Tag Archives: chapter six part two

Plaster of Paris; chapter six, part two

“He’s a changeling,” I say, not exactly sure what it means but liking the sound of it.  “He’s a gift from the heavens.  It doesn’t matter who raised him because he basically came as he is.”

“I’m just so thankful he didn’t lose himself in such a joyless household.”  Lyle finishes one cigarette and reaches for the lighter when he catches the look I’m sending his way.  “What?”  He’s defensive, but knows exactly what I’m staring at him for.  “I’ll quit again when Paris wakes up.”  I don’t say anything.  I can’t, really, without sounding hypocritical., although my own tobacco usage is atypical.  I’ve never been a daily smoker, and it’s rare when I smoke more than two cigarettes on any given occasion.  I sigh and hand over the lighter.  Lyle slips out another cigarette and lights up.

This time, I leave him alone.  Instead, I turn the conversation to the blond as I inhale on my cigarette.  The blond is someone we need to focus on, and I am betting that Lyle’s friend, Marisol, can help us out.  Lyle corrects me yet again on his friend’s name, much to my delight.  I know perfectly well what her name is but it’s so ridiculous, I can’t help making fun of it.  I know, it’s like the pot calling the kettle black, but really!  Lyle wants to know why I think the blond is so important.  I can’t tell if he’s being sarcastic or if he really wants to know, but I answer him, anyway.  Sort of.  I say it’s just a hunch because I don’t want to tell him about my dream.  He’ll think I’m a nut if he doesn’t already.  I need him on my side because I always think better with two heads than with one.  I also want to take his mind off Mrs. Jenson, and thinking about possible suspects should do the trick.

To make it even sweeter for him, I tell him that I agree that there’s something odd about Ursula contacting Paris the same day he’s hit.  Lyle reminds me that she had made a point of saying her husband was out of town which sounds fishy to him.  I tell him what Mrs. Jenson told me about her own husband.  It’s not that far a drive from San Diego to San Francisco.  He could easily have driven up here to commit the crime if he missed a day of the hunting convention, and who would be the wiser?  It’s not as if someone would have been keeping track of his movements 24/7.  He certainly has the temperament to commit cold-blooded murder, turn around and finish attending a hunting convention and not turn a hair.  Mr. Jenson is definitely a top suspect on my list as far as means and opportunity.  When it comes to motive, however, he falls a little short.  I can’t see him taking out his wife’s only living child, but stranger things have happened.

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Rainbow Connection; chapter six, part two

“Gary, we are here with Carol Sayers, the facilitator of the therapy group that Ashley was mandated to attend before her death.  Ms. Sayers, what can you tell us about Ashley?  Was she mentally disturbed?  Do the police think the group had anything to do with her death?”  The anorexic blond anchorwoman with her forced smile and wide-eyed stare stacks her questions in true journalistic style.  She may think it sounds assertive or exciting, but it’s merely sloppy and confusing.

“The police have not informed me of any connection,” Carol says calmly.  She is wearing a nice black skirt which reaches her knees and a snug-but-not-tight white sweater.  She has even applied makeup for the occasion.  “I firmly believe that Ashley’s demise has to do with her personal life and not the therapy group at A Ray Of Hope of which I am the facilitator.  I don’t think you realize the good work this group does for the women involved.  It’s a healing from trauma group, and many of these women have no other resources.  We are nonjudgmental, supportive and nurturing.  I believe this group makes a real difference in the lives of these women.”

I sit up in shock.  How can she talk about the group like that on television?  Granted, she doesn’t reveal any names or divulge any pertinent details, but I’m uncomfortable with her talking about it at all.  The women who attend the group do so under the assumption that it’s anonymous and private.  I don’t think prospective members would feel comfortable joining a group that is supposed to be confidential, but is high-profile.  It also strikes me as odd that she is talking about Ashley’s death if she truly believes her support group has nothing to do it.  It makes me wonder what her agenda is.  It seems almost predatory of her to seize the unfortunate occasion to promote herself.  I don’t want to hear the rest of the interview, but I can’t make myself turn it off.

“Take the night of Ashley’s murder.  I was at home researching on the internet certain points for my upcoming book on the dynamics of group therapy as I do most nights.  If it weren’t for the disrupting event of her death, would I have even remembered what I was doing?  Most likely not.”  Carol turns, stares right into the camera and smiles.

“I certainly don’t!”  The anchor laughs artificially, careful to keep her face slightly turned towards the right to show off her best side.

“My point is, everything takes on more significance when a tragedy such as this occurs.”  Carol nods her head wisely.  “It’s natural to think that because Ashley was in a therapy group when she was killed that the two are related.  As I learned in Psych 101, however, correlation does not mean causation.”  The anchor quickly wraps up the interview, thanking Carol insincerely for being there.

I watch the whole fifteen-minute feature without learning much more than I already know.  The few new facts I glean are:  Ashley didn’t have a girlfriend or boyfriend at time of death; her father is seeing someone, but no one knows whom; despite all her troublemaking, Ashley was a creative girl who got high grades when she bothered to attend classes.  Her father was not interviewed, most likely because he refuses to talk about the situation.  I gulp the rest of my beer, my mind still on Carol’s interview.  Why didn’t she mention it at group tonight?  I think it’s unprofessional of her to not at least drop a hint casually that she would be on television talking about the group.  I wouldn’t have pegged her for an avoider which makes her reticence even more intriguing.  I shrug.  It could be nothing more than opportunistic posturing by her.  I noticed that she managed to get a plug in for the book she’s working on.  I don’t like it, but I can understand.  She even mentioned the name of the clinic, so perhaps she was trying to drum up support for A Ray of Hope.

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Don’t Rayne On My Parade; chapter six, part two

My parents would try to make it better by buying me little treats or whispering in my ear how special I was in my own way.  My father would take me for walks, just the two of us, holding my hand so I wouldn’t get lost.  We’d stop off in Chinatown to buy some special dumplings or pastries filled with barbecued pork or red beans or whatever.  My absolute favorite were the buns filled with a sweet custard.  My dad would buy two and let me eat them all by myself.  He never said a word about saving one for my sister or my mother.  He would buy two, along with a bottle of sweetened soy milk, hand me a bun and the bottle while he held the other.  When I was done with the first bun, he would hand me the second and smile in pleasure as I gobbled it up.  I invariably ended up with a stomachache after finishing the two buns plus the bottle of milk, but it was worth it.  We’d walk home with bags bulging with food, but no custard-filled buns.  Those were mine alone, and I dearly loved my father for making that treat exclusively mine.  It didn’t take away the sting of my sister’s beauty, but it helped mitigate it.

I grimace as I think of him.  Even though it’s been nine years, I still ache to see him again.  He was my confidante as well as my father, and he listened to me better than anyone else ever had.  He would look at me, focusing his entire attention on what I was saying.  No television, no radio, nothing to distract him.  Sometimes, if a problem was especially tough, we’d hop a bus to Chinatown and buy some buns.  Strolling through the heart of Chinatown, we’d eat, drink soy milk, and talk about my problems.  I spoke mostly Taiwanese with my father, as he preferred it that way.  My father was patient and wise, telling me exactly what I needed to hear.  It may not have been what I wanted to hear, but it was invariably what I needed to know.  He never pulled punches with me or tried to sugarcoat the truth, for which I was grateful.  I knew that if my father said something, he meant it.  I appreciated that quality about him.

“Rayne!  I need ten copies of this yesterday!”  Alicia tosses a pile of papers on my desk, a scowl creasing her fat features.  Everything about her is round from the bun of gray hair on her head to her cheeks to her body.  Her cheeks are so fat, they push her eyes into slits.  I look away as she has a morsel of tuna melt clinging to her lower lip. I briefly entertain fantasies of telling Alicia off, but I tamp down the irritation.  I know much of it is residual from Libby’s emails, so I try to let it go.

“Not a problem,” I say, standing with documents in hand.  I walk over to the copier and punch the proper buttons.  It collates and staples for me before I can even whistle a happy tune.  I detour to Alicia’s office and drop it on her desk.  She just grunts at me before turning back to her work.

“How are the invoices coming along?”  Sandra, my supervisor, is at my desk when I reappear.  “There were a couple last week that you were late on.”  Because the counselors didn’t get them to me until after the deadline, I want to say, but hold my tongue.  Sandra doesn’t like excuses.

“It won’t happen again,” I shrug, but don’t apologize.  I have already decided that I’ll email Alicia once a week for the invoices, saving a copy in my send folder, which is known as covering my ass.  She’ll hate me for it, but I don’t care.  I don’t like being chided for something that isn’t my fault.

“Good.”  Sandra nods before returning to her desk.  Since her desk is in the room just off the ‘foyer’, I can see her firing up a movie on her computer.  I can only assume the director is doing the same.  I do a slow burn, but manage to keep my mouth shut.  I work on the invoices for the next couple hours, making sure everything is up-to-date.

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Blogging My Murder; chapter six, part two

“I’m going out for a while, but I should be home before too late.” I kiss Onyx and Jet on their heads before leaving, ignoring their cries as I do. I drive to South Minneapolis where my sister lives and sit in the car after parking. I steel myself for the encounter, taking several smooth, slow breaths. I always have trouble interacting with normies, and my brother-in-law is definitely a normie. He does something in marketing, and he’ll drone on and on about it for hours if you let him. Coral is a pleasant woman who greatly resembles her mother, and she has the strong will as well. She has marched in Black Lives Matter protests for the past year and a half, much to her father’s dismay. She and her husband, Jamal Harrington, are prominent figures in the local chapter. Jamal is a teacher in an alternative high school, and despite being built like a linebacker, he never played sports as a kid. He’s a crack hand at chess, though. We’ve played it a few times, and he’s whupped my ass every time.

“I can do this.” I turn off the car, lock the door, and knock on the door to Jasmine’s house.

“Megan, come on in.” Jasmine grabs me in a hug, nearly taking my breath away.

“Auntie Meg! Come play.” Michelle and Ing-wen fly at me, nearly knocking me over in their enthusiasm to hug me. They’re wearing matching dresses, red for Michelle and orange for Ing-wen. They both have matching bows in their curls, and they look too cute for words.

“Hi, girls. How’re my babies doing?” I hug them with difficulty as they squirm in my embrace.

“Come play with us! We brought our Legos!” They pull at my hand, but Jasmine shoos them away.

“Girls, let her say hi to everyone else.” Jasmine leads me into the living room where her husband, Bob, is sitting on the recliner, and Coral and Jamal are on the couch. Bob’s black hair is slicked back, and he has a grimace on his face as Jamal and Coral chat with each other.

“Aunt Meg!” Coral springs up and hugs me. “It’s been too long!” She squeeze my hand. “I haven’t seen you in ages.”

“Coral. You’re looking great!” I look her up and down with a critical eye. She’s lost some weight while still retaining her voluptuous figure. Her curly hair is pinned up in a sloppy bun which suits her Madonna figure, and she’s wearing a brilliant red pantsuit which guarantees she’ll draw every eye in the room. “Your girls are lovely, too.” I look around for Smoochie, Jasmine’s calico cat, but she’s nowhere to be seen. She’s thirteen, has a touch of arthritis, and the only people she like are her immediate family, so I rarely see her.

“They are the best of me and Jamal, that’s for sure!” Coral leads me to the couch, and Jamal rises to greet me.

“Ms. Liang. It’s a pleasure to see you again.” Jamal extends his hand and engulfs mine in his.

“Megan. Please. It’s good to see you, too.” I eye Jamal covertly, not letting on how attractive I find him. He’s six-feet four inches of solid muscle, his dark brown skin looking deliciously edible. His dreads fall halfway down his back, and his tailored suit is just itching to be ripped off. “How’re you doing, Jamal?”

“Just fine, Megan.” Jamal says with an easy smile. “My kids this year are riled up about Phil Castilo’s shooting, so I’ve had my hands full with them.”

“That was such bull—crap,” I say, changing the word at the last moment. I’m keenly aware of my two grandnieces hanging on our every word, and I don’t want to be the one to corrupt them. Granted, they are playing with their ‘Legos’ (Duplos) on the floor and don’t appear to be paying attention, but I know better. The last time I saw them, I said something was shit, and the girls suddenly looked up from their plushies and said shit loudly and in unison.

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Dogged Ma; chapter six, part two

Chapter Six, Part Two

“You know, that stuff is bad for you,” God said, leaning against my refrigerator.  I sighed as I turned to face Him.  He was in chartreuse this time, which was hard on the eyes.  Immediately, He muted it to a dusty rose.  I surmised He had chosen the chartreuse simply for effect.  How like Him.

“I hope You’re not planning on doing this after Gwen is born,” I said sharply, realizing the stupidity of my statement as soon as it escaped my mouth.  Of course, He wouldn’t stop visiting once His child was born.  If anything, He’d probably increase the frequency of His unplanned visits in order to meddle in Gwen’s affairs.  It pissed me off to no end that I no longer had a modicum of control over my life, and I voiced my displeasure to God.  “You know, You’re working my last nerve.  Couldn’t You at least have the decency to stick to a schedule so I don’t have to worry about You showing up unannounced?”  God didn’t answer, which ratcheted my irritation tenfold.

“This shit has got to stop,” I shouted, my hands on my hips.  I didn’t know if it was my hormones going in overdrive, but I’d had enough of the Almighty and His highhanded ways.  “Get the fuck out of my kitchen.  Now!”  God still didn’t speak, nor did He move.  Without thinking, I picked up a pan and hurled it at Him.  It hit Him in the pecs and bounced off harmlessly.  It fell to the floor with a loud thud, causing me to jump.  God slowly turned translucent as I hauled another pot His way.  This time, the pot went through Him, hit the fridge and slid to the floor.  Past caring, I hurled pot after pan after plate at Him, some smashing in bits when they hit the floor.  Some minutes later, I finally ran out of gas and sagged against the counter.  Eyeing the carnage with distaste, I grabbed the broom and the dustpan from the closet.

“You done with your little snit?”  God asked, having the audacity to sound amused.  He remained transparent, which greatly bothered me.  I didn’t like being able to see through God, but He didn’t give a damn about my feelings, or so it seemed.  “Or is there more you’d like to get off your chest?”

“I’m through,” I sulked, tossing the debris into the garbage can.  “What the fuck do You want?”  I knew my mouth was going to get me into trouble with God one of these days, but I couldn’t help myself.  Something about Him brought out the worst in me.

“I just wanted to tell you that you’ll be receiving a visit from My son shortly.  Ignore everything he says.”  God smiled suddenly, nearly knocking me over with the dazzle.  It was spooky looking at a pair of gleaming teeth set in—nothingness.  Just like that, He was gone.

“Shit,” I muttered, cradling my head in my hands.  When I had recovered from His visit, I picked up my cell phone to speed-dial Pie-A-Plenty, the nearest pizza shop.  As I was about to punch the button, a portal appeared in my kitchen.  Great.  It was Lucifer.  At least I was still in my work clothes, which meant a slim red skirt and a black blouse.  I chided myself for giving a damn and punched the button on the dial.  Lucifer was going to have to wait until I ordered my pizza before telling me whatever it was he wanted to say.  I was too damn disgruntled to deal with him on a partially-empty stomach.

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Trip on This: Chapter Six (Part Two)

Chapter Six (Part Two)

I stride to my car and drive to O’Reilly’s building, killing the engine once I have the building in sight.  I haven’t really planned what I’m going to do, but it doesn’t worry me.  My slate is cleared until I figure out what the hell is going on here, and I think O’Reilly will be my way in.  Like most pompous, arrogant pricks, he’ll most likely fold once a little pressure is put upon him.  I shift in my seat, trying to find a comfortable position.  I fish out a red scarf from my glove compartment and tie it around my hair, then slip on my Ray Bans.  I know that a stakeout isn’t anything like they show it on television or in the movies; it’s mostly tedious work.  Hours of waiting with little return, unless the action is prodded in an artificial way.  Since I am not known for my patience, I decide to do a little manufacturing.  First, out of idle curiosity, I call the number DiCalvo had given me.  I’m sure it’s a false number, so I’m not surprised to hear, ‘The number you are trying to reach has been disconnected’.  Next, I call O’Reilly’s office number after using my scrambler so he can’t identify my phone.  It occurs to me that I should purchase burners if I’m going to keep making anonymous phone calls.

“Caleb O’Reilly, how may I help you?”  His voice is smooth and just a step away from oily.  I can visualize the smug smile on his face which makes me itch to kick in his teeth.  I raise my voice and make it as breathy as possible.

“Mr. O’Reilly?  I’m an acquaintance of Mr. DiCalvo’s, if you know who I mean.”  I pause, gratified to hear a hissing on the other end of the line.

“How did you, who are you, I mean, why are you calling me?”  He’s disconcerted, but he hasn’t hung up yet.

“Mr. DiCalvo would like to meet you at his office this very minute.  He has an urgent matter to discuss.  About Angel.  Don’t try to call him as his phone may be bugged.”  I hang up the phone.  This is the tricky part, whether O’Reilly will fall for it or not.  I don’t doubt he’ll call DiCalvo—in fact, I’m counting on it.  I turn on my car and wait to see what happens.  Not five minutes later, O’Reilly is hustling from the building towards a silver Lexus.  How disappointingly clichéd.  He zooms off without looking around, so it’s a piece of cake to follow him.  Pretty soon, we are in downtown near the Embarcadero BART station.  To my surprise, he parks near Stacey’s bookstore and walks to the McDonald’s there.  I trail him casually, my cell phone glued to my ear so it appears that I’m just one of the throngs going to or from work.  I am still wearing the scarf and sunglasses, so I’m confident that I’m unrecognizable.

DiCalvo is already there, which means he’s closer to downtown than is O’Reilly up in North Beach, which isn’t saying much.  DiCalvo looks just as I remember him, but worse for the wear.  His leg is jittering under the table, and his eyes flit from spot to spot.  I quickly order a Diet Coke and a Quarter Pounder so I won’t look suspicious, then I slide into a chair a few tables away from DiCalvo.  O’Reilly has gotten stuck in a slower line so he’s not at the table yet.  I study DiCalvo without his noticing me, and it’s all I can do not to punch him out.  No matter how much I want to do him grievous bodily harm, what I want more is answers.  I won’t get those by muscling the punk, especially as O’Reilly is making his way towards the table as well.  The two of them are like Mutt and Jeff with one being a nervous wreck and a slob to boot while the other one is swathed in sartorial splendor and has a regal bearing.

“What the fuck are we doing here?”  DiCalvo blurts out.  “Who’s the bitch who called you?”

“Don’t know.  Not the oriental chick.  Not her voice.”  O’Reilly looks down at his Big Mac in disdain.  “Really, I don’t know why we have to meet here.”

“I like the food,” DiCalvo mumbles, biting into a hamburger.  “It’s good for what ails you.”

“Whatever,” O’Reilly says dismissively.  “Whoever it was mentioned Angel.  Perhaps it was the real problem woman.”

“She knows better,” DiCalvo says.  “She fucking knows better now.  The only calling she should be doing is for a fucking pizza delivery.  Bitch.  Why couldn’t she have been like the other bitches?”

“Because he slipped this time,” O’Reilly says coolly.  “He’s not infallible, you know.  Especially when he starts thinking with his dick.”

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