“This is Jessie,” I said. I got an automatic burst of bad energy up my back. Nobody ever called me Jessica except substitute teachers when they were taking roll. Or people who were about to tell me I was in trouble. Again.
“I’m sorry.” The guy took in such a huge breath I wondered if he was locked in a walk-in refrigerator and was running out of air.
The big inhale turned into an even longer exhale. Okay, so maybe he was trying to sell me a yoga course.
“Well, Jessie,” he said. “This is your father.”
I froze, there in the cooking heat on the porch, and I forgot about spiders and Chelsea and Marcus and Lucy and Ethel. I tried to funnel what focus I had on that voice on the phone.
Because I didn’t have a father.
Okay, so, weird. Very weird. My father died before I was even born. Were we talking psycho here? The man would have to be to want to be my father.
I stood up and shook my feet so the pant legs of my shorts would straighten out. “Sorry,” I said. “I think you have the wrong number.”
“You’re not Jessica -- Jessie Hatcher? Brooke Hatcher’s daughter?”
“Yeah,” I said -- and only then remembered that you’re not supposed to give out personal information to strangers over the phone. Or was that the Internet?
“Then I have the right number,” he said.
It occurred to me that he sounded kind of nervous. Weren’t psychos usually pretty jittery? In movies they always showed them sweating and pacing when they were holding people hostage in a bank vault.
“You didn’t get a letter from me, Jessie?” he said.
“You sent me a letter?” Did that mean he had my address too? Now I was starting to sweat and pace.
“A couple of weeks ago. From St. Augustine.”
“Where’s St. Augustine?” I said.
“St. Augustine, Florida.”
“Oh,” I said. “That St. Augustine.”
I could feel the perspiration running down between my shoulder blades, but I couldn’t seem to get it together to go back into the air-conditioned house. I just stood there in the middle of the frying porch and saw the letter Mom had confiscated from my room wiggling in my memory the way the hot pavement ahead does when you’re going down the road.
“Maybe we should start over,” the man who claimed to be my father said. “If you didn’t get the letter, I could see how this would catch you off guard.”
“Ya think?” I said. “I got a letter but I didn’t open it.”
“That would make sense then.”
Uh, no, none of this made sense.
“I’m Lou Kennesaw. Apparently your mom has never talked to you about me.”
I added the psycho-pacing to the psycho-sweating. “No,” I said. “I mean, yes, she told me about Lou Kennesaw, but you died before you could marry her. You’re dead.”
Articles on the BreakPoint website are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Chuck Colson or BreakPoint. Outside links are for informational purposes and do not necessarily imply endorsement of their content.