Grandfather lifted the heavy photo album off his lap, laying it on the coffee table gently. He called grandmother at the post office and told her to stop at the bank on her way home and get the folder from the vault. Everything was in walking distance, it wouldn’t take long.
They must have known it was coming. He didn’t explain or even give the love of his life his normal boisterous greeting, ”Hey, babe!”
“She’ll be here shortly,” he said as he hung up the phone.
We just stared at each other for a moment, and then he broke eye contact and offered me some tea. I sat clutching the matching newspaper article to the one in the photo album. It was wrinkled and moist from my sweating palms.
“No thanks, Grandfather, I just want to get this settled.”
“Believe me, we want it settled too. It’s been preying on our minds for all these years,” Grandfather quietly said.
At the sound of the door hitting the kitchen wall, I jumped up and was almost knocked back into my chair when my sister flew into the room.
She had fire in her eyes as she glared at Grandfather, “Just who the hell are you?”
I had left my younger sister a voice mail that explained the little I knew, and asked her to meet me here. I should have known what her reaction would be, since I’d been witnessing her outbursts, from the time she was two and I was four.
“Calm down, sis, we’re waiting for Grandmother to get here. We’ll get the answers then.”
“She’s not our Grandmother! They’re both a couple of fakes, Grady, I think we should call the police and show them the article you found.”
“Georgia, listen, calm the hell down! They could have denied it, kept lying, but Grandf…whoever he is, called….her as soon as I showed him the article. Let’s wait until she gets here. He told her to get a folder from the bank on her way home.”
Georgia threw her designer bag on the coffee table and walked over to the antique tea cart.
“Fine, but I’m having a scotch, you want one?”
It would be useless to try and talk sense into her until she soothed her inner dragon with a scotch. If not for the situation, I would give her the big brother lecture #325 about her drinking.
“No, I’m fine.”
I heard the bell that hung from the back door, expecting to see my Grandmother…whatever she was, come in from the garden path that she took to and from her volunteer job at the post office. Instead, a tall man in a suit stood directly behind where my sister was leaning over the tea cart. Just as she turned her head, he grabbed her arm, twisted it roughly behind her back, and held a gun to her head. There was a faded green folder under his arm.
“Everybody just hang tight. We’ll get this handled and no one will be hurt.”
A shot rang out and the man slumped to the ground, the contents of the folder spilling like a shroud around his body. My sister screamed and ran to fold herself into my arms.
“Twenty-five years we’ve kept these kids safe, and now this!”
The stylish older woman I had called Grandmother since I was five years old, came into the room then. She held a bloody hand to the side of her head, dropped the gun to the floor and walked towards us in an attempted one-arm embrace. Georgia and I moved as one and backed away.
Georgia lifted her head from my shoulder and screamed,
“Don’t touch us! Who the fuck are you? You just killed a man! Grady call 911!”
The man who looked like he had aged 10 years in the last few minutes stood slowly on shaky legs. My own hands were shaking as I firmly held my sister around her shoulders, like holding back a frenzied dog, before it broke free to attack the enemy. The old man moved towards the kitchen,
“I’ll get some ice for that, Edna. Grady, don’t call anyone yet.”
Reaching for a bright pansy designed tea towel, Edna sounded defeated,
“Forget my head, Frank, we need to make a decision. Get the papers, we need to find that number.”
“I…I…I…I can’t …”
“Frank, honey,” she spoke softly, “we have to make that call, here, I’ll help.”
My sister was blessedly quiet for once, but I wanted some answers. I took out my cell phone and shook it in their direction,
“I’m giving you the benefit of doubt long enough for you to tell us what’s going on. Then I’m dialing 911. Talk to us.”
“Here it is!” Frank waved the paper over his head.
I remained firm and held my phone as if to dial, ”Talk.”
“You have to have guessed by now. You and your sister have been in witness protection since you were five and she was three, As the article said, both your parents were killed in an FBI sting operation. They were innocent, but ready to testify about a human slave ring they had stumbled on when they went on vacation.”
“And who are you to us? Why didn’t we go to our real grand parents; the article said they lived near our old house?” Finally, my sister was calmer and asking questions herself.
“You went to them,” Edna frowned, “they were killed a week later and the neighbors found you two hiding in the attic. Your grand parents must have known they were coming. Our son was one of the special agents on the case and he arranged for us to take you.”
“Uncle Andy?” my sister and I yelled in unison.
“I called him to see what he knew about the article and he never answer my call or email.”
An enormous boom shattered the neighborhood. The man called Uncle Andy, stood in the shadows, tears racing down his cheeks, with a phone to his ear, “It’s done, now release my daughter and my grandchild.”