Chapter 44

Both Mike and Jenny seemed to improve at the same snail’s pace. Day after day went by and there was still no word of Trish. All that time the wheels of the foundry sale drew closer and Jim grew more restless, as though waiting for some terrible outcome of either or both.

Then one afternoon Gwen came by with a high school friend. Jenny stayed in her upstairs bedroom with the shades pulled down and a cloth on her forehead. She was free of any tremors but she was still avoiding everyone, even herself.

Emma answered the door and expected to dismiss the kids as soon as she saw them.  She suspected it was just someone else asking about Trish. The same unanswerable question was beginning to give her a headache.

Gwen asked if they could come in. Reluctantly Emma stepped back and let her and the young man pass into the living room. They stood there uncertainly until she pointed to the sofa and the two of them sat, side by side, as though neither wanted to speak first.

“There’s no word on Trish if that’s what you’re here for,” Emma said bluntly. She was still standing over them.

“Moonie,” Gwen pointed to her companion, “We call him Moonie, but his name is Ron Mohn, he stopped me in the hall; this morning on our way to class…well he wondered if I heard anything about Trish.” Her eyes reddened. “I told him about the key,” She sniffled into her handkerchief. “Anyway, he told me he had given her a lift on two different times… she was out of her neighborhood, or something. I thought…,” taking a big breath… “it might help in looking for her.” She began crying and Moonie patted her on the back, looking sad himself.

“I’m Trish’s grandmom. Would you like something to drink?” Emma felt embarrassed for them. She sat a little straighter hearing Gwen’s words. “How about you, son?  I have some cold cokes in the fridge.”

He shook his head. “I don’t really have much to tell you, Mrs.…..”

“Arner,” Emma said impatiently.  “Anything might help. Please, go on,”

“Well, I live on the other end of town…”

Emma raised her eyebrows. “What would Trish be doing there?”

“Oh, it wasn’t on……….that end of town. I was returning from a friend’s house over in Levitt when I saw Trish and gave her a lift home. It happened twice in the same area, twice. I thought about it after…we knew she wasn’t…home, and thought maybe I should tell someone.” He cracked his knuckles and reddened.

Emma stood up,” Can you wait till I get her father. I know he will want to talk to you. While we’re waiting for him, I think some pretzels would go good with those cokes. All right?” She was halfway to the kitchen when they nodded that they could stay.

They had just finished the cokes when Jim came storming in the back door. Moonie stood up and extended his hand to Jim, who shook it vigorously and gestured for him to sit down again. He nodded to Gwen. She retold her story, and all eyes turned to Moonie.

“Tell me exactly where you picked her up, please,” Jim pleaded.

“It was near a busy intersection. I was surprised to see her walking there.”

“Was there a store nearby or anything?”

“The only thing that stands out in my mind is that it was across the corner from the Sunoco gas station at Broad and Cunningham Streets. Do you know where I mean?”

“Yes, yes I do. How are you involved with Trish?” Jim chose his words carefully.

Gwen piped up, “We’re all just friends, in the same grade.  When the word was out that Trish was absent for a few days Moonie asked me about her.”

She had regained her composure and was eager to talk.

“I can’t imagine why she was there, but it’s more than we had to work on.” Jim said. He looked to Gwen. “I know you often did your homework together. Did she ever seem troubled. about anything…. other than homework?

Gwen colored. “Trish was good with homework. I was the one who needed help.” She laughed nervously and Moonie joined in. “She didn’t seem very happy, though.”

Emma leaned forward. “Did she tell you why?”

“I…know she often fought with……with her Mom.”

“Do you ever fight with your Mom,” Jim asked, not sure he wanted to hear the answer.

“Sometimes,” she shrugged. “Mostly over clothes…or boys,” she blushed.

Jim thanked them for wanting to help. When they had gone he went upstairs and told Jenny about most of the conversation. Then he went out to see what was at Broadway and Cunningham.