The room was somber as a soloist stood to sing "Amazing Grace." The only family member at the funeral sat in front with no expression on his face. His sister lay in the coffin dead. Since she'd killed herself with a bullet to the face, the casket had to be closed.
His best friend, Jackson, nudged him with an elbow indicating someone had come in that definitely deserved his attention.
"Jode," was all Jackson said, but that was all he needed to know and his own heart began to race. He didn't turn around to see where she was, but he had a feeling she was sitting in the back. Everyone was getting ready to leave after the solo was over to take the casket to the cemetery. What kind of best friend doesn’t show up until the last minute? He had to wonder.
Just as the solo was ending, he could smell the sweetest berries on his nostrils as a black suit past him. She didn't stop until she was at the coffin where she placed her head down and did what seemed like deep pray.
An usher was about to go to her, but he put his hand up to stop the usher and stood up. Jackson grabbed his arm, "She could be still crazy, you know."
He rolled his eyes heavenwards and gathered himself. He hadn't spoken to her in years and seeing her now brought back "things" inside of him that he could never explain. Yes, she was Kasey's best friend, but he'd been there for a while before his stepfather sent him to military school.
Gently, he touched her arm and was surprised to see her jerk away from his touch as if he were poison. "You knew she had a problem, why didn't you stop her sooner?" she seethed, glaring at him with her beautiful light grey-greenish eyes.
"Weren't you her friend?" he threw back at her.
"I was her support system only. She listened to her big brother. But you were never one to give a damn about anyone but yourself, were you Stephen?"
He started to speak, but she turned her back to him.
Her tone wasn't so vicious anymore. "I blame myself too."
He felt like an ass. Jode was the kindest, caring person he had ever met. She had always been like that.
"Was it instant?" she questioned not meeting his eyes again. "Did she suffer?"
"No, the drugs she took before taking her life made it painless," he said repeating what the investigator’s had assumed.
A sobbed racked her body. He wanted to throw his arms around her, but everybody knew that wasn't in Stephen's nature. Jode was different though. She made him want to do things he would never imagine doing.
He knew this was a tense moment for the entire room. They were all waiting to see what the two of them would say to each other.
"Are you coming to the dinner afterward?" he questioned.
"Why? None of these people were my friends."
"I'd like to talk more."
Her eyes were filled with tears when she turned around the casket. "We have nothing to talk about." As quickly as she had come in, she left.
Jackson stood beside him. "She's not even staying for the full service?"
Stephen shook his head and sat down. Damn Jode Price. Every time she came around him he could not think rationally.
# # #
Jode made it to her blue Mercedes Benz before she completely broke down to cry. The news had shocked her completely. Just a week ago Kasey had promised to check herself into a rehabilitation clinic. Jode had gone with her to fill out the paperwork.
"I just have to take care of a few things before I stay, Jode. Things Pete would need me to close up and things I have to put to rest, then when I get out, I swear I'll tell you what made me come to this entire decision. I need to get a clear head and mind before I can even speak about what happened."
Those were her exact words and Jode was in deep confusion about what had scared her friend so much that she made a decision to stop doing the drugs she had been doing for so long.
Driving over to Kasey's apartment, she used the back up key to access the place. The apartment was oddly neat and Jode was positive someone had cleaned up. Kasey was never a neat person, but she wasn't sloppy either. This place was too spotless for Kasey's style.
Going into the bedroom, she saw Kasey had pulled out some old suitcases. The dust film still clinging to the surfaces, yet they had not been opened, meant Kasey had not started her packing procedures. Had she somehow changed her mind, like everyone believed she had?
Jode refused to believe that. Kasey had sounded too sincere. They had been friends since they were in kindergarten walking to school together and knowing each other all too well.
If Kasey had not changed her mind, Jode started to look for something that would be in Kasey's style, yet she never found it and her worries grew. Kasey was not a cry wolf kind of person, especially to Jode. Maybe Kasey would have taken it with her. It could be one of the articles found on her body.
Unfortunately Stephen would know where those items were and Jode would have to speak with him again.
A chill went down her spine at the thought of actually trying to be civilized with that childhood bully. A lot of people, even Kasey said, Stephen had changed since coming out the military, but Jode still had nightmares about the bullying he had done to her when she was a child, that she could not tell anyone about. Not even Kasey.
Yet, Jode had to know what had gone wrong. Why would Kasey all of a sudden go out of her way to stop her drug habit to only die of an overdose? It did not add up and Jode would not stop until she found out the truth.