I Don’t Like The Look Of It At All
I woke up because someone was climbing onto the bed.
I groaned. “The alarm hasn’t gone off yet, son.”
A whisper, “No kidding.” It wasn’t Jack…
“Sookie? What time is it?”
“Shh. I didn’t want to go around the bed and risk waking the boys. It’s 5. I’m going for a run. Wanna join me?”
I growled at her. “Don’t you have a boyfriend?”
She giggled. “No… I have a 230 pound lump of cranky holding down my bed. I was just offering since you wanted to go Sunday.”
“Are you going to run me into the ground again?”
“Naw. I’ll run the short track this morning because I’m working out with the team at lunch and practicing with the girls this afternoon.”
I didn’t know whether to hit her or laugh… “So you’re spreading the pain around today.”
“Something like that. You wanna run or sleep?”
I rolled over, pretty sure that I wanted one more hour of sleep and Sookie had a cup of coffee in her hand. I took it, drinking it as fast as I could.
“Eric’s decent if the boys wake up.”
Getting woke up without being kicked and having a cup of coffee ready… How could I say no to a jog? “Ready in 5.”
She hadn’t run any slower this time, but the 5 miles she ran me didn’t hurt nearly as bad.
My legs burned. I was drenched. I was breathing like a fat kid chasing an ice cream truck…
…And I’d never felt better.
The boys came out of our room and met us in the foyer where I was leaning on my knees to hold myself up to catch my breath.
Jack smiled at me. “Was she chasing you with a knife? Should we call 9-1-1?”
Sookie ‘took my pulse’… “Naw. He’ll live long enough for me to wear him out again soon.”
I panted, “Y’all aren’t funny.”
Carm giggled at him. “Yes dey are. You just hate detting old.”
“I don’t hate getting old… I hate feeling it. She kicked my butt again.”
She patted my back and went to the kitchen with the boys following close behind her. “You’re 10 years older and managed to keep up with someone who runs 40 miles a week. You shouldn’t feel old.” Never mind that I could tell she’d slowed down so I could keep up.
“What’s that gonna cost me?”
She giggled. “When you’re done with your shower, can you change the hall light for me? Having tall guys in the house will spare me the embarrassment of needing stilts.”
“Hall closet… don’t forget about the water heater.”
I still burned myself.
It took me a few minutes to get the water right… I finally decided to use the marks on the knobs and it was perfect.
I walked through the kitchen and dumped my nasty clothes into the washer and by the time I was in the kitchen, Sookie had put a cup of coffee and the ashtray on the table for me.
I sat down and watched the boys work at a big bowl… Jack peeled little oranges and Carm peeled and sliced bananas.
Sookie went to the fridge and pulled out a carton of raspberries and a tub of Cool Whip and handed it back to them and then pulled out a huge tray of eggs… like restaurant huge.
“Gee Sookie, do you think you have enough eggs for breakfast?”
She cleared her throat and gave me a dirty look. “Daddy bought them for the boosters to make bake sale stuff last week. He just dropped them off on his way back from opening the site for the foremen. I need to use them before they go bad… you’d better like eggs.” Holy shit…
Jack started giggling. “Can we egg somebody’s house?” The house next door could use a makeover.
Sookie actually seemed to be thinking about it, but ended up shaking her head… but I caught myself thinking about pranks…
“Uh… Sookie… Did Eric mention that he challenged me?”
“Challenged yyy… what? No… What kind of challenge?”
“The kind that started with him messing with me while I was sleeping and drunk.”
She snickered. “You want to… awwww, come on… I sleep in that bed!” It didn’t take her any time to put two and two together either.
I pouted my lip at her. “Pweeeeeeeez… It’d serve him right.”
“He messed with you while you were sleeping?”
“Yeah. Funny man whispered ‘sweet nothings’ in my ear when I crashed at the table Monday night.”
She put her hands on my shoulders and started to knead and my eyes rolled back even after I closed them.
“You want me to reconsider.”
“It doesn’t have to be the eggs, but it’ll still happen. I need to fire the first shot.”
“What if you…?”
I put my hand up to stop her. “Nope. Eric’s rule. You can’t be involved.”
She moved her hands up to the back of my neck. “Like ‘caught in the crossfire’ involved or ‘think tank’ involved?”
“He wasn’t specific, but just in case…” I trailed off, slipping into that ‘special place’ only a shoulder rub can take you to. The place between nodding off and nirvana…
“Boys are silly. You have too many rules.”
“Maybe he heard about the way you chemically castrated your brother.”
She giggled and gave me an extra squeeze… sodium amytal… truth serum via massage… “Jas whines too much.”
“He wasn’t whining as much as warning me. How’d you give it to him?”
“He’s a heavy sleeper with a high tolerance for pain. I stole it from my doctor when I got a physical. He forgot to take the vial with him when he left the room.”
“As young as you were? Really?” Fuck… birth control at 15… glad to have boys…
“Had went on it for the real purpose and when she told me about the side effects, I wanted to skip periods like most girls wanted a pony from Santa. Cheering, gymnastics meets, swimsuit competitions.”
Made sense… I was still shitting glitter that I had boys though.
Yep. That word again…
“What’s a period?” Wow… Carm’s question completely reversed what the rubdown had done. I couldn’t think. How the fuck do you explain a period to a fucking 4 year old?
While I was trying to think of a passive way to tell him it wasn’t any of his business, Sookie bent over holding her ribs… laughing like she needed a padded cell.
I turned around to give her a dirty look. There wasn’t anything funny about explaining periods to a preschooler.
Not a single fucking thing… and since she slipped and mentioned it… her fault!
She was so amused that she had to wipe her damn eyes.
“If you’re so sorry then you answer him.”
She snickered a little more and gave me a shrug… “Periods are complicated. Only girls get them…”
“Den why does Eric and Daddy say day’re on a period?”
“Only girls really get them… but guys joke about other guys being on their periods when they’re cranky without a good reason… Periods suck. They make girls uncomfortable and whiney and cranky and get zits and gain weight… no one wants to be around them when they’re like that. Periods pretty much cause an all-around, contagious foul mood.”
“But you don’t have one ‘cause you have medicine?”
She looked at me and actually blushed. Good. Her fault… She nodded.
“So you don’t det cranky and stuff?”
“I do, but I have to have a good reason like a normal guy.”
Both boys laughed, “You’re not a duy!”
She grinned at them and winked. “Nobody’s perfect.” Oh great! That was going to come back to bite me in the ass!
Both of the boys started laughing, but Jack pushed, “Is that everything?”
She huffed. “Nope. Not by a long shot. I could bore you to tears for hours about the details. Now that you know what they do, you need to remember to not talk about them around girls.”
“Because you don’t have a period… So it’d kinda be like making handicap jokes around someone in a wheelchair… only dangerous. That’s a private guy joke, got it?” Oh beautiful…
They both nodded and thanked her for the info… I’d have been stuck. My options would have been to refuse to answer because I couldn’t handle the conversation or sit for hours because I wouldn’t have had a clue of how to end the questions…
“How about I go get my shower so that y’all can help your Daddy make a mess out of poor Eric?”
Carm smiled and told her to hurry up…
She asked me to take the muffins out of the oven when the timer went off… and winked when she reminded me to use a potholder.
Figures that prick would tell Sookie I burned myself.
The boys nodded. “We made ‘em while you were in the shower.”
“Y’all made muffins?”
Jack looked at me like I was retarded for asking. “Carm mashed bananas and crushed up the walnuts and I squeezed the oranges for the cranberry ones. The cranberries were already done though.”
“Y’all made muffins from scratch?”
Carm gave me a funny look too. I couldn’t help it. They’d made muffins from scratch… “Sookie says dat the secret is not stirring too much.”
“Oh really? Then I have to ask, why do I have to learn to cook? I think y’all will be better at it.”
They looked at each other and started laughing. Jack raised his wiseass eyebrow. “Sookie told us you’d start trying to parley your way out of lessons.” That bitch.
Carm nodded. “She said it’s classic nerves…” Oh great.
Jack finished, “…She says you’re great at being a dad and that everyone is nervous about that until they get the hang of it.”
“Cooking isn’t like changing a diaper. It’s a little more complicated than that.”
Carm smiled at me and slid out of his chair on his way to wash the whipped cream off of his hands. “She said you’d say dat too, but dat you’ve been in scarier situations dan dinner and you’ll be fine.”
“I’m gonna kick her ass. Some people just can’t cook.”
Jack smirked at me. “And some people just haven’t learned… You owe us $5.” Shit.
“No I don’t.”
“Yeah… ya do.”
“No, really… I meant… her… donkey… Yeah that’s it. He’s out back. His name is Walter. You haven’t seen him?”
They started laughing and Carm came over with his hand out. “Nice try.”
I jokingly growled at them and reached for my wallet, but the timer went off…
I smiled at him and got up to pull the muffins out and by the time I was done (it took all of 30 seconds) Carm looked like he was going to rattle apart because I made him wait.
“Are you going to be a loan shark when you grow up?”
“Is dat a kinda lawyer?”
“You want to be a lawyer?”
He shrugged. “Stop stalling. Pay up.”
I laughed and finally pulled out my wallet. “All I have is twenties.”
He shoved his greedy little hand at me. “I’ll. Make. Change. Pay up.”
“How are you going to make change?”
“Sookie said the brown word when she burned herself on the tub water last night and she didn’t know we were awake last night when she was on the phone… she dropped the f-bomb. The cuss bank already has $35.”
“Y’all are going to make a bank during football parties.”
Carm’s little eyes lit up. “Really!”
“Yeah… A house full of Stackhouses. They all cuss.”
Jack’s head cocked to the side. “Did you meet Sookie’s twin yet?”
“Yeah. I met most of the town already.”
“How much do they look alike?”
“Enough that I thought it was Sookie at first. You’ll be able to tell them apart though… as long as you’re not behind them or just listening. If you close your eyes, you’d think Sookie was talking to herself.”
“Yeah. It’s weird.”
She came into the room correcting me. “Creepy. Alc, it’s creepy. We don’t just look alike. We even kiss alike.”
“How do you know that?”
“High school boyfriends… Boys, there’s a bunch of pictures in the stairwell… they aren’t me. It’s Hadley.”
No fucking way. “All of them?” The boys bolted to go see.
“There’s a couple with both of us as kids, but all of the pictures of ‘me’ are Hadley.”
“Even the one on stage?”
“Phantom? Yeah. She got a little restless after Remy died. She homeschooled Hunter for a year and went on tour with the traveling show, did some modeling but the boys don’t need to see those pictures.”
“Do I want to ask?”
“Just swimsuits and lingerie, a couple of calendars.” I went blank. It was my only defense.
She laughed at me and closed my mouth.
She reached into my pocket and pulled out my phone… futzed… then handed it to me…
Google image results for ‘Angel Urbino’.
“Your dad called her Angel. Which came first?” It was the best I could come up with… she was on her knees in a gold bikini… nothing showed… but damn if she didn’t have a ‘fuck me’ face to drool over… And it was just a thumbnail! Damn!
“Daddy. He’s called her that since she was born.”
I shoved my phone back into my pocket. I was not about to deal with a spank bank full of a woman I’d lied to 6 hours ago. “The eggs. For sleeping beauty?”
Sookie pulled her lips in over her teeth and bit down to keep from laughing at me.
“Not a fucking word unless it’s about the eggs.”
She nodded and pointed to the fridge… still trying to not laugh.
Sookie stood in the doorway and watched me and the boys ‘draw’ a chalk outline out of eggs around Eric. No matter how he moved, he’d end up busting a shitload of them.
They giggled through the whole process. Not only did he not budge because of the boys laughing, but the mother fucker was so damn dead that he didn’t flinch when the cold eggs touched him either. I’d have woken up right away. I almost laughed at him… the only thing I can figure is that Tippy makes a lot of noise at night.
I’d swiped the guy shampoo out of the tub on our way back to the kitchen. I stood at the open fridge, looking for the perfect ‘additive’ for long enough that Sookie bumped me out of her way to grab a tray of steaks and some other stuff.
“I thought we were having muffins.”
“They’re for your meeting. We’re having steak, eggs and home fries. I’d be a goner if I tried to start the day with nothing but sugar in my system. I’d crash by 10.”
“You’re not going to hear me complaining about protein.”
She snorted at me. “I’d shit and fall back in it if you complained about anything I cook.”
Sookie laughed at Carm and sent him to get her purse… and I yelled after the little turd to bring my change back with him.
When Sookie opened a cabinet to get something out, I was inspired.
I gave the maple syrup to Jack and wiggled my eyebrows. While I smoked, I watched the boy dump half of the bottle of maple syrup into Eric’s shampoo and run off to put the bottle back.
Sookie put plates down on the table and even gave the boys their own knives for their steaks… They looked excited just to be trusted with cutlery.
Jack jumped up and went to the fridge for the ketchup…
She cleared her throat. “Taste it first.”
“I always put ketchup on my steak.”
“You’ve never had a Stackhouse Porterhouse. Trust me.” She winked at him.
He set the ketchup down and cut into his steak… He hummed the whole time he chewed… and then pushed the ketchup away and smiled at her.
“So what are you playing tonight?”
“If you want. Why not? That way all three of you learn something new today.” She shot a look in my direction to remind me that I wasn’t off the hook for making dinner. Fffffuuuuuuck.
He shoved another piece of steak into his smiling face. “What are my choices?”
“Piano, violin, guitar, bass, drums… You’d have to wait for some stuff. Jason can teach you to play harmonica. Hunter might be willing to teach you the trumpet, but he hasn’t touched his in a while because he likes guitar. I know someone who can teach you anything.”
She nodded. “Finger work on a sax might be tough for you, and your arms are a little short for trombone…”
He nodded and shoveled more food into his mouth.
“K. That’ll be fun. What about you Carm?”
He stopped and looked at her with his fork still in his mouth. “Me?”
“Yeah. You want to learn to play something? We can have a little band.”
“I’m too little.”
She scoffed. “Nonsense. I was playing piano in pageants by the time I was your age. You’re definitely old enough to have some fun with us if you want.”
“What tan I learn?”
“Do you play Rock Band or Guitar Hero?”
“I bet you’ll do fine on bass… you boys can be my rhythm section… Jack, you need to think of a few songs that you know start to finish by heart. It’ll make the songs easier to learn. K?”
He looked like he was going to shit himself. “What if you don’t know it?”
“I can pick it up.”
“Without sheet music?”
“We won’t look at sheet music once.”
“My piano teacher said that…”
She raised her eyebrow at him. “Did you learn anything from her?”
“Then she’s not a teacher. She was just renting her keys to you. I still want to kick her butt too. Let’s not talk about her.”
He laughed and told her ‘ok’ between bites.
I don’t think I’d ever seen them eat so much… The boys ate like they were starving and went back for seconds on the fruit salad…
We didn’t have to wait long… the boys were just telling Sookie about the video mails they got from ‘Mrs. Merlotte’ and ‘Mr. Andy’ when we all heard Eric groan from the back of the house.
“Son of a… Mother…. Goddamn…” They were snickering as quietly as they could and Sookie looked like she was ashamed at how hard it was for her to not laugh.
When the bathroom door slammed shut the three of us lost it. We took a couple of minutes to get it out of our systems… and then we snickered and chuckled while we ate and Sookie started cooking again…
We all got caught up in another laughing fit when Eric boomed from the shower that I was a ‘dead man’… Priceless…
He was going to make me regret it later, but that’s half of the fun.
He stomped through the kitchen with an armful of sheets and spiked the shampoo into the trashcan on his way.
More quiet laughing…
Eric stopped to kiss Sookie, “Please tell me that we aren’t having eggs for breakfast…”
The boys and I lost it all over again.
“…I’m not sure what I did, but Breakfast seems to have declared war on me. I woke up surrounded by eggs and then… Mrs. Butterworth stood in for my shampoo.”
She gave him his plate and a cup of coffee without saying anything and he came over to slam his ass into his chair.
He let the boys have some fun with him. They’d giggle until he gave them a death stare, then they’d go back to their fruit salad…
Then they’d do it all over again.
He let them finish before he promised to get them back for helping…
And then threatened to fuck with their clothes if they didn’t hurry up and get dressed.
After they ate so much, I’m surprised that they could move as fast as they did.
Sookie topped off our coffees between batches of whatever she was doing on the stove and eventually took a cookie sheet over to the fridge.
She took Eric’s plate and set it in the sink before she sat on his lap so that he couldn’t keep up his ‘diemotherfuckerdie’ stare. Haha…
“Ok, the coffee maker is ready to go; all you have to do is turn it on. There’s fresh muffins, cranberry orange and banana nut, set out for your meeting. I figured it wouldn’t be messy if you need to spread out on the table. There’s cheese steaks in the fridge. When you’re ready for lunch, just slide them under the broiler until the cheese melts. Chips in the cupboard and dip in the door of the fridge. There’s enough for all of you in case you work late and the fridge on the back porch is stocked with drinks. Got it?” He nodded, but I was ready to kiss her… Cheese steaks…
“Got it… You didn’t have to go to all that trouble.”
“What trouble? I’d have made lunch for you guys anyway and the boys helped make the muffins after they packed their lunches.”
No way… “They packed their own lunches?”
“Yes sir, they did. While you showered, they each made their own sandwich and picked a fruit, a veg and a dessert. They had a blast.” I’d settled on just giving them lunch money since I thought they’d still have lunchmeat issues… Letting them take care of it themselves would… Handled… Nice… making their own food gives them the chance to make sure it’s ‘ok’… God bless her.
“Thanks. I really appreciate all your help.”
“Not a problem.”
Since the boys were busy getting dressed, I figured I’d tell her about the Hunter drama. I’d tried to tell her while we were running, but… talking wasn’t an option. “Did Eric tell you what happened after you went to bed last night?”
“No. What’d I miss?” Shit…
“Long story short… Hadley came over. Hunter was out 2 hours past curfew and wasn’t picking up his phone. I figured he was with Taryn so I called her. I went to get him and got Jason to help with an alibi. Unless Hunter came clean, Hadley ‘knows’ he was with Jason, crashed out after watching a movie.”
She didn’t say anything. Not for a long time and there wasn’t a fucking hint of anything on her face. No clues. No twitches… nothing. Finally… “So you lied to my cousin to help a 14 year old boy get away with breaking curfew to feel up a cheerleader. Why?”
Deep breaths. “Because if your cousin had found him, she probably would have embarrassed the shit out of him and gone off on a tear about the girls instead of for Hunter being an inconsiderate asshole and not picking up his phone.”
She started staring again. This time it went on longer. Her eyes were wider and I was really hoping I could keep her from getting to the knives… “Were they at least dressed when you got there?”
“Yes, but they knew I was on the way. I looked him over for booze or anything else. They’d just been making out.” No need to mention that one of the girls got bored waiting for his mouth or neck and tongue bathed his happy trail.
“K. Thank you.” Do what?
“You aren’t pissed?”
“No. You’re right. She’d have made it all about who he was with and what they were doing. Whether we like it or not, Hunter is growing up. Breaking curfew is one thing, but breaking curfew to be with a girl is a step she’s not ready for. It’s another step to him being out the door. And after what happened to Remy, she’d be fine if Hunter became a basement dwelling WOW geek.” I only felt slightly better… even if it was a rational lie… I still hated lying.
“So you don’t mind that I handled her?”
“Oh, if she finds out, you and Jason burn as a pair. We aren’t going down with you. And you had better use your help as leverage for something. He’s definitely old enough to learn about the birds and cats.”
“If you mean birds and bees, I think he’s got that covered.” The little pimp had 4 private tutors. Seymour fucking Butts doesn’t get that much action.
“I know he does. Who do you think told him? But it IS the birds and cats… A bird is flying south for the winter and gets separated from his flock. So he’s flying all alone and it gets so cold he starts to freeze and falls out of the sky into a field. Well this cow wanders over, doesn’t even notice him and takes a dump right on him. He’s upset at first, but he quickly realizes how warm he is and that even though he stinks, his life has been saved. He’s so happy that he starts tweeting and chirping. Well, with all the ruckus he was making, a cat notices him. The cat comes over and takes him out of the cow pie, cleans him off in the grass and then… the cat eats him…”
I don’t know how she managed to keep a straight face through her little redneck Aesop’s Fable… but that shit was hilarious. Even Eric laughed hard enough to shake her. “Is this a Louisiana thing?”
She popped his face. “Hush… The moral of the story is: Not everyone who shits on you is an enemy, not everyone who gets you out of shit is your friend and if you are happy and safe, keep your mouth shut so that you don’t jinx it.”
I was still laughing when I heard the boys going back and forth in a heated ‘nuh-uh/uh-huh’ debate, so I drained my coffee and put out my smoke on my way to the back. “YOU… are a riot, and I see your point. I’ll make sure to do some mooing.”
“What are you two arguing about?”
Jack had been bowed up, in Carm’s face and stood up to give me a ‘busted’ look. “Nothing.”
“Bull. ‘Nothing’ isn’t worth trying to intimidate your brother. What are y’all fighting about?”
“Carm fell asleep first. I heard Sookie on the phone. Are we going to New York for Christmas?”
“That’s the plan. They told me last night. Why? Would y’all rather stay here?”
Both of them at once: “NO!”
“Then what’s the problem?”
“Carm just didn’t believe me.” Bullshit. But it was a good crack at a cover… I gave him that.
“I guess y’all can save up that cuss bank of yours for the trip… Get yourself some souvenirs and stuff. Where are your bookbags?”
“By the door with our lunches already.”
“Make sure you get a supply list so we can go shopping tonight, alright?”
Carm shook his head. “Sookie said dat we don’t need anything.”
“I’m sure there’ll be some stuff.”
Jack shrugged. “Something about her volunteer program. They do it year round and back to school kits are part of it.”
Sookie came to the door and leaned against the frame. “Alright, men. Get your jackets. It’s chilly out. Y’all are going to be too busy making friends to catch cold.”
They ran past her… it was the first time I’d ever seen them excited to go to school.
“You’ve got the mom thing down.”
She looked offended. “Why? Was I being a crazy cunt?”
I laughed at her. “You know what I mean. Not everyone has a lunatic for a mom. I didn’t.”
She smiled. “Sorry, pal. I don’t have time for a fairy tale. Good moms, pshhhh, next thing I know you’ll tell me unicorns are real.” I know she was just joking, but I still felt sorry for her.
Even as I was strapping the boys into Rotten…
For her to have the mother she did and still… all morning long she’d been patient and organized and encouraging from every imaginable fucking angle…
Corbett did one hell of a job making up for that wife of…
Rotten was pulling out of the driveway before I realized she’d done that shit on purpose…
When I got back into the house, Eric was slamming dishes into the dishwasher.
He didn’t seem like he was going to be much company…
I went to my room. Fuck if I was going to get glared at over eggs… or blue balls… whatever.
I figured I’d go ahead and get the ugly shit out of the way.
Tying up the New Orleans loose ends…
I spent the next hour on the phone with all of the credit card companies, utilities, the landlord…
Ame really had taken her name off of every account.
I’d called the bank to make sure everything was straight (and it was). I was being offered a 2.9% APR on a new car loan when another call came in…
“Hey girlfriend. How’d things go?”
“You want to hear something funny?”
“I’d love to.”
“When she dropped us off at the airport, she gave me papers. Custody and separation… I was just confirming it. She’s taken her name off of everything she could.”
“Sort of. I broke her laptop when she refused to see the boys off. But the papers are dated on the 9th.”
“Oh shit son! What do the custody papers say?”
“It seems pretty straight forward. I’ll bring it to you, but there’s one page that really caught my eye… Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights.”
“SHE SIGNED THAT!?”
“Yeah. Names both kids.”
“What’s she asking for in the separation papers?”
“I didn’t find anything. She wrote a letter. She took her name off of everything, took 8 grand out of our savings account, and said she was walking away. She’s moving back to Dallas.”
“I know you need to look at all of this shit, but I was too preoccupied with the fact that I’ve got the boys to care for then she’d pulled so much from our savings.”
He was quiet for a minute. “How long y’all been married? How long she been at home?”
“9 years, home for 4 of it.”
“Y’all have about $32,000 in savings?”
“Yeah… $34,000. How’d you know that?”
“It’s a standard. You split the savings down the middle assuming she worked the whole time. Then she gets a prorated amount for how long she worked. Her lawyer told her exactly how much she could take.”
“Ok… Uh… I have other accounts.”
“Shit. She didn’t know about them?”
“No… Well, she went kinda nuts, you know, spending… when we got married so when Jack was born I put everything left from my Marines cash out in a college fund for him. She was pissed, but she knew about it… But when my mom died, I got the insurance. She started trying to spend it before mom was in the ground. I told her that my mom had left bills and set up another account. We weren’t hurting for anything.”
“There was 60 left after I took care of the funeral and everything. I never touched it. When Carm was born, I just added him to Jack’s savings account.”
“Don’t say anything to anybody about it. We might be able to let it slide through, but if she has a change of heart and asks for financials, you should be prepared to lose about 15 of that… Is that it?”
“Yeah. I think so.”
“Don’t worry about it too much. Not only did she technically abandon your boys, but you’re a little lopsided in the property department. Her car is a lot newer than yours. Even if it comes up, it could be a non-issue because the money came from…”
I cut him off. “I’ve got the boys, Laf. She can have the damn money.”
He snorted. “I just love you… I’ll have you a good woman before Christmas. Promise.”
I laughed. “You and Sookie both. Y’all spend too much damn time together.”
“Oh baby, we soul mates. I don’t see her nearly enough. I bet my list looks just like hers… ‘Cept, I got a sweet little paralegal here at the office with a…”
“Hey! Focus on my divorce. This one. Not the next one.”
He started laughing. “You partial to young blondes?”
“I know a beautiful blonde that can cook her ass off.”
“Sookie’s taken and I’m not in the market.”
“Who says I was talking about Sookie?”
“Sweetness, you need a date.”
“Are you asking me out?”
He laughed again. “Don’t distract me. I meant that you need a woman in your life that ain’t gonna take you for granted. I’ll call Sook and compare notes. I got the perfect girl for you.”
“Liar. If you weren’t interested in having a sane woman of your own, your sweet self would still be putting up with Amelia. I’ll getcha… We’ll find you a keeper. Fax that stuff from your ex to me.”
“See… I knew I could talk you into dating.”
“That’s not what I said ‘alright’ to… Laf?… Laf…”
Son of a bitch hung up on me.
I didn’t realize how late it had gotten, but it was nearly 9 when I came out of my room wondering how much of the meeting I’d missed.
Kenya was already at the table chatting with Eric (sans shitty mood)…
She slapped me five and I headed straight for the muffins and coffee. The fact that the boys made them was a great excuse to eat 2 breakfasts.
When I sat down, Eric oinked at me. Dick.
“Not my fault! That woman of yours is too good a cook. Her fault.”
“You had the same steak, EGGS and potatoes I did. You couldn’t possibly have room for more.”
I shrugged. “Not the point. I’m considering this a vacation. When my shit gets here from New Orleans, the gym is getting set up before my bed. Until then, this is an extended Thanksgiving.”
“There’s a scale in our bathroom, but it only goes up to 300. Fatty.”
“No. Jason said we wouldn’t.”
“He would know.” She’d been feeding his scrawny ass long enough.
We’d clearly amused Kenya. “You two sound like a couple of women, but Jason’s right. When Sookie put the cheerleading squad on a diet in high school, we were all gaining muscle and dropping fat so fast that we started skipping periods. I didn’t start getting chunky until I went on the Bon Temps diet. Take out and sitting still… If Sookie’s feeding you, she’s certainly not going to fatten you up, pretty boy.” The ‘pretty boy’ was directed at Eric…
I was still trying to figure out how she figured that she’s ‘chunky’…
“So, did I miss anything?”
Eric nodded. “Kenya brought by pics of the plantation. The window, the green trim, the angel statue all of it in the background.”
“You went out to the property?”
She shook her head and slid an envelope of pictures to me. “I’ve been there before. I was at Sookie’s wedding.”
I slid the envelope back to her. “Ew. No thanks. I’m eating.” The last thing I was interested in seeing was ‘Wedded Bliss Bill’, especially considering the look on Eric’s face. I didn’t need to see the damn pictures to be convinced that we need to search the property.
Eric squirmed and went back to catching me up. “The ID confusion got me to thinking that we might be able to find de Castro if we find the guy who made it. It’s a long-shot, but worth looking into… I called the school. We finally get to talk to Rene…”
“…And our fearless leader is pitching her tent 10 minutes away and hasn’t shown up yet.”
“And our sharpshooter is going to put himself into a sugar coma before we search a property.”
I flipped him off. “Fuck you. The boys made them… and I actually ran this morning. Princess.”
“You ran with her?”
“Yeah… we did 5 miles while you were still sucking your thumb. I’ve told you before. You crash too hard. You need a sleep study.”
“I’m just not a morning person.”
“You snore and grind your damn teeth… and I bet someone could really fuck with you in your sleep too.”
He had his mouth open to return fire, but he settled for flipping me off when he got up to answer the knock on the door.
I couldn’t look at the boy and not think about Adam Lambert… Goddamn American Idol… American Idol and America’s Got Talent… The boys were obsessed and there was just no amount of data dumping that would get rid of Simon Cowell and ‘the Hoff’.
“Rene, the one foraging muffins is my partner Alcide Herveaux. You know Deputy Jones, right?”
He nodded at Kenya and took my hand to shake it.
Eric offered him some muffins and coffee and as soon as he was out of my way, I topped off my cup and Kenya’s and started a fresh pot.
Rene didn’t even get the chance to swallow his first bite of muffin before Eric got to business. “Ok, Rene. What do you have for us?”
He nodded to Kenya. “She can tell ya, last year my cousin Charlsie died driving back from a bar in Clarice. She was trashed and she killed her two passengers and the guy she hit head on. She was only 17. Well the bartender and bouncer got canned because they didn’t spot the fake ID.” He grabbed his wallet and pulled out a couple of IDs to give them to Eric. “I don’t even care if I get in trouble for this. I’m just glad to have someone take me seriously.”
“Why do you have a fake ID?”
“Well, when Charlsie died and those guys got fired, I didn’t think it was fair that they get punished when the guy that did her fake ID was the true catalyst… so at the reception after her funeral, I went through Charlsie’s laptop and desk. She had an email in her inbox with instructions to meet at the food court in the Minden mall with no other info and the address wasn’t in her address book. So I searched through and found out that HE was the guy she got the ID from. I made my own arrangements and got one with the intention of taking it straight to the police and they laughed at me. Called me too big for my britches. They didn’t even bother themselves with taking the fake from me. I thought about tossing it, but it cost me 200 bones. Now I just use it to buy booze for my old man so that he isn’t on the road between bottles.” Like it’s not bad enough he solved the Jessup case… Fuck…
We should lock him and Sookie in a room with a coffee pot and a box of cold cases…
Eric handed the IDs over to me… One gave his birth year as 1990 the other gave it as 1987… When I flipped them, the barcodes on the back were a perfect match from what I could tell… the pictures were the same… Not ‘pretty much’. Exact. I flipped them again and pulled mine out to make sure, and mine was different… The forger was hacking into the DMV’s server. “Even the barcode for his two are a dead on match!”
Eric got that look he usually gets when he has an idea that goes somewhere. It isn’t cocky… it’s actually funny like he’d waited too long to pee. It was a relieved kind of look. “OK. So what do we need to find the guy? Do you still have the email address?”
He pulled a rolled up folder out of his jean jacket. “Happy reading.”
Eric started looking through it and ended up handing over more IDs. More impressive work… No one would ever know. They were, for all intents and purposes, perfect.
It took us all of 5 minutes to realize that Rene needed a badge and that we were going to have to call that twisted bitch from Homeland Security to get the manpower we needed. Cater.
I got chills just thinking about dealing with her.
As Eric flipped through the file, he got to a picture of a car… Rene’d followed the guy out to the parking lot when he got his ID…
Before I had the chance to ask anything, Eric’s giant ass was out of his chair and freaking Rene out with a rape-hug. The kid was asking to be shot with his eyes.
“It’s BILL! Making fake IDs… William Thomas Compton is making fake IDs… Even if he didn’t make the one for the Vampire… this is enough for accessory to vehicular homicide and forgery… 5 counts of forgery. That’s twenty years!… At LEAST!”
Brilliant little son of a bitch… hell, I wanted to give him my badge. “You did good kid. Even if it wasn’t the guy at the top of his shit list… You still did good.”
Eric still had his arm around Rene’s shoulder when he pulled out his phone. “Alc, I’m gonna deal with Cater, but you have to be a man. Call our esteemed SAIC and find out where she heard that after 10 is considered ‘first thing’.”
I laughed pulling out my phone. Eric lets way more of Pam’s shit slide than I do, so when he says something… He was more than a little torqued that we had something we could be doing and she was the hold up.
When he was done getting verbally molested (I could tell by the look on his face) he shuddered putting his phone away.
Jennifer Cater would be in Bon Temps tonight… oh joy of joys…
And I ended up having to call in the GPS on Pam’s car to make sure she hadn’t been abducted… if the Hill people took her would it be considered an abduction or a recovery mission?
I couldn’t help but laugh that her car was sitting at Corbett’s address. “Corbett omelet!”
Eric got a laugh out of it too. “Oh! This will be SO MUCH fun!!!”
Kenya looked confused. “Corbett is dating your boss?”
Eric nodded. “Yeah. Well, I don’t know if you’d call it dating… They don’t seem to leave the house much.” And when they do, she’s high maintenance… Two weeks and she’s on the curb…
Rene went back to school so that he wouldn’t miss Sookie’s class and Pam finally graced us with her presence. She looked like she was surprised that the world had kept spinning while she’d been on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride…
It didn’t seem to faze her that the taunts were actual threats… and towards her… March 3rd. She mentioned her birthday like it was nothing that the date was right within the Vampire’s timeline… N… then O… The more I thought about it, the more fucking shitty the situation was… If he wanted to, he could take P too… and they could all be young… then Pam could just as easily be his R…
Ugly. Twisted. And as usual, the more we learn the worse it all got… Understanding the assholes we looked for only gave us nightmares.
…Kenya started with explaining why she initially suggested the Loudermilk place.
…Eric explained his inspiration for calling in Rene and his dick got hard all over again.
…Then I got to give an eyewitness account of Sookie going into a zone and answering the song riddle we’d been dry humping for months.
“Not only do we have a logical recommendation from local law enforcement to check the Loudermilk property, but we also have the substantiation of landmarks on the property with the songs he’s been having emailed to us?”
The three of us nodded and Kenya pulled the envelope of pictures out again as support for probable cause.
“So ladies… are the four of us armed enough to do this now, or should we play it safe and wait for Jennifer and her minions?”
Kenya didn’t give Eric the chance to say ‘nownownow’. “I vote we do it now. If he’s there, he could take cover in the trees. At night, we’d lose him. I don’t know what you keep with you so I brought extra Kevlar and 6 boxes of 9 mil rounds.”
Pam looked impressed… Hey, maybe when Pam grows up, she can be a real cop like Kenya.
I almost said something too… “I’m all set. I didn’t leave any of my guns in NOLA. I’ve got more than enough for my Barrett, 9mil and .38… Eric’s set too. He buys more bullets than groceries.” That was an understatement. Eric had enough ammo that he’d be on a watch list if he weren’t a Fed.
He nodded and tried to not look too excited.
Pam stared at the table for a minute… “All we need is a warrant for the property.”
When she went for her phone, Kenya stopped her. “You should just call for permission.”
“Why? Does Sam Merlotte own that too?”
Kenya laughed, “No. Corbett does. He says the only reason that he doesn’t burn it down is because every hunter in the county would hate him for scaring off the game. He bought it when his in-laws fell on hard times and almost lost it. Sheila’s mother was a Loudermilk.”
“Is there anything in Raynard that isn’t or hasn’t been owned by a Stackhouse? Fucking moronic the way they all walk around like blue collar grunts and they’re worth millions…. Beverly fucking Hillbillies…” I loved that it bugged the shit out of her that he didn’t throw his money around anymore than the rest of them… She gave Eric an annoyed look. “You call him.”
“Because he’s not in a very good mood.”
He studied her for a minute before he started laughing. “Sookie gets grumpy from time to time too.”
“PMS isn’t quite the same thing…”
“Oh, I’m not talking about PMS. She’s not fond of being… interrupted.”
When she started to smile, I instantly regretted all the muffins… “We might as well be dating the same person.” It was less specific than some of the shit Sookie had mentioned, but still… it was Pam… ew.
“Then we’re both pretty fucking lucky.” He reached into his pocket so that he could take the heat for calling his blueballed future father-in-law…
Eric’s answers were vague and the only thing I could hear from the other end sounded like growling…
He waited until Corbett had hung up before he started laughing… “Sookie’s not quite THAT bad!”
Pam gave him an I-told-you-so look. “I’ve never met anyone who is.”
Uh-huh, like he’s not a total bitch when he doesn’t get his way! “You’re no prince either… You’ve threatened to shoot me… twice.”
“I wasn’t kidding either.”
He might’ve been doing a stellar job with his Mr. Serious face, but he was joking… for the most part.
The first hour we’d had to deal with Pam hadn’t been terribly shitty. I’d expected that the news that she was on a serial rapist’s shopping list to put her in a fuck-everyone mood right away, but she managed to behave until we got to the plantation…
That’s when it started.
Eric suggested that she paired up with me… I knew why. She knew why…
As perfect as the son of a bitch is, it’s even more annoying that he’s realistic about his limits…
I’m a better shot.
As much as I hate to admit it, if we stumbled over de Castro somehow… knowing that Pam is on his list… it made sense for her to be with me because I could take him out faster.
Instead… Pam turned his defensive measure into an excuse to be a feminazi and ‘joked’ that we knew the teams weren’t even… and in their favor.
Even Kenya rolled her eyes when Pam called the two of them ‘estrogen enhanced’…
As we split up, Kenya told us not to worry because she’s been shooting clay with her dad, Corbett and Terry since she was 12…
It’s a good goddamn thing too. I’d been to the range with Pam. She’s lucky to hit a paper target.
It was pretty fucking clear that the landscaper who owned the property, had no fucking love for it. None.
We were only 20 yards into the tree line and it was impossible to move without tripping over years of weeds that’d turned into trees and fallen branches.
My klutz partner sounded like a freight train derailing. He was so loud that even he noticed and the funniest part was when we passed a small mob of deer… instead of running off, they looked at him like he’d farted in church… seriously.
My secret to keeping quiet was stepping in his colossal footsteps since he was leaving a wake of splinters instead of branches.
The Airstream was a beautiful site… Sookie knew about the place because of the songs, but Kenya… I wanted to kiss her. That woman was wasting her instincts in a place like Bon Temps… I even asked Eric on our way over. The plantation was her first round draft pick. She’d even admitted that there were endless possibilities for hiding places for this prick, but ‘Paradise Hills’ made the most sense…
I’d seen less organized operating rooms. The inside of the trailer was creepy at best. Once we cleared it and started looking around, the place was a little OCD haven. His clothes and shoes were arranged like he was still getting a birthing inspection… his groceries were all fronted as per galley standards… the tiny bathroom had a shaving bag on the counter. His trailer, but he was still stowing his toiletries like he shared a head with 100 other guys…
And I’d be willing to bet that there wouldn’t be a single finger print anywhere.
The first floor of the house hadn’t gotten any more attention than the yard…
With the exception of what was right by the broken windows, everything was covered in pollen and dust… there was a slight cross breeze moving leaves across the floor and the only evidence that anyone had been in the building was the ashes and garbage on the hearth in the old study… it smelled like it couldn’t be but a week old; it still smelled charred instead of the reek of mildew like everywhere else.
Upstairs wasn’t any different other than the flock of pigeons that nearly gave me a heart attack when we spooked them out of the room they claimed thanks to the tree that came through the window… dry rot, bird shit and down was all we’d found…
I didn’t have any hopes for the third floor when we headed up… well, other than hoping one of us wouldn’t fall through the decaying floor boards… I wasn’t the only one to make the floor creak. Pam might weigh a buck and a quarter and she was starting to look worried too.
With three doors cleared of everything but more damage and bird shit, we only had two left…
I was the first one through the door… and I probably would’ve been happier to have that bird induced heart attack…
The vampire’s love nest…
There was a mattress on the floor done up in red and gold…
Maybe 100 candles all over the room…
If I didn’t know… if I’d just seen a picture of it online… I could have made the mistake of thinking it was all a romantic set up to celebrate a new house.
But I did know.
And it made me want to barf…
There wasn’t any telling how long he’d been using the house, but that room was the last thing ‘Auntie Dette’ saw…
As a minimum. Probably more… maybe even all of them…
But ‘Auntie Dette’ died in that room.
Eric went left and found an empty closet…
And I got stuck with ‘right’…
I didn’t realize that Eric was right behind me until I bumped into him to get the fuck out of dodge.
I wasn’t going to contaminate the crime scene by spraying it down with muffins and the smell was too much…
The smell… I must’ve taken some of it with me back out to the hall because it was still too hard to hold breakfast down…
There was no way that smell was only a week old.
That smell… It’d been a long fucking time since I’d had that smell hit me…
It was horses… 5 of them… in the sun until they fell apart…
I wasn’t the only one…
Eric, Pam and Kenya all ended up out in the hall with me, taking deep breaths and pacing…
The tub was full of blood and vomit…
More than a few women’s worth…
Knowing that made it come back like I was still breathing it…
And I wanted to throw up all over again when it dawned on me that we still had another door…
Keeping souvenirs is just one of those disgusting things Eric and I had learned to deal with together.
I hadn’t gone detective in Dallas. I’d gone the other way. SWAT got to show up and be heroes once the detectives had done their job well enough to know who we were shooting at.
I’d come across a case or two when I was in a patrol car where a victim was found without her necklace or wedding ring… in one case it was stockings… And Eric’s first case with me was on a case where the killer kept underwear… and his victims were young enough to still be wearing Disney Princesses…
It wasn’t any secret that the Vampire had been holding onto keepsakes.
But the last room was full of mannequins… and they were all wearing the clothing our victims had been last seen in.
Like that wasn’t disturbing enough, the wigs made them all faceless statues of the women and children he’d taken…
He’d even padded one with a pillow so that Hannah Summerland’s maternity clothes would ‘fit’…
I wasn’t surprised that the small town cop lost it and left with Eric’s help…
I was surprised that Kenya had made it so long…
I’d seen my share of bodies and crime scenes… and I still wasn’t used to it. I prayed every time I saw another one that I’d never get used to it.
Pam and I stayed in the ‘shrine’ for a few minutes, confirming that it was all there…
Down to the underwear…
A picture… a close-up of each victim strapped to the table over the tub was hanging behind each of the dressed mannequins and an empty frame was hanging behind the undressed ones…
Like they were waiting.
By the time we got back downstairs, Eric was standing at the edge of the clearing rubbing Kenya’s back while she sicked.
I felt bad for her.
Road kill was probably the worst of what she’d seen unless the firefighting she’d done made her come across some bad burns….
When we were searching the property for where the Vampire bleaches the bodies and possible shallow graves, Eric owned up…
Kenya and ‘Auntie Dette’ had been friends…
After Eric and I managed to find not one, but 3 fresh graves and ‘Team Ovaries’ found the bathing area, it was just a matter of waiting…
With the Forensics team on the way, we sat on the front steps until I was out of cigarettes. I couldn’t get the fuck off of the property fast enough…
When I had the thought that I hoped the boys were having a better day than I was, I pulled my phone out to turn the ringer back on and had messages waiting…
‘Sofa King Cool’ was all the first text said and the rest of them were pictures of the boys…
She must’ve been sneaking around the school like a ninja… she’d taken pictures of each of them at their new desks, at lunch, on the playground…
They were smiling in every damn one of them…
I almost forgot where I was and what I’d just seen.