Fairy Tales & Fables
"·.And the moral of our story is·.."
We sat in silence for nearly twenty minutes, while I devoured two more shots and tried to assess the situation. I was really impressed that she managed to let me have this time to myself to just weigh the pros and cons and basically just take stock of my life, (which was clearly now forfeit.) I stood up from the chair and decided to look in on 'eye-candy' and maybe clean up or something, since I wasn't sure how much longer I could sit at that table with her staring at me with that little grin.
I picked up 'eye-candy' who was starting to stir, and deposited him on the couch in the living room. I stood in the missing panel of glass and whistled at the girl on the phone. "Where's your broom and dustpan?"
She shrugged. "How should I know."
I nodded. "Of course you don't know." I mumbled to myself. "That's what the help's for right." I spoke loud enough for her to hear.
She smiled at me and hung up the phone. "Well duh, but I do know where it is in my own house."
I opened my mouth to say something snide and then her words unfolded them selves in my brain and didn't make sense. I raised a dark eyebrow and pursed my lips. She shrugged and whipped off her sarong, to reveal the matching bikini bottom. I blinked as I lost my train of thought, but looked at the ground to settle myself. "What do you mean you know in your house? Whose house is this?" She shrugged and then turned around to put on her jeans. I immediately turned my back out of respect as I got an eyeful of a firm tanned rear end, that you could definitely bounce a quarter off of , if not a brick.
"You can stop being modest now." I could hear in her voice that she was trying not to laugh.
I couldn't think of a come back, as I coughed into my hand and stepped out of the doorway. "Are you going to explain."
"What's to explain Charlie." She started buttoning up her shirt. "It's not my house, so I don't know where anything is."
I avoided the path her hands traveled as she buttoned her shirt. (This job was going to suck, for all the wrong reasons and the right ones.) Thank god I was looking at the ground or I would have seen her dragging her tongue across her teeth and grinning at me. "Who does it belong to?"
I looked up at her when she was silent and watched her shrug. I sighed and rolled my eyes. I counted backwards from five and settled myself to keep from yelling. "You broke in?" It was barely a question. She raised her eyebrows and smiled. I threw my hands up in the hair. "Of course you fucking broke in. And now I've touched everything in the house and so have you and so I gotta clean up."
She chuckled and walked towards the door, stopping to pat my cheek. "I'm going to the car Char-lie, don't take too long." She patted me on the butt and smiled as my jaw tightened. "Oh and Char-lie," she moved through the doorway "the paper towels, are in the kitchen·under the sink." She clicked her tongue and walked through the kitchen out of the front door. I just fixed my eyes on the blue of the poolwater and counted down from 10. I briefly wondered how far I would get if I killed her. Carlo was so wrapped up in his campaign he'd never know his only daughter was missing. Since I wasn't calm by the time I counted down from 10 I put my foot through other glass door and started to feel better since I was imagining Wade's face at the time.
I walked to the table and drank from the Tequila bottle. I rolled my neck around until it cracked and then walked back inside to clean up. I decided to leave 'eye-candy' right where he was, since an anonymous tip to the patrol service would make some rent-a-cop's dream as he apprehended the schmuck who trashed the house. When I got to the car, which was a Porsche, I dropped a couple of bottles of alcohol (that I had liberated) into Wade's lap and walked around to the driver's side. I slid into the bucket seat and brought the engine to life. (At the very least I was going to enjoy this car). She beamed at me and ran her fingertips across my jaw line.
I snapped my head in her direction and growled at her with enough force to make her move to the door. I followed her until I could smell, the Wrigley's chewing gum on her breath. "There are rules." I took her rapid blinking as a sign of understanding. "One, don't fucking touch me. Two, don't say shit to me unless it's giving me fucking directions. And three, you buckle your seat belt and keep your eyes forward and don't touch the radio." She swallowed hard and sat back in the seat as I strapped on my seat belt.
Out of the corner of my eye I watched her put on her seat belt and then she turned towards me. She was smiling. I snapped my fingers before she could even form a sound. "What did I just say. I'm not in the mood right now, so zip it!" She opened her lips and sighed. I curled my lip up at her and she grinned.
"I can't even breathe?" She gave a little pout.
I shook my head and put the car in gear. "Ms. Worthing it's for your own safety, so please." I decided I was going to keep this formal, since that would probably be the only way I was going to survive this week. I could see her smile in shock, but I didn't give her a chance to make a comment as I pulled out of the parking spot at about 50 mph and never left fifth gear.
* * *
My charge had been surprisingly quiet during the car trip, so I was enjoying the oldies station, that only played 70's and 80's music, without aid of her interjections. After about ten minutes, I guess she realized we were in the city and as far as I knew, her dad didn't live down here. I could see her purse her lips in a small pout and turn towards me. I kept my eyes forward as I swung into lunch time traffic.
"Um, chauffeur, where are you taking me?"
I didn't even bother to glare at her. "Well seeing as how I don't know how to get to daddy's little house, we'll run my errands until you open your mouth and decide you want to go home."
"Oh, I figured as much."
I wasn't going to say anything else to her, but the way she spoke, she was clearly insinuating something and I just wanted to be on the same wavelength. "Figured what?"
She shrugged and drew up her air-dried hair into a curly ponytail. "What did you call me earlier·oh yeah, a pissant miscreant. That's what you are." She raised a blonde eyebrow at me and ran a pink tongue across white teeth.
I shook my head in disgust at the small hint of arousal that ran through me. (I was going to have to talk to her about that tongue and teeth thing.) Maybe I'll just tape her mouth shut or put a bag over her head or better yet just dress her in a moo-moo and lock her in the closet.
"What no smart ass comeback, huh, Char-lie? You're not going to tell me to shut up again. Why don't we pull over and you can man handle me a bit."
I let out an inaudible growl as I whipped off the ramp at 75 miles per hour and then deliberately tested the anti-lock brake system as we came to a stoplight, only inches before ramming into the back of a police cruiser. I was glad I left my sunglasses on, because when I snapped my head in her direction, instead of seeing a scared little girl huddled in the seat, I found an imp of a woman wearing a grin that was somewhere between pure excitement and extreme arousal. (I hate my life. I hate my life.) "I swear to God, I'm going to snap your fucking neck, if you don't put a lid on it." Had it been four years earlier, regardless of who her father was, I would have made good on my threat.
Full lips formed a teasing pout. "Oh Char-lie, you are the most adorable little thing." She raised her hand like she was going to pinch my cheek, but I bared my teeth at her, and prayed to God that she could feel the rage rolling off my body. She winked at me and sat back without touching me. "So mean, I swear. That can't be good for your blood pressure." My growl was swallowed up by screeching tires as I pulled off. She threw back her head in laughter. "I'll let you run your little errands, but we need to stop first."
"For what?" I spit out
"Need to change Char-lie. Can't go out like this." She slapped her hands against her thighs.
"You're under the delusion I'm letting you out."
She chuckled. "Char-lie, don't you get it, for the next week you're my little shadow, don't you know that little song." She hummed a bar and I purposefully drove like I was trying to qualify for NASCAR. She didn't even flinch. "Anyway, you go where I go, and we need to go to my apartment. It's on President street."
I practically took out a mother of three as I blew through the cross walk and double parked on the sidewalk. I didn't say another word to Wade as I ripped the keys out of the ignition and got out of the car. I was standing on the sidewalk, hands folded across my chest, tapping my foot, counting down from 15, when I noticed she was still in the car. She raised a blonde eyebrow at me expectantly. I spit on the ground and she just grinned. I kept reminding myself that I couldn't kill her at least not in broad daylight, so I sucked it up and wrenched the door open forcefully, but with enough control not to scrape the door.
She was putting on her display of southern charm as she extended her palm to me. I wondered if I broke her wrist would I get in trouble. I gave her fingers a light squeeze as I helped her out of the car. She was all smiles as I slammed the car door. "Why thank you Char-lie, you're such a gentlemen. Oh wait, but you're not." For a split second, I wondered if I adjusted the slight bulge in my pants if the mere thought of what was in my pants would cause her to pop a blood vessel. (On second thought, she'd probably get a kick out of it.)
I grinned and spoke with my own sappy southern accent. "It's called manners, pissant, oops I mean ma'am."
She smirked and leaned back against the car. "Manners eh? And here I thought it was just a job."
My voice was sickly sweet as I replied. "Burden, obligation, whichever, but job works for me." The briefest hint of sadness passed through blue eyes and I was almost sorry I said what I said. She kept the grin on her face, but I heard her mumble as she moved past me, "it always is." Before my brain could disconnect and leave my mouth to its own devices, she turned around and was all smiles.
"Aren't you coming Char-lie?"
I shook my head. "I'll just wait here Ms. Worthing."
She huffed as she walked back to me and grabbed my by the arm. "Drop that Worthing shit and come on." Once I budged she let go, satisfied that I would follow. Apparently three steps behind her was too far away, so she turned back to me and hit me with that smile. "Hey, if you're nice to me, I'll let you drive the Jag." She wiggled her eyebrows and walked into the lobby. I opened my stride, and sighed at my easy manipulation. I followed her into the elevator thinking to myself that as much as my job sucked, sometimes the perks were worth. So far, Wade was two for two, but I wasn't sure how much longer I could keep this up.
We rode the elevator in silence, she humming to herself, with that grin on her face, and me doing my best to decide how the Braille numbers came to be. I had reached no firm conclusions as we walked off the elevator on the 21st floor and proceeded to walk to her apartment. (For once, I wish some rich guy would just buy his little girl a normal apartment in a semi-decent part of town.) Of course, Worthing's little girl lived in the penthouse, with the French doors, floor to ceiling windows, furniture from Horchow and Ethan Allen, brass and chrome, all mixed up with Tiffany lamps and chandeliers. I wonder if she even knew her maids name or how to change a lightbulb. She probably didn't even know what kind of gas to put in her car, if she even stooped so low as to pump her own gas.
My skin was crawling and it had nothing to do with the leather couch I was standing next to. She raised an eyebrow at me as she stood in the middle of the living room and began picking at her buttons, like she was toying with the idea of getting undressed right there. I closed my eyes and pretended to be yawning when I saw the tip of her tongue protrude out behind white teeth. She laughed. "You can sit down Char-lie, I'm sure your clean."
"First off, my name is one word Wa-ade. Secondly, I'm not so sure if you are." I raised my eyebrow at her as I gave myself an imaginary two points.
She sucked her teeth and then grinned. "Ooh, I just knew you could get down and dirty." I groaned. "Aw,I don't be such a stiffy. Fix yourself a drink along with the one you're fixing me and I'll be back in a jiff."
I put my hands on my hips about to make some remark, but she just smiled and skipped off down the hallway. I shoved my glasses in my coat pocket and ruffled my hair as I blew out a breath and stalked to the bar. I was admiring her kitchen from behind the bar as I ran my finger across the bottle labels until I found what I wanted. I grabbed the bottle of Jameson and a tumbler from the rack. I was sitting on a stool facing the windows to my right, and working on my second glass when Wade emerged from her room. I swear I could hear her pouting without even looking. "No drink for me?"
I swiveled around in her direction as I spoke. "I didn't know what--- My tongue tripped over itself and I went into a coughing fit as we came face to face. She was all smiles and I don't think it mattered if I was red from almost choking or being embarrassed, because she clearly had my attention. I was sure the crew from Candid Camera was going to burst out of the flower pots as she stood in the living room wearing loafers and black thigh-highs, that exposed about two inches of sweet flesh right before her plaid skirt started. Her crisp white oxford was tucked in but apparently she was having trouble with the buttons, because it was quite easy to admire the seamless wonder of the bra she was wearing. Hair that looked much more blonde inside, had been blown straight and was curtailed in a long ponytail near the nape of her neck.
"Something wrong Char-lie." She gave me a little pout and batted her eyes. "You don't like my outfit?."
I cleared my throat and went ahead and finished my drink as I counted down from 25. "Am I taking you to school or something?" I prayed my voice didn't crack, but it was the best thing I could come up with on short notice.
She laughed and walked over to the bar, where she stood next to me and took my glass from my hand. "I like plaid, is that wrong?" She poured herself a drink and drank from my glass. "Not bad, not bad." She smacked her lips together. "I thought this was an old man's drink though?"
I reached over the bar, (glad to turn my back on her) and got another glass for myself. "Clearly, you're not a connoisseur of much are you? But wait, I bet you know fashion."
"Oh such big words, from a big girl. You go to college Char-lie?"
I groaned and fixed myself a double. "Yes, Wade, and when are you going?"
She smiled. "My dear, I have a B.S. in organic chemistry and a minor in drama. What I don't look like I went to college?."
I couldn't hide my surprise as I sipped from my glass. She looked like she was a statutory rape case waiting to happen, but I didn't say that. "I guess I should be impressed, but at least when you get to Hollywood, you can supply yourself with your own drugs."
She genuinely frowned. "Did Barberry send me a prude?"
Her question triggered bad memories for me, so I slammed my glass down on the table and hopped off the stool. "He didn't send you a prude, I just know better little girl."
"Tut, tut, Char-lie, it was just a question."
She was grating on my nerves, so much so, that even as I stared out of the window I could hear her drag her tongue across her teeth. It raised my hackles and blood pressure. I spun around towards her and snarled. "God damn it! My name is Charlie okay! Fucking Charlie! Take a pencil and write it down, if you have trouble pronouncing it. It's one fucking word, just one fucking word, and I swear to God on high, if you can't get that straight I am going to-- I trailed off, as I realized I was severely invading her personal space. I was practically pinning her to the bar and using every bit of my height to will her into disappearing. I took a breath and stepped back.
She wasn't quite wearing a grin, but it was more of the smug question in her eyes that made me stop. "You're going to do what? Are you going to rip my head off perhaps, or be even less original and tear me limb from limb. Perhaps, scatter my body to the four corners, things like that?" She looked me straight in the eye. "To use your phrase, first off, take a number. Secondly, miss manners, all you have to do is ask nicely and say please." She patted my cheek and stepped around me.
I wanted to put my fist through the countertop, but I was actually thinking ahead for once. I breathed deeply. I wasn't going to say please to the little shit and she knew it. If I said please to her, I might as well fall to my knees and beg her to shoot me in the head. I'll admit it, I have a pet peeve about loyalty, and honor, and respect. I believe those things should be earned and that they can only be earned. You give them to get them, and I wasn't sure that Wade even knew those words existed let alone, what she was asking me to do. Let's face it, I was obligated. I was here to do a job and that was that. No where in my job description did it say kiss ass of a sadistic bitch. I didn't suck up to Barberry and I wasn't going to make nice, with a supposedly grown woman wearing a Catholic school uniform. It might not be practical, and in truth it may be archaic or just prideful, but I would have no problems dying an untimely and gruesome death on account of my own principles. (So, fuck Carlo and better yet, fuck Wade Worthing.)
I pulled myself together and turned to the girl sitting on the arm of the sofa, with expectancy in her eyes. I ran a hand through my hair and spoke calmly. "Ms. Worthing, I would really appreciate it if you would just say my name correctly, I don't think that is so much to ask. If you can't manage that, then just for you, I'll answer to 'hey you', but I'm being nice as possible right now, so I'd really like that okay?"
For a flash of second, she softened her look, and seemed to look sincere. "Can I call you sugarpop?"
I sighed and wondered if I drained the rest of the Jameson could I pass out. "I'm not promising that'll answer."
She gave me a contented sigh and clapped her hands together. "Okay sugarpop." She stood up and I rolled my eyes. She grabbed her backpack and walked to the door. "You ready sugarpop?"
I squeezed the bridge of my nose and started walking. I looked up just in time not to run into her as she stood in the open doorway. She turned to me and focused those big blue eyes on me. "By the way, it's just a word, not an oath."
I did my best not to roll my eyes as we walked into the hallway and I closed the door. "Whatever you say Ms. Worthing, what ever you say." I mumbled my sentiments more to myself than anybody, and hoped I hadn't just made the biggest mistake of my life.
* * *
Much to Wade's displeasure I left her in the car when I entered the building on 23rd. I didn't really want her knowing where I lived, even though if I survived all this I was probably going to move as soon as possible. I fed the kids and then we headed towards Barberry's as the afternoon sun hung high in the sky. We were enjoying the freakish 75 degrees of heat with the top down. (If somebody asked me why I live here, it would be for the odd weather.) I parked in front of Barberry's and got out of the car so fast I forgot about Wade. I was extremely happy to be out of that car, since I no longer had to listen to what she concluded passed as music. She swore to me it was R&B with a vehemence that almost gave me pause. But between her asinine arguments and the haphazard lyrics, and the same damn drum track that was in the first three songs, I was getting a large headache. Needless to say, I didn't have the strength or the heart to give her a lesson. Maybe if I could get her to shutup for two seconds I'd teach her a few things about R&B. (Of course, it was just my karmic luck that opted for a six foot Irish-Italian city girl, having to teach a teaching suburban bred white girl about R&B. Go figure. And I'm worried about my karma.)
I got to the front door and the nauseating voice in my head reminded me that I was forgetting my shadow. I turned to the car and she was nibbling on her pinky nail, like she had nothing but time. I rolled my eyes and opened the door for her.
She patted my forearm as she got out of the car. "You're slipping Sugarpop, I might have to tell on you."
(If only someone would put me out of my misery.) I just gave her my best grin and popped a pretzel stick in my mouth. I stopped when we got to the door. "You are legal right?"
She rolled her eyes at the impossibility of the statement. "Is that an insult or a compliment?"
I gave her a lopsided smirk. "If I want to insult you Ms. Worthing, I'll make sure your brain can process it."
She sucked her teeth. "Well someone's been taking bitter pills." I shook my head and held the door open. She sensed my want to say something as she entered the lounge. "Go ahead and say it."
I feigned innocence. "Nothing to say, Ms. Worthing."
She folded her arms across her chest and raised an eyebrow. "I've been called worse you know." All kinds of responses were on the tip of my tongue, but I just curled my mouth into a sly grin and nodded my head. This time she raised both eyebrows in surprise. "C'mon say it."
I suddenly discovered that Ms. Worthing didn't like being out of the loop or ignored, so I kept on doing it as I walked to the bar, leaving her in her spot by the door. I could hear the click of her tongue against the roof of her mouth as she turned on her heels and joined me at the bar. I was trying not to smile too hard as Miles, fixed me a bloody Mary without the vodka. I could see her pouting out of the corner of her eye as she sat down.
"Eww, you drink those?"
Instead of answering her I pulled out the celery stick and slowly sucked it clean of the excess tomato juice. Miles cleared his throat. I blushed a bit. "Sorry Miles."
He grinned. "It's too early for that stuff." " I nodded and we shared a smile.
"Excuse me, Char-lie! Are you going to answer me?" I rolled my eyes at Miles and he just grinned and pretended something was more important at the other end of the bar.
I turned my head in Wade's direction. Her brow was all crease as she scowled. Arms were folded tightly across her chest and she was breathing through her nose. (This look was not helping her in the age department.) I let my eyelids droop a bit as I looked at her. It was a look usually reserved for seduction, but I figured it would unnerve her to see me enjoying her frustration openly. "I'm so sorry Ms. Worthing I was rapt in conversation before. You were asking?"
Blue eyes rolled and a pink tongue traced the edges of her canines. (I wasn't fazed.) "Whatever Char-lie." She turned to the bar and slapped a small palm on the countertop. "Miles, I would love seven and seven."
I snickered to myself and got up from the bar to get some cigarettes. I turned back when Miles called my name. "Is she legal?" he asked me. "If she says she is, then I guess so." I shrugged and came back to my seat. He looked from me to a pouting Wade and back again.
Apparently Wade wasn't big on patience so she began to get antsy. "What's the big deal? Jesus! Even if I was 12 you should still serve me. Do you know who my dad is? My-
I clamped my hand over her mouth and gave the now- menacing looking Miles a smile. "She's a hothead Miles and all those pills she's on. I swear it's the medication. You know these kids. A.D.D., E.S.P., S.T.D. whatever, they've got it, they're just crazy that's all." He began to relax his stare.
"I don't care how old she is, it's 1:00 in the afternoon. I'll give you a soda pop now, and if she settles down at 2:30 I'll slip her something extra, but that's that."
I nodded with my hand still around Wade's mouth and sharp blue eyes fixed on me. "Thanx Miles, 'preciate it." He grunted and popped the top on a can of Sprite and then walked away. I lifted my hand from Wade's mouth and before she could start bitching I grabbed her by the forearm and walked her to a table.
She snatched her arm back and glared at me. "What the fuck!"
I shssed her and gestured for her to sit. She rolled her eyes but sat when raised my brow and willed her to sit. "Just chill out. You're so quick to use that little trump card of yours. And here I was beginning to think you were smart."
She said back in her chair and smiled. "You have an opinion of me?"
I shrugged. "That doesn't mean I'm going to tell you."
She tucked one leg under her and leaned forward onto the table. "Why wouldn't you tell me, sugarpop." The sweetness was back in her voice again.
I chewed on my celery and avoided her eyes and that devilish grin she was wearing. "Honestly, it's not all that good."
She chuckled. "I suppose not, but I told you I can handle it."
She spoke with such confidence that I had to look up. I met her hooded eyes and I felt that odd little tingle in my stomach, but I was sure she'd say something in the next second that would make me want to reach across the table and beat her to death, so I had no intention of being swallowed whole in the warm sea of her eyes. The corners of my mouth curled into a small grin. "You couldn't handle it, Wa- Ms. Worthing."
She let out a snort of laughter and drank from her glass, then she leaned forward even more, doing her best to get closer to me and do the impossible of exposing more cleavage. "I bet you I could handle it."
She was doing her best to be tantalizing, but in this situation age and experience won out. I put up my walls faster than low-rent housing and drained my drink. I folded my hands in front of me and leaned forward so that our noses were almost touching. I focused my eyes on her until I could see the green staring back at me. I snaked my tongue out and moistened my lips, watching her follows the glistening trail and then I spoke with enough husk to match Lana Turner's. "Ms. Worthing, this is not a game you want to play. You can't win, so don't try." I tilted my head just a bit, so that it looked like I was trying to maneuver a kiss, and I heard the catch in her breath. (So easy.) "My opinion of you doesn't matter because a shadow such as myself won't be around long enough to get to know you. So why don't we both play nice and you let me do my job." I sat back in my seat satisfied that I wound her up enough and tapped a cigarette on the box.
She stayed where she was for a brief moment wearing what I thought was a grin, but I was so busy tooting my own horn that I didn't realize that she wasn't grinning. It wasn't a playful pout and she for a second I thought she was hurt and just looked confused. But when I matched the curl in her lip to the glint in her eye, they added up to just plain being angry. She sat back in her seat and pushed away from the table. She looked right at me and rattled off a Greek phrase right before she got up and walked to the bar.
I was glad she got up so fast because I didn't want her to see the look of surprise and amusement on my face. She probably figured I didn't' understand, but I've lived in this city long enough to know when someone tells me to go fuck myself in any language. I almost went into a small fit of laughter, since it appeared the fireball that was Wade Worthing could be extinguished. I started to get up right as she neared the table.
"What are we doing Char-lie? I'm tired of being here and I don't like smoke in my clothes, so let's get out of here, now."
I did everything I could do not to laugh as she went into authoritative mode. I almost wanted to salute her, but I honestly didn't want her to pull her trump card on me, so I gave her a gentle bow. "I just need to go upstairs and see Barberry for a quick moment and we can do whatever you want okay?" She made no comment. "You're welcome to come with me Ms. Worthing."
"Fine, Char-lie let's go." I let her blow past me towards the stairs and then I rolled my eyes at a smiling Miles.
"It's up the stairs and to the right, all the way down the hall."
Wade was taking the steps two at a time so she reached the landing before I did, but the smell hit us both at the same time. "Good God what is that?." " I pushed all the fun and games out of the way as I moved her behind me and started walking down the hallway. I could feel her small fists in the small of my back as she held onto my jacket and walked with me. "Use your gun Charlie." She whispered to me. I waved her off with my hand. "Charlie, where's your gun?"
I turned around and grabbed her by the collar. "Keep quiet. It's in the damn house, okay. Just shut your mouth and stay here by the door, you go it?" I could see blue eyes were wide in surprise as she nodded her head. I released her and made a mental note to apologize later. We began to walk again and I could feel her at my back, but she was trying not to touch me. I cursed myself on the inside as I threw back my hand and took her hand. (How soft can I get?)
I took a deep breath right before I eased opened Barberry's door and expelled it on stepping in the room. Wade let out a whimper and I prayed she wasn't about to faint. I turned to her and she flinched and held her nose. I nodded towards the door and she actually took my advice as she turned her back and went into the hallway. "Don't go far." I rasped after her. I turned my attention back to the matter a hand. (And what a lot of matter it was.) Barberry's office looked like a Jackson Pollack painting. To be darkly comedic, Barberry was definitely laid out. He was over in the corner, a little on the ceiling, a lot on the floor and so on.
I walked towards the desk like I was in a minefield and tried to make out the papers on the desk. I was going through the contents of Barberry's desk when Wade came back in. "What are you doing?"
I looked up from the desk. "Trying to figure out what happened?"
"Can't you save that for the Bloodhound gang, I so don't want to be here."
"Neither do I." I mumbled to myself. "Come here for a second." She shook her head. "Wade." She grimaced but made her way to the desk. "You ever heard of a company called Schlissenger and Dewitt?." She shook her head. "Well, they're your dads lawyers I think, and they were writing Barberry a lot."
"You say so, and I think something is extremely wrong." I stepped away from the desk. "In fact..this is very wrong." I grabbed my stomach and walked away from the desk as I expelled the contents of my stomach onto the floor. Wade let out a groan as I spit on the floor and fished in my pocket for a tissue.
"I thought you did this kind of thing, Charlie?"
I gave her a weak smile as I moved back to the desk. "Oh this, this is no problem, but when I get really confused my stomach gets really upset."
She wrinkled her nose. "That's great to know. Can we go?."
"Yeah, yeah, just want to grab a few papers. You got a purse?"
"No!" She put her hands on her hips and leered at me.
I chuckled. "Guess no point in asking if you've got pockets, huh." She didn't return my smile. I rolled up a short stack of papers and stood in front of her as I contemplated where they could go. She just looked at me with an arched brow. I smiled cheekily and pulled back the waistband of her skirt with my finger, where I placed the roll of papers. "Just hold those for me."
She was fighting a small grin as she spoke. "Anything else you want me to hold?"
"Ha, cute. Not right now but thanx. All right, go, I'm right behind you." I watched her walk out of the door and I squatted down behind Barberry's desk. Barberry had a false bottom in his desk where he kept a black book of every contact he had ever made. Barberry could definitely topple a small government with some of the names in those pages, namely the states'. I was beginning to think that Barberry's past was catching him. When my hand fell on the leather bound book, I almost started to empty my stomach again, but I was stopped by Wade's voice in the hallway. I had to admit, she was a little smart. She was talking extremely loud, which was loud enough for me to hear.
"Do you know where I can find Mr. Barberry, he promised to take me on a tour of the city this afternoon. See I just got in from Walla Walla. You know Walla Walla, Washington and well I met him, he said I was just the prettiest little thing in the world, and of course I was so flattered. And so, he told me he'd take me out to see the city today but I went to his office and what did you know, he wasn't there."
I put my hand over my mouth to keep from laughing as I picked up the bat from behind the file cabinet. (It was signed by Eddie Murray.. (It was signed by Eddie Murray and I loved that bat.). I didn't have to hear the gruff voice to know it was Big Jim his pounding walk was enough. When Jim rushed through the door I was lowering the bat, just so he'd know I was no threat. At least that had been my intention. Jim's eyes grew insanely wide and I regripped the bat and stepped back. "Jim, I don't know what happened I swear, I was looking for Barberry and this is what I found."
"Yeah fucking right, you pansy!" He reached for his gun and Wade yelled out my name.
I was going to have to buy her an ice cream cone or something after this one. Jim flinched and I slammed the bat into chest. He moved back just a smidgen and I swung the bat again. It broke over his forearm. There was a hand wrapped around my throat before I could even drop the bat handle. He hoisted me up and began to try to put an imprint of me in the wall. I was trying desperately to find the pressure points in his neck, but the lack of space and all around thickness was causing me problems. I could see Wade in the doorway, and I didn't know if she was going to run or just pull out some popcorn. I wondered how red my face had to get before she decided to be of some use. (I'm taking that ice cream back.) I sent two swift chops to the temples of Jim's skull and he dropped me. I was eye level to his groin when I hit the floor, so I punched forward and then ran through his legs.
Wade squeaked out my name and I got up off the floor just as a tree trunk leg swung in my direction. Apparently Big Jim could get his leg up, but it went up so high that he lost his balance and down he went. The room shook and I searched the desk for a small paper weight or something large enough to let me test that David and Goliath theory. I threw a chair at the lumbering giant and watched him swat it away. I started to use to desk as a barricade, staying on the other side and just out of his reach. I was going good for a while. "Wade, could I get a little help here!"
"What do you want me to do?
"What do I want you to do? To do ! For Christ's sake go find a bottle, a 2x4, a silver bullet, something."
Big Jim growled at me and grabbed the edge of the table. I moved out of the way as he pushed it back to the wall. Of course there was no longer anything to separate us, so he charged me. I caught him on the chin with an uppercut, stopping his forward motion. He sent a right my way, which I blocked and sent a knuckle punch to the lymphnodes in his arm pit. He backed up and came at me again. I was ready for him this time, so with just the right timing, I side stepped him, caught him by the arm and led him straight out of the window.
I heard Wade scream. I guess it might have appeared that we plummeted three stories, but in reality we just fell onto the scaffolding. With any luck I had landed on top of Jim and knocked him cold. I grabbed onto the ledge and started to pull myself up. There I met a grinning Wade. "Not a problem, no help needed, doing quite fine, thanks for asking."
She rolled her eyes and stepped away from the window. "You don't have to be sarcastic."
I mimicked her in a whiny voice as I stepped into the office. She stuck out her tongue at me. "All right let's go lil' bit."
She turned to me and hissed. "Don't call me that. My name is Wade."
"Well now you know how it feels, shrimp." She fumed and I laughed. It was less good sense and more the whir of sirens that snapped me from my childish reverie. We both peered out of the window to see the two black Suburbans making their way down the alley.
"The cops, what do we do?"
"Those are not cops."
"What!" She was genuinely surprised, but I was too unnerved to wonder why.
I didn't answer as I dropped to the floor and ripped the phone book out from under Barberry's desk. "Let's go." She was looking confused, but I just grabbed her by the hand as we tore out of the room and down the side entrance. My stomach was getting queasy again, but speeding through light downtown traffic seemed to put me at ease·.at least for the moment.
* * *
Wade kept oddly quiet until I ran my second red light. "Okay, Speed, you want to reign it in here, and tell me what's up?"
I followed the flow of traffic over the overpass and came to a stop. I gripped the steering wheel tightly, feeling the grooves of the steering wheel with my fingers. I kept checking the rearview mirrors and the side mirrors, like I was expecting two black Suburbans to come barreling through city traffic. I finally realized that a pair of blue eyes were fixed on me, awaiting an answer. I tried to give Wade a smile as I turned my head towards her. "Sorry, uh, tell you what's up." I turned my eyes back on the road as the light changed. "I'm in trouble is what's up and I still have to take care of you, and call me skeptical but I don't feel like passing you off somebody else."
"Isn't that just being selfish, sugarpop." She winked.
I rolled my eyes and switched lanes so I could make the next left and make a big circle. "Real cute, Ms. Worthing."
She laughed. "Would you stop that! I just saw you puke up your breakfast from last week and probably 50 dollars worth of alcohol, so can we please drop the formalities."
(Maybe she was right, but I wasn't going to say it.) "Whatever. And you're right, it is selfish, cause right now, you're my alibi."
"Who are you expecting?"
"Barberry's dead and I've got his book, but only you and me know that." I looked at her and made it clear that we were the only people that knew this. "I'm not worried about local cops. I'm worried about the chumps that were about to pile out of those trucks, not to mention all the people Big Jim's going to call when he wakes up."
She licked her lips and grinned. "And you trust me to save your life?"
I let her question hang in the air as I brought the car to a stop outside her apartment building. I cut the car off and turned to her, leaving one hand on the wheel and placing the other on the stick shift, just so I wouldn't be compelled to reach out and rip her throat out. "Wade, I don't trust, I'm not even sure I like you. And seeing as how, it's quite possible that there's a big fat price on my head right now, I don't really care about your dad and what he can do." I leaned in a little closer to her, because I wanted her to feel the intensity of my words, even though I was barely speaking loud enough for the sound to fill the car. "For all intense purposes Wade, I'm dead, and the least you cancan do--you know like my dying wish--is to bail my ass out if it comes to it, okay." She blinked a couple of times as she absorbed my little speech and then broke into that wild smile of hers, that both made the hackles on the back of my neck stand up and made me feel nauseous. She reached out and squeezed my cheeks, like one of my robust and worldly-wise aunties, and then hopped out of the car. I rolled my eyes and got out.
She turned to me and said, "Charlie, you're not going to die." I stopped my walk and cocked my head to the side. I shrugged off my comment and followed her inside. "So what's the plan?"
I stabbed at the up button on the elevator four times. "You got the keys to the Jag?"
"Good." I jabbed at the up button again. "We're changing cars, getting you some clothes, and putting up shop somewhere until I can think straight." I jabbed at the button again.
I heard her click her tongue against the roof of her mouth and then she gently pushed my hand away from the elevator button. "Number one, stop doing that. Press the down button first and then the up. Number two, I didn't realize you could think straight." I gave her the finger just as the elevator door opened. She laughed as she followed me inside. "I'm just joking." She started swinging on the brass railings that went around the elevator.
I pushed the button for her floor and tried to avoid her reflection. Swinging like a kid, in argyle socks, loafers, and a plaid skirt. Meanwhile, I was dead if I dropped her off, I was dead if she wasn't with me, and at the exact moment in time I wanted to drop her off the roof of the building because she was so calm.
I kept my thoughts to myself as I sucked it up and we walked towards her door. The door was closed, but it was clear from the buckling of wood around the lock that somebody had tried to get inside. I went back into protect mode as I put my arm across her body and stopped her movement. She looked at me oddly. "Look at your door." I whispered to her as I lifted my leg and pulled out the butterfly knife from the inside of my boot. I heard her take in a sharp breath. "Stay behind me." I felt her fists at my back as she latched onto my jacket. (Why the hell was I starting to get used to that feeling.) I eased open the door as I eased open my blade.
I hadn't even gotten the door all the way open and I heard Wade let out a small groan. The place was trashed and we could only see the living room. We moved into the apartment and I made a sweep of the area with my eyes. I gestured for her to stay put as I went I checked out the back rooms. I put my knife into my back pocket as I walked back out into the living room. I tried to look as neutral as possible, hoping that she was sitting at the bar drinking herself silly. Instead she was standing right where I left her, arms wrapped around her shoulders, blue eyes wide with concern. I must have looked like a doctor coming to convey the bad news, because her shoulders slumped the second I came out.
"It's that bad?"
"I gotta credit card, so we can go shopping." I mustered up a big smile and she rolled her eyes. "Have a seat and we'll figure out what to do."
"What do you mean, we'll figure it out. Shit." She ran her fingers through her ponytail and then looked around the apartment. "Let me get a book bag and then we can leave and you can explain to me what's going on."
"I was kind of hoping you could." She shrugged and moved past me. "You need any help?"
"No, no!" She smiled. "It's cool, I'm sure there's not too much left to save, except maybe a toothbrush."
"Well you should change them every three months anyway, so they probably saved you some trouble." I heard her give a dry chuckle and then she disappeared down the hallway.
* * *
I took Charles Street until we were well into the high rent district, when I pulled up in front of a three story cookie cutter-like house, with huge columns adorning the front. Wade raised an eyebrow as I pulled to a stop.
"You live here?"
I couldn't help but grin. "What makes you think I don't."
I cut her off with the furrowing of my brow and she grinned. "I was going to say, that of course you could live here, I mean why not. For all I know you're in the fortune 500 and you just do this because your bored."
I laughed out loud as I got out of the car and walked around to let her out. I made a note to give myself a mental chastising later, since I appeared to be a well-trained dog. Surprisingly, Wade made no comment as she got out of the car. "That's a nice assessment, Wade, but I think that's more to your taste. I worked for everything that I own."
She let out a haughty chuckle. "And what do you own, Charlie." I was about to be offended, but I was focusing my attention on making the knife I was pulling out of my pocket look like I was just getting out my keys to anyone who might be looking.
"Clearly, I own the key to this house don't I." She laughed and then looked down at my hand, where I was wedging the blade in between the lock and the border.
Suddenly she was all whispers "What about the alarm?." Suddenly she was all whispers.
I turned back to her as I turned the knob and flashed her my most devilish smile. When the alarm went off as I opened the door, I took my time walking to the alarm box and cutting it off with a well placed punch to the console. Blue eyes were wide in disbelief as Wade steeped into the foyer. "I suppose that technique is in the owners manual?" I just smiled at her comment as I put my knife back in my jacket and started walking through the empty house. The house was still wearing the for sale sign out front, so I wasn't worried about unwanted visitors. I ignored her comment and walked into the kitchen. Not bad, but they were going to need a better ventilation system. Not that I cared, tonight would be a take-out night anyway.
I heard her footsteps on the Formica as she entered the kitchen. She sat her bookbag on top of the counter in the middle of the kitchen and watched me. I was lost in my assessment of the kitchen, until she cleared her throat lightly. I shrugged as if to say I was sorry when I turned around. She just waved her hand through the air and then tapped the counter. "So, now that you've brought me back to your swell home, whatever will you do with me?."
I couldn't help but laugh this time as she evoked her Walla Walla, Washington voice. "That was pretty cool of you to do earlier today, you know with Big Jim." I looked away from dancing blue eyes and found the chrome faucets much more fascinating. "I was just a bit impressed." I didn't have to look up to see the smile form on her lips.
"Oh you were impressed." she purred.
I felt the strangest little flip in my stomach and I could feel the blood rush to my face. (This chick was on the verge of making me blush.) I settled myself as I met her eyes. I pinched my forefinger and thumb together and held it up. "That's how impressed I was."
She nodded. "Sure, sure. But you admit you were impressed."
"Just a wee bit lass, just a wee bit."
She laughed genuinely at my attempt at an Irish accent. "Are you going to tell me what were doing?"
I spread my arms and then brought them back to my side. "Well, we're squatting for starters, something you clearly have a talent for." She stuck out her tongue. "We're just going to hang here, while I make some phone calls and get us a place to stay for the night."
"What's wrong with here? The carpet's real soft in front of the fireplace."
"Oh no, they'll be no fires in this joint. Besides, I find sometimes, when one is on the lam it's better to hide in plain sight."
"I'm not sure how that works for a green-eyed Amazon who likes to drive around in $80,000 dollar cars, but I'm sure you're going to tell me."
"Trust me, it can work. And, if I run then I'm assumed guilty. Moreover, I have a job to do young lady, which isn't over until I hear from Carlo in a few days, so there."
"You and your work ethic." We both laughed. "What if my dad can't help?"
I snorted out a laugh and shook my head at her. "What! That's like saying Michael Jordan never did anything for the Bulls. Your father can fix this, and I'm quite sure he'd like to know that somebody's harassing his baby girl." She frowned and looked at the counter. "Something wrong Wade?"
"Huh--I mean no, nothing's wrong. I was just hoping·I don't know." She started to tug at her lip as she avoided my eyes.
"You were hoping what Wade?" I looked at her until she looked up at me and shrugged. "You were hoping you wouldn't have to say anything to your dad?" She nodded. "I gather this is something you've gotten yourself into?"
She shrugged. "That's just it, I'm not sure." I raised my eyebrow at her skeptically. "Seriously. When I get into trouble, I do it all by myself and I know what I've gotten myself into. To put it plainly, this is all news to me. Nobody's ever come and trashed my place·unless I invited them over."
I chuckled and leaned down on the counter. "Nobody would trash your place would they?"
She looked up at me in surprise. "What's that mean?"
"Who trashes Carlo's daughters place. Hell, who trashes Charlemagnes' daughters place." She grinned at my logic. "I'm sure those weren't junkies or aliens who ramsacked your place Wade and I don't think this has anything to do with whatever trouble you're prone to get into." I looked off as I contemplated my next words.
"You have a theory I take it?"
"A small one, but it's a little out there and I've got no real proof just a funky taste in the back of my mouth."
"You sure that's not last nights dinner?."
"Ha ha. Funny smart ass." She rolled her eyes at me playfully. "Come let's tour this joint and I'll tell you my theory."
I spent the walk up the first flight of stairs trying to decide how the hell I was going to word my so called theory, which was actually nothing than more than a bad feeling and a couple of coincidences. Maybe I'd get lucky and she'd admit to knowing something. She seemed like she knew something, either that or she was just afraid for herself and her father. Wade didn't strike me as being afraid for herself, I'm sure she'd go base jumping over a pit of lava, if she thought she could make it. I wouldn't doubt concern for her father, but she often seemed too arrogant to even doubt him. I knew she knew something, but I was going to do my best not to go off the deep end when I found out.
We were walking around in the upstairs bedroom, when I decided to run my theory by her. I let her finish explaining to me exactly how'd she lay out the room and how she would remodel the bathroom. I told her I thought the balcony should go in the bathroom and she laughed at me until I showed her the view out of the side room. She nodded at me as we walked back out to where the balcony was. I couldn't help but smile as I watched her try to come up with a way to admit she was impressed. I leaned back onto the balcony railing and folded my arms across my chest.
"Go ahead and say it."
She smiled at me innocently. "Nothing to say."
"Yeah right. You're impressed admit it."
She squinted her eyes at me trying to look mean, but then that grin broke out on her face and we both laughed. "Fine just a wee bit. Hey, let me have that jacket." I shook my head. "I'm freezing Charlie."
I looked at her with complete distrust, but then I began to take off my jacket. "Only because you pronounced my name right."
She wiggled her eyebrows and moved towards me. I pulled the jacket back to me as she neared me. "Jesus, Charlie, I'm not going anywhere in it." I grumbled under my breath and then handed the leather jacket to her. The jacket swallowed her whole, but she looked extremely appetizing in it, right down (actually all up and down) to her argyle thigh-highs. (She was going to have to change clothes soon or I was going to go insane.) "So let me have this theory."
I scratched my head and looked past her as she sat down on the floor. "How do you feel about the government."
A black eyebrow rose high. "I pay my taxes if that's what you mean."
"I mean C.I.A., N.S.A, FBI and the likes." She shrugged. "Well I think somebody's got it in for your dad."
She threw back her head in laughter. "Who doesn't. The FBI have been after him for years. Well, Carlo anyway, but ever since Dad started this campaign stuff they've been popping up everywhere. Agencies I've never even heard of, but they all want a piece of the Worthing empire. But what's your point?"
"Those cars at Barberry's, those were government issue. And not just the boys from the naval base."
"So why would the C.I.A.," She paused and waved a hand through the air. ",and I'm assuming it's the C.I.A. Why would they be coming to Barberry's like they were answering a 911?"
"I hope it's the C.I.A., but anyway, I was thinking that, but that siren wasn't coming from them. My guess is they were a few minutes ahead of the actual distress call."
"Fine, that still doesn't answer why they were there."
"Do you remember when I said that you and I were the only people who knew I had Barberry's book?" She nodded. "Well that's for a reason. I don't know if you ever saw Barberry, but if you did you would have wondered how it was that he did what he did. Barberry wasn't all that smart in strategy, didn't do great with money, his concept of the English language was painful at best, and his personal hygiene left much to be offered." I allowed myself to snicker as she laughed. "The fat bastard that he was, he obviously took a cue from his weight and realized what leverage meant, because he had more leverage than a hippopotamus on a see-saw. He ran the streets since he learned how to ride a bike, and at somebody's insistence he kept a diary." Blue eyes grew big with interest. "That's right, a diary. Long and detailed or perhaps short and sweet. Whatever the case, if you crossed Barberry's path or waved hello the chump remembered and recorded it. I think he was an idiot savant in that sense. He had a picture perfect memory, that never faltered even in the midst of drug use. Feds have been trying to get a hold of Barberry for so long it's not funny. That guy could have probably put Gotti away, before Sammy the Bull ever came along."
"So they were coming to Barberry's for the book, but that doesn't explain who killed Barberry and why."
"I was hoping it was for the book, but when we got to your place, I realized it had nothing to do with the book."
"You still got those papers I gave you."
"In my bag."
It only took me an hour to come up with a conclusion, which Wade debunked and reworked in a half and hour. I was a little miffed, but I was too busy enjoying my cheese steak sub to be angry. She had changed into a pair of jeans, much to my delight, but left on her unbuttonable oxford as we sat on the floor surrounded by the papers. She was talking through mouthfuls of food, and I wanted to tell her to slow down and chew her food, but with her cheeks packed to chipmunk capacity it was just too cute to stop.
"So Barberry's killers were there for the book, but mostly they were there to make a point. If Barberry's dead, then Carlo loses a big piece of his strategy, which in turn hurts the campaign, because he lose some of those votes he has in his pocket. Now your boys in black, were more than likely there for the book, but it's quite possibly that they were looking for you in an effort to look for me. Which, brings us to the trashing of my apartment. They obviously weren't looking for anything, except perhaps me, which means they were there for me. Apparently, I'm somebody's leverage but we haven't decided if it's the C.I.A. or a few pissed off mob bosses who don't want my dad becoming Senator of anything. And that's that."
"I love how it's so neat for you, but that still doesn't discount my thoughts that they're all in this together. Granted maybe it didn't start out like that, but I got a feeling somebody figured out they could kill two birds with one stone, getting you and the book."
She shook her head. "You really believe that the C.I.A. is in cahoots with the Mafia?"
"Why not! You're joking right? I hope you don't believe in the sanctity of this nation and all it's moralistic and idealistic principles. Chick, this country was built on blood and nine times out of ten it was the blood of immigrants, and immigrants that had no plans on being immigrants. Of course this is the land of milk and honey and dreams and gold paved streets, but let's not forget how all that came to be. It's all about power and not even money sometimes. Barberry wasn't super rich, the fat fuck couldn't balance his check book even with his monthly statement. But he had power, and the only decent thing about him was that he didn't use it unless he had to." She shook her head and shrugged. "I know you think I'm jaded, and why wouldn't I be, but I've seen how the system works. I've seen who it spits out and who it embraces. He could very well make a serious bid for President one day, but more than that he can win the Senatorial race, and the shits gonna hit the fan and Uncle Sam is going to be hard pressed on deciding if they want to make a martyr of him. Bottom line is, Charlemagne Carlo Minos Worthing is a crime boss and proud to be Greek before American. This isn't some regular guy running for city council in Highlandtown. This is guy who made more money before he turned 26 than most people see in a lifetime. And more than that he's not going to roll over for anybody. I promise you, they'd rather risk life and limb than give him anymore power than he all ready has."
"Don't you think I know that. Hello."
"Wade, I'm not suggesting that you don't, I just don't want you to miss the obvious."
"The obvious. Charlie, let me tell you something, I don't need a mirror. I know who I am, and I know who's child I am. I love both my parents for who they were· and who they are, good bad and indifferent. My dad knows who he is and he knows how he's gotten where he is. The thing is he could win this without twisting arms, but this just isn't simply about elections. This is about removing Carlo. Apparently, the mafiaoso thinks Carlo's going to pull a Caesar and crown himself emperor of the underworld. To be honest I'm not worried about the C.I.A., they still have protocol in that place and rules that have to be followed even for wet work. But, it's the others." She stopped talking and pulled on her lip as she regarded the questioning look in my eye. "Shit."
"What?" I knew what she was thinking, but I wanted to hear it before I danced a jig.
She hung her head in her hands and giggled. "You let me go off on my little rant just to hear myself didn't you."
I smiled sweetly and shrugged. "You were so ready to discount me, but it makes sense doesn't it."
She flopped back onto her back and groaned. "Great. So fine, the C.I.A. hired the mafia, the mafia hired the C.I.A. fucking great! They get the book, they get me, they get Carlo, and you get crucified for coming along for the ride."
I nodded emphatically. "Basically. All though we can always play both sides."
She sat up. "Suggestion, other than running for our lives?"
I laughed. "Go find Carlo." She drew in a breath and rubbed the back of her neck. "Is that a bad idea?"
"No. No." She absently chewed on her nail and shook her head.
"I sense some hesitation, what do you suggest?."
"Nothing really, I just have reservations."
I arched my brow. "I can't imagine what they could be, but there's no need for hesitancy on this one. We get your dad the book, all he needs to do, is make a phone call or three, and he'll people hanging from their toenails and balls on the white house lawn."
She sighed. "That is the only way."
"Of course it is, so what's the ho-hum attitude for?"
"Well we have to find him and we have to get there."
Blue eyes bored into my own and I shrugged. "He is on the west coast right?"
"That's a lot of miles Charlie."
I slapped my thigh. "I know, and its not like we can run out to the airport and hop a plane."
"And why no?."
"You haven't seen the news, so I'll give you the headline. Yours truly is the number one suspect in the brutal slaying of one Mr. Richard Barberry, proprietor of Buddies pub and bar." She gasped. "Yeah no shit. So look, we're getting out of her and laying low for a day or two until I can get this together and then we're going to make it to Carlo as fast as we can."
She clapped her hands together and got up off the floor. "Okay, where are we staying?"
"I don't know yet." I rubbed the back of my neck as I gathered the papers and stood. "Maybe we should go to D.C." It was a statement made more to myself than anyone, but Wade squealed with delight. I got up off the floor and immediately shook my head at her as I put the papers on the counter. "Whatever you're thinking no." My finger was an inch away from her nose and she knew I was completely serious.
Not that that was going to stop her from whining. "Oh come on Charlie, you said it yourself. The best place to hide is in plain sight."
"Yes, but I didn't mean in the direct line of sight." She sucked her teeth as she gathered her back pack. "No way, Wade, just forget it."
"Char-lie." I growled and she just smiled. "You expect me to spend what could be my last night on earth cooped up in a house with you, no way."
"Well I'm not resigned to die, so I'll personally guarantee you another night on the town, but it won't be tonight."
She grumbled and groaned as we made our way to the car. "Then come with me."
I thought I was going to fall on the ground with laughter. "You think I was going to let go off club hopping by yourself, are you mental?."
"So then be my chaperone."
I slapped my palm against my forehead as I started the car. "Look Wade, I only plan to be here one more night and then we're gone. No where in the schedule is there room for either of us to be nursing a hang over or sore muscles so just suck it up and deal." She grumbled and folded her arms across her chest. (God, she was such a kid.) I turned to her in the seat. "How bout I buy you three kinds of Tequila and we can play drinking games, and Parcheesi, and paint toe nails all night. I roll you a joint, I'll roll you three. We can contemplate the universe and play poker, but there's no way you're leaving my sight tonight. That's it, no deals, no nothing. One night is all I'm asking. You just sit tight, be a good little girl, and play like Anne Frank and we'll be out on the road, where you can ride topless howling at the moon for all I care."
She recrossed her arms and spoke under her breath. "Whatever, Charlie, let's just go."
"Wade, I'm serious, no games."
"I said whatever, let's go."
I shrugged to myself as I started the car. Oh well, so much for a fun evening: the bitch was back.
__________* * *___________
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