Beyond the Past

"This was a fast-paced novel that kept my attention!" 
--Veronica, a reader

Chapter 1

January 1, 1951
Atlanta, Georgia

   Emmajean bolted upright in bed, her heart hammering against her chest, and eyes searching the darkness. What had awakened her? She glanced at the clock. Two o’clock in the morning. She’d only been in bed a scant thirty minutes. She had worked with Barry till after the New Year's Eve celebrations settled down.
   She eased aside the shade at her bedside window that overlooked the street to see what awoke her. Three cars parked beneath the street light and four men huddled on the sidewalk. Two of the cars were police cars, one was not. Two of the men wore uniforms, the other two had on suits. They approached the house and hurried to get up the steps to the front porch.
   When they knocked on the door, Emmajean scrambled from her tangled covers, searching for her house slippers. She jerked her housecoat from across the foot of the bed and pushed her arms into it. As she cinched the belt around her waist she stepped across the room and opened her bedroom door.
   At the same moment, Barry opened his bedroom door directly across the living room from hers, buckling the belt in his pants. When he saw Emmajean he put a finger against his lips and motioned with his other hand, palm forward, for her not to come out of her room.
   Another knock came through the door and a gravelly voice said, “Open up. Atlanta police.”
   Barry went toward the door, again motioning for Emmajean to stay put. He opened the door a small crack and backed up as the four men pushed through.
   An overweight man in a rumpled brown suit looked at Barry. “Are you Barry Wagner?” Then he swung his gaze toward Emmajean, still standing in her doorway.
   She saw his degrading smile and tugged the cotton housecoat closer beneath her neck.
   “Yeah, I’m Barry.”
   “Is that your car parked in the driveway?”
   “Yeah. What are you doing here?”
   The man exchanged glances with his partner who smirked toward Barry. Then Brown Suit’s attention turned toward Emmajean. “Young lady, are you Emmajean Callaway?”
   Wondering how he knew her name, she answered, “Yes, sir.”
   The heavy man walked farther into the room and motioned for Barry to sit on the sofa. The two men took chairs across from the sofa. The uniformed policemen stood near the door. The designated speaker for the men cleared his smoker’s throat. “I’m Detective Hamilton and we have a few questions for you. Where were you this evening for the last three hours?”
   “Right here. Both of us.”
   “Is that right, Miss? Were you here all evening with this man?”
   Emmajean knew they had not been home all evening, but Barry gave her a slight nod of his head. “Yes, sir.”
   “Come on out here and join us.” Hamilton waved Emmajean to the sofa.
   Emmajean eased across the living room and settled next to Barry on the lumpy sofa. What was going on? Were they in some kind of trouble?
   “What are you doing here?” Sweat dotted across Barry’s brow. “You must be at the wrong house.”
   “Nah, we’re not at the wrong house. We have witnesses who say you’ve not been home this evening. They say you were seen in your car north of town at a drive-in and this pretty little redhead here went to different cars delivering some kind of goods.”
   “Now you leave her out of this.”
   “Out of what?”
   Barry fell silent. The detective pulled some papers from his inside coat pocket, snapped them open, and held it up for Barry and Emmajean to see. “This here’s a search warrant. We’ve been watching you two for a while and we have cause to take a look around.”
   His degrading sneer spread across his face. “Okay, boys. Get started. I doubt there’s anything in the little lady’s room, but look everywhere.”
   When one of the officers started toward Barry’s bedroom, Barry jumped up from the sofa. Detective Hamilton rose and moved in front of Barry. “I think you’d better just have a seat there. You can get up when we’re finished looking around.”
   It didn’t take the policemen long. “Looky here.” One of them came out of Barry’s bedroom holding up a small brown paper bag opened at the top resting on the palm of his hand. He carried several more bags bunched in his other arm and hand.
   The detective met the officer and peered into the bag. “What do we have here?”
   The other detective joined him, reaching into the bag, checking its contents.
   “And there’s plenty more in the bedroom.”
   “Okay, you two, let’s go. Both of you get yourself dressed. We’re going downtown.”
   “You can’t take us anywhere.”
   “Oh, but I can, Mr. Wagner. You’re under arrest for possession of and selling of a controlled substance. You know, drugs. Marijuana.”
   He turned to the other detective and said, “Hank, read them their rights.”
   Turning to the two officers, Hamilton said, “Gather up all that stuff and let’s get it all to the station.”
    “No. You can’t take any of my things.”
    “Well, yes, Barry, we can and we are. Now, get yourself and your little lady ready to go.”
   Emmajean had remained dumbfounded throughout the entire questioning. Why was Barry carrying on so? Why did the detective think they had any illegal drugs and what did that mean, anyway? When the two suits motioned her toward her bedroom, she complied and shut the door behind her.
   She wondered how she could get out of this. She didn’t want to go to the police station. What if her family found out? She whipped her gown off. After she donned her bra she stutter-stepped and yanked on a pair of blue jeans, pulled a Georgia Tech T-shirt over her head, and slid into a pair of Keds.
   Then she grabbed her purse from the chest and eased over to the window. She raised it inch by inch.

Copyright 2013 Jo Huddleston

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