The Drifter

The Drifter by Richie Tankersley Cusick

Book: The Drifter by Richie Tankersley Cusick Read Free Book Online
Authors: Richie Tankersley Cusick
the man gave a solemn nod. Joss walked silently to the window and leaned against the sill.
    â€œWhere’s Mom?” Carolyn demanded. “How is she?”
    Joss stared at her. The man mumbled something to Andy that Carolyn couldn’t hear, then took a step toward her and put a hand on her arm.
    â€œThis is Doc Brown,” Andy introduced her.
    His smile was kind but serious. “Sit down, Carolyn.”
    â€œNo!” Carolyn nearly screamed at him. “Where’s my mother?”
    â€œShe took a bad fall.” Doc Brown was talking slowly, as if Carolyn were a small child. “She’s unconscious right now, and she’s lost a lot of blood.”
    â€œBut—but how—”
    â€œShe cut herself when she fell,” Doc interrupted. “She’s got some pretty nasty bruises, and till we can examine her more closely, I’m not ruling out the possibility of internal injuries. That’s why I’m sending her over to the mainland. There’s an excellent hospital there, and I want to keep her a few days.”
    The room went spinning. For an endless moment, wind seemed to fill the house with wild, panicky screams.
    â€œI want to see her,” Carolyn mumbled. “Where is she?”
    That wind — why doesn’t it stop — bad house — bad end …
    â€œâ€”sit down,” someone was saying, and there were hands on her arms, on her shoulders, guiding her to a chair, pushing her into it.
    â€œâ€”shock,” someone else was talking now, and Carolyn looked around at the four faces with her in the room. Andy and Doc were watching her with wary expressions. Nora blended into the shadows of the hallway. Joss’s arms were folded across his chest, his eyes narrowed to black slits. He had no expression at all.
    â€œI want to see her,” Carolyn mumbled again.
    Before anyone could answer, there was a commotion from the stairs. Carolyn jumped up and ran over, just in time to meet the stretcher coming down.
    â€œMom?” her voice broke, and she was hardly aware of Joss beside her, trying to hold her back. “What happened, Mom? Can you hear me?”
    â€œShe can’t,” Joss said quietly. “She fell off a ladder in one of the bedrooms. She must have hit the dresser on her way down and broken the mirror.”
    â€œOh, my God …”
    The stretcher was in full view now, and as the paramedics guided it toward the door, Carolyn stared in horror at her mother’s face. If it hadn’t been for all the blood, Mom would have looked as if she were sleeping.
    â€œMom?” Carolyn choked. “Mom, can you hear me?”
    â€œShe’s unconscious,” Doc said again.
    â€œI’m going with her.” Carolyn followed the stretcher to the front door, but Doctor Brown put a restraining hand on her arm.
    â€œThere’s nothing you can do, Carolyn. Why don’t you just stay here and—”
    But Carolyn pushed past him out onto the porch. “I’m going with her.”
    â€œRight,” Andy said quickly. “We’ll follow in my car.”
    Carolyn gave him a grateful smile. She hurried down the steps after him, then suddenly remembered the house.
    â€œNora—” She stopped and turned around. The housekeeper was standing by the front door, her heavy black shawl fluttering around her bony shoulders. Perched there on the top step, she reminded Carolyn of a black crow. “Nora, would you mind—”
    â€œWon’t do any good,” Nora mumbled, tucking her hands beneath the folds of her shawl, gazing solemnly down at Carolyn.
    â€œWhat won’t?” Carolyn retorted sharply. “What are you talking about? Can you stay and look after the house till I get back?”
    â€œWon’t matter one bit,” the housekeeper’s voice dropped even more. “Not even if she pulls through this time.”
    â€œWhat do you mean this time?” Carolyn

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