Anna Hanson rose up her head from where it had been resting in her hands. "Iím so sorry, CJ. I truly didnít know."
CJ sat across from her in the comfortable Hanson living room. A handsome young man paced the carpet in front of them.
"Itís my fault, Mom. You shoulder none of this. Do you understand?" he said stopping his pace to issue this stern edict.
CJ looked up at him and asked gently, "Sean, can you tell me what happened one more time? It was a little muddled the first time through for me."
"I hid a package that came for my mother the day after my dad died," he began.
"He was only sixteen. He didnít understand what was going on," Anna pleaded in his defense.
"Anna, Iím not mad. Things happen. I just want to understand this," CJ replied with more patience than she knew existed.
"Mom, let me tell this, okay," Sean said as he calmed her with a hand on her shoulder.
"I was so mad at my dad. He was a great man, but it always felt like he was great for everybody else. He had not so much time for us. My mom worked so hard to make him happy. I could see her disappointment whenever he didnít show up for meals or family events. It was so hard on her," he explained earnestly to CJ. She nodded at him.
"My mom was in shock about his suicide. It was so overwhelming. I was shock too, I guess, but I wanted to be there for my mom. The day after his suicide, Mom went to the funeral home with Leo to make arrangements. While they were gone, a package was delivered. It was for my mom and it was marked urgent. It was in my dadís handwriting. It was like he was reaching out to her in death." The young man swallowed hard.
"I wanted to protect her. I was angry. A lot of things were going on for me. The bottom line is that I opened it. There was a letter from my dad. It said that he loved her. It also said that he trusted her and needed her to carry on his mission. There was something about that, I guess. I wanted him to leave her alone and let her heal. I hid the whole thing under my mattress. I just wanted her to get better."
"There were papers with it?" CJ asked anxiously.
"Yeah. Memos of some sort, I guess. I didnít read them."
"It stayed in your bedroom for how long?"
"About a year. I forgot about it. Then I ran into it one day when I was packing for college. I felt badly, but I couldnít imagine that it meant anything at this point."
"And so you did what with it?" CJ asked eagerly.
"There were boxes of my dadís papers in the basement. I stuffed it in a box, and didnít think about it again. This last weekend, my mom told me about your visit, and I remembered what I had done," he said somberly.
"Are these boxes still in your basement?" CJ asked breathlessly.
"No, CJ, we got rid of them about two years ago," Anna said.
"Define what you mean when you say, Ďgot rid of themí," CJ standing at the precipice of madness.
"Well, Bernie had lots of paper. Stuff from work, home, his law practice, there were nearly a hundred boxes. I had them shipped to a storage garage in Maryland," Anna replied.
"I need to see those boxes," CJ said passionately.
"They are a mess, CJ. Nothing is in order. It would take you weeks," Anna said in distress.
"I need to see those boxes, Anna," CJ repeated.
"You donít even know what youíre looking for, CJ," Anna counseled.
"I want to see them tonight."
"Iíll get you the access code to the storage area."
"Josh, get your ass over here," Toby growled into his phone. He was looking at the form of Allan Jacobs who lay flopped facedown across his living room couch, snoring loudly into the leather upholstery.
"Toby! We havenít heard anything all day. Iíve been trying to reach you. Iíve had Donna checking the wires for your arrest all day. Did he take you in?" Josh shouted breathlessly.
"Where is he?"
"Passed out on my sofa. So get your ass over here!"
"What did you do?!" shouted a panicked Josh.
"Donít make me beat the crap out of you, Josh," he threatened.
"Okay! Okay! Iím on my way. Heís going to be okay, isnít he?" Josh asked anxiously.
Toby rolled his eyes back into his head. "No, Josh. You donít get here in ten minutes, Iím going to drown him in the bathtub."
"Would you get your Good For Nothing, Skinny, Ivy League ass over here right now!" Toby screamed into the phone. Josh was about to get a little indignant with Tobyís attitude when he was treated to the sound of the phone clicking in his ear.
"Weíre going to Maryland?" Margaret clarified for the third time.
"Yes, Margaret. We are continuing in the direction of Maryland as evidenced by the many, large road signs you have been seeing," Bonnie said impatiently turning sideways so she could fix her seatmate with a glare.
"I just think itís weird is all. I donít really get whatís going on," Margaret said in her own defense.
"None of us do," Ginger added from her spot in the driverís seat. "But CJ said that we would be doing something that might help Toby."
"Thatís good enough for me," Donna said looking back at them from the front seat.
"And you say that she wanted me especially?" Margaret clarified with a confused look on her face.
"She knows you are an idiot savant," Bonnie said bluntly.
"I know what that means Bonnie," Margaret replied in an irritated tone. "And I am definitely not autistic."
"But you are freakish when it comes to organizing things," Donna said matter-of-factly.
"You are sort of an organizing savant," Bonnie said in correction.
"There are things that need to be organized?" Margaret fished as she struggled to keep the excitement out of her voice.
"There are about one hundred large boxes of paper crammed into a small room, and we need to find a letter and some memos from ten years ago," Donna explained.
"Do we know exactly what we are looking for?"
"No." said Donna shaking her head.
"Are the boxes in any sort of order?" asked Margaret with bated breath.
"And we donít have a lot of time," Bonnie added.
"I see," Margaret said. She sat back in her seat, staring out the window. Bonnie smiled at Donna. They both knew Margaret would have a solid system in place by the time they reached their destination.