I strain to see the clock.
Only forty-five minutes have passed? since I last looked out of the window. It’s not a new day?
Swinging my feet into my slippers, I wonder if I dreamed the man in the cab. And funny. Something about my dream and the appearance of the man on the sideway convince me that I should pay Madame another visit before I leave. Grateful for the quality work the carpenters did on the steps I quietly steal down the steps. The door of Mom’s bedroom is closed—a sure sign that she’s inside.
I slip out the front door, and as I insert the key into the ignition, Mom comes running out of the house down the walk. I see rather than hear her calling after me, but I just keep driving with a small—very small—sense of satisfaction. I knew I should have asked her to borrow the car. I continue driving, but suddenly the desire to see Madame again fades. So I decide instead to drive Lake Shore Drive and downtown Chicago, not knowing when I would have this opportunity again. Trying not to cry, I eventually turn the car around, heading towards my old home.
Somehow, I find myself back in front of Mom’s house, still dazed. Still not ready to head into the house afraid of what I might find there I head around back to the willow to regroup. I don’t know what mood Mom may be in. If Cowen saw me earlier, maybe she did too and her reason for following me out of the house was for confrontation. Which reminds me of earlier times, best forgotten times. Times I refuse to repeat.
Before heading to the weeping willow, I decide to talk with Vie. This puzzle has too many gaps. Maybe she has more warnings that I should know about. And I want to know: why didn’t she say something sooner? Also, I have my own warning for her from Cowen about work tonight.
Instead of walking down the sidewalk, I cut across the back lawns planning the rest of my evening, all-the-while planning my exit.
After talking with Vie, I’ll head back to the house to get my things, then call a taxi for Mid-way’s Airport. For November the weather is pretty good, not too cold. I should probably be able to get a flight out. I’ll even take stand-by. The weather in New York will probably be similar. I’m looking forward to that!
So as not to disturb Vie’s mother I always used to use the side walkway to the door. Vie’s mother still worked long hard hours; she was rarely there with Vie. And before when she was there she had no energy to deal with Vie.
She had her during the change. That was probably why Vie was so thin and little growing up. But was that a growth spurt that she hit? thinking about her newly acquired assets.
I see a small light in the back window, and I hear Vie’s giggle.
The window must be open.
I wonder, who’s that with her? though reluctant to continue.
In the past if Vie had company I would just leave. It was never “the more the merrier.” But this time I decide wait to see if the person is about to leave, since I really want to talk with her before saying good-bye.
Hearing Vie’s voice again, I’m still not able to make out the words. But by her tone, low and seductive, I figure it’s a man--she entertaining. Maybe I should call her.
Reaching into my coat pocket, just about to walk away to dial her from my cell phone, the male voice stops me dead in my tracks.
He’s asking, “Why you trippin’? . . .You’re the one who had me look her up.”
Now, with her anger up I hear her, “But I didn’t mean for you to like her.”
“What makes you think I do? . . . Just because I’ve got her diary? . . . I thought you wanted it. Get all her deep thoughts.”
“You’ve got her journal?”
“Yeah. You proud of me?”
Screaming, I can hear by his grunt that she’s obviously landed on him, saying, “Proud of you? Are you kidding? You bet I am.”
Sky’s tone goes deeper, “Then show me how much.”
Glued to my spot, I think: Surely that is not Sky’s voice! And surely that are not talking about my missing journa? … Is this what I think I am hearing? That Vie initiated my meeting Sky, if that is his name? … And if she did, was she also responsible for Mom getting in touch with me?
Anger has me creeping to the window to take a look at these two monsters with my own two eyes. I refocus on her saying, “You know what this got me the last time,” her voice instantly serious, closer to the window.
“You were supposed to take care of that, speaking of which, what happened to the kid?” he asks casually.
A silence, maybe long in my mind, exists causing me to hold my breath.
No giggling Vie, now.
“What?” he asks, suddenly angered. “Don’t get indignant with me.”
“You want to know where is she? . . . Now you want to know? . . . Where were you when I was having it? You know I almost died; I almost died having her. Did you know?”
“Who told you to have it? I didn’t. I told you get rid of it; but since you didn’t, I want to know where she is.”
“Did you think that when you left I would keep her?” Vie asked her tone razor sharp.
“Let me ask you again; where is she?”
“Let go of me; you’re hurting my arm.”
“If you don’t answer me your arm won’t be the only thing I hurt.”
Suddenly Vie laughs.
“What do you care?” she asks, her voice filled with pain and disgust.
I wonder: what should I do? Does she need my help?
About to standing on tiptoe I stop when I hear Vie laughing again her spiteful laugh.
“Who do you think you are? Did you really believe I’d take care of a sick baby after you left me?”
“I didn’t leave you.”
“You weren’t here.”
“Don’t try to put this all in my lap. . . What about you? You’re no saint yourself. You should be glad that I even came back. You think I like knowing that you gave me Aids?”
“You’re such a liar! You don’t have Aids!”
“HIV. What’s the difference? Point is, I got it from you.”
“You don’t know that! You’re no saint. Anyway,” Vie’s voice changes again, “you should be happy that I even want to talk to you. Why did you come back? Miss me?”
Torn between wanting a good look at these two and afraid of getting caught, I stay put, wanting to know, where do I fit into this picture?
“Of course I missed you. You know I did. And I have to admit you look good. What? Is that outfit for me or are you working tonight?”
“Yeah, I’m working; but I’ve got time.”
“Unfortunately, Vie, honey, I don’t. Diamond’s dad is playing at the Regal tonight, so I gotta run. But maybe I can stop back by?”
“I thought earlier you said . . . why are you going to the Regal?”
“What business? What do you care about Diamond’s dad?”
“Look, Vie. Don’t go sounding all jealous on me; you’re the one that gave me this idea.”
“What idea? I just told you to keep an eye on her, not get involved with her dad. Sky, I’m telling you. She’s not your type, she comes from crazy.”
“Comes from crazy? What are you talking about?”
“Diamond’s mom, Crystal is crazy. The woman is giving Cowen fits.”
“Diamond’s employer. He’s ‘Hot’ and Crystal’s been stalking him, even harassing his wife. At least she did before she died.”
“Who did what before she died?”
“Harassed her. You listening? Crystal harassed Cowen’s wife to death. So if you go falling for her you’re crazy. You know what they say, ‘A apple don’t fall too far from the tree.’”
Sky starts laughing, which I know infuriates Vie. “But Vie. What do you think I’m doing?”
“I don’t know? What are talking about?”
“Why am I here?”
“You said ‘for me’.”
“Well, partly, but you know I need money, right?”
“I guess, but I’ve got money.”
“That’s good, we’ll need it. But I’ve also got a plan that includes Diamond’s dad, Mr Raven. And it calls for a little honest stalking. So Vie, don’t they also say, ‘don’t knock it til you’ve tried it’?”
Vie must have given him some weird look for that statement--.
“But look, I’ve really got to go; I’ll tell you how it works out.”
At those words I also take off racing back across the neighbor’s lawns to our backyard, my heart beating wildly in my chest, from the quick exertion or the newly found knowledge, I don’t know which.
But I don’t want him to see me.