Fear in Charlottesville
Joyce Daniels

“Come on.  Come on, Tut. Get off the road!” A Sheep Dog, standing no more than two car lengths in front of Kado, refused to budge.  When she tried to pass, he moved with the car, blocking her path.  “What the hell?”  She pounded the horn again, rolled down the window and yelled, “Get out of my way! It’s too early for games!” The dog finally turned his head in a regal gesture and moved like his Egyptian namesake toward the ditch.  Kado rolled her eyes and accelerated. A thick cloud of Virginia dust billowed behind her car.            

She pulled onto a long lane and parked on the gravel driveway as the question “why was my best friend, so upset when she called?” grew louder in her mind. She picked up her newly purchased travel mug and shook it.  She hated being out in the world without enough coffee. She slammed the car door, headed toward the house, yanked the brim of her tan-colored cap further down over her forehead, and knocked.  The door swung open before her hand reached her side. Her eyes widened in dismay.  “Oh, Teresa! Look at you.  You’ve been crying.”  She pulled her friend close.            

Teresa touched Kado’s shoulder with her head, then sniffed and stepped away. “Let’s talk on the back porch.” Her voice brimmed with emotion. She hoisted her youngest child higher on her hip.  “Carter and Kristy are in the living room. I’ll just be a sec.”             

Eight-year-old Carter and his three-year-old sister were sprawled on an orange beanbag in pajamas watching  Lady and the Tramp.  Kado tiptoed across the brown area rug she and Teresa had picked out at Ikea.             

A sheet of plastic covered the porch floor. It crinkled as Kado headed for the swing, noting a case of wine sat near the door. The room had the damp, musty smell of mildew and sure signs of restoration:  Deep cracks in wall. Exposed lathe.  Frameless windows.  A five-gallon bucket of drywall mud, and a bag of plaster.  Sandpaper, a trowel, paintbrushes, a rectangular pan holding a paint roller and primer filled one corner.               

“Thanks for coming.” Teresa slumped against the door jam, holding two mugs of coffee. “I’m sorry the place is such a mess.”            

Kado patted the space beside her. “What’s got you so upset?”            

Teresa sank onto the swing and handed Kado a cup. She sighed and laid her head on Kado’s shoulder.  Kado pushed her shoes against the floorboards.  The swing moved back and forth.            

“David took off last night and never came home.   I called the sheriff first and then you. We fought. Oh, Kado!” She moaned.

First published: February, 2009
comments to the writer: doorknobsandbodypaint@gmail.com