Tag Archives: Rafe

Duck Duck Dead Duck; chapter eleven, part two

“Let’s go through it one more time,” Detective Bradley said, sounding bored.  We were running through what had happened when I went out to the car and almost got shot, and this was the fourth time I had told the tale.  I didn’t know what else he wanted me to say because it wasn’t that dramatic.  At least Detective Sands hadn’t come, which made me happy.

“I opened the door and stepped outside,” I said snidely, not bothering to check my tone.  I was tired and achy and hungry as Detective Bradley had interrupted my breakfast which did not endear him to me.  “Just as I was closing the door, I heard something whiz by my head.  When I realized it was a bullet, I hurried back inside, but not before a second shot was fired.”

“Why were you going outside?”  Detective Bradley asked, as if he hadn’t already asked a hundred times before.

“I had bought my boyfriend some birthday presents, but left them in the car.  I went to go get them so I could wrap them.”

“Where is your boyfriend?”  Detective Bradley asked, taking a new tack.  He caught me off-guard with the question so it took me a minute to respond.

“We don’t live together, Detective.  He was, is, at his apartment.”  I hope, I added in my mind.

“Where was he last night?”  Detective Bradley continue, ignoring my tone.

“I don’t know,” I shrugged, careful not to dislodge my arm from the sling.  “Not here.”

“Any problems between the two of you?”

“Nope,” I said.  “Except that he doesn’t think I should be traipsing off on my own.”

“I would agree with that, Ms. Chen,” Detective Bradley said, scratching his jowl.  “So, you had words?”

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Duck, Duck, Dead Duck; chapter eight, part four

“Well, here we are,” Brian said, flicking on the lights.  “Home, sweet home.”

“You didn’t live together?”  I asked, already knowing the answer.  I just wanted to see his face when he tried to explain why they weren’t living together.

“Nope,” Brian said easily, ignoring the implied question.  “Take all the time you need.”  He gestured us into the apartment, and I blinked as I looked around.  It was nothing like I had imagined.  Lydia was ribald, but anal, wild, but uptight.  This apartment, however, seemed more appropriate for a girly-girl with its pastel-colored walls and lacy curtains.  Everything was overtly feminine with the doilies on the coffee table and crocheted afghans tossed on the couch.  The guys looked decidedly out of place in this dollhouse, and even I most emphatically did not fit in with the décor.

“My God,” Rafe said, looking awed.

“Lydia had a delicate side she didn’t show many people,” Brian explained, looking at the cotton candy mess seemingly with affection.  “I’ll show you to her bedroom.”  We followed him into a room with the walls a pale lavender and with a canopy bed smack dab in the middle of it.  I felt like Laura Ashley walking into that room.  There was even a doll with a china head and a frilly dress sitting upon the vanity table.  Yes, she had a vanity table.  There was a music box almost identical to the one back at her mother’s house sitting on the vanity table as well, right next to the doll.

“I’ll leave you to it,” Brian said, stepping out of the room.

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Duck, Duck, Dead Duck; chapter six, part one

“Beezus, you have got to listen to me.”  My mother was on me the minute I walked in the door.  She was on her second martini which meant it was a rough day for her.  “Frieda told Zelda that that boy you got fired, what was his name?  Your boss’s nephew—he’s pretty angry at you.  When they talked to him about it, he couldn’t stop cussing you out.  Called you the ‘b’ word and the ‘c’ word.”  It took me a minute to translate.  I knew what the ‘b’ word was—what woman didn’t?—but the ‘c’ word?  When I figured it out, I cringed.  That was one of my least favorite words.

“He wouldn’t be so openly hostile if he tried to kill me,” I said hopefully, slipping out of my shoes.  My mother ushered me into the kitchen so she can stuff me with tea and goodies.  If I stayed at my parents’ house for much longer, I was going to gain ten pounds.  I picked up the conversation where it’d left off.  “Carlos was probably just trying to scare me.”

“Frieda said he admitted to going to the park sometimes just to keep track of you.  That doesn’t sound like just venting to me.”  I went cold at the thought of Carlos watching me.  My mother must have read something in my face because she added, “Don’t worry.  Frieda read him the riot act and threatened to throw his ass—her words, not mine—in jail if he ever went near you again.  He seemed to take her warning to heart.”  I had to smile.  Cousin Frieda was over six feet tall and built like a linebacker.  When we were kids, I used to tease her that she must surely have Caucasian genes because no purebred Taiwanese girl could be that big.  It always made her cry.

“Maybe we should have this discussion after Rafe gets here,” I said, heaving a sigh.  I didn’t want to talk about it twice, and I knew that Rafe would want to hear all the details.

“Have you ever thought about moving in with him?”  My mother asked, her smile impish.  “You guys get along so well.  It’s as if you were made for each other.”

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Duck, Duck, Dead Duck; chapter four, part two

“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.

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Duck, Duck, Dead Duck; chapter three, part one

“What the fuck?”  Rafe jumped up from his chair and stared down at me.  “She was wearing your costume?”  He started pacing, keeping his eyes pinned to me.  “You sit there so calmly telling me about your coworker being murdered and don’t bother telling me until now that it could have been you?  What are you, out of your fucking mind?”  His voice had risen appreciably as he ranted.  I said nothing, knowing from experience that I had to let his machismo cool down a bit before attempting to have a rational dialogue.  I slipped on my inscrutable Asian face, folded my hands on top of the table and waited.

“Oh, no you don’t!”  Rafe growled, his face turning red.  “You’re not going to sit there and play Buddha babe with me, not now.  Talk!  Tell me how you could hold back such an important piece of information until now!  You could have been fucking killed!  Don’t you think I deserved to know that right away?”

“Rafe, please,” I sighed, my tone as even as I could make it.  “I realize that fact, believe me I do.  This reaction is the very reason I didn’t want to tell you.”

“Well excuse the fuck out of me if I’m a bit concerned that my girlfriend may be shot in the back while she’s dressed as an oversized mouse!  Why the hell would someone want to shoot you?  And did you tell the cops?”

“What?  Huh?”  Not an intelligent response, but I didn’t like it when Rafe yelled at me.  Come to think of it, I didn’t like it when anybody yelled at me.  “Why do you think someone tried to shoot me?  That’s crazy.  You watch too much Mystery! on PBS.”

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Duck, Duck, Dead Duck; chapter two, part two

“Rather strange coincidence, isn’t it?”  Antoinette interjected, cutting her eyes to me.  “The day you two switch costumes, Lydia is murdered.”  Although she was purportedly speaking only to me, her voice carries clearly across the crowd.  I flushed, but didn’t answer.  I figured it was better to save my words for the police than to waste them trying to defend myself.

“What the hell is going on here,” Eddie asked, huffing and puffing.  “What is Trixie doing lying on the ground like that?  Get up, girl.  It’s bad for business.”  Even though I was only a few yards away, Eddie didn’t bother to look my way.  He nudged Lydia’s body with his toe, drawing gasps from the crowd.  “What are you drunk?  I swear to God, Trixie, if you’re playing some kind of trick on me.”

“Eddie, that’s Lydia, and she’s dead,” Antoinette said in hushed tones.  It’s unbelievable to me that Eddie didn’t see the bullet wounds, but he’s not the most observant guy in the world.  “That’s Bea.”  She pointed to me.  It took a minute for it to register with Eddie what Antoinette had said.  When it did, he turned to me, a look of dismay on his face.

“Didn’t I tell you girls not to switch costumes?  Didn’t I, huh?  What did Eddie tell you the first day of work?  No switching costumes.”  Uh oh.  When Eddie started talking about himself in the third person, it meant he was losing his temper.  Granted, it’s a short way to go, but still, I didn’t need the aggravation.  Besides, the man needed to get his priorities straight.  Lydia and me switching costumes was the least of his worries.

“Eddie, Lydia’s dead.”  My voice was fierce as I tried to stem the litany I knew was forthcoming.  “This isn’t the time to worry about costume switches.  Did someone call the police?”

“I did,” Tommy said, flashing his cell phone in his hand.  “They should be here any minute.”

“Police?”  Eddie bellowed, turning white.  “What do we need the police for?”  No one was this stupid—no one.  It seemed as if our Eddie was, though.  Disbelieving looks passed between the members of the crowd.  “Let’s let our security take care of it.  Most of them are cops moonlighting, anyway.”

“It’s not that easy,” I said impatiently, not wanting to deal with this moron.  I was distracted by what he had said, however.  Where was security?  I didn’t see any.  In the distance, there was the sound of sirens roaring.

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Duck, Duck, Dead Duck; chapter one, part two

“Hey, girls!”  Delia Booth bounced over, and I do mean bounced.  She wasn’t wearing a bra as usual, and her thirty-eight double-Ds were very happy to see us.  She’s the newest edition to our happy animal family, and she’s still perky after working at this shit-hole for two weeks.  She must either be lobotomized or strung out on Valium.  Her dark brown hair was perfectly in place as was her makeup, even though she had just finished the same shift as Lydia and me.  She smiled a thousand-watt smile while covertly studying herself in the mirror.

“What’s up, Delia?”  Lydia asked in a bored tone.  I continued to primp, not bothering to greet Miss Homecoming Queen 1996 of Salinas High, thank you very much.  It was the first thing she told me when I met her right before informing me that Salinas High was somewhere in the great land of California.  I told her that even in Minnesota, we had geography lessons.  That had sailed right over her head.

“Just wanted to see if you girls would like to grab a drink?”  Delia had her hand on her slim hip and an expectant look on her face.  “I know it’s a school night, but I thought it’d be fun to get to know each other.”  I detected a hint of loneliness underneath the good cheer, but I decided to ignore it and take her words at face-value.

“Sorry, I got a hot date tonight,” I said, grinning evilly at her.  “When I get Rafe for the night, there’s no going out for us.”

“You are bad, girl,” Lydia said admiringly, slapping palms with me.  “Though I’m the same when I ride the Brian express.  No stopping that ride.”  We smirked at each other, ignoring the bewildered look on Delia’s face.  Lydia and I were not exactly friends, but we had more in common than most of the regulars.  “Not me, Del.  I have dinner at Mother’s tonight.”  She grimaced, unable to hide her distaste.  She told me that one Christmas, her mother stood on the table and did the can-can in honor of the movie Moulin Rouge.  Of course, this was after three or four highballs or whatever the hell it was that she drank.  Mrs. Wilkerson was a functioning alcoholic by day, a raging alcoholic by night.  Lydia has accepted that her mother was going to die fairly soon at the ripe old age of fifty-three.  I didn’t see how she could accept the news with such equanimity, but I admired her for it.

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