After Alma and her sons leave the room, TJ and Sam begin their preparations to transport Harlan’s dead body. Coming from the hall and walls of the patient with the disturbed family occasionally are heard sounds of loud voices.
“Pay those people never-mind,” TJ advise Sam after one particular outburst, “That family has had a heap of trouble over the years. Miss Margie started holding that family together when she was very little, after her mother’s death. More responsiblity than any child should have so young. Now, losing her father – I am guessing that is why she is here, that, that might be just too much, even if she is a grown ass woman.”
Without leaving Sam time to question who Miss Margie is or asking further questions, TJ directed her through the tasks as if she was a newbie. Since she no longer needed the direction, and quite sure that TJ knew as well, Sam took that cue to concentrate on the task at hand.
Leaving the room was as seamless and quiet as their arrival all the way to the moment TJ shut the door of the hearse locking the covered remains in back, minus Miss Margie’s input.
TJ turned to Sam and in a fatherly fashion informed her, “I forgot to get more coffee at the store, didn’t think to order any with our breakfast. Let me grab my thermos and see if there is any in the cafeteria for us. You go on, I will wait for you to get in your vehicle. Lock them doors, missy.”
“TJ, go on, I got from the car to the building without you, I can walk back by myself,” Sam reminded him as she turned and walked toward her car.
“Alright, but you be careful. This is a small town, but everywhere there are bad people,” TJ admonished the young woman loud enough for her to hear while retrieving his thermos from under the driver’s seat. TJ turned back several times between the hearse and the door hidden under the metal awning. He paused listening to Sam’s heels click the pavement, shaking his head. These people are dead, don’t care whether the girl has shoes or not, always wearing them heels.
T.J. walked back into the building. Almost to the cafeteria, he heard voices coming from a hall ahead of him. He stopped in mid-step. The woman’s voice was familiar. Shit.
T.J. turned down a hall leading away from the cafeteria, walking a few steps to avoid being seen. A silent prayer and heavenward look before looking over to the large mirror hung at the ceiling corner. In it he saw the reflection of the woman, Miss Margie, and two large men. A short scrawny man walking beside her, as she carried on. Both men all trying to hush and calm her.
“Margaret, you can not make a scene.” The chubby man behind her sounded annoyed.
“I am not making a scene, everyone else is. Fouling things up. That’s making a scene.”
“Marg, if you would just be quiet, stay calm, we had planned contingencies. Just let the experts do their jobs,” the man beside her rubbed her back trying to appear consoling, but the tone of his voice belied an agitation.
“And what if they don’t! ”
They turned a corner down the hall TJ had been planning on taking himself. Like, hell, we can get coffee from the diner. TJ retraced his steps. He didn’t know what those people were up to, but he wanted no part of it. He couldn’t shake an uneasy feeling.
“Something is wrong with those people,” he under his breath to himself.
At the exit to the building T.J. paused, said another heavenly directed prayer for his mental state, took a deep breath and left the building. The prayer an attempt to leave the dust from something wrong behind him.
Half way across the lot to her vehicle, Sam hears a noise. Stopping, she slowly turns around in a circle looking near and far for the source. Focusing for a second on the hearse, nothing looks amiss. She waits to hear another noise, instead a light breeze of wind touches her bare face. Thinking it was the wind rustling a branch, she walks toward her vehicle.
Unable to shake the feeling something else was there, Sam walks around the car looking at it and then once more trying to see beyond into the dark. She clicked the door lock in her hand so the interior light would come on and examined through the driver’s window the interior of the car. Opening the door and sitting down in one swift motion, she locked the door from the key fob still in her hand. Shivering as she looked around her, she checked the mirrors. Sam looked straight at the entrance she had just left. The shiny black vehicle parked in front of it. TJ had locked it, she was sure. Starting her vehicle and pulling up to block the hearse. Nothing had felt right since she walked toward her car.
Waiting until TJ came out, Sam rolled down her front passenger window as TJ came around to open his door.
”Hey, girl, didn’t get no coffee. Can you pick some up with the food?” TJ’s deep voice boomed louder than needed to be heard over her engine.
“Sure, no problem. You be careful on the drive back ok?”
TJ nodded his head, “You be careful with my chocolate pie on the way to the home.”
“Will do, in a few,” Sam assured him.
Waving each other off, Sam waited until TJ was in the vehicle and motioning before she pulled from the lot on to the side street. The big black hearse followed her economy car out of the lot. At the first corner she turned left, TJ right. Back at the hospital parking entrance they had come from a second hearse pulled in.