CHAPTER THREE: A NEW LIFE
I. REALITY HITS HOME
Maggie had resolved to put into action a plan greater than any she’d ever had in her life. But, that had been yesterday, when she’d felt better. Today, though, she wasn’t quite sure that she was going to make it. But, she had to survive. She had to marry Connie, she’d promised him she would.
As her breath retuned to her, she relaxed. The attack was over. Her disease was indeed the very same that had eaten away at her mother. It wasn’t a form of punishment. She knew that now. She smiled. How good it felt to forgive one’s self for all the harm that had been done. It made her feel lighter. Now, she had to do as she determined to do. But, could she get it done in a short time? That was the question.
Feeling better, moments later, she arose and made her way to the phone on her Queen Anne desk. Connie was still out. That would give her the perfect opportunity to begin her task. Of course, she wasn’t too certain if those involved would be all that keen on coming at her request. She’d made it plain to them that she wanted to be alone.
All she knew was that she had to try. She had to bring the old group back together. That meant even those whom she been madam of at the cathouse, all those years ago in Tulsa. She had to bring her friends from Akron back together, those that she’d gone to school with until her mother died. She had to reunite everyone.
It would be no easy task, but she wanted everyone to share in her newfound happiness. Even her uncle Lazarus was a necessary person for the blessed event. It’d been because of him that she’d given in to Connie’s proposal of marriage. Him, and Connie’s uncharacteristic defensive response to both Lucifer and Cain. How could she refuse a man who’d defend her honor, even if she refused to do so herself?
II. CAROLINE BORDEN
At the top of the ‘Akron’ list was Caroline Borden. She’d been one of the most popular girls in school. Captain of the cheerleader squad, the girl’s track team, and the drama team, she was always at the top of everything. Yet, she wasn’t like the other so—called popular girls. She didn’t date jocks. She never acted snobbish. She always seemed to have enough time to help out lower classmen.
Luckily, Maggie had kept in touch with Caroline over the years, and Caroline had never gotten married. Carrie was more concerned with her career, than having a family. Perhaps that was a good thing, but Maggie couldn’t imagine her life without her family…her kids. And though she hadn’t called Carrie in a while, she was sure that her old friend would gladly come to see her.
Maggie dialed the number. She waited for what seemed an eternity. The phone just seemed to keep on ringing. She began to worry. This was so unlike Carrie. And, then, an answer. “Hello, Carrie here,” came the soft voice on the other end, “who am I speaking with?”
“Carrie,” Maggie replied, “its Maggie. I was wonderin’ if you could make a trip to come see me. It’s important.”
“Oh, hi, Maggie,” Carrie replied, “What’s the occasion?”
“I’m getting married, Carrie,” she replied, bubbling over with joy, “and I would like you to be there. Please say you’ll come. It wouldn’t be the same without you. I missed you at my last wedding, you know. But I realize you couldn’t make it, so it was no biggie.”
“It just so happens that I’ve got some vacation time due me,” Carrie replied, “and I’ve been meaning to take a vacation for some time in order to see you, so plan on me being there with bells and whistles on.”
“Oh, good,” Maggie replied, ecstatically, “it’ll be good to see you again.”
“Count on it, Hon,” Carrie stated, “and I’ll probably bring my significant other along for the ride. He worries ’bout me if I go anywhere without him for any length of time. You don’t mind, do you?”
“No,” Maggie replied, surprised, “that’s fine with me. I didn’t know you were married. Guess I should call my friends more often, keep in touch with them more than I do. I mean, I’m so terrible.”
“I’m not,” Carrie interjected, “I live with my boyfriend, Scott.”
“Oh,” Maggie replied, embarrassed, “may I ask his last name?”
“Why, of course,” Carrie replied, “and you do know him. It’s Scott Liester, the class genius. Remember him? Well, anyway we’ve been together for two years straight now. We’ve been involved, off and on, since high school.”
“I knew that you guys were an item back in high school,” Maggie acquiesced, “But I never dreamed what you had would last. That’s so amazing.”
Maggie talked to Carrie for about an hour after that. They’d needed to do some catching up, and they both knew it. They’d let too much time slip by, and gotten behind on events in each other’s lives. Then, as spontaneous as their conversation was, it was over. As Maggie dialed the next number, she couldn’t help thinking back to those days. Those had been happy days in her life. Ironic how it was another joyous occasion that was bringing them back together.
III. EDDIE AND BELINDA
When Eddie Coldyn picked up the receiver of his phone, he was pleasantly surprised to hear Maggie’s voice. It’d been so long since she’d last called him and Belinda that he almost thought that she died. Now, three years later, he heard her voice on the other end of the line. He motioned for Belinda to lift the receiver of their second phone, which she did.
They both talked to her for over an hour before they let her go. They were also planning a vacation. She could count on them being present for her big day. They wanted to relocate, could she suggest any possibilities in Chicago? The answer could wait.
As she dialed the next number, Maggie’s head was spinning. She hadn’t expected that. She’d only requested their presence at her wedding. Perhaps her old friends wanted to be closer to her. Whatever their reasoning, she was sure they wouldn’t leave her in the dark for long.
One by one, she contacted them. One by one, they promised to be there. John McDermott, Tony Calivieri, Philip Wilcox, Donnie Seton, Gunnar McNara, Gary Nihms, Collin Reese, Wes McCall, Marcus Lucaine, Patrick Cole, Jonah Wilsberg, Les Brigham, Lilith Wilkes, Callia Dearbourne, George Harmon, Stanley Warczec, Joey Brewster, Harlan Howl, Brenda Bligh, Dell Ashe, Ptolemy Rex, Coll Wilhelm, Owen and Steven Falstaff, Brianna Sanders, Wayde Colvax, Sara Klein, Dan Sayers, Stewart Marsh, Kelli Fargo, Zech Talbot, Thom Thorpe, Sue Wills, and Damon Sills. All alumni of just one of Akron’s many high schools.
It seemed to take forever, but within mere hours, the calls to Akron were over. She felt a great sense of relief to know that her ex-classmates were still to be counted among her closest friends and associates. It was as if a weight had been lifted from her shoulders and she was beginning to feel freer. But, she still had two more groups to call…her friends there in Chicago, and the girls in Tulsa. She didn’t know whether any of them would still want anything to do with her after the way she had treated them. But she had to try.