I lost the original post for these chapters of Blindsided so if you haven’t read them, you’ll be able to do so now, and if you have, it’s a recap. Not sure how close to the original it is now. So I hope you enjoy.
“The Doctor was rather vague when we met but it will require regular trips down island a couple times a week.”
“You might have to cover solo… think you can handle that?”
” Sure, sure I can!” Shawna assured her, excited at the prospect.
“Um, you’ve already ordered for the season, so when the stock arrives, all I have to do is tag it and hang it out.”
“Wow, this could be exciting, hell it is exciting.”
“I was thinking of opening the yogurt bar a little sooner than expected too….what do you think?”
“I think that’s a wonderful idea!”
“I’ve been considering hiring a student to assist….you could teach her the ropes.”
“Yeah, that’ll look good on my resume….hey, why not a guy? I could have some real fun with that.”
“Yeah, I’m sure you could, Shawna, but guys aren’t interested in baby clothes.” Cassandra laughed heartily.
“Yeah, I suppose….darn it was a delightful fantasy while it lasted.” Her laughter lighthearted and full of fun.
Cassandra couldn’t help smiling. Why did Shawna make her feel so old? she mused. She wasn’t old, not yet anyway.
“I need your assistance with the email and inventory. Can you check to see what we received so far? I’m expecting a few announcements on Baby Gap and….”
“Absolutely, I’ll get started right away. Oh did you set the till up or?”
“No, not yet, I can’t see well enough I’m afraid.”
“Right. I’ll do that first then.”
“I’ll be right there….just want to finish cleaning up.”
It only took a few minutes to organize the till and receipt books for the day. Shawna made herself comfortable in front of the computer and began reading, “Wow you have dozens of emails. Never knew you were so popular,” she quipped. “Who is your mystery lover?”
“What are you talking about?” Cassandra called out.
“You have at least a dozen emails from a guy calling himself ‘mystery man’; just wanted to ask before I opened them in case they are personal.”
“Open them. I don’t know any mystery man and this is a working computer. I use my laptop at home for personal stuff. This one is strictly for business!” she replied from the bathroom.
“You’d better come take a look at this. It’s weird Cassandra.”
“I’ll be there in a minute, have to do the drops.” Cassandra put in the first of the drops and stampeing her feet and gritting her teeth; god they hurt so much! She could only describe the results as hot coals attached to knives scraping her eyeball. It was excruciatingly painful. Curiosity got the better of her and she wobbled to Shawn’a side and asked, “What does it say, what’s so weird about it?”
“It says, ‘Your mine!’ and it looks like blood dripping in tears across the page.”
Joining Shawna, Cassandra bent closer to the monitor and tried to read it. “I can’t quite make it out but that is bizarre.”
“There are more…shall we?”
“Absolutely, I’m strangely curious now,” Cassandra commented with a mixture of curiosity and nervous concern.
So they went through over a dozen other emails from the ‘mystery man’
“This one says, ‘EveRY brEATh tAKen, I’ll be WatChinG yOu.’ The next one says, ‘BABy I’m waNTin yoU’ and then, let’s see, ‘Have you eVeR reAlly trIeD rEacHing ouT for thE oThEer siDe’. “There are three more repetitions of these followed by the last one that says, ‘don’t fORGet it’ or the coSt wiLL be yoURs.’
“This is really creepy. You know, I wouldn’t normally put too much stock in something like this but there are too many emails to ignore for a random act.”
“I would think so, Cassy, since they came on different days and were recorded at different times. It feels premeditated, purposeful. I know that sounds crazy, but I’ve got the cold chills crawling over my skin,” she admitted, rubbing her hands up and down her own arms before wrapping them securely around herself for comfort.
Cassandra dialed 911.
She explained to dispatch what had occurred and although the woman on the desk didn’t sound particularly interested, she confirmed a constable would arrive as soon as he was available.
A half hour later, a tall good looking man wandered through the front door. Although a few men accompanied their wife partner or girlfriend, few dared enter alone.
A friendly smiled and twinkle in her eye, Shawna welcomed him, “Hi, can I help you?”
“Yes, someone called about mysterious email….” he said once he’d reached the counter, measuring her as he spoke.
“Oh, yeah, that was Cassandra, the owner….hang on I’ll get her.”
Poking her head into the inventory room, Shawna told Cassandra the constable had arrived.”
The officer noted a beautiful young woman, about 25, 26 he figured, and gorgeous.
Flipping out his badge he introduced himself, “Hi, I’m Constable McKinney.”
Holding out a hand Cassandra said, “Hi, Cassandra Jeffreys, the owner of Precious Little Gifts.”
“You mentioned receiving mysterious emails?”
“I don’t use my email account here for anything other than work. These emails are addressed to me, personally via the company name and they are weird and disturbing, enough I felt I should call.”
“Ok, let’s take a look.”
“You’ll have to navigate yourself I’m afraid as I’m having some difficulty with my eyes at present.”
He took a closer look and noted very red and sore looking eyes. “Allergies?”
“No. Unfortunately it’s a little more serious than that.”
He turned his attention back to the computer and began scrolling through the messages. “Well . . . what have we here?” he said thoughtfully.
“Do you have any idea who this could be?”
“What about the content, does it ring any bells?”
“Vaguely; although, I’m not sure why,” Cassandra admitted.
“It appears they were all sent after my trip down island on Saturday.”
Looking up at her he asked, “Your trip?”
“Yes, to see an Ophthalmologist about my eyes,” she explained.
“You got back when?”
“Late Tuesday night.”
“I need to print these off and take them with me. Don’t delete the originals leave them for our compu-tech to read; he should be able to discern where they originated from,” he informed her. He asked the regular questions she’d expected and then some she hadn’t. “Any irritated ex- lovers, boyfriends, husbands?”
“Not recently. I was involved for a while with a man down island. We met on a buying trip but wemutually agreed, quite amicably, it wasn’t working so we called it off,” she stated matter of factly.
“We may have a problem here. I’m going to check in with a detective unit that specializes in unsolicited email attention. See what they think; either way I’ll get back to you.”
“Please call the detachment if you receive any more of this!” He waved the copies up and down, “or if you feel concerned at all, give us a call.”
“This may be an unfortunate hoax sent to the wrong email. Having said that, be alert and aware of your surroundings – watch for anything out of the ordinary – any other unusual emails, unusual packages, especially if you weren’t expecting any to hang ups, message on your phones here or at home and finally, if you’re followed. Call us immediately.”
“Ok, thank you, Officer McKinney. I’ll do that.”
Shawna joined her, all agog, “Well, what did he say?” Cassandra filled her in then put it out of her mind as the store got busy.
“Cassandra, why don’t I get the blackboard ready to hang? I can list the prices for the smoothies, juices, coffee and tea? Then we can get someone in to hang i?”
“That’s a great idea!” Cassandra agreed.
“You know, Cassy, it’s a brilliant idea. Mom and dad can shop in peace while the kids enjoy a smoothie or juice or just play in the play area; a real stroke of genius if you ask me.”
“The play area seems to be a big hit. I’m hoping the juice bar will be too, even though it means constant monitoring.”
“What about moving the divider over or putting your fence here,” she motioned to the section in question, “Tots need help getting out and parents have to assist in monitoring and clean up. What do you think?”
“Exactly!” Cassandra agreed. “We’re not “babysitters” or a licensed daycare facility. If they wish to avail themselves of the service provided while browsing, no problem but they can’t leave their children unattended.”
“It means vigilance on our part, since there will be a few willing to give it a try. Mom/ dad can place matching sticky name tags on their children and themselves.”
“I love that idea, Shawna, brilliant! We can keep tabs on who comes and goes and if we turn it into a game…”
“Listen, I know you must be tired. I think we can call it a day. It’s been exceedingly quiet for the last half hour. Why don’t you head home? I’ll close up.”
“I’ll gladly take you up on that offer. I’m feeling beat. I’ll do the day end sheets, I’ll do them tomorrow,” Shawna promised on a half yawn.
At five o’clock, she closed the shop and was heading outside as Maggy turned into the parking lot. Cassandra waved tapped her head and went to retrieve her drops. She’d locked the door and turned to head toward Maggy when she spotted a man on the library steps. It was an automatic response, as one does with someone new and different catches your eye. Constable McKinney’s cautionary statement had her feeling edgy.
She immediately filled Maggy in on the day and Maggy in turn told her about the eerie feelings she’d had earlier spotting the guy on the library steps. Their discussion confirmed it was probably the same man but when they turned to look he’d vanished.
“I don’t know how long he was out there. I didn’t see him earlier. I’ll have to ask Shawna.”
Their next stop was the grocery store. Maggy couldn’t shake the feeling of unease that persisted, even though she hadn’t spotted anyone unusual.
Hauling the groceries inside they glanced at each other and said, ‘Moe’s’. Maggy made a production out of rolling up her sleeves before dialing to order two chicken souvlaki roll-ups and Caesar salads. Then they put the groceries away and flopping onto the sofa Maggy said, “Man I’m glad you agreed. I’m just not into cooking tonight.”
“No, nor was I.”
“Want to see what’s on TV, perhaps a movie?”
“Sure, whatever you like.”
Since they were comfortably settled, Porsche hopped up and rubbed against Cassy’s hand. He quickly settled himself across her lap demanding attention. “Hello beautiful.” Cassandra absently patted him as the movie played. He gently nipped her fingers and she let him relax into sleep as they watched the movie and he moved when dinner arrived.
Both Cassandra and Maggy felt equally unsettled. Cassandra woke feeling exhausted; she’d slept poorly in part because her eyes bothered her and as a result of the constables warning which kept playing over and over in her mind. Porsche lifted his head eyeing her sudden movements to mew so quietly she barely heard him. She reached out and gently ruffled his fur before rising. “Hey baby cat, you interested in breakfast?” He jumped off the bed and padded down the stairs beside her. Cassandra carried on with her usual morning routine, giving Porsche fresh water and filling his food bowl even before making coffee.
Maggy noted Cassandra’s pale cheeks and remarked, “Doesn’t seem as though you got much sleep either.”
Cassandra explained her troubled night and Maggy surprisingly agreed, “Same and I can’t exaplain it. There’s something about this whole situation that has me feeling uneasy. There was something about that guy on the library steps that just felt off. After the Constable’s cautionary words, well,” she left the sentenced unfinished.
“Your next appointment is in two days away, isn’t it?”
“How is your boss with all the time off?”
“I’ve got plenty of vacation time coming.”
“Well this isn’t a vacation, running up and down island, looking after me.”
“It’s ok by me, Cassy, really!”
Maggy kept her eyes peeled for anything unusual until they reached the shop. She didn’t feel any less anxious though.
Later, while dressing and changing the window, Cassy had Shawna kept tabs on the library steps in case he returned. Thankfully, the next two days flew by without incident and they relaxed into the new routine.
Dr. Jamison greeted her with a warm smile, “How are the drops working?”
“Painful, very painful. I don’t know if the cure is any better than the disease at this point.” A sympathetic look crossed is face.
“Other than difficulty with the drops, have you noticed any new developments?”
“I’m not really sure, Dr. Jamison. What is the prognosis, my vision certainly hasn’t changed, it’s a day to day, hour by hour, minute by minute scenario. I don’t know what to make of it.”
“Your eyes playing tricks on you?” he asked.
“Is that how you see it?” she asked.
“These trips are playing havoc with my business and our lives.”
“Cassandra, it’s essential that you keep up regular appointments! This disease is eye-sight threatening.”
“Stunned, she stared silently. His words made no sense. “What did you say?” She continued to stare at him as though he’d grown two heads.
“Your test results are in and unfortunately, they were inconclusive. We’re going to have to do another scraping to narrow the disease down.”
“Oh god no.”
“I’m sorry. I know it’s painful, Cassandra, but it’s essential. In order to heal your eyes we have to find an answer to treat you effectively. In the meantime, we’re going to change your drops and try something else.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I believe what you have is called Acanthameoba. The lab’s attempts at growing the scrapings has been unsuccessful so far. This disease has become problematic due to contact lenses and poor maintenance. However, we checked your solution as well as your contacts when you were here last. They were clean.” He paused thoughtfully then continued, “Another possibility would be through contaminated water. Have you had any accidents? Was something splashed in your eyes?”
“Acanthameoba is not transmittable it had to be introduced directly.” He paused before continuing, “This is primarily a third world country disease and the odds of it surviving are astronomical because since it cannot survive in cold climates.”
“Then how did I get it?”
“That’s one of the issues I’m trying to ascertain.”
“There has been some progress, your right eye has healed quite well. The drops I am giving you now are primarily for maintenance.”
“The left eye has progressed to a 17% ulceration ratio, which is a great improvement but we aren’t there yet.”
“I’m relieved to hear that.” Her remarked was echoed on a sigh of relief.
“It is a good sign, although it should have progressed faster than this. Still, I am considerably relieved,” he informed her.
“Continue these new drops as before, every hour. We will re-evaluate on Friday when you come back.”
“Should anything change, call me and get back here immediately. Here are my pager number and cell numbers. I am giving these to you because of the distance involved and because I know you won’t abuse the privilege.”
“I don’t know what to say. This is distressing news. I have never had trouble with my eyes and I take care of my contacts. This seem completely implausible, though obviously possible. I simply don’t understand how this could have happened.”