The phone was ringing off the hook. It took a few moments for it to penetrate into the sleeping mind of Mamie Hightower. She fumbled around on the nightstand for it, knocked it off the hook onto the floor, swore as she grabbed the cord and pulled the receiver up to her head. "MM, Hello?" A very deep, and official sounding man was on the other end.
"Ma'am, I'm sorry to wake you so early, This is Officer Hoffman of the Washington State Police Department. We have some unpleasant news I'm afraid ma'am, ...we have an unidentified female, deceased female's body and there is a tag that states if lost and found we are to return to "tweets and whistles" and it says the name is Basil but ...." His voice trailed off as Mamie came wide awake.
"Oh my god! Oh my god! Lily! My daughter! Oh god, oh god!"
"Ma'am? Ma'am? Are you there? Are you okay?" Mamie had a lump in her throat so large she could hardly swallow. Cold fear swept through her and tingled her extremities so she could scarcely hold onto the phone. She finally caught her breath and said,
"Yes, I'm here officer. Can you tell me, did she have a ring on? On her left hand? It looks like a wedding ring, but it was mine. and her ring finger on her right hand, her finger tip was cut off as a child and there is still a scar. Can you tell me?"
"I'm sorry ma'am, I don't know about that, but we have to positively ID the body. Can you catch a plane and come out right away?" Mamie was already up and at the closet. Then she realized she needed paper and pen first. She wrote down all the information and hung up, shaking all over. She flew to the closet and tossed something on, and threw a few more things into a suitcase. She called her best friend, Marge to try and arrange for her to come and care for the animals in her absence. Marge told her to blow it out her ass and call that part timer she had because she was going with her and would be there in less than thirty minutes to pick her up. Mamie was so grateful she said a quick thank you and ran about for the next fifteen minutes arranging things before Marge was in the drive, blowing the horn. Another hour and a half saw them flying toward Washington. Mamie kept praying the entire way. Please, not my daughter, please not my daughter....try as she might, she couldn't stop herself from crying and tears coursed down her face non stop, over her defiant quivering chin and dripping onto her shirt. It was as if the plane couldn't go fast enough and instead of running to the cabin to fly it herself, she took a valium to calm her nerves. It took the edge off after a while but she couldn't sleep, wouldn't sleep until she had seen this body and was sure it wasn't her daughter. Damn that Lily. She just had to have everything her own way. I'm going to beat that child like a redheaded stepchild! Mamie thought these things to herself to keep her hope going. It was all she had left.
Rock and Lily had been on the road for some time now, it was getting close to time to look for fuel and food. They had been quiet today. Lily was still digesting what he had told her. She believed that he was actually telling the truth this time. Why would he tell her such things otherwise? He could have told her nothing and still have had his way. That was his charm, his glamour. He could be so charming and delightful and totally win you over with his cool logic and penetrating personality and yet, he was a fortress unto himself. Full of secrets so terrible, they would grey the hair of an average person, and yet, he was an island. Untouched, it seemed by the horrors he had seen. Only one close to him would know the torture he put himself through, recriminating himself and denying it's consequences. How could his mother have known to name him Rock? It was almost as if foreordained. Fate. It was his inescapable destiny. Sad, really. He could never be open to love. He could love, it was just so hard to get to underneath all the carefully lain stone and iron around his heart, and even if he had wanted to give of himself totally, he couldn't . He was owned, heart and soul by an evil organization that would never let him walk away and be free. It was like a contract signed in blood to the devil, but twice as binding. He had gambled his mortal soul away and the lord only knew about his immortal one.
Mamie and Marge finally pulled up in front of the morgue in the cab they had taken from the airport. "How much?" Mamie asked, "American money?! Alright, alright, here, here it is and a bit for you." She paid the driver and they stepped into the bright morning sunlight, squinting up at the large, stone building. It looked squat, like a toad, and when they began climbing the stone steps, they were awash in it's shade, suddenly chilled to the bone by the swing in temperature. Mamies legs felt like lead as she plodded up the stairs. She certainly wasn't as young as she once was, and she had only gotten a few hours sleep before the debacle started. The valium had calmed her, but left her hungover feeling, and dry mouthed. She wished she could do anything else but go into that building and look upon the dead, cold body of her only precious child. Her lily. So beautiful and smart. Her big brown eyes, her pouty mouth, her long dark hair... She thought of Lily when she was born. Covered in dark hair, a little monkey, they called her. Then thinking of her first day of school when she ran away to play with the other kids, calling, Bye mom! with such enthusiasm, plays she had been in, choir, ballet, a million images of Lily, her only child, her joy and light. Mamie's lips started to quiver and she stopped to take a deep breath. She felt Marge touch her arm and she opened her eyes and gave a defiant smile as they finished the climb to the door. Just inside there was a security guard who ushered them quickly to an outdated, but comfortable waiting area. Mamie went to the Coke machine and refreshed herself with a Coca-cola, Marge chose some coffee that was available and they both sat down on the squishy, farting, aqua blue/green, leatherette sofa. Finally a small, balding man in a green surgical gown came to greet them and led them down the hall to a large room with a wall of refridgerated drawers where the bodies were kept. The smells were offensive and unusual to the lay person and intensified the anxiety they felt already. The man selected a drawer and pulled it open. Mamie turned her head toward Marge, who was unintentionally facinated and craning for a better look. The body was covered with a sheet, but for the feet and right away Mamie noted that those were not Lily's feet and practically sprang to the side of the cadaver as the man removed the sheet from the face. Mamie gasped and covered her mouth with her hand. It was Katherine. Lily's best friend. Mamie was immediately grateful with a twinge of guilt. She was sorry to see that something horrible had happened to katherine, but was immensly relieved that it wasn't her daughter. Mamie started to cry, really sob, with relief. The morgue worker, sensitive to this sort of thing, immediately covered the face back up.
"Is this your daughter then, Ma'am?" He asked gently. Mamie raised her head and smiled,
"No, no it's not. But I do know her. Her name is ..." and Mamie gave him as much information as she knew. Apparently, K had taken Basil's collar off of him either to wear, or to have the information off the tag and it contained the same information as Basil's carrier. The collar was found on her wrist, bracelet fashion,with the platinum and diamond charm on it. Mamie sneered a little when she heard this. So like K. Even though Lily supported her, and in the lap of luxury, she still just took whatever she wanted. Well, no more, she thought. Then she said a little prayer for good measure. She prayed that Lily was well, where ever she was now.