The wind is blowing in the black-green pine trees, making music of its own. Wonderful smelling wood smoke is curling out of the chimney, disappearing in the breeze. I haven't had time to get out of the truck yet when I see my patient on the porch talking to his German shepherd.
"Cody, you are ruined as a watchdog! Look at him running around your Toyota WAGGING his tail! And to think he used to eat cats for dinner..why is he whining?"
"Ah, that would be because I have no orange tabby with me today. I had too many patients to see for Nehi to come along. Sorry, Cody but your buddy is at my house probably sleeping the clock around."
"Jerry, have you gotten off that porch any since I saw you last? How's the leg?" I clomped up the wooden steps to the front door.
"I figured you were going to tell me all about it in a minute, aren't you nurse Lady? I guess you can come in since my nasty watch dog is practically licking your hand. I know the routine, hop on the couch."
"Let's take a look. Great, not nearly so many red places. I think that antibiotic is working where those feral pigs' tusks got you all sliced up. The sutures are holding too. You have about seven more days and they may be able to come out. " I proceed to cleanse and bandage the wound site. "Anything else I can do for you while I'm here today?"
Jerry looked to the ceiling. I could tell he was struggling with words. Cody has gone over in front of the fireplace plopping down with a sigh. The wood smoke makes the house smell inviting on this crisp fall day as I wait for my patient to say something.
"Um, I am not sure where to start. It has been a long time but I think you might know someone that I used to know.anyhow, I have kind of forgotten how but there is some business I need to take care of. Um, guess two years is long enough to be grasping on to bitterness and unforgiveness. I was wondering if you would maybe do a bit of praying for me that I might find the words.."
"Are you talking about your Ex, Liz and your business partner?"
"Uh, huh, Lou and Liz that's exactly who I am talking about, have had this lead weight in the pit of my stomach way too long."
"Yes, your unforgiveness probably isn't affecting them at all but looks like it is doing a number on you, isn't it?"
"I'd say so, never thought I'd be a hermit outdoors writer when I was spending summers here as a kid."
"You used to spend summers here, in this part of Tennessee?"
"Sure, my grandparents owned the place next door. When I saw this place for sale it seemed to be calling me home. After two years of running all over this country, visiting every friend and relative I had, it seemed perfect."
"Why not go to your grandparent's place? Hey, is that where the sheriff found the body, we never did talk about what he had to say?"
"Yes, to the body and he is trying to figure out if a hiker fell. It looks like he died with a blow to the head. My grandparents moved off the place a number of years back when their main house burned down. They moved closer to my parents and have since passed on. There is just a tiny, ragged hunting cabin there now, not big enough for Cody and me. My folks still own it but haven't been there in years as far as I know."
"Hey, sounds like somebody opened your floodgates?!" I grinned at Jerry and poked my curly, escaping hair behind my ears. "I'd be most happy to be praying for you. Where do your folks live now?"
"They are off doing some missionary work in the Islands. Hey, Cody, guess you are still a watchdog after all. Cody, SIT!"
"Looks like Sheriff Johnson again, he sure is frowning."
"Good morning Jerry, Joie. May I come in?"
"Sure Sheriff, have a seat."
"Jerry, can you help me understand why you are going by Jerome Jacobs if your legal last name is Jamison?" Sheriff Tom couldn't contain his agitation.
"Sheriff, can you imagine a wildlife writer named Jerry Jacob Jamison? I took my first and middle name when I began writing. That was when I got divorced. I didn't particularly want my Ex finding me anyhow, nor my business partner that she was way too cozy with."
"Well, guess that makes sense. By the way, we have a tentative ID on that body found on your family property next door. We are thinking it might be Louis Jasper, your business partner. We're just waiting on the dental records to come through."
"Oh, no, he is dead? What is he doing out here?"
"He'd never been to your family place with you?"
"No, I haven't been here in a number of years before buying this place nor brought him out." Jerry turned pale and glanced from the sheriff to Joie.
"Mr. Jacobs, I trust you won't be going off anywhere because there might be a few more questions I have needing some answers soon."
The following morning at Doc Heinz's office, my boss has a question for me as I pack to do rounds.
"Joie, do you think maybe you should stop the home visits until the Sheriff finds out a bit more about this case? With that body being found less than a mile from your client and on his grandparent's old place AND being his business partner who just happened to have an affair with his wife.." Doc Heinze is obviously concerned.
"You know, doc, I have been a home health nurse for a number of years and have run into many strange settings, besides, I am taking Nehi with me today." I give my boss a grin, "Last time I saw the Sheriff he was looking for Jerry's Ex wife and seemed mighty interested in finding her."
"Maybe he'll find her body too."
"Ah, Doc, always the cheery perspective, Sheriff Tom said he met a roommate of Liz's at the address he had for her and the roommate asked Liz to leave about a week ago, so probably no body there. It was kind of weird, the roommate's name is Brena. Jerry said his partner mentioned going out with a gal named Brena. Unusual name but how in the world would two gals who were interested in the same guy end up being roommates?"
"This is a strange case, Joie, remember you don't have to go out to check his wound today, he can drive in here."
"Actually, his old truck is a stick shift. I am not sure he could use the clutch with his leg wounds, besides, how are you going to tell him to come, he doesn't have a phone. Come on, Nehi, let's get moving!"
I have my windows down. It is an "Indian Summer" type of fall day, actually hot. The warmth makes the scent of the pines permeate the whole atmosphere, it is yummy smelling. Nehi is watching all the scenery as we drive and digging in as we switch to the dirt road shifting into 4x4.
As we pull to the far side of the house to park in a bit of shade I see a woman with long, black hair coming from the direction of Jerry's grandparent's old place. Maybe Jerry is right about Nehi and me ruining his watch dog. Cody sees the woman, gives a hesitant "woof" and with a tentative wag of his tail is off the porch to greet her. Far cry from the growling "man eater" I met my first visit out here.
She gives the dog an automatic pat on the head and goes up to the front door, hesitates a minute and goes inside. I gather up my supplies and head that way myself. I am close enough to see Jerry on the couch as he gives me a slight negative shake of his head. I stop to listen to what is going on.
The woman is quite attractive, slim and probably 5'8" with cowgirl boots and a plaid shirt with her jeans. She is pacing back and forth, sounding a bit agitated.
"..MY grandparent's place, then that Liz had to come and take over. That's why they had their little fire, only they were supposed to be home, not out getting groceries."
I decide that this is not the time to go to the front door and start to listen some more.
(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits.
Saved by His grace in 1974, from 9 years of professing atheism into His loving arms. RN for 23 years, missionary with YWAM then statistical analyst for Every Home for Christ over 9 years. Living with my husband in the middle of a mountain meadow. GRIN! Wanting to spread the good news