Monthly Archives: May 2021

A Hard Rain; chapter one, part four

“You have a shift tomorrow afternoon,” Siobhan says after several minutes of silence.  “I think you should do it.”

“No.”  Leslie puts down her fork, feeling suddenly ill.  “I’m not ready for that.”

“Yes, you are.”  Siobhan is using her mom voice, which means she’ll brook no opposition.  “More importantly, you need to be doing something other than moping.”

“I am.  I have three articles to edit by Friday.  That’s five days from now.”

“You need to get out of the house.  Any house.  You know how you brood when you’re alone.”

“OK.”  Leslie sighs and takes a sip of water.  She can always bail if she doesn’t feel up to staying the whole shift.  They both lapse into silence and are startled by the persistent ringing of the doorbell.  Siobhan gets up to answer the door, and since Leslie is done eating, she follows Siobhan to the front hallway.

“Shit.  It’s the cops.  What are they doing here?”  Siobhan runs a hand through her curls before opening the door.  “Hello.  What may I do for you?”

“Oh, it’s you.”  Leslie recognizes the two detectives as the ones who told her John was dead, but she can’t remember their names.

“Mrs. Garelli?  I’m Detective Stevenson.  This is my partner, Detective Ricks.  Ms. Chang.  We weren’t expecting to see you here.”  Detective Stevenson stares at Leslie in surprise.  He doesn’t ask her what she’s doing there so she presumes that they have looked up her background.  He’s wearing a similar outfit to the one he wore the last time Leslie saw him.  “However, you were next on our list, anyway, so it’s good to see you.”  He nods at Leslie who is too nonplused to respond.  Why are the cops bothering her again?  What more do they want?

“I’m Siobhan Collins, Leslie’s best friend.  What can I do for you, detectives?”

“We need to ask you some questions,” Detective Ricks says, smoothly stepping into the house.  Today, she is wearing a nice pair of cream-colored slacks and a burnt-orange sweater.  The latter really complements her cocoa skin.  “Ms. Chang will need to be somewhere else.  We will fetch her when—“  Detective Ricks broke off her remark as two kids and three cats came trooping into the front hallway.

“Mooooom!  Eamon took my Barbies and won’t give them back.  Tell him to stop being so mean to me!”  Aileen’s face is grim as she tattles on her brother.  “He took Ken, too.”

“I am playing pretend ballet performance, and I need them to be the dancers,” Eamon explains, a Barbie in each hand.  “Leenie was on the PS3.  I didn’t think she’d mind.”

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A Hard Rain; chapter one, part three

“You’re coming home with me,” Siobhan announces, bringing Leslie reluctantly back to the present.  She holds up a hand to stem Leslie’s incipient protest.  “I know you, Les.  You have been OCD’ing over John since the cops told you what happened.  You probably hadn’t eaten since then until I showed up.  You’re brooding.”  Siobhan brushes her red curls out of her eyes, but they just fall back into place.  “It’s not healthy for you, and you love the Terrible Trio.  They’ll cheer you up.”

“I can’t leave Josephine,” Leslie protests.  Josephine meows her agreement.  She hates being separated from her human for any appreciable amount of time—meaning more that twenty-four hours.

“Bring her with.  You know she loves the Terrible Trio and the Beastie Boys, too.”  The Terrible Trio consists of two boys and a girl, ages ten, eight-and-a-half, and seven-and-a-half.  The Beastie Boys are brother cats, one a gray tabby, and one a ginger with streaks of white, and both completely besotted with Josephine.  It’s funny to watch a six-pound girl cat dominate two sixteen pound former tom cats.

“Oh, all right.”  Leslie doesn’t even bother to put up a token protest because she doesn’t actually want to be at home alone with her memories of John.  She has spent most of her time in her computer room because that’s the room in which he had spent the least amount of time.  They had converted one of the other bedrooms into his office, and that’s the room Leslie has so far refused to enter.  She had tried, but his smell was everywhere—and she had fled the room, crying, with Josephine hot on her heels.

Leslie goes up to her room to throw together a duffle bag.  She doesn’t know how long she’ll be staying at Siobhan’s, but it doesn’t really matter as they live in the same neighborhood, only two streets apart.  If she forgets anything, she can just walk back home to get it—or borrow it from Siobhan.  They are approximately the same size, though Leslie has more boob than does Siobhan.  Siobhan, on the other hand, had twice the junk in the trunk than had been afforded Leslie.  Still, since neither of them wear very tight clothing, they are able to borrow each other’s wardrobe with little problem.

“Meow!”  Josephine lets out a tiny meow, her tail drooping.  Leslie’s heart smites her because she knows Josephine is missing John, too.  Leslie had explained to Josephine what had happened to John, and while Josephine had nodded her understanding, she still didn’t seem to quite grasp the concept of ‘never coming back’.

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A Hard Rain; chapter one, part two

“Girl, you are so working that dress!”  Leslie nodded her head emphatically as she gave her best friend the once-over.  Siobhan was wearing a neon-green mini-velour dress that clung to her generous curves.  Her legs seemed to go on for miles, and her feet were encased in five-inch platform heels.  For a forty-two year old mom of three, she looked fabulous.

“You’re pretty hot yourself,” Siobhan replied, a smirk tugging at her lips.  Leslie preened because she had put effort into her outfit.  Normally, she was a sweats and sweatshirt type of gal, but they were going to First Ave to dance after they were done with their burgers at Grumpy’s, a local bar, so Leslie had dressed in black flared-hemmed, low slung pants, a red top that was cut low to show off her perky boobs, and three-inch black platform heels.  She had her shoulder-length hair in a high pony, and she had artfully arranged her bangs in a mussed fashion.  She was wearing her signature lipstick, Diva, by MAC, and she had even added a touch of mascara.  She knew she looked good, and she wasn’t above flaunting it.

“God, I needed this,” Leslie sighed as she drained her gin and tonic.  She had just broken up with her long-term boyfriend over irreconcilable differences, and Siobhan had insisted they go out to celebrate Leslie’s new-found freedom.

“OK.  Be casual about it, but check out the guy by the pool tables.  He’s wearing a Clash t-shirt, a leather jacket, and black jeans.  He’s giving you the eye.”  Siobhan sipped her Summit Pale Ale in a nonchalant manner as she imparted this information.

“Siobhan, I’m not on the hunt,” Leslie sighed, taking a bite of her burger.  Though she tried to eat mostly organic food, sometimes, she craved food that wasn’t as healthy.

“Les, he’s seriously checking you out—and he’s your type—in compact form.”  Siobhan was persistent as she had always thought Leslie had settled with Peter.  “One look.  What could it hurt?  Why don’t you go to the bathroom so you can walk by him?”

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A Hard Rain; chapter one, part one

If she remains very still, the pain is almost tolerable.  She cannot move a limb, however, as even the slightest twitch sets off a shockwave that travels throughout her entire body.  Periodically, she touches the ring on the third finger of her right hand.  How long has it been since she received the news?  She glances at the calendar in front of her and sees that it’s October 9th.  Then, she glances at the grandfather clock and notices that it’s 2:37 p.m. and twenty-three seconds.  That means it’s been one day, fourteen hours, thirty-two minutes, and eight seconds since the police had first knocked on her door.

She stops and thinks.  Is it actually October 9th or is it October 10th?  Saturday or Sunday?  She can’t remember, so she flips on the television to FOX.  There is no NFL football game on, which means it’s October 9th.  So, one day, fourteen hours, thirty-two minutes, and eight, no twenty-two seconds now since the police had first knocked on her door.  She touches the onyx ring on the third finger of her right hand to her lips and bursts into tears.


“Damn it, Josephine.  If you don’t stop clawing the couch, I’m gonna put you in a kitty time-out!”  Leslie Chang threatened, raising her voice a notch or two.  Josephine, a black polydactyl cat who weighed all of six pounds, sniffed once before deliberately slicing into the already tattered couch.  Then she stared at Leslie with enormous green eyes as if to say, “What are you going to do about it, bitch?”  Leslie marched over to the cat, scooped her up in one hand and stomped to the master bedroom where she unceremoniously dumped the cat on the bed and slammed the door shut.  Josephine immediately started yowling at the top of her lungs; she had strong lungs for such a petite cat.  Leslie put up with it for exactly three minutes and forty-five seconds before opening the door.  Josephine’s tail bristled as she brushed past Leslie—her ears were deliberately pointed backwards at her human to display her displeasure.

“Oh, all right,” Leslie muttered, stomping her way to the kitchen.  She could never hold a mad for very long, especially not at her cat.  She opened the fridge and pulled out a bite of wild Alaskan salmon that she bought from the co-op just for Josephine.  In a flash, Josephine was happily munching, her pique gone.  Leslie glanced at her watch before pulling her cell phone out of her jeans.  Her boyfriend, John, should have been home from the gym two hours and thirty-three minutes ago, and she was beginning to worry.  She saw that she missed a text from him fifty seven minutes and twelve seconds earlier.  It said:  “Meeting an “old friend”.  I’ll be home in an hour or two.  Don’t wait up.”  Leslie frowned.  Instead of feeling relieved, she was a bit disturbed.  John was closemouthed about his life prior to moving to the Cities a year, five months, and twenty-three days earlier, and she knew little-to-nothing about his old friends.

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Out of Sight, Into Mind; chapter twenty

“Hey, Martinez,” I said, leaning on the doorframe once he buzzed me up.  His eyes popped out of his head when he saw what I was wearing.

“I can’t believe you didn’t get accosted on the street looking as hot as that.”

“I can take care of myself,” I shrugged, checking him out.  He looked damn good in a blue shirt and black slacks.  We matched!  “You gonna let me in, or shall we have the date out here in the hall?”

“Come on in.  Your mother is a great cook, by the way.”  Martinez stood back and let me enter.  I cased out the joint as I took off my shoes.  He was wearing his, but he didn’t seem to care that I took mine off.  If he strongly objected, I would wear them, of course, but I really couldn’t get comfortable in a house if I had to wear shoes.

“Nice décor,” I said, glancing at his walls which seemed to be filled with abstract paintings.  I didn’t recognize any of them, but they gave the apartment a warm feeling.

“Reminds me of home,” Martinez said with a smile.  “They’re my mother’s work.”  I gave them a second glance, appreciating them more now that I knew they were personally connected with Martinez.  “Come to the dining room; it’s almost ready.”

I followed him to the dining room where the food was already on the table.  Everything smelled wonderful, and I wondered how he found time to cook with the case being as convoluted as it was.  I supposed, though, that it was just an average day in the life of a homicide detective.  I wondered how he was able to stay sane when he had to face so many atrocities on a daily basis.  Speaking of Daily, I wondered if she’d gotten over my stealing her man yet.  Somehow, I doubted that she and I would ever be bosom buddies, but it’d be nice if we didn’t have to go to war every time we met, either.

“This is great,” I said, inhaling the food.  I had eaten a light lunch in anticipation of the spicy goodness I’d be feasting on for dinner.  “This bread is out of this world.”

“Fry bread, from my Indian side.  Pure fat, of course, but it tastes so good.”  Martinez ripped off a hunk and scooped up some beans with it.

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Out of Sight, Into Mind; chapter nineteen, part two

“You better be decent.”  I rapped lightly on the door before pushing my way in.  Even though I had my game face on, I couldn’t help grimacing when I saw Matt who was battered and bruised.  Not to mentioned bandaged and bored.  I could tell he was bored by the way he was flipping through the television channels, much to the chagrin of his roommate who appeared to be trying to rest.

“Hey, it’s my best girl,” Matt said, setting down the remote.  I noticed his roommate, a young guy in his early twenties, perked up as well at my appearance.  “Did you get Danny?”

“Yeah, we got him,” I said, sitting in the chair by Matt’s bed.  I patted his hand, afraid to touch him for fear of breaking something.  “He stayed the night with me, and he’s with my parents right now.”

“I told my parents about him,” Matt said, grimacing as he spoke.  His mother was deeply religious, so I could only guess what she’d said to that bit of information.  “They want to see him.”

“Sure, if it’s ok with you,” I said cautiously.  “Do you think it’s a good idea?”

“Yeah.  After my mother calmed down, she was dying to see him.  I think she thinks this might be the only chance she’ll have to have a grandchild.”  Matt smiled, but it held little mirth.  “So, fill me in.  Did we get the bad guys?  Is Kayla back?”

“We got Digger and Brenda.  We don’t have Kayla yet, but the cops are working on it.”  I didn’t tell him that they were at a dead end because I didn’t want to cause him any grief.  “What did the doctors say?”

Turned out that because Matt was in such great shape, most of the wounds were superficial.  Only the one across his abdomen had done serious damage.  Oh, there was another semi-serious one on his left bicep, but it wasn’t as bad as the one on his stomach.  The doctors wanted to keep him for a few more days, but they were optimistic that he’d regain full mobility if he followed his physical therapy plan to the letter.  Knowing Matt, he’d do as much and more than they planned.  They would have to stop him from doing twice as much as they wanted because he’d be determined to get out of the hospital as soon as possible.

“Don’t you ever do that to me again,” I said, punching him lightly in the arm.  “Do you know—I thought…”  I let my voice trail off because there wasn’t any reason to say what I’d thought now that Matt was going to be ok.

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Out of Sight, Into Mind; chapter nineteen, part one

Something was shaking me.  It wasn’t a pleasant feeling, so I tried to brush it off.  I swatted and I grumbled, but the shaking wouldn’t go away.  After abandoning my sweet dreams of me and Martinez tangoing in our swimsuits on the beaches of Jamaica, I reluctantly opened my eyes to find Danny staring down at me.  For a minute, I thought I’d waken up from a dream into another dream—I’d done that before—but then I quickly remembered the events of the night before.  I struggled to sit up, glad that I had remembered to wear shorts and a t-shirt to bed.  Wouldn’t want to be charged with child abuse or endangerment or something like that.

“What is it, sweetie?”  I asked Danny, glancing at my beside clock at the same time.  It was nearly one, which meant I got close to seven hours of sleep.  Not bad.

“I’m hungry, Auntie.  And I want my mommy.”  Danny was holding Percy in one hand and sucking the thumb of his other.  “I also have to go potty.”  I leapt out of bed and dragged him to the bathroom where he did his thing.  I silently thanked Kayla for potty-training Danny so early as it made things much easier.

“Let’s see what I can make you,” I said, grabbing Danny by the hand and taking him to the kitchen.

“I want my mommy,” he repeated in a louder voice.  “When are you going to find her?”

“It’s not that easy, Danny,” I said, rummaging through the fridge.  I tried to remember how long the eggs had been there, but I couldn’t.  That meant no eggs as  I wasn’t taking a chance of giving salmonella to Danny.  Pancakes.  I could make pancakes.  “Do you like pancakes, honey?”  I asked, reaching for a box.  Danny nodded yes, but he refused to be distracted.

“You found me.  Why can’t you find my mommy?”  Before I could answer, my cell phone rang.  I gave Danny an apologetic glance, but I raced to find it. Who knew what important information it could be?  It was my mother.

“I’m back.  That poor, poor boy,” Mom said, clucking her tongue against her teeth.  “And poor Julia so worn out.  I made her promise she would take a whole day to show Banana the sights.  How are you, dear?”  The answer to my prayers!

“Mom, are you busy today?”  Before she could ask why, I filled her in on the situation—leaving out my little escapade at the club last night, of course.  She was properly appalled and agreed to watch over Danny while I visited Matt and talked to Martinez.  She told me to come right over, that she would defrost a few of her frozen goodies which she saved for an emergency such as this.  Knowing her, it would be a seven-course meal, but I had no objections.  I couldn’t remember the last time I’d eaten a real meal, and my mom was a better cook than I could ever hope to be.

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Out of Sight, Into Mind; chapter eighteen, part two

“Can I go to bed now?”  Danny asked, stifling a yawn.

“First you have to talk to the detectives,” I said, taking his hand in mine.  “Then you can go to bed.  Ok?”

“Can I have a snack before I sleep?”  I hesitated because I knew it wasn’t good to eat before sleeping.  However, who knew how long it’d been since he’d been fed?

“Sure, baby.”  I took Danny out to the living room, but neither Martinez nor Daily were there.  I had a hunch they were looking around for clues to Kayla’s kidnapping.  “Detective Martinez?”  I called out.  “Detective Daily?  We’re ready for you.”  A minute later, the two of them came hurrying into the living room.

“Danny, we’re going to have to ask you some hard questions about what happened,” Martinez said, motioning for Danny to sit on the couch.  Danny pulled me down with him, which didn’t please Daily.

“So you can help find my mommy?”  Danny asked, clutching my hand.  Daily shot me an annoyed look, but I met her eyes defiantly.  I wasn’t going to sugarcoat the truth to a boy who’d gone through so much.  Sure, I hadn’t told him everything, but he had a right to know the basics.

“Perhaps Ms. Hsu can wait in the kitchen,” Daily said through gritted teeth.  So much for our budding friendship.

“I want Auntie with me!”  Danny said, his voice shrill.

“I’ll tell you what,” I said, trying to calm the rising storm.  “Why don’t I go into the kitchen and make tea and find some food?  You can have ten minutes alone with Danny, but then I come back.  What do you say?”  The question was ostensibly directed at Daily, but it was more for Danny than the cops.

“Can I have some cookies?”  Danny asked in a small voice, squeezing my hand hard.

“Sure.  Milk and cookies,” I said, hoping there was unspoiled milk in the fridge.

“I’ll take coffee,” Martinez said, pulling out his notebook.

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