Episode 1: Scene 4
Anyone who knew her would have said that Sophia Wrenn was a stunning woman. She was one of those individuals who held her age well. At forty-four, she was still being carded when she bought alcohol or when going out to a nightclub. When asked her age, she would act annoyed, but deep down, it pleased her to know that she still had the power to turn heads and create just a little doubt.
She was from old blood.
One of the first families to settle in town, she was also one of the richest. She was also the last of her line. Unless she found a good husband and settled, it would all end with her. Sometimes, late at night, the guilt would come and stay a while, but then she would remember the crap most of her customers would go through with their kids, and thanked the universe that she had none. Life was simpler single.
The Wrenn General Store had been the main mercantile in Green Lake since the days of the wagon trains. From its doorstep, the ‘49’ners went out to make their fortunes or bust. Survivors of the infamous “Donner Party” stopped to get supplies. Buffalo Bill once bought a bottle of whiskey from here! Yep, it was a Green Lake institution.
Sometimes . . . Sophia just wished that Wal-Mart would come in and ruin it all.
Cleaning the front window, Sophia noticed that the people were a little tense. Most were just hearing about the terrible murder/suicide at the Barrett House, and really did not know how to take it. Officially, the Sheriff hadn’t said a word, but like the C.I.A. or F.B.I., small towns had their networks—their spies.
The woman paid particular attention toward a parked car in front of the store. Inside it, just sitting there, was a Man in Black wearing a pair of dark sunglasses.
He just sat there, looking at her.
Never got out of his car.
Not even a wave “hello.”
Sophia turned away to refresh her damp cloth, and returned to her chore.
“What?” she said surprised.
The car, Man in Black, and his sunglasses were gone!
Sophia glanced up and down the main street. She had only turned her back from the parked car, for about two seconds.
She never even heard the start of the engine!
A lone bell on a string began to jingle.
Someone entered the store.
Sophia closed her eyes in dread. It was just too damn early for this.
“Good morning, Doc,” Sophia stated, surrendering to fate.
Dr. Nick Holder was the town’s one and only therapist. From the big city, he came back to Green Lake after almost losing his license to practice.
Sophia thought him a good-looking man, and nice at times, but there was a certain ‘something” she had always felt about him. He seemed uncertain and out of focus most of the time. A “Ted Bundy” kind of vibe.
“You don’t have to stop what you’re doing on my account,” the doc said, waving a hand in the air, mockingly. “I like to watch you work, in fact I like to watch you do anything.”
Funny thing about Dr. Holder: he had been trying to get into Sophia’s pants since the first time he saw her.
It took all she had not to laugh.
“Oh, Nick, I love the sweet talk, but save your lines for the patients. What do you need today?”
“Still playing hard to get? Well, one of these days I’ll catch you. Just give me a pack of Marlboro’s for now.”
Sophia slowly shook her head, beaming the doc a soft smile.
Doc Holder had it rough. He was a recovering drug addict. One of his failings. He allowed the pressures of a big city life, and the responsibilities of running a hospital get to him and started to take way too many stimulants. He had returned to Green Lake years ago to get that poison out of his system. The move worked. Still, there were times she suspected him of falling off the wagon.
“I’ll let you catch me just as soon as I end up in a wheel chair. You can push me around, in fact,” she reached above the main counter and pulled down a pack of cigarettes. “Here you go. That will be $6.75.”
Holder handed Sophia a ten giving her a big smile. He made sure to touch her hand while she reached up to take the money.
“Thank you,” he softly said.
Sophia flirted back. Just enough to keep him excited.
She wasn’t getting any younger, and liked to play her games as well.
She glanced out the window.
The Man in Black was back!
Calmly, silently, he sat in his car glaring at her.
“Did you hear about the Barrett’s?” Holder asked. “Tragic.”
“I did and I don’t get it. Why in the world would Joe turn like that?”
Nick and Sophia stood silent for a few seconds, thinking.
Sophia heard the sound of an engine being started.
This time, she saw the Man in Black pull his car out and start to leave. Before he pulled away however, she saw him throw a piece of paper out onto the sidewalk.
It looked like a card!
“Don’t get that pretty head thinking too hard,” Holder joked.
“Heh? Sorry, Nick. What were you saying?” Sophia turned her attention away from things happening outside.
“This whole curse is nothing more than a legend this town needs to forget.”
“Is that your professional opinion or wishful thinking?”
Doc Holder picked up his cigarettes and started to head for the exit. He was a logical man, and had always considered the curse, the town, and the Silver Witch Mine to be nothing more than stuff for the tourists.
“You can’t really believe in that hocus pocus. This town has been living in fear for two hundred years. So, you mean to tell me that now that crazy witch is back?”
“Well, whether or not that crazy witch is back, something made Joe do what he did.”
Holder opened his pack, and took out a cigarette. His hands appeared shaky.
Sophia tried not to notice.
Off the wagon . . . again.
“You okay?” she asked, this time, her eyes full of concern.
“Everyone is just one snap away from doing something crazy, darling. Just a professional opinion, you understand.” Holder tried his best to ignore Sophia’s concerns. “That damn council needs to lighten up a little.”
“The council,” Sophia mocked, waving her hands in the air. “Talk about your urban legends. You really think there is a secret society in this town? You believe that, but not in a curse? You sure you’re still sober? I think there’s something extra that you pour in your coffee in the morning.”
“Well, I’ll tell you all of my secrets if you tell me yours. Say, over dinner at my house?”
Sophia shook her head.
He never gave up.
“Always the smooth one aren’t we? Anyway, you still see the Sheriff? What does he think?”
“Now Sophia, even though I would do just about anything to see you fall naked onto my bed, you know I can’t tell you anything about a patient.”
“I’m not asking you to tell me what he says during a session, dummy. Just when you guys chat.”
Holder put his cigarettes away. It was time for him to leave.
“No friendly chat. Haven’t seen him since all this has taken place. Well girl, this has been fun, and I would stand here all day just looking at you, but I need to get back. If you see that witch, let me know. I’ll open up a spot for her in my schedule so she can talk out her problems.”
“Sure thing, Doc.”
Holder gave Sophia a soft wink, leaving. She answered back by flicking her hair, in the innocent way she might have done in high school.
As Holder walked out, he was almost run over by a group of teenagers coming into the store for some ice cream.
Curiosity got the better of her.
She spotted the card, still lying on the sidewalk.
“Hmmm,” she mused.
Walking out onto the sidewalk, Sophia bent over, picking up the card.
What the hell?
The card was longer and wider than an ordinary card used in poker. It had a funny picture of an old castle being hit by a rather sinister bolt of lightning. The building appeared to be blown apart due to an unknown explosion. The words “THE TOWER” were labeled at the bottom of the card.
“Tarot cards?” Sophia dryly laughed. “The man threw a tarot card out at me? Weird.”
Walking back into the store, Sophia noticed Holder pacing absently down the street. The doctor appeared to be shaking again. More than he had shown to her. She shook her head.
Doc Holder was a nice guy.
He deserved more.
The man nearly tripped over a huge crack in the sidewalk, not noticing it on his way back to the office. He followed it and saw that it went all the way across the street and stopped just short of the hardware store.
“This town’s falling apart,” she heard Holder say.
Sophia went back into her store, carrying with her the mysterious card.