Monthly Archives: October 2019

Rainbow Connection; chapter one, part one

Ed. Note: I wrote this nearly twenty years ago in memory of my time in San Francisco. It’s the second of a trilogy, and I had a lot of fun writing it. Let’s see how well it’s aged, shall we?

Chapter One; Part One

Paris runs his hands down my body, taking his time.  He stares in adoration at my generous curves, even though he usually prefers his women a bit more waifish.  I’m short, which he likes, but curvier than his usual suspects.  He licks his lips in anticipation as he peels off each piece of my clothing until he finally uncovers my naked body which is waiting for him to touch me.  Every nerve is crying out to him as he lovingly picks up the chainsaw resting by his hand.  My eyes widen as he starts it.  I try to move, but my arms are tied to the bed.  He turns on the chainsaw and raises it high in the air.  He is grinning savagely as he lowers the chainsaw, his wide-set green eyes dancing with maniacal glee.  My struggles increase as the chainsaw bypasses my head and nears my breasts.

“What the fuck are you doing?”  I shout at Paris, my best friend, only the words are stuck in my throat and can’t be heard.  I scream as the blade bites into my left breast.  Paris acts as if he hasn’t heard me, so intent is he on the task at hand.  I cannot believe he is doing this to me; we have been best friends for fourteen years, and he’s going to hack me apart with a chainsaw?  He pauses, lifting the chainsaw.  Chocolate syrup is oozing out of the wound.  He leans close to my ear.

“Rayne, Rayne, wake the fuck up.”  What?  Why is he saying that?  I struggle to get away from his hot breath, but he won’t leave me alone.  “You’re having a bad dream.  Wake up!”  I listen to what he’s saying, but it makes no sense.  He is shaking me, leaving the chainsaw to the side.  I slowly realize that I’ve been dreaming, and I allow myself to be roused from my sleep.

“Paris?”  I open one eye and see my best friend’s face filled with concern.  “What time is it?  What day is it?”

“It’s six in the morning.  Saturday morning.  February.  You were screaming so loud, I could hear you from my room.”  His green eyes, the same ones that had tormented me in my dream, gaze at me with concern.  I stare at him, his eyes, the blond hair, the muscular frame, as if I’ve never seen him before.  He sits on the edge of my bed and gathers me in his arms.  We have done this nightmare things so many times, we have it down to a science.  He has to repeat the same information to me after each episode.  Time of day, what day, what month.

“Paris, it was horrible.  You had me tied down and were cutting me apart with a chainsaw.”  I huddle against his muscular body, feeling the fear I hadn’t allowed myself to feel in the dream.  He is almost a foot taller than I, and I take comfort in his bulk.  It’s been this way for the last month, ever since I almost lost my life to a killer with nothing to lose and everything to gain by killing me.  Paris is a part-time personal trainer, and one of his client’s girlfriends was killed at a party Paris and I attended.  The client herself  was killed shortly after.  Paris and I were suspects until I cleared our names, almost losing my life and my faith in humanity at the same time.  A month later, I am nowhere near recovered.

Continue Reading

Don’t Rayne On My Parade; chapter thirteen, part two

Chapter Thirteen; Part Two

“Wake up,” I hear in my sleep.  It must be part of my dream as no one is home but me.  “Wake up, bitch.”  Not a very polite person; I wish her out of my dream.  “Now!”  Someone is shaking me.  I feel something cold and metallic pressed to my temple.  This is the most unpleasant dream I’ve had in ages.  I try to move my arms, but I can’t.  “Goddamn it!  Wake the fuck up!”  There is an explosion across my cheek, jolting me awake.  I open my eyes slowly, not wanting to give in to my dream.  There, a gaunt face is inches away from my own face, the black-rimmed eyes staring at me intently.  “’Bout damn time!”  She backhands me once for good measure.  I stare at her, not knowing what the hell is going on.  She looks vaguely familiar, but I’d have to be much more awake to place her.  She slaps me again.

“Stop that!”  I try to move away, but I can’t.  I’m puzzled until I realize that she’s sitting on top of me.  Even though she’s smaller than me, she has leverage.  She also has tied my hands together in front of me and has a gun pressed to my temple.  I tell myself it’s just a dream, but my perspiring body knows better.  My heart starts racing, and I can barely restrain my bladder from voiding itself.  “How did you get in here?”

“You sure sleep hard,” the vision says critically, pressing the gun more firmly against my temple.  My mouth goes dry.  I don’t know if she has the safety off, and I don’t want to find out.  “The front door was propped open, then I picked your lock.  You really need better security.”  I stare at her incredulously.  She’s giving me safety tips as she presses a gun to my head.  Unbelievable!  I keep my mouth shut, however, not wanting to aggravate her any more than I have to.  She’s already agitated, and I have a feeling it would take little to push her over the edge.  Now that I’m awake, I can place her face.

“You were at Moira’s party,” I blurt out before I can think it over and understand that it may not be the best idea to let this psycho know that I recognize her.  She was the one sobbing to her male friend about being dumped by Moira.  What was her name again?  I can’t remember, but it was an unusual name.

“Yes, I was.  The bitch.”  The woman’s face is taut as she moves the gun away from my temple, then places it against my left breast.  “She seduced me, did you know that?  I was just a kid, but she didn’t care.”  The woman is talking more to herself than to me, but I know better than to interrupt.

“It must have been horrible,” I say cautiously.  I want to keep her talking, but I’m not sure what to say.  I don’t want to say the wrong thing and hasten my demise.

“It was wonderful!”  Her eyes light up at the memory.  “I went to sit for her, and she made me feel so special.”  It’s clear that she’s rehashed the seduction over and over again in her mind.  “Until she got tired of me.  After she got me hooked on crack, of course.”  She laughs, and I flinch.  It’s a harsh, ugly sound devoid of hope or humanity.

“You must be Emil’s daughter, Annie!”  I gasp, my mouth once again ahead of my brain.  “That’s not your name, though.”  I frown.  I’m sure she’s Emil’s daughter, but what had her male friend called her?

“You are too damn smart for your own good.”  Annie lightly taps me on the breastbone with the gun, making me shudder.  “It’s Anya, by the way.  Annie is a baby’s name.”  Anya.  That’s it.  I can’t believe I didn’t make the connection earlier.

“Did your father know you were at the party?”

“Of course he did,” Anya says scornfully.  “Daddy tracked me down at the party right after I—and he demanded to know what I was doing there.  I didn’t tell him anything.”  So Emil had lied to me.  I can understand his need to protect his daughter, but it would have been nice to have had this information earlier.

Continue Reading

Don’t Rayne On My Parade; chapter thirteen, part one

Chapter Thirteen; Part One

I am in a pissy mood the rest of the day.  All requests are unreasonable, and I am barely able to restrain myself from rolling my eyes.  Nobody seems to notice my surliness because I’m adept at hiding my feelings, but I can tell that I’m nearing the end of my patience—not that I have much to begin with.  All the little things that normally just irk me or make me laugh are angering me.  Someone’s been using my stapler and used the last staple.  I watch the director of the agency plunk his feet up on his desk and lean back in his swivel chair.  My immediate supervisor is carefully outlining her lips with a delicate shade of pink while looking at herself in her compact.  Quinn is mooning around giving me the puppy-dog eyes.  Calgon, take me away, please!  I want to be anywhere other than where I am.

I cut out fifteen minutes early.  I know I’ll have to deal with the consequences on Monday, but I don’t care.  It’s Friday, and I’m tired of playing by the rules.  I am tempted to stop at the 500 for a drink or perhaps the Lex, but I hurry home instead.  I am not in the mood to be in a crowd of drunk people or around people at all.  I am in loner mode, which I learned at a young age to honor.  There are times when I can be cajoled out of a mood like this, but this is not one of them.  The best thing I can do for me and for the rest of humankind is to lock myself in the apartment and barricade the door.  I do both accordingly and start cooking.  It’s early to be thinking of dinner, but I feel like cooking for once.  My feathers are ruffled, and I find cooking soothing.  I start the rice cooker, then turn my attention to the chicken.  For the next hour, I am absorbed in the land of kitchen utensils, creating a masterpiece.  I don’t cook often.  One reason is because I’m a perfectionist and hate to see anything done half-assed.

“Hi, honey, I’m home!”  Paris slams the front door and tromps into the kitchen to buss me on the cheek.  “Something smells good!”  I am making Kung Pao Chicken which is one thing I make really well.  It’s also one of Paris’s favorite Chinese dishes.

“It’ll be ready in ten minutes,” I say gaily, ignoring the fact that it’s not even five yet—much too early to eat.

“Sorry I can’t stay,” Paris says apologetically, snitching a piece of chicken from the skillet.  I smack the back of his hand with the spatula—fortunately, not hot.  “Lyle and I are going out to dinner tonight.”  He smiles involuntarily, as he does whenever he mentions Lyle’s name.

Continue Reading

Don’t Rayne On My Parade; chapter twelve, part three

Chapter Twelve; Part Three

I go to the kitchen to make myself a rum and coke before returning to the living room.  I slump in the couch, ready to think some more.  I can’t get Harry out of my mind, despite any solid evidence pointing at him.  However, any theory involving Harry doesn’t take into account the note, the rose, the S&M motif, nor the sex play. In other words, it sucks.  I lean back on the couch and close my eyes.  The characters are dancing behind my eyelids, taunting me to find the guilty one.  Everything is a mess and a jumble.  There are so many possibilities, it’s depressing.  For such a beautiful, charming woman, Moira certainly squandered her birthright.  With her talent and her personal life, she should have been the happiest woman on earth.  Instead, she cut a swath through the female population of the Bay Area, leaving carnage and destruction wherever she went.  There’s something infinitely sad about someone who’s greatest success in life is messing up other people’s lives.  She would be proud of her accomplishments, of course, but it would be a hollow victory.  None of her affairs satisfied her.  None of her shenanigans masked the fact that she was empty inside.  Sex can be an addiction like anything else—I think she was addicted to the drama of star-crossed lovers and obsessive stalkers.

Once again, I find myself wondering what kind of childhood she must have had to turn out the way she did.  She was a sociopath—or a psychopath, I always get those mixed up—with little remorse or regret.  A part of me envies that about her.  She moved decisively once she made a decision—so unlike me.  I tend to stew and worry when I have to make a decision and the anxiety doesn’t let up once the decision is made.  That’s actually when the fun begins because I get to second-guess myself until I am no longer sure what I should have done.  So to me, the appeal of someone like Moira is enormous.  The other part of me, however, wouldn’t want to lose my humanity to gain confidence, and I feel that Moira had made that trade-off.

“Hi, honey!  I’m home!”  There is a slam of the door, and Paris bounces into the living room.  He has that disgusting smirk of someone who has just gotten laid.  Fortunately, I have the matching look on my own face.  We eye each other silently for a second before we both simultaneously burst out talking.  After we tell each other to go first and several false starts, I tell him about my evening with Vashti.  I glide over a few of the details, but remain true to the spirit of the events.  His face loses some of its animation as I talk.  There is no love lost between the two, and I sometimes feel as if I’m in the middle of a very personal cold war.  Since I want to be fair, I tell him the rest.

“She’s hiding something from me,” I say bluntly.  “I have a feeling it has something to do with the killer, but I’m not exactly sure what.”

“Let me get this straight,” Paris says carefully, spacing his words evenly.  “You just spent the evening with someone who knows who the killer is, but won’t tell you?  What are you, crazy?”

“I guess so,” I say, narrowing my eyes.  “But then again, I never dated a woman who systematically stole my money, or someone who threatened to kill herself after I left her.  You certainly can’t say the same.”

“That’s not the point,” Paris huffs.  “You could be killed if you’re not careful.  I think as long as Vashti doesn’t come clean, you shouldn’t talk to her.”  He sits on the couch and folds his arms.  I can tell he’s angry, but I think he’s out of line.

“Paris, whatever you have against Vashti is between you and her.  I’m not getting in the middle of that one.  That said, Vashti is my girl.  That means treat her with some respect.  If you do that, I’m sure she’ll do the same for you.”  Paris’s face is closed as if he’s never heard such a thing.  I rush on, uncomfortable with the friction between us.  “It’s not that I think she’s lying to me; she’s just not telling all she knows.  But she said she will in a day or two.”  Paris is still not receptive.  “Let’s talk about something else.  Tell me more about Lyle.  I like him.”

“I know you think I’m being unreasonable.”  Paris finally sits down next to me on the couch.  “I just worry about you, Rayne.  We’re not talking about hiding a past lover or other trivial information.  She knows something about a killer, and she’s not telling you.  She’s putting you in danger.  Doesn’t that worry you in the least?”  I bite down a defensive retort and really think about his question.

Continue Reading

Don’t Rayne On My Parade; chapter twelve, part two

Chapter Twelve; Part Two

I focus on the conversation at hand.  Lyle is a laidback kind of man with a knack for putting people at ease.  After talking with him for half an hour, I feel as if I’ve known him for years.  I can tell by the look on Paris’s face that he’s feeling the same way.  I’ve never seen Paris so relaxed with a partner before.  Usually, he’s ‘on’, performing to a one-person audience.  It feeds his ego to have someone adoring him, though it doesn’t always bode well for the relationship.  I am pleased to not see stardust in Lyle’s eyes when he looks at Paris.  I have a feeling that Lyle can more than hold his own with Paris, that he can give as good as he gets.  I certainly hope so, for his sake.  Paris is a difficult person to date, but I think Lyle is up to the task.

I learn that Lyle grew up in a single-mother household with two older sisters.  They lived in the Tenderloin, but Lyle never knew he was poor until some bratty kids in his fifth grade class hassled him for wearing one of three shirts to school day after day.  His teachers looked at him with pity, which wasn’t what he wanted, either.  He just wanted to learn.  The kids also teased him about being a bastard and would ask where his father was.  He quickly learned to use his fists to silence his critics as he was bigger than most of the boys, even then.  While he was beating them up, however, a strange thing began happening.  He’d get a boner every time he fought a boy, but not a girl.  He started fantasizing about Sheldon, a brainy boy in school.  Lyle would dream of scenarios where Sheldon was being picked on by the bullies and Lyle would save him.  Even as a young boy, Lyle was the prince on the white steed.  His mother was now dead, and his sisters live in Washington and Houston, respectively.

I tell him about growing up as Taiwanese American in Oakland with two hippie parents and one conservative sister.  How my parents taught me and my sister Taiwanese and Chinese, but preferred that we speak English.  They wanted us to have the language of our ancestors, but thought it best if English was our primary language.  We were only allowed to speak Taiwanese in the house and Chinese with our relatives in Chinatown and in Taiwan.  I tell Lyle how it was difficult growing up in Oakland because there were more black kids than Asian kids, and the black kids didn’t like us.  They thought we were taking their small piece of the pie and were bitter that we were flooding their neighborhoods.  I used to get harassed on a regular basis by a group of black girls that had a chip on their collective shoulders and something to prove.  I became adept at avoiding them.

By the time Lyle and I have finished swapping our life stories with Paris frequently chiming in, I am at ease with Lyle.  Paris and I have always checked out each other’s potentials as we are best friends and that’s what best friends do for each other.  When Paris glances at me, a questioning look on his face, I nod slightly, a smile spreading over my face.  I normally do not warm up to people right away, but Lyle is different.  There is something about him that invites friendship.  I think my comfort level also has something to do with Paris’s comfort level.  When he’s tense around a potential, he conveys that tenseness to me.  When he’s at ease, I’m at ease.  Plus, Lyle is certainly easy on the eyes.  Briefly, I regret that he doesn’t play for my team, but then I scold myself for thinking that way.  It’s infinitely better that he’s completely off-limits so I won’t even be tempted.

“Shall we get some dinner?”  Lyle asks Paris as if they have been together for a long time.  “I’m starved.”

“Sounds great.”  Paris stands up and holds his hand to Lyle who accepts it.

“Wanna come?”  Lyle asks me, a smile on his face.

“No, thanks,” I smile back.  I know Paris doesn’t want me there, as much as he loves me, and I think Lyle asked me to be polite, anyway.  Still, it was nice of him to ask—major bonus points.  “I’ll catch you later.”

Continue Reading

Don’t Rayne On My Parade; chapter twelve, part one

Chapter Twelve; Part One

“That was incredible,” I sigh after we have thoroughly explored each other’s bodies.  She is by far the best lover I’ve had in a long time.  We are lying on my bed, both satiated, our sweaty bodies pressing lightly against each other.  She has her arm casually draped under my neck, and it feels right to be lying by her side.  We lie in compatible silence for a few minutes until Vashti reluctantly sits up.

“I should be going.  Work and all.”  She quickly dresses.

I am secretly relieved that she is leaving.  I have difficulty sleeping next to someone I don’t know well, and despite the activities we just engaged in, I definitely don’t know her well enough yet. Vashti pecks me on the lips and pushes me back into bed when I make a move to get up.  I elude her hands, grab my robe and get up.  I note that Paris hasn’t come home yet, which means he most likely slept with Jenna.  I walk to Vashti to the front door where we kiss deeply before she leaves.  There is a smile on my face as I lean on the door.  To my surprise, the door starts rattling.

“Hello?”

“Rayne?  It’s me.”  Paris’s voice is muffled, but recognizable.  I let him in.

“How was your date?”  I smile at him knowingly, hoping to get a rise out of him.

“It wasn’t a date,” Paris sighs, staggering into the living room.  I follow, eager for the details.  He plops down onto the couch, exhaling loudly as he does.

“Well?”  I have a feeling this is going to be juicier than a soap opera.

It started nicely with dinner, though Paris was wary because Jenna had gotten all dolled up which is unlike her.  She even curled her hair which was definitely a first.  They ate at a Middle Eastern restaurant on Valencia, but things started to unravel after they returned to Jenna’s apartment.  She put on an Ella Fitzgerald CD and started swaying to the music.  Before Paris could react, she reached up and unzipped her dress.  That’s when Paris knew he couldn’t put it off any longer and gently told her that he didn’t want to see her any more.  Instantly, she flipped.  Started bawling and begging him not to leave her.  When that had no impression on him, she started throwing things at him and ended up threatening to throw herself out the window.

“It would have been more impressive if she didn’t live on the ground floor.”  Paris says with a straight face.  We look at each other then simultaneously burst into laughter.

“So what did you do tonight?”  Paris asks once he can talk again, his eyelids fluttering.

“Vashti,” I say casually, watching his face closely for his response.  I don’t have long to wait.

“What?”  His eyes fly open, and he pops up from the couch.  His whole body screams disbelief.  “You didn’t!”

“I did!”  I shoot out my hand, and he high-fives me.

Continue Reading

Don’t Rayne On My Parade; chapter eleven, part three

Chapter Eleven; Part Three

“Hello?”  Vashti’s voice is soothing to my ears.

“Vashti?  This is Rayne.  How would you like to go the Wild West with me tonight?”  She agrees and says she’ll be over in a half hour.  It gives me enough time to change.  I wriggle into a slim black skirt that reaches my ankles.  I pull on a low-cut, snug-fitting bright red shirt with long sleeves.  I brush my hair until it shines and give myself a little wink.  I wish I could do something about the cut on my neck, but I’m not sweating it.  I’m wearing my best set of underwear—all lace and very little fabric.  I don’t know if I’ll be spending the night at Vashti’s, but I want to be prepared.  I slip in a pair of black twisty earrings, black nylons, and black heels.  I look in the mirror with satisfaction.  I clean up good when I want to.  I grab my little black purse and hurry to the living room to wait for Vashti.  She is precisely on time which makes me question her heritage.  She is definitely not running on CP time.

“You look beautiful,” Vashti compliments me as I slide into her car.

“So do you.”  She is wearing black jeans and a white t-shirt with a black leather jacket.  Her hair is cut short and slicked back.  “You cut your hair!”  I reach over to touch it, then pull back.  “It looks good.”

“I thought it was time for a change,” Vashti shrugs.  “It was getting too heavy.”    She roars off into the night.  We chitchat as she drives, not wanting to get too serious just yet.  I tell her about the email I sent to Libby, and she heartily approves.  She tells me that she hates doing administrative work and wants to get back to her kids, but her supervisor won’t budge until the murders are solved.  I repeat that she should retain a lawyer, but I don’t push it.  It’s her life, and I don’t know what the answer is.  I just know what I would do if I were in her shoes.  I tell her about Paris breaking up with his newest paramour.  She tells me about Dylan’s newest girlfriend.  We reach the Wild Side West in record time.

At first glance, it doesn’t appear that Billie is there.  She is not working.  There’s some cheerful BBW handling the bartending duties.  I look over to the pool table, but no Billie.  I wonder if it’s worth waiting then decide we might as well drink while we’re there.  We snag a table near the pool table, and Vashti gets the drinks.  Rum and coke for me, Rolling Rock for her.  She is definitely in butch mode tonight as she doesn’t even ask me what I want to drink.  I don’t mind once in awhile as long as she doesn’t make a habit of it.  We sit and drink in silence as we watch the pool game going on.  A cute blond is hustling a dour-looking brunette.  Every time the brunette makes like she’s going to walk away, the blond kisses her on the cheek until she repents.

I want to talk to Vashti about Paris’s adoption, but I know it’s not my place.  Besides the fact that they don’t like each other, it’s really Paris’s decision who should know and who shouldn’t.  I don’t want to talk about the murders, not tonight, but I also want to solve them.  I wish this was just a date and that the biggest thing on my mind was wondering if I’d be getting laid by the end of the night.  Instead, here I am waiting for surly butch dyke who is bitter towards the world and delusional about Moira Kelley.  However, said dyke might also have more information that she’s willing to share if I find the right way to ask her.  I have a hunch wearing a tight shirt and leaning over a lot will help my cause.  She already respects my pool-playing abilities.  Now, if she would just show up.  I can take care of business, then go home with Vashti.  Or not.

Continue Reading

Don’t Rayne On My Parade; chapter eleven, part two

I shut my eyes and try to think about what I know so far.  However, my mind keeps returning to this information about Paris.  Adopted.  I try to put myself in my shoes and imagine how I’d feel if I realized that the people I thought were my parents weren’t, and that they’d been lying to me all my life.  That would mean Libby isn’t my sister—a thought guaranteed to bring a smile to my face.  It probably also would mean that Rayne isn’t my real name—another cheerful thought.  Maybe this adoption thing wouldn’t be as bad as I imagined.  Then I think about my father and something hits me in the gut.  Not being his real daughter?  Hell, no.  That would kill me to find out.  Even though Paris is not close to his mother and fairly hated his father before his father died, he must still be shocked by the news—especially finding out in this manner.

I stare at the blank television for some time.  My mind is racing with no real thoughts, just more glimmers of this and that.  I am tempted to call Paris’s mother back and cuss her out for not telling him the truth sooner.  I don’t know what she was thinking, despite my attempt at defending her.  She must have known that she couldn’t keep it from him forever, and yet, she never told him.  I wonder what her motivation was for keeping it a secret.  I pick up the phone, ready to hit the redial button.  I hang up without doing so.  Another call by me to her will be counterproductive.  There is nothing more that she’ll be willing to tell me at this point.  Better to wait and let it stew in her mind for a bit.

The phone rings, but I’m in no mood to answer it.  If I try to make chitchat right now, I’ll go out of my mind.  I can only focus on the stunning revelation that Paris just laid on me.  I don’t know how to react.  No matter how supportive I am of Paris and what he’s going through, a part of me is repulsed by the idea of Max being his mother.  Not just because I don’t like the woman and think she’s a blight to humankind.  If it’s true, she knowingly had sex with Paris—no, she seduced him!—knowing that he’s her son.  What kind of fucked-up, twisted mind would think of doing such a thing?  Then throwing it in his face.  It’s almost as if she is punishing him for something that only she understands.  If it’s true, I will never forgive her for pulling that kind of cruel trick on Paris.  If it’s not true, then I curse her for making him sweat and for forcing him to discover his adoptive roots in such a manner.  I don’t know what her game was, but I don’t like it any more than I like her.

I wait.  I don’t bother turning on the television as there isn’t anything I want to watch.  I glance at my watch periodically to make sure that I don’t fall asleep.  I want to check in on Paris exactly an hour after he went into his room.  I don’t think he’ll do anything stupid, but I’m not positive.  I slump down on the couch, unable to sit still.  I want to be a good friend to Paris, but I don’t know what he needs at this time.  I mean, what would I want if I just found out I was adopted?  It’s so far out of my realm of possibilities that I can’t even think what would be my reaction.  My mind races to the emails that Libby sent me earlier.  I have to make a decision by tomorrow what I’m going to tell her.  Truthfully, I’d like to skip the whole sordid event, but I’m afraid that we will never talk to each other again if I don’t agree to go.  There is no way I’m giving in on every point, however.  If I don’t make a stand now, she’ll just keep chipping away until I’m a carbon copy of her.  I resolve to email her stating my case gently, but firmly.

The next time I check my watch, I notice that over an hour has gone by.  I stand up and stretch, feeling as if I’ve aged ten years in the last hour.  I walk to Paris’s room, curiously reluctant to interfere with his emotions.  There are some things that even a best friend shouldn’t be privy to, and this is one of them.  This kind of news is best left revealed by the one to whom the news most affects, in this case, Paris.  Unfortunately, given the circumstances, we don’t have time to play by the conventional rules.  We need the information fast, and we need it unvarnished.  That means that Paris doesn’t have the luxury of sulking over it or hoarding it to himself.  Like it or not, he has to share what he knows with the good inspector as soon as possible.  It falls upon my shoulders to convince him of this.  Squaring my shoulders, I knock on Paris’s door.  Without waiting for a reply, I go on in.  Paris is curled up on his bed, staring at the wall.  I know he’s not looking at his drawings or anything else.  He is simply staring blankly at the wall.

Continue Reading

Don’t Rayne On My Parade; chapter eleven, part one

Chapter Eleven; Part One

“Hello?”  I sing into the receiver.  I’m sure it’s Vashti, so I’m doubly shocked when it’s the inspector.

“Hello, Ms. Liang.  Sorry to bother you on a Sunday, but I have a few more questions I’d like to ask Mr. Frantz.  Please put him on the line.”  Her tone is cool to the point of frosty.

“Paris, it’s the inspector,” I mouth as I hand over the phone.  Paris’s countenance tightens up as he wipes his lips.  He takes the phone and walks out of the room.  I am tempted to follow him, but decide to give him privacy.  I hear his voice rising in the living room, but I don’t dare go comfort him.  Instead, I sit down to finish my omelet.  By the time I’m done, Paris still hasn’t returned.  I start in on the dishes, wondering what Inspector Robinson has to say that is upsetting Paris so much.  As I am placing my cup in the dishwasher, Paris bursts back into the kitchen.  He is so irate, his face is red.  He cannot speak as he gesticulates wildly.  It takes him several minutes to get himself under control.

“That bitch!”  He yells when he finally can speak again.  “I cannot fucking believe her.”

“What’s up?”  I eye him cautiously, hoping he’ll calm down.  When Paris loses his temper, everyone is made to feel his pain.  “What did the good inspector have to say for herself?”

“Let’s see.”  Paris pauses to rearrange his thoughts.  When he’s ready, he unloads.  It seems the inspector found out that Max had given up a child nearly thirty years ago; Inspector Robinson wondered if perhaps Paris was that child.  When Paris retorted that he could get his birth certificate from his mother if need be, she switched tracks.  He was asked if Max ever confided to him about Moira’s affairs.  When he said no, the inspector switched subjects again.  Apparently her M.O. was to keep throwing accusations out there and seeing what stuck.  She asked again about the last time Paris saw Max, what they did, can you please repeat that in excruciating detail?  The coup de grace, however, was her parting shot.  It turned out that Max was two months pregnant.  Apparently, she had skipped a day or two of her pill.  What would Paris happen to know about that?  Perhaps he was the father?  By the time Paris hung up the phone, he felt as if he’d had three shots of tequila with no lime and salt to ease the transition.

“She was pregnant?”  My mouth drops open.  I thought that was a literary convention, but it actually happens.  “She’s older than God!”

“She’s only forty-three.  She’s not that old.”  Paris is still defending that woman, damn him.  “Max told me she was on the pill.”

Max was fifteen when she had her illegitimate child.  My mind is boggling with this new information.  Not so much that she gave up a child for adoption, but that she was two months pregnant when she died.  That means that Moira wasn’t the only one fooling around at the time of her death.  I can tell by the look on Paris’s face that he appreciates the situation as well.  I cautiously ask if he knew about either, and it saddens me to have to ask.  Just last night I was marveling at how well we knew each other, how we had no major secrets.  Now, I’m not so sure.  He says he didn’t, and the weariness of his tone convinces me more than anything.  If he had known, he would have sounded defensive or guileless.  His eyes fill with tears as he confides that he wishes he had known because perhaps she’d still be alive.  To my consternation, he won’t accept my comfort.  He is beyond placation as he anguishes over why Max had been killed.  He hugs himself, a forlorn look on his face as he keeps repeating, “Why would someone kill her?  Why?”  His pain is palpable, and I can’t stand it any longer.  I need to get to the truth about his relationship with Max.

Continue Reading

Don’t Rayne On My Parade; chapter ten, part two

Chapter Ten; Part Two

“Dunno.”  I shrug indifferently.  I am concentrating on eating the popover as fast as I can so it won’t get away from me.  “I don’t get the fuss of weddings, anyway.  It’s just one day.  Why spend so much time and effort on one day?  From what I’ve heard, the bride and groom don’t remember anything about the day, anyway.”

“I am knowing someone who spent close to a hundred thousand on her wedding.”  I almost drop my fork at this astounding information.

“How, what?”  I am so amazed, I stutter.  “What could you possibly buy that would add up to that much?”

“Ice sculptures in the punch, real flowers decorating every table, thousand dollar bridesmaid dresses.  The bride’s dress was twenty thousand alone.  Vera Wang, of course.”  Vashti swirls her ice cream around, not eating any of it.  “She is thinking to have the biggest event of the year.  Two years later, she divorces the man because he is cheating on her.  Her father is out a hundred grand, and she is out a husband.”  She scoops up a bit of ice cream and licks it slowly.

“That’s insane.”  I shovel in the rest of my dessert with deplorable haste.  “Marriage is such a fallacy.”

“I know that Harry wanted Max back,” Vashti says calmly, as if she’s not importing big news.  “He never wanted to separate from her in the first place, but felt he had to because his pride was hurting.  He is not wanting to be the cuckolded husband.”

“How like a man,” I sigh in contentment.  “It’s fine for him to mess around but not for her.  The old double standard.”  I make sure there are no remnants of the dessert on my plate before pushing it away.

“I have more,” Vashti offers, her eyes crinkling in amusement.  “If you are still hungry.”

“I’m stuffed.  It was just so good, I want more.”  I pat my stomach and let loose with a small belch.  It doesn’t faze Vashti.  We retire to the living room with cups of fresh tea.

“Harry made a play for Max at the party.”  Vashti continues our conversation as if we never stopped.  “She laughed in his face.”  I wince at the image of Max gloating over her hapless ex.  If he were serious about wooing her back, he would be a prime candidate for Moira’s demise.  Unfortunately, I don’t see how Max’s death fits in this particular scenario unless she threatened to go to the police with her knowledge, and Harry panicked.  I frown.  If I remember correctly, Max was going to confront a female.  At least, I think that’s what Paris said.  I decide to call him to make sure.

Continue Reading