I sensed our days together were numbered...she knew they were...
And then in early 2006 it somehow changed. Slowly I sensed a new unease in my love, but she simply deflected my questions, denying any problem. She'd yell in her sleep and then wake sobbing and drenched in sweat.
Finally, in late February, I woke to Jacqui crying and trembling against me.
"What honey? What is it? You have to tell me."
"Oh Rod...its Cathy."
"Cathy who hon? I don't know?"
"Sister? You have a sister?"
"She'll be thirteen in May Rod. April 17th. I have to go," she sobbed, "I can't let Daddy do the same thing...he said once...that when she was thirteen she'd replace me...that she'd be his new..."
"We'll go sweetie," I answered, knowing immediately what the nightmares she'd been having had been about.
"No...you can't...it's my job..."
Had she already decided what she was going to do? We talked and argued for weeks but there was a new steeliness in the girl I loved. Somehow, telling me had clarified her thinking. She insisted that she was going to solve the problem herself, that she had to face it alone.
"You can't come, I have to face him alone," she'd yell.
"I'm your husband!"
"I'm sorry but"
I understood that she was not only going to Chicago to face her past, she was also leaving me. For most of March we made love desperately, every coupling a wild, animalistic coupling that we both sensed might be our last. I didn't want to leave the house, continually afraid she'd be gone when I got home.
"I couldn't leave without saying goodbye."
Jacqui was sitting at the top of the stairway between the third and fourth floor, a back pack and a large suitcase resting next to her.
"I can't say anything? Do anything?"
"No," she said as a tear slipped down her cheek.
"I'll come with you. In a second."
"Where are you going to go?"
"Don't know. Chicago first, then..."
"I'm taking Greyhound."
"Shit, I'll get you a plane ticket, I'll drive you."
"No, I can't, it's okay."
My, "Take the car," was met by a simple shake of her head no. "Money?"
"I'm okay. Gosh, I haven't spent hardly anything of what I've earned. I got thousands in the bank."
"I'll put money in your account every month."
"You don't need to."
"You're my wife."
"Okay," she finally agreed. "I love you, always will..."
"Me too Mrs. Scouries."
"I can't promise anything. We may never see each other"
"Sshhh," I whispered as I hugged her desperately, my tears now falling like rain on Jacqui's fiery curls.
"Rod?" she asked as we stood at the door of the bus.
"If you don't hear something...from Chicago...if you don't see something in the papers...in the next couple of weeks."
"Promise me you'll go to Chicago. That you'll do something for my little sister."
"But Jacqui," I pled, "let me help you now, you don't have to..."
Again she refused my help... The door of the bus closed on my happiness.
Finally, ten days later, I saw the headline in the Chicago Tribune online edition: "Prominent Chicago Lawyer/Executive Charles W. Brown Gunned Down in Home Invasion."
April 15, Chicago Illinois: Charles W. Brown, well known lawyer and philanthropist, was murdered last night during a home invasion gone wrong. Uninjured were Mrs. Brown and her daughters Linda, 12, and Jacqui (Mrs. Roderick Scouries), 21, who was visiting from her home in Miami.
The perpetrators are described as young black males in their late teens to early twenties....
It went on and on...
I got a postcard from Barcelona two weeks later..."I'm okay...luv you" was all it said.
Now I simply work ...and wonder...and wait...
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