From the Prism to the Heart - part 6

By: Susan McNeill

"You never told her the truth, did you?" Karen felt the pain radiate from his body. The self-loathing was tangible. "Not even in the end?"

"No. Sounds like a coward, doesn't it?" Kermit shifted away, putting an arm's length between them. "Claire loved an invention. Griffin Banner. Former serviceman making the neighborhood safe one burglar alarm at a time. That's who she loved. I couldn't risk changing that love to disgust by telling her she was sleeping with a killer."

<Damn...> Karen calculated her words carefully. The sudden realization of his confession was overwhelming. <He's told you more. More than he told her. That means something. You can trust me, can't you?> "Kermit, you made mistakes. That's not inhuman. But, I know enough about you to know that--"

"Karen, there are some means that can never be justified by noble ends. I didn't know that when I was twenty-five. By the time I was thirty-five, it was too late to undo the things I'd been part of; too late to save the innocents who were caught in the middle." He turned toward her, blocking the sun and casting a long shadow that covered her. "Do you know what it's like to love someone so deeply, for the first time in your life to have someone love YOU, and have that life built on a lie? I can think about it and analyze it for all eternity and I'll never be certain that what she felt would have survived the truth. Never."

"Do you actually think that she didn't suspect that you were trying to hide something?" Karen realized sympathy wouldn't cut through the guilt. "You fancy yourself a master of concealment but those glasses don't hide everything. You wear your grief like a shroud, Kermit. You showed her what she needed to know and she let you keep your secrets. I think that's your answer right there."

He stood there in his manmade shade. <He's trying to believe you.> "Kermit, some things don't have to be earned. Some things are just given. All you have to do is take them."

The words were blowing into the shadow across Kermit's face. Deep lines marked years of mourning and doubt and isolation. "Can I ask you a question, Kermit?"


"Why did you tell me these things?" Karen fixed her eyes on the deep green glasses and waited. Moments ticked by without one movement to break the stifling silence. Then, one large hand moved upward, grasped the arm of the shades and peeled them away. Sad brown eyes blinked only twice as they bared themselves to the harsh afternoon sunlight.

The gesture was a momentary shock. <Be careful what you do now, Karen. Be careful.> Karen touched his hand lightly with her fingers then pushed his offering back toward him. "You should hang on to these until you've settled your business with Claire. I don't require any sacrifices, Kermit." She smiled up at him. "You helped me escape a trip to prison. Work on your own escape for a while."

She had said enough. If there was one thing Karen had learned about Kermit Griffin it was that he had to percolate information. No more revelations were required. She knew enough for now. As he returned the shades to his face and settled them comfortably on his Roman nose, Karen allowed herself an indulgence.

With one feather-light stroke to his cheek, she left Kermit alone to think and watch four children gobble up more ice cream.

To Be Continued....

Part 7-->