Chapter Eight (Part Two)
“I feel pretty, oh so pretty,” Vandalia is singing as I enter the apartment. “Why, hello, Trip! Isn’t this a glorious day?” She smiles at me in the manner of one who’s just been thoroughly fucked. “Who would have thought young Greeley would have had it in him?” She giggles as she waltzes around the kitchen. “By the way, nice disguise.” I have shed the wig, but I still look drab in my ‘I’m trying to blend in’ ensemble. “That’s my wig, isn’t it?” Vandalia asks, spotting it in my hand. “Oh well. It didn’t suit me, anyway.” I hate talking to people in lust. They think everything they do, say, and feel is so profound when it’s simply inane. Without fail, sex brings out the stupid in people—that’s why I tend to stay away from it except as a strict physical release. Who needs the complicated shit that accompanies romance?
“Got anything to eat?” I ask, opening the fridge.
“Yes, and thanks for asking how my night was,” Vandalia says waspishly, but quickly regains her sunny mood. “Can you believe we did it four times in five hours last night? I feel as if a train has plowed its way through my thighs.” She giggles again as she continues to hum and sidestep around the kitchen. “Girl, there’s nothing like a good loving to cure what ails you.” She flicks her eyes up and down me. “You look as if you could use a good fuck.”
“What I could use is Andretti’s and O’Reilly’s nuts in a vise,” I growl, pulling a container of egg salad out of the refrigerator. “Then I’ll work on getting laid.” The bartender from Tosca’s flits through my mind, but I can’t remember his name.
“Girl, you know what they say,” Vandalia drawls, pointing at me. “It’s gonna plumb dry up if you don’t use it.” It’s irritating that Vandalia has seemed to appoint herself my big sister, but I am beholden to her because she’s letting me stay in her apartment, so I keep my mouth shut.
“I’m going to check the news,” I say abruptly, taking the egg salad sandwich I made into my bedroom. I power up the computer and wait impatiently for my Yahoo! homepage to show its sweet face. I zip over to the Chron’s webiste, and grit my teeth in anger. The news I’ve expected to see is there billed as breaking news, and it’s worse than I thought.
“Cops Get A Break!” The headline screams. The story goes on to say that a witness has come forth with the information of seeing an Asian woman breaking into the building of one Angelica Sylvian the night she was murdered. There is a fairly detailed description of me along with a police sketch that, amazingly, looks eerily similar to the real me. ‘The police state that this woman, placed in her early twenties, is at the very least a witness and at the most, a suspect. They would like to question her, so she should do her civic duty and turn herself in.’ I have to laugh at the last statement—why in hell would I voluntarily turn myself in knowing what I know? The writer must be smoking crack to think that I’m going to pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey, this is the woman seen breaking into Angelica’s apartment. How may I help you?’ Even if I don’t show up at the cop shop, they can trace where I’m calling from, and besides, my interactions with Andretti and O’Reilly have convinced me that they have connections in high places, most likely including the cops. It’s a no-go on me turning myself in, thank you very much. I check the Examiner as well, which carries the identical story, except, they emphasize even more strongly that I’m a suspect and not just a mere witness. I curse under my breath, then stop. Why now? It’s Thursday, the third day after the murder. What do the Handy Man and Silver Tongue have to gain by alerting the cops to my presence now? Is it because they know I’m dogging their every move and are worried that I’m getting too close, or is it something else? I know they set me up to take a fall for Angel, but what about Evelyn? What is going down tonight, and am I going to be blamed for that as well? I find the timing of this ‘news break’ odd, but I can’t figure out what the reason for it is.
“Vandalia? Can I talk to you a minute?” I walk out to the living room where Vandalia is watching the soaps. Instead of sudsy activity, however, there is—you guessed it—breaking news. She’s watching with rapt attention as the composite sketch of my face appears on the screen.
“That’s you,” she says needlessly, her mouth dropping open in awe. “I mean, I knew you were in trouble because Roberto told me so, but I never expected…” Her voice trails off just as my cell phone rings. I find my bag in the kitchen and fish my phone out of it. It’s Mowgli.