Susan Wolf Johnson

Gasparilla King Blog

A Package for Becca

A Package for Becca later that morning, after the papers hit town with the news of Daniel Westcott's disappearance, Victor showed up at the Westcott Mansion to tell Becca and her grandmother that his uncle had convinced Chief Salazar to launch a search to find her grandfather, the missing king.
A Package for Becca

Later that morning, after the papers hit town with the news of Daniel Westcott's disappearance, Victor showed up at the Westcott Mansion to tell Becca and her grandmother that his uncle had convinced Chief Salazar to launch a search to find her grandfather, the missing king.  Becca stepped onto the porch to greet him.  A boggy breeze blew in from the bay, soft against her face. "That's kind of your uncle, she said.  Victor stopped twirling his hat. "That's all he wants, to help you and your family." He opened his mouth to say something else but shook his head instead.

Becca felt awkward standing in the doorway with his dark eyes on her, as if he wanted something but expected nothing. She thought it unusual that Victor and his uncle were anxious to find her granddad, while Daniel's yacht club cronies were convinced Daniel had taken off to hunt tarpons. She wondered if they had privilege to some knowledge that no one else had.  Becca felt obligated to return his kindness.  "There's a fundraiser at Plant Museum Thursday night." She looked down at her bare feet. "Would you?"

"Go?" Victor asked. "Sure, I'll go."

Becca smiled at his eagerness. She walked with him onto the porch. "It's getting hot," she said. "Soon, the rain." She shielded her eyes from the sun and squinted down the walkway to his car parked on the drive. 
"Would you like some coffee?" she offered. 
Victor glanced at his watch. "Can't, but I'll call you—before Tuesday." He started down the stairs.

Becca watched as he backed out of the driveway and disappeared into the whiz of cars heading south on the Bayshore. She gazed out over the water to the clouds gathering in the east.  As she turned to go into the house, she spotted a box wrapped in brown paper propped up by the front door. Her name was scrawled out in red ink across the top. There was no postage on it, so it must have been dropped off. Hoisting the package into her arms, she slipped through the front door and ran up the stairs. In her room, she sat on the bed and tore through the paper to find an old whiskey container bent at the corners and rippled with water stains. She peeled through the tape and turned back the flaps. Inside were two leather-bound journals wrapped in an ivory damask tablecloth. When she lifted out the first book, she was struck by the dank scent that emanated from its pages, as if holding it in the warmth of her hands had called forth the gist and sum of its substance; the malodorous stench of a house set in a climate that was too hot and too humid, making it host to the untold number of inevitable molds that thrive in damp, dark crevices. And while the scent was as familiar as certain corners of this house, there in the mix, was a peculiar strain, unacquainted and odd, that made Becca wonder. Where did these come from? She turned the diary in her hands and opened the cover.

This is the beginning of Becca's own search to uncover the dark mysteries that have plagued her family for decades. 
 

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