John slipped down the hall toward the men’s room while I followed the hostess to the table. I sat down and began looking for some peace of mind and redemption on the menu. I let out an audible sigh of relief, scanned the room and waited for John to join me.
I was reaching for my water glass when I heard a gruff voice that stood out from the other noises in the room. The tone and the language seemed incompatible with the surrounding finery, and the other dinner guests were noticing as well.
At the bar, a big man with a purple birthmark on his neck was methodically swilling Scotches through his rotted teeth, and talking to the police patrolman whom we had met the day before at Burnt Flat. The man, dirty and loud, was hunched over the bar with the officer standing next to him jotting down his statement.
I sank into my seat and quickly tried to hide behind the menu when the server arrived. “Good evening, Ma’am,” she said. “Are we expecting someone else this evening?”
“Yes, my husband will be here any minute,” I responded and looked around for John. Where was he, and why was he taking so long? I had crossed my right leg over my left, and my dangling foot seemed to bounce up and down with a mind of its own. I put both feet on the floor to steady myself and added, “He’s just gone to the men’s room. Would you mind bringing a wine list, please? And if you’ve got some bread,” I said, drumming my finger on the tabletop.
The server pointed out that I already had a wine list and was in fact looking at it. “Oh, I’m sorry, I thought I was looking at a dinner menu,” I tried to cover my nervousness and pretend as though I were reading through the list of wines. I couldn’t focus on the words and finally just blurted out, “Oh, I don’t know. Can you just bring us a bottle of Chianti, please?”
I kept a close eye on the officer at the bar and hoped he would not spot me at the table. I knew the statement I’d given yesterday about only witnessing the accident with the vagrant and not being involved was weak. I knew it was just a matter of time before it somehow caught up with me, and I would have to confess I had been the one who ran over the man and then drove away. I was just so afraid.
I looked around again for John as the officer walked toward my table. My heart was pounding inside my chest, and my throat was dry. Please, John. Please get here now. Don’t make me go through this alone, I whispered to no one. The officer sat down at my table and said, “Excuse me, Mrs. Harrison, but I have just a few more questions to ask, if you don’t mind.”