Episode 11: "Keeping The Secret, part one"
“Good morning, Ms. Page.”
“And who are these men?” she asked looking past Reggie.
“These are our new friends, Reggie and Steve,” Juan said reassuringly.
“It is nice to meet you,” Virginia said with a kindness and poise that told Juan she was feeling herself. “Where is everyone? Aren’t they here with us?”
After a quick moment of astonishment at Virginia’s beauty, poise and general magnificence, Reggie rose and said, “They are in the next complex. Would you like to go down there?”
“Well, I would like to see if they are all okay,” she said clearly feeling a bit of mistrust in these men and this place.
Reggie led Juan and Virginia straightaway through a cut in the forest to another set of buildings and cabins. As Juan had feared, the attitude between he and Virginia felt colder. He tried to obtain a slice of reassurance from her, but she was obviously thinking outside this moment. They headed to a large hall and walked in on the villagers enjoying a healthy breakfast.
“Virginia!” The Mayor hollered as they entered, grabbing his daughter and engaging her in a big hug. Reggie and Juan found themselves spirited along by the Mayor’s uncontainable vivaciousness and energy. Most of the townspeople clapped in celebration that the community was whole once again. But a few stood and swayed to see what the hubbub was, squinting their eyes and seemingly annoyed. Virginia and Debra caught eyes and since the two were old friends, Debra knew now was not the time to give a hug. Quimby, sitting with Ms. Page, was furiously scribbling in his portable recorder.
“Come see your mother,” he said. “I have to speak with Juan now.”
Juan felt the knots returning in his gut, yet, at that precise moment, Virginia allayed his fears.
“Daddy, Juan and I have yet to have a minute together since we were cornered by these people on the way out of town and I love him. I wanted to see you right away to know you are safe, and now I want some answers — and I want Juan here to help me discern if you are lying.”
Reggie and Juan merely looked on as father and daughter shared their thoughts.
“That is precisely what I need to talk with Juan about...”
“No, Daddy, I need some answers from you,” Virginia said sternly but in enough of an unassuming manner not to share it with those watching.
“Why didn’t you tell me, Daddy?”
The Mayor hugged Virginia tightly, and whispered, “please, Virginia, not now, the townspeople people need me. Please, as hard as it may be to believe after what you have found out, you can trust me. I know you might be upset but for the good of us all, the last thing we need right now is to have this conversation.”
Virginia kissed her Daddy on the cheek and whispered back, “I do trust you, Daddy, that is why I am so upset. I can wait — but not long.”
Reggie was visibly nervous and unprepared for this potential difficulty, as was Juan. They stood there desperately trying to hide the fact that their heartbeats had began to beat within their throats.
Virginia turned to Juan, and gave him a hug while talking to The Mayor, “but be quick with him,” before kissing Juan and addressing him.
“We have things to talk about as well,” she said while tapping him lovingly on the nose and turning to see her mother a few tables away.
The Mayor wasted little time, and grabbed Juan by the elbow, leading him away from Reggie and into a lonely corner for a bit of privacy.
Juan was shocked to realize The Mayor thought the mission to explore and find out what had happened to the “Informer” was still in play.
“It seems okay to me, Mayor, mainly because they brought a note from my mom and that is good enough for me. Besides, I believe that the people that operated Miller were manipulating to such an extent that they might have gotten rid of us.”
“Hmm. Your point is well taken. The secret was always a worry and I did not like it. I thought many times as I read new initiatives and clues and solutions from the Informer that there was something wrong. My father once told me the secret was a gracious gift. That we were the stewards of happiness. This morning Reggie showed me all kinds of documents to collaborate their story. And yet, something is just so wrong and I cannot place it. I understand what has happened is almost beyond comprehension and my mind is ringing. Regardless, we have nowhere else to go and they do seem to be kind and welcoming. Earlier this morning, after spending some time searching for how to handle this abduction, I realized they were keeping my secret. The townspeople knowing my secret — our secret — fears me now that we are out, it truly fears me. Even before Virginia’s antics. When some of the men were getting riled up and turning violent over being held here against their will at dawn, I got them to calm down when Reggie agreed to meet with me to explain. As a sign of good faith, he offered as close as we could have to the morning town square while we talked and here we are. He told me we would be afforded all of the land and materials to rebuild Miller here if that is what we want. They are expecting to hear what we discussed. Do you think Reggie and the rest of them are really willing to do that?”