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The Mental Ward - To Jefferson Park Avenue (32)


      Emery and Beth burst out of the door and into a narrow alleyway.  Emery grabbed Beth's hand and started running, winding her way through the streets.  Dingy buildings toward over them, and they dodged fences and trash cans as they ran.
      They made it several blocks before Emery slowed down.  Beth was gasping for breath, and they were both tired.
     Emery looked worriedly at Beth.  "We still have a long way to go.  Do you think you can make it?"
     Beth closed her eyes.  Her face was pale and sweaty.  But she nodded.
     A truck rattled down the road by them. Then it stopped and backed up.  Emery shifted her weight uneasily.  
     The driver leaned out the window.  "You kids need a ride?"  His eyes focused on Beth and he frowned.  "What are you wearing?  A nightgown?"
      "Yes," Beth said.  She walked around the truck and climbed into the back of it.
     "I guess we would appreciate a ride."  Emery hesitantly followed Beth.  "Thank you, sir."
     "Where you headed?" he asked.
     Emery licked her lips, thinking of a safer answer than the Carlysle residence.  "Jefferson Park Avenue."
     "Oh, okay."  His head disappeared into the cab of his truck.  Then, suddenly, he stuck it out again.  "Did you say Jefferson Park Avenue?"  His face was incredulous.
     Emery nodded.
     "Whoo-eeee.  That's some high class stuff, right there."  He scratched his head and scowled.  "Now look here.  I wasn't born yesterday, and this just don't add up.  You look like a nurse or something.  And this kid is running around the middle of town in her nightgown.  But you want to go to mansion row on the outskirts of town.  Just what are you trying to pull?"
     "It's rather a long story," Emery said, with sudden inspiration.  "And the people on 'mansion row,' as you put it, don't like sharing their long stories.  But if you would prefer not drive us, we are happy to walk."
     "Alright.  Alright."  The man shrugged.  "It's not far out of my way.  Hang tight."
     The truck rattled to life again.  Emery hunched down into the bed of the truck and relaxed a little bit.
     Buildings swept by them, and the city changed before their eyes.  Trees appeared, dotted at decorative intervals down the streets.  Houses replaced the apartments.  Grass lawns, dimly lit by streetlamps, bordered the cobblestone.  By the time, the truck reached Jefferson Park Avenue, the city was a thing of the past, completely replaced by grandiose estates and massive gates.
       Emery caught sight of a side road -- one that led down to the gardners' cottages.  "Here!" she cried.  "Stop here!  I know where I am!"
     

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