P.S.I. Part II -- The Thaw


Home | Chapter 1 -- The Dead Eyes of the Prophet | Chapter 2 -- Rooster & Mundelein | Chapter 3 -- Where's Mike? | Chapter 4 -- The First Visitation | Chapter 5 -- Two Bridegrooms and a Baby | Chapter 6 -- Adding Emeralds to Sapphires | Chapter 7 -- Body Memory | Chapter 8 -- "I Wish You'd Take Better Care of Him!" | Chapter 9 -- Farewell, Big Red | Chapter 10 -- The Real Brin | Chapter 11 -- As Newfangled as Pringles | Chapter 12 -- When the Fat Lady Sings | Chapter 13 -- The Video, The Article and The Interviews | Chapter 14 -- Letters | Chapter 15 -- The Thaw | Chapter 16 -- Where She Walked | Epilogue | Author's Notes | Soundtrack

"Cap!  Why didn't you tell us about this?  You guys ain't gonna believe this," exlaimed Chet.  He held up a section of the Los Angeles Times at the table in the Dayroom.
"The paper asked me to keep mum about it," said Cap, as he sat down.
"'Missing California Girl Found in Kentucky,'" Chet read.  "'Lexington, Kentucky.  Opera singer "Ophelia," who sang the aria at Morgan Park when jockey Betsy Stanley was shot and killed. . ."
Mike whimpered and put his hands over his face.
"Sorry.  Revealed to the Madison County Sheriff's Office that Stanley's twin cousins, Barbie and Betty, died on the farm where she grew up.  The twins, daughters of County Fire Captain and Mrs. Hank Stanley of Los Angeles, drowned after being thrown by the singer's pony, Geronimo.  He was sold to a circus."
Johnny, Chet, and Roy all gasped and looked at Cap, who nodded.  "Keep reading," he ordered.
"Following a nervous breakdown," Chet continued, "the singer, whose real name is Malvina Whimms, said she ran away as a teenager.  Attempting to find her pony, she survived a number of harrowing incidents with various circuses before settling in Lexington "because I was surrounded by horses."  She won a full scholarship to the University of Kentucky, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Voice."
"Her stage name is no mistake.  "I could relate to her," she said of the "Hamlet" character.  Ophelia was Hamlet's love interest who lost her sanity after her father's murder.  "I had no idea what Geoff had in mind," she said.  "He offered me a thousand dollars, and told me to start singing when the winning jockey started back to the lounge."
"HUH?" they all said.
"Does that mean the race was fixed?" asked Mike from behind his hands.
"Sure does look like it," said Roy.
"It would almost have to be," said Cap.  "If she hadn't won the race, she would've already been back in the lounge."
"Unless she stopped to sign autographs," suggested Marco.  "Or talk to reporters."
Mike looked at Marco.  "Dream on, pal.  Dream on.  Nobody ever gave her the time of day, except the FJs--or hecklers.  And Ophelia was the name of one of the posse members in the dream.  She ended up being Opal in real life."

"May I continue?" asked Chet.  Everyone nodded.
"'Ophelia resents the image of 'when the fat lady sings.'  "Not only did he insult me, but he paid Betsy the biggest insult of all.  I'm glad he's dead.  Now he can't hurt anyone else."  Ophelia blames her obesity on depression.  "I still have nightmares about finding the twins in the pond," she concedes.  "Now, I can't get the sound of gunfire out of my dreams."
"Whoa," said Johnny.
"Poor girl," said Roy.
"Cap," said Chet.  "We never knew. . ."
"And I wanted it that way," said Cap.  "Once they found Malvina, I knew the time had come to tell everyone--mainly so you wouldn't read it in the paper.  Chet beat me to it, though."
Mike didn't realize he was weeping until he felt his crewmates staring at him.
"Betsy couldn'tve had anything to do with race fixing.  She wouldn't do something like that.  I know she wouldn't!" he said.
"We're not saying that she did," said Marco.
"Is there anything else to the article?" asked Cap.  "This is the first I've seen it."
Chet shook his head.  "That's it."
Mike got up and headed for the door.  "Now the whole world is going to think she's involved in race fixing."
"Geoff is to blame for the whole thing!" Cap exlaimed, following him to the apparatus floor, then the dorm.  "Geoff wanted her. . .well, you know."
Mike flopped face-down on his bunk, unable to hold back his emotions any longer.  Where had he seen this scene before?  Roy entered and sat next to him.  "No one has said anything about Betsy's integrity.  From what I've seen, Geoff's integrity is to be questioned."

Cap sat on the bunk across from Mike's, and said,  "Looks like a conspiracy of some kind to me.  I'm wondering if the winning trainer knew what was going on."
"From the way he acted on the tape, he didn't," said Mike without looking up.
"Speaking of the tape, did you finish watching it?"
"No.  I couldn't get past the FJs.  What did I miss?"
"The sheriff filling in more blanks on the case."
The phone rang.  Johnny answered.  "Well, hi, Ellen!" he said, then mouthed "Bart" at them.  His face then became extremely serious.  "She's going to be okay, isn't she?"
Roy walked over to him with arms out wide.  Johnny mouthed, "Dixie."  "Do you need us to come over there?" asked Johnny.
Now everbody was up around the desk.
"Well, okay.  Let us know if you need anything," said Johnny, then hung up.  He looked at the others.  "Dixie's had another heart attack."
Mike had to sit down.  "Did she say anything about Dr. Brackett?"
"Actually not."
Mike's thoughts raced back to the dream, and when Brin advised him to propose to Mandy quickly, or she'd be gone.  Then he thought of Dr. Brackett's heartbreak when Dixie died suddenly.
"Mike?  You okay?" asked Cap.  "You look a little pale."
Marco bent over to him.  "The dream?" he asked.
Mike nodded; looked up at Cap; then asked,  "Can we get over to Rampart?"