DISCLAIMER: Janice Covington and Melinda Pappas belong to MCA, all other characters except for George Dasch are my own. This story is done for entertainment purposes only, without permission from MCA. I'm not making any profits from it. (But I will take e-mail at email@example.com.)
This story depicts two women being romantically involved, if you don't like this type of story, or you're under 18 years old, please stop now. If it's illegal where you live, MOVE!
Historical note: Operation Paukenschlag, George Dasch, along with the landings in Long Island and Florida are a true and historical fact. The landing depicted in this story is from my own imagination.
Last note: While not required to read, references are made to my other Mel and Janice stories 'The Aegis' and 'Terror in the Amazon' you may be a little confused if you don't read them, also 'The Aegis' starts off the saga of our two heroines relationship. (Hint: both are also good stories too.)
The Further Adventures of Janice and Mel
House on Redmen's Hill
"Diving Officer, make your depth fifteen meters," The U-boat captain called out, followed by "Raising periscope."
The quartermaster jotted into the ship's log the change in depth, along with the raising of the periscope. Then with the rest of the men in the control room held his breath.
A U-boat coming to periscope depth was a dangerous time; they were leaving the safety of deep water and thermal layers that hid the boat's noise. Going shallow, where an enemy destroyer could hear them, or they could be coming up under a fishing boat, it's engines off, and nets cast off drifting with the currents. Many a submarine had been damaged, even lost to such a collision, and far too many times with no survivors to tell the tale.
Only two voices were allowed to speak at this time, the Diving Officer calling out the change in depth, and the captain, spinning the periscope continuously in circles, his eye glued to the sight glass, calling out, "No shapes, no shadows." Tying to catch sight of a ship above them before they crashed into it.
"Scopes breaking," came the sudden cry, as SS Major Walter Rauter listened to the news that the periscope had broke through the ocean's surface. Waiting for the next words, knowing that they could mean the boat's death.
Spinning the periscope three full revolutions the captain after what seemed like an eternity called out, "No Contacts."
It felt like the crew let out a breath as one, as the men in what's been called an iron coffin relaxed. Smiling, Major Rauter returned once again to the mission at hand.
Operation Paukenschlag was to bring the war to America, while his team was landing in the state of Connecticut to spy on the submarine base in Groton, two other teams were landing in Florida and Long Island, New York. Their job was one of sabotage, eight men under the leadership of George Dasch were to spread out across America and destroy what they could of the defense industry; show the country that Germany did indeed have a long arm.
Snorting, Rauter guessed that within a week, two at most they all would be caught. He knew Dasch, and if he ever needed a buffoon for a job, George Dasch would be the first he would call.
After he heard that idiot was placed in charge of the saboteurs, he had insisted that his team remain secret from the others. Since their missions were so different Major Rauter had argued there's no reason for Dasch to know about his team.
He was thankful that the minds that put Dasch in charge thought that the less the teams knew about each other, the better. Soon, the attacks would begin, sabotage on land, and six U-boats off the American coast sinking merchants.
"Major Rauter?" came a voice that he identified as the captain's, "Major, we will launch the rubber boats in thirty minutes, please have your team ready."
Nodding, the SS major stood, heading to collect the three men who were to share this assignment. He still had his uniform on, and until they landed and made sure no one was on the beach, they would remain in uniform. Once caught in civilian clothes, he knew that he would be tried as a spy and face a firing squad, in his uniform, he would be treated as a prisoner of war.
Yes, he thought, it was time for the American's to start paying the price for their war on Germany.
Janice grabbed the overhead handrail when the train swayed sharply as it rounded a curve. Her fingers tightened their grip on the two coke bottles in her other hand; she wanted to get back to her seat with her best friend. If only all these sailors would get out of her way she wished.
Breaking through the mass of bodies, she saw her friend, and of course she was not alone anymore. Without her to protect Mel, the beautiful raven haired Southerner drew men like a moth to a flame.
Pushing her way toward her now occupied seat, she secretly wished the old rhyme of men not making passes at women who wore glasses had been true.
Janice knew she was being selfish, but she could not help her feelings, she was in love with Melinda. She knew she should back away, and let Mel have a normal life with men, but every time she saw a man near the woman, her heart broke. She knew that sooner or later Melinda would find the man of her dreams and leave.
But a hard look replaced the smile she had; Janice intended the man to be nothing short of perfection, and the slop eared scarecrow, creature from a tar pit talking to her Mel now, was not it.
Melinda nodded and kept her smile pasted to her face, the sailor was talking about going to submarine school in New London, Connecticut. When he saw that didn't impress her, he switched to stories about boot camp, describing how tough it was, and unlike the Army or Marines, you needed a brain to be in the Navy.
The sailor thought he was on the right track when the Southerner's smile brightened, until he heard a cold voice over his shoulder. "Excuse me, but you're in my seat," Janice tried saying as neutral as possible, yet she was unable to keep an edge off of her tone.
Looking over his shoulder, the man felt a shiver run through his body, as a pair of ice cold green eyes stared at him. Swallowing hard, the sailor stood nodding, "Excuse me, ma'am, didn't mean to . . . to . . . I mean I didn't, huh . . ."
Falling into the seat, Janice passed a coke bottle over to Melinda ignoring the man, "Anything in the paper interesting Mel?" the blond asked while taking a drink from her coke.
His ego deflating, the sailor looked at Janice, then with a gaze of longing at Mel, turned away and lost himself in the crowd.
"Janice, that was rude," Melinda said as the man departed.
Rolling her eyes, Janice took another sip of her coke, looking at Mel, "Come on, he's not your type!"
"You don't know what my type is," Mel replied, though she was not upset, there was a thing called manners in her upbringing.
Raising a brow, Janice sat back into her seat next to Mel, looking at her carefully, "Ok, tell me your type, let me hear it."
Switching her gaze out the window at the New England countryside Mel considered what to say then thought maybe it was time. "Ok, I'm looking for someone cute, with brains." Turning to see if Janice was listening, the women almost faltered when she met the green eyes watching her.
Turning away from those eyes, Melinda continued, "They have to be adventuresome, able to take care of themselves, yet kind and caring. Someone that I can talk to and feel safe around, but not take me for granted, and know I have a mind of my own."
"Anything else?" Janice asked.
Not sure, Mel thought she heard a slight quiver in Janice's tone, "Yes, they would have to romance me, flowers, dinner, dancing, maybe poetry?"
"Poetry!" Janice exclaimed.
Laughing, Melinda picked up her paper, "Yes, poetry, and they can't sell out their principles."
"Mel, don't start," Janice replied, anger just under the surface of her voice, "Stephen Leckey is ruined, he was fired for not saying anything about the deaths in the Amazon. And I was not planning on saying anything to anyone about it anyway. If the museum decided to offer me two years salary for not talking to the press, like I was already planning not to, I don't see the harm."
"Besides," the woman continued, "You wanted to go some place and rest, and for me to heal from my concussion. What else better to do with the money than go and spend a nice few weeks in a New England cottage! Anyway, I didn't see you giving back your salary."
Ignoring the Yankee, Mel kept reading her paper, the headline proclaimed that six of the eight Nazi saboteurs had already been executed. Their leader George Dasch had been the first to die in the electric chair, the New York Times said that justice had been swift, less than two weeks from the time the raiding parties arrived in New York and Florida, to their deaths in the chair.
"Why are you so pissed at me?" Janice entreated.
"Janice Covington, watch your mouth!" Melinda cried, not so shocked as she was when she first met the woman at her language.
Peeking at the crowded train of sailors surrounding her, Janice wondered if there was anything she could say that could be offensive to the men.
"Well Mel, why are you upset?" Janice asked once again.
Folding her paper, Melinda smiled at the woman next to her, knowing that since she got her injured friend back to the ship in Brazil, her had life changed forever, but she was not sure what to do about it, or how to let the woman know.
"You still insist on getting the motorbike?" Mel asked, her voice almost a whisper.
Pulling a cigar out of her shirt pocket, Janice clamped her teeth hard on the cigar butt. She knew that Mel was against her getting the Indian Four, but it was already becoming a classic, didn't the woman understand she wondered. "Yes Mel, while we're in Mystic, I'll be running to Groton to pick it up."
Opening her paper back up, Melinda purposely placed the pages between her and Janice, "Fine then, kill yourself, see if I care!"
"Jesus Mel, you act like we were married or something!" Janice shot back, "I won't kill myself." Not hearing anything coming from behind the newspaper, the woman looked around, hoping that no one was paying attention to what she was about to do.
Scooting closer to her friend, she was met with a turning of pages, and a shake of the newspaper, "Mel?"
"What?" came an icy reply.
Leaning closer, Janice voice took on a pleading demeanor, "Mel, I'll be careful, I won't get hurt." Pausing the woman listened for any sound coming from behind the paper, hearing none, she continued.
"Look Mel, you know how long I've talked about this motorcycle. With the war this may be my only chance to get an Indian Four. Hell, they've rationed our food, clothes, now they've rationed shoes. I may never get a chance for it again, come on Mel . . . Please?"
Lowering her paper, Melinda looked at Janice, she knew she had lost when she looked at Janice's attempt at making sad puppy dog eyes. "Promise you won't go faster than fifty miles an hour?"
Nodding quickly, Janice grinned, YES her mind was saying.
"And no stunts, it's for riding, not playing around?" Mel added as an after thought.
"I promise, cross my heart and hope to die." Janice replied as she used her right hand to make an X over her left breast.
Sighing in resignation, Melinda nodded, "Ok, get your motorbike or cycle, or whatever you call it."
Grinning wildly, Janice leaned over kissing Mel on the cheek, then sat back in her seat, looking like she just opened a Christmas present.
Touching the spot where Janice kissed her cheek, Mel thought that it tingled, and admitted it was a pleasant feeling. Issuing a small cough, to get the woman's attention as she reached for her purse. "You didn't forget your ration book I hope?"
Pulling a brown pouch the size of a paperback book out of the rear pocket of her pants, Janice waved it in the air. "No way, we best hit the market before we go to the cottage though, the agent told me that it's furnished but has not been occupied since the war started."
Nodding, Melinda looked out the window as the conductor passed through the car yelling, "New London, all out for New London, Groton, and submarine base; next stop Mystic."
"Why don't we go to the cottage first, check it out, then go to the market," Melinda asked.
Shrugging, Janice nodded, "Either way, just that I was told it was isolated, we can grab a taxi and have it come back to get us in an hour or so, how's that?"
Nodding, Mel lurched forward as the train started to leave the station, leaving the crowd of sailors on the platform surrounding a USO free coffee stand. "Did you see a picture of the cottage?"
"Nope," Janice replied, "But it had what we were looking for, near the beach, lots of room, and no people!"
Chuckling, Melinda looked back out the window as the train crossed over the Thames River Bridge. "Good, sound's like we're actually going to have some peace and quiet for a change."
Nodding her head in agreement, Janice grabbed Mel's hand giving it a gentle squeeze, "For once."
"Mystic, five minutes, Mystic next stop, five minutes," cried the conductor as he strolled down the now vacated aisle, since most of the sailors departed at the New London stop.
Standing, Janice smirked looking at the overhead luggage compartments. She hated this while promptly climbing on a seat in order to grab her suitcase.
"Janice," Mel said as she stood next to her friend, "I can get the suitcases, I'm not a weakling you know." She readily grabbed her baggage and set it on the floor.
Dropping down from the seat, the blond woman picked up her case and made her way to the swaying platform to wait for the train to pull into the station. "I know Mel, but for the past week you wouldn't let me do anything, I'm getting fidgety."
Walking over to join her friend, Melinda looked out at the ocean, "Well, you were told not to exert yourself; Janice a concussion is serious, and you need rest." Despite her calm exterior, Mel recognized just how serious Janice's injury was.
The doctor told her that while Janice displayed the symptoms of a mild concussion with the two heavy blows to her skull, the doctor had been surprised there had been no brain damage. Mel knew when Janice received both of them, the first was when the tent collapsed in the Amazon, and the blond was hit by falling debris.
The second was when Victoria Toller was about to shoot her, and Janice already suffering bouts of unconsciousness, woke up in time to sink her teeth into the woman's leg. Giving Mel time to fight back, but not before the now dead woman pistol-whipped Janice on the head.
She remembered the track through the jungle, Janice being carried by sling spending most of the journey dead to the world.
"Penny for your thoughts?" A pleasant voice interrupted her musings.
"Just hoping the weather will be good enough for laying on the beach," Mel replied, looking at the small woman next to her.
Nodding, Janice grabbed the handrail as the train jerked to a stop, and the conductor placed a step stool on the ground as the passenger disembarked from the train. A redcap was in front of Janice immediately taking her suitcase placing it on a baggage cart; soon to be joined by Melinda's suitcase as the two women followed the redcap to the taxi stands.
The Yellow cab driver was waiting for the redcap to bring him a fare. Brushing some imaginary dust off his uniform, the driver already had the trunk open, depositing the luggage inside, then briskly ran over tipping his cap and opening the door for the two women with a smile.
Digging into her pants pocket, Janice watched the driver run around the front of the cab, and get in picking up his clipboard. "Where to ladies?"
"999 Redmen's Hill," Janice sounded off, then sat back in her seat.
"Wooooo, lady! What do you want to go there for?" the driver exclaimed.
Surprised at the reaction, Janice shrugged her shoulders at Mel's questioning look, "Huh, cause we rented it?" the blond said slowly, while trying to figure out what was wrong.
Chuckling, the driver put the cab in gear, and drove off into light traffic, "Sorry, it's just people around here avoid the house, and the area in general," the man uttered over his shoulder while following the ocean front road out of town.
Leaning forward, Melinda adjusted her glasses, "And why do they avoid the cottage?"
"COTTAGE!" the driver said in surprise, "Listen, are you sure you got the right address, it's the Wurz place you want?"
Rubbing her temples, Janice could feel a headache coming on, "If the Wurz place is 999 Redmen's Hill, then yes. Ahaaaa can you let us in on what the big deal is?"
Getting comfortable, the driver grinned, "Ok, I know about it cause I grew up here in Mystic. The Wurz place is our spook house, you know haunted."
Turning to look at each other, the two women gradually shook their head, their expression of disbelief at their fortunes. "I don't believe this," Janice muttered under her breath. But aloud she asked, "Why do you say it haunted?"
Turning the steering wheel, the cabby drove onto a lonely stretch of dirt road, "Hey, it's not me Lady, just talk that's all, with it's history, and other folks staying there only a few days . . . people just talk."
Clearing her throat, Melinda leaned forward in her seat, eyes blazing with excitement, "What history? Have people been killed there?"
Looking astonished at her ecstatic friend, Janice sat back listening to the driver and wishing she had some aspirin.
"Well," the driver began speeding up the cab, "I can't tell you much; it was build by Henry Wurz bout a hundred years ago. He was a whaling Captain, and stories is that he was a hard one, and came to a bad end in the place."
Grinning Mel shifted in her seat, "What kind of bad end?"
"Not sure, you need to ask around the docks for that, they're big on telling stories, if you don't mind going to the bars down there." The driver called over his shoulder.
"Over the years," he continued, "the place kept changing hands, nobody stayed there long. Then just before the war, the new owners fixed it up with running water and got the city to run power lines to the place that's about all I know."
"Why do you say it's haunted then?" Janice asked.
"People say things, hearing voices, somebody walking about, you know things." Hesitating, the driver pointed out the window, "There she is."
"THAT'S A COTTAGE!" Janice nearly yelled into Mel's ear, as she looked out the window.
Situated on top of the hill, was an old weather beaten mansion, the once new coat of paint, was now a dull brown. As the cab rounded the long circular drive, both women gazed at the size of the house. Three stories, if you count the attic windows, placed between the sharp slanted roof. The front door faced the ocean, with a porch covered by thin screens to keep out the insects. The house looked almost like a medieval keep, a tower was located in the left front corner of the mansion. Long windows on the f As the car came to a stop, Janice not waiting for the driver, opened her door and stepped out; looking upwards as she finally had sense of the manor's size. "Janice," a voice called from within the car, "How much did you spend to rent this place?"
"I tell you Mel it was cheap!" the woman exclaimed, while the driver was already unloading their luggage. "Sweet Mary," was all that she could voice.
Melinda got out of the car searching through her handbag for her coin purse, "Can you come back in about . . . two hours, I'm guessing we'll need to head for the market." Mel added a large tip to help convince the cabby to come back.
Tipping his cap, the man nodded as he eyed his tip, "You bet Lady, no problem what so ever, see you in two hours." Then with a second tip of his hat to Janice he got into car.
"WAIT," Janice called coming out of her stupor, "Just one question, why do they call this Redmen's Hill?"
Starting the car, the driver put it in gear before looking at Janice, "Back went people first came to this area there was a big fight with the Indian's living here, the settlers killed them all on the hill, then threw the bodies into the ocean."
Shrugging, the man paused in thought, "I'm not sure whether it's cause of all the blood spilled, or all the Indian's killed here that gave it it's name." Inching the cab forward, he stuck his head out the window, "By the way, name's Leo, bye now."
Watching the cab drive off with an open mouth, Janice looked at Mel, her eyes were shining as she took in the spectacle of the mansion.
"Mel," Janice spoke quietly, "You love this don't you?"
Laughing as she picked up her suitcase, Melinda walked up the porch stairs, "Come on Janice," she said, the thrill undisguised in her voice, "This will be fun, our own haunted house, I mean just look at it!" adding a sweeping gesture with her hand to make her point.
Grabbing her case, Janice followed her friend up the step, "Yea, I'm looking at it all right, when Hollywood wants to make a movie about ghosts, they come here."
Smirking, Melinda tested the door handle, laughing with glee as the door swung open with a loud creak, "YES, I LOVE IT."
Shuffling her feet following, Janice shook her head, "Great, we'll both be killed in our sleep."
"Scaredy-cat." Melinda said playfully.
"Am not." Janice shot back.
"Am not," Janice said again as the door creaked shut behind her when she entered the mansion.
The women stopped as the door closed behind them, they were in the entryway. An antique hat rack was to their immediate left, with an archway leading into the living room. Taking a half step, Janice grimaced when the wooden floorboards creaked under her.
"You know Mel, when we go to the market, maybe we should pick up a can of oil," Janice said with a roll of her eyes.
Laughing, Melinda sat down her suitcase, and walked with echoing footsteps into the living room, surprised at the dust free condition. "Come on Janice, this place has atmosphere, can't you feel it?"
Following Mel into the room, Janice looked around, as if expecting to be attacked at any minute, "Sure it has atmosphere, if you like Jack the Ripper."
Shaking her head with a smile, Melinda strolled around the room examining the furniture, "I have to say the owners have fixed this place up, there's even a radio here."
Pulling the fat rationing book out of her back pocket, Janice dropped it on the coffee table, "Good, I understand that Columbia is doing Dracula tonight, that'll fit right in."
Walking briskly, Mel entered the tower room, circular walls, with a pair of long windows. The only furniture in the room was a loveseat and a standup lamp, "Oh I love this room," Looking back out the entrance, Mel searched for her friend, "Janice?"
"Come in the tower room and look at it," Melinda called, waiting until the blond appeared carrying a letter. "What do you have there? And look at this room, isn't it adorable?"
Looking up from the letter, Janice nodded, "yea, real cute . . ." lifting the letter, the woman turned her gaze to Mel. "It's from the travel agent, says the place has been cleaned, fresh ice in the ice box, to enjoy ourselves, and to watch for headless ghosts that will kill us in our sleep."
Smirking, Mel snatched the letter out of Janice's hand scanning the paper, "It say's nothing about ghosts!"
Grinning, the small woman put her hands in her pockets strolling back towards the living room, "Cause they got him before he could finish the letter."
"Janice, this place is a gem!" Melinda said as she walked through the living room, and entered the dinning room. The room was large, with a mahogany dinner table big enough to seat over a dozen people.
Entering behind Mel, Janice looked at the table with raised eyebrows, "Looks like the guy was a little popular," the woman commented as she continued on into the kitchen.
"Or he believed in big families," Mel answered before bumping into her friend, "Janice?"
"What the hell type of kitchen is this!" the woman blurted out.
Gasping in pleasure, Melinda almost ran across the room, examining the wood burning stove, "I don't believe it!" she called out in amazement, "Janice, I've not see a stove like this in years."
Marching to the sink in a daze, the small blond looked at the hand pump, then turned her gaze to Melinda, "Where's the faucets?"
Cackling in glee, Mel ran over pumping the water handle until fresh clear water spurted forth. "Oh this is so adorable!"
Looking at Mel like she had lost her mind, Janice walked over to the Icebox opening the door, and nodding in satisfaction that it was cold.
"Come on Janice," Mel said, "It's not like you've not been through much worse out in the field for months."
Opening a door, Janice looked down dusty stairs leading to a dark basement. Nope she thought, not going down there. "I'm in the states now Mel," she replied closing the door, "In America I expect appliances that work with a turn of a knob."
Smirking, Mel walked past Janice and winked, "Let's go upstairs and grab our rooms, then check out the bathroom."
Her face falling, Janice understood the meaning of her friends words, "Oh noooooooo . . . I'm not taking no cold showers or baths!"
Chasing after Mel, Janice grabbed her suitcase and ran up the stairs, "Wait up Mel, I read lot's of books, minute we're alone, the ghost will get one of us."
Smiling, Melinda opened one of the doors on the second floor, "Got my room!" she said quickly before Janice arrived behind her breathless.
The bedroom was huge, but was able to be dominated by an enormous canopy bed. "Damn," an awe struck voice said behind Mel, "What the hell size is that," Janice said, "Extra king size?"
"Janice . . ." Mel started.
"I know, watch my language," her friend said chastised, "But you could get six people in that bed Mel."
Taking in the room, Melinda guessed it had to be the master bedroom, a fireplace was centered in the wall to the door's right, with chestnut chiffonniers flanking both sides. A make-up table was opposite the room, with a tiffany lamp on one end, and a pair of doors on both sides.
Looking at each other, Janice shrugged her shoulders, and opened the door closest to the large window. The door lead to a walk in closet that Janice remarked could've served as another bedroom.
Walking through the closet, Janice opened a second door, which lead into another bedroom. Though not as large as the first, the woman claimed it, saying that a queen size bed would fit her small frame very nicely.
"Janice, come and see this." Mel called from the master bedroom.
"Just a minute," she yelled in reply, finishing unpacking, then throwing the suitcase under the bed.
Melinda was waiting outside the second door by the make-up table when Janice entered, "What do you want to show me?" she asked.
Nodding toward the open door, Mel gave a twisted smile, "Take a look at MY bathroom."
Raising an eyebrow, the small woman walked into the master bathroom, and whooped out loud. The bath had all the furnishings of a modern home, from a showerhead installed over the large tub, a sink with a faucet and porcelain handles to a toilet with an overhead storage tank. "Things are looking up Mel."
"What do you mean, looking up?" Mel said playfully, "This is my bath, you have to find your own."
Strolling out of the bathroom with a swagger, Janice, smiling, stopped in front of Melinda, then looked her in the eye, "Then are you ready to spend two weeks with a woman that will not be taking a bath, brush her teeth, or wash her clothes. SLEEPING in the room next to you, with the door open?"
Making a face, Mel let a shudder show, "Actually, I don't mind sharing."
Chuckling along with her friend, Janice turned for the hallway, "We best get ready for shopping." Throwing a pointing thumb over her shoulder, the woman had a puzzled expression, "How come that's so modern?"
Trailing after Janice, Mel took a last glance at the bathroom before entering the hallway, "Maybe they got that bath first when they fixed up the place. Bet we'll find a pump and water heater in the basement."
"You'll find it, I'm not going down there."
"Come on Janice," Mel started to wonder, "Are you really serious about ghosts?"
Looking down the long curved staircase, Janice wondered herself, she guessed she was over playing it, but. . ."I like ghost stories, and movies, guess I was letting my imagination run away with me."
"Good," Melinda said as she grabbed her purse, "Let's take a look outside while waiting for the taxi."
"Sure, just let me get my ration book," As Janice walked into the living room then slowed to a halt looking at the empty coffee table, "Mel," she called back to the entryway, "Did you grab my ration book off the coffee table?"
"No," Mel answered, her hand on the front door handle, "You sure it was the coffee table and not the dinning room table?"
"I put it on the coffee table," Janice yelled then muttered a curse, "I'll check anyway." She yelled out again before walking into the other room.
Coming into the living room as Janice went into the dinning room, Melinda started after her friend when Janice came back out rubbing her forehead, "It's not there, I know I put it on the coffee table."
"Maybe it fell on the floor," Mel started to say as she turned for the coffee table, only to come to an abrupt halt, "Janice, what's that on the table?"
Narrowing her eyes, Janice walked to the center of the room, seeing that her ration book was in the middle of the coffee table. "Mel, I swear," she started to stammer, "I didn't see it."
Moving over to grab the book, Melinda looked at Janice still rubbing her forehead, "Headache?"
Nodding, then realizing Mel's meaning, Janice jerked her hand away from her throbbing temple, "Mel, it was NOT on the table."
Knowing the quarrel she would have on her hands if she suggested Janice stay here and rest, Mel just nodded. Then gave a silent note of thanks when a car horn sounded. "Taxi's here, let's go."
Holding back the biting remarks on the tip of her tongue, Janice turned without saying a word walked out the front door.
When the cab pulled away from the house taking the women to the market, a pair of eyes watched from the attic window.
Walking through the country store, Melinda was doing her best to stock up for the coming weeks. But glancing back and forth between her ration book and the food available she was already guessing another trip in a few days would be necessary. She only hoped that Janice was doing better next door at the meat market.
Strolling through the aisles and carefully picking out the supplies she and Janice would need, she could not help but think about her friend's headache, not seeing her ration book laying in the middle of the table. Maybe it was to early to have Janice moving around, she had thought when Janice suggested a few weeks get away to rest that it was a god send. She was so delighted at the idea that she didn't even raise an objection when Janice mention going to Yankee New England.
Janice will be all right she told herself, she has to be.
While in the butcher shop, the object of Mel's thoughts was arguing about the large bones in the pork chops she was trying to purchase. "Look, there's more bone than there is meat on them." Janice said, her voice raising.
"Look lady," the man behind the counter was saying, "You seemed to have forgotten there is a war on, so don't complain about the amount of bone in your meat while our guys are getting shot."
"Hell," Janice replied, then to the butcher's astonishment, pulled up the side of her shirt pointing to an ugly scar on her side. "Look, see that, got that in Africa a few months ago, I was shot by an Arab then a Gestapo agent dug their fingers into the wound for fun, don't tell me about the frigging war."
Dropping her shirt, Janice gave her best steely eyed stare at the man behind the counter, "NOW, since it seems a requirement here to be shot in the war for a person to get a good cut of meat, do you think I qualify?"
Sweating, the butcher could not meet Janice's stare, he was afraid of what the woman may do to him if he were to say that her wound didn't qualify.
Walking out of the butcher shop, Janice was carrying a bag with what she hoped enough was meat to last a week. Sighting the display in front of the farmer's market, she was enthusiastic that she had finished her shopping before Mel.
Now she was praying that her courage wouldn't leave her as she briskly crossed the street pulling one of the items off the display. Hurrying to pay for her purchase, she kept throwing glances at the entrance to the country store. She wanted it to be a surprise, but she wondered who would be surprised, she was scared, even terrified, but she knew she had to take the chance.
She was so lost in her thoughts, she jumped when the woman handed her purchase to her. Hiding it in the bag, Janice almost ran back across the street, letting out a cry of relief when she got to the store's entrance and saw Mel standing in front of the counter paying for her groceries.
Trying to calm her wildly beating heart, the small woman smiled when her friend came out carrying her bag. "How did you do?" Mel asked.
Turning toward the taxi that they kept waiting, Janice grinned, "Petty good, got some good cuts here, you just have to know how to talk to these guys, how about you?"
Climbing into the open door, Mel sat her bag on the seat waiting for Janice, who set her bag on the floor away from Mel. "I did ok," Melinda said as she sat back into her seat. "Got some can goods, flour, eggs and such; also I was told the country store is the tin collection dump."
Nodding, Janice closed her eyes feeling the pounding in her heart reaching her temples. She was not going to say a word about headaches; she knew the cause of this one, fear.
Carrying their burdens into the kitchen, Melinda turned for the pantry, while Janice opened the icebox and put away the meats, keeping the object she bought at the farmer's market in the bag.
Waiting for Melinda to emerge from the pantry, her mind was in a battle, bringing up every doubt and fear, every reason not to give her what she bought.
"Janice, lets check out the beach . . ." coming to a halt, Mel began to worry about her friend. The small woman had almost jumped out of her skin when she came into the room, "Janice what's wrong?"
Feeling faint, Janice knew she had to do it now, before her nerve left her. Reaching into the bag in front of her, she wrapped her hand around the stems jerking them out of the bag, offering a bouquet of flowers to Melinda at arm's length.
Mel looked at the bouquet of flowers thrust in her face, transferring her gaze from the flowers, she looked at Janice, who had became absorbed in a spot on the floor. Leaning forward, Melinda sniffed the mixed bunch of daisies, dandelions and lilacs, "House warming gift?"
"If you want to just call it that . . . yes." Janice said as quickly as she could.
Mel felt her face flush; Janice was letting her feelings be known, and if she turned her down that would be it. They would remain friends Mel was sure, but Janice would never take this chance again.
Gods, Melinda thought, she wished she could be sure she was doing the right thing. Taking the bouquet, Mel let her hand linger a little on Janice's hand, bringing the blonde's head up to gaze at her.
Clearing her throat, Mel cradled the flowers in her arms, it felt like her legs were turning to jelly, "Huh . . . so when do we go to dinner?" try as she might, she could not keep the quiver out of her voice.
Swallowing, Janice looked at Mel as her vision blurred, come on Covington she was saying to herself, answer damn it. "How . . . how about tomorrow night, we'll go into town for some seafood?"
"It's a date," Mel simply said with a smile.
Nodding, the smaller woman started jabbing over her shoulder several times, unable at first it seemed to speak, "I'm going upstairs, to . . . to." Nodding her head up and down Janice started backing out of the room, stumbling before quickly catching herself, "I meant to do that, yea . . . I'm just going upstairs, okay?"
Nodding, Melinda held back her smile, but her bright eyes took in Janice in all her delightful glory, muttering soon as the woman had left the kitchen, "Cute, she's so cute."
Once out of the kitchen, Janice did her best not to let out the scream she was holding inside, with a silent laugh, she bounded up the stairs, and practically flew down the corridor into her room.
Slamming the door shut behind her, she let out low scream of joy, hugging herself and giggling she walked toward her bed and narrowed her eyes in concentration. Sitting on top of the bed was her suitcase; "You are losing it Covington," she said to herself, "Can't remember putting your luggage on top or under your bed."
Grabbing her case she was surprised at the weight, letting go she sat it back on the bed. Curious she unfastened the locks and open the case finding all of her clothes neatly packed inside.
Backing away from the suitcase as if it was a snake, she turned rushing over to the clothing cabinet pulling open the top drawer. Finding it empty, she slammed it shut and jerked open the second drawer also finding it empty.
Backing away from the cabinet, Janice turned and stared at the packed clothes, before sinking to the floor holding her head.
Janice had lost all track of time sitting on the floor of her bedroom, her mind reliving the placing of her ration book on the coffee table. Then in detail sitting her suitcase on the bed and unpacking her clothes, placing them in the dresser drawers, then stashing her case under the bed when she was finished.
Then why Covington, she said to herself while stealing a glance at her case on the bed, why is your case sitting on the bed, still packed?
She'd had a headache all morning, she had thought she was over the effects of the concussion, but unless there really was a ghost that decided to pack her clothes, then she had imagined she did unpack. But most of all she knew she couldn't breathe a word of this to Mel, hell the woman even called her request for dinner a 'date'.
Or did she?
Filling with a sense of dread, Janice wondered if Melinda did accept her request, or did she just imagine it? How could she go downstairs and ask Mel if they were going out to dinner tomorrow night, and not let her know she may have hallucinated the whole thing?
And what counted more, can she believe anything she sees or does?