After Cindy left the hospital and settled herself in a new apartment, Virgil came over with a check.
“I know things between us have not gone well this past year,” he said. “But I hope this will help.”
“You want to give me a check?” Cindy asked.
“That’s right,” Virgil said. “It’s not much, but it’s something.”
At his insistence, Cindy took the check, but decided not to cash it until she spoke with a lawyer.
A few weeks later she happened to run into Janice at the supermarket with a shopping cart. Cindy had been looking at the canned meat display and had not seen anyone in front of her, until Janice shrieked with pain. No amount of apologizing or explanations would solve the issue. Janice walked with a limp the rest of the day and two weeks later when she visited the doctor.
Cindy, in an attempt to move on with her life, baked some cookies and brought them to Virgil’s house as a farewell. Janice, however, answered the door in a shirt two sizes too small and would not accept cookies from Cindy, making thinly veiled comments about the quality of Cindy’s baking and the potential of arsenic as an ingredient. Janice would not take the cookies nor would she call Virgil. Finally Cindy turned away and went back towards her car. “I’m surprised he stayed with you as long as he did…” Janice said to herself loudly. “Woman who hates cheese balls…”
This comment barely made sense as an insult, but for Cindy it was the straw that broke the front wall. She jumped into Virgil’s favorite truck, an antique Ford that he kept in the driveway, and, still having a key, turned the ignition and rammed it as hard into the house as reverse gear would allow.
Cindy had never intended to kill Janice though she would have been okay with some maiming. She gave her whole sad story to the judge, but somehow through her tears and sniffles and the judge’s unshakable belief in the justice system, her story lost believability. The facts before her were indisputable. Whatever led up to them was irrelevant to the judge. He did set modest penalties. She would have to pay for both the house and the truck. They’d garnish her wages until she paid it off. For whatever reason, though, he forced Virgil to pay his own attorney’s fees.
In this surreal state, coming out of the courthouse Cindy heard, or thought she heard, a tinkling on the wind. She put it aside, walked to her car, and drove to her apartment.
The next morning Janice called with an estimate of the repairs. Apparently she and Virgil were taking the opportunity to build a window seat and alcove where the truck had struck. “You know, a little bit of redemption,” Janice had said. It would cost a “little” more—on the order of 50% more than Cindy’s contractor’s estimate—but since the amount was within the judge’s limits on repairs, Janice “anticipated” Cindy would not have a problem paying for it. Plus Janice had gotten “a really good deal” from her brother.
Cindy sighed. That had been her and Virgil’s project. They’d planned to put in a window seat once money wasn’t so tight. They had even started saving. Cindy hung up the phone and sighed again. The air tinkled once more, this time louder, like little bits of metal rubbing together.
Cindy looked out the window at the wind chime on her neighbor’s balcony. She picked up her purse, reached in and pulled out Virgil’s check. “Well, it’s not much, but it’s something,” she said.
To Be Continued…