To start at the beginning of the story please type “Call Waiting” into the search bar on my homepage.
“Time changes perception, my dear. All of that occurred before I was born. What is true and what is not is not for me to know, it is just for me to continue the doctrine. What is true now….is this whole town uses her name for profit….not for prophet. I just want to know what happened….which is why I kept the phone that she said she would call me on. I waited over 8 decades…..for the phone to ring. It did. Shortly after….you came here…and here we are.”
The 2 woman just stared at each other. Only Macy screaming broke their gaze-
“MOMMA! MOMMA!” Macy shrieked as she shot up from the booth and onto the floor clutching the shawl in the crook of one arm and the phone in the other.
Patricia went to her side and said,
“What is it, honey? I’m right here.”
Macy looked at her Mother, then over at the frail old woman, then back at her Mother and replied in a dry tone.
“I know where Penny is and I know what happened.”
The beginning to the end of “Call Waiting” is here…..
Patricia stooped down to look her daughter in the eyes and said,
“Well honey….where is she and what happened….I’m sure her daughter would like to know….she has been waiting much longer than us….”
Macy looked away from her Mother and back at the frail old woman and said as she dropped the shawl to the floor,
“We gotta get outta here, Momma…..she has known all along what happened to her and wants to keep it a secret….”
Patricia felt that chill up her spine again and clutched Macy’s hand as she stood up and turned around to face the old woman.
She faced the supposed frail old woman to find her pointing a small revolver at the two of them. With a sniper steady hand, she stared the two down and said,
“You are not going anywhere. I have entertained you both long enough to find out that you are, indeed, a threat to our way of life. And rest assured young lady….my gun IS loaded.”
She moved her gun hand from being pointed at them and readjusted her sights to the picture on the wall to their right and pulled off 2 rounds shattering the glass and leaving bullet holes in the sheet rocked walls, an 1/8 of an inch away from each other.
She then quickly returned her aim toward the child and spoke,
“You will take us to the house and reveal your vision from my Mother. I will then give you the choice to join us in our crusade or to perish like my Mother who tried to get out…..unsuccessfully.”
Patricia fired back with words of confidence-
“You can’t keep us here…the police surely heard the gunshots and will be here to investigate!”
The old woman chuckled and replied,
“Haven is a self contained society. We police ourselves and have since the beginning. Outsiders drive through and add to our economy but no one, and I can’t stress enough that no one is allowed to stay and reside without going through our purification ceremony, which, by the way is going on now.”
“Purification ceremony?” Patricia asked.
“You will learn of that once your choice is made. I must tell you, with your uncanny likeness to my Mother….you would make a powerful statement toward our promise of everlasting life…..with the proper attire you would pass for a mirror image of our messiah on the day she disappeared….or as we like to call it…journeyed to our promised land for the ultimate purification. CAN I GET A AMEN FOR THE RETURN OF PENNY!
The old woman waved her not gun pointing arm triumphantly as she spoke. Then brought it back down and leered at the 2 outsiders with a menacing grin and continued,
“Religion has a way of luring the lost like no other. The Penny Doctrine has lured a town full of believers for many years. Believers who gave all for the betterment of Haven. They give their past, present and future to our cause. All of the residents here were once outsiders to their respective families and communities. We made them part of ours. Their price…..everything that they once knew for a promise of belonging and immortality. The past few years has been trying on us. It is hard to keep pressing the belief in the doctrine..without proof. With you…we have our proof.”
Patricia looked at her with quizzical eyes and replied,
“This is crazy….You can’t do this to us….all we wanted was to find out about why this old phone kept ringing and about who she was…we don’t want any part of this lunacy about purification…”
“Then your choice is made….” The old woman said as she pulled the trigger
hitting Patricia in the chest. She fell back against the booth and hit the floor.
“MOMMA!” Macy shrieked as she went to her side.
Patricia was breathing….shallowly.
Macy took her hand, leaned into her ear and whispered,
“I will do what she says Momma….don’t worry…everything will be alright.”
Macy turned to the old woman, tears streaming down her face, and said-
“What do I have to do to save her…she is all I got..”
The old woman smiled her wicked smile and replied just as Marion burst through the door with Deacon close behind.
“That’s the spirit. Take us to where my Mother is. If your Mother doesn’t make it….you will do just fine for our prophesy…you do bear a striking resemblance to me as a child….and as Penny knows…I won’t live forever. Someone has to carry on the doctrine when I die.”
Marion looked at the body on the floor and at the old woman holding the gun and then spoke,
“How is this gonna work with her dead? The immortal can’t get shot…”
Without missing a beat the old woman looked at her son and replied,
“The devil has tried to lead us down the wrong path, my son. Although she resembled our messiah, she was a false prophet…..the answers to our immortality are within the child. She has agreed to lead us to the misgivings of our past and into a GLORIOUS AND EVERLASTING FUTURE!”
Deacon, who had knelt next to Patricia and started crying, said,
“But…but….Penny….she was the one…we must…save her….I…I want to do good by her….please…let me…help her…”
The old woman, who had grown annoyed with Deacon months ago, hastily replied,
“Fine, Deacon…take her to the infirmary inside the main complex…but DO NOT…let any of the believers see her. I do not need a mass exodus on my hands right before I fulfill our prophesy. Just leave me the keys that are in her pocket.”
Deacon replied happily,
“Yes ma’am…yes ma’am…Deacon will do good….I promise….”
Deacon did as he was told and then picked up Patricia from the floor and carried her through the kitchen and out of sight.
The old woman looked at Marion and instructed him to grab the child and take her to their car. She did not want to take her own vehicle as to not look suspicious.
As Marion grabbed Macy and began to lead her out, the phone the old woman had kept for so many years, began to ring.
The old woman looked at Macy, then reached to answer the phone-
“Yes momma we are coming to bring you home. The child has found me and will bring me to you.”
“I love you too momma. I will soon be bringing you back from the cold and dark and into the light….”
She hung up the receiver and left the phone where it was. She then walked over to Macy and grabbed the old phone she was contacted on and placed it next to the other phone.
They started to walk out to the vehicle Patricia drove to make the journey back to the house where it all began.
Before closing the restaurant door behind them. The old woman turned around and pointed her gun at the 2 phones and pulled the trigger, shattering each with a single bullet.
“Call Ended.”she said as the pieces hit the floor.
Marion started up Patricia’s car. He looked at the child and said,
“Where are we going, you little ESP brat?”
Macy looked at him with her swollen eyes and tear stained cheeks and replied,
“Why don’t you ask her? She knows more than I do.”
Marion looked at the old woman and waited for a reply.
She looked at the child and replied,
“I told your Mother that I thought the house was destroyed…and that’s the truth. Where are we going?”
Macy shrugged her shoulders then replied,
“Why don’t you go look at the file my Mom brought with the picture in it…I’m sure it has the address in it. You just shot my Mom I ain’t telling you nothin’ until I’m ready.”
The old woman looked at Marion with a “well…go get it, look”. He made a smirk, sighed and went back into the restaurant to get the file.
While he was gone Macy made a statement-
“You know that Penny just wanted a better life for you….a life outside of this place.”
The old woman curled up her lip and replied,
“What she wanted….was to dismantle the doctrine and destroy my chance of being the true messiah….she was not the one…I am.”
“You’re crazy. It was hard for her to raise you alone…”
The old woman interrupted-
“SILENCE CHILD! Did you know that precious Penny got pregnant with me by an outsider??? The reason she had to raise me alone….was he could not pass the purification process. I was born out of blasphemy…and I have spent the rest of my life making amends for my impurities. She had to go….for me to be pure. The doctrine is very clear….and I have ALWAYS followed the doctrine!”
Macy stared at her in stunned silence.
Marion opened the drivers side door and got in. He felt the thick tension. He looked at the old woman…then Macy and asked,
“What did I miss?”
“Never mind.” The old woman stated, “Give me the file.”
He handed it to her. She quickly opened it up and flipped through it.
“Son of a bitch.” She exclaimed, “She lied. It was never destroyed, it was moved to outsider territory and sold.”
“Who lied?” Marion asked.
“For the love of sight beyond sight….it was my grandmother…..I remember….her telling me that the house had to be destroyed to rid Haven of the impurity of unnatural death that occurred inside it.”
“If she only knew that her husband….your grandfather and creator of the doctrine, killed himself because he couldn’t live with what he did to his daughter…..but….she fell for him because he was the one person she couldn’t read. Your family has A LOT of secrets….”
“SHUT UP, CHILD!!….before you end up like your mother….” The old woman yelled.
“Whatever….” Macy plainly replied, “you need me….without me, this whole religious charade will unravel….without me….you got nothin’…you may have the address..but that’s all you got….I know family secrets that you don’t even know….”
Frustrated beyond compare, the old woman gave Marion the address and instructed him to drive there.
For the entire 50 mile ride, the old woman would take quick glances into the back seat in attempt to get a read on what the child knew.
As for Macy…..
It was hard to get flustered by the gun toting old religious patriarch when she was comfortably sleeping….and dreaming.
Marion pulled down the caliche driveway that was flanked by trees. He drove for 300 yards until the house came into view.
The old woman inhaled deeply and looked at the house that she had not seen in many decades. To her it looked the same now as it did then.
Marion turned off the engine and awaited instructions from her.
After a few moments,she turned to the back seat, looked at Macy and said,
“WAKE UP! Let’s get this over with.”
Macy slowly opened her eyes, stretched and yawned then replied with a smile,
“You wanna hear about my dream? It’s a doozy!”
The old woman replied,
“No…no I don’t. Get her Marion and lets go.”
They walk up the front steps. Marion puts the key in the lock and they walk in.
Macy looks around and then speaks,
“Did you know…..that your grandfather had this house built for his family…..he wanted the grandest home in Haven….one built for a God. He had a part in every room being built and had certain things put into the construction.”
The old woman looked down at her and replied,
“Who cares….where is she?”
“Let’s go the attic…that’s where I found the phone….maybe she is up there.”
They walk up the stairs and into the attic. Macy leads them over to the box of stuff the phone was in and says,
“This is where the phone was. She started calling me almost right after I found it. Do you know what any of this other stuff is?”
The old woman looked at her, then Marion, made a gesture to him and bent down to look in the box.
Marion pulled out his gun, which was now loaded, and cocked the hammer.
The old woman looked in the box.
“Nope, just junk….I am getting impatient…where is she?”
Macy smiled and said….”Ok….she’s downstairs….”
She led them downstairs and into the main bedroom of the house. She looked at Marion and said,
“He needs to get all this stuff off the bookcase.”
“Why? I remember when my grandfather put that in. It’s solid and part of the house….”
“Like I said earlier……he had certain things built in….some before it was finished….some after….he was quite paranoid.”
“Lies…he was a Saint!”she retorted.
Marion removed the items. Macy looked at the large bookcase and spoke,
“You would think this wouldn’t move….but watch….”
At the base of the two sides of the bookcase that were not against joining walls were brass nameplates.
Macy knelt down and clicked one to the right, then slid it all the way to the wall on the left.
She went to the second one, clicked it to the left and slid it all the way to the wall in the right.
Marion and the old woman watched in amazement.
Macy then stood up and pushed on the middle shelf…..another click.
She then pulled on the bookcase. It slid effortlessly revealing a large space between the walls.
The light that came in through the window opposite of the bookcase allowed them to see inside.
The odor that emulated from the sealed room was foul and pungent.
There were boxes of files stacked to the roof on one side. 3 briefcases on the other.
In the center of the space was a 5 foot by 3 foot box standing upright.
Macy said with a frown….
“There she is.”
As the old woman began to enter the space that contained the remains of Penny the door that connected the bedroom to the hallway burst open.
Deacon stood there wearing a bulletproof vest and a firearm pointed at Marion and yelled,
On instinct, Marion turned towards the voice and recognizes who is doing the yelling. He shouts back…gun aimed.
“YOU SON OF..”
Marion goes down in a heap.
The old woman spun around, gun drawn. She grabs Macy and points the gun at her head as she looks into the barrel of Deacon’s gun.
“I’ll shoot her, Deacon…” She exclaims.
Deacon pauses and begins to put his gun down.
“Ok…ok…please don’t shoot her…she is just a child….”
The old woman smiles a sly smile, cocks her gun and says,
“Even as an FBI agent…you are weak.”
And shifts her gun from the child up towards Deacon.
Before she can get her arm fully extended a sniper bullet comes through the window and penetrates her temple.
Her gun hits the floor. She hits the wall and then the floor with a thump.
Deacon looks at Macy and asks,
“Your Mother is going to be fine. She told me they were probably bringing you here. Are you ok?”
“Yes sir….just a little scared. When can I see my Momma?”
Deacon smiled and replied,
“Right now if you want.”
He then clicked his radio that was clipped to his shoulder and said,
FBI Agent John Deacon walked into the hospital room carrying a file folder.
He walked up to the bed and greeted Patricia who was in the bed and Macy who was by her side.
“Hello, ladies. How are you feeling?”
“Groggy, but better.” Patricia said.
“And you, kiddo?”
Macy just shrugged her shoulders.
Agent Deacon pulled up a chair and placed the file folder on his lap. He waited a moment and then filled them in with what he knew.
“Well…..That group in Haven is quite the fun bunch.”
Patricia turned to him and asked,
“How did the FBI get involved….without being noticed?”
“They had been under investigation for years. Too much money going in
And out for a religious affiliation. They are good about covering their tracks but not good enough to keep out of our suspicion. The case went cold around 1940. The old man who started it all had been dead since 1909 and whoever he taught to carry the reigns did a good job. I came into the cold case division about 15 years ago. This case had been dead the longest…..so we took it on. Technology has advanced so much since then that we thought we may have a shot at cracking it. I went undercover around 12 years ago and tried to gain entry.”
“How was the purification ceremony?”
He laughed then replied,
“Very meticulous. The agency had to fabricate an airtight background and identity for me before I was allowed to even attempt to infiltrate their society. As it turns out….there is honor amongst thieves. Once you are in….you’re in.”
“But…you called yourself Deacon….and that’s your real name.” Patricia stated.
“Yeah….that was the title I worked my up to in their society. Just another odd coincidence to this strange case.”
“Anyway, without telling you information that I can’t…if it wasn’t for you 2….the case would still be cold. Sight beyond sight….ESP…whatever it was, we thank you. Penny has received a proper burial and the dismantling of the town resources and funds is ongoing. You all are free to go on with your lives.”
He got up to walk out and let Patricia rest, then stopped and turned around.
“I almost forgot….,we went through all the things that were in the compartment inside the wall. We found meticulous files that were the transactions of all the stocks and tips that made his fortune. No one is that good….insider trading helped quite a lot. There were also these particular stocks….” He handed the sheets to Patricia.
“They were in a folder mixed in with a bunch of files. Your name is on them. Along with them was a note with one word in it-
the best our handwriting analyst can tell it was the grandmother who wrote it.
They are real and were purchased legally…..we checked it out. Congrats. You will be very wealthy if you choose to cash them in.”
Patricia opened the folder and gazed at the common stocks with her name on them.
Before walking out, Agent Deacon turned back around and said,
“If you need anything, don’t hesitate to call. I will be waiting to hear from you. Get well.”
He left Patricia and Macy to gaze into the future about their new life and went back to work on his next cold file.