A horrible feeling washed over me. No, not that Danny was dead, but that Kayla knew exactly who had taken Danny and why. If she didn’t know for sure, she could make a pretty educated guess, but for some reason, she was choosing not to share. I knew that Matt was going to have to sweat her to get the information we needed, but I had a feeling that it was going to take a lot to get her to spill her guts. For some reason, and I wasn’t sure why, she was more afraid of telling what she knew than she was of losing her son. I knew Matt wasn’t going to like hearing that, but I couldn’t lie to him. This was too important for massaging egos and tiptoeing around hurtful truths. Matt was a big boy; he could take care of himself.
Danny was in a closet. In an…apartment? I couldn’t be sure. It felt like a small space around the closet, but it was just a vague impression. He was being fed three times a day and taken to the bathroom four times daily, but that was it. The rest of the time, he was kept in the closet which locked from the outside, of course. I concentrated harder, hoping to come up with more. There were two people. They switched off taking care of him, but they weren’t averse to leaving him alone in a pinch. I had the definite feeling that Danny knew one of the people, but I wasn’t sure about the other one. Neither person laid a hand on Danny, but they didn’t comfort him, either. Neither told him why he was there nor what would happen to him. I couldn’t tell much about the people other than they weren’t pedophiles. Small comfort, but still a relief. The picture faded out despite my best efforts, and I opened my eyes. Just as I thought, Matt was watching me intently, waiting for me to impart my wisdom. I finished half my sandwich while deciding what to say. Then, I ate the truffle, partly to replenish my energy and partly to stall. I hated to let Matt down, but I just didn’t have much. I related as much as I could remember before falling silent. After Matt digested it, he spoke.
“We have to work on Kayla,” he said, his voice wavering slightly. “She has got to tell us what she knows.” He slammed his fist down on the coffee table, making me jump. “Goddamn her, goddamn her to hell. What the fuck is she into that she has someone snatching her son? My son. Our son.” Tears shone in his eyes, but he refused to let them fall. “She knows the person, the people who did this, doesn’t she?”
“I think so,” I said cautiously, though I was ninety-eight percent sure. “Like I said, she at least has an educated guess.”
“I’m calling her.” Matt picked up his cell phone and punched in a number. I noted that he still knew it by heart though he usually had a lousy memory. “Hey, Kayla, it’s me.” Matt’s voice changed from impatient to seductive in a blink of an eye. He didn’t look as me as I was sure he didn’t want to see my jaw drop to the floor, but he had to do what he had to do. “Yeah, I know, she’s a bit pushy.” This time, Matt did look at me, shooting me an apology with his eyes. I shrugged as I didn’t give a damn what Kayla thought or what Matt said to get her to tell us what we needed to know. I didn’t even care that he was leading her on—no, check that, I was enjoying the fact that he was leading her on. It would only make for a harder fall later on.
“Baby, have you had time to think?” Matt’s voice was dripping with honey, and it was affecting me. I was slightly ashamed to be thinking of sex while we were in the middle of a crisis, but I was a red-blooded woman who got turned on by the slightest thing; Matt doing his best to seduce Kayla was doing the trick. “Yeah, this is really, really, really important.” Matt’s voice was relaxed, but his hand was clutching his cell phone for dear life. “You know we can’t waste any more time, honey. You need to tell me right now.” He might as well have been telling her that he was taking off his clothes with the voice he was using. Much more of this, and I was going to strip him my damn self. After all, we had been about to have sex when we were so rudely interrupted earlier this evening. No wonder I was exceedingly horny right now.
“Ok, love. I’ll run right over there.” Matt paused, listening to something Kayla was saying. “Well, she’s the one who—” More listening. “Well, ok. Yeah, I can understand that. You’re not bullshitting me, are you, Kayla?” A thin edge of steel had crept into his voice, but I was sure Kayla was too thickheaded to notice. “I’ll be right there.” He clicked off his phone before turning to me. “I’ll do anything to get Danny back,” he said simply. He wasn’t apologizing; he was merely explaining the situation. I nodded, though I was tempted to ask if that meant sleeping with Kayla if need be. I made a note to remind myself to be good about protection the next time Matt and I had sex. I didn’t know where that skank ho had been, and I didn’t want to catch whatever she had.
“Be safe,” I said, pecking him on the cheek. To my surprise, he turned his face so that his lips were on mine. He kissed me thoroughly, pressing his body against mine. I could feel his erection through his jeans and mine, but I didn’t know what to do about it. I pulled back, staring at Matt in puzzlement.
“Thanks, Scar,” Matt said, touching my lips with his finger. “Wait up for me.”
With that cryptic announcement, he was gone. I wasn’t sure whether he wanted me to wait so he could tell me what he found out from Kayla or so that we could have sex. Either way, it was no hardship as I preferred the nights to the day. I was the creative director for a fledgling theater group called Sanctuary—really, it was just a group of my friends trying to make a go of this theater thing—which meant that I could set my own hours. The five of us met at my friend, Julia Yamamoto’s, place to work since she had a spacious house furnished compliments of Mommy and Daddy. Julia was a typical Japanese princess who had her parents twisted around her finger. Luckily for the rest of us, Julia was as down to earth as the next person—except for when she was wheedling money out of her parents. She was my best friend, the one with a three-year old daughter—but no husband—who called me Auntie in the old Asian way. We’d been friends forever, and I missed her fiercely during her New York years. I decided to call her with the news.
“You better be dead or almost there to be calling me at this time, Hsu,” Julia barked, her voice stuffy. Knowing her, she was sitting on her couch watching Casablanca for the millionth time. It was her number-one, all-time favorite movie, and she could watch it every day without getting tired of it.
“Girl, you know a call from me is the most exciting part of your day. Have I got news!” I spilled everything, wanting her reaction.
“Holy shit,” Julia breathed, her voice bubbling over with excitement. “That’s fucking weird. Hey, is Matt seeing anyone?” Julia had a hardcore crush on Matt, and she asked about him from time to time. They went out once, but Matt hadn’t taken to her. It didn’t stop her from dreaming, and far be it for me to put a damper on her hopes.
“No, but now is not a good time to be hitting on him,” I warned her. “Not after the shit that hit the fan tonight.”
“Wild. It’s just wild that he has a kid and didn’t know about it. I tell you, it’s girls like that Kayla who make me ashamed to be a woman.” I had to agree—I hated all the girly games that most women played. Whoever said women were the kinder sex was dead wrong.
“How’s Banana?” I asked, making a face as I said the name. Julia loved Banana Yoshimoto and named her daughter after her. Needless to say, I had protested to no avail. I mean, really. Naming an Asian person ‘Banana’ was just asking for trouble.
“Great! She can almost read,” Julia said proudly. Of all her accomplishments in her life—and there were many—she was most proud of her daughter. “She can write her name and mine as well. Oh, she can write yours, too.” I was touched that I was on the short-list of the names Banana could write, and I said so. “Scar, when are you going to have yourself a baby? I can’t tell you what you’re missing.” I made a noncommittal noise, but I didn’t answer. Julia knew as well as anyone that I was ambivalent about having children. I was too impatient to be a good mother, and I didn’t go all gooey inside when I saw a baby. Everyone said it was different when it was your kid, but what if it wasn’t true? There were women who never bonded with their children, and I had a feeling I would be one of those women. There could be nothing worse than being a mother who didn’t love her child. I flashed onto Kayla and amended my statement. She was definitely worse than a mother who didn’t love her child. Then again, she might be a woman who didn’t love her child—she certainly didn’t seem all that worried about him.
“I gotta go, Hsu. I’m taking Banana to the Basilica tomorrow. See you.” Julia hung up before I could say anything else. Even though Julia was Buddhist, she wanted Banana to experience every religion known to woman. They had gone to a Buddhist temple, a Jewish synagogue, a Muslim mosque as well, though it took a lot of talking to persuade the Imam to let them in, and a Hindu temple. Now, Julia was going through the Christian denominations. She’d already knocked off Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist and Evangelical. Tomorrow was Catholic, I guessed. Banana was going to be the most well-rounded girl when it came to religion. Either that, or she would be the most confused little girl. Sometimes I wondered if Julia wasn’t overdoing it, but Banana didn’t seem to mind. She was a sunny child who only threw tantrums when she was tired. If she kept to a regular sleep pattern, she was as easygoing as any kid I’d ever seen.
I turned on the television to see what was on SportsCenter. A recap of the day in baseball was all I could find, so I turned to the Comedy Channel. They were showing some lame movie, so I flipped to the Food Network. They were running an Iron Chef marathon, and I settled in to watch. This was the original Japanese version, not the atrocious American one with Alton Brown. I loved watching the chefs go nuts with the exotic ingredients, and I liked the contrasting styles of the Iron Chefs. Not to mention, Chairman Kaga, the wacky emcee.
“Hey,” Matt said some hours later. I was dozing off in front of the chefs, but I immediately awoken upon hearing his voice. He sounded weary, and his eyes looked haunted. I patted the futon next to me, indicating that he should sit. He did, easing his body down as if it hurt. I couldn’t smell the scent of Kayla on him, but that didn’t mean he hadn’t fucked her. My hunch was that he hadn’t, but I couldn’t tell for sure. “Watching those crazy Japanese chefs, huh?” He rubbed his eyes before glancing at the screen where Sakai, Iron Chef French was doing his thing. He was my second favorite chef—right behind Rokusabaro Michiba, one of the retired Iron Chefs Japanese—but I turned off the television and focused on Matt.
“What’s up?” I didn’t want to intrude on his pensiveness, but I had to get to bed soon.
“God, Scar. I wish you had been there. I can usually tell when she’s lying but this time….She was coked out, of course, having managed to scrounge enough of the junk off the floor after we left.” The distaste on Matt’s face spoke louder than anything he could have said, but I saved my sympathy for later. Right now, I needed to hear what Kayla had told him. Chances were, I would be able to tell if she lied or not. Matt stopped and started several times, but he managed to get the story out.