Blogging My Murder; chapter ten, part two

Chapter Ten; Part Two

My phone beeps. It’s a text from Rembrandt. “You left again. You keep doing that.” I can’t tell if he’s pissed or hurt or what, but I want to nip this in the bud. Then again, it is kind of rude of me to leave like that, so I start with an apology. “Sorry. I prefer sleeping in my own bed. Plus, I missed my cats. You pissed?” I hold my breath. I don’t want him to be mad, but I’m also pretty set in my ways. I’m not going to change just because I enjoy fucking him. It’s several seconds before I receive an answer. “No. Just hurt. I don’t understand.” I sigh. This is another problem with being unconventional. Most people assume that women want to move in, to be committed, to get married, whatever. I’ve had this problem many times. Guys who are at first upset because I don’t want to commit. Then, they get resentful, and finally, pissed. Do I even want to bother? I shouldn’t immediately put Rembrandt in the same boat, but that’s all I seem to run into. “Look. This is too complicated to text about. Can we talk about it? Maybe Tuesday or Wednesday night?” “Why not tomorrow?” The immediate response. Goddamn it. I hate it when people can’t respect my boundaries. “I’m busy.” My text is terse, but I’m not in the mood to make nice. This is why I don’t do well in relationship; I hate having to justify myself to someone else. I count to one hundred before Rembrandt responds. “Tuesday. Six. Where do you want to meet?” Not good. A step back might be what’s needed, though. “Grumpy’s. Washington Ave.” I’m sending my own message. Grumpy’s is loud, so intimate conversation isn’t easy. It should be OK at that time, though. I guess I’m hoping it’ll be loud, though. “Fine.” I decide not to answer that text because we’re going to spiral downwards from here. I set my phone aside, but it beeps again in a minute. It’s Rembrandt. “I hope you have a good night.” Some of my irritation melts. He’s a decent man. It’s not his fault that I’m not a decent woman, not in the traditional sense, anyway. “Thanks, Rembrandt. You, too.”

With that, I toss my phone onto the bed and sigh deeply. Two black lumps join me on the bed, snuggling into my sides. I ruffle their fur, taking comfort in their presence. Why do humans have to be so uptight about our relationships? Why can’t we just sniff each other’s butts and be done with it? Then again, I’ve read how cats have sex, and I don’t want any part of that. My cats have really cushy lives, but do I really want to just eat, sleep, and play with another cat? That doesn’t sound half-bad, actually. I think back to my text messages with Rembrandt and wonder if I could have handled it better. Hell, I know I could have, but I just didn’t have the patience. Let’s face it, if I wanted to avoid unpleasantness, I would have just spent the night with Rembrandt. Time for some hard truths. Do I want to date Rembrandt, or would I prefer if he was just a booty call? Truth to be told, I would be happy if he cooked for me two to three times a week before thoroughly fucking me, then I could go home and chill with my cats. I want Netflix and chill, but I have a hunch Rembrandt wants more than that. If that’s the case, should I just cut it off now? It wouldn’t be fair to him to fuck around if he’s wanting more. Then again, I like him. Not just to fuck, but talking to him and being with him. Maybe I’m sabotaging myself by nitpicking at everything, but I can’t help how I feel.

On the third hand, I have a tendency to overthink things. It’s both a blessing and a curse, but right now, it’s mostly a negative. Three days ago, I was looking forward to my date with Rembrandt and having sex with him. Now, we need to have a talk, and we’re not even a week into whatever this is. People like to joke about how women always want to talk, but I find that dudes want to do it more often than do chicks. Something about sex makes them think they own me or that I owe them something. Am I weird for not wanting to spend the night with him right away? My guess is that most women probably would stay the night, but I’m not most women, damn it. I hate being defensive over my preference of sleeping alone. It’s something I’ve taken shit for my entire life. Well, at least since I started dating. I’ve had to break up with more than one partner who didn’t believe that I didn’t want to move in with them. Let’s not even talk about marriage. Or kids. I am disgruntled, which means it’s going to be hard for me to get to sleep. I pull up my website and start a post.

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Blogging My Murder; chapter ten, part one

Chapter Ten; Part One

“Taiji is not just of the body, it’s also of the mind.” Lydia is lecturing on the principles of taiji, which I am sorry to say, I tune out. I’ve heard it a million times, and my mind is fractured today, anyway. I try to focus, but my thoughts keep drifting towards Julianna’s murder. Every time I put it to the back of my mind, it rushes forward again. I take several smooth, slow breaths as I try to remain on an even-keel emotionally. When I check back in, Lydia has moved on to the first section of the Solo Form. I hurriedly catch up to my classmates, not wanting to be caught daydreaming. After we finish the first section, it’s break time. I slump in a chair and drink water from my iced water bottle. I don’t want to talk to anyone, and most of my classmates seem to have gotten the memo. One of them, however, Betty Bowser (really, that’s her name), blithely ignores the strong ‘stay away from me’ vibes and sits next to me.

“That was a good workout!” She wipes her face with a towel, though I don’t see any sweat there. She’s wearing a fuchsia-colored sweatshirt that says ‘Girl Power’ and matching sweats. She even has a matching headband, for fuck’s sake. Of course, she’s wearing a full face of makeup and brand new Nikes, also fuchsia. Her fingernails match as well, and I’m getting nauseated just looking at her.

“Yes. It was a good first section.” I keep my tone brusque, hoping she’ll take the hint. She doesn’t.

“Your form looks so much better than mine. I don’t think I’ll ever be as good!” Betty fluffs out her (dyed) blond curls and cuts her eyes at our classmate, Kirk, who is chatting with Lydia. Kirk is barely twenty, but an ex-baseball player who was slated to go pro until he tore his ACL three times in two seasons. He has dark brown hair and warm hazel eyes, and I can understand Betty’s attraction to him. She’s almost twice his age, however, which is Mrs. Robinson territory in my book. Anyone under thirty looks like an unformed blob in my eyes. They can be physically attractive, but there’s no there there. I like my partners to have some mileage on their tires and to show that they’ve been on a journey.

“You’ve only been studying a year, Betty. I have six years on you and countless hours of practice. You’ll get there.” My tone is perfunctory. The last thing I want to do is hold this neurotic woman’s hand.

“But your form is so fluid. Mine is herky jerky!” Betty is still looking at Kirk who is blissfully unaware of her scrutiny.

“It’s because you have more information than your brain knows what to do with,” I say crisply. It’s something I’ve heard Lydia say countless times. With newbies, you can only teach them one thing at a time, namely, the postures. If you try to correct them on every little thing they’re doing wrong, they’ll try to fix all the things at once, which means they won’t be able to concentrate on anything at all. So, it’s best not to mention form problems unless they’re actively hurtful to the person  practicing. Unfortunately, that means that bad habits can become entrenched. I’ve had to work on not pushing my knees too far forward because I didn’t realize it was something I was doing for years. It’s a pain in the ass, and sometimes, I despair I’ll ever be able to correct it.

“You’re saying I’m stupid?” Betty looks at me, anger in her cornflower blue eyes.

“No. It has nothing to do with intelligence.” My voice is sharp. I’m at the end of my rope with Betty, though I’m trying to keep my temper. “We all think we’re good at multitasking, but we’re really not. That’s why it’s important to focus on one thing at a time. If you want to know more, ask Lydia.”

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Blogging My Murder; chapter nine, part two

Chapter Nine; Part Two

“Megan! Where are you?” It’s Jasmine. I don’t say anything, naively hoping she’ll go away if I don’t answer. It’s stupid, of course, because she’s not going to leave until she searches the house, but I still don’t have the will to answer. “There you are.” Jasmine sweeps into the living room, turning on all the lights. I blink as the lights flood into the room, and the cats meow in protest. They don’t move, however, the lazy bastards. “You’re brooding. You have to stop doing that.” Jasmine moves Jet to the couch before grabbing me by the arm and hauling me up into a sitting position. “Do you think Julianna would have wanted you to react this way?”

“I don’t know because Julianna is dead,” I retort. “I’ll never know what she wants again, will I?”

“That’s childish of you, Megan,” Jasmine says crisply, fluffing the pillow behind my back. “You know Julianna would be yelling at you right now for being self-indulgent.”

“Well, fuck her. She went and left me, so who fucking cares?” I can’t stop the horrible words from leaving my mouth.

“You don’t mean that. You know you don’t.” Jasmine clucks her tongue as she fusses over my clothes. She straightens them as best she can, but there’s not much you can do with sweats. “It’s the anger talking.”

“You’re fucking right it’s the anger talking. How could she fucking do this to me?” I am screaming by the end of the second sentence. “How dare she do this to me?” I throw a remote across the room, startling the hell out of my cats. I stroke their fur to calm them down, which allows my anger to dissipate somewhat.

“Megan. Listen to me.” Jasmine turns my head so I’m forced to look at her. “I know this is hard. I know you’re hurting like hell, but you cannot give in to this, you hear?” I don’t answer, so she shakes me once. “You went off the rails when Mom died. I do not have it in me to put you back together again for the second time.”

“Jasmine, I appreciate all you’ve done for me. I really do.” I pause as my eyes fill up with tears. She was the one who bought me pads when I first got my period. She was the one I confided in when I had my first serious crush—Ricky Stanton—I was fourteen years old. She was the one who bought my prom dress for me when Billy Jones asked me to prom my junior year. And she was the one who took on a second job so she could help cover my tuition at Carleton College when I could only get a partial scholarship. And when our mother killed herself with drink, it was Jasmine who held my hair back as I puked for three days straight. It was grief combined with too much booze. I couldn’t handle it, and she made sure I didn’t kill myself as well. “I don’t know how I’m ever going to repay you.”

“You can start by fucking living.” Jasmine says. I blink because she is not prone to swearing. I have a feeling she did it just to get my attention. “I did not nurture you this long only to have you give up now.” She touches her hand to the back of my face, and I tear up once again.

“I love you, Jasmine.” I say, my voice choking up. “I just don’t know if I can do this.” I pause and add, “I don’t  know if I want to.”

“I know.” Jasmine stares at me hard. “But, you don’t have a choice. You have to live for me, for your cats, for your friends, but mostly for me.” There it is. She’s calling in the chip I have owed her for so long. There is no way I can say no, and yet, I resent her for cashing it in. Then again, she’s playing for some pretty high stakes, so I can’t blame her for fighting dirty.

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Blogging My Murder; chapter nine, part one

Chapter Nine; Part One

“Hey, I woke up, and you were gone. L.” I wake up to a text from Rembrandt. I feel guilty for slipping out, but I irrationally feel irritated as well. We’ve only had one date, and, yes, the fucking was phenomenal, but still. He doesn’t own me, and I don’t owe him anything. Then again, he did just give me the fucking of a lifetime, and that means something.

“Sorry. I sleep better at home with my cats.” I text back, struggling not to feel defensive.

“No prob. Would love to see you again soon.” I pause. Do I want to see him again this weekend? My pussy says yes, but my brain is ambivalent. I don’t like spending too much time with any one person, not even loved ones. Perhaps especially not loved ones. I decide to throw caution to the wind and agree to see him again, but not tonight.

“Tomorrow? Dinner? And dessert?”

“Sounds good. I’ll cook. Unless you want to do it at your place?”

“You cooking sounds great.” I stifle the guilt at leaving my cats for another long night, but I can’t turn down a home-cooked dinner. “I like Thai, Italian, and Taiwanese. Chinese.”

“Lasagna, garlic bread, and tiramisu for dessert?”

“YES!”

“Can’t wait.” With that, I get out of bed and take a quick shower. Then, I check my phone and see that I have two dozen responses on my latest post. Most of them say that I was fortunate to have someone like her in my life. MNsnowbaby says, “I met her once at a Picasso show at the MIA. She was so vibrant and intense. We only talked briefly, but I’ve never forgotten her.” SayItAin’tSo comments, “I have a bestie who I would die for. Or kill for. I don’t know what I’d do without him. I’m so sorry for your loss.” BasalTemp adds, “Fuck. What a waste. RIP, and may you find your peace.” QueenBee writes, “Know you are not alone. I will always be here for you. Always.” I frown. That’s a strange thing to say for someone who’s never met me. Unfortunately, there’s a weird thing that happens when you’re in the limelight in any way, even in such a small way as I am. People who read my stuff on a regular basis think they know me better than they actually do, and it can lead to some awkward moments. I had one guy declare in emails that he was in love with me from reading my blog—my old one. When I had to break it to him that I didn’t feel the same, and what’s more, it was inappropriate of him to say that to me, it got ugly. He emailed me twenty times a day, declaring that he couldn’t live without me. After my initial response to him, I didn’t answer any of his emails, but it didn’t deter him for weeks. Just as I thought I might have to take more drastic measures, he stopped. I was relieved, but I couldn’t help being curious as to what had happened to him. I Googled his name and discovered that he tried to kill himself by eating the business end of his gun. He somehow missed anything vital, but it messed him up pretty badly, obviously. This was a year ago, and I haven’t heard from him since. He’s the reason I closed down my old blog, and I’m wary of having the same thing happen again.

I sigh and shut down the browser with my website. I’m feeling morose, and I don’t quite know what to do about it. I perk some coffee and pour myself a cup. I sip at it while it’s still boiling because I like to burn my mouth. It’s a weird thing, I know, but I find it pleasurable, as long as it’s not permanently damaged. I drain the cup in three gulps, then refill my cup. Onyx and Jet stare at me hopefully, wanting more treats. I’m in the kitchen, so it should be treat time, which is probably their thought process. I give them each three Temptations before taking my cup of coffee to the living room. I peruse the news, but I can’t read much about politics because I start freaking out if I do that. I watch a couple Maru videos instead—one of the cutest cats on the internet. I follow that up with Shironeko videos—one of the calmest cats on the internet. Both of them live in Japan in impeccably-kept houses. Watching Shironeko chill with a cabbage leaf on his head is perhaps my favorite cat video ever. I feel better after watching it, and I decide to do a quick taiji set to keep the mood going. I do a Sword Form and the third section of the Solo Form, plus some stretches and single posture drills. It takes fifteen minutes, and I feel even better once I’m done.

I decide to go for a walk, so I pull on my tennis shoes and a pair of leather gloves. Even though it’s October, it’s been unusually mild, so I don’t need a jacket. Once I step outside, I realize that I don’t need my gloves, either. I stuff them in my purse as I walk at a brisk place. The sun is shining, and I inhale the fresh air. Suddenly, the hair on the back of my neck bristles, and I feel as if someone is watching me. I whip my head around, but there’s nothing out of the ordinary. Yes, there are people walking around, but nobody looks suspicious. I start walking again, but I still feel watched. I scan the area as I walk, catching a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye. I whip my head around, but I don’t see anything. Feeling uneasy, I pick up the pace. I don’t feel as refreshed as I once did; now, I just want to get home. When I do, Onyx and Jet are waiting for me. They follow me upstairs and wait while I take a quick shower. After I get dressed in fresh sweats, I go downstairs to check my website again. More comments. More condolences. More shared stories about meeting Julianna. It’s enough to warm the cockles of even my cold heart. I decide to write a quick post of thanks.

I’ve been overwhelmed with my grief. It’s such an isolating and singular thing. I try to go about my day, but then I remember Julianna’s dead, and I break down again. I have people in my real life who have been invaluable to me these past few days, and I have you guys. I want you to know that I’m very appreciative of the support I’ve received from my readers. You guys have warmed my heart with your stories and your well wishes.

I don’t know how to thank you other than to straight out say it: thank you for supporting me. Thank you for metaphorically holding my hand as I grieve. I can’t tell you how much it means to me to read your loving comments when I’m feeling despair.

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Blogging My Murder; chapter eight, part two

Chapter Eight; Part Two

I take a long, luxurious shower then stand in front of my closet to decide what to wear. I have plenty of time before my date, but I want to make sure I look tip-top. I haven’t dated in five years, and I’m nervous. I pull out one outfit after another, rejecting each of them for flaws only I can see. One dress is too short, but the next is too long. One blouse is too frilly, and the next is too plain. I finally settle on a pair of crimson velour pants that flare at the hems and ride low under my belly paired with an emerald green silk blouse that shows an appreciable amount of cleavage. I put large gold hoops in my ears and declare myself done. I shake my hair out so it falls gently to my waist. I am conscious of the thirty extra pounds padding my body, but I clean up nicely if I say so myself. I still have an hour and a half before I have to leave, so I go downstairs to brew myself a hot cup of Earl Grey. The cats are right at my heels, assuming they’re going to get more treats. They are sadly mistaken, but I’ll give them a few each before I head out to Victory 44. I’m meeting Rembrandt at the restaurant because it’s my policy not to relinquish driving control on a first date. If things go badly, I want to be able to leave at any time. Hopefully, it won’t come to that, but I’ve been in dicey situations before, and I don’t intend to ever be in a similar one again. I watch episodes of Iron Chef America until I have to leave. I stop at Walgreens to pick up some condoms on my way to the restaurant—I like to be prepared.

“Megan. You look fantastic.” Rembrandt can’t take his eyes off of me as I approach the table. Once again, I’m struck by his David Bowie eyes, which are filled with lust.

“You look terrific, too,” I reply, looking him up and down. He’s wearing black khakis and a dark brown button-down with the top two buttons unbuttoned. His hair is slicked back, but there’s a cowlick that refuses to be subdued.

“I’m famished,” I say as I sit down. I haven’t eaten since breakfast as I skipped lunch in anticipation of dinner. I glance at the menu, but I’m sticking with the Spicy Clams & Spaghetti. Rembrandt orders the Perfect Burger, so I resolve to steal a bite or ten.

“How are you feeling?” Rembrandt asks, concern shining in his eyes. “You must still be in shock over your friend’s death.”

“I am,” I say, my heart suddenly heavy. “I can’t believe she’s gone. I know it’s trite, but it’s true.” I shake off the gloom with effort. “I don’t want to talk about that right now. We’re on a date. Tell me about your day.”

“I had the craziest client in the afternoon!” With that, he’s off. He only stops when the server brings our dinners. The spaghetti is amazing, and Rembrandt’s burger is, indeed, perfect. We have the Banana & Peanut Butter for dessert, which is a great way to cap off dinner. I find out that Rembrandt enjoys Tarantino films, but no one’s perfect. I wax rhapsodic for my love of musicals, which he doesn’t care much for, I can tell by the look in his eyes. We both agree that superhero movies are overdone, but that doesn’t stop either of us from loving graphic novels. We spend a large chunk of the evening talking about our respective cats, and the time flies by. I feel a stirring in my pussy that I have a hard time ignoring. After dessert, we have a light-hearted squabble about who’s going to pay the bill. Rembrandt insists, saying I can pay the next time. I allow him the win this time, and we leave with our arms around each other.

“Nightcap?” He asks, lifting his eyebrow as we near my car.

“Yes,” I say.

“It’s in Loring Park. Follow me.” He watches as I get into my car before getting into his. I take a second to text Liz with Rembrandt’s deets, and she immediately responds with a thumbs up. Then, I follow Rembrandt to his house. We’re there before I know it. I’m nervous because it’s been many years since I’d had sex with a man. I’m not sure how good I’ll be around the equipment. I sigh and get out of the car, locking it behind me. I’m just going to assume it’s like riding a bike, and I’m going to have a good time doing it.

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Blogging My Murder; chapter eight, part one

Chapter Eight; Part One

I sit in the car and check the comments on my latest post about dating. There are a few comments about dating not being worth it, but there are many more that urge me to take a chance. MNborn writes, “After my horrible marriage fell apart, I told everyone who would listen that I was done with men. My ex-husband had been abusive and cheated on me. He was constantly lying about his affairs, and I was a shattered woman by the time the divorce was finalized. Fast-forward three years, and I was in a Barnes & Noble, browsing through the Sci-Fi section. A tall, weedy ginger started talking to me and convinced me to have coffee with him. Coffee progressed to dinner which progressed to dessert in his apartment. Within a week, we had moved in together, and we’ve been together ever since. That was eight years ago.” NoFussNoMuss says, “Dating is bullshit, but spending weekends with my honey is everything. So I put up with the bullshit to get to this place. And, I overlook her flaws by in part by reminding myself that I never, ever want to endure the bullshit of dating again.” SeedSawed gives his opinion as well. “After a bad relationship, my brother took me out to the clubs every weekend over my objections. If it were up to me, I would have stayed home and brooded. So, while I cussed him out at the time, I’m grateful to him now, especially since I met my wife during one of those nights out.”

I shut down the browser and drive to Pinky X’s parents’ house in Plymouth and ring the doorbell. Nobody answers, but I hear rustling inside. I wait several seconds before ringing the doorbell again. I can definitely hear someone. I knock sharply on the door, refusing to go away. I know from experience that Minnesota Nice will kick in sooner or later, and whoever’s inside will open the door before long.

“What?!” The door is yanked open, and Pinky X is before me in the flesh. She’s a solid six feet tall with magenta dreads and ice-blue eyes. She’s slender, but shapely, and she’s wearing torn jeans and a multicolored tank top. A dozen bangles on each arm, and half a dozen earrings in each ear. She’s glaring down at me, but there’s fear in her eyes. I’m puzzled because I’ve never met her before, so why is she afraid of me?

“Pinky X? My name is Megan Liang.” I hold out my hand, but Pinky X just stares at it. I let my hand drop and try not to take it personally. “I’m looking for Simon. Do you know where he is?”

“No. He’s nothing to me. Leave me alone!” Pinky X tries to shut the door, but unfortunately for her, I have my foot in the way. Unfortunately for me, my toes get caught in the crunch, which fucking hurts. Her words suddenly click in my brain, and I understand why she’s so afraid.

“I’m not after him for money. I don’t care about that.” I smile reassuringly at Pinky X, and her shoulders relax a fraction of an inch.

“Come in.” Pinky X opens the door and gestures for me to come in. I take off my shoes and leave them in the hallway, glancing around me as I follow Pinky X into the house. The walls are austere, painted a hospital white, but decorated with impressionist paintings. “Would you like something to drink?” Pinky X asks, her voice polite.

“Diet Coke if you got it?” I ask, taking in as much of the environment as I can without being too obvious about it. The furniture looks fancy, like mahogany or something, and I’m afraid to touch anything. There’s an air of sterility in the air, and there’s no living creature other than us in the house.

“Of course!” Pinky X opens the fridge, grabs two Diet Cokes and pops the top of one of them. She pours it into a crystal glass, adds three ice cubes, and hands it to me. She does the same for herself, adds rum to it, then leads me into the living room. The couch is red suede, and I’m afraid I’m going to spill on it. I sit on the couch and carefully set my glass on a coaster on the coffee table. Pinky X sits in a leather recliner across from me and puts her feet up on an ornate ottoman. “Why are you looking for Simon?” The flash of fear in her eyes again.

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Blogging My Murder; chapter seven, part two

Chapter Seven; Part Two

“Yes?” The question is asked in a creaky, tremulous voice, and I have to strain to hear her voice.

“Mrs. Ephrams? My name is Megan Liang, and I’m Julianna’s best friend. I would like to talk to you about the man you saw leaving the—”

“When she was murdered. Of course. Come up.” She buzzes me in, and I make sure to note her apartment number before trudging up to the third floor. I like to walk whenever I can, but I’m regretting it by the second floor. No matter how fit I am, I always get tired climbing stairs. I’m panting lightly by the time I reach Mrs. Ephrams door, and I take a second to catch my breath. Before I can knock on her door, however, she opens it. She must have been watching for me.

“Come in, dearie. Would you like some homemade chocolate chip cookies and milk?” Mrs. Ephrams is five-foot nothing with determinedly blue curls. She’s wearing a hot pink housedress and pink mules. She’s smoking an unfiltered Camel, and I love everything about her. Expect for her thick-lensed cat-eye glasses. I’m not happy to see that.

“I’d love that, Mrs. Ephrams.” I smile at her as I enter the apartment. I waffle as to whether I should take off my shoes, but I decide to leave them on.

“Call me Gloria. Mrs. Ephrams reminds me of my mother-in-law, and I hated that witch.” Gloria says, flashing me an impish smile.

“Gloria. I’m Megan.” I grin at her, delighted at her frisky personality. She’s eighty if she’s a day, but she’s not letting it get her down.

“I’m so sorry about your friend. That has to be devastating, especially at such a young age!” Gloria leads me into the kitchen where she takes the top off the cookie jar, puts several cookies in her toaster oven, then pours us each a glass of milk. Once the cookies are nice and gooey, she takes them out and puts them on two plates. She hands one plate and one glass to me before taking me into the living room. She gestures to the couch where a plump tuxedo cat is sitting grandly on the middle cushion. “Bongo, move.” She makes shooing motions with her hands, but Bongo ignores her, of course. He or she is a cat. They don’t take orders from us mere humans.

“It’s OK. I have two cats of my own.” I sit on the cushion to Bongo’s left, careful to respect…his or her space. Bongo immediately jumps into my lap and starts kneading.

“That’s unusual. He doesn’t usually care for strangers.” Gloria sits in the rocking chair across from the couch.

“I have a way with cats,” I say, stroking Bongo’s fluffy fur. He rubs his face against my hand, and I press his ears back before letting them pop up again. He slowly blinks at me, and I do the same back.

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Blogging My Murder; chapter seven, part one

Chapter Seven; Part One

“Oh, Araki. What am I going to do without you?” I mutter to myself, tears rolling down my face. The years stretch out in front of me, and I don’t have anything to fill them with. My job? Bullshit. Rembrandt? Too soon to say. My cats? Yes, they are the loves of my life, but they are well-provided for in my will. Wait. Damn it. I had listed Julianna as their caretaker. I’m going to have to change that now. Goddamn it. I’m going to have to change my whole will because I’ve left a third of my assets to her and a third to each of my sisters. Now, I’ll have to change it to give each of my sisters half and name Jasmine as caretaker of my cats. I would have chosen Liz before she moved, but it’d be difficult to uproot them and move them to Philly. I email my solicitor to take care of it, then I dismiss it from my mind.

I draw a bath because I need a long soak. I grab a box of truffles and sink into the bubbles. The cats perch on the counter and watch as I eat my truffles and try to ease my emotional pain. I breathe slowly and smoothly, but it doesn’t help. I try to clear my mind, but the thoughts keep racing in. I give up and grab my phone which is on the floor by the bathtub. I make notes as to where Ramona’s bakery is—in St. Paul—and where she lives—also in St. Paul. I will stop by tomorrow, ostensibly to buy some of her baked goods and to see if she knows anything about Julianna’s murder. I don’t know how I’m going to bring it up, but I’m sure I’ll find a way. I stay in the tub for another half an hour before reluctantly getting out. It’s a nice reprieve, and I’m reluctant to go back to the real world.

I head for bed because I can’t think of any reason to stay awake. I lie down, waiting for my cats to join me. They do, and they promptly fall asleep. I envy them their carefree lives, but I can’t do anything to make myself emulate them. The more I try to sleep, the more wide awake I feel. In the past, I’ve tried everything to sleep, and none of them have worked. Melatonin has no effect on me. I’m allergic to lavender, and St. John’s Wort and Valerian just slowed my brain down to the point of dullness. I hate sleeping pills because I cannot wake up after taking them, not even when I cut them in half. Asian people need much less medication than white people, so it’s hard to gauge how much to take. I’ve tried meditation, chamomile tea, and a half dozen other natural remedies. None of them worked. I’ve come to accept that I’ll sleep when I sleep, and I won’t when I can’t. If that means I have to operate on four hours sleep, so be it. I try to nap as much as possible to make up for the deficit, but it never feels like enough.

I get up and go to the window. I push it open so I can smoke because I don’t feel like going outside. I grab a mug from the nightstand to use as an ashtray and blow the smoke outside the window. So. My agenda for tomorrow is to get up when I get up, then go to taiji at noon. After that, I’ll go to Ramona’s bakery and hopefully catch her without her husband. I’ll stop by Minneapolis Slammin’ after that. I’ll swing by Pinky X’s parents’ place to see if I can get her to talk to me, and then I’ll get ready for dinner and perhaps dessert with Rembrandt. Wait a minute. I also need to talk to Mrs. Ephrams, Julianna’s neighbor, the one who said she saw a man running away from the apartment building the night Julianna died. I’ll see if I can squeeze it in before or after visiting Minneapolis Slammin’. I get an email from my sister, Vivian, saying she heard about Julianna’s murder from Jasmine and asks if she can do anything for me. Frankly, I’m surprised to hear from her. She’s an artist who isn’t securely tethered to the real world, and I can go for months without a peep from her. I’m touched that Jasmine went to the trouble of informing her and that she had actually responded. I shoot her an email saying I’m fine, which is a patent lie, but she’s my little sister, and I can’t break out of the habit of protecting her. She writes back suggesting I visit her in Boston to take my mind off of things. I tell her I’ll think about it and let her know when I can make it.

On impulse, I check her website to see her latest works. She’s very focused on the female body, but not in the Georgia O’Keeffe sort of way. No feminine flowers for her, not at all. Instead, her paintings are filled with women in agony, in grief, in despair, and once in a great while, being killed. She uses mostly browns, blacks, and reds, with a splash of yellow here and there. I have one in my living room of a naked woman lying on the ground, her back arched, with flames shooting out of her body. It’s graphic and disturbing, but also vibrant. I could sell it for six figures easily, but I would never do that. I had bequeathed the painting to Julianna because she admires, admired, it so much, but now I suppose I’ll just return it to Vivian when I die. I get one more email from Vivian. It says that she has a show at the Walker this spring and could she stay at my house? I respond in the affirmative and tell her I can’t wait to see her.

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Blogging My Murder; chapter six, part three

Chapter Six; Part Three

“Hey, Megan. How’re you doing?”

“fine. well, no, not really. i left work early today because i couldn’t stand being there.” I fill him in on my day, and he’s properly sympathetic to my woes. He tells me about the house shoot he did today and how his client was a pain in the ass. Mrs. Decker made him move a lamp five times before ordering him to put it back where it first was. Then, she was unhappy with his prices, even though she had agreed to them before he’d even started. Then, she tried to seduce him in lieu of payment, and he had a difficult time getting her to take no for an answer. As she’s in her sixties, gaunt, and wouldn’t know a smile if it hit her in the face, he wanted nothing to do with her.

“have you ever slept with a client?” I ask curiously. “no judgement—just wondering.”

“I did. Once. It did not end well.” With that, Rembrandt tells me the story.

 

“So, you’re a photographer.” The curvy brunette placed a red-tipped talon on Rembrandt’s arm and trails it down to his hand. She pressed her boobs against his arm while snaking her arm around his waist. Rembrandt was glad he worked from home because he wouldn’t want to have to deal with this in an office full of people. “I’m getting married in two months, and I’m interviewing photographers.”

“Is this part of the interview process?” Rembrandt asked, arching his eyebrow at her.

“For you, yes it is.” The brunette planted a kiss on Rembrandt’s lips, slipping her tongue into his mouth.

 

“Wait a minute. She hit on you while asking you to be her wedding photographer?” We’ve switched to phone, which makes talking about the story much easier.

“Yup.”

 

“What are you doing?” Rembrandt’s voice was ragged, and his cock was rock hard.

“I’m trying to get in your pants. Is it working?” Kimberly—by now he knew her name—asked, her voice husky. “You’re going to be my last fling before my wedding. I think I’ve earned it.”

“Kimberly, I don’t think this is a good idea.” Rembrandt pulled back, but not completely. He had recently broken up with his girlfriend, and he hadn’t felt a tit in two months.

“I know it’s not, but I don’t care,” Kimberly said bluntly. She grabbed Rembrandt’s hand and placed it on her tit under her tank top. Rembrandt swallowed hard at the warm flesh under his fingers. It was not augmented, which was just how he liked it. He instinctively squeezed, and he shivered when her nipple tightened under his touch.

“Fuck it.” Rembrandt grabbed her face in both his hands and kissed her hard.

“Meow?” Ginger rubbed against Rembrandt’s legs while simultaneously glaring at Kimberly.

“Not now, Ginger.” Rembrandt brushed Ginger aside and returned to kissing Kimberly. He guided her towards his bedroom, closing the door on Ginger’s face. “Come here.” Rembrandt gently pushed Kimberly on the bed and climbed on top of her.

“Fuck me,” Kimberly gasped, pulling Rembrandt down hard. After they kissed for several minutes, Rembrandt rolled off Kimberly so she could sit up and pull off her top. Her tits bounced out, and Rembrandt was all over them in a hot second. He sucked one into his mouth and was gratified to hear Kimberly’s moans. “Oh, god. I need this so bad.” They both quickly disrobed before continuing to make out. Rembrandt went down on Kimberly, eating her out until she came. She returned the favor, but he stopped her before he came because he knew he would be one and done. “Do you have any condoms?”

“Yes.” Rembrandt opened the drawer in his nightstand and pulled out a condom. He rolled it on his cock, which was harder than it had been in quite some time. Kimberly lay back on the bed and spread her legs. Rembrandt was between them and in her in a flash.

 

“So this was less than a year ago?” I ask, cutting into his recitation. I’m having a hard time keeping the timeline straight, so I need to clarify the details.

“Yeah. It was about six months ago.” Rembrandt’s voice is filled with guilt, and he continues his story.

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Blogging My Murder; chapter six, part two

“I’m going out for a while, but I should be home before too late.” I kiss Onyx and Jet on their heads before leaving, ignoring their cries as I do. I drive to South Minneapolis where my sister lives and sit in the car after parking. I steel myself for the encounter, taking several smooth, slow breaths. I always have trouble interacting with normies, and my brother-in-law is definitely a normie. He does something in marketing, and he’ll drone on and on about it for hours if you let him. Coral is a pleasant woman who greatly resembles her mother, and she has the strong will as well. She has marched in Black Lives Matter protests for the past year and a half, much to her father’s dismay. She and her husband, Jamal Harrington, are prominent figures in the local chapter. Jamal is a teacher in an alternative high school, and despite being built like a linebacker, he never played sports as a kid. He’s a crack hand at chess, though. We’ve played it a few times, and he’s whupped my ass every time.

“I can do this.” I turn off the car, lock the door, and knock on the door to Jasmine’s house.

“Megan, come on in.” Jasmine grabs me in a hug, nearly taking my breath away.

“Auntie Meg! Come play.” Michelle and Ing-wen fly at me, nearly knocking me over in their enthusiasm to hug me. They’re wearing matching dresses, red for Michelle and orange for Ing-wen. They both have matching bows in their curls, and they look too cute for words.

“Hi, girls. How’re my babies doing?” I hug them with difficulty as they squirm in my embrace.

“Come play with us! We brought our Legos!” They pull at my hand, but Jasmine shoos them away.

“Girls, let her say hi to everyone else.” Jasmine leads me into the living room where her husband, Bob, is sitting on the recliner, and Coral and Jamal are on the couch. Bob’s black hair is slicked back, and he has a grimace on his face as Jamal and Coral chat with each other.

“Aunt Meg!” Coral springs up and hugs me. “It’s been too long!” She squeeze my hand. “I haven’t seen you in ages.”

“Coral. You’re looking great!” I look her up and down with a critical eye. She’s lost some weight while still retaining her voluptuous figure. Her curly hair is pinned up in a sloppy bun which suits her Madonna figure, and she’s wearing a brilliant red pantsuit which guarantees she’ll draw every eye in the room. “Your girls are lovely, too.” I look around for Smoochie, Jasmine’s calico cat, but she’s nowhere to be seen. She’s thirteen, has a touch of arthritis, and the only people she like are her immediate family, so I rarely see her.

“They are the best of me and Jamal, that’s for sure!” Coral leads me to the couch, and Jamal rises to greet me.

“Ms. Liang. It’s a pleasure to see you again.” Jamal extends his hand and engulfs mine in his.

“Megan. Please. It’s good to see you, too.” I eye Jamal covertly, not letting on how attractive I find him. He’s six-feet four inches of solid muscle, his dark brown skin looking deliciously edible. His dreads fall halfway down his back, and his tailored suit is just itching to be ripped off. “How’re you doing, Jamal?”

“Just fine, Megan.” Jamal says with an easy smile. “My kids this year are riled up about Phil Castilo’s shooting, so I’ve had my hands full with them.”

“That was such bull—crap,” I say, changing the word at the last moment. I’m keenly aware of my two grandnieces hanging on our every word, and I don’t want to be the one to corrupt them. Granted, they are playing with their ‘Legos’ (Duplos) on the floor and don’t appear to be paying attention, but I know better. The last time I saw them, I said something was shit, and the girls suddenly looked up from their plushies and said shit loudly and in unison.

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