Monthly Archives: January 2020

Rainbow Connection; chapter twelve, part one

The next morning, I awake with a start.  I impulsively call out to my mother before remembering that she had returned home the night before after delivering the edict that I was to call her if anything untoward happens.  I had retorted that everything in my life these days was untoward so I would be calling her continuously.  This morning, I awake with my heart pounding.  I had another one of those nightmares where I can’t remember anything that happened, but I can still feel the aftermath.  I stumble out of bed to get ready for work, feeling less enthusiastic about it than usual.  I start thinking about changing my job.  I’m almost thirty and have been a receptionist at one place or another since I graduated from college.  Now, it’s fine to be a receptionist at my age if in your spare time, you’re a struggling writer or painter or musician, but not if you’re just a lazy ass who has no direction in life.

I used to derive some satisfaction for a job well done, but no longer.  Each day is excruciatingly long, and my coworkers are really getting on my nerves.  I see the director of the agency sit on his fat ass all day long, doing nothing more important that decide where to go for lunch.  My immediate boss works hard, but she only puts in five to six hours a day.  Of course, Alicia, the wonder counselor strolls into work late and is among the first to leave.  It bothers me that I’m the hardest working person in the place.  I know that nobody is getting paid much money, but supposedly, we’re working for a greater cause.  Some of the counselors and teachers have been there for years doing the same thing year after year, sliding by.  In some ways, it’s a cushy job without much pressure to improve on performance.  There are no concrete objectives other than to graduate kids out of the program, which is subjectively decided, anyway.  If it weren’t for the kids, I’d find the job intolerable.

I sigh.  The idea of scouring the classifieds or surfing mega-job sites depresses me.  That’s one of the reasons I haven’t quit my job—inertia.  As frustrating as my current position is, it’s the poison I know.  There’s no guarantee that a new job will be free of the corrosive office politics found at my current place of employment.  Most days, this argument is enough to keep me, not happy, but complacent.  I trudge to work, hunkered inside my coat.  I hate San Francisco weather, though the Mission is better than the rest of the truly windy city.  Other people scurry by, grim looks on their faces.  San Francisco is more laid-back than NYC, but it’s slowly growing more uptight.  Another reason I like the Mission—it still retains some residual funk.  One such funkster holds his hand out to me, boldly staring in my eyes.

“You are truly a vision of beauty,” he beams, his dark brown eyes glowing.  His frame is gaunt with his walnut-colored skin stretched tightly over his bones, as if he hasn’t eaten in days.  I have a bagel in one hand, a cup of untouched coffee in the other.  I thrust both at him, and he doffs his hat at me before accepting.  “God will show mercy on your soul, beautiful lady,” he laughs, taking a bite out of the onion bagel smeared with cream cheese.  He closes his eyes in delight as he washes down the bite with a sip of coffee.  I hurry away, not wanting to be the target of his fulsome praise.  I make it to work with a minute to spare.

“Did you read this?”  Quinn asks, tossing the Chronicle on my desk.  She hasn’t darkened my foyer since her futile attempt to procure me as a present for her ‘roommate’ but appears determined to make up for lost time.  I glance at the front page, disconcerted to see Mariah’s face splashed across it.

“Second-generation Death,” the headline runs.  I frown.  They really need better headlines to grab people’s attention.  Although, the picture of a dead Mariah clutching a rosary is more than enough to turn my stomach.  I skim the beginning of the article which seems to be asking the question if death can run in a family, much like blue eyes or fat stomachs.  I wrinkle my nose in disgust.  There’s nothing new in the article, and it’s clear they are just capitalizing on the tragedy.  I’m about to toss the paper back at Quinn when something else catches my eye—a sidebar interviewing Carol.  She offers her condolences but takes pains to add that she thinks the latest death indicates there is absolutely no connection between the therapy group and the murders.  She goes on in this vein for some time before sliding in the obligatory mention of her book.  My mouth tightens.  I can’t believe she’s done it again.

“It’s that maid’s daughter,” Quinn explains, her eyes round.  I snap back to the present, pushing Carol’s comments to the back of my mind.  I make a note to myself to ask Carol about the article at the next meeting and not to let her off the hook.  Then I let it go.  “Remember I told you about my friend who was blackmailed by that maid!”  I vaguely remember the story.  I wonder if Quinn has any more useful information.

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Rainbow Connection; chapter eleven, part two

We decide to go to the movies that afternoon.  I want to take my mind off the murders, Paris, and anything else depressing.  We choose to see Lord of the Rings part deux at the Metreon, which is a mistake.  Not the movie itself which is truly epic in scope and nature, but attending the Metreon where all the beautiful people hang out intermingled with the tourists.  The prices are jacked up even higher than normal.  There are too many people milling around for my comfort.  I am painfully aware during the entire movie that the large man sitting next to me has his meaty arm invading my personal space.  To say nothing of his body odor which is pungent.  I munch away from an enormous bucket of popcorn until I am sick to my stomach.

Even though I enjoy the movie in all its fantastical glory, I begin to get antsy two-thirds of the way through.  I look around the theater and think I see Maria from group.  I blink twice, but it’s hard to tell in the dark.  I shake my head.  Even if it is her, so what?  It doesn’t mean she’s following me or that she’s the one who tapped me with her car.  I’m just being paranoid, I decide and snuggle further in my seat to avoid looking at the supposed Maria.  It’s no use, however; my concentration is shot.  I can’t focus on the movie, not even on the scrumptious Orlando Bloom as he does his super-fairy act, because my thoughts keep drifting to the death of Mariah.  Of the three murders, hers seems the most senseless to me.  I know all lives are created equal and all that blather, but there’s something about the death of a child that really appalls me.  It’s presumed that someone cannot do anything to ‘earn’ being murdered in so short a time, therefore her death is a particular tragedy.  I don’t know if I agree with that, but the picture of her sticks in my mind.

The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that she must have overheard something or seen something pertaining to either her mother’s murder or Ashley’s murder.  A horrible thought strikes me—what if it’s Leticia or Sergio who killed Rosie, and Mariah discovered something in her aunt’s house that would indict either Leticia or Sergio?  That person would have no choice but to eliminate Mariah.  I hate being so suspicious, but nearly seventy percent of all murders are committed by someone close to the victim.  Who’s closer to Mariah than her aunt and uncle?  After a few minutes thought, however,  I dismiss the idea.  If they wanted to kill their niece, they wouldn’t do it with such a fanfare.  They had plenty of opportunities to kill her quietly and make it look natural.  It couldn’t be to their benefit to have her death be so publicized—I am relieved to be able to strike their names from my mental suspect list.

“Rainbow, time to go!”  I start at the sound of my mother’s voice.  The movie is over, and I have missed the last half hour of it.  The man next to me is staring at me in disapproval, as if he knows I drifted at the end.  My mother and I make our way out of the Metreon and onto the BART.  As we near the Mission, I am able to breathe.  These are my people—not those poseurs at the Metreon.  I smile at everybody rushing by out of sheer gratitude.

“Watch it!”  Someone shouts at me as someone, gender unknown but feels like a man, brushes by and tries to snatch my purse.  Unfortunately for the would-be mugger, I am one of those women who crosses the strap over my chest so he fails in his aim.  Cursing under his breath, the person sprints away.  This happens so fast, all I can do is stare at the retreating back.

“Stop that man!”  I finally shout, though it’s futile to do so.  My attacker is out of sight by the time I gather my wits.  I should have added ‘or woman’, but that’s irrelevant now.

“Are you all right?”  My mother asks me, patting me on the shoulders, chest, and torso.  She’s checking to see if I’m hurt, but I pull away.

“Fine.”  I am upset that I didn’t see the person coming—leaving me totally vulnerable to his assault.  I open my purse to make sure there’s nothing missing.  There isn’t.  I shove my hands in my pockets, trying to warm them.  There’s something added to my right pocket—a note.  I pull it out and unfold it.  It says, ‘Stay the fuck away or you won’t be so lucky next time.  This is your final warning.’  I quickly fold the note and shove it back into my pocket, struggling to maintain the neutral look on my face.

“What is it?”  My mom asks, ever alert to the changes in my expression.  She had been looking around for the attacker, but manages to turn around in time to see me frown.

“Nothing.”  I make up my mind not to mention the note to her as it would only make her worry more.  I don’t fancy hearing again the list of reasons why I should quit the therapy group.  “I’m just a little rattled that someone tried to steal my purse.”  What bothers me the most is that the mugger took such care to make it appear as if he was trying to snatch my purse down to the cursing after ‘missing’.  That spoke of premeditation, as if I couldn’t already discern that from the note.

“We’re going home,” my mother says firmly, tucking her arm through mine.  I don’t protest as I’m feeling worn.  When we get there, she makes some ginger tea to refresh my spirits.

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Rainbow Connection; chapter eleven, part one

“You look luscious, my darling.”  Vashti smiles at me, her dark hair flowing around her voluptuous body.  She is nude—uncovering that body I so missed.  Her skin is the color of mahogany or cherry wood, or perhaps, chocolate ice cream.  She has no shame at showing me her body, all of it.  Her breasts are heavy with longing, her nipples dark with anticipation.  She has one hand coyly covering her pubic area, but there is a smirk on her face at the same time.  I am nude as well, and I am wet in anticipation.  I reach for her, but she stays my hand.  We are in a forest with only the barest sliver of a moon to guide us.  She is dark on dark—a nymph whom I worship.  I bow down to press kisses upon her polished toes, which she consents to graciously.  As I straighten up, she takes my hand in hers and clamps it to her breast.

I slip my hand between her legs and find her wet.  My entire hand slides inside her with no problem.  She plucks my hand out of her and sucks my thumb before letting go.  Without a word, we start walking hand in hand as the night grows darker.  Suddenly, the moon disappears completely.  I clutch her hand nervously as the peaceful woods turn spooky in the blink of an eye.  It is no longer comforting to be surrounded by darkness.  Vashti and I press against each other as the darkness closes around us.  We are gripping each other’s hand so tightly, our hands fuse together.  There is no separating us now, even if we so desire.  We are no longer walking as we are rooted to the spot.  My mouth is full of thorns which are pricking a thousand miniscule holes in my tongue.  I try not to swallow them as I do not want a hole in my stomach as well.  There is a howl in the distance that causes Vashti and me to cling to each other.

“Help me,” I whisper, but Vashti doesn’t hear me, so deep in her own fright is she.  Without warning, a pterodactyl swoops out of the sky and rips Vashti out of my arms.  I feel a searing pain in my hand as our grasp is severed, leaving me with a jagged wound where my hand used to be.  Vashti is moving her lips, but I cannot hear what she’s saying.  “Don’t leave me,” I moan, reaching out for her with my bloodied hand.  She reaches out her stump as well, but the pterodactyl has her firmly in his mouth and is flying away.  “Don’t leave me!”  I scream, panic flooding my body.  What will I do if Vashti is taken from my sight?  I try to run to keep up with her, but my feet are molded to the ground.  They are turning into mud as I watch Vashti fly further and further away from me.  “No!  Don’t go!”  I wave frantically, but she soon disappears.

“Wake up, Rainbow,” she says sharply, shaking me.

“What, huh?”  I jerk awake, my heart thumping.

“You were dreaming again.”  My mother has stayed with me for the week and into the weekend.  My body has pretty much healed except for remaining bruises, but my mind has become fragile again.  Mom  is looking down at me with rounded eyes.  There is concern, but also fear in them.  She’s spent enough nights by my bedside the last time around to know I had a nightmare.  When she catches me looking at her, she smoothes the worry out of her face.  “Want to talk about it?”  Mutely, I shake my head.

“What time is it?”  I whisper, snuggling under my covers.  I always feel vulnerable after a nightmare, and this time is no exception.

“Five-thirty,” my mother replies, holding out a glass of water to me.  “Sunday morning.  February.”  She knows the drill as well as Paris does.  I sit up and drink obediently, knowing that it’s a good idea to hydrate before trying to sleep again.  “Go back to sleep, Rainbow.  I’ll hold your hand until you do.”  I give her the glass before lying down again.  I slip my hand into hers, feeling a safeness I haven’t felt in years.  I close my eyes, comforted by her presence.  Soon, I fall into a dreamless sleep.  This time when I awake, I feel refreshed despite the earlier nightmare.  After performing my morning ritual, in slippers and robe, I pad my way to the kitchen.

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Rainbow Connection; chapter ten, part three

Ashley was agitated about her father, calling him a shithead in sheep’s clothing.  When Melissa pointed out that her father was well-known for his contributions to the community, Ashley openly sneered.  She told them they were idiots if they believed everything they saw or heard.  Her father was a first-class prick who had a mistress while her mother was dying of cancer.  This mistress wasn’t the first one, neither, but that’s only to be expected from a bigwig executive like him.  Her father was careful not to expose his wife to his peccadilloes, but she knew.  Everyone in town knew, and her so-called ‘friends’ were always the first ones to tell Janice something, ‘for her own good.’  Ashley vacillated between thinking her mother was a saint for putting up with her father’s behavior and thinking she was an idiot.

That wasn’t the worst part, however.  Ashley was in her father’s den one day, snooping for evidence of his infidelities.  Even though her mother was dead, Ashley still felt the need to protect her.  Ashley found a letter from a lover to her father asking for money because she was pregnant.  She was asking for fifty-thousand dollars for the abortion and for ‘emotional damages’, threatening to go to the media if he didn’t pay.  This was his last warning, the letter read, to do the right thing by her.  Ashley didn’t know who the woman because her father walked in before she could read the whole letter.  Her father freaked, ripping the letter out of her hands and screaming at her for spying on him.  Of course, she gave it right back to him for being a hypocrite before storming off to group.  Her father had caught her by surprise, coming home early like that.  Ashley had thought she was safe because her father normally didn’t come home before nine at night.

Ashley’s agitation that day is starting to make sense.  According to Maria, Ashley already suspected that her father was having an affair before then, but that piece of hard evidence would be impossible to ignore.  I wonder if she had started searching in hopes that she wouldn’t find anything to verify her vague suspicions.  When she first saw the letter, what was running through her mind?  Was she planning on confronting her father?  Or would she have kept it to herself, letting it simmer?  Knowing her even as little as I had, I knew there was no way she would have kept that information to herself.  Most likely, she would have tried to find the letter again to read the whole thing.  I would be surprised if Mr. Stevenson kept it after Ashley found it, however.  In fact, I’m surprised he kept it at all.  I also wonder what the mystery woman would have done if Mr. Stevenson hadn’t paid.  Would she have taken him to court?  Tried him in the media?  Infidelity is not a crime, but it could prove awfully embarrassing for him to be caught up in a nasty situation like that.  Then there’s the question of, is the mystery woman the same person as the one Ashley said she was becoming suspicious of?  If so, someone in group?  I shake my head.  This speculation is getting me nowhere.

The women are still talking about Ashley.  She felt betrayed by her father who was always her idol.  What if Mr. Stevenson killed his daughter to keep her from telling anyone about the letter?  I dismiss the possibility because he would have done it immediately after she read the letter if he did at all for that reason.  It makes no sense that he would have waited a day and a half before killing her.  I miss part of the conversation, but the women are only rehashing what they’ve already said.  My mind is drifting, so I almost miss it when Melissa comments that Ashley said she was going to make her father tell her everything.  When I pressed Melissa what Ashley meant by that, she shook her head regretfully.  She and Jean hadn’t wanted to push Ashley too hard because she seemed so distraught; now, Melissa wishes they had.  It’s mean of me, but I can’t help thinking that the only reason they wanted to know more was so they could have the inside scoop.  Many people crave fame and attention, and these women are no exception.

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Rainbow Connection; chapter ten, part two

“Did she ever tell you any secrets?”  I ask awkwardly, not sure how to continue this conversation.

“Nah, we weren’t that close.”  Maria shrugs and opens the door to her studio.  It’s tiny but filled with riotous colors.  The paintings on the wall are amateurish but quite good.

“Yours?”  I ask, indicating the artwork.  She nods happily as she gazes at her creations.

“I don’t make money doing it, but it’s my love.”  She caresses the frame of a painting entitled, ‘Los Lobos Locos’, though there’s not a wolf in sight.  I shrug.  Paris has a few oddly-named pieces himself, so I’m used to it.  “Can I get you something to drink?  Some coffee, perhaps?”

“Orange juice if you have it,” I say.  I’ve had enough coffee to last me a week.  She disappears into the tiny kitchen after indicating I should sit on the futon.  I slip off my shoes and sit, tucking my feet under me.  She returns in a minute, sitting next to me.  I feel the heat radiating off her.  I inch away so I can make conversation without wondering what she looks like under her red dress.

“It’s too bad you joined the group now,” Maria says, handing me a glass of orange juice.  “It was much better before, and not only because of the murders.  What you saw of Ashley, she hasn’t been like that in months.  I don’t know what set her off that meeting.”

“Tell me about her,” I say, settling back into the futon and sipping the orange juice.

The story is a familiar one.  Ashley had come into the group with major attitude, looking to start fights.  She jumped on everything everybody said, not waiting for someone to finish talking before attacking her.  Even Carol fell victim to Ashley’s tongue-lashing.  It got so bad, the group voted on having Carol kick Ashley out of group.  However, Carol convinced them to give her one more shot, and the group did an intervention.  Instead of striking out, Ashley listened to what they had to say before walking out the door.  The group members were convinced that she would never come back again, but they were wrong.  She was present the following week with her attitude in check.  She still had strong opinions and verbalized them, but she was slowly being weaned off four-letter words and a hostile attitude.

“That’s why it was such a surprise when she jumped on you like that,” Maria explains, tossing back the rest of her coffee.  “Maybe you remind her of somebody or something.”  Or maybe she had found out something disturbing before the group and was displacing her anger; I happened to be an easy target.

“What do you think it was?”  I ask.  I don’t have much hope that Maria will know, but it’s worth a shot.

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Rainbow Connection; chapter ten, part one

The next few days are a blur of work and talking on the phone with Lyle and Paris.  Despite what he said, Paris is grateful that Lyle made the trip to Memphis, even if it means Lyle staying at a nearby Holiday Inn.  Mr. and Mrs. Jenson refuse to allow Lyle to stay in their house which pisses Paris off no end.  Lyle is the one who calmed Paris down, making him see that it wasn’t the time nor the place for a hissy-fit.  The funeral is set for Wednesday.  It will be a quiet, family affair, and there is a battle raging on whether Lyle will be allowed to attend or not.  Paris has already threatened not to go if Lyle is barred from the proceedings.  Half of me is glad that I escaped the drama while the other half is sorry that I can’t be there to support Paris and Lyle.  When I’m not on the phone with them, I’m worried about them.  For all the good I’m doing the agency where I work, I might as well have made the trip South.

Tuesday, I’m keyed up for group.  I don’t want to be the cops’ spy, but I don’t have much choice.  I drink cup after cup of coffee at work to get through the day after a terrible night of not sleeping.  It discourages me that I am regressing back into the land of nightmares after I thought I had put it behind me forever.  I have four nightmares Monday night, each scary enough to wake me with a pounding heart and dry mouth.  It takes a half hour to fall back asleep after each one.  Needless to say, when the alarm finally rings in the morning, I don’t greet the day with enthusiasm.  In fact, I seriously consider skipping work, but as I said, my cred at the agency has maxed out.

“Hello, everyone.”  Carol is smiling her usual smile, but it’s frayed around the edges.  Even she is finding it difficult to keep up her soothing therapy voice in the midst of the drama that is our group.  “I hope you’ve all had a restful week.”  The group members are stealing looks at each other, but no one is saying anything.  Carol has her ubiquitous notebook out, which doesn’t help the confidences flow.  Carol sighs but tries again like a good facilitator.  “I think we need to clear the air before we can get back to what this group is really about.  Who wants to talk about what’s on her mind?”

“I will,” Sharise says, thrusting her chin out defiantly.  “It be hard to think about what we here for what with all this murder business going on.  I come here thinking, ‘Am I going to be next?’  I be looking over my shoulder all the time, waiting to get KO’d, you know what I’m saying?  I’m thinking this be my last time here.”  She sits back, folding her arms across her chest.

“Ok, Sharise.  I’m glad you’re being open.  That’s what the group is for, after all.”  Carol nods encouragingly.  “I’d like to remind you that you were against shutting down the group last week.  What changed your mind?”

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Rainbow Connection; chapter nine, part two

“That Stevenson girl sounds like a real piece of works,” my mother says, returning to the former subject with little preamble.  “I think she stuck her nose where it didn’t belong.  If your group is involved, you have to find out more about the other members.”

“Maybe I could run the names by you,” I suggest cautiously.  Even though my mother is a fount of information, I don’t know what kind of confidentiality issues I’m running up against here.  Then again, I’m not a therapist, and I’m certainly not talking about the group on television.

“Only if you want to.”  My mother shifted on the couch to make herself comfortable.

I want to.  I trust that my mother is not going to run around blabbing about the information, so I run the names by her.  I only know the first names which makes it more difficult, but some of the names are quite unusual which should help.  I give names, races, and a brief description of each woman.  My mother doesn’t know Sharise, Jennifer, Maria or Leticia.  I include Rosie’s sister since she has bearing on the case.  She knows Tudd by sight and name, mostly because Stella knows her .  It surprises me as Tudd is decidedly not Marin material.  Turns out that Stella’s kids took judo from her.  Tudd went to Stella’s home twice a week because Stella had a home gym and preferred to have the lessons there.  It also surprises me to learn that Tudd taught judo, though I can’t say why.  She doesn’t teach any more, not since the rape.

My mother tells me the gory details because I only know the basics.  Tudd was walking home from work around eight o’clock—she’s a teacher in Marin County and stayed late for some reason—when two men dragged her into the bushes and raped her.  One of them left a cufflink that was quite expensive.  Stella’s impression was that Tudd knew at least one of her attackers, though no one was ever caught.  That leads me to wonder if perhaps Mr. Stevenson had been one of the attackers and something Ashley said in group triggered recognition in Tudd.  I grimace at my reasoning.  Even if it were true, there would be no reason to kill Ashley rather than Mr. Stevenson.  I say out loud that it was too bad the judo didn’t help, but my mother points out that it was two against one.  Also, there was a knife involved, so Tudd really didn’t stand much of a chance.

I move to the last member of the group—Astarte.  The minute I say her name, my mother’s face changes.  Up until now, my mother’s looked as if she’s solving an intriguing problem.  Now, there’s something else in her eyes, but I’m not quite sure what.  I’m not surprised that my mother knows Astarte, but I am perplexed at her reaction.  She leans back in the couch, sipping her tea.  There is a set to her jaw that hadn’t been there a minute before.  I open my mouth to say something, but shut it just as quickly.  I’m not sure I want to know what my mother has to say about Astarte, but I know that I can’t stop the momentum.  I nervously clear my throat and say her name again as my mother doesn’t seem inclined to talk.  Still, she doesn’t say anything for several minutes. Finally, I break the silence by asking in a small voice if she knows Astarte even though I already know the answer.

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Rainbow Connection; chapter nine, part one

“Rainbow, how are you?”  My mother asks as she ladles some tofu surprise onto my plate.  My mother is a vegetarian and serves the best meatless dishes I’ve ever tasted in my life.  If I could cook vegetarian food like that, I would be happy as a clam.  Now if she would just call me Rayne instead of Rainbow, I wouldn’t have anything to complain about.  I don’t think that’s going to happen.

It is Saturday night, and I’m having dinner at her house in Berkeley.  Lyle and Paris were supposed to come as well, but obviously, that didn’t happen.  It’s not the house I grew up in, but it’s still home.  My mother bought it after Libby went to college, right before the Bay Area became such a hot place to buy land.  If she were to sell her house now, she would triple if not quadruple her investment.  The décor is stuck in a time warp because my mother bought the place from a hippie, of course.  The carpet is orange, the furniture is yellowish with floral patterns and such.  There are Dali-esque prints on the walls and posters of the Grateful Dead.  I don’t mind that my mother is still a hippie, but I wish she had better taste in décor.  Surprisingly, she eschews the hippie clothing fashion and wears tailored clothing that looks smart on her.  Tonight, she is wearing a taupe pantsuit that is flattering to her slender figure.  She doesn’t look old enough to be my mother which is disconcerting.  She smiles and pours me more dandelion wine.

“Fine, Mom,” I say, eating as fast as I can.  “I’m in a therapy group for posttraumatic stress.  Did I tell you that?”

“You mentioned it.  How’s it going?”  My mother’s face creases into a smile.  She has been after me to get into therapy ever since the other murders.  I have been resistant up until now.

“Not so good,” I say softly, setting down my fork.  I am unsure whether I should tell her the next part because she’s been so worried about me lately, but I want her take on it.  “You know the two murders that have been in the news lately?  The daughter of the Godiva CEO and the maid?  Um, they were in my group.

”Oh, no!”  Mom is distressed.  “You’re involved in that?”

“Not directly.  The cops aren’t even sure the therapy group has anything to do with the murders.”

“I have a friend who lives in Marin,” Mom says earnestly, leaning forward.  I don’t question that as she has friends everywhere.  “She knew the Stevenson girl; they lived in the same neighborhood.  Apparently, my friend saw her the night she was murdered.”

“What?”  I sit up, my eyes widen with interest.  “Tell me what your friend said.”

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