. That is what is so strange. I have tried to contact the military, and they claim they cannot tell me a thing. It’s a bunch of bull,” she said angrily. “They know more than they say. I don’t even know what to tell others. I don’t know if I should just move on or keep waiting. What would you do if you were in a position like this?”
Pesha did not say a thing.
Holly was upset about James, but perhaps what upset her more was that as strange as it was, she felt attracted to Pesha. She really felt she could trust him. “This is just not right,” she thought again. She retrieved Joe’s key and clutched it against her palm, thinking about what she had promised the old man.
“You should make your other phone calls now,” Pesha instructed.
Holly called Karen back, hoping to leave another voicemail. Karen answered on the first ring. “Joe made a final request right before he died. It’s a bit unusual, but I promised I would fly to Istanbul. He gave me the money for the trip and…” Holly had never crossed the line of appropriate services to a hospice client before. When Karen interrupted her, Holly feared she was going to be fired. Instead, Karen said, “I know. I’ve known this was a possibility from the beginning. I wasn’t at liberty to tell you.”
“You weren’t?” Holly was incredulous and angry. “What have you gotten me into?”
“I wish you well, Holly.” Karen hung up the phone before Holly could say anything more.
Holly then called her mother, thankful that her mother’s phone went straight to voicemail this time too. “Hi, Mom! Could you please stop by and feed my cats for a few days? My client passed on today, and Karen is sending me to a grief conference so that I can decompress. I’ll be out of town for work for a few days.” Holly paused while she tried to think of what else to say to her mother. You don’t tell your mother that you are going off into the sunset with someone who could fling a knife with absolute precision for instant death, or that you are flying half-way around the world with a man you just met who also happens to be a pilot. Holly was not that stupid. She added to the message, “I’ll call you later. I love you.”
Before she ended the call, Pesha interrupted and whispered to her that it might take a few more days because customs in Istanbul might prove trickier than he’d thought. Holly did not understand his interruption, but she improvised on her message. “I might take a few days to gather myself after this work thing – maybe I’ll be gone closer to a week.” Holly hated lying to her mother more than she hated lying to her boss. She glared at Pesha for interrupting her message, but finally she put her phone away and sat meekly again in the cockpit.
Holly studied the key in her hand and quietly chanted to herself the bank box code. 1957. 1957. Nineteen fifty-seven. She was beginning an adventure. In a way, she was secretly thrilled to be flying with this mysterious dark stranger to a mysterious dark place. She had rarely even been out of Topeka – talk about boring and predictable. She breathed deeply. Pesha still had a faint trace of that mysterious cologne that reminded her of her dad and James.
Pesha kept studying her and would occasionally give a quiet smile as she sat thinking and looking out the front of the plane at the clouds and the ocean below. Strangely, Pesha’s smile felt like approval and acceptance, and this warmed her.
“The plane galley is filled with lunch fixings and drinks. Go fix something for yourself.” Pesha’s words sounded like an order, but Holly realized she was starving. As she headed back to the small galley, she joked to Pesha, “I thought we were having Italian or Chinese.”
“Maybe later,” he called back from the cockpit.
“Do you want me to bring you anything?” Holly asked.
“No, thank you. I’ll be fine up here for awhile.”
As Holly explored the contents of the small refrigerator and cabinets, she was delighted to find fresh foods prepackaged and ready for creating a healthy salad. Some of her favorite foods like kale and Brazil nuts were stocked. Her tastes were just unusual enough that she wondered if somehow Pesha had known her favorites in advance of the day. That seemed unlikely though. The galley was stocked with high-quality ingredients. Holly decided he must just have excellent taste.
As Holly put together an excellent salad, she spilled some shredded carrots. When she reached down, she glimpsed something shiny in the corner on the floor. She leaned over and picked it up. She gasped. It was a silver cuff link with a Kansas quarter design, just like what she had given James on their second date. She then remembered seeing the violin back at Joe’s house that reminded her of James. The coincidences were adding up, and now she was really feeling frightened.
She went up to talk to Pesha and realized he was speaking in German. Fluently. He quickly ended his radio conversation when he saw her.
“Who were you speaking to?” she asked.
“The air control tower.” Pesha said, simply. Too simply. His smile was small and tight. Holly wasn’t reassured.
“Why are they speaking in German?” she pressed.
“They are Germans. They live in Germany. They speak German.” Pesha spoke slowly, perhaps thinking this would help keep Holly calm. But the words he was saying were upsetting, no matter how he delivered them.
“Why aren’t we flying to Istanbul?” Holly asked. “What is going on?”
Pesha just looked at her. She asked him again, more subdued this time. “Why are we headed to Germany? I have to get to Istanbul quickly. Joe wants me to get to this box before his family of piranhas get there.”
Pesha nodded his head and said, “I do understand, and it will make sense to you soon. Now please just trust me.”
Holly had taken a huge risk leaving Topeka and getting on this plane with a strange man for an impossible errand promised at an old man’s deathbed. And now she was told, Trust me. She gripped Joe’s key hard in her palm. Holly was so afraid that she began to sob.
Pesha quietly moved near her and placed his arms around her and let her sob. Again he said, “Trust me.”
This just made Holly sob more.
Chapter 14 will be published next week at https://www.tscpl.org/novel
About Mari White
Mari White, age 53, Topeka, Kansas. Mother of 2 human off springs, and 2 spoiled canines, and spouse to a wonderful husband. By trade I have been a nurse for many, many years and an advocate for many. Having worked in hospice as a nurse, I really identified with Holly and her mother is very much like my mother. I have also cared for people like Joe, maybe not as mysterious, but like him.
I have always loved writing but this is the first time I have written a chapter or been published. I am super excited to be a part of this community novel, having only heard of it a year ago. When I learned about it I was instantly intrigued and decided to plow in. That is what I do best, plow in.
I dedicate my chapter to my spouse, Ray, for all the support he has given me as I add yet one more thing to my to-do list. He is used to me going off on weird tangents as I explore my creative side and try to fill an unquenchable yearn for knowledge and adventure. Give me a spy novel or a James Patterson mystery any day and I am like the Calgon commercial from days gone by of “Take Me Away”. Everyday life is so BORING!!!!
An Interview with Mari White
What is your writing background, what sort of work do you usually write?
This is my first attempt at fiction. Most of my work has been academic in nature and more often than not I have been accused of writing too flowery, especially when I was in Seminary. I love to write and have always written long flowing school reports. I have often wanted to write a biography or a self-help book on what it is like to raise two children with disabilities. I am a world class procrastinator, though, and have never gotten that accomplished.
Who are some of your favorite authors? Are there books, poems, or stories that have inspired your own writing?
I read all kinds of things. I am a self-proclaimed adventure and thrill seeker. I love James Patterson and many of the other spy novels. I also love Jodi Picoult because she does so much research and her novels are brilliant and right on the mark. But, I also enjoy a really good historical fiction. I often read my 12-year-old son’s books so that we can converse about the book, and many of his have actually been really good. Of all the poets, Maya Angelou is my favorite.
Why did you want to participate in this community novel?
Because Marian Rakestraw made it sound so fun and because I loved the concept. I loved reading last year’s novel because it was a mystery and historical fiction all wrapped up in one. I am also always seeking something different and something to keep my mind active.
Do you usually write in a burst of inspiration, or is your work carefully outlined? Did writing for the community novel differ from the norm?
My answer is both. Since I am a self-proclaimed procrastinator, I usually wait until the last second and then I have to pull something off. However, because I am terribly illiterate on the computer, I cannot think and type so I always write out my papers and writings on notebook paper and then type them. This way I can see things and make changes. My family knows to leave me alone when I am writing. My sloppy copies are a hoot because I have arrows and I write in the margins as I change things and only I can decipher them. But, with that said, I have always aced any paper I needed to write and most of my professors liked my style (except for seminary.) As I procrastinate, though, I usually start thinking about the paper and start composing in my head days before and let it stew. This chapter was no different.
What do you like about the premise and characters of this year’s Community Novel Project? What challenges you about them?
I love the story and the fact that it alternates past and future. This adds so much to the plot and mystery. I love the concept and the twists and turns it takes as it is coming together. I liked the fact that Holly worked for Hospice and since I am a nurse and have also done Hospice I really connected with her. She is about as insecure as I am and her mother is much like mine. As far as challenges, I did not feel any.
What was your first reaction when you saw the chapter before yours?
I had already been composing in my head what I hoped would happen and am pleased that the story is sort of following what I envisioned.
What do you hope happens or doesn’t happen in the chapters that come after yours?
I am a romantic at heart and would love to see it have a happy ending where Holly finds James and discovers that her real dad did really love her. It would be really neat if Joe and Bella Mia were somehow related to Holly.
What sort of writing can we expect from you in future? Are you currently at work on any writing projects?
I don’t know the answer but I do hope to do this again. Perhaps I can try to write the next kids novel or work with it with my sons. I am not sure I can ever change my writing style. I have had 50 + years of practice and my style is pretty engrained.