Monthly Archives: December 2020

Out of Sight, Into Mind; chapter four, part two

When I reached my room, I reached straight for the black section of my wardrobe.  It was my favorite color, but I didn’t wear solid black often as it made me look like a New Yorker wannabe.  I pulled on a black skirt my mom had bought me in Taiwan.  It was ankle-length, but very thin.  I pulled on a matching black top, also bought in Taiwan.  It bordered on see-through, but it was cute with its scooping neck and capped sleeves.  The Taiwanese knew how to make clothing that kept you covered but also kept you cool—and they looked damn good, too.  I twisted my shoulder-length hair into a bun and rimmed my ‘good’ eyes lightly with black kohl.  I added a dark red lipstick that finished off the look.  I pulled myself to my full height of five-feet five inches and gave myself the once-over.  I grabbed a few accoutrements and stuffed them into a black bag.  I declared myself done and went into the living room where Matt was watching SportsCenter.

“Damn, you look great,” Matt said admiringly, casing me up and down.  “Do you have a broom to go with that outfit?”

“Very funny,” I said sourly, pursing my lips at him.  I was in a foul mood at the prospect of talking to Kayla, and the last thing I needed was heckling from Matt.  “I’m out of here.”

On the drive over, I plotted my plan of attack.  I knew the only way to get Kayla to break was to go on the offensive.  She was the type of woman who could thrust and parry all day long without tiring.  I would have to jolt her out of her complacency in order to get anything useful out of her.  I had a hunch that not only did she know who had taken her son, but she wasn’t all the eager to retrieve him.  That wasn’t my intuition talking—just my gut.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say that she wanted harm to come to Danny, but she was looking out for Number One.  She had something to fear from the people who took Danny, and she had to make sure nothing happened to her while attempting to get him back.

I muttered a curse under my breath as I was nearly sideswiped by an SUV who was too fucking cool to use his side mirrors to change lanes, or, God forbid, signal.  I blasted my horn as I wasn’t ruled by the inane concept of Minnesota Nice that dictated car horns were strictly for show.  Although lately, that was slowly changing as more cases of road rage cropped up due to the changing demographics.  The SUV driver glanced my way as I passed her, an embarrassed look on her face.  She was yapping on her cell phone, of course, which was probably another reason she was driving like shit.  Look, folks, it’s this simple.  Most of you drive for shit when you’re doing nothing but driving.  Adding a cell phone to the equation was just asking for trouble.  There ought to be a law that cell phones can only be used for emergencies while driving.  The only exception would be if the driver had a headset so she didn’t have to touch the phone.

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Out of Sight, Into Mind; chapter four, part one

“Wake up, Scar.”  I heard an annoying buzzing in my ear which I tried to block out by placing a pillow over my head.  “Come on, Scar.  Get up.”  There was shaking involved, and I was ready to seriously hurt whomever was rousing me from the land of sleep.  “Scar!  Get your ass out of bed this instant!”  Someone was shrieking at me, and I didn’t appreciate it.

“Go ‘way,” I mumbled, burrowing deeper under my sheets.  “No Scar here.  Sorry.”  The pillow was plucked from my head, and light poured into my room.  I pried one eye open and saw Matt standing by the foot of my bed, his hands on his hips.  He was only wearing a pair of shorts which was nice, but he was glaring at me, which was not.  “Too early, Matt,” I groaned, pulling the covers up again.  “Go away.”

“Scar, Kayla got a note.  It was taped to her newspaper.  She found it this morning.”  Matt pulled the covers from me and tugged on my arm.  “I have to tell you about it!  Get up!  I made pancakes.”  Pancakes!  Well, why didn’t he say so in the first place?  I loved pancakes, and Matt made the best pancakes I’ve ever tasted.  I hoped he put strawberries in them because those were my favorite.

“Hand me my robe,” I said, rubbing the sleep from my eyes.  I slept in the nude, and I wasn’t about to get out of bed in front of Matt without some kind of covering.  All right, I knew it was ridiculous because he’d seen me naked before, but it was one of my rules.  If we weren’t having sex, I wasn’t going to be naked in front of him.  He didn’t have the same compunctions, but I wasn’t worried about that.  Matt snatched my robe from the floor by the door—I shed it the second I walked into my room—and threw it at me.  I shrugged into it, trying not to display any gratuitous flesh.  Matt had a slight smirk on his face as he watched me struggle to protect my virtue.  I stuck my tongue out of him as I successfully covered myself.  When I was robed, I got out of bed and followed him into the kitchen to grab some food.

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Out of Sight, Into Mind; chapter three, part two

About a year ago, Kayla graduated from booze and an occasional pot-smoking to the harder stuff.  She had been having a harder time getting through her sets at works, so her stripper friends introduced her to meth, which they said worked wonders.  She didn’t like it much, but she liked the energy it gave her.  She tried crack, heroin, and coke in rapid succession before deciding that coke was her drug of choice when she needed a little boost.  She promised herself that it would just be an occasional thing, but she found herself increasingly agitated the days she didn’t use it.  The customers looked seedier, her self-loathing was higher, and she was about ready to jump out of her skin.  About three months ago, she started using daily along with the booze and a Valium to come down before sleeping.  Somehow, she became hooked.  Her words, not Matt’s.  As if it serendipitously happened, as if she had no hand in it.

Though she made good money stripping and modeling, it wasn’t nearly enough to keep up on her house and her habit, not to mention her son.  She had a few men friends who helped her out from time to time, but she couldn’t be obvious about it.  She wasn’t a hooker, after all.  My private guess was that she had more than a few men friends and that she was less than subtle in her requests, but I let it go.  It wasn’t relevant to Danny’s disappearance, and it would just piss off Matt if I mentioned it.  Kayla had a dealer, of course, but she wouldn’t give Matt a name no matter how much he cajoled.  She was sure that her dealer had nothing to do with it, but Matt wasn’t as sure.  Neither was I, but I let that go as well.  I didn’t want to interrupt Matt while he was in his flow, so I saved all questions and comments until after he was finished talking.

About a month ago, her money had run out.  She had been careful not to ingest more than she could afford, but there had been a few really bad weeks at work.  One of her closest girlfriends, Foxxy—not her real name, of course—had OD’d and died while another girl had been raped by one of her ‘dates’ after a show.  Matt hastened to explain that it was really rape because the trick doped her drink before having his fun with her.  Turned out the trick liked to play with his switchblade while having sex, and the girl was still in the hospital.  Most likely, she would never dance again.

Stories like these couldn’t help but affect the other girls because they were too close to home.  All of them accepted ‘dates’ after the show, and nearly ninety percent were strung out on something or the other every day.  They knew it was a dangerous job, but they had to keep that out of their mind to do what they did.  The reality knocked it home just how fragile they really were, and it didn’t help that the cops didn’t give a rat’s ass about a stripper who got raped.  As a consequence, Kayla—working name, Circe—had used more than she normally did which left her short on rent money which meant she had to use the food money for the rent.  God forbid she do without her drugs—no, she rather give up food.  I wouldn’t care so much if it was just her starving, but she was also skimping on Danny’s nourishment.  That pissed Matt off as well, and he decided that when we found Danny, he was going to sue for custody.

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Out of Sight, Into Mind; chapter three, part one

A horrible feeling washed over me.  No, not that Danny was dead, but that Kayla knew exactly who had taken Danny and why.  If she didn’t know for sure, she could make a pretty educated guess, but for some reason, she was choosing not to share.  I knew that Matt was going to have to sweat her to get the information we needed, but I had a feeling that it was going to take a lot to get her to spill her guts.  For some reason, and I wasn’t sure why, she was more afraid of telling what she knew than she was of losing her son.  I knew Matt wasn’t going to like hearing that, but I couldn’t lie to him.  This was too important for massaging egos and tiptoeing around hurtful truths.  Matt was a big boy; he could take care of himself.

Danny was in a closet.  In an…apartment?  I couldn’t be sure.  It felt like a small space around the closet, but it was just a vague impression.  He was being fed three times a day and taken to the bathroom four times daily, but that was it.  The rest of the time, he was kept in the closet which locked from the outside, of course.  I concentrated harder, hoping to come up with more.  There were two people.  They switched off taking care of him, but they weren’t averse to leaving him alone in a pinch.  I had the definite feeling that Danny knew one of the people, but I wasn’t sure about the other one.  Neither person laid a hand on Danny, but they didn’t comfort him, either.  Neither told him why he was there nor what would happen to him.  I couldn’t tell much about the people other than they weren’t pedophiles.  Small comfort, but still a relief.  The picture faded out despite my best efforts, and I opened my eyes.  Just as I thought, Matt was watching me intently, waiting for me to impart my wisdom.  I finished half my sandwich while deciding what to say.  Then, I ate the truffle, partly to replenish my energy and partly to stall.  I hated to let Matt down, but I just didn’t have much.  I related as much as I could remember before falling silent.  After Matt digested it, he spoke.

“We have to work on Kayla,” he said, his voice wavering slightly.  “She has got to tell us what she knows.”  He slammed his fist down on the coffee table, making me jump.  “Goddamn her, goddamn her to hell.  What the fuck is she into that she has someone snatching her son?  My son.  Our son.”  Tears shone in his eyes, but he refused to let them fall.  “She knows the person, the people who did this, doesn’t she?”

“I think so,” I said cautiously, though I was ninety-eight percent sure.  “Like I said, she at least has an educated guess.”

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Out of Sight, Into Mind; chapter two, part two

“Kayla, where the fuck are you?”  He burst into her bedroom without knocking.  Kayla was bending over something, her body hiding whatever it was.  “Fuck it, Kayla!”  Matt strode over to her and knocked her gear to the ground.

“Matt, what the fuck?  You’re wasting some good shit!  I spent three hundred dollars on that!”  Kayla scrambled to the ground, frantic to salvage her powder.  Matt grabbed her by the arm and hauled her into a standing position with her spitting invectives at him the whole way.  “I need it, Matt!  My fucking son is missing, and my nerves are all shot to hell!  Just a little snort, come on.”  Good.  She hadn’t had an opportunity to fry her brains some more—maybe we could get some sense out of her.  Matt dragged her into the living room and shoved her onto the couch.  He towered over her, terrible in his rage.  She looked at him wide-eyed, but without fear.

“How the fuck could you, Kayla?”  Matt screamed, his hands clenched in fists.  I stood right behind him, ready to tackle him if need be.  “How the fuck could you not tell me?”

“I need it, Matt,” Kayla bleated before Matt’s words sunk in to her brain.  “How could I not tell you what?”  She looked befuddled as well she should.  She probably thought her secret was safe as she was the only one who knew.  Even Bobby thought he was the father, that Danny had been born premature.  Thankfully for Kayla, Danny had been born on the small side which made it easier for Bobby to accept that he was a preemie.  Bobby still saw Danny on the weekends and supported him generously, even though he and Kayla split soon after Danny was born.

“That Danny is my fucking son.”  Matt’s face was inches away from Kayla’s so she could watch and listen as he enunciated every word.  “How could you not fucking tell me?”

“What are you talking about, Matt?”  Kayla whimpered, her eyes filling with fear.  She tried to keep a smile on her face, but she couldn’t quite do it.  “Bobby is Danny’s father.  You know that.”  She looked away at the last second, unable to hold Matt’s gaze.

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Out of Sight, Into Mind; chapter two, part one

“Scarlett, thanks so much for doing this.”  Kayla’s eyes were reddened as she greeted me, but that might be because of whatever she was on.

“It’s Scar,” I reminded her sharply, knowing it was useless.  One of the things I loathed most about her—and the list was long—was the fact that she refused to call me by my nickname because she didn’t consider it a real name.  As if Kayla was any less made up.  “I’m doing this for Matt,” I added, feeling like a shit doing so.  Whatever I felt about this woman, her son was missing.  I could only imagine what kind of hell that was.  “I’m sorry, Kayla, about Danny being missing.”  I gentled my voice, not wanting to get off on the wrong foot.

“Do you want to see Danny’s room right away?  I’m not sure how this sort of thing works.”  The way she said it indicated the she considered it just this side of witchcraft, which was actually quite useful.  I wasn’t a witch, but I knew a few who had helped me out with a spell now and then.  I didn’t respond to Kayla’s comment as Matt and I followed her into her modest home.

“I don’t know how it works, either,” I said honestly, not wanting to give any false hope.  “I’ve never done anything like this before.”

“But Matt told me that you had ESP!”  Kayla protested, her eyes darting back and forth.  Her right hand was trembling, making me suspect that she was on coke or heroin.  No, I’ve never done either, but I had friends who did drugs.  No, not the witches—they were more into dandelion wine and things like that.  “You have to find him!”  Kayla clutched my arm with her red talons so hard, I winced.

“She’ll do her best,” Matt said, detaching Kayla’s claws from my forearm.  She immediately transferred her grip to his arm, and he took it like a man.

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Out of Sight, Into Mind; chapter one, part two

“This is pretty close,” Matt commented casually, not at all agitated as he would be if it were the Red Sox in the same jam.  Nevertheless, he watched closely as Nathan struggled through Rodriguez’s at bat, falling behind three and one.

“Don’t worry, the Twins are going to win it.”  I said it with confidence because I knew it was true.  Sometimes, I wanted something to happen, and it did about half the time.  Other times, I just knew how something was going to happen, and it always did.

“You calling it?”  Matt asked seriously.

How fortunate was I that he didn’t make fun of my abilities.  That could have something to do with watching the BoSox’s miraculous season a few years back, and I called David Ortiz winning game four with a homerun.  Not only did I call that, I called him winning the game again the next night.  I didn’t realize it would be in the fourteenth inning, and I thought it’d be another home run, but I called it out loud.  Every time he was up, I paid closer attention to the game as did Matt who was from Boston originally and never outgrew being a member of the Red Sox Nation.  Of course, he was impossible to live with after the Red Sox finally broke the Curse, but I could understand that.  I damn near lost it myself when I got to see in person the seventh game of the first World Series the Twins won back in 1987.  Now, Matt cheered for the Twins alongside me but only when they weren’t playing the Red Sox.  Oh, and I called the Red Sox sweeping the Cardinals in the Series.  Matt was skeptical before that, but he couldn’t deny my freaky powers after he saw them in action for the duration of the magical playoffs.  I even knew the Twins would lose to the Yanks again in the first round, but it didn’t take a psychic to predict that.

“I’m calling it,” I said firmly.  “Nathan may let a base-runner or two get on, but he’ll close the deal with a strikeout.  In fact, all three outs will be via strikeouts.”  Ok, I was just showing off with the last prediction, but damned if I wasn’t right.  Nathan walked Rodriguez before striking out Abreu and Jorge to end the game.

“You are too good,” Matt said in admiration after the last out was made.  “You really should bet on some games.”  I smiled but didn’t respond.  We’d had this discussion many times before, and I didn’t feel like going through it again.  Hell, if I were that good, I’d buy a lottery ticket and be done with it.

“I’m very good,” I said, dropping my voice to husky.  It had been three months since I’d had sex, and I was PMS’ing big time.  Matt wasn’t seeing anybody, either, so there was no reason we couldn’t indulge in some sports of our own, especially as it was Saturday night—which meant no work tomorrow.

“Oh, I know you are,” Matt said, leaning towards me.  “But maybe you could refresh my memory as it’s been a long time.”  It had been half a year since we’d had sex, but I remembered how great it was as if it had been yesterday.

We met in the middle of the futon and kissed.  There was something familiar about Matt that made sex with him simultaneously exciting and comforting.  It was really too bad that we didn’t suit as a couple because he was nearly everything I wanted in a partner.  I knew he felt the same way about me, but it’s one of god’s greatest tricks to make two people just miss being the perfect match.  I slipped my hand under Matt’s shirt, marveling at his taut body.  He stilled played baseball on the weekends with some of his old teammates, and he worked out almost every day.  He was borderline body dysmorphic, but he realized the absurdity of his mindset and managed not to go completely overboard with it.  Any time he edged near insanity, I was right there to pull him back.

“Your room or mine?”  Matt breathed once we broke off the kiss.

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Out of Sight, Into Mind; chapter one, part one

“You want spaghetti?”  Matt called out to me as I watched the Twins get trounced by the hated Yankees.  I didn’t answer because the Twins were mounting a mini-rally in the bottom of the fifth inning to pull within five.  Matt Garza had better shape up in a hurry, or I was going to demand they ship him out.  Hey, I knew he was only a rookie, but so what?  This was the bigs, baby, so you better bring your big-league game.  Too bad Liriano had to go on the disabled list.

“Twink, you want spaghetti?”  Like an apparition, Matt appeared in front of my face—standing between me and the plasma television.  Greater men have been hurt for lesser reasons, and I growled my displeasure as I jerked my head once in agreement.  Thankfully, Matt disappeared before I had to do him bodily harm, and I was able to watch my beloved Twins again.  They were nearing the third time hitting Mussina, and it seemed as if they’d figured him out.  I settled back to enjoy the show.  During the commercial, I actually deigned to talk to Matt, my longtime roommate.

“What do you think the chances of the Twins making the World Series this year?”  I asked eagerly, turning to look at Matt, although all I could see was his ass because he was bending over to get a pan.  As it was a nice ass, I didn’t mind watching it.  “They have Santana, Radke, Silva, and Nathan. They got Hunter in centerfield and a solid defense.  They got the M boys to boot.  All they need is one more starter and a power hitter.  I can’t believe they let Ortiz go, and look what he did for the BoSox.  What do you think?”

“I think you need to get laid,” Matt said, his head appearing again.  Though his fore wasn’t quite as fetching as his aft, it was still rather good-looking with his sandy curls, clear blue eyes, and engaging grin.  He had been a starting pitcher for the Gophers when we were at the U, and he still kept his body in tiptop shape.  “Any time you start obsessing about whichever sport you’re watching, it means you’re sublimating.”  Matt had been a psych major when we were in college with a focused interest in art, and he liked to bone up on his skills by psychoanalyzing me whenever he got the chance.  “Twink, I’m telling you, it’s not normal for a woman to obsess about sports the way you do.”

“That’s sexist,” I said crossly, my eyes still glued to the not-so-small screen.  “And my name’s not Twink.”  He knew it bugged me when he called me that, which was probably why he did it.  He also called me Viqueen when the Vikes were playing and Timberwolfie when the T-wolves were playing.  He didn’t have a cute nickname for me while I watched the Lynx, probably because they were a female team.  He enjoyed sports almost as much as I did, but it still amused him that I, a mere female, knew more about the games than he did.

“What should I call you?  Scarlett?”  Matt’s tone was snide as he deftly pushed my buttons.

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Duck, Duck, Dead Duck; chapter sixteen, part three

“Dodo!”  Mona shrieked, throwing her arms around me.  “What happened?  Mom said you were in some sort of trouble.”

“You can’t keep out of it, can you, Dodo?”  Hank asked affectionately, ruffling my hair.

“Dodo, what are we going to do with you?”  Owen asked, sighing and rolling his eyes.  Michele, who was with them, said nothing but just stared at me.  Taking a deep breath, I went through the litany again, stopping every time one of them had a comment, which was often.

“You scared the hell out of us,” Rafe said quietly, squeezing my hand.  He was subdued instead of being his usual effervescent self.

“You still haven’t told me why you’re here,” I said, squeezing back.  “I’m glad you are, but how did you know?”

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

I wondered why she was so mad at me as we had been getting along so famously before I made my move.  Most likely she was starting to think that we were bonding or some ridiculous shit like that and took my escape as a rejection.  Which was ridiculous, really, considering that she was going to kill me.  Talk about the ultimate rejection.  Then again, I didn’t think she was wrapped too tightly right now as evidenced by the high-speed chase.  I had a feeling that the only thing on her mind was removing me from this earth, and it didn’t matter whom else she hurt while attempting to do so.  I had a hunch she wouldn’t even care if she died as long as she took me with her.  I pressed on the gas and sped up to ninety miles an hour.  I was thankful that I was in my mother’s car and not mine because mine would never had withstood the pressure.

“Where are the fucking cops when you need them?”  I screamed in frustration.  I would take any cops right about now, not just Bradley and Sands.  Hell, I would kiss whatever cop came to my rescue, but the problem was that I couldn’t stop.  If I did, Antoinette would shoot me for sure.  So how would I get the message across to my would-be saviors?  I pushed the thought away and concentrated on driving.  “Please get the fuck out of my way,” I pleaded with the other drivers.  Most of them moved willingly as I careened by them, but a few refused to budge.  I didn’t know if it was stubbornness or ignorance, but I had to get by.  Sometimes I would weave through cars, nicking one here and there.  “Sorry!”  I yelled at the top of my lungs as I passed them.  I was sure they were cursing me as they should, but I had to get by.  I only prayed that some of them were whipping out their cell phones and indignantly calling the cops.

A thought struck me.  What was I supposed to do once I reached home?  I couldn’t lead Antoinette back to my parents’ house, and I couldn’t shake her.  I glanced at the gas tank and saw that I had half a tank.  To my great relief, I heard sirens behind me.  Antoinette must have heard them, too, but she didn’t care.  By this time, we were going well over ninety miles an hour, and she was still on my tail.  Now I had a dilemma.  What to do?  I had to exit.  694 was coming up, but I had to slow down to exit.  If I did that, Antoinette would catch me for sure.  Not to mention I had to move over two lanes as I was in the left lane again.  Shit.  I had to risk it.

“I’m exiting 694 west,” I shouted.  I still heard noises from my phone, so I assumed the operator was still there.  “There are cops behind us, but I don’t know how they can help since this bitch is trying to run me off the road.  If you hear a big boom, then I’ve crashed.”  More squawking which I ignored.  I had more important things on my mind, damn it!

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