"I guess you could say Martha is pretty good looking," I answered.
I'd known Martha for all my remembered life.
I've kissed Martha exactly twice.
While my relationship with Martha LeBlanc, nee Rossi, dated back to our play pen years and kindergarten days, lately we've hiked different paths, reducing our contact to Christmas cards and once a month phone calls.
Martha is a trauma nurse in a large Boston hospital.
Martha inherited the property from her grandfather.
Never the less he and Martha have four married years under their belts and are expecting their first child.
While Martha is my kindred spirit, Quinn and I always got along fairly well the few times we're all gotten together.
"It's a seasonal place, according to Martha's description," I answered.
Martha commutes weekends a hundred miles from their home.
Martha wants to work until she has the baby.
For all of Quinn LeBlanc's intellectual abilities, I not sure Martha isn't the main bread winner while Quinn tinkers in the theoretical world of the intellectual elite.
Martha shouted, throwing her arms around my neck and kissing me on the lips while I still clung on to my steering wheel.
"Come on up and see the place," Martha called as she strolled up the path to the cabin.
That Martha LeBlanc is drop dead gorgeous; that's what!
My Betsy is fine looking woman, beautiful in my mind and in the eyes of most, but even I have to admit she lacks the room-stopping allure of Martha LeBlanc.
Martha and I know each other far too well to ever be lovers.
Martha stopped to grab Betsy's hand, leading the way toward the cabin while Quinn and I unloaded the car.
"He's just pulling your leg," Martha answered.
Martha's voice dropped to a whisper as she pointed to a rickety staircase.
"This was originally an extra bedroom when I was a kid," Martha said, pointing out a converted bathroom with a metal walk-in shower.
Martha smiled at us.
Pregnant Martha abstained, content with an iced tea.
Everyone back in high school figured you and Martha we're the pair.
I love Betsy, just the way you love Martha.
"He's Martha's cousin," Quinn grumbled.
Martha's aunt, Howie's mother, called and practically begged her to let him fly out for a couple of days.
You know Martha; she doesn't do no very well.
We'll let Martha and Betsy alone to get acquainted.
His mother, Martha's Aunt Rose says he's not the same person.
Betsy was alone on the porch but as we approached, Martha opened the screen door, her arm around a frail looking man, about five-seven, who wore an off-center toupee and a fragile smile.
He was attentive as Betsy and I explained our wedding plans and his hosts talked about Martha's pregnancy.
"You're not getting away with that excuse every time you want to get out of something," Martha said.
Martha turned the openness up a notch.
I'd known Martha far too long.
It was Martha's turn to be mildly shocked, Only in my dreams.
Martha kept up a steady stream of reminiscences; I'm sure for Howie's benefit.
Martha lugged out a tattered game of Monopoly.
He had moved to receptors and enkephalins before Martha covered her ears and yelled, You're turn!
Betsy and Martha, now practically best friends, conspired together against the rest of us until they owned most of the board.
The rest of us were spiraling toward bankruptcy when Howie turned to Martha.
It was easy for us to recognize Martha's pain with the subject.
Martha turned to sleeping arrangements.
"I'm pleased you got along with Martha well enough "I feel sorry Howie, for getting stuck with the lab room, but in general he seems in good humor, considering his condition."
I'm sure neither Quinn nor Martha is surprised and Howie is probably asleep.
Martha was mixing batter while Quinn stood at the stove, heating a frying pan.
"Did you two get a good night's sleep," Martha asked as she poured me a cup.
I was using the bathroom after Betsy and heard her tell Martha she'd slept like winter bear.
"He's sleeping in late," Martha said.
Martha was already on the stairs when I returned to the room.
Quinn was flipping the pancakes when Martha hurried down the stairs.
"Well, he's not in the house," Martha said.
"You'd better look around outside," Martha said.
Martha called after us.
Martha had a plate full of pancakes ready so we all sat around the large table.
Martha asked as she passed around butter and syrup.
Martha stopped me upstairs a little later as I was coming out of my room.
Martha caught my eye and winked.
"Go on," Martha prompted.
Martha broke the pause.
"No one is saying anything as outlandish as that," Martha said.
The only dreams I dreamed were about Martha.
"Then," Martha added with a sigh.
Out of the corner of my eye, I was surprised to notice a strange look on Martha's face.
"Of course not," Martha said.
Martha jumped into the fray.
The bed Martha described as queen size was squeezed against the far wall.
I could sense Betsy's disappointment and Martha's relief.
"Oh, Howie," Martha said, "you don't have to go to that much trouble just to convince us."
She turned to Martha.
Quinn demurred, saying he knew his settings by memory and remained downstairs with Martha.
Martha yelled from below.
Martha rolled her eyes, beginning to share her husband's opinion of our little trial.
"It's no wonder," Martha said.
"Listen," he turned to Martha.
Quinn peeked over the edge of his magazine as Martha brought a pen and pad from the kitchen.
Martha wrote on her pad as he continued.
"Slow down," Martha cautioned.
Betsy and I agreed and even Martha smiled.
Martha, a come-lately convert to our experiment, offered to fix Howie a hot chocolate in hopes it would induce a snooze.
Betsy bounced up and down like a kid on a trampoline while Martha looked in awe.
"I don't believe it," said Martha in a voice that spoke the opposite.
He turned to Martha.
Martha knocked over her chair as she rushed to the kitchen.
"It's too bad it didn't keep going," Betsy said as Martha returned.
He's run it all summer, Martha said, handing Howie a glass.
Betsy kept prompting Martha to take notes.
Martha finally brought to daylight what was on all our minds.
"It's all a moot point now," Martha said.
Martha glanced at the wall clock.
Martha jumped to answer it with Betsy following.
Martha handed her the phone and I could tell by the look that quickly appeared on her face, it was not good news.
Betsy and Martha fried up chicken, chatting amiably as they'd done all weekend.
Martha, always the caring hostess, finally went upstairs and chased Quinn from his quarters, freeing up the now-dismantled lab room.
Howie was seated at the table while Quinn and Martha performed kitchen duty with eggs and bacon.
Bowing to Quinn's and Martha's suggestions, the sunny morning was spent huddled together in a 1964 fourteen foot Starcraft, spinning around the lake.
Martha would drive Howie to Boston's Logan Airport for his flight back to California while Quinn would remain to pack up his equipment before leaving later for a hundred mile drive to their home in nearby Peabody, Mass.
Martha was quick to brush off his regret, telling him it was a fun exercise.
Betsy and Martha hugged their goodbyes.
I telephoned Martha LeBlanc with the intent of a quick thank-you for our prior weekend visit but she was in a mood to chat.
He mentioned inviting Quinn and Martha too, and paying their way.
I opined to keep Quinn and Martha out of the picture, at least at present.
I first spoke to Martha, while not fully committed; I knew she was more sympathetic to Howie than her husband.
Martha said nothing during my discourse, not helping my confidence.
"I know what you mean," Martha answered.
Martha would talk to Quinn... to grease the skids... as she put it, and have him telephone me the following evening.
"So is Martha," he answered with a laugh.
"Thankfully," Martha interjected, "the live bee portion of the test is conducted elsewhere."
As any dream sessions needed to take place in Massachusetts where Quinn's test items were now located, we decided Martha was best suited as coordinator of the event.
We spent the next hour quizzing Howie to try and determine the location he "visited" with Martha taking copious notes while the questions flew.
Martha patted his arm.
However, Martha took notes and Betsy recorded what was said.
Martha brewed coffee for us and hot chocolate for Howie.
Both Martha and Quinn would also attend.
Howie was to remain in Massachusetts, at least for a few more days, working with Quinn and Martha.
My only hint occurred during a dance with Martha at our wedding reception.
Howie was due within the hour so only Quinn and Martha met us at the door.
Martha, who was now displaying her pregnancy, quickly explained.
Martha touched his arm.
Martha looked at it longingly while the three of us emptied one in no time with Quinn doening the lion's share.
Tea totaling Martha assumed the role of spokesperson.
"Where to begin," Martha said, showing nerves as well.
We weren't disappointed as Martha continued.
Then Martha dropped the bombshell.
Martha quickly explained, leaving Quinn's short fuse unlit.
I started to question him, but thought better of it, letting Martha continue.
As Martha said, I'm able to dial in settings that affect time and a location.
I'm not about to go on your honeymoon with you or watch Martha undress!
Quinn shouted before Martha put a restraining hand on his arm.
Martha raised her hand in a sign of peace.
At Martha's suggestion over coffee the next morning we decided on the public library in nearby Lynn as our destination.
Martha handed out paper and pens before we left the house.
"I hope Howie isn't too disappointed if he's unable to pull this off," Martha said.
My books and pages were rattled off quickly while Martha had pointed to twenty different words listed in a large dictionary.
Martha turned to her cousin.
Martha rose and reached for Betsy's hand.
Betsy was pointing at the television as Martha and Howie came into the room.
My heart was in my mouth and I saw fear on Martha's face.
Neither Martha nor I knew what details Howie knew of the event.
Howie looked to Martha.
"Yes," said Martha emphatically.
Martha wiped her eyes and tried to smile.
Martha took her cousin's hand.
I turned to Martha.
It took fifty minutes before the door burst open and Howie dashed out and up the stairs with Martha close on his heels.
We all looked questioningly to Martha who stood at the open doorway.
By the time the tape stopped both Martha and Betsy were in tears.
"I can," Martha answered with a snarl in her voice.
Martha searched for her keys.
Martha shooed me away.
I turned to Martha and grabbed her written notes.
My heart was racing as I tried to remember the route Martha had taken this morning.
Martha was angry, certainly at the perpetrator but also at the Warwick police for not summarily arresting the man and rescuing the boy.
Martha cried and laughed and hugged each of us, one by one.
Martha, I couldn't fall asleep until you sat by my side and whispered.
Quinn and Martha prepared breakfast.
His comment earned a look from Martha suggesting the subject had been discussed in the confines of their bedroom.
"Let's just eat in peace and talk later," Martha said.
Martha looked at each of us.
Howie, you, Quinn and Martha worked together without us.
Given the chance, Martha would have yelled as well, obviously agreeing that suggestion wasn't feasible.
Under Martha's soothing, near hypnotizing voice, Howie fell asleep quickly.
Martha prepared grilled cheese sandwiches for our lunch.
My wife and I stopped at a closed filling station in Connecticut and with Martha's notes in hand I attempted to phone the authorities.
Martha and Betsy spoke frequently on the phone.
Somehow, between her and Martha, Quinn and Howie agreed to run a trip back while we remained in New York in phone contact.
We were set to run renewed sessions on Saturday but on Thursday Martha telephoned in tears.
Other sessions were tried earlier but when Howie couldn't sleep, Quinn accused him of not working hard enough Martha said.
Let's not go there, Martha.
I calmed Martha down and both Betsy and I spoke to all three of them, one by one.
He had already returned by the time Martha called a national tip line.
It was so heart wrenching to Martha she insisted Howie try more than once, in an effort to succeed.
Betsy, usually as nearly sympathetic as Martha, pointed out there were scads of other missing children we were neglecting.
Martha burst into tears and we tried one last time.
According to Martha who remained with Howie, he thrashed about the bed, frightening her.
Quinn agreed with Betsy, much to Martha's dismay.
"The children come first," Martha said.
"How much money do you have, Howie?" asked Martha, the most outspoken of our group.
Betsy is great at research and Martha works with Howie, assembles the tips and can deliver them.
"I certainly don't want the responsibility," Martha answered as she turned to Betsy.
Martha was unable to get by her natural compassion of the moment and look at a long term goal.
Martha began to apologize.
Martha was playing nurse maid to both Howie's limitations and his fragile ego while struggling with morning sickness and her stressful hospital position.
Martha too was exasperated as she sought the most responsive tip line.
Martha called after a Wednesday session.
"Kathleen was taken and I'm frightened to death for her," Martha reported.
Betsy printed out Martha's Email and a list of FBI offices around the country.
I proceeded to relate the information Martha had conveyed.
Martha was quick to catch on that something important had transpired.
Martha was anxious to hear about the outcome of the Georgia abduction as I'd not phoned her with the results.
Martha made the call, saying she thought she saw a girl taking a short cut across the pond.
We were picked up by Martha and arrived just as Quinn and who'd ferried Howie pulled in behind us.
Four of us, sans Martha, shared a bottle of bourbon with Quinn drinking two for each of ours.
Martha was unavoidably reassigned hours which included weekends.
"I say give him a call," Martha said.
Teaching classes was unexciting to him and Martha recently told me his summer plant testing project was a major disappointment.
Martha began to pace the room.
We never-the-less decided to postpone discussion until the following day when, as Martha said, we had a night of rumination and our wits about us.
Martha and Quinn were readying for our restaurant dinner in their room and Betsy was upstairs usurping the single bathroom.
"No one is suggesting we drop what we're doing," Martha said.
This is the definition of my Shangri-La; the town should have a good hospital where my child will enter this world and, if Martha want's to, she can work enough hours to utilize her skills.
You haven't said much, Martha.
It was Martha's turn to be thoughtful.
Martha exclaimed the next morning as I came downstairs.
Martha had continued to take copious notes on each and every case.
"Amherst, Massachusetts," Martha said.
With a baby on the way, Quinn's and Martha's top priority was a locality where they could raise a family in a large and comfortable home.
While Martha would be sorely missed, nurses came and went frequently.
Martha and Betsy chatted constantly over decorating ideas and their new hobby, scouring the area for antiques.
I remembered the name Martha mentioned, Willard Humphries, thought guilty, but jailed for a lesser crime.
Betsy and Martha surreptitiously scoured the media for results, in spite of our agreement not to do so.
Martha and Quinn idolized the town as well.
Martha and Betsy spent many a weekend searching out of the way shops and country auctions for their antiques.
No sound disturbed Howie and with Martha able to use her special hypnotic-like tone, little time was wasted inducing Howie's sleep state.
Martha cataloged the recordings and continued to provide clear and precise notes that either Betsy or I conveyed on the tip line.
"Better stock up on Merlot," Martha said on a slow morning.
Neither Betsy nor I saw the broadcast but Quinn and Martha had viewed the showing.
While Howie hadn't viewed the show, he was incensed at the man's attitude as described by Martha.
"If that's so," Martha added, "that makes whoever stayed in that hotel room an accessory to murder!"
"I thought Youngblood was the star attraction of the psychic world," Martha said as she tried to get comfortable.
Howie and Quinn remained the oil and water of our association although there was no mention of Martha's teenage indiscretion that had caused so much early turmoil.
"I heard him on the phone," Martha answered.
Betsy said as Quinn glared at Martha.
Martha's pending due date was an incentive to Betsy.
Martha's father suffered a heart attack when she was in nursing school and her mom followed, from a broken heart, seven weeks later.
Martha had no siblings and Quinn had no idea of what might have sprouted from his alien family tree.
After the birth we were set to take yet another day off as both Quinn and Martha were unavailable.
We not only lacked an exact time, but the in the turmoil of Martha's delivery, Betsy didn't spot the announcement in her usual timely manner.
Absent Martha's soothing voice, Howie wasn't able to drift off until our third try.
Martha and baby Claire were released from the hospital after two days and both continued to prosper.
"I don't like it," Martha said.
Howie was ambivalent as usual while Quinn indicated the choice was Martha's to make.
"I like this life," Martha protested, gazing around her living room.
With some reluctance, mostly from Martha this time, we agreed.
"I like her," Martha said.
Martha shook her head.
"He's only dating the woman," Martha said, looking around for help."
Martha looked for approval and received it tacitly from all but her husband.
"It's not our call," Martha answered, though by her tone, I suspected she understood where I was coming from.
Baby Claire was often in evidence in our work place, sleeping on mother's arm or in her file cabinet remodeled crib, or supping on Martha's breast.
When Martha was in a session with Howie, Betsy took over, coveting the child as if she were her own.
Martha gave her husband a searing snarl and reminded him it was Howie's life and not ours.
Betsy and I have each other and Quinn and Martha each other plus Claire.
I thought about asking Martha; she was around some when I was growing up.
Quinn, Martha and especially Betsy looked perturbed at me for not updating them on my tete-a-tete with Howie but that could wait.
While Martha and Betsy, buoyed by our recent success, were eager to tackle the case, Quinn, not surprisingly, and yours truly to a lesser extent, were hesitant.
Martha had brought along baby Claire and Molly was enthralled.
Martha asked if she'd like to hold the baby, thrilling Molly further.
I began to wonder if Martha would ever get her baby back!
Martha, free to indulge, surprised me by drinking more than her share, an uncommon practice on her part.
"God," said Martha, empting a glass.
Martha patted my knee.
She was never quite sure how to respond to Martha's candor though the two continued to be best of friends.
Quinn rolled his eyes and winked at Martha.
Molly continued to hold Clair, even feeding her a bottle as Martha explained the mechanics of capturing mother's milk while the rest of us pretended not to listen.
She kept looking toward Martha until Martha asked if something was wrong.
Martha had asked to come in late as baby Clair had a bad night.
While she wasn't as successful as Martha, it usually ultimately worked.
Martha continued to whisper to me she wished he'd go easier on the booze.
Martha came in with baby Clair looking as if she'd gotten over what ailed her.
Martha answered and with a strange look on her face, turned the phone over to Howie.
"Go out to Santa Barbara, of course!" said Martha.
Quinn and Martha perpetually had their hands full with their baby and Betsy stayed home, content to have extra time with our expanding garden.
I ran it by Quinn and Martha, both of whom kicked the decision back to me.
He hardly knows the woman and you heard what Martha said; she still holds a grudge over what she perceived as Howie's carelessness that caused her daughter's kidnapping and death.
Martha's talking about what happened years ago.
"It's unfair to Martha to leave her alone with an infant," I answered.
What about Quinn and Martha?
I'd planned to ask Quinn and Martha to come in so I could tell them what I'd learned but the more I considered it, I decided a phone call was sufficient.
Martha answered the phone.
While Martha was as upset as Betsy and I, she wanted no part in resolving the matter.
She can stay with Quinn and Martha while Julie is out here.
Once alone, I telephoned Martha and explained that Howie had summoned Julie to California and Betsy and I would house Molly in her mother's absence.
Martha confirmed my suspicions Quinn was mad as hell, convinced the whole business was down the flusher.
I was dialing my wife to tell her when Martha and Quinn came in the office, pushing a baby carriage with Claire smiling beneath her blankets.
Martha could tell by the look on my face that something was wrong.
Martha looked bewildered as she tried in vain to quiet Claire.
Martha turned to her husband.
Martha began to cry but thankfully, Claire quieted.
After Martha and her baby left, I called Betsy with the news.
I told Betsy about the flare up between Quinn and Martha before Quinn decided to go to Santa Barbara alone.
She placed no blame on Martha for remaining here.
Betsy spoke to Martha on the phone after dinner while Molly and I walked Bumpus.
Martha sounded horrible on the phone.
Martha was alone with an infant and it was after nine o'clock.
The drape parted, followed by shuffled footsteps, and Martha opened the door.
She stood there in bathrobe and nightgown, a look of panic on Martha's face.
Martha, what's going on?
I'll go back to being good old Martha but indulge me tonight, will you?
You don't mean that, Martha.
"Martha," I said, trying to pull back.
Martha downed the rest of her glass, rose and stumbled up the stairs.
Martha lifted her daughter from her crib, cuddled her briefly, and sat in a corner rocker.
Martha made no move to cover herself.
Go to bed, Martha.
I mentioned I planned to spend the night on Martha's sofa.
Unlike me, Betsy was very familiar with the house having spent much time with Martha and Claire.
Martha, unaware she was hosting a full house, slept soundly.
Martha wasn't doing well staying alone so she asked a bottle of Beefeater to keep her company.
Howie and Quinn, and Martha too; they don't know what Julie did so they can't see the possibility of a connection to Julie.
I closed my eyes and perhaps nodded off but when I opened them, Martha was standing there, without her robe, in only a sheer nightgown.
I thought Martha would faint.
I don't suppose Martha does; least not yet.
When Martha finished, she tossed her head back and moaned.
Martha moaned her head still back and her eyes closed.
Ask Martha to define cheating.
After some negotiations Martha was allowed to remain in bed while the rest of us, Claire included drove back to our house.
She can take Martha's place, trying to calm Howie down enough so he can nod off but keep beating on her the importance of keeping her mouth shut.
"Amen," he said, then added, "I spoke to Martha.
Betsy, Martha and Molly came by with Claire just before lunch.
Martha looked awful but apologized for her actions.
While Martha was on the phone trying to get our air conditioning system checked, I had a few moments alone with my wife.
Molly was need deep in her make-work chore and Martha was feeding Claire.
I glanced up to see Martha headed toward my door.
Now that Molly had confessed more knowledge than any of us suspected, I felt obligated to tell Martha the full story before she learned it from overheard conversation or from Molly directly.
Martha returned with a pile of diapers in hand.
Martha exclaimed when I told her Julie had entered the million dollar hunt for Howie and her letter might have fallen into the wrong hands.
Martha shook her head, as if looking for more.
Martha, I just don't know what to say.
Over their shoulder I saw Martha leave, with little Claire in her arms.
I had to know if Martha had telephoned her husband.
"Martha didn't run home and relate to Quinn what you told her?" she asked.
"Martha didn't call Quinn," Betsy said, not wording it as a question.
Do you think Martha will upset Quinn enough so he won't do what you asked?
Martha's only comment was that it was nice to hear at least one piece of good news.
When I heard his voice, my heart jumped, not knowing if he'd been told by Martha of Julie's earlier treachery.
I took time before retiring for the day to telephone Martha with the good news Julie's break in was a false alarm.
When they finished, Quinn would call Martha at home, and let her listen to the recording of the session.
Any conversations I had with Martha were short, bordering on abrupt.
Not so, between Betsy and Martha, according to my wife.
She even visited Martha and Claire with Molly each afternoon.
I feared my unique relationship with Martha was terminally damaged and if so, I was heartbroken.
We had always teetered on the edge, Martha and me, even as young children, playing you-show-me-yours-I'll-show-you-mine and sneaking to places forbidden.
But we'd always remained a step away, like Martha once said, to retain our perfect friendship.
Have you told Martha?
She asked if I thought Martha would fly out for the funeral or memorial service.
I told her I'd asked the same question of Martha earlier and she'd been noncommittal.
"Martha hasn't made up her mind about flying out to the funeral but if she goes, she'll take Claire as well," my wife said, with a note of sadness in her voice.
But I don't know any of those relatives except Martha.
As long as Martha's flying out, I'll send your clothes with her.
Martha and Claire have already left for Santa Barbara and the funeral so she'll fill Howie and Julie when she gets to California.
Quinn and Martha aren't there?
I guess he drove to the airport to pick up Martha and Claire but I guess they didn't come in when they were supposed to.
Why didn't Quinn come back when he saw Martha missed her connection?
No, and neither Quinn nor Martha are picking up their phones.
Ask Martha when she lands.
I didn't answer and instead requested he have Quinn or Martha call me as soon as they get in.
"I'm sorry Martha missed her aunt's service but flying on short notice is iffy," I added.
I'd leave that up to his cousin Martha.
He's desperate to ask Martha about the details of Annie's death but she, Quinn and Claire haven't reported in.
Martha flew out there for the express purpose of attending the funeral.
Julie wants desperately to come back east but Howie wants to talk to Martha and learn the truth before he leaves.
You don't suppose Martha and Quinn went into hiding, do you?
How did Martha react when you told her I'd been attacked?
I just want to see if Martha left me a note or if there's any hint to what's going on.
The more I thought about it, the more I felt Quinn, Martha and baby Claire might be gone.
It displayed Quinn and Martha's number.
Martha left a note.
Martha wants me to have the antiques we searched for together all the cranberry glass, the Hobstar crystal, even the Tiffany lamp she so cherished.
I could see Quinn's hand in the decision, far more than Martha's.
I truly felt I'd hear from Martha again.
Julie, Quinn, Martha and the baby aren't coming.
Now Martha is gone and deserted just when he needed her to help him.
According to Betsy, on the note Martha left, she said Quinn was coming back east to meet up with his wife and daughter and leave from here.
I know Martha had her days when I could have killed her but I loved her too.
I read Martha's note to us and brought Betsy up to date on my conversation with Julie.
Yes. He said he was sorry but he and Martha said they had to call it quits and he was going back to be with his wife and child.
Betsy remained down in the dumps over Martha's departure but per usual, she successfully researched the Internet and found directions to eight different camping parks in the area.
I love it here and so did Martha.
Martha was hurting that night, and she turned to me, albeit in an uncommon way.
For everything... for how I handled the police-guy, for making Julie stay just a little bit longer, for chasing off Martha and Quinn...
Martha and Quinn made their own decision; you didn't chase them off.
While I had no right to do so, if Martha and Quinn had effectively abandoned their home, why not?
I was there when Quinn hid it after Martha locked them out and he had to pry a window.
Martha, who I failed to forgive when she stumbled in one drunken moment of need, was gone forever.
Quinn was a parentless foster kid and Martha's parents are gone.
I explained about Betsy's visit and our misinterpretation of Martha's note.
Saying the words resurrected the near-forgotten facts; Quinn, and Martha, both dead and gone.
The scene was so familiar; abduction, outlined by Betsy, facts presented, Quinn and Howie removing to their basement sanctuary while we waited and Martha recorded.
I'm responsible for Martha and Quinn and now maybe Betsy and Molly as well.
Martha Boyd would be leaving, so the telephone informed them.
Now, half a year later, came the feared phone call informing them that Martha too was leaving.
Martha, whose stay with them was at first a simple good deed, then a delight and now so very much more.
Now, thanks to an overzealous social worker, Martha was scheduled to become reacquainted with mommy dearest—in Denver, over three hundred miles away from Bird Song's nest.
David and Cynthia Dean had experienced little success in trying to secure a more formal arrangement for long term custody of Martha, managing only undocumented assignment as temporary foster parents.
Poor Martha lacked even a minimal paper trail on her short, disjointed life.
As for Martha's father, Patsy's comments as recorded on one statement she grudgingly gave the authorities listed him as "some john I did for a couple of bucks drug money."
Then out of the blue came the call from a sticky-sweet state worker informing the Deans that Martha would be picked up on Saturday morning—this was Thursday—for the introductory reunion.
I always knew Martha was only here temporarily but I thought we'd at least get some warning.
Something's been troubling Martha for the past two weeks.
"She's out now and Martha deserves to know," Cynthia said as she went to the girl's bedroom to break the news.
It was half an hour later when she returned, holding Martha's hand as they entered the room.
Martha said nothing but tears streaked her cheeks.
Martha bent down and scooped her up and snuggled the feline beneath her chin.
"I'm not as good as you think," Martha muttered.
Martha, let me explain to you about love.
"I guess so," Martha replied, her voice hardly above a whisper.
I promise we'll always be here for you, Martha.
Don't say no one cares, Martha.
"Martha," Dean said, "you've got to trust in someone sometime.
Martha didn't answer but after a short time she asked to be excused.
When Martha first came here, we thought I might be pregnant, remember?
When I found out I wasn't pregnant, Martha was here and I wasn't near as disappointed as I thought I'd be.
Deep down, I convinced myself we might have a chance for custody of Martha.
"I'm not clinging to Martha just because I didn't have our baby," Cynthia continued.
The least we can offer Martha is to keep trying.
The Deans had feared the long Colorado winter might slow down frisky Fred but, if anything, the opposite occurred, due in no small measure to his young pal and junk sale cohort, Martha Boyd.
Bird Song's managerial pair tried to present a breakfast happy face over coffee cake and muffins, but their efforts continued to fall short as they waited for Martha to make an appearance.
"I might as well roust up the rest of the family—so's Maria can meet 'em," he said as he went over to Martha's bedroom door, knocked and entered, closing the door behind him.
The Deans retreated to the front porch, allowing Fred and Martha time alone, and Maria to her new chores.
He said nothing of his visit to Martha's room and busied himself on the stoop taping a "Dean for Sheriff" poster to a wooden stake before adding it to a growing pile.
Martha joined them, slumping into the purple rocker, her favorite.
Martha asked, showing the first glimmer of interest since being told of her forced departure.
Cynthia led Martha to the kitchen.
She poured a bowl of cereal, something Martha would have done for herself on a usual day.
In an effort at normalcy, she broke the quiet as Martha dallied over the meal.
What's this all about, Martha?
Martha ignored the question.
She was surprised Martha had taken to heart what her husband said the prior evening.
She sat beside Martha and took her hand.
Martha nodded her head.
Martha looked up as she continued.
"He wasn't being mean to you," Martha said—a ten-year-old schoolmarm.
I know my parents loved me, but there are other ways to teach children without hurting them, Martha.
Then she asked, Martha, is there something you want to talk about?
Martha scooted around them leaving Cynthia to try and hide her concern with a false smile as she led the quarrelsome foursome into the dining room with a plate of pastry.
Fred O'Connor was off to the post office, but before leaving, he ceremoniously presented Martha with thirty dollars and a smothering hug.
There was a small room beneath the stairs on the main floor, rented in the past but occupied by Martha since her January arrival.
After smearing peanut butter and jam on whole wheat bread for a lunch on the fly, Dean knocked on Martha's door.
He knew Cynthia wanted to update him on her talk with Martha, but both realized time was short as they planned to take Martha to dinner for her last night under Bird Song's wing.
Once clear of town, Dean drove along at a brisk clip, trying without success to engage Martha in conversation.
She answered as Martha giggled, earning a stern look.
Martha began to cry.
Martha spat with a viciousness that shocked Dean as much as the officer.
Larkin asked, trying to look down at Martha and at the same time keeping a wary eye on Dean, who was ready to kill her.
She scared the hell out of Martha.
Martha showed little interest and had said hardly a word.
I spotted these on the half-price table while Martha was finding fault with suitcases.
"There's more troubling Martha than just leaving," his wife said.
Her mother's been in jail half of Martha's life while the poor kid's been shuffled around God knows where.
Martha seems to have a pretty good read on Patsy and she's always been candid talking about her.
I just don't want Martha leaving here with something important hanging over her head.
"Martha!" he yelled over his shoulder, knowing the young girl would hear in the next room.
Martha smiled shyly, smoothing her red skirt.
Dean remained standing as Martha took a seat on the edge of the bed.
He turned and looked down at Martha, who sank even lower into her seat.
Martha pursed her lips.
All cops aren't bad, Martha.
"No. I guess she's just a natural-born bitch," he muttered, earning a frown from Cynthia and a smile from Martha.
Cynthia used Martha's smile to pursue the reason for their questioning.
I think something is bothering you, Martha.
Martha nodded, her lips tight.
Martha bit her quivering lip and began to cry.
Martha bounced back on the bed and looked up at the ceiling.
Tell me you didn't find a dead guy, Martha.
"Martha, no one is going to spank you," Cynthia said.
"Trust us to do what's fair, Martha," Dean said.
Martha sighed and popped up to a sitting position.
Martha paused, but the Deans allowed her time to gather her thoughts and continue.
You could have died there, Martha!
Martha, how could you...
They paused as Martha looked from first one, then the other.
That's an incredible story, Martha.
Martha glanced over to the dresser and Dean's unused hairbrush.
Why did you tell us now, Martha?
Martha rose and began to pace across the room, putting one foot toe to heel in front of the other, as if walking a tight rope.
The restaurant was Martha's choice, but there were no dissenters.
He handed both to Martha and glanced up at the ceiling.
Martha signed the dollar bill with a hint of a smile.
While the Deans were pleased that Martha had confided in them about her gruesome discovery, her pending exit remained an ever-present pall that hung over the remainder of the evening like a chilly fog.
Martha smiled at Fred's compliments but added, I know I shouldn't have gone in there.
"Just don't even think of doing anything like that again, young lady," Cynthia said, giving Martha's hand a pat.
He raised the topic as much to take Cynthia's mind off Martha's departure as from any serious concern about the old man.
Perhaps he's so upset over Martha's leaving that he can't concentrate on anything else.
Prodding Martha to talk out her dilemma helped, didn't it?
I'm pleased Martha trusted us enough to confide in us, even though now I have to take my hat in my hand and talk Jake Weller into spelunking after a skeleton.
That's why it bothered me so much when Martha seemed to understand so quickly.
A long time passed until both heard the muffled but distinct sound of Martha's quiet sobbing in her adjacent room.
Cynthia eventually bowed to Martha's sobs and crept into her room, spending most of the dark hours holding the grieving child.
Martha eventually slipped into a troubled sleep when Cynthia, with Dean by his side, again convinced the child they believed her, and promised to see the young girl's discovery reach daylight.
Martha hugged it and murmured a thank-you.
"Owls don't sing," Martha said, her voice muffled against the plush toy, "but I love him anyway."
Some textbook must have dictated speed as the panacea for grief, and Martha was hustled out the door like a bride late for her wedding.
I want to stop down and see Jake Weller about Martha's bony little problem.
But he and his big mouth had promised Martha.
Martha is a straight kid.
Dean handed Fitzgerald the photocopy of Martha's drawing and comments she and Cynthia had made.
Come on Martha, he prayed.
Dean felt satisfaction that his wife's dark mood had improved, but Martha's departure remained on her mind.
They had given Martha a telephone card and asked she contact them as soon and as often as she could.
Besides, you've got too much on your minds— running for sheriff, little Martha leaving and all—you don't need to hear about the ghosts in my closet.
I guess about Martha's age.
Seeing as you promised little Martha, I'd best give you a hand.
The phone rang, causing all three to jump, thinking it might be Martha.
On her way down the hall, she paused at Martha's room and peeked in, as if hoping some memory of the child remained.
"I'm sure the bones will be the first thing Martha asks about when she calls," Cynthia said.
Sure. I can compare Martha's drawing with a map and get the location.
He added, "just like we're trusting that Martha is telling the truth."
I wonder if Martha called yesterday.
"Maybe I'll call the state and see if I can get a number where we can reach Martha," Dean said as they put away the tools of their trade.
The word usage examples above have been gathered from various sources to reflect current and historial usage. They do not represent the opinions of YourDictionary.com.