Crimes of the Fay, Chapter 25

“You shouldn’t do that!” my mom cautioned me as I sat on the counter to eat a pint of ice cream.

“Is that an actual rule, or did your cats cause you to start saying that by habit whenever anyone goes up here?” I asked her.

Mom poured a box of macaroni into a boiling pot, and then she answered, “Both! But I was actually referring to your dessert. Dairy isn’t good for you when you’re nauseous.”

I bitterly filled her in, “I’m not nauseous! The Hekekias said they didn’t want me to return to work ‘til I’ve been cleared to safely do so by a doctor!”

“You sound angry about that?” Mom observed.

“I’m not! I’m just irritated that the new owners of Lopaka’s ranch can talk about the mo’o without a detective up their ass!” I delivered that in a joking manner, and that wasn’t the true cause of my dampened sentiment, but that sincerely did irk me!

Mason gasped, “Ooh! My teacher heard you swear!”

I refuted that assertion, “Ass is another word for donkey, and I’m a farmer now, so…”

“You seemed pissed when you left the field!” Mom argued.

“Did I? I thought I was acting calm and collected,” I asserted.

Mom differed, “You growled! Like an actual growl! And your stomping left holes in the dirt!”

That assessment surprised me slightly. “Wow! And that was me showing restraint!”

“I didn’t think you cared for this agricultural stuff so much!” Mom’s brows furrowed as she stirred the noodles.

“Skipping a day of fruitless labor doesn’t bother me in the slightest! I…” I hesitated in revealing more. Aidan and I kept our findings for this mystery exclusive between the two of us as a matter of precaution, and while I trusted my mother completely, I was prudent to keep the amount of people who were privy to this information to a minimum because the more individuals who knew these secrets, the greater the odds were of an enemy discovering our movements. Even if someone fully intends to maintain confidence on something, sometimes things spread incidentally! I had to give her something though since I doubted that Mom would let this go without a distraction coming along to convince her to let it escape her mind! I probably could have used Harper’s diversionary tactics in this instance, but she was busy writing away for school! Or doodling devious drawings in an effort to fool the instructor into believing she was taking notes. Either way, she was busy, so I had to come up with a solution on my own! I had to tell my mom something without really uttering much of anything, so I mulled it over and eventually chose the most plausible possibility that I could unearth, “Learning about Kaleo and Kalani was much more interesting than listening to what they’re learning…”

Jackson spoke into his headset, “The equation is not linear because the graph formed from its plot points does not pass the vertical line test…”

Mom kidded, “You don’t find pre-algebra fascinating?”

“I didn’t even enjoy paying attention to it when I studied it a decade ago! No, two decades ago! No, a little more than two decades ago… Dang, I’m old” I realized with a sigh.

“It’s okay, sweetie!” Mom consoled me. “There’s plenty of older moms out there who thrive equally as much as younger ones!”

Her comment made me choke on my snack! Willow exclaimed, “Uh-oh! She’s throwing up again!”

I denied that, “No, I’m fine!” I articulated to Mom, “I haven’t thought that far ahead yet. I’m waiting to see what Doctor Iona says tomorrow. If I am pregnant, I’ll freak out about my age and giving birth and stuff! Meanwhile, I have enough to freak out about without a baby looming in my future! Like my boyfriend is out there doing a shift with his stalker for crying out loud!”

“Oh, Aidan loves you too much to do anything with her!” Mom ensured me.

“Even if he didn’t have me in his life, he doesn’t care for her at all! I’m not concerned about that whatsoever!” I responded as I scraped the bottom of the rocky road’s container. “How’s he supposed to get anything done under that circumstance? And how many jolts can that woman receive without needing medical attention?”

Mom inquired, “Why do you care about that?”

I replied, “Well, I may not like that lunatic much, but that doesn’t mean I want her to get hurt!”

“No, I meant why do you care whether or not they get any farming done?” Mom challenged me. “You’d leave immediately whether they succeeded or not, so why does it bother you if their production is low?”

“Well, it’s not like I want Lani Noni to fail, I simply… Well…” I admonished myself for allowing that bit of insight slip out! I was concerned about Aidan getting intelligence for our unofficial case, but I obviously couldn’t tell her that, so I had to concoct another realistic explanation for my behavior. I wracked my brain to obtain results right away, but it went blank! I almost panicked, but fortunately for me, I espied something on the stove that would deter her from continuing along with this line of questioning. “Your pot is boiling over!”

My mom swiftly tended to her cooking, and I slid off the sink so she could more easily strain out the water that was left. After I got down, Kinsey approached me and requested, “My teacher wants to talk to you.”

I grimaced at this notion. Why would someone from their school want to speak with her uncle’s girlfriend? They don’t usually call parents over for anything good, so whatever she intended to discuss with me couldn’t have been very swell! I tentatively verified this with her, “With me? Are you sure?”

Kinsey nodded, and I surged with nervousness once I got this confirmation that it hadn’t been a mistake on her part! I apprehensively followed her to her laptop until I noticed her notes on public hangings from the colonial days, then I was positive as to why an educator would seek my insight! I sat down, and a very mousy and slightly older lady waited for me with a less than genial expression on her face. I awkwardly smiled and waved, but she didn’t return the gesture. “How’s it going? Beautiful day, huh?” I cringed at my choice of icebreaker! She likely wasn’t in the same state as me, so I expected a biting remark regarding that err!

“You’re one of her guardians, Missus Swetinbedde?” she petitioned me.

“Call me Sophia,” I invited her to do so without a hint of enthusiasm- I grew weary of this alias! Sophia Swetinbedde lived a far from ideal lifestyle and had no options on how to live it! I couldn’t wait until I could go back to introducing myself as Shannon again!

The teacher’s stern tone didn’t waver in the slightest as she relayed to me, “Missus Swetinbedde, I have something I would like to notify you of…”

I told her, “Listen, if this is about her constantly mentioning dead people, it’s probably my fault! My job deals with…” I almost took another misstep, but luckily, I stopped myself prior to me stating anything incriminating! But how would I tie in fatalities with my current occupation in an orchard? “…Fays, and you know, they’re…”

“Yes, I’m aware of their heinous activities,” the teacher affirmed. I earnestly wanted to protest her unfair judgment on Fay Folks, but then she went on, “And I wasn’t aware of her, um, strange interest! I’m a history teacher, so all of my subjects are deceased! No, this is about something much more important. Kinsey… Hey, have we met before?”

“I don’t think so!” It perplexed me as to how she reckoned that she previously met me! She didn’t resemble any of the figures I had run into recently! Not unless she was the one who I had seen in that hooded silhouette…

She queried, “Have you ever been to Anaknock, Maryland?”

This reference caused me to choke again, but this time it was on my own spit! If she knew my hometown, then she might have recognized me as somebody other than Sophia! “I live in Hawaii…”

“My niece, Aubrey, lives out there, and you look like a person who’s in a lot of her photos!” one of my best friend’s aunts insisted.

“You don’t say…!” I strove to stay nonchalant, but inwardly, I was shook up! We couldn’t get our true identities found out! That would compromise our safety! Maybe! I steadfastly held onto the premise that Wade was already here, but still! I didn’t want the complication of starting over with all new backgrounds in a new and possibly even more remote region! I had to get off and report this security breach to Agent Hearne pronto! Which was kind of annoying! Wasn’t his team supposed to prevent these events from transpiring? “I gotta go!”

She made an urgent bid to persuade me not to leave, “Don’t go yet! I’ve got to tell you that Kinsey-!” I cut her off by shutting the laptop closed. I felt a bit bad for my rudeness, but whatever Kinsey did couldn’t have been as egregious as her teacher’s hazy remembrance of my true identity! Probably! I mean, how much trouble can a youth get into in an online course? Mom announced that the youngsters’ lunch was ready, and I snuck out the backdoor with my cellphone in my hand…

Agent Hearne hastily greeted me, “Missus Swetinbedde, what’s going on? Are you under attack?” 

“Huh? Oh, that! Nah, that’s how the imps always sound at mealtime,” I reassured him. “And I’m somewhere private, can we drop the Swetinbedde thing?”

“Fine,” Agent Hearne complied. “So, what’s going on, Miss Vidette?”

I revealed, “Kinsey’s teacher recognized me! She’s related to my friend and former neighbor that lives in Brigid’s Garden Mobile Home Park.”

Agent Hearne reacted in shock, “But we checked out everyone! No one should have any connection to you!”

“Well, this lady did!” I was glad he couldn’t catch a glimpse of my visage because I did not have the patience for any egotistical stubbornness, and it showed!

“Hmm… I better check into this! Which teacher was it?”

I conveyed to him, “I dunno. Kinsey’s history teacher. I didn’t catch her name.”

Agent Hearne enquired, “Why were you speaking with her?”

“No clue! We never got to the part where she discussed some important news with me.”

“Alright, I think I found her… Huh!”

I petitioned him, “What? Did she broadcast our location to everyone and now we have to move somewhere else?” I didn’t bother to disguise my disgust over this scenario. Oh sure, I would’ve hated to not have solved the enigma of how Lake Ana Wai disappeared, but I could have fought our nemesis on better turf! He knew I didn’t want to be here in the first place, so there was no point in pretending I liked it here with him! I imagined other people in Witness Protection were more grateful to him for keeping them secure, but unlike the rest, I was willing to risk danger! At least when it came to protecting my family and my community! I wondered if the next attempt to conceal us would have proven more effective or if that prick would find us at our new hiding spot too…

Agent Hearne let me know, “No, no! We have procedures to mitigate this sort of mishap.”

“Oh!” My disappointment was heavily present when I verbalized that phrase.

“Kinsey’s failing her classes,” Agent Hearne informed me. “”They all are! How does anyone fail kindergarten?”

I discerned, “That’s probably what she was gonna say to me before I hung up.”

Agent Hearne conversed, “I’ll let you know if we receive any more updates on Mister Toonella’s case. I thought I got close to him the other day, but it turned out to just be an open sewer!”

This anecdote didn’t amuse me to any degree, but I detected the actions in the abode heightening in volume, so I decided to end the conversation and go investigate. “Okie dokie, bye!”

I wasn’t certain if he had more to discuss, but I hung up on an individual for the second instance within that hour! An increase in cacophony in that cottage could not have signified anything pleasant! I ran inside, and to my startlement, Minna as well as Aidan and Laraleigh had returned! “Minna used her magic to get the tasks done, so the Hekekias told us we could leave early!” Aidan clarified my obvious confusion in this development.

“Ugh! They’re really trying to distance themselves from us!” I grumped.

“So?” Laraleigh stared at me in bafflement as to why I would ask such a thing.

Once again, I wa at a loss for words on my conduct! I considered drumming up another excuse, but instead, I opted to proclaim, “Um, I’ve got something to tell you…”

Laraleigh countered that, “Hold on, we’ve got something to tell you first…”

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