Tag Archives: chapter seven part one

Plaster of Paris; chapter seven, part one

I turn to the computer where there is an email from my sister.  More blathering about her wedding and what I must and must not do.  Suddenly, it doesn’t seem so important, and I delete it.  There’s also a nice email from Vashti just saying she’s thinking of me and to call her when I have a minute.  That one I save.  I frown at the next email because it has an unfamiliar address:  ursine@hotmail.com.  I click it open, expecting it to be spam though we have a good filter system.  It’s from Ursula.  She wants to know if I’ve figured anything out yet.  I lift an eyebrow.  It was only yesterday afternoon that I saw her, so I’m not sure what she thinks I might have accomplished since then.  I don’t have the same  antipathy towards her as does Lyle—I actually enjoyed her—but I’m wary of her strident interest.  Granted, Paris is her biological son, and she did just discover him two days ago, but the concerned mother bit is a bit heavy-handed given that she hasn’t laid eyes on the boy for twenty-eight years.

The day has a surreal feel to it as my coworkers avoid me as much as possible.  If they have work they want me to do, they either quickly drop it on my desk and scurry away, or they email me their needs.  Nobody actually talks to me unless they are forced to explain what they need.  Even Quinn avoids me, which is highly unusual.  I don’t miss the constant interruption, but I’m still rather hurt by the snub.  My colleagues are acting as if it’ll rub off on them—the murder bug.  At least, Derek, a coworker tangentially involved with the last murder case is no longer working here; that would make a bad day even worse.  Only the kids treat me the same because in their world, death—even murder—is no big deal.  I would bet that at least ninety-percent of the kids have had someone close to them die—many of them, more than one person.  So for me to be close to three murders is not unusual to them—in fact, it gives me street cred in their eyes; I have the same as experiences as they, to some extent.  Too bad I’m not getting paid to be a counselor rather than an admin assistant.

People ask me how I can work in a place like A Brighter Day with juvenile delinquents.  Aren’t you scared, they ask?  They are the ignorant ones.  The people who bother me, however, are the ones who can’t put themselves in the kids’ shoes, who consider themselves superior.  The people who can’t understand how any kid can turn to crime or live ‘the way they do’.  One particularly obnoxious person wanted to round up all the kids like the ones at my agency and put them on an island somewhere..  I finally let him have it after he pontificated for a good half hour.  I’ve seen some of the case files—I have to organize them periodically—and I’m surprised the kids aren’t more screwed up then they already are.  One has a mother who locked him in the closet every night so she could service men without him bothering her.  One’s stepfather visited her bed frequently and promised to kill her younger sister if she told.  One male was gang- raped with a broken bottle by a bunch of older girls who were high on crack..  The guy I told this to wasn’t quite so ebullient in his criticisms after I shared a few cases with him..

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Rainbow Connection; chapter seven, part one

The next Tuesday, I am on edge all day.  I snap at everyone at work, and no one knows why.  I have yet to tell anyone at work about my involvement in the therapy group because I don’t want to be the object of more pity or worse, suspicion.  Quinn hangs around me looking like a lost puppy, but I pay her no mind.  She’s past getting on my last nerve, and I don’t want her around.  She is slow to take the hint, though, as it seems she’s used to being ignored or abused.  Unfortunately, the more I ignore her, the more she tries to get my attention.  I wonder why she’s so persistent about pursuing me when we are obviously such different people.  I surmise it’s the thrill of the chase and leave it at that.

“Rayne!  Pay attention to me!”  Quinn hits the top of my monitor after fruitlessly trying to get my attention for the past fifteen minutes.

“Quinn, I’m trying to work.”  I am a bundle of nerves waiting for group.  The police haven’t found much concerning the new case.  Rosie didn’t have a boyfriend, nor was there any strange man in her life who might have wanted to do away with her.  Her surviving child appeared broken up about losing her, but looks can be deceiving.  I read every bit of information I can about the murder because I desperately want the murder to have nothing to do with the group.  I just can’t be involved in another investigation.

The other thing that disturbs me is that Carol was on television again speaking about the newest case.  She did the rounds and declaimed the possibility that the murders had anything to do with the therapy group.  She looked professional and serious and in control.  I can’t shake the feeling that she is using a tragic situation for her own means.  She isn’t crude about it, but she makes sure to mention her upcoming book during every show she’s on as well as the clinic.  It makes me queasy to think that she will benefit from the deaths of two women even though I know it’s the American way.  I have wavered back and forth about whether to attend the group tonight.  I have a feeling it’ll be more upsetting than healing, but I want to know what the other women think about the murders and Carol’s behavior.  If I am honest with myself, I also want to see Maria again.

“Rayne!”  Quinn whacks me on the back which I find annoying beyond belief.

“Quinn, please.  Not today.”  I fight the impulse to slap her, but just barely.

“Then when?”  Quinn is pouting again.  My head starts thumping; I just want to get rid of her, so I acquiesce.

“Tomorrow.  We’ll have a drink after work.”

“Great!”  Instantly, Quinn’s face is wreathed in smiles as she bounces away.  I suppose one night with her isn’t too much to ask for momentary peace.  Zing!  My sister has emailed me, much to my dismay.

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Marital Duplicity; chapter seven, part one

“Megan. You look good.” Jasmine eyes me critically as she opens her front door. I’m wearing a black dress that covers all my assets as well as my tattoos. Jasmine is wearing a flowered pink dress, and she actually has on a matching hat.

“Don’t worry. I won’t speak out of turn, and I’ll try not to piss off anyone.” I press my lips together so I won’t say anything else.

“Good. I do not want to be embarrassed in my own church.” Jasmine’s words are crisp as we get into her car. We don’t talk on the way to the church, but it’s not entirely uncomfortable. I’m just thinking about what I’m going to say, and I don’t know what Jasmine is thinking. Bob’s been missing for three days with no word from him at all. I’m sure Jasmine has left several messages and texts because I sure as hell would if someone I loved was missing. “The cops still are sitting on their asses,” Jasmine says, her voice soft. “They say they’re looking, but they’re not.”

“That’s why I’m doing this, Jasmine. Someone at your church has to know something.” I look out the window and marvel at how green it still is, even though it’s almost Halloween. Jasmine pulls up to the curb of the church and parks the car. She turns to face me, her eyes serious.

“I need to know what happened to Bob, but I also don’t want to be the gossip of the church.” Jasmine stares hard at me. “You need to be discreet.”

“I’ll do my best, Jasmine.” I restrain a sigh and get out of the car. I look at the church, which is pretty drab and nondescript. Whatever flaws Reverend Yang has, ostentatiousness is not one of them. As Jasmine and I walk into the church, Reverend and Mrs. Yang are there to greet us. I inhale sharply because Reverend Yang is even more handsome in person. He has a way of looking at you as if you’re the only person in the world. Mrs. Yang is lovely, too, but I’m uncomfortable by the way she keeps her eyes fastened on her husband.

“Jasmine. It’s so good to see you.” Reverend Yang clasps Jasmine’s hand in his. I watch as my sister’s posture changes so she’s almost thrusting out her chest at him.

“Reverend Yang! It’s good to see you, too.” I blink because my normally sensible sister is practically simpering. Mrs. Yang is glaring daggers at Jasmine, though my sister doesn’t even notice. “This is my sister, Megan.”

“Megan. How good of you to come. Jasmine has told me so much about you.” Reverend Yang takes my hand in turn, and I have to tell myself sternly to not be suckered by his charm.

“It’s nice to meet you, Reverend Yang.” I shake his hand quickly before extracting my own.

“Jasmine, where is Bob this morning?” Mrs. Yang asks, her voice frosty.

“He couldn’t make it.” Jasmine smiles falsely at Mrs. Yang before adding, “We should go in and make sure we get a seat.” Jasmine marches me into the nave and up the middle aisle. I prefer sitting in the back if I attend church at all, but Jasmine seats us in the third pew on the left side. I groan because I won’t be able to doze off– even if I want to.

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Blogging My Murder; chapter seven, part one

Chapter Seven; Part One

“Oh, Araki. What am I going to do without you?” I mutter to myself, tears rolling down my face. The years stretch out in front of me, and I don’t have anything to fill them with. My job? Bullshit. Rembrandt? Too soon to say. My cats? Yes, they are the loves of my life, but they are well-provided for in my will. Wait. Damn it. I had listed Julianna as their caretaker. I’m going to have to change that now. Goddamn it. I’m going to have to change my whole will because I’ve left a third of my assets to her and a third to each of my sisters. Now, I’ll have to change it to give each of my sisters half and name Jasmine as caretaker of my cats. I would have chosen Liz before she moved, but it’d be difficult to uproot them and move them to Philly. I email my solicitor to take care of it, then I dismiss it from my mind.

I draw a bath because I need a long soak. I grab a box of truffles and sink into the bubbles. The cats perch on the counter and watch as I eat my truffles and try to ease my emotional pain. I breathe slowly and smoothly, but it doesn’t help. I try to clear my mind, but the thoughts keep racing in. I give up and grab my phone which is on the floor by the bathtub. I make notes as to where Ramona’s bakery is—in St. Paul—and where she lives—also in St. Paul. I will stop by tomorrow, ostensibly to buy some of her baked goods and to see if she knows anything about Julianna’s murder. I don’t know how I’m going to bring it up, but I’m sure I’ll find a way. I stay in the tub for another half an hour before reluctantly getting out. It’s a nice reprieve, and I’m reluctant to go back to the real world.

I head for bed because I can’t think of any reason to stay awake. I lie down, waiting for my cats to join me. They do, and they promptly fall asleep. I envy them their carefree lives, but I can’t do anything to make myself emulate them. The more I try to sleep, the more wide awake I feel. In the past, I’ve tried everything to sleep, and none of them have worked. Melatonin has no effect on me. I’m allergic to lavender, and St. John’s Wort and Valerian just slowed my brain down to the point of dullness. I hate sleeping pills because I cannot wake up after taking them, not even when I cut them in half. Asian people need much less medication than white people, so it’s hard to gauge how much to take. I’ve tried meditation, chamomile tea, and a half dozen other natural remedies. None of them worked. I’ve come to accept that I’ll sleep when I sleep, and I won’t when I can’t. If that means I have to operate on four hours sleep, so be it. I try to nap as much as possible to make up for the deficit, but it never feels like enough.

I get up and go to the window. I push it open so I can smoke because I don’t feel like going outside. I grab a mug from the nightstand to use as an ashtray and blow the smoke outside the window. So. My agenda for tomorrow is to get up when I get up, then go to taiji at noon. After that, I’ll go to Ramona’s bakery and hopefully catch her without her husband. I’ll stop by Minneapolis Slammin’ after that. I’ll swing by Pinky X’s parents’ place to see if I can get her to talk to me, and then I’ll get ready for dinner and perhaps dessert with Rembrandt. Wait a minute. I also need to talk to Mrs. Ephrams, Julianna’s neighbor, the one who said she saw a man running away from the apartment building the night Julianna died. I’ll see if I can squeeze it in before or after visiting Minneapolis Slammin’. I get an email from my sister, Vivian, saying she heard about Julianna’s murder from Jasmine and asks if she can do anything for me. Frankly, I’m surprised to hear from her. She’s an artist who isn’t securely tethered to the real world, and I can go for months without a peep from her. I’m touched that Jasmine went to the trouble of informing her and that she had actually responded. I shoot her an email saying I’m fine, which is a patent lie, but she’s my little sister, and I can’t break out of the habit of protecting her. She writes back suggesting I visit her in Boston to take my mind off of things. I tell her I’ll think about it and let her know when I can make it.

On impulse, I check her website to see her latest works. She’s very focused on the female body, but not in the Georgia O’Keeffe sort of way. No feminine flowers for her, not at all. Instead, her paintings are filled with women in agony, in grief, in despair, and once in a great while, being killed. She uses mostly browns, blacks, and reds, with a splash of yellow here and there. I have one in my living room of a naked woman lying on the ground, her back arched, with flames shooting out of her body. It’s graphic and disturbing, but also vibrant. I could sell it for six figures easily, but I would never do that. I had bequeathed the painting to Julianna because she admires, admired, it so much, but now I suppose I’ll just return it to Vivian when I die. I get one more email from Vivian. It says that she has a show at the Walker this spring and could she stay at my house? I respond in the affirmative and tell her I can’t wait to see her.

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Dogged Ma; chapter seven, part one

Dogged Ma: Chapter Seven, Part One

“Mom, I’m telling you the truth.  I was never engaged to Ned.”  It was Wednesday afternoon, and I had just arrived home from work.  My mother must have a sixth sense about these sort of things because she always managed to call me the minute I walked in the door.  Of course, she refused to call me on my cell phone because she didn’t want to distract me from driving.  Besides, she didn’t trust that my cell wouldn’t give me brain cancer.  As a result, I had to rush to get the phone the minute I entered my place.  As usual, I ended up wishing I had let the machine get it as my mother was venting her spleen about my supposed broken engagement.

“Mom, would I lie to you?  I mean, out and out lie?”  I infused my voice with as much indignation as I could muster, but it didn’t slow down that train.  She berated me at the top of her lungs for making her the shame of the entire Taiwanese community.  She told me she couldn’t even go to church on Sunday without everybody talking about her.  She knew they were talking about her because they would suddenly hush up whenever she was around.  And poor Pastor Wu!  Did I even think about what I’d put him through?  I had no idea what my supposed engagement had to do with her pastor, but I couldn’t get a word in edgewise.  It turned out that the ‘close friends’ of Mr. and Mrs. Chang couldn’t wait to spread the word about how abominably I’d acted Saturday night.  When they found out I broke off the engagement, well, they had a field day with that bit of information.

“Mom, I never was engaged to Ned,” I interrupted, feeling more frustrated by the minute.  If I told her the truth, I’d have to suffer through a diatribe about ‘homosexuals’, but I didn’t know if it’d be any worse than the tongue-lashing which I was currently receiving.  “It was a misunderstanding from the very start.  Believe you me, you’d be the very first person I’d tell if I ever did something as stupid as get engaged again.”  That made her switch tracks to how I would never keep myself a man with my negative attitude.  I was tempted to tell her about Ted, but I knew that’d be the kiss of death as far as any hopes of having a normal relationship with Ted was concerned.  Maybe I could mention that plenty of otherworldly beings seemed to want me.  No, that might give her a heart attack.  Just as I was about to make another snarky comment, my buzzer rang.

“Mom, someone’s at the door.  I have to buzz them up.”  It didn’t matter that I had no idea who was downstairs; I would rather face a burglar than my mother when she went into full wrath mode.  God could take a few lessons from her.  More squawking from the phone, and my buzzer rang again.  “I gotta go.  I’ll call you back.”  I hung up the phone and pressed my intercom lever.  “Hello?”  I wasn’t totally stupid.  I’d ascertain who it was before doing anything as rash as letting him/her up.  Now that I was off the phone, it didn’t really matter who was on the other side.

“Hello?  Sorry to bother, but I’m afraid I’ve been given a wrong address.”  The voice was definitely masculine, but it was diffident in tone.  British in pronunciation, and there was something very familiar about the voice.  Something about the way he pronounced ‘address’.  Suddenly, it hit me.

“You’re Alan Rickman.”  Instantly, my stomach went aflutter.  Alan Rickman was downstairs, talking to me.  I was glad I hadn’t changed out of my black skirt and blouse.  I scolded myself for thinking of such trivial thoughts when I had Alan Rickman on the other end of the intercom.

“Yes, I am.  If you could just give me directions to the Guthrie, I’d be ever so grateful.”

“Hold on.  I’ll be right down.”  I let go of the lever and grabbed my purse before flying out the door.  I could hear the phone ringing as I locked my door, but I ignored it.  I knew it would be my mother, and I had much more important things with which to deal.  When I reached the ground floor of my apartment, I saw Alan Rickman waiting patiently outside the door.  He was wearing black slacks and a white button-down, looking damn good.

“Hi, I’m Margaret Wang.”  I stuck out my hand, and he shook it with alacrity.  “You’re Alan Rickman.”  I was aware that I sounded like an idiot, but it wasn’t every day that I got to meet Alan Rickman in the flesh.  Speaking of the flesh, he looked much better in person than on camera, if that were even possible.

“Yes, I am,” Alan said, smiling affably.  “Look, I hate to be a bother, but I’ve got an appointment with the director of the Guthrie in—”  He checked his watch.  “Twenty minutes.  I would hate to be late.  The worst thing is that my driver took off before I could figure out where I was.  It must be a conspiracy to make me late for my meeting.”

“I can take you there if you’d like,” I said, holding my breath.  “It’s not very far.”

“That would be fantastic,” Alan said, looking relieved.  “I can’t figure out for the life of me how my agent screwed things up so badly.  Wait until I get a hold of her.”  He was smiling as he spoke, his demeanor belying his words.

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Trip on This: Chapter Seven (Part One)

Chapter Seven (Part One)

“We’re doing what?”  Mowgli stares at Trip, wondering if his ears are deceiving him.  This is not how he envisioned spending his night—talking to Trip about strip clubs in Vandalia’s living room.

“Going to The Roman Empire,” Trip says.  “Me, you, Vandalia and her consort.  I have to find out more about Angel and the other woman.”  Trip has told Mowgli everything she did that afternoon, but he still isn’t computing.  It’s difficult for him to switch from computer geek to party animal without some downtime in between.  Besides, he has yet to adapt to Trip’s come-hither look as he’s grown fond of her tomboyish, no-nonsense persona.  Seeing her tarted up reminds him of when he first met her, and he, like she, doesn’t care to remember those days.

Trip had raced home from Tosca’s impatient to look up information about Andretti, but to her dismay, there was nothing relevant on Ricardo Andretti.  There was one in Modesto, but he was ninety-five years old.  There was one in New Jersey, but that didn’t help her.  Then she thought of trying just Andretti, but that was hopeless.  She was incensed that her hot new information did little to propel her forward.  She wondered if Seamus had misheard, but there weren’t many names that sounded similar to Ricardo.  She would have to do further sleuthing on this point before she could do an efficient search.  After that, she had gone out and shopped until her credit card screamed from exhaustion, but it had been worth it.  She had spent almost five-hundred dollars on clothes, and there wasn’t a speck of black to be seen.  By the time she returned to Vandalia’s, Mowgli was already comfortably ensconced on the living room couch.

“The Roman Empire,” Mowgli repeats, as if he’s never heard the name before.  “You, Delilah Esther Wire want to go to a strip club.”  His voice couldn’t be more dubious if Trip had said she wanted to run with the bulls in Spain.

“I don’t want to go,” Trip replies tersely.  “Try to keep up here.  That’s where the dead girl worked.  There’s another girl who’s involved in the case who might work there as well.  Vandalia thought it’d be a good idea if I didn’t go alone.”

“Well, she’s right about that.”  Mowgli is frowning as he looks up at Trip from his place on the couch.  She’s still standing, unable to unwind.  “I don’t like what this case is doing to you.”

“Neither do I,” Trip shoots back.  “That’s why I have to find the motherfuckers.”

“Del, you sure you want to do this?  Maybe it’ll die out by itself.”

“Yes, I’m sure!”  Trip stares down at Mowgli, daring him to defy her.  “I got off the fucking streets and got a fucking life.  I damn well want to make sure I can keep living it.”  This has moved beyond a matter of pride for Trip—it’s becoming personal.  If she can’t find the motherfuckers and bring them to some kind of justice, she’ll be running around for the rest of her life looking over her shoulder and waiting for the other shoe to drop.

“Then I’m in,” Mowgli says simply.  Trip thumps him on the head in appreciation before sliding onto the couch next to him.  They are watching the Food Network when Vandalia comes home.

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