Category Archives: Murder Mystery

Rainbow Connection; chapter two, part two

Chapter Two; Part Two

“I like him, too, but I’m not tagging along on your date.”  I interject a teasing note into my voice.  “One of us should be getting laid, and it’s not me.  Just remember, though, no glove, no love.”

“Girl, you know you don’t gotta worry about that with me,” Paris says with spirit.  He is the poster boy for safer sex; I wish all queer men would follow his lead.  I’m tired of losing so many of them to AIDS.  “Guess who emailed me last week?  Jenna.”

“No way!  I thought she gave up.”  Jenna was Paris’s last girlfriend—the one he broke up with just before meeting Lyle.  Paris had been dating her a month when she wanted to take it to the next level.  Problem is, the shine had already come off the relationship for him.  She did not take it well when he broke up with her.  His ex-lovers rarely did, but hers was the worst reaction in a long time.  He considered having her served with a restraining order, but she backed off just enough to make it a non-issue.

“I thought so, too.  Apparently she heard about the break-in and was concerned that I might be hurt.  She won’t be satisfied until she sees me with her own eyes that I’m ok.”  Paris’s lip twitched as he relays the information.  I struggle to keep my face solemn as well, but can’t.  We both know it’s just an excuse to see him again.  Paris has the misfortune of being utterly captivating to the people he dates, making it difficult for them to let go when he dumps them.  Make no mistake about it, he’s always the dumper not the dumpee.  The only time he didn’t dump his lover was when Brett died of AIDs.  Other than that, he’s batting a thousand.  I, on the other hand, am much more likely to be the dumped than the dumper.  By the gods of karma, it’s my right to dump the next five people I date.

“You going to see her?”  I know the answer before Paris even opens his mouth.  Any attention would only encourage her.  In some ways, I’m surprised.  She was such a drab mouse when he dated her.  He tends to be attracted to people who don’t shine as brightly as he does because he likes to be the one in the limelight.  Not physically, necessarily, as he likes beautiful people, but personality-wise.  Unfortunately for him—and for his lovers—then he gets bored because the other person can’t keep up.  This has been his pattern since I’ve known him.  Only Brett and now Lyle have been anomalies which is one reason I have high hopes for Lyle.  Another is that he’s just as good-looking as Paris is with his thick, dark curls and intense blue eyes.  He lifts weights religiously as does Paris; in fact, that’s how they met.  At Paris’s gym.  One look and it was instant lust.

“Hell, no!”  Paris says emphatically.  “I haven’t even answered the email, and I don’t intend to.”  He knows it’s better to be firm than to waffle.  “I’m hoping she’ll go away peacefully this time.”  I have my doubts, but I keep them to myself.  I don’t want to harsh on his high over Lyle.  “Hey, you said you were going over to Lisa’s tomorrow?”  He watches as I mix the batter and start shaping the cookies into little balls.  “Is Vashti going to be there?”  He doesn’t offer to help for the same reason I never offer to help him—each of us is fiercely territorial when cooking.  It’s hands-off for the other person.

“Yes.”  I nod my head, my eyes dimming.  I’m not sure I can face her.  I unconsciously finger the bridge of my nose where there is a bump from being pistol-whipped and broken.  Of course, I get dough on my nose and Paris wipes it off for me.  My right knee twinges as if it senses my thoughts.  That’s where I got sapped with the same gun that night.  My injuries are mostly healed, but they like to remind me now and then of what happened.

“You ready for that?”  Paris rubs my back sympathetically as I continue dropping cookie dough balls onto the cookie sheet.

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Rainbow Connection; chapter two, part one

Chapter Two

After fifteen minutes of petting by Paris, I go to my room to research the aforementioned topics.  I start with therapists in the San Francisco area and quickly realize that I will have to narrow my search in order to be more successful.  There are a million and one people hanging out their shingles in the Bay Area, and I have no way of knowing which are legit and which are not.  I could wait until Monday and ask around at the office for referrals, but I prefer not to mix my personal life with my professional one.  I start plugging in words such as ‘Mission District’ and ‘trauma therapy’ into the search field and finally come up with a manageable list.  After scanning a few websites and scribbling a few numbers down on the pad of paper I keep next to the computer, I do another search, this time for group therapies focusing on traumatic events.  That is too broad a topic, so I start winnowing.

It takes close to two hours, but I finally find a place in the Mission District called A Ray of Hope.  What is it about nonprofits that they always have to have cheesy names?  It’s a clinic that provides group therapy with a facilitator who has her MA in women-centered psychology.  The group is for women who are survivors of a traumatic event and allows new members once a month.  ‘The group will provide you with the tools to cope with your traumatic event.  Everything that’s said in the room stays in the room.  We hope to provide a safe and nurturing environment.’  I barely manage to not roll my eyes at the psych-speak.  I have a healthy dislike for anything that smacks of New Age.  It’s not that I don’t think therapy works; I do.  I just don’t see the need to talk about it in fey terms and breathy tones.  People who talk that way are trying too hard to sound sincere and usually come off sounding fakey.  However, I have promised Paris that I will do something about my depression, and I honor my promises.  Pushing aside my discomfort, I continue to read.  The meetings are Tuesday nights from seven to nine, and the upcoming Tuesday is the one where new members are allowed.  There is no fee.  I make a note of it in my calendar on my computer and power off.

I sit slumped in my chair thinking about therapy.  I’ve been in before—what child of the eighties hasn’t?  I don’t have the energy to invest in one-on-one therapy and decide that I’ll start with the group.  That way, I don’t have to say anything if I don’t want to, but I can jump in if I feel like it.  Sounds ideal given how low energy I’ve been the last month.  I close my eyes, but images of the gun pressed against my temple crowd my mind.  My eyes fly back open as I break out into a light sweat.  I am panting slightly, and my eyes dart from side to side, involuntarily.  I automatically note that the windows are shut and locked.  It makes me feel safer, though we are on the third floor.  The drapes are shut as I prefer them so no one can look inside.  I used to love to have as much sunshine in my room as possible, but I can no longer tolerate the light.  I want to move, but there really isn’t any place for Paris and me to go.  We got this two-bedroom apartment in the Mission before the dotcom boon with rent-control in place.  We each pay eight-hundred dollars a month, which is a steal in San Francisco.  Neither of us can afford to pay more than that per month, so we are pretty much stuck where we are.  Paris offered to switch rooms with me which I accepted, but as the rooms are identical, it hasn’t made much of a difference.

Replacing my bed helped, however, and making Paris paint the walls yellow to match the walls in the living room made me feel marginally better.  I painted the living room walls when Paris and I first moved in, much to the dismay of the landlord.  These days, however, he treats me with great care—like everyone else.  At least with him, it’s partly because he’s afraid I’ll sue him because the security in the building isn’t that great.  The killer got into the building and into my apartment without any help from me.  I’m letting the landlord sweat because he should suffer some considering what happened to me.  I won’t sue him, but he doesn’t need to know that yet.  He is giving us three months off from paying rent.  There is a deadbolt on the front door, too, courtesy of Dickie, the landlord.  Paris says I should have held out for six months rent, but I didn’t feel like haggling.  I don’t feel much like arguing with anybody these days.  I look around the room.  I have placed a few of Paris’s painting on the walls.  He has given me the brightest ones, insisting that I need a myriad of colors surrounding me.  I have to admit, they sure make the room less gloomy.  My favorite is one that Paris did of me and him in Dolores Park laughing and having a good time.  The faces are blurred, but if you look closely, you can see the resemblance.

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Rainbow Connection; chapter one, part two

Chapter One; Part Two

“Just that she’s sorry.”  Paris’s cold tone indicates what he thinks of her apology.  “She kept saying it.  Like she always does.”  He pauses to flip over whatever he’s making.  “As if that makes it all better.”  I sit there, tears silently dripping from my eyes.  Paris turns around and sees me.  “Oh, honey.”  He rushes over and pats me on the back before returning to his cooking.  “I could kill that girl, I really could.  What was she thinking?”  He shakes his head, giving me time to regroup.

“She thought she was protecting a friend,” I say, sniffling up some snot.  I know I must look a mess, but there isn’t much I can do about it.  “She was doing what she thought was right.”

“Then how come you’re not speaking to her?”  Paris asks, not expecting an answer.  He knows that even though I think Vashti did what she thought was best, she still severed the fragile ties that bound us.  I have no idea when—if ever—I will be willing to try to trust her again.

“How’s Lyle?”  I ask, switching subjects.  Yet another thing to feel guilty for.  Paris’s new love who has been getting the short shrift because Paris has had to spend so much time with me.

“He’s fine.  We’re getting together tonight, if you think you’ll be ok on your own.”  Paris glances anxiously at me, trying to gauge where I am mentally.  It saddens me that I have been reduced to this—my best friend tailoring his dates around my mental condition.

“Go.  Have a good time.  I insist.”  I don’t give a damn what I’m feeling like—Paris deserves a normal life.  In the past month, he’s gone out with Lyle four times, rushing back home before midnight each time.  They talk on the phone all the time and meet at the gym frequently, but it’s not the same.  No more.  “And this time, spend the night.”  I look hard at Paris to show that I’m serious.  Unfortunately, his back is to me, but I feel better, anyway.  A tiny step towards feeling more like myself.

“Here we go.”  Paris sets a plate in front of me.  It has an omelet on it along with a chocolate croissant.  My mouth waters at the heady aroma.  I cut into the omelet, watching the aged sharp cheddar cheese ooze out.  The omelet is bursting with ham, onions, broccoli, and red bell peppers.  I pop a tiny bit into my mouth and chew it slowly.  I don’t want to make myself sick, so I masticate the bite thoroughly.  I wash it down with a sip of milk and wait anxiously to see if it’ll stay down.  It does.  I take a bite out of the croissant.  Pure heaven with the melted chocolate running down my throat.  Encouraged, I take a bigger bite of the omelet and immediately start retching.  Dropping my fork, I race to the bathroom and kneel by the toilet.  I am able to lift the seat in time just as the food forces its way back up my throat.  It doesn’t taste nearly as good going up as it did going down.  I have tears in my eyes as I finish gagging.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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