Karen stared in abject horror at the homeless woman who’d brought up the police investigation into Martin’s murder. When one of Karen’s hands hit the counter that separated them so hard she couldn’t help a yelp of pain, she realized how much both hands were shaking and hid them under the counter, hoping against hope that the homeless woman wouldn’t see how terrified she was.
The homeless woman reached across the counter to hold her up by the elbows. “I’m so very sorry to have upset you so by bringing it up!”
That voice, the most beautiful Karen had ever heard, now deep with emotion… It was such a powerful voice that Karen’s whole body reverberated with the sound of it and, even more remarkable, Karen was momentarily stunned out of her agonized conviction that, no matter what, she had to protect Frank from being discovered as Martin’s murderer. “You,” Karen stuttered, “you must be…must have been…an actress?”
“No, not I…” The homeless woman replied, then stopped suddenly, apparently puzzled.
Karen was struck by an odd hush akin to an abrupt change in air pressure.
Now the homeless woman was looking around at the interior of the storage space, as if seeing it for the first time.
Karen imagined a whisper, something about holding its breath, if only a building could hold its breath.
“But…” The homeless woman’s face contorted oddly, as if thinking of something for the very first time, “Perhaps…” Now she looked caught between wonder and embarrassment over her own foolishness. “My grandmother.” The wonder and a tentative tone of conviction won, as she continued to look around at the storage space, reminding Karen of an actress scouring her audience for affirmation.
Karen felt something else reverberate through her entire body in reaction to this, along with a torrent of memories that couldn’t possibly be her own since they all involved theatre in the 19th century. The building beneath her seemed to sway under the impact of this revelation. But now Karen shook herself free of all this to concentrate on the one thing that was really important: protecting Frank.
Frank! The next torrents of memories to wash over Karen weren’t those of her imaginary playmate, the building, but her very own. She physically fell back at the onslaught, seeming to remember all at once each and every time he’d made love to her, and would have fallen over backwards if the homeless woman hadn’t steadied her. Frank: his eyes, his smile, every word he ever spoke, and even that horrible scar on his face that she couldn’t help loving as much as all the rest. With all the subtlety of two galaxies colliding, she realized how very much it didn’t matter what he’d done…not to Martin, certainly not with her best friend Marie. A threat to his life was far worse than a threat to her own.
“What I came here about can wait. You need to sit down. Let me use some of the medical supplies I took from the crazy man’s house to treat your wounds.”
It was the homeless woman. A potential threat to Frank. Beautiful voice or not.