Sins of the Father by black_IrishMcBain
John's eyes popped open in the darkness. Drained, he sat up in the bed, pulling back the sheets entwined with his legs. He was sweating though he'd shut off the radiator in the corner three hours ago. He'd had a nightmare. The emergency room doctor was telling him again how his father had died and he could hear Eve and Mikey crying. Then, in the dream, he was in Sylvia's apartment looking for her. He could hear Gavin crying, but he couldn't find him. Finally, Evangeline came and took him in her arms and rocked John, until he realized that he was instead holding her, cradling her limp, bloody body.
He picked up his cell phone. He couldn't wait until he found Gavin and Sylvia to call Evangeline. He wouldn't spill his plans, but he had to hear her voice. He had to know that she was well. He was feeling a familiar panic: that she was dead. He pictured her sleeping on his couch again. She had looked so peaceful. What if she had never awakened?
"Finally," she said, her voice clear and tinged with anger.
John let go of the breath he was holding. "Evangeline?"
He could hear the sounds of cars passing by in the background. There was the blare of a truck's horns. John glanced at the cheap, white alarm clock by the bed. It was two in the morning.
"Where are you? Are you OK?" she said before he could ask the same of her.
"I'm O.K. I had a nightmare. I wanted to talk to you," he said.
He heard another blaring horn and the phone dropping to the ground. John stood up, alarmed, calling her name into the phone over and over again. His heart thumped in the prison of his chest, until she picked up again. He tried to keep his voice calm.
"Where are you?" he said.
"I'm waiting for Triple A to pick me up on Route 87," she said. "They said it'd be 45 minutes, and it's now going on an hour and a half."
"Get back further away from the road," he said, pacing the floor. "Why don't you call Mikey to come change your tire?"
"I tried. He's out of town on a medical conference. Bo and Nora aren't answering their phone. There was a fire at Llanview University, so most of the LPD is helping out there. I'm not a priority right now."
"What about Layla or Antonio or Marcie?"
"John, I've tried everyone already."
Except me, he thought to himself. He put his hand to his forehead. Even if she had called him, he was hours away in Northern New
Jersey. He couldn't help her.
"Triple A is supposedly going to call me soon. So, I have to get off the phone."
"Let the call waiting beep through. You know I can't … I have to stay on the phone with you now. You know that," he said.
She sighed. "I think I may be sleeping in the ditch tonight," she said. "I mean, the car."
"How did your car get in a ditch?! Are you hurt?" he screamed into the phone. "Where the hell is Highway Patrol?"
"The Fates are working against me. Pile up on Route 9," she said. "I'll be fine. I'm not in any danger. Do you hear me?"
"I hear you."
John listened to the car door creak open and Evangeline rustle around inside. When she finally settled, he asked her again if she was alright, and she started crying.
"It's cold. It's cold, and I'm so tired of this town," she said, swallowing her tears. "I don't have anyone here. There's nothing here for me."
"You've got me, Evangeline. You've got me for life."
"Yet, here I am waiting on the side of the road."
The call waiting beeped, and she told him she had to go. She hung up on him, and he felt miserable. Any time she cried, he felt as though someone was scraping away at his soul with a dull-edged knife. He called her back after a half hour. She was in the cab of the towing truck, and she promised to call his cell phone when she got home.
When she dialed him, she was in her bed, and he could hear the sleep crowding her voice. John wished he were with her at that moment, under her purple, silk sheets, so he could feel the softness of her body against his, smell the berries in her hair, hear the soft whir of her breathing as she fell into deep sleep.
"How are you ever going to get your job back, if you run away?" she said in a whisper.
"My job isn't important to me right now."
She sighed. "Honey, what are you doing?"
John knew she was more than half-way in the dream world if she called him "honey." His heart still swelled at the sentiment.
"I can't tell you right now, baby, but it's for us. Everything is for us," he said.
He wished her sweet dreams and almost told her he loved her. But he wanted to see her face when he did. He wanted to tell her a thousand times to stoke the fires that had once burned so brightly in her soul. The flames were low right now, and he had been the douse. When he told her everything, he was sure that the embers would glow again in her eyes.
Evangeline scurried away what was left of the morning. She had slept so late that her assistant had come over to her penthouse alarmed for
her well-being. All Evangeline had time to scarf down for breakfast was a banana and some lukewarm tea. She pulled her hair back in a chignon after a quick shower and was out the door in a black suit that she didn't care for too much. She had planned to pick up the dry
cleaning after her morning run that never was.
After she had finished apologizing to the last judge on her schedule that early afternoon, Evangeline knew she should stop and have a
sandwich or grab a muffin or something, but her Blackberry was insistent with its urgent reminder – her pro bono appointment at St.
Anne's. One of her clients was going to be examined by the state, and Evangeline had to be there to oversee the interview.
Not enough sleep, combined with two little food and the crisp chill of the oncoming winter, put a dragging exhaustion in Evangeline's bones
and threw her off balance. She was walking along the halls of St. Anne's, leaning against the walls for support, when she felt woozy again. When everything stopped spinning, she continued to her appointment.
Evangeline was surprised to find Dr. Crosby waiting for her in the conference room. She shook his hand.
"What are you doing here?" she asked, pulling out her file. "Dr. Madden is supposed to be the examining psychiatrist."
"She was called away on a family emergency and asked me to fill in for her," Crosby said, pulling out a chair for Evangeline. "You can ask for another psychiatrist if you'd like."
"Not at all. The conflict is minimal at best."
"Is there a conflict?"
"You're treating John, and I presumed – I may be wrong – but I presumed he talked about me some."
"Some, yes," Crosby said, frowning at the sudden pall once again creeping over Evangeline's skin.
Evangeline rubbed her forehead. "So, you might have some insight into my behavior by proxy. But that would only be important, if you were a jury consultant or something," she said.
"Would you like some water?"
"Don't worry about me, doctor. It's nothing a hamburger won't cure," she said, with a half smile.
"Is there a special reason you're not eating regularly?" Crosby asked, pulling a chair next to her and taking her pulse.
"Really, it's just a coincidence that the two times we've talked I haven't eaten."
"I don't believe in coincidence. I believe in behavior and results and patterns, not happenstance," he said, releasing her arm. "Your heartbeat is slightly elevated."
Evangeline reached out and touched his arm. "This concern is really very sweet of you, but I was rushing around this morning and my car got stuck in a ditch last night, so I've been playing catch up all day. I haven't had time for a really big lunch," she said.
Crosby reached in his briefcase and pulled out a protein bar, insisting she eat it. Evangeline reluctantly munched the first half of the foodstuff before declaring it questionable for human consumption.
"Well then, after this exam, we can call District Attorney Buchannon, and we can all have a working dinner."
The exam went well, from Evangeline's point of view. Her client felt remorse over killing her husband, now that she was on medication. But
the young woman still held firm in her account of her husband's mental and physical cruelty towards her for the five years they were married. He knew of her mental illness when he married her and preyed upon that weakness to torture her more than any of her delusions ever could
"The thing is: Evangeline really believes these people are innocent," laughed Nora, as she stole a few fries from her best friend's plate at Rodi's.
"They are innocent, until proven guilty," Evangeline said, smacking Nora's hand playfully. "And stop taking my food!"
"Yes, Nora, Ms. Williamson needs all the food she can get. She hasn't had time to eat lately," Crosby said.
Evangeline scrunched up her face and closed her eyes, in anticipation of a scolding from Nora. Evangeline opened one eye up to a squint and saw a grimace on Nora's face. Nora had asked her a few days ago if she wasn't losing weight quickly and Evangeline had brushed her off.
"Alright, Evangeline, what's going on?" Nora asked.
Evangeline rolled her eyes at Crosby. "Doc, why would you rat me out like this? What have I ever done to you?"
"Well, you're easy to care for, Evangeline. Perhaps some of it is a bit of transference on my part from Lt. McBain's intense protectiveness over you, but I feel some responsibility for your well-being," he said.
Nora huffed. "He's never taken any responsibility for her well-being. She takes all the responsibility for his."
"That's not true, Nora," Evangeline said quietly.
"That's not true from either of their perspectives," Crosby added.
Nora started to argue but instead ordered a plate of onion rings and milkshakes for everyone at the table. She switched the subject to
Matthew's latest Boy Scout project. He and Bo were building a wooden racecar together for competition. Last night had been a family night, no one else but them, no work, no talk of friends, nothing.
"Not even you, kitten," Nora said, patting Evangeline's hand. "And I know Bo was dying to talk about John. I put my foot down on that weeks ago, but he keeps trying."
"That's why I couldn't get you on the phone last night. The Buchannons unplugged."
Nora laughed. "Yup. Did you need anything special?"
"Nope," Evangeline lied, looking down.
She remembered how exasperated she had felt when she had broken down on the phone with John. She had been sitting in the chilly, lopsided car, feeling helpless and without friends. She had needed Nora and Bo, but they were having a private night. Evangeline had resented the exclusion deep inside, in the smallest crevice of her being. She wanted someone to shut down the night with.
After Nora had gone to court to hear a verdict, Evangeline turned to Crosby, who was sitting with his eyes closed, patting his stomach as if to soothe it. She pinched him.
"That's for ratting me out to Nora," she said.
He laughed. "It was genuine concern."
"Maybe. But you don't know Nora. She's going to hound me relentlessly now."
"Perhaps that's what you've been wanting or needing?" Crosby said, sitting forward to judge Evangeline's reaction more closely.
She shrugged her shoulders and nibbled at a cold onion ring. She pulled a lock of hair from the front of her hair and tucked it behind her ear. She gave him a small smile and then took it back.
"Would you like to talk about it, Evangeline? I've been told that I'm a good listener."
"I'm afraid that would be a big conflict of interest in our case, then," she said.
Crosby shook his head. "I signed off on your client, and I'm sure that if you check with your assistant, you'd find a plea agreement waiting in your office," he said.
"And just how much are you going to charge me per hour?"
"How much would you charge me?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.
Evangeline giggled and Crosby smiled. He signaled for the bill from the waitress. He and Evangeline agreed to go back to her home for a nightcap and some free conversation, after she promised to represent him if he ever got into serious trouble.
The pair sat in her living room, with their feet stretched out toward the crackling fireplace, chatting like old friends. He nearly choked on his laughter when Evangeline told him of her battle with her local football league as a little girl, having wanted any excuse to play with her grade school crush, Adam Taylor. He put his hand to his heart when she confessed how heartbroken she was when her mother had taken her to see Peter Pan as a child and the actor playing Peter Pan told the audience that Tinker Bell died because they didn't clap enough.
"I stayed up every night, when everyone had gone to bed and sat under my covers, clapping for Tinker Bell. I just had to get Peter back his
Tinker Bell, even though my mom had explained to me that the actor playing Peter Pan had done a rotten thing and had lied," Evangeline said.
"That is very sweet," Crosby said. "And, if I were taking formal notes, I'd be writing that one down."
"I think that story is quintessentially you. You make sure people have what they need or what you feel they need, and the only benefit to you is that they are happy," he said.
"So, I like to help people. I like to make sure that the people I care about are happy. What's wrong with that?"
"I didn't say anything was inherently wrong with it," he said, pulling his feet back from the licking heat of the fire. "I just think that sometimes people who give so much of themselves – to the point of emotional exhaustion – are compensating for something else."
Evangeline cupped her ear. "What's that I hear? Is that the alarm telling us our session has ended?"
"I don't hear anything," Crosby said, staring into her eyes.
"I'm not compensating, and I'm not exhausted emotionally. I'm just tired. My car went in a ditch last night …"
Crosby interrupted, taking her hand. "Evangeline, if this is going to work, I need you to be completely honest with me and yourself."
Evangeline nodded and slowly drew back her hand. She crossed her arms over her chest and sighed. She closed her eyes and leaned her head back against the chair. She was sitting in John's recliner – the one he had specially ordered for her apartment. She had spent many
evenings in that chair, curled up in John's lap, both of them resting in front of the fire. She hadn't realized how cold the leather skin of the chair was until John was gone.
"I've been thinking of leaving Llanview," she said.
"I haven't got anything here."
"Isn't your sister here?" Crosby asked.
"Layla and I have spent half of our lives apart. We know how to do that. We know how to keep in touch, and if going makes me happy, she'd start packing my suitcases today."
"What about your friends? What about Lt. McBain?"
Evangeline opened her eyes and looked over the flames dancing in the fireplace. It had taken her a long time to start using the fireplace again, after she had been tied to the burning stake by Hayes Barber. The mere smell of the wood meeting fire had made her nauseous in the
beginning. She and John had overcome that together. He had stood with her for hours, with the lighter in her hand, until she was ready.
She had cried and lit the wood many times, only to throw water on it. When she had finally been able to let the fire burn, she trembled so
badly that John thought he might have to call an ambulance. They had made love so tenderly that night that her body's memory of it caused Evangeline to cross her legs and take another sip of her brandy.
"They don't need me," she said. "And John's got you. He'll be fine soon."
"Do you think when he gets well, he won't love you?"
"No," she said, tears holding at the edge of her eye.
"Do you think when he gets well, you won't love him?"
Evangeline bent forward, raising her knees to her chest. She cried, as Crosby stood next to her and rubbed her back.
She looked up at him, laughing slightly, embarrassed by her emotions. She offered to get him some tea or decaffeinated coffee. He refused and thanked her for her kindness.
"You don't have to take care of me, Evangeline," he said. "I'm here for you."
She started crying again and he asked her what was wrong.
"I don't think I've had anyone just be there for me, ever. Not just for me," she said, her voice thick with sorrow.
"Will you tell me when you stopped eating properly?"
"When John began his therapy," she said, wiping her eyes.
"Do you think you can start making time for meals? Perhaps we can eat together."
She nodded. "That would be nice. We can have dinner a few nights a week and talk."
"Finally, a patient who wants to talk," Crosby laughed.
"I don't know if I like that term. Can we negotiate that? I'd like to think I'm a lot more healthy than your average patient," she said.
Crosby walked over to her closet and retrieved his coat. "Alright, we're just two buddies who have mostly one-sided conversations. Wait, are you sure we're not dating? Because that's what most of my relationships are like – one-sided conversations," he said.
"And maybe we'll talk about that next time," she said.
Crosby left, and Evangeline started to clean up. She was glad to have someone's ear again. She loved Nora, but Nora had so many rigid thoughts when it came to John that Evangeline didn't feel comfortable any more talking about her love for John or the pain he caused her for fear of setting Nora on a rant.
For the first time in years, Evangeline allowed herself to consciously think of Richard. Her heart ached briefly for him, before she put his memory away again. Maybe Crosby could help her find forgiveness.