July 4, 2007, 9:00 a.m. - Marigold, Maryland – on the Eastern Shore
Sheba Davis sat on the back seat of her twin Ernie’s snazzy black Porsche just behind Martina Solomon, who was both their friend. Martina’s daughter, Kaya, sat just behind Ernie and from time to time looked at Sheba and smiled. Kaya was nine and often commented on Sheba’s burgeoning belly. Five months pregnant, Sheba often touched her own body where her baby had begun to move. Now she thought sorrowfully that her late husband, Scott, would have loved watching his child grow, touching his wife ardently the way he did. They were so in love. She felt the start of tears just behind her eyelids.
Kaya moved closer to Sheba as Ernie and Martina chatted merrily about something or other, laughing the way they often did when they got together. Were they closer now than she was used to seeing them, Sheba wondered. Since Scott’s suicide she had been living in another world, in hell really. So much of life was passing her by. She seemed to feel she had just enough energy to grow and bring Scott’s baby into the world. And what then? She had always felt herself to be a survivor. These days, she no longer knew if she still was.
Kaya was saying, “You know Sheba, I wish Scott were here.” She sounded like an old soul. “He would’ve made a great dad, don’t you think?”
Sheba couldn’t help smiling a little. “I’m sure he would have, honey.”
“And you know the baby will be a girl. That’s wonderful.”
Sheba touched the child’s light brown hair and looked into the dark blue eyes. Her own eyes were sparkling brown and her skin the color of dark honey. Kaya and her parents were white and Sheba was African America, but she didn’t wonder at the fact that she felt as close to them as to her family. They had always been family friends. Her grandfather and Kaya’s father had always been close, hunted and fished together. Life was strange. Now Sheba sometimes felt she hated anyone who was still alive when Scott was dead.
Kaya touched her. “I’m gonna help you mother the baby,” she said gently.
“That’s sweet of you. I like that very much.”
A happy smile almost split Kaya’s face.
It was then that Sheba felt her vision quickly pulled into several directions. First she was aware that Martina sat closer to Ernie, that they were laughing hysterically at something and Martina swayed even closer to him. Then she was riveted to the orangered pickup truck that was headed into Ernie’s side of the car. What made her look dead into the eyes of a monster the whole town knew: Punch Motherwell? The hatred mirrored on his face terrified her and she opened her mouth to scream, but the heavy pickup truck ploughed ruthlessly into the Porsche. She heard Martina scream and Sheba moved to protect Kaya, but the savage onslaught was too much and she couldn’t breathe as blackness enveloped her.
Within minutes sirens were screaming and people who had come to town for the July Freedom Festival were running to the scene of the accident. Two policemen who had been passing in their squad car came quickly; one radioed for help and the other assessed the scene. Fortunately, the gas tank didn’t seem damaged. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a tall, blonde man run away and recognized him. A redlight went on in his brain. He was an African American guy and Punch Motherwell was known as a sly, mean and well connected bigot. That was his orangered pickup. What the hell? Well, there wasn’t time to think about this now.
In minutes the ambulance was there and so was his lieutenant who quickly took over.
“Looks bad,” the lieutenant said. Already the passengers were laid out on the grassy lawn of the nearby Motherwell Community Center. “Looks real bad.”
The ambulance crew was checking methodically. Four bodies or four patients? Likely a mix, one cop thought. And he thought, too, that this was the worst accident they’d had in a couple of years. The Black cop moved closer, hearing an attendant say that the driver was dead and the kid was dead. The two women were still breathing.
The Black cop ran then to the culvert where he’d seen Punch Motherwell go annd the big guy was there, seated and leanning against the culvert looking as if he didn’t have a care in the world.
“That’s your truck.” It was accusation and statement.
“Yeah. Who’s alive and who’s dead?”
“You keeping tabs, buddy?”
“Maybe. You didn’t answer me.”
The cop didn’t know where from inside him the next question came. “Was it an accident? Or did you do it on purpose?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know?”
“I’m taking you in.” The Black cop’s fists itched to flatten this monster because he felt so deeply that it was a hate crime. Black man. Pretty White woman. Marigold was a fairly liberal place, but Punch Motherwell lived there and plenty more like him. The cop steeled himself. Suppose this bastard chose to resist? The cop was fit, but the other guy was bigger.
“Sure,” Punch said, almost meekly. He stood a few inches above the cop and turned for the cop to handcuff him without being told.
The next excerpt brings the saga of Solomon and Sheba and other couples in the town of Marigold, Maryland. You will find people you love here and people you’d stay far away from. but I think you’ll find them all interesting and engaging. They’re human, and aren’t we all part and parcel of each other?
I’m hoping to find you here for the next excerpt.