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Setting Friday Free (A Buzby Beach Novel) Chapter 17

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DW is a veteran, a father, a husband, and a teacher. He's published 9 YA/NA novels thus far. The story you're reading might be next.

Coffee and a Swim

Sunday morning Garrison dragged himself out of bed and to the kitchen, where he brewed a cup of coffee in the Keurig. Though it was already warm outside, Garrison took the hot cup of coffee out onto the deck and sat listening to the birds and looking at the calm water in the swimming pool. As he sipped his coffee, he wondered if Friday would show up with more cryptic references to his father. The mysterious Friday hadn't appeared by the time Garrison finished his coffee.

Placing his empty coffee cup on the table, Garrison was suddenly overcome with a need to see the swimming pool's calm water disturbed. Shedding the boxer shorts he slept in, the young man made his way to the deep end, where he executed a shallow dive. Surfacing several feet up the length of the pool, Garrison began swimming the breaststroke toward the shallow end.

Garrison turned several laps before growing tired and climbing from the pool. He entered the cabana house to shower and dry off, all the while waiting to hear the telltale splash indicating Friday's arrival. He finished drying off, retrieved his boxer shorts, and went inside to prepare breakfast with no appearance by Friday.

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Before cooking breakfast, Garrison went into his bedroom and dressed for church. Services at South Creek Methodist, especially between Memorial Day and Labor Day, were casual dress affairs. Some ladies took casual to mean bikini tops and yoga pants. Some men showed up in tank tops and board shorts. Garrison always wore a golf shirt and a nice pair of cargo shorts.

Suitably dressed, he returned to the kitchen. Mrs. Nelson, his housekeeper, kept the refrigerator stocked with several essential items, one of which was eggs. Cheese and ham were also on her weekly restocking list. In short order, Garrison was sitting at the glass-topped table in the sunroom, enjoying a ham and cheese omelet with a slice of wheat toast and his second cup of coffee.

Garrison finished his breakfast, drained his coffee cup, and pulled out his phone for the first time that morning to see if he'd had any messages. Primarily, he wanted to know if he'd heard from his father.

His father had not called or sent a text. Garrison was disappointed but not surprised. He had a text from his mother, asking if he wanted to meet for lunch at the hospital cafeteria. There was a message from Officer Langstrom asking Garrison to call whenever he had a chance. The final text was from Laurel. He was a long time deciding whether to read her message or just delete it. Garrison could only imagine it was a 'Dear John' text.

On the off-chance Laurel hadn't sent him his marching orders, Garrison opened her message.

[Laurel] Garrison, when you get this, please call me, no matter what time it is. I'm sorry I reacted so badly tonight. Please, I want to help you solve your mystery. Or ghost story. So call me. Okay. Xo

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Garrison wasted no time calling Laurel. She picked up right away.

"Garrison, I'm so glad you called. I feel awful about how I reacted last night."

Garrison waited until Laurel paused for a breath and interjected, "It's okay. I shouldn't have laid all those things on you at once. Doing so was a major TMI infraction."

Laurel laughed and said, "You can definitely say it was too much information; too much all at once, anyway. I am sorry, though, Garrison. And if you still want me to, I'd like to help you solve your mystery and find your ghost."

Garrison breathed a sigh of relief. "Yes, I do want your help. What time do you have to be to work today?"

"I'm off work today," Laurel informed him. "Tomorrow, too, for that matter. My mom threw a fit when Denver told her I was still working six days a week after school started."

"Yea, Mom," Garrison cheered. "Can you meet me at the hospital for lunch around one?"

"The hospital is an odd place to take a date," Laurel pointed out. "Are you going there to visit someone?"

"Evidently, my mother is on duty in the emergency today," Garrison explained. "She sent me a text and asked me to meet her for lunch. I haven't replied but won't be able to go until after church. Church gets over around noon, so I thought I'd tell her I'd be there by one."

"I didn't know you went to church," Laurel confessed. "What church do you attend?"

"There's a Methodist Church here on the island close to the house," Garrison told her. "I'm not a Methodist, but they don't seem to mind. I sit at the back and keep to myself. I've only been going for a few weeks."

"Interesting," Laurel said. "Okay, I'll meet you at the hospital at one o'clock. Where in the hospital will I find you?"

"Do you know where the hospital’s main cafeteria is?"

"I think so," Laurel replied hesitantly. "I can always ask for directions at the info desk on my way in."

"Do you want me to wait for you by the information desk?" Garrison offered.

"No," Laurel answered. "You go ahead and meet your mom in the cafeteria. I'll find you. And, Garrison, I'm glad you called."

"I'm glad you sent the text," Garrison said. "See you at one."

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Laurel said good-bye and signed off. Garrison then sent a text to his mother.

[Garrison] I can be at the hospital by one. Will that work?

To his surprise, Dr. Armstrong - his mother went back to her maiden name after the divorce - answered right away.

[Dr. Armstrong] I’ll see you at one.

[Garrison] A friend of mine might join us.

[Dr. Armstrong] Fine.

"I guess one is fine, and a friend joining us is fine," Garrison said to his phone using a lousy imitation of a British accent.

His phone replied, "I am sorry. I did not understand your last command. Could you repeat it, please?"

Garrison laughed and shook his head. I'm never alone when I have Alexa on my phone.

Comparing notes with Officer Langstrom

Garrison's next call was to Officer Langstrom. The police officer gave Garrison his personal cell number the day before and told the young man to call him if he heard from his father or Friday showed up again.

"Officer, this is Garrison," he told Langstrom when the cop answered his phone. "I found a news article from August of 1982 in the Wilmington newspaper online archives last night. It might be the story Mrs. Stanford referred to yesterday."

"Have you heard from your father?" Officer Langstrom asked.

"No. If he notices my voice mail, maybe he'll call me back today."

"I wonder if the article you found reported the same incident I found in the police archives last night," the police officer said. "Does it involve an eighteen-year-old girl drowning in your pool?"

Garrison read the article to Officer Lambert.

"It's the same accidental drowning I saw in the police report," Lambert confirmed. "The girl got drunk at a party, sneaked into your place through the now bricked up gate for a swim, hit her head, and drowned."

"Mrs. Stanford seemed convinced there was more to the story than the official record," Garrison recalled to the officer. "The story claims my grandparents and my father weren't here when the girl drowned. My grandparents hardly went anywhere. What are the chances that the one night they go away overnight with my father, the girl sneaks into their pool and drowns herself? Where would they have gone, and why?"

"Those are all good questions, Garrison," Lambert said. "Questions you need to ask your father when you hear from him."

"I'm meeting my mother for lunch today," Garrison said. "Should I ask her if she knows anything about this?"

"Are you going to tell her about Friday?" Lambert asked. "Speaking of our mystery woman, have you seen her again?"

Garrison looked out the kitchen window at the pool. "No, I haven't seen Friday since Saturday afternoon right before I called you. And I don't think telling my mom I've had some lady showing up in my swimming pool is a good idea. She'll demand I hire armed guards or put in security cameras."

Garrison heard Officer Langstrom laugh. "I get you. Maybe you just ask her about the story from the paper, since it does mention your family, and find out what she knows about the girl's drowning."

"I'll only ask her about the story," Garrison agreed. "If my mother knows anything more, maybe she'll just up and tell me."

Garrison agreed to meet Officer Lambert at the police station the next afternoon after he finished classes for the day, and they disconnected their call. Garrison checked the time and realized it was too late for him to go to church. Then, even though he knew his father didn't like being hounded, Garrison called him again. This call, too, went straight to voice mail. Despite his father's instructions never to do so, Garrison sent him a text.

[Garrison] Dad. Call me. It's important.

Garrison thought long and hard about what else to say in the message. Finally, he added one more piece of information.

It's about an old friend of yours named Rachel.

Garrison's story continues in Chapter 18

© 2021 DW Davis