That weekend, Joanne was in the garden again. She was sitting at her regular spot—her hammock. But this time, no Vicki—and no prism either. Soon, she wasn’t sitting anymore but lying lazily on the hammock—with her feet taking turns kicking the ground as the hammock slowed down. She was looking at the clear blue sky above and pondering about matters. Until Jacky showed up. He was wearing black again. Yes, the typical gangster wardrobe. The only difference was he showed more emotions when he was around her. It had been their promise since the day she agreed to help him reconcile with Sara. Although the reconciliation was unsuccessful, he still had to keep to the pact.
“How’s the hand?” He asked—as he settled down on the hammock next to her.
Yes, that was also one of their routines. He had gotten used to it by now. Though it had only been several days.
“It’s better now,” Joanne replied, shrugging her shoulders. She had straightened up, leaving a little space between them—because she knew he was uncomfortable about it despite not saying anything. “I want to take the bandages off.”
“Better leave it. Doctor’s order, remember?”
“Since when do I listen to people?” She leaned to her right, resting her head on a pillow. Her foot took its course and kicked the ground below them again.
He took the hint and relaxed his feet a bit so the hammock would sway back and forth slightly. They stayed in silence for several minutes before she spoke up again.
“It was my fault,” She said, surprising him.
“No, it’s not,” He said automatically—though he had no idea what she was referring to.
“I should’ve been more careful with the prism. I shouldn’t even bring it out at such a crowded place.”
“You were upset. You needed something to calm yourself down.”
Joanne turned to Jacky then, her head still on the pillow. She didn’t know why he understood. Even her father didn’t. It wasn’t just a toy to her. It was the only piece of treasure her mother left her. And she was so careless to let it be destroyed like that. “My mother left me a whole bag.” She paused briefly and let out a sigh before continuing. “When I was little, I loved playing with them. One day…I wasn’t careful and slipped. It all shattered. I thought it was all gone. But there was one left still stuck inside the bag. I had promised myself to never be that careless again.” She scoffed then, feeling the irony of it all. “Who knew I repeated that exact same mistake just like that?”
“Maybe you could still find prisms like those. Your mother must have gotten them out of a shop. It’s probably quite famous. That means it’s still around and…”
Joanne sat up then, shaking her head. “It’s okay. I have to live with the consequences. You don’t have to make me feel better.”
“Where did you drop them? Maybe only some of them broke, and the others just scattered elsewhere.”
Joanne let out an amused smile. “On that floor? It wasn’t like it was carpet like my current room. Or grass like this ground. It was at the old mansion.”
Yes, that incident was the reason why her room and other surroundings no longer consisted of anything that would harm her precious prism ever again. Yet the unavoidable had occurred. And it was way outside of her protective area. If only.
“Then let’s go to that mansion and look again,” Jacky urged. “If you haven’t looked, how would you know there aren’t some left?”
Joanne shook her head. “It’s no use.”
Silence occupied the atmosphere once again. It was like Jacky was still trying to find a way to reassure her.
“Besides,” Joanne spoke up again. “You have to undo the damage with Sara.”
It was Jacky’s turn to shake his head then. “Forget it.”
“Are you letting your pride get in the way?” Joanne teased, feeling the familiarity of the past dawning on them.
“No. I just realized Sara’s not someone I thought I knew.”
Joanne scoffed. “Come on now. Stop being so stubborn. If I was her, I would be mad too if I saw my boyfriend hugging some other girl.”
“You wouldn’t be that inconsiderate to not help an injured person.”
Joanne had on her amused smile again. “How would you know?”
“Because you saved me that day—even though you hated my gut since the first day we met.”
“I told you already. If I hadn’t seen your human side, I wouldn’t have helped you at all.”
Jacky felt the irony of Joanne’s response so he decided to play along. “And because you’re human, okay?”
Joanne nodded, finally accepting his answer.
They hadn’t realized that they were both kicking their feet back and forth—from time to time—in the same rhythm to allow the hammock its usual routine.
Vic blew on his coffee like usual as he walked along the sidewalk. He was supposed to be with Cyndi that day. Yet Sara had lured Cyndi out for a shopping trip. And he couldn’t object because according to Cyndi, Sara was still healing hence needing a friend’s support more than anything. Justin was still tailing Sara—even if there seemed to be no interaction between her and Jacky whatsoever since that eventful day. They were trying to be safe. It was then that Vic felt a lot luckier than Justin because he didn’t have to tail Sara. He never had that much interaction with Sara in the past—mostly due to the fact that he was up to his heads with work. So his spare times were mostly spent with his wife. Now, Sara had robbed those few breaks he managed also. And because of that, he came to loathe Sara as much as he loathed Jacky at the moment. Though he felt torn whether he should sympathy with such a guy like Jacky instead of loathing. If he didn’t know of Jacky’s files, he would sympathize with the guy even more for having such a girlfriend. How Jacky had managed to stick with Sara for so long, Vic had no idea. With all his time tailing Joanne, which hadn’t been much, he rather sided with her than Sara. That girl seemed so fierce during working hours yet so pitiful off work. Or was that a show like Sara had said? He wasn’t sure which one was the real Joanne, but he knew that little lie Sara spun was way overboard.
“How’s it going with you tailing him?” Seth spoke up finally to ask Vic.
Seth was Vic’s longtime friend—and had become his partner since they left the police academy. Vic felt lucky he had such a partner—and not Roy. Though Vic exuded the relaxed composure all the time, it wasn’t so inside. His patience was a thin thread. So he was the more glad his partner wasn’t some guy who loved playing those stupid games.
“Not much lately,” Vic responded, wondering why he had adopted Roy’s vague reporting method. “He’s just operating the bar with her. The usual. I don’t know what he’s up to anymore.”
“Do you still think he’s dropping his girlfriend to pursue his boss’ daughter now?” Seth asked, getting right into business.
“Possible,” Vic admitted. “Though I must say if he’s into her for real, I don’t blame him.”
“Oh come on,” Brianna’s voice rang into their ears. “Are you still sore that Sara stole your wife away from you today?”
Brianna was one of their colleagues and had been assigned to this case as well. And because Vic was robbed of his time spent with his wife, he had decided to gather up Seth and Brianna for a real discussion. They hadn’t had one of those for a while now.
“Disregard the fact that Jacky and Sara were nowhere near the area when Joanne cut her hand, and we don’t know if she did it on purpose or not,” Vic reasoned. “Isn’t it a bit inhumane to just ignore someone who’s bleeding like that?”
“You were watching across the street too and didn’t approach her,” Brianna pointed out.
“Okay, so I was inhumane too but you know why I can’t show myself.”
“And half of the people at the bus stop were as inhumane.”
“Some of them didn’t even know she was bleeding. Then Jacky finally pushed through the crowd and grabbed Joanne so they didn’t have time to approach her if they wanted to.”
“I thought you hated the guy,” Seth reminded Vic.
“I’m just sickened after reading his files. But you two know what? His actions that morning just didn’t match up with his files.”
“Like you said, he’s good at what he does, or Old Tseng would off him already.”
“So he’s acting, but there’s something that doesn’t fit.”
“I thought you were the one who taught me not to go with my emotions but with the evidence,” Brianna jumped in once again.
Vic nodded in defeat. “Yes. But I have this strange feeling about the whole matter. When he yelled at Sara, it was like he was talking about himself more than Joanne.”
Brianna turned to look at Vic. “About some people not having their mother?”
Vic nodded again. “Didn’t the file say he murdered his parents?”
“I still say he’s good at acting,” Seth noted, his voice determined.
“He didn’t murder his parents,” Brianna corrected Vic. “He was accused of murdering his parents hence going the rogue way in the end.”
“Sara said he has a grandmother in Hualien?” Seth asked, turning to Vic and Brianna.
“Yeah,” Vic answered. “I’m checking it out now. It wasn’t in the files.”
“He could be lying though, like anything else he was saying to Sara.”
“It wouldn’t hurt to check it all out.” He turned to Brianna again. “How’s it going with you and tailing Old Tseng?”
Brianna narrowed her eyebrows together. “Not much luck. He’s very careful. I don’t want to get exposed so can’t really do much at the moment.”
“Do you think we even got the right tip in the first place?” Seth pondered aloud.
They had stopped walking already since they had reached Vic’s car. They got in and Vic drove while Seth took the passenger seat. Brianna was in the back in the middle.
“Old Tseng’s very careful so it would make sense that we can’t dig up much yet,” Vic deducted. “We have other officers tailing his henchmen so something ought to come up soon.”
Seth sighed out in frustration. “Sometimes I wish our work is as fast pace as those action movies often portray us.”
Vic let out an amused chuckle. “Welcome to reality, old buddy.”
And then they continued to discuss the case in general and their possible change in tactics before separating at last several hours later.
© Monday, January 30th, 2012
Posted: Thursday, April 26th, 2012