Chapter Nine

Chapter 9

In Jane’s house there are preparations underway. Jane’s twitter explodes with messages like “#I am nervous,” or “#what do I wear.”  Girls, anywhere in the world, share the same concerns and one of them is clothing.

Jane can’t wait, she needs to talk to her friend, Blanche, again before going to Miguel Ángel’s house.  Jane connects to the internet and calls Blanche with a video call using WhatsApp.

“Blanche,” says Jane.  “I’m super nervous.  I want to see him, of course, but I’m afraid at the same time…”

“Why?” Blanche asks.  “Just because he’s older than you?”

“No, not at all.  My parents want me to have friends here.  That’s what’s most important to them.  But, do you remember what I told you about the arrowhead?”

“Yeah, it has your Dad’s name on the back of it.  That is weird.”

“I have the feeling my Dad has something to do with it,” Jane says thoughtfully.  “You don’t think….no, it couldn’t be.”

“What?  What are you talking about?”

“No.  That would be the worst thing ever.”  Jane is getting really upset.

“If you don’t tell me what you’re talking about, I’m going to come over there and personally knock your head off your shoulders,” Blanche threatens.

“Well, it’s just that Dad never talks about his missing arrowhead and now it looks like Miguel Ángel has it.  So could he be…..related or something?”

“You mean like another brother?” Blanche asks.  “How old was your Dad when he left Paraguay?”

“Eighteen,” Jane says.  “He never talks about it.”

“Is that what you’re afraid of?  I think you’re way off base.  Back then, people didn’t fool around like they do today.  I seriously doubt it.”

“Then why does he have Dad’s arrowhead necklace?” Jane asks.  She feels a bit better but she still has her doubts.  Should she tell Blanche about the diary?  Maybe later…she was running out of time.

“I have no idea and you don’t either,” Blanche says.  “Don’t invent problems where they don’t exist.”

“I don’t know…”

“Concentrate on tonight for now and just think about what you’re going to wear, ok?” Blanche says.

Those words are almost magical.

“I think I’m going to the mall,” Jane says.  “I need something that isn’t too silly or too sexy.  You know, my parents will be there too.  Tomorrow I’ll tell you how it went.”

“Ok, I’ll talk to you tomorrow morning,” Blanche says.

Jane says goodbye to her friend and then runs down the stairs to look for her Mom.

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“Mom, can I go to the mall and buy something to wear for tonight?”

Annie thinks that spending money on clothes for a party is far better than seeing Jane alone and friendless in a strange country, so she agrees.

“I’ll go with you,” Annie says.

Jeremy is listening and opens his mouth to ask if he can go too but Jane quickly interrupts him.

“It’s a girl thing,” Jane says.  “You’re not invited.”

“Be nice, Jane,” Annie says.  Then she turns to Jeremy.  “Listen, you can go later with Dad, ok?”

“But I don’t want to be stuck alone in this old house,” Jeremy says.

“Scaredycat!” Jane teases.

“Dad will be home soon and then you can come find us in the Mall,” Annie says.  “It’s not far.  We’re going to walk over.”

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Jeremy decides to go up to his room.  Actually, he wants to go into his sister’s room and this is his chance.

The Mall isn’t so far away.  They live in Manorá, an upper class district of Asuncion.   His mother and sister can walk to the Manorá mall since it is only a few blocks away.  They wouldn’t even bother to take the car.

He goes across the hall and into his sister’s bedroom.  She will kill him if she finds out that he went into her room without her permission but he wants to take a look at that diary.  Maybe it has a clue about the key.  He wants to find the secret door that the key opens.

Jeremy looks out the window to make sure that his Mother and sister have actually left the house.  He notices a car parked down the street with two men, watching. They don’t get out.  They just sit in the car, waiting.  Waiting for what?  He can see his mother and sister walking by the car.  After a moment, one of the men gets out of the passenger side door and starts to follow them down the street.

No, it isn’t a man.  It’s a woman, but she has a hood over her head and is wearing a poncho and dark glasses to hide her face.

Why is she following them?

That is a mystery that Jeremy is determined to solve.  He runs downstairs into the garage and jumps on his bike.  And, of course, he takes his camera.

Every now and then the woman turns around, as if she knows that someone is following her, but Jeremy hides behind a bush and then a parked car, and even a dumpster.

She isn’t an old lady, Jeremy thinks, but small.

The woman takes many pictures of his sister and mother.  Jeremy does not understand anything, but it is an adventure.  Paraguay is turning out to be quite the place.  He grins to himself.

She stops and hides behind a parked car in front of the cathedral.  Two men are crossing the street toward her.  When some other people walk past her, she stands up and goes quickly into the church with the others.

“Where are you going?” Jeremy mutters to himself.

The two men do not seem to notice the woman but walk into the church too.  Jeremy follows them.  He is a little bit frightened but there are not many people inside and they are all at the front of the church with the priest.  Except for the two men who are sitting on the side of the church near the back.  He doesn’t see the lady anywhere.  Not wanting the adventure to end, Jeremy creeps closer to the two men and then hides inside the confessional.   From there he can see and hear the two men talking.

Then he hears the name “Bertoni” quite clearly.  That is my name.  Why are they talking about my family? 

Jeremy switches on the video function of his camera and starts to record the conversation.

“I think it’s too big a risk,” says one of the men in a husky, rough voice.  “We need another plan.”

“This is a personal issue that I want to take care of myself,” says the other man quietly.

“Are you sure it’s the Bertoni family you remember?” insists the other man.  “If you aren’t sure, it isn’t worth the risk.”

“Yes, I’m sure.  Alicia confirmed that the mother and daughter were in San Bernardino for a party.  I also have confirmation that the Bertoni boy is at the school.  The only one I haven’t seen yet is him.”

“You can’t afford to let this get personal.  What if they find out?”

Jeremy shivers.  These men are talking about him…and his family.  What was happening? Suddenly, the confessional door opens. Jeremy runs past the priest, knocking him down.

“So sorry!  So sorry,” he keeps on saying.

The two men see him running out of the church.

“It’s the Bertoni boy,” one of the men yells and they start to chase after him.

Jeremy realizes that his bicycle is gone but sees another blue one in front of the church, takes it and flies down the street. The two men run to their car parked across the street from the church and follow the bike.

“Oh God, oh God, oh God,” Jeremy chants to himself.  “I know I always ask you for a real adventure… but this is too real.  I prefer adventure movies…. like in the cinema… or HD on Netflix.”  Jeremy can’t stop talking.  He is very frightened.

He does not know where he is going, but he knows that he has to hide. He climbs on to the sidewalk, dodges people with his bike and then sees an alleyway to his right and races down it.  The car is right behind him in the narrow space but Jeremy can see in the distance that the alley opens up again into the center of town.  He can see the plaza ahead and the people walking by the alley entranceway.  The only problem is that there is a large, steel container right in the middle of the alley and there is no way around it.  The car is right behind him and looks like it is trying to run him down.  Jeremy races up the board used by the workers to dump their wheelbarrow loads into the container and sails through the air to land on the sidewalk and then crash with his bike into a parked car.  The car siren immediately goes off but he also hears another crash behind him.  He looks and sees the two men unconscious, the windshield broken, steam coming out of the crushed front end of the car.

He approaches the car slowly, as the siren of a police car is heard in the distance and people start to gather to find out what happened and to see if the two men are alright.  Jeremy takes a photo….and then another.  He is limping and there is blood on his pants.  In a few minutes the police are there and a TV channel crew is already filming.  There are many people watching.  A curious cameraman turns his camera toward him, but Jeremy turns around and walks quickly away.   He ignores the blue bike, hoping that no one connects him to it or to the two men in the car.

He squeezes his arrowhead with all his might as he walks back home.   He has to find his Dad.

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