Tag Archives: chapter thirteen part one

Duck, Duck, Dead Duck; chapter thirteen, part one

“Goddamn it,” I mumbled, the phone breaking through the fog in my head.  I squinted at the clock and saw that it was eight in the morning.  Normally, that wouldn’t be too early, but Rafe and I hadn’t gone to sleep until one-thirty.  “This better be fucking important,” I mumbled into the receiver without even checking to see who it was.  Rafe turned onto his side, but didn’t waken.  I envied him his slumber.

“Oh, Bea, I’m sorry.  Did I wake you?”  It was Brian sounding disgustingly awake, but not in a good mood.

“Yes, you did,” I said.  “You better be dying.”

“Um, no.  I, ah, just wanted to talk to you.  And Rafe, of course.”  His voice took on a pleading note which didn’t do much to move me.

“Call me at a civilized hour, and we’ll talk,” I snapped, hanging up the phone.  I switched it to vibrate before burrowing my head under the pillow.  Minutes later, I was back asleep.

“Wake up, Bet,” Rafe murmured in my ear.  It seemed like seconds later, but a glance at my clock told me it was ten.  I grabbed my cell and checked messages.  Sure enough, Brian had left a few.  It was urgent to talk to me.  Blah blah blah.  He’d like to meet me after work.  Seven at his place.  Whatever.  I supposed I’d see him tonight.  I had learned my lesson, however, and I told Rafe about it this time.  “We have other things to do first,” Rafe said, an impish gleam in his eyes.  He reached for me and for the next hour, we were strictly incommunicado.

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Rainbow Connection; chapter thirteen, part one

There is very little to be gleaned from my conversation with Derek other than Rosie’s strong sense of morality which only makes sense in the case of her murder if her belief system was her excuse for carrying out blackmail.  Asking for money from people she didn’t approve of to care for her child might have seemed like some sort of poetic justice to her.  Derek and I part, and I meander home.  My head is pounding from too much information and not enough evidence.  How I wish I had Paris here to bounce ideas off him—him and Lyle.  Speaking of Paris, there is a message from him on my cell phone which I have forgotten to turn on.  He is put out because he had to find out about Mariah’s death from the news.  I call him when I reach home.

“What the hell is going on over there?”  Paris’s voice has regained some of the vigor it had earlier lost.  “Who’s going to be next?  It better not be you!  Tell me everything.”  I tell him about Mariah’s death and what little information I have gathered about it.  I still don’t tell him about the second attempt on my life or the threatening note in my pocket because there’s nothing he can do about it from Memphis, and the last thing he needs is to be worried about me.

“Enough of that.  What about you?  How are you?”  I want to think about something other than the murders for a little bit even though I’d love to get Paris’s take on it.  It’s clear, however, that his mind is focused on the situation with his family, and I want to be a good friend and support him.

He is at his wit’s end.  His mother is wigging out.  Last night, she started screaming and couldn’t stop.  She kept saying it was her punishment for lying to Paris about being adopted.  She started pulling out her hair, and her husband had to pin her arms behind her back to keep her from making herself bald.  I ask about Lyle, hoping to take Paris’s mind off a difficult subject, but apparently, that is a touchy area as well.  Lyle is trying to be supportive, but understandably, is under tremendous strain as well.  He is spending the day alone because he needs some space.  While Paris can understand the need, it still makes him panic.  Any whiff of abandonment throws him into a tizzy, and they had a fight about it before Lyle took off.  Paris isn’t sure he can come back Wednesday after all with his mom in such bad shape and Mr. Jenson not being any use at all.  He just sits around, scowling, exhorting his wife to pull herself together.  I vaguely remember Mr. Jenson from when the Jensons lived in Oakland, but that was years ago.  He was very phlegmatic; I remember that much.  Seems he’s crossed the line into asshole-ness.

“I don’t mean to be flippant, Paris, but what about your mother’s deep relationship with God?  Isn’t that helping her at all?”  I am not a Christian, but I admire the faith that devout Christians have.  I wish I were that certain of a benevolent force having a positive interest in me.

“That’s the worst part, Rayne!  She’s renounced God.  She spent a half an hour calling Him every filthy name in the book.  I never thought I’d see the day when I wished she would spout Bible verses at me.”  Paris stops.  I hear a distinct sniffle.  “I don’t understand how someone’s faith can collapse like that.  It’s as if she thought because she believed in God, she was protected from bad things.”  I wonder if that’s why Rosie quit church as well.  Her son’s death certainly seems like a catalyst for the catastrophic events to follow.  I shake my head to remind myself that Ashley had been killed first.  I have a gut feeling, however, that Rosie’s blackmailing hobby plays a large part in this whole mess.  What if she found out something about Mr. Stevenson and tried to extort money out of Ashley?  A glimmer of something niggles at my brain, but I can’t force it to the forefront.  I let it simmer, hoping it’ll develop on its own.

“People deal with their grief in different ways, Paris,” I say soothingly, but honesty compels me to add, “Though I’m sure it’s not good to pull out your own hair.  Have you talked to her about seeing a therapist?”

“We are not people who resort to therapist,” Paris says in a sing-song voice, obviously imitating his mother.  Or perhaps his stepfather.  “We take care of our own problems, thank you very much.”  I restrain a sigh.  That is such a prevalent feeling, even in this day and age, and it’s so destructive.  I’m not advocating therapy for everyone or for every situation, and I balked at entering it myself, but at least I intellectually realize that there are some problems I can’t solve on my own and it’s not a weakness to seek out help.  “I almost punched my stepfather when he said he’d take care of my mother himself.  He’s doing a shitty job of it so far.”

“Maybe you should check out therapists yourself,” I suggest.  I don’t want to widen the rift between Paris and his stepfather, but it’s clear that his mother is not coping well at all.

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Don’t Rayne On My Parade; 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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Parental Deception; chapter thirteen, part one

“Good evening, Ms. Yu. Or do you prefer Mrs. Milton?” I hold a hand out to the tiny woman in front of me, feeling like a behemoth as I do. She’s as fragile as a porcelain doll with her dead white skin and small hands. She’s wearing a sapphire blue dress that is high-necked and reaches her knees. Her abundance of hair is French-braided and wound around the nape of her neck.

“Please, call me Linda. I’m not old enough to be a mizz, let alone a missus!” Linda smiles, displaying perfectly white and even teeth. She holds out her hand, and I take it hesitantly. I don’t want to hurt her, but her grip is firm.

“Linda. I’m Megan. Thank you so much for seeing me.” I release her hand and step into the hallway. I take off my shoes and put on a pair of the slippers on the guest rack. I’m surprised someone who’s younger than I am carries out this tradition, but I don’t question it. Again, I’m glad I wore a simple black dress as I would feel underdressed otherwise.

“George Tsai. A name I haven’t heard in thirteen years.” Linda says, her voice frosty. “Until last week.” She breaks off and adds, “Let’s go to the living room so we can sit down while we talk. Would you like some tea and some chocolate roll?”

“Yes, please.” My mouth salivates at the thought of it. There are few desserts better than a Taiwanese chocolate roll, and I haven’t had one in ages. She shows me to the living room before disappearing. I inspect the room, not sure what to make of it. The walls are a pristine white, which indicates there probably aren’t any children or animals in the house. There’s a stillness surrounding us that corroborates my theory, and I don’t see any evidence of another living being. There are paintings of flowers on the walls—they’re watercolors and not really my style. I’m sure they’re expensive, though, because they are in gold frames. Everyone knows that you only put expensive paintings in golden frames. The room is mostly bare, otherwise. There’s no television or media center of any kind. There’s a bookshelf by the black leather couch, which is filled with business books. There’s no fiction or poetry that I can see, not even a memoir.

“Here we go.” Linda comes into the living room with a tray that has a tea pot, cups, and a giant chocolate roll on it. Plates and forks, too, of course. Linda sets the tray on the coffee table before pouring us each a cup of tea. Green tea by the smell of it. Not a favorite of mine, but I’ll drink almost any kind of tea. Except Lipton because that shit is foul. I thank her for the tea and watch as she cuts me a thick slice of the chocolate roll. I put my fork to it, and it’s so tender, it nearly falls apart. It’s delicious. Dark, chewy, dense, with just a hint of ginger. Linda sits on a high-back chair that is opposite the couch, and her posture is ramrod straight.

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Marital Duplicity; chapter thirteen, part one

“Gah.” I sit upright as my phone bleeps Jasmine’s ring. “What?” I glance over at Rembrandt, who is as still as if he’s dead. I poke him in the shoulder and am gratified to see him roll over so I know he’s not dead.

“I got a note. Under my door. I can’t believe it, Megan!” Jasmine’s voice is hysterical, and I yank the phone from my ear. It’s fucking seven in the morning, and I didn’t fall asleep until after three in the morning.

“A note? What note?” I’m not tracking because I’m not fully awake. I need to be up for at least two hours and have five cups of coffee inside of me before I can form a sentient thought.

“A note from some woman! It says Bob is with her and that I should stop looking. Otherwise, I might end up like Reverend Yang!” Jasmine bursts into tears, and I can barely understand her. “Megan, will you come over and go to church with me? Reverend Yang won’t be there, of course, but we will have a service.”

“Jasmine—” I stop. I have no good reason not to go, except that I don’t want to and I’ll have to miss my taiji class. “OK. I’ll be there in an hour.” I get up and write a note for Rembrandt who is still out cold. I tell him that I have to go to church with my sister and that I’ll be back later. I let him know he can stay for as long as he likes. I put it on the nightstand next to his side of the bed before taking a quick shower. I put on a plain black dress and coil my hair on top of my head. Silver hoops, and I’m done. I give the cats more Temptations before slipping out of the house. I’m on my way to Jasmine’s house, and I make it in good time.

“Megan. I’m so glad to see you.” Jasmine grabs me in a bear hug, and she seems disinclined to let me go. She’s weeping all over my dress, but I don’t do anything. I allow her to squeeze the stuffing out of me for several more minutes before I step away from her. “I’m a mess,” Jasmine says, mopping her eyes. “Here.” She thrusts a folded piece of paper in my face, and I take it from her. I unfold it and read it. “Dear Jasmine, you don’t know me, but I know you. Your husband is with me, and there isn’t anything you can do about it. Stop looking for him; he doesn’t want to be found. If you or your sister keeps asking questions about him, you’re going to end up like Reverend Yang.”

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Dogged Ma; chapter thirteen, part one

Chapter Thirteen; Part One

“Where are you?  Are you still with Ted?  Call me.”

“OK, now I know you’re not still with your boy.  Call me!”

I laughed as I erased Ned’s messages, each increasingly agitated.  I had no idea why he took such an interest in my love life when his was infinitely more complicated and fascinating, but I knew I better call him before he busted a gut.  It was ten in the morning Sunday morning, and I had just gotten home.  Ted had skipped church this morning, but he wanted me to go with him at some later date.  I promised I would, and to my surprise, I was looking forward to it.  It would be a change from the Taiwanese church, that was for sure.  Speaking of, Ned should be there right now, but he didn’t go every week; I had a hunch he’d be home this morning just waiting for me to call.  I called him, tapping my foot as I waited for him to answer.

“Girl, what took you so long?  Did you just get home?”  Ned was at full decibel, which meant I had to hold my cell phone away from my ear.  “Oh, no, you didn’t!”  I could practically see him waggling his neck, even across the wires.

“Yes, I did just get home,” I admitted, a smile playing on my lips.  “You wouldn’t believe the drama.”

I wandered into the living room, sinking onto my couch as I did.  I was wearing a t-shirt and sweats borrowed from Ted.  Of course, the latter kept falling off me until Ted had fixed it with a quick basting.  I was impressed Ted had a sewing kit until he reminded me that he was a bachelor.  I liked wearing his clothes, however, and I wasn’t sure I was going to give them back.  I spilled the beans about Ted’s ex, and Ned was appropriately appalled.  He knew Lucinda, of course, and he couldn’t believe she would cause a scene like that.  When I mentioned that she’d been drunk, Ned hadn’t been surprised.  Seemed it ran in her family.  What a shame.

“Now it’s time to dish the dirt,” Ned announced once we were through analyzing Lucinda’s behavior.  “How was he in the sack?”

“I don’t kiss and tell,” I said indignantly.  “Especially not when it’s someone you know.”  I couldn’t resist adding, “I was completely satisfied, though, I’ll tell you that much.  We used a three-pack of condoms, if that tells you anything.”

“You go, girl,” Ned cheered.  He knew how difficult it was for me to find someone who complemented my libido.  That was the most crushing thing about Gary’s betrayal—he had been making excuses not to have sex with me the last six or so months we’d been together, leaving me frustrated more often than not.  While I was wondering what was wrong with him during that time, he was getting it on with one co-ed or another.  “I want details!”  He knew I rarely talked about my sexcapades unless they were one-night stands, so he wasn’t offended when I declined.  “I’m happy for you,” Ned said, his voice subdued for once.  “You deserve someone who treats you right.”

“As do you,” I replied.  Ned had known his fair share of heartache, so I was glad there was someone who put a smile on his face.  “How’s Alonzo?”  I had to listen to exactly how Alonzo was for the next ten minutes because unlike me, Ned did kiss and tell.  By the time he was done, I knew far more about Alonzo than I’d ever wanted to know.

“Oh, I have a great idea!”  Ned said after his recitation.  “I’m inviting you and Ted to my place for dinner very soon.  I’ll invite Alonzo as well, and it’ll be like a double-date!  What do you think?”

“That’ll be fun,” I said enthusiastically.  “Alonzo doesn’t hate women, does he?”  More than once, Ned had introduced me to one of his paramours only to discover that I was most emphatically not welcomed.

“Nope.  Some of his best friends are women.  He told me so himself.”  With that settled, I got off the phone.  I wanted to clean the apartment—something I did once in a blue moon.  Alas, it was not to be.

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Trip on This: Chapter Thirteen (Part One)

Chapter Thirteen (Part One)

“Wake up, Sunshine,” Mowgli shakes me out of a deep but restless sleep.

“Huh, what?”  I mutter, burrowing my head under the pillow.  “Shouldn’t you be oblivious or something?”

“Get up,” Mowgli repeats, plucking the pillow off my head.  With a reluctant sigh, I heave my body in an upright position.  I yawn and rub the sleep from my eyes.  I am not a morning person, and I do not like talking to anyone after a job, and I’m hungry, and someone’s trying to kill me.  I do not want to get out of bed on this sunny Saturday morning.  It feels like it’s the crack of dawn, but a quick peek at my clock tells me it’s almost noon.

“You are disgustingly chipper for a man who’s been shot,” I grumble, standing and stretching.  If I were at home, I’d be sleeping in the nude but out of deference to Mowgli’s delicate sensibilities—hah—I had worn a long t-shirt to bed.

“I need help washing,” Mowgli says bluntly.

“Well, how’s a girl supposed to turn down an offer such as that?”  I raise an eyebrow and motion for him to follow me to the bathroom.  I help him out of his shirt and sling and with a washcloth, sponge him down.  The doctor says in a few days, Mowgli can go without the sling if he’s a good boy.  Knowing Mowgli as I do, he’ll be out of the sling by tomorrow.

“What about the rest of me?”  Mowgli asks.  “I’m feeling grimy.”

“Up to you,” I shrug, leaning against the counter.  “It won’t bother me any.  You ain’t got nothing I haven’t seen.”

“Oh, yeah, I do,” Mowgli banters, grinning.  Under his smile, however, is a grimace.  He’s in more pain than he cares to admit, but is too proud to say so.  I know better than to foist a pill of on him, so I hold my tongue.  “Help me out of my pants, will you?”  I undo his khakis and slide them off him until he’s standing in front of me in silk boxers.  That’s my Mowgli for you—nothing but the best for him.

“Should I?”  I gesture to his underwear, but he shakes his head.  I wash him as best I can within the limits.  “That should keep you from smelling, at least for today.”

“I’m taking a shower tomorrow by hook or by crook,” Mowgli mutters, looking with distaste at his body.

“Well, since I’m of sound body, I’m taking a shower now.”  I push him towards the door, but he resists.

“At least help me dress first,” he protests, grabbing me by the arm.  After I finish dressing him, I take my shower.  Normally, I’m in and out of the shower in seven minutes flat, but today I linger.  I figure I’ve earned an extra ten minutes, especially as it’s not on my water bill.  The hot water beats against my muscles, working much like a masseuse.  Of course, that reminds me of Evelyn Sato who I had met so briefly.  It would have been nice to receive a massage from her, but it was not meant to be.  I hope she didn’t suffer much during her death.  I lather up my hair and give it a quick wash.  One nice thing about having short hair is that it’s easy to wash.  Once I’m through pampering myself, I step out of the shower ready, if not eager, to face the day.

I go back into the room to change.  Mowgli is sitting on his bed, watching the television.  There is no ‘breaking news’ about anything concerning our case which is good news, indeed.  I relax a fraction at the absence of more trouble.  Subconsciously, I was expecting one of the girls to end up on the news, dead.  Of course, there would have to be something spectacular about a whore’s death to make the citizens of San Francisco give a damn about it, but I’m sure the assholes could trump something up if need be.  By now, it is clear to me that the boys will go to any lengths to make sure that whatever they’ve been doing is covered up.  By the same reasoning, it must be really huge if they’re desperate enough to kill three women in cold blood and to set up a fourth woman—me—at the same time.  My anger grows at the thought of how expendable women are to guys like this.  Not just women, but girls—little girls.

Thinking about little girls reminds me of my hypothesis that these boys are involved in a kiddie-porn ring.  I ask Mowgli what he thinks, but he agrees that the stakes would be too high for our boys to get their hands dirty in something like that.  As distasteful as it may be, there are many ways for rich, powerful guys to lay their hands on children that aren’t quite as risky.  When I point out that frequenting hookers is risky, too, Mowgli rightly counters that so far, it’s only O’Reilly and Peters we’ve been able to peg as visiting the girls.  As for going to a strip bar—well, there’s nothing illegal about that.  If the mayor is involved and if he is Blanche’s boyfriend, his only real slip up we’ve discovered—legally, not morally—is whatever evidence Blanche had on him.

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