Barbara’s world had suddenly gone out of control. The gyroscope that balanced her life was suddenly knocked off its axis. Her disbelief was only surpassed by her fear for Richie’s well-being in jail. Since Richie left town before, he was denied bail. Richie’s attorney promised her that he would be alright and he would be able to get him off once he went to trial. But what no one was telling Barbara was that Jimmy was a local hero. Jimmy was the hometown boy that was a rising star on a big network and no one was willing to let his death go unpunished. Richie was aloof. Someone who turned his back on his birthplace to make Boston his home. Although far from the truth, the perception was that Richie stole Jimmy’s girlfriend, Linda. Not being satisfied with stealing Linda away from him, Richie arranged for Jimmy’s horrific accident because he was jealous of Jimmy. And, in a way, that was true. Richie was always jealous of Jimmy. Richie was envious at how easy it was for him to make friends. Jimmy seemed to glide through life and Richie always had to work at everything. Certainly, many people could testify to Richie’s jealousy.
Barbara could not take the constant press coverage. Television vans and reporters parked up the street, keeping their distance, but always watching her house with long telephoto lenses. Barbara decided to call a voice from the past.
“Linda? It’s Barbara. Do you mind if come over?”
They had not seen each other since Jimmy’s funeral. The scene at the cemetery was a gut wrenching event and they were lucky to have each other to hold onto. But time and events that brought up such pain for both of them also prevented their seeing each other. But Barbara really needed to talk to someone and it seemed only natural to reach out to Linda. They were friends in high school. But everything went crazy when Richie started seeing Linda while they were in college. Nevertheless, they welcomed each other’s support because they both needed it.
Linda welcomed Barbara into the living room where Linda grew up. Linda’s parents had passed and she kept the house. Barbara was very familiar with the house, having visited many times. She remembered making love to Richie in that same room many years ago on New Years Eve. The memory of that night tore into Barbara.
“Oh God, Linda. I wish I knew he was alright in that jail. He doesn’t belong in a jail,” she sobbed. Linda was saddened by the turn of events but Barbara’s reaction took Linda off guard.
“Linda, you must have loved Richie at one time. I don’t blame you. He’s a great guy.”
“Were you ‘with’ him before he was arrested?”
Barbara choked back her tears for a moment. “Yes. Forgive me Linda, but I love Richie. I always have. It broke my heart when I saw the two of you together in Armory Square. I got married because… I thought… I might as well. Richie was out of my life. So why not? What a mistake.”
Barbara sobbed so deeply, her whole body trembled as she tried to talk. Linda took it all in and still could not get over how much Barbara was devastated.
“So you think Richie is innocent,” Linda asked.
“I know he is. I just know it. It was an accident but now they’re saying Richie drugged Jimmy to cause an accident.”
“What?” Linda had not heard that bit of information in the news.
“Besides the drinks, Jimmy had a ruffy in him. Richie wouldn’t have drugged Jimmy. Can you imagine?”
Though she said nothing and despite some bitterness towards Richie, Linda knew Richie would never drug anyone. Linda held Barbara by her shoulders as Barbara cried. Linda thought of their combined past history and how it had all gone wrong.
“It’s going to be alright, Barbara,” Linda told her. Barbara continued to cry until she felt spent. Barbara went to the bathroom and tried to compose herself. Linda waited in the living room, staring at a prom photograph of herself and Jimmy. It wasn’t supposed to be like this, she thought. When she returned, Barbara’s eyes were watery and her nose was red.
“I better go now while I can,” Barbara said.
“You really love Richie, don’t you?” Linda asked.
Barbara started to lose it again. Linda knew her answer and immediately regretted not being more soothing. “It’ll be alright, Barbara. Trust me,” Linda said. Barbara left Linda’s house and Linda sat for a moment, gathering her thoughts. She then went to a closet and brought out a tripod and video camera.
At an outdoors press conference, Richie’s attorney told the reporters that Linda had committed suicide after admitting in a recording that she had drugged both Jimmy and Richie and it was that drugging that caused the death of Jimmy. He also announced that his office was planning on suing the District Attorney and the police for withholding evidence that would have exonerated Richie.
When asked when his client was going to be released, Richie’s attorney said, “He’s already been released. In fact, there he is.”
A car pulled up, the back door opened and Richie ran to the front of the building where the press conference was being held. When Barbara caught sight of him, she ran towards Richie. They went into each other’s arms. Richie swung Barbara around as photographers captured their joy.
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