Chapter 5

Written by: Ray Stone

Stella Linton looked at the envelope and took a deep breath. The doctor’s statement had pushed her over the edge. She knew that but being suicidal was not the answer and Betina had opened her eyes. If anyone had reason to be suicidal it was the old lady. She was a lost but feisty soul alone under a bridge, living life on her own terms. 

Compared to that, the persistent letters from the Ambassador Hotel that contained ridiculous claims from the hotel’s insurers, paled into insignificance. They wanted a signed statement from her admitting she had a break-down and started the fire. Of course, they explained, there would be no liability on her part as the issue was a medical one. A report from the city fire department’s investigator had noted that it looked as though there could have been an electrical fault due to bad maintenance in one of the power outlets but that report had conveniently disappeared out of sight.

The two insurance men had pounced on her as soon as she came around and confirmed the doctor’s statement but she knew it was false and refused to sign anything. That’s when the nightmare began. 

Stella picked the envelope up and threw it across the counter. “How on earth would you know if I had a break-down?”

She started to cry and pounded the draining board with a clenched fist. “Oh Greg, where are you? Where’s my little boy?” 

Betty, her black and white cat, rubbed up against her legs before jumping onto the countertop. She sat on her haunches, licked her paw and, putting it behind an ear, began washing herself. Stella ran a finger gently over the cat’s head, deep in thought. The hospital staff said Greg and Toby were okay. The following day they were gone but never came to see her. She was frantic. No-one, not even the police knew their whereabouts. No phone calls or a note left at the apartment for her. Days turned into weeks until she convinced herself Greg had left for good, but why? That was the mystery.

The doctor’s statement had been damning. Countersigned by the hospital registrar, the insurance company made it clear that if she would not sign the short declaration of responsibility she would be the subject of civil action. With no visible income, the prospect of a law suit scared her. She needed to get away, to find Greg and Toby – or to hide.

A strong draft from the open kitchen window moved the envelope a few inches to the edge of the counter. She grabbed it and pulled the letter out. The normal warning and copy of the doctor’s statement unfolded in front of her. Something was different. There was another small statement and signature at the foot of the insurance warning – a witness attesting that the doctor’s account was accurate.

I attest that my wife suffered a breakdown and caused the fire at the Ambassador Hotel. It was signed - Gregory Linton.

Comments

Such a good chapter Ray. I love 'Betty' ! So random; so real! And the drama is building, along with the mystery. Keep it coming.
Glad you enjoyed. Writing these different chapters is a great way to advance one's writing skills especially trying to get the work moving to the center square of the grid. I'm trying from now on. I know it will make me a better writer. Thank you, Gabrielle
Only you Ray could add this dimension to the story. It is fabulous! New mystery but supporting all that has gone before. And further doubt that Greg did not die in that fire. Lovely to have Betina back! The mystery deepens and you've taken it to a new level. Terrific storytelling!!!
A lot of story packed into the chapter, and it doesn't feel like a summary. I am always looking for ways to do that in a small 500 word chapter. Enjoyed reading it and will read it once more. Great chapter Ray!!!