aradescent

Chapter 8

In Uncategorized on January 17, 2011 at 9:13 pm

“Holy shit what is that?”  Justin was standing over Jessica as she fished through the photos on Monica’s laptop.  It had taken her 10 minutes to download all of them from her camera.

They finished with pizza and Jessica got Delilah ready for bed before digging through Justin’s trunk for the laptop.

“Just some wedding photos.  I have to edit them for work.”

Justin took a seat in his recliner, lifting his feet up.  He had a beer in his right hand and the remote in his other.  “Want one?”  He offered lifting his bottle in the air.

Jessica shook her head.  “No.  I think that would make me lose my focus.”

“So that’s what you do now, photo editing?”

Jessica laughed to herself.  “It’s more than that, and I bet I get paid more than you.”

Justin took a chug of his beer.  “Oh really?  Probably.”

Justin couldn’t argue.  He worked for an insurance company and hadn’t received a raise in two years.  It was either get a raise and then get laid off or be satisfied with what you made and keep your job for a little while longer.  From what Jessica knew he wasn’t looking for another job and had faith he wouldn’t get laid off and things would get better. 

Jessica yawned but didn’t let her eyelids drift down.  Diana had told Jen they would be ready by the end of the week which meant Jessica had plenty of time to edit them all, she just wanted to get a head start.

She randomly selected the photos, trying to keep it interesting.  Maybe if she liked the bride a little more she wouldn’t have a problem doing her job.  No, she liked editing photos she did it all the time.  There were over five-thousand photos of Delilah that she had edited.  Mostly minor stuff unless she was editing for a holiday such as Christmas.  It was just that she grew bored easily with Jen’s wedding because they were all photographs of her and very few of the guests.

Jessica stumbled on the photograph of the bride and groom walking across the beach holding hands.  They looked very happy but Jessica knew otherwise.  Jen just wanted to be married, and Jessica took a stab at the time.  Six months.  She gave them six months.

Jessica sighed to herself.  Must be nice to be able to drag any guy into your trap and convince them to marry you.  She wondered how Jen pulled it off. 

She began zooming in on the picture to erase any impurities on Jen’s face and of course on her groom’s.  Then she went in to add more effects to the waves of the ocean and considered erasing the rocks in the background.  She could do that and rearrange the sunset so their shadows were in front of them versus to the side of them.  As it was the sunset wasn’t even in the photograph at all just their shadows.  Jessica wondered how Jen would like it.  She might. 

Jessica didn’t get to spend a lot of time with her like Diana recommended.  The photographers that worked for Diana were advised to spend time with the brides to get an idea of what they might want in the photographs and since Jessica moved to California right before the wedding it wasn’t an option for her.  She suspected Jen wouldn’t like anything she did so she would do what she could and then get Diana’s opinion.

It would take a lot of work but that’s what she would do.  Completely erase all the rocks from the background and redirect the sunlight.  It would be perfect, footprints behind them and their shadows in front of them.  She zoomed in on the photograph and began erasing the rocks one by one.  Tedious.  That would be one way she would describe it. 

She smiled to herself, realizing it would be the best if not most complicated photograph for her to ever edit. 

She stopped, gasping in disbelieve.  “What the hell?”  She brought he laptop closer to her so she could examine what she was seeing.

“What is it?”  Justin asked.

“Um, well come look.”

Justin hopped up from his recliner and sat the beer bottle on the coffee table.  He looked over Jessica’s shoulder again accidently bumping her arm.

“Shit Justin!”  She exclaimed as the file began to save.  She frantically hit the stop button but it was too late.

“Sorry.”  Justin mumbled.  “Is that what I think it is?”  He examined the picture Jessica was looking at.

“Yeah.”  Jessica sighed placing her hands on her head. 

In the picture there were two men, one holding a gun to the other’s head.

“I don’t suppose you have a printer?”

The pictures couldn’t wait, especially this one.  She had to print it and take it back to California with her.  She would turn it into authorities and forget about it.  It was the most disturbing thing she had ever seen.  The fear on the man’s face made her stomach turn upside down, and she suppressed the vomit that slide its way up her throat.

“No, Jasmine does though.  What are you going to do with it?”

Jessica nodded, of course her older sister had a printer she was a web site designer after all.  Her need for a computer were the same as Jessica’s needs.  “I need to print this before I leave.  First I’m going to do that then I’m going to finish editing it like I planned.  I might be able to salvage the original photograph.” 

Maybe not.  She hoped she could, if not she would have to turn it in as is.  She had stupidly erased all the photographs off her camera when she downloaded them to Monica’s laptop.

***

The following morning Jessica dressed herself for the funeral.  She had black slacks and a black blouse, an outfit far from her comfort range.  She had went with Jasmine one time to pick it out for a job interview, since then it had sat untouched in her closet. 

The funeral was long but Jessica didn’t notice.  Her mind was still on the photograph.  What would be the odds that she would come across something like this.  The word couldn’t get out.  Jen couldn’t know that’s what she found in her photographs.  For some strange reason it occurred to Jessica that Jen would not pay for the photographs if she found out.  Perhaps she would divorce Isaac because their wedding had imperfections.  It was ‘tainted’ in a way.

Jasmine had told her she didn’t mind if she came back to the house to hook Monica’s laptop up to her printer.  Naturally the house was her mother’s.  As Jessica suspected one of her siblings would move back into the house and turns out Jasmine had been having problems with her husband for some time.  With the death of their mother it sent Jasmine’s emotions into overdrive, and she told her husband Carl that she wanted a divorce.  Jessica knew she didn’t mean it, she had been in love with Carl for some time and when he finally split with his first wife Jasmine took it as the opportunity to get close to him.

“So why are you printing this photograph again?”  Jasmine unlocked the door and led them to the back room where her mother had kept her computer.

“Where’s your computer?”  Jessica questioned.

Jasmine rolled her eyes and sighed in annoyance.  “Carl kept it.”

Jessica didn’t think to ask her why, instead sitting in front of her mother’s computer. 

The screen was a tad dusty which meant her mother hadn’t used it after she left.  It was Jessica’s fault her mother was even a little tech savvy.  She shoved the disk that she had copied pictures onto in the drive.  She reached over the desk and turned on the printer.  She would have to print a few test pages first to make sure the picture would turn up half decent.

Jasmine was breathing down her neck.  Jessica tried to ignore it as the computer took it’s time to load the pictures from the CD.  She head Jasmine gasp behind her.

“Is that real?”  Jasmine asked.

Jessica nodded her head without opening her mouth.  She didn’t need Jasmine spreading the news as if it were gossip.  No this was more than gossip.  This was a whole new world.  In the town she grew up in it was safe.  Now she had left that safe haven and walked straight into a new life.  A new life that had terrifying possibilities.  Finding a murder occur in one of her photographs brought her into a nightmare.  One that she would forget about after getting back to California. 

But today she was living the nightmare and listening to Jasmine get all worked up over it.  Her sister was a little dramatic at times.  Right now she was being plain annoying.  Jessica rolled her eyes as she loaded a piece of paper into the printer.  Hopefully the printer would move much faster than the computer itself.  She was tired of waiting.  Tired of standing next to her sister as she rambled on and on as though the event happened right in front of her. 

Delilah crawled into Jessica’s lap as she sat back down in the chair, staring at the computer screen as it obeyed the ‘print’ command.  “Aunt Jassy is kind of loud.”  Delilah whispered.  Jessica laughed and hugged her daughter.  “Yes she is.”  Delilah had called Jasmine Aunt Jassy for as long as she could remember and although it sounded like something a four-year-old would call her, Delilah didn’t seem to mind or think it was below her to continue with the nickname.

“So, like, what are you going to do with the picture once it’s printed?”  Jasmine folded her arms across her chest.

Jessica glanced over her shoulder.  “I’m taking it to the sheriff’s office back in California.”

“So, why didn’t you wait until you got back to California to print it then?”  Jasmine asked matter-of-factly.

Jessica sighed.  “Because I have to erase it from the computer so there is no accidental evidence of it when I take the pictures back to Diana.”

Jasmine leaned against the doorway.  Her arms were still crossed over her chest, a sly smile on her lips.

“What?”

Jasmine uncrossed her arms, running them through her raven black hair.  It had been up elegantly during the funeral.  Now it hung loosely below her shoulders.  Both Jasmine and Justin had black hair.  Jessica had always wondered if their father had black hair or if it was some weird gene that had been passed down through their great-grandmother or great-grandfather.

“Why do you even care?  Why not erase it all and edit the photo like you had originally planned?”

Jessica rolled her eyes.  Typical Jasmine.  She didn’t have to answer at all but if she didn’t Jasmine would be at it all day.  Too bad they had all made plans to take Delilah to the park. 

“Because Jasmine.  Who knows what happened up there.  A man might have lost his life.”

Jasmine scoffed.  “Might have.”

“He has a gun to his head!”  Jessica exclaimed clearly irritated with the conversation.  Did she really have to explain why she was going to turn the photograph over to authorities?

“That doesn’t mean anything.”  The smile still held tightly to her face, as though permanent glue was the culprit adhesive.

Jessica turned to Justin who chuckled to himself.  “This isn’t funny!”  Jessica pointed a finger at him.

“Of course it is.  Well, technically if someone died it’s not funny.”

The room grew quiet and Jasmine’s smile finally faded. 

“Whatever.  Let’s go.”  She stalked out of the room shaking her head as though to shake any further argument from her mind.

Jessica let her hands fall to her side.  When angered she always exaggerated gestures with her arms.  This was probably the reason she caught Justin laughing. 

She grabbed the paper from the printer as it finished, waving it in the air to let the ink dry.  She was left in the room alone.  Delilah no doubt was already in the car waiting to be taken to the park as promised.  What was wrong with her turning the photograph in?  What harm would it do anyway?  If she were Jasmine she wouldn’t turn it in.  But she wasn’t Jasmine which gave her all the more reason to worry about it.  Some guy might have died.  Some guy that she didn’t know but somehow felt responsible for.

Jessica took a separate vehicle and let Delilah ride with Jasmine and Justin.  It was unlikely they would be down in Texas again for a while.  Not even for Christmas.  Maybe Jessica and Delilah would have their own quiet Christmas.  Something different for a change.  She knew Christmas without her mother would be enough of a change but she still had to make sure Delilah enjoyed the holidays. 

Jessica’s mind went to Cade.  Wasn’t it Monday yet?  Maybe she would call the airport and see if she could get a last minute ticket to California today.  No it was too late.  Already going on four o-clock she knew she would have to endure one more night of her family.  Or what was left of it. 

“Momma Aunt Jassy said she’s going to take me Christmas shopping and I get to pick out whatever I want!”  Delilah was already running towards her car before she even had it parked.  She even threw open the door for her before Jessica had time to undo her seatbelt.

Jessica smiled and rose from the car.  She placed a hand on Delilah’s shoulder and followed her into the park.  How was her sister going to do that?  She wondered.  Jasmine didn’t have a house payment since their mother’s house was paid off but she still had a five-hundred dollar car payment to worry about.  And insurance.  Jessica knew well enough that Jasmine’s business had gotten a little slow right before the holidays, it happened every year.  No doubt she would be able to provide for herself but to buy extravagant gifts for her niece?  No way.

“That’s cool.”  Jessica tried to share in the enthusiasm.  She wouldn’t tell Delilah that they probably wouldn’t be coming down for Christmas. 

Jessica seated herself next to her sister.  “What are you doing?” 

“What do you mean?”  Jasmine tried to sound innocent.

“Jasmine you know what I’m talking about.  Making Delilah think you are going to buy whatever she wants.  You barely have enough money for groceries.  You just bought a new computer before you and Carl split.”

“And Carl kept the computer so he has to make the payments.”

“Do you have to be so stupid?”  Jessica hadn’t called anyone stupid since middle school; however, her sister was quickly earning the title.  “Carl kept your computer so you would come back to him.  How are you going to run your business with mom’s computer?  You saw how long it took to load that CD of pictures earlier.”

Jasmine shrugged.  Apparently she hadn’t thought of this.  “Carl doesn’t want me.”

Jessica shifted on the bench, watching Delilah out of the corner of her eye.  Her daughter was swinging while fumbling with her iPod.  “What do you mean Carl doesn’t want you?  You left him remember?” 

Jessica could’ve sworn she saw a tear but Jasmine wiped it away before she could be sure.  “Carl has been talking to his ex wife Jess.” 

“Oh.”  Jessica slumped against the back of the bench.  Carl and his ex wife didn’t have any children together so they really had no reason to be talking.  Jessica didn’t think he would ever talk to her again, much less think about her.  The woman had cheated on him and as faithful as Carl was he himself could never forgive another for not being faithful in return. 

“AND he’s been loaning her money.  Well, not loaning, giving!”  Jasmine seemed more heartbroken than infuriated though she tried to hide it. 

“What do you mean giving her money?”  Jessica sat upright.  Delilah was now going down the slide trying to keep her iPod from slipping on the way down. 

“Carl handles all the money.  I checked the bank account online one day and saw there were several withdraws being drafted into another account.  It was a separate account for him that also had Lisa’s name on it.  I asked him about it and he came clean.  I didn’t ask why I just packed up my stuff and left.”

Jessica nodded in understanding.  Shit just happened to hit the fan after their mother died.  It seemed as though their luck just kept getting worse and worse. 

Jasmine’s marriage was failing, Justin wasn’t making any progress with his work or love life, and Jessica had practically witnessed a murder.  Well, not exactly but close enough to it.  It wasn’t like this was a movie or anything.

Chapter 9>>>>

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: