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AN UNEXPECTED DOPPELGANGER - Chapter 15 of 16 (Comments Appreciated)

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Old 10-25-2013, 06:22 PM
Norm dePlume (Offline)
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Default AN UNEXPECTED DOPPELGANGER - Chapter 15 of 16 (Comments Appreciated)

Joan Fitzgerald’s remains were released by the medical examiner two weeks after her suicide. They were still waiting for several autopsy test results, but everything clearly pointed to suicide. The coroner had found early signs of Atherosclerosis - hardening of the arteries, but for the most part, Joan was in good health. Joan’s letter made everything pretty clear. In her mind, her life was over, so she ended it.

Joan had pre-arranged her funeral, requesting a simple gravesite service with a few words of committal before burial by a non-denominational minister. Although Joan believed in the existence of God, she never practiced a particular faith. As a child, Emily remembered sitting next to her mother as they watched Joel Osteen, or Robert Schuller’s “Hour of Power” on television. Occasionally they would tune in to EWTN, the Catholic Network, and listen as priests would discuss and answer questions about their faith. She remembered watching Pope John Paul II celebrate Mass in Denver with thousands of young people from around the world. Even at her young age, Emily sensed that John Paul II was special. Something he said in his homily that day touched her heart. She did not remember what it was, but somehow she felt spiritually energized whenever she thought about that day.

Two dozen or so people attended Joan’s service at the Canyon Hill Cemetery, including her boss, co-workers, a few of her friends and neighbors. Emily was surprised when an elderly man introduced himself as Ron Fitzgerald, Joan’s ex-husband. She had never met the man, but he seemed overly emotional for someone who divorced the deceased thirty years ago. He’s probably hoping Joan remembered him in her will, she thought. Most of the attendees, however, were there for Emily. A number of her co-workers from G Squared, including Jason Rush, had come to pay their last respects. Of course, hoping she might be vulnerable, the sleazy mentor took the opportunity to “hit-on” her, suggesting she join him at his Sun Valley condo for the weekend. It was an offer that Emily politely and professionally, shot down.

After a short prayer, and moment of silence, Joan’s casket was lowered into the grave. Dabbing tears from her eyes, Emily thanked everyone for coming. In silence, the attendees slowly returned to their cars leaving Emily alone with her thoughts, as a cemetery work crew waited nearby to fill in the six-foot hole of her mother’s grave.

* * * * *

In Maine, the remainder of the summer was as advertised. Weekends meant ‘open house’ at the McDonald cottage on Harbor Point Beach. Mary Beth, Anne, Kevin, and the kids joined Mac whenever they could. Betsy and Aimee soon became weekend regulars as well. As time passed, they no longer felt like guests at the beach house, but “at home.”

Of course, like most families, happiness is sometimes marred by an errant comment - opening old wounds, causing anger, disappointment, and hurt feelings. The McDonald family was by no means immune. The stress of the media attention and everything surrounding the family’s situation created occasional tension within the family, albeit short-lived.

Labor Day meant the end of school vacation for Sally and Drew. Aimee returned to her classroom to start a new year with a new group of students. She hardly knew them, but thanks to all of the TV coverage, her class certainly knew her.

The lazy summer weekends had quickly turned into busy fall weekends, and it was time to close up the beach house for the season. The McDonald family now spent weekends sitting in the bleachers to watch Sally and Drew compete in their respective sports. Occasionally, Anne and Kevin would host a tailgate-style barbecue at their new home in Kittery, where everyone stopped by to watch either Northeastern or the Patriots play football.

Things had progressed like a romance novel for Mac and Betsy. Long walks, quiet dinners, and shared memories of their past together, rekindled their love for each other. Weekends became long weekends, and finally, Betsy confided to Aimee that she would soon have their apartment to herself, explaining that she and her father would be living together again under one roof, and that roof was in Portsmouth.

Attorney Greenville had finally guided the paperwork through the court system. Elizabeth Beth Myers McDonald was once again officially recognized as a living soul the eyes of the State of New Hampshire and the government of the United States of America. Since Mac had never divorced her, they were still legally married.

“Mom… you and Daddy should renew your vows. Wouldn’t that be romantic?”

“Yes Aimee it would. We were actually thinking of doing something like that on Thanksgiving Day. It seems appropriate.”

“Let me take care of everything!”

“Aimee… first of all, we want it simple. There is not much to do. I’ve already spoken with Father Peter, and he has agreed to bless our marriage at the house before Thanksgiving dinner.”

“Why don’t you work with your sisters to plan, coordinate and cook the meal?”

“Do they know about you and Daddy yet?”

“Not yet. We plan on telling everyone the next time we’re all together, which maybe on Sunday. Kevin invited us to their house to watch the Patriots play “his” Chicago Bears. As usual, it’s an open house, so if you don’t have plans, I’m sure you’re invited too.”

* * * * *

That Sunday, the New England Patriots were trouncing the Chicago Bears at half time by a score of 33 – 0. Everyone in the room was in a happy mood except the two Chicagoans - Kevin and his Uncle Liam.

“Belichick is probably cheating again,” taunted Kevin.

“Yeah. I can remember when we beat the crap out of your Patriots in the ’86 Super Bowl!” Uncle Liam said, adding to fire.

“What have they done for you lately, Uncle Liam?” teased Annie, as she entered the room to announce lunch was available in the dining room.

As everyone gathered around a buffet table full of ‘tailgate’ foods Annie had prepared, Mac cleared his throat and said, “Betsy and I have an announcement!”

Taking her hand into his, he continued, “Your mother and I have decided it’s time to live together again. She’ll be moving her things into our house this week.”

“We also thought it would be a nice idea to renew our vows on Thanksgiving Day,” Betsy said, adding, “Father Peter has agreed to stop by and do a little ceremony for us.”

Conversation immediately erupted as the three daughters began to offer their congratulations and ideas for the ceremony.

“Girls…” Mac said, making the ‘quiet down’ motion with his two hands. “We want the ceremony to be simple, so Mom and I will take care of that. We’d like you girls to handle the planning and preparation of Thanksgiving dinner.”

“We can certainly do that,” Mary Beth said, answering for her sisters.

Mac, Kevin, Uncle Liam, and Mary Beth’s son Drew went back to the living room just as Bears kicked off to start the second half of the game. With the game so lopsided in favor of the Pats, Betsy joined her three daughters and granddaughter Sally in the kitchen to talk about Thanksgiving Dinner “must haves” and possible recipes for something new. It would be their first Thanksgiving as a family in over twenty-five years, and they all wanted to make it special.

“Mom,” asked Annie, “Do you mind if Uncle Liam joins us? His wife Sandra passed away in January, so he’s all alone this year,” asked Annie.

“I don’t see why not. He’s part of your family,” Betsy replied, “Why don’t you invite Kevin’s parents to join us too.”

“Oh, I’m sure they’d love too. They haven’t seen us since the wedding,” Anne said.

“Mom, do you think Father Peter will want to stay for dinner?” asked Aimee.

“I’ll offer, but he often goes to the St. Agnes Senior Home to have Thanksgiving dinner with the residents. We’ll have to see what he says.”

Annie pulled out her cookbooks for her Mom and Mary Beth, while Aimee and Sally checked out Pinterest and AllRecipes.com on Aimee’s iPad.

* * * * *

Following Joan’s funeral, Emily became laser-focused on studying for the Idaho Bar Exam in late July. Nothing else mattered. She wanted to pass it on her first try, and the preparations kept her mind off of other things. She figured she had plenty of time to review everything Joan had left her after she had taken the exam.

More than once, her mentor Jason Rush tried his best to seduce his promising, young, attractive attorney, and each time, Emily politely fended off his advances. Shortly after the fourth of July, however, he took his advances to a higher level. Late one evening, Emily was in the firm’s law library, when he suddenly came up from behind her and placed his hands on her breasts as he nuzzled the back of her neck. Instinctively she used several self-defense techniques she had learned while at Stanford. Before she realized what was happening, Emily had Rush on the floor with his right arm held tightly behind his back.

“Emily, I have to admit this is really hot, but you’re hurting me.”

“Mr. Rush. I’ve given you enough warnings. If you touch me again, you’ll be in even more pain.”

“Emily… Emily,” Rush said condescendingly. “Who’s going to believe you? I’m a partner.”

“I will,” Linus Greene, the firm’s founder said as he swiveled the high backed executive chair revealing his presence to the junior partner.

“Oh … hello Mr. Greene. I didn’t see you sitting there. I was just kidding around with Ms. Fitzgerald. You know… just trying to keep her loose for her upcoming bar exam.”

“Ms. Fitzgerald, would you please excuse me and Mr. Rush?”

“Yes sir. I will. Just let me collect my things,” Emily said, quickly sliding her study materials into her briefcase.

“Good night, Mr. Greene. Good night Mr. Rush.”

“One more thing, Ms. Fitzgerald. Please stop my office when you get in tomorrow morning.”

“Yes sir.”

Emily quickly left the paneled library. After the heavy wooden door closed behind her, she leaned against it, slowly exhaling a deep cleansing breath. As she walked away, she could tell her sleazy mentor was getting his ass handed to him. It sounded as though he was being fired. Good, the sonofabitch deserves it, she thought while walking towards the parking lot.

The next morning Emily met with Mr. Greene as requested. Joining them was Cynthia Gould, the firm’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources. After answering their questions, Emily learned that Jason Rush had been placed on administrative leave pending the results of an investigation into his ‘bad habits’ with women. Apparently, two of the three summer associates Emily had seen Rush circle like a hungry shark at The Jury Room had reported him as well.

“Don’t worry Emily,” the firm’s founder said. “He’s cleaning out his desk this morning. I’ve had enough of his shenanigans, and thanks to you, we now have enough to prove it.”

“Thank you, Mr. Greene. I’ll be at my desk if you need me.”

“By the way Ms. Fitzgerald,” the HR chief said, “If Jason Rush bothers you outside of this building, don’t be afraid to call the police. I’d rather you let the police handle Rush, although from what I’ve heard, you can take care of herself.”

Emily could not help but notice a slight smile on her face as she made that last comment.

“Thank you, Ms. Gould. I will,” she said, adding as she left the room,

“Hopefully I won’t need to.”

* * * * *

Emily sat for the two-day Idaho State Bar Examination in late July. With the drama of her mother’s suicide and her former mentor’s constant sexual advances behind her, she was prepared and focused. Confident she had done well, Emily moved on with her life, not worrying about test results she would not receive until November.

During the day, Emily assisted on several important cases, sitting in the courtroom alongside Greene & Greene’s best attorneys, while gaining valuable experience. She impressed everyone she worked with, and became somewhat of a hero to other the young women Jason Rush had harassed at G Squared. At night and on weekends, she slowly went through her mother’s papers, uncovering secrets about her past, and learning things about the woman she had called “mom” for nearly twenty-six years. Joan’s early life had certainly been rough, but in many ways, Emily was proud of what Joan had accomplished as an adult. She had risen through the ranks through hard work and determination to become Director of Emergency Medical Services for the Caldwell Fire and Rescue Department.

By the time Labor Day arrived, Emily had culled through everything Joan had left. That weekend, Emily sold most of Joan’s things at a yard sale, donating the proceeds to the Caldwell Fire and Rescue Department’s EMT Scholarship Fund in Joan’s name. Emily kept a few things though, like the box of Christmas ornaments she and Joan had collected over the years, and the furniture Joan had recently purchased to redecorate her childhood bedroom.

* * * * *

After reading Joan’s personal papers, Emily had hired a private investigator to find out everything about Betsy and Aimee Myers’ life in Boise, as well as their current situation in New England. The Red Rope expandable folder containing his report and materials had been sitting unopened on the corner of her desk for nearly two months. A part of her wanted to learn everything about her real family, while another part seemed reluctant to do so.

Lying awake, unable to sleep one night, several of Emily’s old memories now began to make sense. As a teenager, people would often say “Hey Aimee,” when they passed her at the mall, or at another public place, looking puzzled as to why she did not acknowledge them in kind. Back then she never understood why people kept calling her Aimee. Now she knew thinking No shit Sherlock, you have an identical twin. She then remembered one possible close encounter with Aimee at a high school football game against Boise High. She was wearing her Caldwell High sweatshirt, when some guy walked up to her near the concession stand saying, “Hey Aimee, why the fuck are you wearing that Caldwell sweatshirt? Didn’t I just see you over there wearing Jay’s varsity jacket?” She had wanted to see this Aimee girl, but venturing into the “home” bleachers wearing Caldwell High gear, was not a smart idea. But now, there were no “home bleachers” preventing her from meeting Aimee, or her mother. Still unable to sleep, Emily padded into her living room, sat at her desk, turned on the desk lamp, and dove into the investigator’s in-depth two reports.

The first dossier she opened focused on Elizabeth (Betsy) Maureen O’Connor McDonald (Myers).

Emily stared at the driver’s license photo on the first page. It was the face of her birth mother. The woman who had carried her for nine months, but did not know she existed. She had short, light gray hair; deep blue eyes, and a nice complexion for a woman of her age. Elizabeth was still an attractive woman. Emily realized she had her mother’s eye’s, nose and chin. According to the driver’s license, she was five feet, three inches tall, and weighed 135 pounds. She was also an organ donor. Good for you, Elizabeth! Emily thought, as she continued to read.

Born: November 12, 1946 (Age 67), Manchester, New Hampshire
Married: Richard “Mac” McDonald (May 30, 1965)
Children: Mary Elizabeth McDonald Mason (DOB: February 23, 1973)
Anne Mary McDonald Burke (DOB: September 14, 1985)
Aimee Michelle Myers (DOB: June 2, 1988)
Emily Elizabeth Fitzgerald* (DOB: June 2, 1988)
Attended: St. Joseph’s Catholic School, Manchester, NH (Grades 1-12)
College of Southern Idaho-Boise – Associate Degree, Accounting
Occupation: Bookkeeper, St. Christopher’s Church, Sanford, ME
Residences: 322-B Mill Street, Sanford, ME (2007 – Present)
1045 East Street, Concord, NH (2003 – 2007)
1248 North 30th Street, Apt 10, Boise, ID (1988 – 2003)
215 Epping Road, Exeter, NH (1967 – 1988)
91 South Beech Street, Manchester, NH (1965 – 1967)
100 Chestnut Street, Manchester, NH (1946 - 1965)

Father: Joseph Michael O’Connor (1920 – 1986)
Married: Elizabeth Mary Myers (September 1945)
Occupation: Mailman
Mother: Elizabeth (Betty) Myers O’Connor (1922 – 1985)
Married: Joseph M. O’Connor (September 1945)
Occupation: Homemaker

The remainder of the dossier contained a narrative about Elizabeth O’Connor McDonald (Myers) disappearance from New Hampshire in 1988, the subsequent investigation and search for her by local authorities, and the fact that she had been declared dead in 1995. It also included a similar narrative about the life of Elizabeth Myers in Boise, Idaho, and the severe car accident and birth of a child following that accident. These accounts were created based on old and recent newspaper articles and interviews conducted by the private investigator. Copies of the articles and transcripts of the interviews were included in the folder. At Emily’s request, the investigator did not contact or interview anyone closely related to the McDonald family.

It was now 6:00 a.m., and a cold, heavy rain began to fall, just as the meteorologists had predicted, calling it a perfect day to sleep in, or curl up in a chair with a good book. That’s exactly what Emily was doing, except this was no James Patterson novel. This was a “ripped from the headlines” story, with a Lifetime Movie Network twist, Emily thought. If she only knew her older sisters, who lived twenty-seven hundred miles away, often made the same comparison to their situation.

With a fresh cup of coffee in hand, Emily opened the second dossier containing information about Aimee Michelle Myers. Once again, a driver’s license photo stared back at her. This one, however, was like looking into a mirror. Her shoulder length hair was auburn in color, and she too had deep blue eyes and a straight nose. My God, thought Emily she even has my cute freckles! According to the license, Aimee was five foot, five inches tall, and weighed 125 pounds. The only difference she noticed was their weight. Emily weighed in at 115.

Born: June 2, 1988 (Age 25), Boise, ID
Marital Status: Single
Children: None
Attended: Boise, ID Public Schools (Pre-K to 12)
Plymouth State University, Plymouth, NH – BA, Early Education (2010)
Occupation: Elementary School Teacher, Sanford, ME Public School System
Residences: 322-B Mill Street, Sanford, ME (2007 – Present)
1045 East Street, Concord, NH (2003 – 2007)
1248 North 30th Street, Apt 10, Boise, ID (1988 – 2003)
Father: Richard “Mac” McDonald (April 15, 1943 - )
Married: Elizabeth O’Connor (May 30, 1965)
Occupation: Lt. Colonel, NH Air National Guard (Retired)
Mother: Elizabeth (Betsy) Maureen O’Connor (Myers) (November 12, 1946 - )
Married: Richard “Mac” McDonald (May 30, 1965)
Occupation: Bookkeeper
Siblings: Mary Elizabeth McDonald Mason (DOB: February 23, 1973)
Anne Mary McDonald Burke (DOB: September 14, 1985)
Emily Elizabeth Fitzgerald* (DOB: June 2, 1988)

Similar to Elizabeth’s dossier, there were newspaper clippings, photos, and other things mentioning Aimee Myers, including the page from her high school yearbook.

Aimee Michelle Myers –
“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss

Honor Roll 1, 2, 3, 4 Future Teachers of America 1, 2, 3, 4 Cross-Country 2, 3, 4 Drama Club 2, 3, 4
National Honor Society 3, 4 Student Council 3, 4

Perry, Emily’s kitten jumped onto her lap, begging for attention. Stroking his fur, Emily said, “My sister certainly participated in a lot of extra-curricular activities, Perry! I never got to do that much in high school.” Joan had limited Emily’s school activities to things like student government, and the library club, saying these activities would help her get into law school, more than sports would. Emily now understood why Joan had been so over-protective. Knowing Emily had a twin sister in the area, she had been constantly afraid the two girls might somehow cross-paths as the un-knowing twins did at summer camp in Disney’s The Parent Trap.

After reviewing all of the materials in the folder, Emily desperately wanted to meet Aimee, her sisters and her real parents… her family. Beyond that, she had no expectations. Emily just wanted to let them know she existed. Her life was in Idaho, not New England, and she had no plans to move east. Before simply showing up on the McDonald’s doorstep, Emily thought it might be a good idea to speak with someone first, and she knew exactly who that was. It was a name that appeared in everything she had been reading.

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