Billy Ch. 13byamicus©
The days of summer deepened and rushed, then slowed, as Julie and Molly spent time together, talking about and thinking about the future. A sort of Post Partum depression set in after graduation, affecting Julie more so than Molly.
Days went by when they did not mention Billy, but other days were filled with memories and longings and questions, surely questions.
Both girls, dressed in skimpy summer shorts and tops, sat in the swing on Julie's covered porch and sipped a home made, icy sweet lemonade. They looked up together as a black Cadillac limousine glided to a smooth stop on the street before the house. They watched in silence as the driver exited, walked around the automobile and opened the back door next to the sidewalk.
Julie arose from the porch swing as a tall, heavy man in a dark suit and tie slowly stepped out and then reached back in retrieving a dark brown leather briefcase. He looked up at the two girls on the porch and took several steps up the sidewalk to the house.
"Is this the McGregor residence?" he asked with a firm, deep voice.
"Uh, yes, sir, it is... wh..what can I do for you?" stammered Julie.
"I need to speak with a Miss Julie McGregor, would that be you?"
"Yes, I am Julie, who are you?"
"May I?" the man asked as he approached the steps in front of the porch.
Julie looked around at the doorway to the house and to Molly, still in the swing, "Yes, I guess so, all right. My mom is home but my dad is out. Who do you want to see?"
The man smiled gently at her, "You can have your mother come out if you wish, but the message I have, is for you."
"For me?" asked Julie.
"Yes, and for a Miss Molly Fischer. Would that be the young lady in the swing by any chance? Molly stood at the sound of her name, "I'm Molly; you have a message for me also?"
The man smiled again, set the brief case on the porch railing and opened it. He took a single piece of paper out and handed it to Julie, "I have been instructed to deliver this to you. My telephone number is included, you may call me during business hours."
Julie took the sheet of paper and looked at it, "Just an address?"
The man closed the briefcase and nodded, "Yes, the door is unlocked."
"That's all?" Julie glanced from the man's face to Molly's and again to the man.
"Yes, Miss McGregor, that is what I have been instructed to do. If there is nothing more?"
Julie slowly shook her head and stood silent as the man went back down the steps and into the car. Both girls watched it drive slowly away.
Julie and Molly looked at each other, "I don't have a good feeling about this..." said Molly in a small voice.
"Me neither," said Julie, "But we gotta go see...let me tell my mom and we'll go look for this place."
Julie drove slowly down the tree lined street as Molly read off numbers until they found the one on the paper.
"It's big..." said Molly.
"And old, but really beautiful..." said Julie.
The girls got out of Julie's car and walked slowly through the open gate and up the curved stone walkway. Molly stopped suddenly and turned her head, sniffing the air and then the fragrant large drooping flowers on twisted vines wrapped around a wooden lattice.
Molly shivered and crossed her arms under her breasts.
"What is it Molly? What's wrong?" asked Julie.
Molly's wide open eyes blinked rapidly, "I, uh, I know that smell. Julie....ohhh...I think this is Billy's house!"
Julie sniffed the air near the vines, "Really? I don't remember the scent from the room...are you sure?"
Molly dropped her arms and clasped her hands together in front of her and rocked slowly back and forth on her heels, "Pretty sure...Julie...I'm frightened..."
Julie placed her arms around Molly and embraced her lightly, "Now you are scaring me..."
Hand in hand they slowly walked up the porch steps and stood before the closed door. Julie finally reached out, the knob turned easily and the door swung inward.
Even though it was the middle of a hot day, the house was cool. The door opened on a small cloakroom and a wide, tall archway led into a large living room. Overhead lights and two lamps were on as well as a small spotlight that illuminated a long wood mantle over a fireplace.
The girls stood silent, looking into the well and exquisitely furnished living area. The, 'on' light of a television set and a VCR, glared green as they surveyed the room and its furnishings. Still hand in hand, they took a few cautious steps on the deep pile carpet.
A folded newspaper graced the glass-topped coffee table in front of the curved couch that faced the television set. Julie walked slowly to the table and picked up the newspaper. I single note-sized piece of paper fell out as she opened the newspaper.
Molly walked toward the illuminated mantle and exclaimed, "Julie! Your picture is here! Come look!"
Julie held the paper in one hand and the note in the other as she walked toward Molly, "My picture?"
Julie gasped, "That dress! Oh, my God."
Molly turned and put her hand on Julie's arm, "I know that dress, too, you showed me."
Julie reached out and took the picture and looked at it closely, "It's not me, Molly...it's the same dress, but it is not me..."
"Not you? It looks like you...are you sure?"
"I'm sure," Julie glanced at the unread note in her hand, 'I am on the porch if you need me.' It was signed, 'Alison Jennings.'
Both girls looked at each other and then to the newspaper as Julie opened it and saw a black marker circled article, "Services held for Dr. William Harrison, know as, 'Billy' to those close to him; he was a long time..."
"Billeee!" Both girls screamed and burst into tears and sobs and hugged each other. They stumbled to the couch and collapsed, hugging each other and crying.
A soft voice called out from the doorway they left open, "Should I come in...can I help...?" Both girls sat up and turned, "Oh, Miss Jennings, Billy is dead! And we didn't know, didn't know anything! Oh...I can't, I just won't...please Miss Jennings, tell me it wasn't Billy!" Julie sobbed out the words as she waved the newspaper around.
Alison hurried to the girls on the couch, sat between them and put an arm around each. They all cried, rocking back and forth as the moments ticked by.
"It is true," Alison said softly, "I am so sorry." She opened her purse, took out a package of tissue and dabbed the wet eyes.
"You knew!" said Molly with a shaking voice.
"Yes, Molly, Julie, I knew. He wanted it this way. He told me not to tell you."
Julie looked into Alison's eyes, "He told you...he knew he was going to...?"
Alison stood up and closed her purse, "He left a video tape for both of you; I can wait outside if you want."
Julie and Molly looked at each other, "Have you seen it? Do you want to see it?" asked Molly.
"No, I have not seen it. He asked me not to look at it until you did, and then only if you wanted me to see. I don't know what is on it."
Julie sighed..."I would like you to stay; Molly?"
Molly sobbed and rested her head on Julie's shoulder, "Yes, stay, I can't bear this."
"This picture?" asked Julie, "It is not me, but who is it? It looks so very much like me, I don't understand."
Alison dabbed at her eyes, "If he doesn't tell you on the video, I will, unless you want me to now."
Julie blinked her eyes, "I have to understand, Miss Jennings, who is it? Please tell me."
Alison bent her head, "I am not sure I should...Billy didn't say...Julie, it was his wife, Amy, she was killed in a car accident. That picture was taken when she was in high school, the same age as you were when he first saw you. He..."
A huge sob and moan erupted from Julie, "Oh! Ohhhh...God! Ohh, Billy....now I see why...."
Julie and Molly hugged and cried as Alison patted Julie on the back, "I'm sorry, Julie, maybe I should not have told you..."
Julie sniffed and wiped her eyes again, "No, it is okay. It's just some things I did not understand before. I just...oh, damn, I...oh, if I could only...he changed my life...he saved my life and he was hurting too but I didn't know why...I just don't know..."
Molly stood and moved to the VCR and turned her head back to Julie and Alison. They both nodded.
The screen flickered and flashed and the frames slipped until she made an adjustment. Molly moved back to the couch alongside Julie and they both gasped as the twinkling blue eyes peering out from a square jawed face smiled into the camera. "I know him!" squealed Molly, I've seen him a hundred times!"
"Me too! Me too!" Julie moaned, "A bunch of times, at school! Oh, he is a good-looking man! I knew he would be!"
Alison sat quietly, tears streaming down her face as he began to speak.
The sound of his voice brought both girls to tears again, the face on the television screen broke into a full smile with white teeth and a dimple in the right cheek. "I could not decide whether to dress in a polo shirt and slacks or a suit and tie, so I compromised." Billy was wearing a light blue dress shirt, open at the collar and a beige open vest with round brown buttons on the front.
"I hope you asked Miss Jennings in, I asked her to be there for you, perhaps she can help. Julie, Molly, I am truly sorry that you have to go through this. But if you are watching the tape, then my last chance will have failed. Ah, how to explain...I have an illness, an inherited one, for which there is no cure. I have tried everything, for years and it came down to a risky procedure. I chose to take it..."
"Stop it! Stop the tape! I can't do this!" Julie screamed, she jumped up and ran out through the front door. Molly ran close behind as Alison paused the tape and stood still for a moment, looking at the doorway.
"It's not fair!" Julie cried and screamed, "Not fair!"
Molly hugged her and rested her head on the taller girls chest, "I know, Julie, I know. I loved him...I love him...I wanted him in my life forever."
"Oh, Molly, I'm so sorry...I did too. He said goodbye to me, the last time I saw him...I knew it, I knew he was saying goodbye, but I didn't think it would be forever...Oh...I hurt so much inside..."
"He loved you both, you know," said Alison quietly from the doorway.
Julie and Molly looked at Alison, "He really did, in different ways, but you gave his life a purpose. He was a good man, the best I have ever known. He did not expect to live. He was just...well, just waiting, he did not think the Doctors would find a way."
Julie and Molly stood silent, Alison cleared her throat, "He would not want you to be sad; he only hoped that he had helped you and that he did no harm. He helped me and I loved him too. And I miss him, with all my heart."
Molly and Julie rushed to Alison and put their arms around her.
"I knew it was his house," said Molly, "I remember the lilacs, or the lavender, I could smell them in the room. Is that little room in the house? Have you been here before? Oh! Yes, of course you have, oh, Miss Jennings, you were here? With him?"
Alison nodded and let a little smile come forth, "Would you like to see the room?"
Julie's voice was ragged and uneven, "Miss Jennings, can you turn all the lights off?"
All three sat quietly in the dark padded room where they had first met Billy. They sat for many long minutes with their own thoughts...until Julie let out a long wavering sigh and stood up, unsteady in the darkness.
They stared at the image of Billy and listened to his words, his voice so eerily familiar, "Julie, Molly, please let Miss Jennings help you. She is a very good person and a bit older; let her try to see you through this.
"There is so much I want to say..." The image of Billy on the screen lowered his eyes and paused for a moment, "Julie, you know by now how much you resemble my wife, Amy. It was so unreal when I first saw you. I went out of my way to keep track of you through school, just to see an image of Amy as you grew older. It was a selfish thing, I know and I would never have spoken to you.
"Perhaps now you can understand some of the things I said to you when we first met. Julie, I had to try. I have searched my heart and I truly hope I have caused you no harm; I wanted only to help. If I have caused you pain in anyway, I beg you to forgive me. I mean that, Julie, please."
Julie turned her head away and sobbed, "I love you, Billy, that's what hurts, I love you."
Billy paused for a moment as a crooked smile and a slight flush appeared on his face. "Molly, this is for you. You might want Julie to leave for a moment, but that is up to you..."
All three looked at each other, Molly blushed but shook her head.
"Molly you impetuous little imp! I rationalize that I did no wrong with you or with Julie, or with any of those who came to that room. But I know better. I should not have let you anywhere near me. But, in my heart, I don't really mean that. Molly, sweet Molly, you were the one unrepeatable encounter in my life. You brought me joy and laughter and the most intense physical and mental relationship I have ever known. You are a very special young woman with a potential I can only guess at. You must follow your heart and your mind; I will try to help.
"Molly, I don't think I have caused you harm, but if I have, in anything I did or said, I also beg you to forgive me. I was weak with you, I wanted to see you again and again and I am sorry if I brought you any pain..."
"Damn you Billy! Damn you all to hell!" Molly jumped up and kicked out and swung her arms around, slapping the empty air, "Damn him! He wouldn't let me see him. I knew it wouldn't last, for a hundred reasons, but not this! Not this way!"
Alison paused the video again and she and Julie stared at Molly who was still furious and agitated, "For the first time in my life I was really alive! With him! Talking to him, in his arms...he took me places I didn't even know existed. I told him! I told him, damn it all! I told him I wanted every moment he could give. He kept saying no, trying to be Mr. Nice Guy, trying not to, 'take advantage' of me. Damn you Billy, you showed me what passion really was and then you took it away!"
Molly dropped back down to the couch and curled up in a ball, sobbing as Julie and Alison sat next to her.
After a moment, Julie asked, "Molly, you only saw him twice, how could you..."
"I saw him a lot more than that!" hissed Molly.
"You did?" Both Julie and Alison stared at her.
"A dozen times! At least that many...or almost, I dunno, I would have moved in with him had he let me. You just can't know what it was like every time we were together. It was like explosions going off, I couldn't get enough of him...we made love five times one..." Molly glanced up at the silence and into the startled faces of Julie and Alison.
"Sorry...I should not have said all that," Molly lowered her eyes and turned her head away.
Alison cleared her throat again, "Maybe you gave him the best gift possible, Molly. That kind of chemical attraction is rare between people, I think. Be happy with what you had, not angry."
Molly looked up with tears in her eyes, slowly nodding her head, "Yes, I think you are right. But, oh, Miss Jennings, Julie, if you only knew how much I loved him; he showed me how to live with passion and desire. I am going to never forget him and I miss him so, I am empty inside; I cannot believe he is really gone forever."
Billy's voice came softly through the room again, "Allison, Miss Jennings, we have already talked, a little. You deserve more than I could have given you. You should have a family, a husband and children and I could not give you children. The few years I had left when we met were not enough to justify the relationship I would have wanted. I hope you will understand that and forgive me for not asking you before. I do not know, as I say these words, if I did the right thing, perhaps not.
"I have asked you to do something more for me. But as I tried to explain, I do not want you to sacrifice your life or any part of it for what I have set forth. Other arrangements can be made and I insist you live your life before all else. You must promise me this..."
Alison paused the video again, "Billy left me some paperwork, it involves all of us and some of the other girls. I will tell you about it later, if that is all right?"
She restarted the video when both girls nodded, "I have asked Miss Jennings to keep track of the other girls. I have asked her to make sure that if they need help, they get it." Billy's voice was firmer now, more business like.
"I have rather a large estate to dispose of and I have made some changes. I first decided to leave most everything to the medical research facility that was working on my illness. But after I met Julie and Maria and then the others, I saw a greater need, a better use of what I had to give.
"First of all, I have left this house and land, all fully paid off, to Miss Jennings, if she accepts it. I would ask that it be used as a temporary shelter for girls that are need of help and counseling. There is also a trust fund set aside to cover operating expenses.
"Secondly, my family owns several pieces of real property, some of which will be sold. The rest is a dream I leave in your hands; I mean this for Julie and possibly Maria and Mary Kathleen. The dream is for a permanent ongoing facility to act as both a shelter and a treatment center for young women who have undergone the kind of trauma that I have learned about.
Miss Jennings, you and Julie will be the two that decide if my, 'dream', is a realizable one. If you decide it is not, the funds will be diverted to the research facility. The legal apparatus is all in place, you need only call them; it is set up to help you in every way.
"Molly, you have a choice to either join with Miss Jennings and Julie, or you can follow another dream I have for you. That dream will arrive at your doorstep and the choice will be yours."
Billy chuckled on the video screen, "It is perhaps my last chance to keep you in suspense dear sweet Molly, I only wish I could see your expression as you listen to me."
Billy sighed, "This has not been an easy task. I am sitting in this very familiar room in my parents old home, knowing that I shall most likely never see it or any of you again. It saddens me, in many ways, but, it is a necessary thing that I must do." He looked directly into the camera, "Julie, Molly, Alison, I love you all, I will think only of you and the happiness we had as I leave on this journey. I ask only that you try to find happiness in your lives and that you think of me from time to time. Goodbye, take care of each other."
All three sat silent as the VCR went quiet and the screen changed to a solid blue.
They did not cry or sob, although tears were in evidence. Julie rocked back and forth, Molly sat absolutely still and Alison looked from girl to girl.
"We can take as much time as we need to think about this, " said Alison. "I am willing to study it and look into it a little more, but only if you, Julie, have an interest."
"I need to think," Julie answered quietly.
"I think it is a good idea," said Molly, "But I don't think it is for me."
Julie stood, "I think I need to leave now."
Molly stood also.
"There is something else," Alison said softly.
Julie and Molly turned to her.
"I'm pregnant," Alison said quietly.
"That's great!" said Molly.
"Are you sure?" asked Julie.
Alison nodded, "Positive."
Julie moved forward and embraced Alison, "I am so happy for you!"
Molly watched Alison's face as she hugged Julie, "You're not married." It was a statement, not a question.
"No." Alison flushed and did not meet Molly's eyes; Julie stepped back.
Alison blushed even deeper and then raised her eyes, "Are either one of you...ah...well, pregnant?"