A Walk in Winter: Episode II


Detective Newman answered the phone on the second ring.  Lex really wished he hadn’t, because now she had to explain the crazy situation with Shanna.

“Hey, John,” she managed to squeak out from her dry mouth.

“Lex, is that you?  You sound terrible.”

She took a drink of water and tried speaking again, “Yeah, it’s me.  I’m sick.  Are you busy right now?  I’ve had a situation come up and I could use your help.”

“Sure, what’s up?  I’m on lunch right now.”

Lex rolled out the tightness in her neck and said, “Now, I want you to know I did tell her to go to the police about this, but she refused.” Lex explained the situation with Shanna Burton and her request to have Newman and Wolfe at Lex’s house within the hour.

“Ah, Shanna Burton.  I met her when she first moved to New Haven back in the day.” Lex could hear the smile in his voice. “She hasn’t changed a bit.  I’ll come by in a few minutes.  You sure you want me to call Danny?”

No!  Don’t call him.  I don’t want him anywhere near me.

Her mouth closed on the words screaming to get out and instead said, “Shanna asked for him.  Let him come.”

“Okay.  See you in twenty.”

She hung up and shut her eyes.  Newman didn’t know the particulars about what happened between her and Danny Wolfe, he just knew that they broke off the wedding, that Lex quit being a private Investigator, that Danny had put in a transfer request, and that  the four closest friends fell apart.  No one, not even Newman, could look at Nichelle’s little girl and not notice the resemblance to Danny in the child.  Lex was grateful she hadn’t known he had a daughter until a couple of months ago.  These two years would have been worse knowing he had a kid when that had been their biggest dream together, having a family.


She looked at the open door from where she lay on the couch to see Geni scratching Link’s ears.  Behind her stood the whirlwind of doom.

Shanna breezed past Geni, into the house, and knelt by the couch, “How are you feeling, sweetie?”

This woman was too, too, something.  The DayQuill fog was making it hard to think, or was it the strange assortment of smells coming from Shanna.

“I’m fine.” Lex struggled to a sitting position so she could feel more in control of her surroundings.  Not that anyone had much control with Shanna Burton.  A coughing fit hit her as she sat up.

“You sound terrible,” Geni said as she closed the door then took a seat one down from Lex on the couch. “You look miserable.  I don’t think you’re fine, Lex.”

Shanna patted her hand, “Don’t worry, dear, I’ve brought everything you need to get feeling better.”

“I don’t need anything.  I-I-ah-ah-choo.” Lex grabbed a tissue and covered her nose before she sneezed all over Shanna.

“Poor dear.” Shanna patted her back. “I have just the thing to help with this cold.”

Lex looked beseechingly at Geni, but Geni just smiled and sat deeper into the cushions.

In awed horror, Lex watched Shanna pull out an assortment of bottles. She could tell by the labels that they were essential oils.  Along with the oils, Shanna pulled out a box of tea, baggies, an amber colored glass jar with a lid, and a packet of tissues--the size that could fit in a purse.

Lex whispered, “What are you going to do to me?”

Shanna and Geni laughed.

“It won’t be bad, Lex.  Shanna came over and helped Trevor with his cold earlier this month, and within a week he was feeling ten times better.”

      Geni had let Shanna Burton over to her house, but had been too busy to just talk to Lex every time she called since Thanksgiving.

Shanna gave a huge grin. “If the oils don’t help you, I’ll change my name and move to the dump heap.”

That wouldn’t be so bad.

Lex wasn’t sure about the whole “essential oil” thing, but she knew she was too weak to fight both Shanna and Geni.  And she really needed help with this cold.

“Fine,” Lex said. “Do your worst.”

“Yay.” Shanna clapped her hands. “Geni, can you make this lemon tea?” She handed the box of tea to Geni. “After it’s steeped, stir a tablespoon of honey in it and have Lex drink it.  It will help your throat,” she said to Lex.

Geni nodded and left the room.

Shanna proceeded to arrange the oils in a way that made sense to no one but her.

“I know it looks like a lot, but I promise that it won’t be very complicated.  As the commercial says, ‘Even a caveman can do it,’ and they probably did.” Shanna took the packet of tissues and placed drops of oil from two bottles randomly on the stack.  She spoke while she worked. “This is a breather aid via tissues.  I’ve put a few drops of eucalyptus and lavender in various areas on the packet of tissues.  Now I’m going to put the packet of tissues into this zip lock bag and let the oils sink in.” She handed the baggie to Lex. “Whenever your nose is congested, bring out a tissue, hold it to your nose and breath deeply.  It will relieve the congestion.”

Lex pinched the bag between her fingers and looked at it, “Thanks,” she said and started to cough.

“Now for the cough.”

Shanna took the amber colored jar, unscrewed the lid, and put drops of three different oils, along with a white cream, into the jar then mixed it together with a stirring stick.

Geni came in with a steaming mug of lemon and honey tea.  After she handed it to Lex, she sat on the couch asking Shanna, “What are you doing now?”

“This is a cough and congestion balm,” Shanna said, “The base is an unrefined coconut oil, organic of course, and the oils are eucalyptus, lavender and thyme.  This would typically be used at bedtime, but I think Lex can benefit from it right now.”

Lex sipped the tea and was surprised at the semi sweet taste, it was actually good.  The lemon and honey felt real nice on her throat too.  She took another sip.

“What do I do with the balm?”

Shanna smiled at Lex, “You need to rub about a teaspoon-sized amount over your chest.  It should give you easier breathing and, at night, better rest.”

Geni picked up one of the oil bottles and turned it around in her hand, “Shanna, what do all these oils do?”

“Eucalyptus is great at fighting congestion and coughing, while lavender can fight viruses and bacteria, and thyme is another antiviral--a powerful one.” Shanna handed the amber jar to Lex. “Rub it on your chest, dear.”

Not wanting to do it in front of them, Lex gulped the last of the tea and hobbled into the bathroom.  Now that she was up, she realized the call of nature was screaming her name.  Her throat felt better from the tea and once she rubbed the cream on, she could feel the tightness in her chest lesson.  Maybe Shanna did know what she was doing with those oils.  

As Lex washed the cream from her hands, she heard the doorbell ring and Geni greeting the detectives.  Great, he was here.  She really didn’t want to see him.  Talk to him.  Be in the same town as him!  Every time she thought about him, all she could see was him lying in that bed next to that, that viper.  Her hands tightened on the rim of the sink and she dry heaved over the sink again and again, till her strength left and she slumped to the rug on the tile floor.  

Tap.  Tap.  Tap.   

“Lex,” Geni said through the door, “the detectives are here.”

“I’ll be out in a moment.”

She pulled herself up and stared at the white face in the mirror, at least they’d attribute the paleness in her cheeks to her cold.  She hoped.

Lex splashed cold water on her face and pulled her tangled hair into a ponytail.

“You got this,” she said to her reflection.






Written by Linsay Ernst

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