“So…” Sinbad looked even more confused as the group left the darkened house with Sebastian. “We’re going where now?”
“I guess we’re going to Sebastian’s house,” Shark answered as he took a hold of Sagebear now. “That’s probably what Liam was implying, anyway.”
Nobody commented on the absurdity of taking the advice of a ghost. All of them simply continued on to the palatial estate where Catarina lived.
Sebastian looked beyond uncomfortable as he walked alongside them. Marc ran up to him and put a hand on his shoulder. Everyone else kept quiet as they witnessed this act of camaraderie.
Catarina was at her wit’s end now. She paced about her sitting room impatiently, waiting for Sebastian to get back.
“Where could he have gone?! Oh, Renauld! You don’t suppose he could have left town, do you?”
Renauld could only shake his head in disbelief over her wringing her hands. “Please, my dear. He is a grown man, and is able to care for himself.”
This didn’t sit well with Catarina. “That isn’t good enough! I’m his mother, and I have a right to know where he is every hour!”
Before she could go on with her tirade, the front door to the mansion could be heard opening. After breathing a sigh of relief, she clambered down the stairs.
“Sebastian! Do you know how worried I have been for you-” She stopped when she saw the ensemble before her.
Everyone looked awkwardly at the woman before them, who was clearly frazzled.
“Sebastian dear, what is this? Why on earth have you brought those filthy, no-good hillbillies into our fair palace?”
Dennis bristled visibly at what was just said. “Oh, just because most of us were born in Louisiana, that makes us lower than you ‘high-bred’ snobs, eh?”
“Now don’t ya go and incite her, Denny,” Blaise whispered as she put her hands on his arm. “We’re here to ask her about all them dead people!”
“What?” Catarina made a show of looking shocked. “Whatever do you mean?”
Now it was Harwood’s turn to look displeased, as he tapped his cane gun against his shoulder. “Don’t dare play dumb with us. A special voice told us you had something to do with those deaths.”
Still Catarina tried to look unfazed. This was now beginning to make the others mad.
Sinbad took a step forward as if to intimidate her. “Am I allowed to knock some sense into her?”
But Shark kept him from getting any further. Nevertheless, Catarina apparently understood the intent.
Right away, she crumbled like a house of cards. “All right! It was me! I murdered all those people! I had to, don’t you see?”
By the time Renauld reached the steps, she was already a nervous, agitated wreck. Angrily, Catarina admitted her grievous, harmful actions, all in front of her own son.
“I was overcome with jealousy! My son was becoming involved with another man who made a shameful living by playing games with nature! I thought that if I timed the deaths, it would all be blamed on that man!”
Her facial expression contorted from rage to a broken smile. She then gestured to Sebastian.
“I did it all for you, my son! I did it all with the best of intentions, with your interests in mind!” Everything she said only made everyone more disgusted with her. Even Sagebear looked upset at what she was admitting.
But the one especially overcome with hatred was Marc, for reasons the others couldn’t quite put a finger on. Catarina went on hysterically.
“I’m a mother! I made those sacrifices for the good of my son! Surely even a group of backwater swine like all of you can understand this!”
Finally, Marc had had enough of her. Somehow, he felt like being born in Hidden Springs brought forth a right to call out Catarina.
“You shut your damn mouth!” His sudden exclamation caught the others off guard, enough for them to stand back away from him. “You call taking the lives of people sacrifice?! That’s complete and utter bullshit!”
He took a step forward, and Catarina moved back to keep away from him. Marc’s seething didn’t dissipate once.
“I know what sacrifice is, you selfish jackass! I’ve seen what a mother’s sacrifice is!” Sinbad just gulped worriedly at seeing his half-brother shouting the way he was, and Shark held on to him.
Marc continued, not stopping once. “Sacrifice is taking on the stigma of being an unwed single mom with a smile! Sacrifice is keeping your kid’s father’s identity secret to avoid reputations being tarnished!”
Every word he said, Catarina shrunk back more and more.
“Sacrifice is going without eating for a few days just so you can pay for your kid’s medication and lunch money! Sacrifice is marrying a guy you don’t love so your kid can live a better life! Sacrifice is…!”
Marc then grabbed his hair and took a few deep breaths. At some point, he’d began crying in a burst of emotion. In a slightly calmer but no less irate voice, he finished his rant.
“Sacrifice is telling your teenage son to stay upstairs, knowing full well his stepdad is probably going to beat you to death for something as minor as not having dinner ready!
“So telling me you sacrificed so much by killing other people ‘with the best of intentions’ doesn’t mean you’re a loving and caring mother! You’re nothing but a vicious, selfish, cold-blooded killer who doesn’t deserve to be called a human being!”
Everyone stood stunned looking at Marc. Even Sagebear stared right at him with her big blue eyes. Everyone’s mouths seemed to drop of their own accord.
For a few moments, it was silent in the mansion. Then, Renauld slowly pulled out his cell phone, and dialed 911. He waited until the other end picked up, then declared the words that would prove to be Catarina’s undoing:
“Hello, police? This is Renauld Vanderburg of Hidden Springs. I have information on the recent murders I hope is valuable…”
“Remind me not to piss Marc off,” Sinbad told Shark as Catarina was led away in handcuffs, loudly insisting she was innocent of the crimes.
Shark nodded to this. “Likewise. I still can’t believe he blew up at her like that.”
In between them, Sagebear kept watching as Catarina was confronted by her husband. She watched as Renauld said something that drove Catarina into a frenzy. Then she was distracted when Shark began to pet her. The others watched in mortified silence.
“How dare you demand a divorce from me!” Catarina spat out as she was pushed into the squad car. “I will make sure you are driven into poverty, you ungrateful bastard!”
She kept yelling even after the door was shut on her, and the car drove away. Only when it was gone did the others start talking.
“Boy, I bet she ain’t pleasant to be around,” Blaise said. Dennis and Harwood just nodded in agreement.
Then Harwood tapped his fingers on the top of his cane. “Knowing the people I’ve met in my lifetime, that’s really saying something for me. I don’t know about the rest of you, though.”
Dennis just crossed his arms and looked deep in thought. “I suppose it was good thing that Mister Brandt fired his mouth off at her.” Then he looked behind them, noting a change:
“Speaking of Mister Brandt, where’d he run off to?”
Marc hadn’t even bother staying to see Catarina arrested. Instead, he ran back toward the cemetery.
The whole time he was calling out Catarina, he felt a powerful feeling swelling in his chest. Having an idea as to what was causing it, he let himself run to the possible destination.
He almost collapsed to the ground when he got there. On his knees, Marc crawled over to his mother’s grave.
Kneeling before it now, Marc’s felt copious tears running down his face. He breathed heavily as he wrapped his arms around the gravestone.
“Mama…Mama…” He whispered repeatedly.
Never did Marc miss his mother more than he did now.