Damn, it was hard to keep a secret from Maryanne. That woman was so confounded nosey. Asking this, asking that, her voice going all reed-thin like it always did when she didn’t believe a word I was saying.
“And you’re telling me that this time you gotta stay late and work on Mr. Redwine’s truck.” The racket the twins was making in the background pretnear drowned out her voice. “For Pete’s sake, you’re a carpenter, not a mechanic.”
One of ‘em—most likely Alex, he was the noisy one—let out a high-pitched squeal that stabbed my throbbing head like a rusty pitchfork. I yanked my cell away from my ear, whispering “holy shit” through gritted teeth.
Squawk, squawk, squawk spitted out of the phone. I lifted it back to my ear.
“—and we’re gonna talk about it when you get home. This’s been going on for months. Two or three evenings a week, something’s come up and you’ve been getting home late, dark or after. How you been driving nails in the dark, Hershel Thurman Patterson? Huh? You tell me. And your paycheck sure ain’t been getting any bigger.”
Lord-a-mercy, the lying was getting harder and harder to live with. “I…uh…the truck…” Good thing I didn’t have one of them there smartphones. I’d heard tell you could track a body if he had one on him. Continue reading
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My feet stepped light and quick and I was at the bed and I raised the bat and I started down with it. Mama’s eyes popped open.
“Shasta!” Mama threw up her arms, and the bat hit them and not her head. I raised the bat again, but before I could bring it down, Mama reached up and grabbed it and yanked it out of my hands. Then, quick as a cat, she scrabbled up on her knees. Her arms straight and stiff, she held the bat out between us like it was a cross and I was a vampire or something. “What are you doing?”
I had to get it back. I had to stop her. I had to kill her!
I lunged for the bat, but Mama jerked it aside. I fell flat on my face into a cloud of bedcovers that smelled like lavender bath salts. And then the smell was all around me as Mama rolled me and wrapped me and I could hear her crying and saying my name over and over again. I couldn’t move my arms or my legs. I could barely breathe.
Then over the sucking noises I was making and the sniffling noises Mama was making, I heard Joey. Crying.
Mama went dead quiet like she was holding her breath. I felt the bed jiggle, then go still. Then from a ways off—I think out in the hall–“Joey…”
I felt a sharp tug and I rolled and rolled, out of the bedclothes and onto the floor. Tock loomed over me, a frown pulling down the corners of her mouth, allowing only two long fangs to poke out. Boy, did she look mad. Continue reading
When Tock the cat came to visit, she made me do mean things. Mama said to ignore Tock, that she wasn’t real, just in my head. But how could I ignore something ten feet tall and purple all over that yelled at me to hit things?
And really, I didn’t want to ignore Tock ’cause she was fun to play with. Boy, could she make me laugh. She made Minute Hand and Second Hand, the two rats that lived in the wall behind the cook stove, do all kinds of funny stuff. Like dance on the table while we ate supper. ‘Course, it wasn’t very funny when they tramped through the potato salad. Yuck! Who wants to eat potato salad that rats have tracked in? Not me. And I didn’t want Mama to eat any either, so I pitched the bowl with its squishy yellow footprints out the back door.
And that made Mama mad. Continue reading