P.S.I. Part III -- Without Betsy . . .And Others

Chapter 11 -- "Why, Ettie, why?"

Chapter 1 -- Stomping, Snorting Buck
Chapter 2 -- Pele or Meowzie?
Chapter 3 -- "High Tide"
Chapter 4 -- Three Phone Calls
Chapter 5 -- The Fire Pole
Chapter 6 -- "She's Got You Spoiled, Doesn't She?"
Chapter 7 -- Heartbreak Hotel
Chapter 8 -- Kentucky Christmas
Chapter 9 -- Betsy's Estate
Chapter 10 -- Alone With a Madwoman
Chapter 11 -- "Why, Ettie, why?"
Chapter 12 -- Three Starbursts
Chapter 13 -- Weep No More, My Lady
Chapter 14 -- 'Betsy's Revenge'
Chapter 15 -- The Geoff Papers
Chapter 16 -- The "Wedding Portrait"
Chapter 17 -- Silence Requested

Los Angeles was hit by some of the hardest rains it'd ever seen the next day.
You've got to stop crying, you're only going to make your headache worse, Mike told himself.  The horrific cut on the left side of his face went across his sinuses.  The whole cut and his sinuses were throbbing.  He couldn't figure out why tears were pouring, though.  He hadn't cried like this since . . .well, since Betsy died.
Something inside told him to sit up, so he did.  He curled up in a fetal position and rocked.  He started recognizing the feeling--it was somehow related to that bad wave of vibes he felt the other day.  The downpour outside wasn't helping, either.
The trobbing in his head was becoming worse, and he wondered if he should call for an ambulance to take him to Rampart.  He felt Betsy's presence, but was in too much pain to take it in.  You need to get to Rampart, he heard her say within.

The phone rang.  Marco--and he was very upset.
"Get me to Rampart, please!" Mike begged.
"What's wrong?!"
"My head.  I can't take anymore."
On their way to the hospital, Marco was still in tears.
"Did you hear what they did to Cap's wife?" he asked.
Mike was rather taken aback.  "Who did what?" he asked.
"They shot her."
"She went after a deputy with a meat cleaver, and they shot her."
Mike had been airheaded as a result of his injury, but that evening at Cap's came back to him--before his superior punched his lights out.  Neither he nor Cap were sure as to what happened after that--or how Mike suffered his injury.
"Considering how she acted that evening I had dinner with them, I'm not surprised," he said.  His trobbing headache was bounding now.  He could barely talk, breathe, or see.
"When did you have dinner with them?"
"A few nights ago.  She washed her hands and the dishes with salt," he said hoarsely, as he bent over with his hands on his face.
"Well, that's weird."
"I hate to say it, but this may have been the best way out for her."
"I think your headache's talking."
"Smart alec.  Who told Cap?  How did he react?"
"Chief Houts.  Of course, Cap flew into hysterics."
"Maybe that's what's adding to all this," Mike mumbled.

In Kentucky, Elizabeth was at home alone when the call came from California.  She felt as if she'd dissolved into hundreds of little pieces and was unable to call anyone.  Chief, acting on a hunch, felt compelled to go home, and found her crying, sitting at and hunched over the dining room table.  The telephone receiver was hanging toward the floor from the wall unit, the "off the hook" signal emanating from the speaker.
Chief hung up the phone, wishing there was some way it could tell him who had called.
He knelt before his wife, and rested her forehead on his shoulder.  "They shot her," she managed to say.
"Who shot who?" he asked.
"The deputies shot Ettie."
"My sister-in-law?"
Elizabeth nodded.
Chief's heart dropped to his feet.  "But, she's okay, isn't she?" his words sounding hollow to him.
Elizabeth shook her head.
Chief didn't say anything.  His gut told him Ettie was dead and Hank was in need.  His head was still trying to grasp the situation.  Even with years of training, seeing his own in tears was too much.
"You need to call the kids," she reminded.

They both knew they had to go through the Elizabethtown post to get Bobby home for this.  For Barbara, they just had to call the sheriff's office.  Both law enforcement agencies would watch the developing situation in California with some anxiety.  The Los Angeles County deputies were saying they shot Ettie in self-defense.
When Chief got to Betsy's name on the call list, he fell to his knees, weeping.
"Harold?" Elizabeth called.  The last time she'd called him by name, was when. . .they'd been notified of Betsy's murder.
"Betsy's name is still on the list," he managed to say.
Both were still embracing and on their knees when Barbara walked in the door.  Bobby arrived soon afterward.
"The way we heard it," he started, "It was a case of self-defense.  She screamed Uncle Hank's name, then started running at one of the deputies."
Chief looked up.  "You mean to tell me, my brother has a twin?"
"From the sound of it.  A deputy named Vince noticed it."

Meanwhile, back in L.A., Dr. Brackett was attending to Mike.
"Your captain is upstairs," he said when he came in.
"So I've heard.  Doc, I've got to have something for this pain.  Sorry to say, but I just can't take hearing about someone else's problems right now.  Makes my headache worse."
"Your blood pressure's slightly elevated, but that could be a result of the pain you're in.  And judging from what's going on outside with the weather, I'd say you're probably having a sinus headache along with everything else.  Remember, he broke your sinus."
"Lovely, just lovely."
"And make sure you put petroleum jelly on that huge scar, so it won't be so prominent."
"What scar?"
"The scar you're going to have after those stitches come out."
Mike groaned.
The nurse plugged a syringe into the I.V. port in the back of his hand, and what she gave him knocked out not only himself, but the pain as well.  It'd been forever since he'd felt that good.

Upstairs in the psychiatric ward, Cap had had about all he could take of life.  First, his daughters; then his neice; now his wife.  Nothing mattered anymore.  He had been in the service, yes, but nothing had prepared him for this.  Four female deaths in his family--and two of them so close together.  Ettie might've been weird, but she was still the woman he'd fallen in love with.  She had been almost obsessive-compulsive with caring for her Edsel.  So what if she wanted to buck fashion trends and endure the world's ridicule for dressing like it was still the 1950s?
But then came using the huge leaf of a houseplant as if it were a telephone.  Or almost setting the TV on fire because she was trying to win a sweepstakes.  Instead of sending off the entries in the mail, she, for whatever reason, stuck them into the ventilator slits on the side.
Why, Ettie, why?
He began to realize he'd moved much too slowly in getting her help.  Why had he been so stubborn?  Was it the Stanley family flaw?  He shouldn't blame her, he was just as responsible.
Where to have the funeral, and a thousand other questions--including where to bunk his brother's family from Kentucky--had to be answered.  The funeral director was beyond understanding.
"The autopsy," Cap said.  "I want the autopsy results."
"I'm sorry, we don't have them yet," said the funeral director.
After his shift, Dr. Brackett came upstairs to see Cap, who asked about the autopsy results.
"We'll get them to you as soon as possible," said Dr. Brackett.
"Why, Ettie, why?" Cap wailed.
"Do you need another shot?" asked the floor nurse.
"I need something, or I'm going to jump out the window.  Where's Mike?"
"Downstairs in Treatment Three," said Dr. Brackett.
"He's okay, isn't he?"
"Just has a huge headache.  He's doing much better now.  Needs rest, though."
"I needed to see him.  I was really needing to see him!"
"He's no good to you now.  He'll be better in a few days.  Is there someone else I can get for you?"
"I don't know," Cap moaned.  No one else would really understand. . .except Dr. Brackett.
"You just lost Dixie," Cap wept.  "Surely you can spare an hour with me?"
"Of course."
Cap fell into Dr. Brackett's arms and bawled like a neglected infant.
Ettie's autopsy results, returned within the week, showed an inoperable brain tumor.  She probably had no idea what she was doing the night she died.  Cap was satisfied, and didn't pursue legal action against the sheriff's office.   

Thrice blessed. . .