“How was your day, dear?” My mother greeted me as I knocked on the back door again. Even though there were fewer reporters out front, I still didn’t want to deal with them. I never understood people who talked to the media in the midst of a horrible tragedy. The only thing I’d say to those vultures was, ‘Get the hell out of my face before I kill you’—otherwise known as, ‘no comment’.
“It was ok,” I said slowly, slipping inside. I didn’t tell her about my strange conversation with Tommy as it would just worry her.
“Your Auntie Zelda called. She’s worried about you.” Zelda was my mother’s sister and an inveterate brooder.
“Of course she is,” I said, slipping off my shoes. “Auntie Zelda worries about the depletion in the ozone layer, the deforestation of the world, the extinction of exotic species, just to name a few. I’d be surprised if she wasn’t worried about me.”
“You know your cousin, Frieda, is a cop. She told Zelda that the consensus in the department is that you were the real target.” My mom followed me as I walked into the living room and turned on the television. Taking the remote from my hand, she turned it off. I refrained from sighing at her heavy-handedness and reminded myself that I was lucky she had taken me in.
“So, tell me something I don’t know,” I replied, plopping down in the recliner. I pushed back so the feet section of the chair kicked out.
“This is not a joke, Beezus,” my mother said impatiently, squatting next to the recliner. I waited to see if she could find a Ramona comparison but highly doubted it. Murder was out of the realm of the Quimby family. “Remember when Ramona got her own room and was afraid to sleep in it because of the gorilla book?” I nodded, knowing that she wouldn’t go on until I had responded. “This is the opposite of that. You’re insisting on sleeping in the room even though there’s a live gorilla waiting for you.” I rolled my eyes. Even for my mother, that was stretching. “I know you use humor as your defense, but this is serious business.”
“I know it is, Mom,” I said, closing my eyes. “I just can’t think about it too much without freaking out.” Before either of us could say anything else, there was a rap on the sliding doors. Mom went to let in Rafe who looked about as tired as I felt. His countenance brightened when he saw that I was in one piece. He hurried over to kiss me on the cheek after inquiring how I felt.