Chapter 11 – July 10
Part 1 of 5
The Sunday after our Fourth of July disaster. Siblings only, except Melanie is conspicuously absent, and Jeremy conspicuously present.
Bless us, Mother, for we have sinned. It's been six days since our last gathering. We hereby pledge to have Sunday on Sunday from now on, no matter what.
Josie said she still felt off, but none of us knew exactly what that meant. She looked okay, maybe a little pale, and said that she felt 'delicate.' Whatever that was supposed to mean.
"So, what, you're eating cautiously so you don't feel sick? Or moving carefully so you don't fall down?"
She just shook her head. Carefully.
Whatever is going on, she's not telling us. She couldn't be pregnant, could she? But by who? She doesn't really hang out with anyone but us and Jeremy, and he's fucking Silas on a regular basis, so he sure as hell isn't catting around with Jo-Jo. No, of course not. Because Jo-Jo is a virgin – at least in our eyes – and shall not be tainted.
Silas arrived a few minutes after the rest of us, carrying a BBQ feast from Famous Dave's and a box wrapped in silver paper.
"What, is it your anniversary?" Liz asked, quirking an eyebrow.
"Nope." Silas grinned, then turned toward Josie and presented her the package with a dramatic flourish.
"It's a get-well present for my littlest sister. To make up for all the fun you missed at Fourth Fest, Jo-Jo."
He shot me a look that let me know quite clearly that we would not be discussing Uncle Butch today. And that was fine with me.
Josie was delighted. Her face lit up as she turned the present over in her hands, shook it gently, then smoothed her fingers over the shiny silver wrapping. "Can I open it?"
"Let's eat first," Silas suggested, and Liz and I went to the kitchen for plates and napkins. Lots of napkins.
We set the table and started passing food.
"How's Melanie doing?" Silas asked. I'd talked to him earlier in the week, but he'd been busy and I'd only been able to give him a brief update about Melanie being in the hospital.
I'd called the detox center Tuesday morning to see if she needed to be picked up, and they told me in no uncertain terms that she wasn't there, that she hadn't been there, and they didn't have any beds available so she wasn't on her way there.
They suggested I call the police.
I called the police. The desk sergeant didn't know anything, but he took my number.
I thought about calling the hospitals, but that seemed like something of an over-reaction.
And before I got to that level of worry, an officer called me back. He'd been one of the officers at the park, and he told me that Melanie had a bit of a melt-down after they put her in the car. That she'd tried to kick out the grate between the back seat and the front seat. That she made a bunch of threats and demanded they pull over and let her out of the car so she could "suicide by cop."
"Oh, no. She really said that?"
That and a whole bunch of other crazy, hysterical stuff.
So they'd brought her to the psych unit.
I called the psych unit and asked to speak to Melanie Meyerhoff.
The nurse who took my call said, and I quote, "I have no information about a patient by that name."
"Well, can you at least tell me if she's there?"
And the nurse said, "I'm sorry, I have no information about a patient by that name." But she didn't hang up.
I was stumped.
"But then where can she be?" I asked, and felt the tears creep into my voice. "She's my sister. A police officer told me he brought her there. And if she's not there, then I have no idea where she is."
"I'm sorry, ma'am," the nurse said, and her voice was gentle and kind. "But I have no information that I can give you."
And she still didn't hang up.
My brain kicked into overdrive. I felt like she really wanted to give me information about my sister, but couldn't.
"Okay," I said, still thinking. "Can I talk to a patient named Reggie Jackson?"
"There is no patient here by that name." Her answer was fast and definite.
"Can I talk to Melanie Meyerhoff?"
I heard the woman on the other end of the phone line sigh. "I have no information about a patient by that name."
"If Reggie Jackson was a patient there, what would it take for me to find out how's he doing?"
"In order to give out information about Reggie Jackson, even to his wife or his sister, Reggie Jackson would have to sign a consent form giving me permission."
"Thank you so much," I said. "And can I bother you for one more thing?"
"Sure," she said, sounding relieved.
"If someone named Melanie Meyerhoff happens to wander in, would you please tell her to call one of her sisters? Because they are very worried about her."
"I would definitely tell her that," the nurse said, "if she were a patient here."
My phone rang within five minutes.
She'd sounded exhausted.
"Yeah, sweetie. Are you okay?"
"Not really," she answered.
"I didn't know where you were. I almost freaked out."
"Sorry," she said. "I'm tired. Dr. B decided I need a major med overhaul. Starting today. It's so awful that I just want to sleep."
"Just all of a sudden?" I panicked a little. Some of Mel's periods of adjustment after med changes have been really rough.
"I don't know. Probably alcohol withdrawal, too. Everything's hazy."
"Can you have visitors? Can I come see you?"
"Oh, baby, give me a couple of days, please?"
I was shocked. A couple of days? "But won't you be out in a couple of days?"
"Not this time. Dr. B said we gotta get this figured out, and if I try to leave before he thinks I’m ready, he'll commit me again."
"Oh, shit. Is it that bad?" It was all I could say. She'd been committed once, mentally ill and chemically dependent, back when she first lost custody of Caleb. It was, I don't know, the most frightening, unexpected thing, even when it turned out to be not nearly as horrible as we'd all imagined. But she'd been doing better for years.
"Jessie, listen. I'll tell you the whole story later – this weekend, maybe – but yeah, it's that bad. This isn't the first time I've been here since mom died."
I'd pulled the phone away from my ear and stared at it. What? Stunned didn't even begin to describe the mind-warp she was putting me through. I put the phone back to my ear. "What? What do you mean?"
"I mean I've had two med adjustments since May, and was here once on a seventy-two-hour hold. It's bad. I promised Dr. B that I'd stay until we figure it out this time. So please, I'll call you every day, and you can visit on Saturday or something. But right now I just want to go back to bed."
"Fine. Go bed. But do me a favor, please? Sign that paper so when I call, they can at least tell me you're there."
"Okay, yeah, I'll do that. Thanks for being my awesome sister, Jessie."