The Evanescence (A Short Story Act Four)

circa 1980’s The Bay Area

Charles turned and left.  Samuel pondered on young Rachel Harrison and old Rachel Stapleton.

There has to be more to this, he thought.  Those green eyes are too identical.  There must be a connection.  Maybe, my old friend Pitt can help me find the missing link.  One thing is for certain.  I believe Rachel Harrison will be nearby tomorrow afternoon.

In an hour Samuel sat in Raymond Pitt’s office at the San Francisco Examiner.  He told Raymond the entire account of Rachel Harrison and his equally singular encounter with Rachel Stapleton and Charles Jenkins.

“Samuel, do you remember the book that I am working on?”

“Yes, THE FOUNDING FAMILIES OF SAN FRANCISCO.”

“Let me retrieve my genealogy program from the computer files and find out about Rachel Stapleton.”

Raymond punched the code into his desk computer terminal.  On the blue screen Rachel Stapleton’s life data appeared.

“The widow of Governor Jackson Stapleton . . . Belmont residence . . . Sixty-one . . . Five three . . . Gray hair — natural color red . . . green eyes . . . ”

“Stop!  Natural color red, five three and green eyes?”

“Yes, just like your Rachel Harrison.”

“This is becoming mind-blowing,” Samuel said.

“Perhaps coincidental.  Let’s see . . . One daughter, Anna Rachel Stapleton, twenty-three, five-three, red hair and green eyes . . . ”

“It was her daughter who came down to the Golden Cowrie using the name – Rachel Harrison.”

“Samuel, I don’t believe so.”

“Why?”  He demanded.

“According to this, Anna Rachel is a paraplegic.  She has been in that condition for the last seven years.”

“Oh!”  He declared mournfully.  “How did it happen?”

“She was skiing in Switzerland after sunset and went over a bluff.”

“Tragic.  Anything else about Rachel Stapleton?”

“Just the usual biographical info.  She was the only child of Harriman and Ellen Black.  Incidently, Ellen was the only child of Peter and Susan Harrison.”

“Harrison?”

“Yes. Wait!  Susan was Peter’s second wife.  Married in 1907 when Ellen was four.  Natural mother disappeared in the earthquake of 1906 . . . Never found.”  Raymond paused and looked bewildered.

“What is it?”

“Would you believe that Peter’s first wife was named Rachel?”

“Rachel Harrison,” Samuel said softly.

“Connection or coincidence?  I do not believe in ghosts, so I’ll bet on a rare, extremely rare, coincidence.”

“I wish, I was that sure,” he replied with irony.

“What are you going to do now?”

“Go back to the gallery and think.”

“Do you love Rachel Harrison?”

“I believe I do, Raymond.”

“Samuel, another possibility is that someone is playing a vicious game on you.”

“That has crossed my mind.”

“Be careful and rational.”

“I will,” he smiled.

At Donnee Galerie Samuel stared at the portrait of Rachel.  It seemed so alive to him, especially with the fog background, yet it had an elusive quality.  The image of Rachel appeared to evanesce into the fog which made it ‘enchanting’.

As the entrance bell tinkled, Samuel’s concentration broke.  Mrs. Jonathan Goodfellow greeted him.

“What can I do for you, Mrs Goodfellow?”

“I came by to see if you had completed that seashell painting for me.”

“No, I’m sorry.  Your friend, Mrs. Stapleton, has occupied my time.”

Looking mystified, Mrs Goodfellow questioning said, “Mrs Stapleton?”

“Rachel Stapleton.”

“Oh! Yes, I know her but only casually.”

“Oh!  Didn’t you recommend me to her?”

“No, but I would have.  I haven’t seen Rachel for three years.”

“That’s curious.”

“She never comes out of her estate since the governor died.”

“Never?”

“No, she does a great deal through her assistant but never in person.  She and her poor daughter are virtually prisoners.  I do not know why, but they never leave and never entertain.  Odd.  Definitely odd.”

To be continued…

G. D. Williams       © 2011

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