Alcide In Wonderland
Broken To Pieces
While I signed my name to the transcripts of the official meeting and blue-toothed phone numbers and addresses to Orrie’s phone, Pam snarled at me through the window of the AD’s office because we strategically placed ourselves at Robin’s desk to do the paperwork. Drew kept getting her attention by throwing paper clips at her, and she still kept turning around.
“Flip her off.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “Do what?”
“It’ll be fun. Trust me. You could hit her and nothing will happen to you. Drew’s your fan-boy. Rob jokes about making a pillow with Northman and Herveaux iron-ons… but she’s afraid he’ll use it.”
“That’s probably the creepiest thing I’ve heard all day.”
He chuckled. “So… Your file doesn’t say anything about your separation. How recent?”
“One week. Wife gave me papers last Tuesday.”
“Shit, man… Sorry.”
“Oh… Um…” The poor fucker had no idea of how to respond to that. Normally sympathy was the default response to news that someone was getting a divorce. Meanwhile, I was tempted to keep confetti in my pockets for every time I mentioned mine.
“She had the papers ready when I finally told her I wouldn’t piss in her face if her teeth were on fire… Sinking ship. I’ve got my boys. New stomping grounds… I’m a happy bitch.”
“Careful. Too many single females at this office. You won’t be single for long if they catch wind…” The yentas couldn’t have been as bad as Sookie…. And the women definitely wouldn’t be as tempting as Had.
“I’m not single.”
“Swearing off women?”
“Just the needy and desperate ones.”
“Robin has radar for that shit…”
“Sookie’s already assembling a list for me…” I ended up having to make a call, so I dialed my phone.
“A list? You’re not even divorced yet?”
I chuckled at him. “No shit. She’s a trip… she tried to hook me up with a stripper last week; pre-separation.”
He was laughing when the receptionist picked up. “It’s a beautiful morning here at Merlotte Realty. I’m Dawn. How can I help you?”
“Hey Dawn, Alcide Herveaux… Any chance you can tell me what the address is for my place?”
“Well, I can try. How’s everybody doing at home?”
“As good as can be expected. Sookie’s pitching a fit about being doted over.”
“I bet. Runs in the family though. You should’ve seen how Corbett was when he had to have his rotator cuff fixed…”
“Dawn, I don’t need to hear about that. You know that old bastard and his team of geriatrics nearly kicked our asses on Saturday, right?”
She giggled, “Yeah. I think I did hear something like that.”
“You think that’s funny?”
“Not really. I’ve seen them play… Know what? I can’t find the file on the property, hon. I’m sorry. The only thing I can figure is that it’s on Sam’s desk and his office is locked.”
“Do you expect him anytime soon?”
“Don’t know. He was on his way to the office when he got a call from Hadley. They’re being all kinds of ninja.”
“Then I’ll just have to interrupt… Thanks.”
While I called Had, Orrie started shaking his head. “Bon Temps small enough that you already know everyone?”
Ringing… “Never met her.”
“Nope. Town is friendly as hell.”
“How long is the commute?”
“I was driving slow to piss Pam off… it took 40 minutes.”
“Rob and I were looking at houses to the south… How’s cost of living that way?”
“What do you have now?”
“1500 square foot, 2 bedroom apartment. Second floor. Horrible parking. $2500 a month.”
“Sounds like NOLA. I just leased a 4 bedroom on 3 acres for $1750. Beautiful place. Merlotte Realty.”
“How’d you find it?” He looked like I told him that I had Santa’s phone number.
I was about to give up on Had and just call Sookie, when she finally picked up. “Hey, what can I do for you?”
I held my finger up to get Orrie to sit tight. “Start by talking dirty… I’m on my way back to town… Did you leave that window unlocked?”
She cleared her throat. “I’m not sure I can help you.” She was going to kill me, but I couldn’t resist.
“Sure you can… If I remember right, there wasn’t much to that dress you’re wearing. You could be waiting on the counter for me…”
“I don’t really have the time right now…”
“Could you get away? I was thinking we should test acoustics…”
“Come on. All we needed was a blanket before… And…”
“Is there something else I can help you find?”
“How about some bite marks?”
“Where are you thinking about putting them?”
“Are you finally playing along?”
“I’m looking for those samples now.”
“Oh really? Are you leaving a meeting just for me?”
“That’s not right. What if Sam’s feelings are hurt?”
She was quiet for a second and I pulled my phone away from my ear just in time to not get hearing damage. “I’M GONNA KICK YOUR…!!!”
“Oooh. There you go. I like it rough…”
She started laughing, “What do you want?”
“I tried calling Sam to get my address, but Dawn couldn’t find the file.”
“Why don’t you know your address?”
“Because I was house-hunting with the devil.”
“Oh… right. It’s 401 Hooley Lane. Hotel, Oscar, Oscar, Lima, Echo, Yankee… Calling for utilities?”
“Probably later… Right now I’m at the Shreveport office. They need to know where I’ll be living.”
“I know, it’s so cliché… So when are you going to ditch Sam so you can help me inspect the house?”
“I can’t actually, but… um… you could always come to the showroom and look at those mattresses you boys need. Sam is almost done.”
“Sounds good… you guys planning to surprise Tara with a nursery?”
She giggled, “You’re good. We’re going to set it up Friday if her ultrasound checks out tomorrow.”
“Sounds perfect. Tell Sam that I’ll be there to help as soon as I drop the boys at school and I’ll see you in a little bit.” When I hung up, I went right back to what Orrie asked me before Had answered while I wrote the address down. “…Merlotte is Sookie’s brother in law. He showed me two other places last weekend that were really nice.”
“Why did you opt for the one you did then?”
“It was on the most property and Sookie is 2 miles in one direction, the school is 2 miles in the other. Sookie’s my backup since I’m on my own with the boys now. The other two were in great shape. Both had 3 bedrooms. One had a pond.”
When his eyes lit up, I ended up calling Dawn again. I thought she was sending a list of available properties… What Orrie actually got was a link to the company website. There was an album and full write up on every one of them… He ended up giving me a file to look over so that he could shop…
de Castro’s tox report… Since the asshole bled all over Sookie, seeing that he was pumping clean blood made me happy enough… Seeing Burnham’s report that the floor and vases had gotten the same meticulous OCD sanitizing as everything else de Castro touched, made me feel even better. The only trace evidence to speak of was flower related. Bobby had run all the tests himself. Twice.
Pam tried to call me three times before I got to Minden. I was in a good enough mood to say as much as ‘hello’ before I hung up… It was my favorite stall tactic for dealing with Ame… she thought it was a dropped call for a few minutes. It bought some time before a redial.
She ended up texting orders. ‘Crossref MO against unsolved cases in Brazil.’
‘Kiss my ass. You can do it yourself.’
‘You’re the linguist. I don’t know Spanish.’ Seriously? I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time.
‘That won’t be a problem since the people of Brazil speak Portuguese.’
‘I don’t know Portuguese either.’
‘Save time. Forward a list of shit you do know.’
The last thing I did before I got out of my truck was text Corbett to tell him to do something with his girlfriend because she was starting to piss me off.
The vultures were already circling when I walked in. They’d seen me walking across the parking lot. Out of the three women and a man wearing badges that said ‘sales associate’, the man made it to me faster. Balding, middle-aged, clammy hands, wrinkled brown suit that smelled like cabbage and fit about as well as a hand-me-down would… Roger shook my hand with a ‘buy something’ smile on his face, reminding me that car salesmen and furniture salesmen were the same kind of creature. When he asked me what I was shopping for, I couldn’t help it. I told him I was in the market for a ‘petite blonde with a big mouth’. I actually laughed when he didn’t need help figuring out who I was talking about.
He went over to a phone hanging on the wall and paged ‘Miss Savoy’ like she was the last person he wanted to call. A minute later the extension lit up. He answered and grumbled one ‘yes ma’am’ after another before hanging up… and pointed to the back. “Past the bathrooms. Through the doors that say employees only. Follow the smell of sawdust and trapped souls.”
When I walked into Had’s workshop, she was shuffling papers over a desk. It was more of a warehouse kind of space. She had a big table strewn with books and stacks of magazines and presentation boards leaning against the walls. But the back end of the space was set up for heavy lifting. Floor to ceiling shelves full of rolls of fabric and wood, stacks of padding, and a full workbench of tools; everything from carving tools to power saws. It smelled like sawdust and lacquer.
She huffed, barely looking over her shoulder. “In case you’re wondering, Roger is a pain in my ass. He’s been here since before I took over and has it in his head that he runs things.”
“Wife, three kids, one of them has lupus. I’d go straight to hell. He’s just a pain in my ass. He does his job.”
“Tell me about it.”
“So what’s got you all fired up?”
“I’m looking for an invoice. I have a vender on hold. Those assholes shipped me the wrong textiles and they’re passing the buck, claiming I ordered the wrong thing because it was lost in translation.”
“Do you think you did?”
“No. Tagalog isn’t something I screw up. Mandarin and Cantonese, all the time, but I speak Tagalog every fucking day. This guy shipped me the wrong shit… Jackpot… Mother fucker. I was right. Take a load off.”
I pulled a chair off of a dining room set and sat my ass down to watch her read the guy on the phone the riot act. I had no fucking clue what she was saying, but judging by her tone, the vender should have been scared to go to sleep if he didn’t get the order right by end of business…
When she was done bitching, she slammed the phone down and growled. “I hate it when people think they can get one over on me… How did things go at the office?”
“The AD reminds me of Jason and our new handler seems like a great guy.”
She sat sideways on my lap and raised her eyebrow. “Have you shot anyone today?”
“Not yet, but I would’ve if Drew hadn’t helped me ditch Pam.”
She giggled, “Slacker.”
“It looks like being a slacker is contagious.”
“I worked until after you got here.”
I raised my eyebrows at her. “Except for when you were playing with Sam.”
She scowled at me. “I wasn’t playing.”
“Oh really? What theme are they going with?”
She smiled and opened her mouth to answer me right away and then gave my cheek a half-assed slap. “You think you’re smart, don’t you?”
I smiled back. “I have my moments. So, are you going to get back to work and show me to those mattresses or what?”
“I have one in particular that you should try.”
She leaned in for what I thought was going to be a kiss, but she ended up biting my bottom lip and dragging her teeth away. “I’m not. I’m wishing that I didn’t have 4 clients coming in today.”
“Awwww, you poor thing. You have to work for your paycheck? What a shame… You seem like the soap opera and bonbons type too…”
“I’m going to kick your ass.”
“It’s always fun to see you try.”
That time when she lifted her hand to slap me, I caught her wrist and before she could try with the other one, I was holding them both behind her back.
She struggled until she realized I wasn’t going to let go. “Nice.”
“You show up, looking all kinds of delicious in that suit and now you’re holding me off. How the fuck am I supposed to get your pants open if I don’t have hands?”
“You just want to slap me again.”
She shrugged and bit her lip… that ‘fuck me’ face… so help me, I let her go. The next thing I knew, my cheek was hot… That slap wasn’t half assed like the first one… her eyebrow twitched, like she was daring me to act surprised. “I think you said something about liking it rough.”
Yeah. That was me. I was mostly joking…
She looked like she was about to say something else when I grabbed her hair and pulled her to me for a kiss.
Her hands yanked at my belt…
My hand went up her skirt, pushed her panties out of my way…
She gave up on my belt when I pushed my fingers in…
Pressed against me and held onto my tie…
She groaned, “Not here.”
“You said you couldn’t leave.”
Her eyes rolled back. “Nnnnnnn… right here. No lock…” She moved her leg like she was trying to get up…
I wrapped my arm around her waist and stood up and she trapped my hand between her thighs when she pulled her knees up. “Where then?”
She whimpered and squirmed, flailing her arm to point to the back end of the room. “Just behind the… your couch is back there…”
I kept her on my lap when I sat down…
Letting go of her waist to lift her leg so I could move my hand again…
She grabbed my wrist when I pushed deeper…
Twisting to moan against my neck between bites…
Whining that I wasn’t playing fair…
Wedging her hands behind us to open my belt and bitching because she couldn’t get it open…
Getting loud enough that I covered her mouth…
Losing both of her shoes rubbing her legs over mine and shifting her ass in my lap…
And pushing her heels into my knees, arching her back away when she came until she went limp…
Twitching and fighting me when I didn’t stop until she came again…
‘Warning’ me that she needed a minute while I pulled her panties off and turned her around to straddle my lap…
Growling at me for ignoring her…
She grabbed my tie again when I pushed her hips down onto me, tensing until she shook because I wouldn’t let her move…
The longer I kept her from taking over, the harder she fought… and came…
Making me chase her from one end of the couch to the other and back again…
Until she finally took me with her and we collapsed, half on the couch, half on the floor in a gasping pile.
Eventually, she reached over and slipped her hand into my pocket to pull out my cigarettes out and giggled while she lit a couple.
I groaned and slumped all the way onto the floor. “How am I dangerous? I think you dislocated my hip.”
She laid her head back and snickered. “You’re easy to look at, fun to talk to and fuck like an animal. What more could a girl ask for?”
I chuckled because I didn’t have it in me for a full laugh yet. “The same could be said for you, but I think you should add ‘less baggage’ to the wish list.”
She moved over and laid down to use my leg as her pillow. “Oh no… If you had less baggage, you might not have as much patience for my family. They cross each other off the list. I’m golden.”
“And you’re still hoping to con me out of Carm.”
“Maybe I like you enough to let you borrow him once in a while, but I really am attached to the kid… you know, having cut his cord and all.”
“Like a time share? Hmmmmm… I can deal with that.”
“Good. You have to talk to Sookie about Jack though. She’s already optioned him.”
“I’ll get him. I have Hunter as a bonus.”
“I think Cougar was winning him over too.”
She giggled as she rolled over and pushed herself up to go get an old soda can for us to use as an ashtray. “Stop calling her that.”
When she sat on the couch, I pushed myself up to sit next to her. My legs were still rubber. “No… I love the couch, by the way. Did you really have appointments or did you just want to christen it?”
She laughed and bumped our shoulders together. “Both. First one’s due in an hour. That might be enough time to find my buttons.”
“Ooooh… too bad. We still have business to take care of.”
“You really want to do the mattresses today?”
“Well, if I don’t, I don’t have a reason to be out here… or an excuse to be missing the time…”
“An invoice is a perfect alibi for both. Good thinking.”
I went straight to my room.
Fucked up and stoned on pain killers or not, Sookie would spot the cum on my black suit and wrinkles in my tie from a mile away. I spent a minute second guessing the whole changing thing, thinking that changing right away would give her something to notice… but I’d want to get out of the suit anyway… Sookie would probably just make fun of me for hating the dress code.
When I got to the kitchen, Eric was putting a beer next to a plate with a mountain of a sandwich meant for me… I could have died when the smell hit me. My mouth was watering…
God love Smom, but the pancakes she’d made hadn’t stuck to my ribs like the stuff Sookie usually made. Then again… Hadley kind of helped me burn that off.
A fresh baguette of bread that was longer than the plate was wide piled high with Italian meats, slabs of smoked mozzarella, never-mind the fucking veg.
I was locked in on the sandwich, but I heard Smom and Sookie giggle at me.
Smom pushed a preserves jar full of purple glop before I could get my hands around the sandwich. Grape jelly? I didn’t have the chance to ask.
Sookie nodded towards it. “Oh, you’ll want to try that. Daddy and Had have been perfecting that recipe ever since we went to Italy. Balsamic and olive oil with garlic, red onion, oregano, banana peppers, pepperoncini, Italian sweets, crushed red pepper and Savinas…
I turned the jar around, and the label read, ‘Oobatz Bruciare’. Crazy Burn. I couldn’t even get the spoon out of the jar before I lost nose hair. I was SO going to try it on the bagels with the Not For Pussies schmear…
I didn’t care that they were laughing at me.
Hell, I forgot that I had news to spread until Eric blurted, “Mother fucker! Not Funny. What happened?” The sandwich was that good. It felt shameful to wipe my mouth… the napkin couldn’t appreciate the Oobatz.
Big news first. That’s what everyone was worried about anyway… “Ok, first of all… Burnham went and sat in on the party with the ME from Shreveport … Bobby ran the blood work himself. The guy was clean. Burnham even ran a test for some Brazilian fever. Brazil must inoculate like we do; he had antibodies for all the normal stuff.”
“Is there going to be a review? What’s the fallout look like?”
“What fallout? We’re clear. Ballistics report was brought in during the meeting. The melon shot was yours, but the ME had already told them that the shot in his leg woulda done the job since the ambulance didn’t get there for half an hour. So we tied. We need to put it all together for the case against Prince Charming though… Oh… funny part… some tool was there from the ‘Marinha do Brasil’ with another tool from NCIS. de Castro wasn’t the Brazilian equivalent of a CS… he was a CT.”
“A CRYPTO!?!” That was probably the same way Drew had taken the news.
“Yup. He was paid to find hidden messages and solve puzzles… That doesn’t explain much, huh? Some kind of fucking genius too… and the report he had from his command was a bit thicker than the one NCIS left with the Ft. Lauderdale po-po. FULL of counseling chits and mast-able behavior… beat the shit out of another sailor for not pairing his socks right.”
“Do we know about previous crimes yet?”
“Not yet. Pam told me to do a search online to see if something might be archived… I told her to kiss my ass. She’s going to fucking make director off of this case eventually and she’s just gonna have to take Corbett’s cock out of her mouth long enough to put a couple of hours in on it.” Just because Drew wasn’t playing her games didn’t erase the case from her resume. Eventually, we’d meet Director Ravenscroft.
Sookie giggled at me. “Don’t hold back Alc. Tell us how you really feel.”
“Sookie, fuck being nice about it. When we walked into the office this morning the suits started patting her back right away. Fucking PR tool asked her if she had a photo to add to the press release… Not only are you how he was caught but you’re the one who fucking found him. You have the battle scars to fucking prove it. Fuck that and fuck her. She shat the bed. I don’t care that she knows it and feels bad about it. That doesn’t change the fact that she’s put absolutely no fucking work in on this case other than calling Ft. Lauderdale… and you’re even the one to tell her to do that.” Knowing that we had a Director in our corner, one that knew what kind of shit Pam was capable of… I wasn’t going to waste anymore time acting like I could stand her, let alone respect her.
“Nope, shut it. I don’t care if it’s rational. I’d almost rather not have caught him at all than the way it ended up. Kenya is probably the only one of the friends and family of 13 victims that gets any closure because the rest of them won’t get to see him get any punishment and God only knows if the hypothetical survivors in Brazil would ever be told.” Smom’s mouth fell open. I guess I could’ve been nicer.
Sookie gave me a dirty look. “Don’t be a dick. Pam did her job which is to manage all 6 agents looking for the guy. Fucking my father had no effect on the case other than possibly calming her down enough to shut her fucking mouth and listen to someone else’s opinion. Besides, you’re forgetting, Bill had arranged for me to be on the Vampire’s ‘to do’ list anyway. If I hadn’t walked in to that florist, he would have gotten 2 more girls before Pam and then redoubled his efforts to make sure the math worked out for him to be at ‘S’ on July 1st.” Good points… all of them, even if she was minimizing the mountain of horseshit to dial me back… Sookie just didn’t have any way of knowing how bad Pam’s track record was.
While she’d been trying to rationalize, I’d snuck another bite of hero, so I had to wait to finish chewing. “Nope. Still pissed.”
“Because I’m pretty sure that I’m just now realizing how fucking lazy she is. She shows up last to the crime scene, she calls us in the middle of the night and we’re always where we’re sent before she is. She sends Eric and me all over creation and the only thing she ever does is interrogate even though he’s MUCH better at it. I’m starting to think that the only reason she ranks is because the higher ups were afraid of a lawsuit if they didn’t promote her. This case is just the straw.” It had gotten worse, but I’d always… fucking retard that I could be, I’d thought that she was throwing her weight around because she had something to prove.
Sookie shrugged. “Ok.”
Eric shook his head and whined, “Ok?” Like he wanted me to be ‘in trouble’.
She nodded. “Yeah.”
“You aren’t going to handle him away from being pissed at her?” She could probably do it too… since he was running his mouth, I got to go back to my sandwich.
“Why? If she’s good at her job and puts the time in, then he’s just on his rag and he’ll calm down when his cramps go away. But if he’s right, he’s got every right to be pissed. If she really did climb the ladder by letting the boys look up her skirt on the way, then fuck her. She deserves his ‘kill you’ face.” I almost reached out to high-five her until I remembered that her hands were full of liquid stitches.
“Isn’t that going to make family get-togethers uncomfortable? It makes sense to calm him down even if it is just to keep the peace.”
She giggled, “Doesn’t matter. She’s on her way out the stage door. Daddy’s done with her.” I chuckled at the look on his face. He looked like he wanted to eat a bullet… I guess he thought Pam and Corbett were going to live happily ever after.
“Because of yesterday?”
“No. Because she’s a slob. Because she’s uppity about Terry being around so much even after Daddy explained that we’re all Terry has. Most of all, because she’s a 2 and not the 2 that can make up for the other 3. Not when you’re a 5 like Daddy anyway.” Pam WAS NOT a 2! I might’ve been new to their little S-Scale, but she was a 1 at best… even then it was just because a flat ass was less of a turn off than cankles.
Since Eric didn’t have a mouthful, he got to ask, “Which 2?” He looked like he was afraid of the answer.
“It’s more like 1 and 2 halves. She’s a go for surface. She’s about half there for space and social. She’d rate higher in social if she hadn’t been a twat at the cookout about sitting with Smom and Momma. She pouted like she was being punished.” Smom actually nodded to back Sookie up. CMC chuckled and patted her knee.
“Ok. Not trying to play devil’s advocate or anything, but… Smom and Linda are moms they were talking recipes and crafting… Pam was out of her element.”
“But she also made no effort to pop the brat bubble she put herself in. Pam might have found out that Linda has a vacation house in Tahoe where Pam grew up. Pam might have learned that Smom likes foreign films for the same reason she does. Had she tried to make small talk and gotten frustrated, Linda would have told Daddy that it was sweet that she tried. When Daddy asked his sister what she thought about Pam, she had no opinion. Red flag. If you think Jas and I are close, you have no idea.”
“Your dad was testing her?”
Sookie nodded. “She was already starting to turn anyway.”
“So my father-in-law is breaking up with my boss? Fucking outstanding!”
While everyone else laughed, CMC lit up and leaned back in his chair. “Your mom, this morning she said ‘your dad’s whores’…” Her mom? Damn it.
If I’d been with Had all morning, I wouldn’t have been bitter, but… with my luck, Sheila probably called while I was trying to avoid Pam in the parking garage. “She called?! I HATE missing shit.”
Sookie giggled, “It’s a shame you can’t TiVo the house huh… wait… maybe we can put in some Big Brother type cameras.” That was an idea… If it weren’t for the nanny-cam style porn I’d have to zip through.
“You’re not glossing over that one… you told Pam it’d been a long time since he’d been ridden hard. He dated?” Like all along? Like in the open ‘dated’?
“Yes. Daddy dated. He’s been a married bachelor for at least 20 years. Sheila didn’t care other than it gave her a way to end an argument. She’d throw his keys at him and tell him to spend the night with whatever girlfriend he had at the time. The only real difference in life for him now and life for him last month is that now he can have people over. Lafayette calls her the ghost because she only ever stirred shit up. She wasn’t any kind of wife or mother.” Suddenly, it all came together.
CMC seemed to get the same not-for-primetime amusement out of the Stackhouses that I did. “So how long had it been then?”
“About a year. He let himself get too attached. He would have left Sheila for Keisha, but she turned up pregnant and decided to try to make it work with her husband.”
Eric asked the ceiling, “How did he know it wasn’t his?” The funny part: he was taking Pam and Corbett’s ‘breakup’ worse than my kids were taking their parents’.
“Daddy had a vasectomy after I was born, but since those things can undo themselves they spent 8 months wondering. Her husband is Cambodian and the baby looks just like him.” That explains how the guy got stuck with a name like ‘Supaul’.
It finally clicked for Eric. “Keisha? Kenya’s sister? Isn’t she a little young for him?” He would go there.
She shrugged. “Daddy tends to date the age he feels, then he complains about the generation gap, but they were good together.”
I couldn’t help it. I laughed. “That explains why you were trying to help me handle Ame even when you thought I was doggin’.”
“No it doesn’t. I was helping you handle your wife so you could concentrate on the case. Cheating is wrong, but it’s not cheating if everyone knows. Which explains why I told you to fess up or stop.”
“You ever double up?” I don’t know, like… going to the Caribbean with an ex-boyfriend (albeit a gay ex) while she was supposedly dating Task Force Ken?
“Not unless you count that I was still wearing JB’s ring when I was jumped.”
I don’t know what the fuck got into Eric, but he stood up so fast that his chair rocketed across the floor and slammed into the cabinet before it fell over when he stormed out.
Smom jumped when Eric slammed the bedroom door shut hard enough to rattle the glass in the kitchen. “What was all that about?”
Sookie shrugged. “I didn’t tell him that I was raped right away… I guess with everything, it’s too fresh… He’s probably back there trying to figure out how to kill Bill.”
Smom pouted, “He’s always been a brooder. He’ll snap out of it.”
Sookie smiled and patted Smom’s hand. “If he doesn’t settle down, I’ll go handle him. He’s beating himself up right now… So…. Alc, we have errands to run. You up for it?”
“Yep. You and me. Unless… you need a nap or something.” The way her eyebrows were set, that bitch knew something.
“I’m good… The new director’s assistant put a couple shots of espresso in my coffee.”
“Uh huh.” Bitch.
“Where are we going?”
“Um… dry cleaner, grocery store. Here and there.”
“You going to show me where the family keeps the Oobatz?” I kind of pictured it in a safe deposit box… where it should be.
“No. You have to be a good boy and earn it. That shit only gets brought out for special occasions.”
She licked her lips and smirked at me. “You have a prospect already?”
“I meant your wedding, you damn Yenta.”
“I’m sure if you ask really nice, Had would bring some.”
“Or… I could shack up with the Cougar. Her kid brother does whatever she says and I hear she has a thing for kerrys… Where’s your phonebook? I need to call and have the utilities turned on at my place. You know I actually had to call and ask what my address was because I didn’t have the lease with me and Amelia had me so pissed I didn’t remember the name of the street.” And thank God CMC kept his mouth shut about walking in on me and Had.
“694 Stoving Lane.”
“No. Hooley, right?”
“Oh… right. Stoving is Had’s address.” As soon as she felt better, I was going to beat her ass.
I spent about half an hour in my room calling the electric, gas and cable companies… and listened to Eric stomp around on the other side of the wall. He was either talking to himself or on the phone and if he was on the phone, he was up to something. Smom calling him a brooder was an understatement. I’d been trapped with him for hours on end. When he was brooding, he was a silent statue… and he sweat piss and vinegar. The talking meant he was lining something up to make himself feel better.
When I came out, he’d gotten quiet again.
Marnie had joined the rest of the folks in the kitchen. She and Smom were manning the fridge and pantry while Sookie rattled off a list of ingredients and they either answered with ‘negative’ or ‘roger that’. CMC gave me a wink… they were ganging up on Sookie so that she’d stay off her feet. It was beautiful.
Smom giggled and pulled the Oobatz out of the fridge. “Remind me to warn your boys that this isn’t grape jelly.”
“Definitely. I don’t plan on sharing.” They’d smell the capsaicin before they could eat it. “What’s on the shopping list?”
“Sookie’s going to teach us how to make the ‘Monday Night’ feast Eric was bragging about. Niners are playing tonight.”
I growled. “I think I’m going to miss it. From what I heard through the wall, Eric’s up to something.”
“I think he was on the phone with Jennifer… If so… we’re going to be paying Bill a visit in lockup.”
Sookie gasped, “God! Alc, you can’t let him. Not right now…”
“Calm down. The only reason I said anything is so that you’d see it coming. There’s no stopping him once he’s set on something and I’m not letting him go without me. I’ll be there to flatten his ass if he gets out of hand.”
“How bad would you let it get?”
“I won’t let him cross any lines… Your boy won’t even argue about me babysitting him either…” I stopped when I heard their bedroom door open.
When he came into the room, he was acting like he hadn’t detonated earlier… Par for the Eric course. Hence my research into bipolar disorder.
“Mind if I take Rotten for my errands?”
She nodded, but she looked like she was waiting for POP goes the weasel. “Eric, you alright?”
“I will be. Call me if you aren’t done in time to get the boys. I won’t be long. Love you.”
He’d grabbed her keys from the hook by the light switch and had his hand on the doorknob when Sookie finally said anything. “Love you too.”
I probably shouldn’t have warned her. “So what errands is he running?”
“He’s replacing my cell phone for me… an excuse to drive; clearing his head, but still tending to me.”
“Gotcha… Marnie, you tagging along with us to get some fresh air?”
She shook her head. “Nope. Since you’re going to have Sookie out, Mom and me are going to do some housework so that Sookie can’t gripe.”
“Good call. She hides the cleaning stuff in the cabinet over the washer and dryer… Give me a call if you run low on anything. We’ll pick it up while we’re out.” Sookie was too worried about Mr. Mind Fuck to argue about being helped.
She insisted on climbing into my truck without help, but she didn’t let me close the door behind myself before she started in. “Seriously…”
“I said to calm down about it. He’s a big boy. He knows what he’s doing.”
“What fucking reason could he have though? Bill’s already under indictment.”
“I’m going to take a stab in the dark… He was too worried about you to get any therapy from killing de Castro… Eric’s probably planning to self-medicate by getting a confession out of Bill now that we know he’s part of the Vampire thing.”
“That’s it?” No. Bill would need to visit the infirmary for stitches and x-rays when it was all over.
“I could be wrong. He could’ve been on the phone making arrangements to run a live range… we’ll have to wait and see. You need to trust him.”
“Yeah. Whatever. If he gets his hands on Bill…”
“Then I’ll be there to make sure everything is copasetic. Don’t stress yourself out about it.”
“Fine. How about I distract myself by making fun of you for your side trip to visit Had this morning.”
“Knock yourself out.”
“What? You aren’t even going to deny it?” Like she couldn’t have smelled that lie like shit under her pillow.
“I’m not going to lie about it. I went out to Minden.”
“You’re taking the fucking fun out of it.”
I rolled my eyes at her and hoped like hell she’d buy it. “Oooooh sorry. Tell me. How did you know I went to Minden then?”
“Unless you use Chanel aftershave, you’ve been with…”
I scoffed. “HA! You know, Had isn’t the only bitch in Louisiana that wears perfume! In fact… I think Keisha wears the same kind!”
“When did you meet Keisha?”
“At Dirges while you and Eric were stinking up the back of the limo… I danced with her and then helped the poor thing get to the house out back so that she could sober up… Is perfume all you’ve got?”
She pouted. “Yeah, I guess… and you smell like sawdust.” I almost felt bad… I was pretty sure that she thought she was just off her game from being banged up.
I laughed while I reached for my glovebox and pulled out the cover-story invoice to give to her. “There you go. Proof that Had and I were up to something. The secret is out. I picked mattresses and settled up for all the furniture we needed.”
She snorted at the paper and shoved it back into the glovebox. “No fun! You had…”
“A perfectly good excuse to go out there? Uh oh.”
“I’m sure you two were getting your flirt on.” That was one way to put it.
“That can’t be substantiated.”
She giggled at me. “Dick. I could call the store. I’m sure Roger would…”
“Roger was hiding… Some asshole had Hadley on a tear about textiles. I’m going to start hiding under furniture the next time I hear Tagalog. She’s scary enough in English…”
“You’re going to claim that she was on the rag the whole time you were there?”
“I didn’t say that. I just said that’s why Roger was hiding… She was in a really good mood actually. Sam had just left. They’re planning a nursery to surprise Tara.”
When she didn’t have something to say right away, I looked over and she was grinning ear to ear like she was stoned. “Did you see the plans?”
“No… I’m going over to help set things up on Friday though.”
“I want pictures. Snap a few with your phone for me?”
It might have been impossible to handle Sookie, but distracting her had been easy enough… that time. I skated out of lying by the skin of my teeth.
The mint chocolate mousse pie for Kenya was bullshit. I would’ve bought it if Sookie just let me take it in and drop it off… like she let me go into the dry cleaner for drop off/pick up.
She tried grinning through the pain on her way up the sidewalk… even refused to let me carry the pastry box for her. I was lucky she let me open the door for her.
As soon as Kenny spotted her, she yelled, “Get your broken ass home! What the fuck is wrong with you Stackhouses!?” Good girl. And the way she yelled at the whole family made me sure that eventually I’d hear a story about Jason or Corbett pushing their own limits.
Sookie smiled as she hobbled to the counter. “Well, Eric and Alc here are being thanked for saving my dumb ass with home cooking… Had made your favorite…”
“Then Had could’ve brought it by tonight on her way home since she drives right by the station. What the fuck are you up to?” I’m glad I wasn’t the only one to suspect something.
“She made it with dark chocolate instead of…”
“Yeah. Whatever. What are you up to, Stackhouse?”
Sookie rolled her eyes and huffed, “Is Mike around?”
“Why would…?” Oh hell no… Why would Sookie be looking for the coroner when she knew de Castro’s body was long gone? Yeah… Over MY dead body.
I exploded, “Fuck that!”
Kenya shook her head. “What? What am I missing?”
“She wants to play opossum… Sookie, what the fuck!?”
She shrugged and it made her wince. “I was already planning to do it before you said that Eric was going to see Bill… So Pam can use the pictures for shock value. But now…”
“So your brilliant idea is to lay out on a mother fucking slab and pose as your own corpse!? Because why? The guy who bartered for your murder is going to let pictures affect him!?”
She took a deep breath. “It’ll scare the shit out of him. He throws up when he sees roadkill…”
“YOU. AREN’T. ROADKILL!”
She half smiled. “I’m just wearing a really convincing roadkill costume. If it doesn’t get done today, the opportunity will be lost. My bruises are starting to discolor. It won’t be as convincing…”
“Like that fucking matters!”
“Please, Alc… Eric won’t do it.”
“You already talked… He knew this is how you wanted me to spend my afternoon.”
“He refused when I told him that I want to do it… I told him I’d ask you.”
“This is you asking me? Baiting me to the station and dropping it like a fucking grenade.”
“I could’ve told you at home… I’d have had just as much chance talking you into it there… and then you’d have been freaking out until we got here… I thought this would save you the ulcer.”
“What about the bile? What the fuck makes you think I’d be more ok with seeing you like that than Eric?”
She bit the corner of her mouth and her eyes started to well up. “Because… well, you aren’t blaming yourself like he is.”
“Ok. Here’s where you get to show off that reading people thing. How are you so sure about that?”
“You’re mad at Pam for taking so long… for being an epic fail at backing up her team… He’s blaming himself for waiting for her… even after I told him that he had my gun and y’all would’ve been hurt too or killed … he’s not right yet.”
If I didn’t owe her… If I wasn’t going to be in debt to her for the rest of my life for everything that she’d done for me and the boys… If I thought for a second that I had a snowball’s chance in hell of talking her out of it… If I thought Kenya could keep herself together seeing Sookie like that so soon after Maudette…
I’d have been out of there fast enough to leave skid marks.
I might’ve given myself agita by the time she was done getting out of her clothes and there was only so much futzing with the fucking camera I could do while we waited for the goosebumps caused by the icy metal table to go away…
I turned the exam lights on… and she drawled out a corny testimony of a UFO abduction…
I put the headrest under her head for her… and she joked that she wouldn’t be replacing the down pillows at home anytime soon…
Not that Bill would’ve known the difference, but I sure as shit didn’t want to face a do-over so when I caught that Sookie’s palms were flat and her toes were pointed, I told her to how to fix them…
The first few pictures were shit… I was trying to race through it.
I had to force myself to slow down so that I wouldn’t be stuck in hell. Standing over Sookie like she was… I wanted to be sick. Slashed and stabbed… there was a five point bruise forming on each of her thighs where they were grabbed and yanked open… the ligatures on her wrists, ankles… the crease on her leg from the bullet that put de Castro down looked like raw meat…
“Stop what?” I zoomed in and snapped a pic of her right wrist.
“Thinking about it.”
“Thinking about what? How close you got to not having to fake this?” Her right knee.
“By the time the plastic surgeon is done with me, no one will be able to tell it happened.”
I was all set to get a shot of the bruise on her calf, another handprint, when I realized how insane that was… I just couldn’t swallow that line of shit anymore.
Before I realized what I was doing, I grabbed a test tube from the counter and dropped it on the floor… And watched her jump off the table.
I was shaking my head, trying to ignore how scared she was… it was harder to ignore that she’d hurt herself when she panicked… I ejected the memory card and shoved it into my pocket. “You go right on then. Have a doctor get rid of those scars… keep up your show so no one knows how shaken you are… but Don’t. You. Fucking. Dare. Act. Like you can just forget that shit. It’ll be a long time, if ever, that I’ll be able to hear glass break and not think about it and no longer than you and Eric have been together… I saw the look on that mother fucker’s face when the line went dead… when we heard the shelf crash down… So go ahead. Get plastic surgery… BUT STOP BEING SO FLIPPANT ABOUT WHAT FUCKING HAPPENED!”
I couldn’t read the look on her face while she pulled her baggy shirt on over her head. “You’re yelling at me…”
“No I’m not. I’m waiting for you in the fucking truck.”
Three cigarettes later, she limped out to the truck and God save me, I had to make myself stay where I was instead of help her.
It was harder for her to get back in the truck than it was when we left the house and she had to try a second time to get the door to latch because she hadn’t pulled hard enough the first time.
When she acted like she wasn’t going to say anything, I put my key in the ignition.
She put her hand on my arm to stop me. “I’m sorry.”
“What are you sorry for?”
“I shouldn’t have asked you to do that. I didn’t realize it would upset you.”
“That isn’t what upset me. I found your fucking flaw and it’s a goddamn ringer… you’ve got this family, these friends, this whole fucking town is like an insulated goddamn Stackhouse bubble. You people are so fucking wrapped up in each other’s lives that you all know who farted based on which way the wind blows, but you… you… you’re afraid of sympathy. What is that, paschophobia? You can’t stand the fucking idea of having anyone pity you…”
“Who the fuck does?”
“Shut up. I’m talking. No one likes it. But… You know, not everyone can turn it inside out like you do. I’ve seen you take care of every person you possibly could in one way or another. Hell, you bully some people into it. And then… then you turn around and act like Sheila’s a hangnail instead of a raving lunatic. Then you act like getting raped was a twisted ankle. Then you act like getting beaten to a pulp isn’t something your family should know about. And now you’re acting like this shit here isn’t worth a straight face…”
“I’m the one who went through that shit. How I manage works for me.”
“I told you to shut up. You’re the one that got julienned, but little girl… Smom, Marnie and the boys were scared shitless when we got to that florist. When I got back to the house, there was a crowd of people waiting for word, most of them cried when they found out you were ‘ok’… You’re the one with the scars, but you’re not the only one that was damaged. Every fucking one of us had to change our goddamn pants after that. Stop trying to handle everyone, just this once, and let us deal with this shit.”
“How am I supposed to do that?”
“You’re going to let Smom and Marnie take care of the house because it makes them feel better to tend to you. You’re going to let CMC keep you company because it makes him feel better to stand a watch. You’re going to use the boys for gophers; pillows, tech, drinks and snacks, because it makes them feel needed. You’re going to let Eric go after Bill if that’s what he feels like he needs to do because it’ll make him feel better to turn the tables on the prick. You’re going to stop rolling your eyes when people remind you of your limits because they care about you. You’re going to stop making jokes about what happened because it’s insulting to have someone you care about laugh at your real life nightmare… And before you leave for your little vacay, you’re going to write up that little disorder of yours for the DSM-5 because, sweetheart, your whole damn family suffers from it. Every goddamn one of you jumps to help the others out, but fuck if y’all don’t make it impossible to pay you back.”
“We… we don’t want to be repaid… we just want each other to be happy…”
“Because you love one another… look, I get it. When I was deployed, I didn’t tell my mother what was going on. I blew sunshine and roses up her ass about football games and USO perks. I didn’t want her to be scared all the time. I didn’t want her to have nightmares… I also didn’t want her to see me laid up with a surgical drain in my leg, but I didn’t stop her from flying to Maryland because it made her feel better to see that I was being taken care of. You take care of your people… You’ve gotta let them take care of you when you need it.”
She leaned her head against the window. “I’m allowed to hate being on this end of it.”
“You’re allowed to hate the need for it, not the help itself.”
“You’re a pain in my ass, Herveaux.”
“Why? Because I’m right?”
I chuckled at her. “We good?”
“Yeah… consider me calibrated. Let’s get going. We barely have an hour before the boys get out of school.”
Even though she was pretty much out of steam before we were done with the grocery store, she still insisted on making a separate stop at the butcher… and she looked like she was going to doze off just before I turned into the line for curbside pickup.
She managed to yawn without opening her mouth much because it would’ve stretched too much of the bruising… and when a couple of students had to do a second take to recognize her she complained about wishing she’d worn a hoodie.
The first thing out of Carm’s mouth when he got in the car was, “Why aren’t you resting?”
She leaned over to put her face between the seats and tapped her cheek to get a kiss and they both gave her a peck before they grabbed their seatbelts. “Because Mr. Carmichael, I wake up at 5am to run 10 miles, shower, run a load of laundry, make breakfast, go to school, stock the gym, do yoga, teach 4 periods, lift weights with my athletes, teach 2 more periods, run cheer practice, run errands, go home, make dinner, plan lessons, grade papers and clean my house on a normal day… so… since I’m taking it easy, I spent the morning holding down chairs, then took a shower, then took a nap, then held down a chair a little more, then I had your daddy take me to the store so that we could get the stuff you’ll need to make dinner for me tonight.”
“You relaxed today though?”
“As much as I could stand, yes sir.”
“Good. We really get to make dinner?”
“You sure do. Stackhouse family tradition dictates that Monday Night Football comes with a Monday Night Feast… So you guys will be showing Marnie and Smom the ropes while y’all make chili, corn bread, wings, nachos and Smom’s dying to try fish tacos.”
“Sweet! What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to talk y’all through it from a chair with an iced tea.”
“Is Daddy gonna get a lesson?”
“Not tonight. We’re waiting to find out for sure if your daddy and Eric need to dip out for a little bit. If they get to stay home, then I’m sure Smom could use his help.”
I watched for their reaction in the rearview, but the most they gave was Jack’s shrug. “Hey. How come Eric doesn’t get any cooking lessons?”
“Wellllll, because when he was little, he used to keep Smom company while CMC was underway. He learned the basics while he was little… like you boys are now. And when he was in high school, he worked at a restaurant.”
“He never had any food at his apartment though.”
“He couldn’t depend on being home to cook. That’s all.”
“Oh… Why does he call Smom Smom and Marnie calls her mom?”
I shook my head. “He doesn’t know…”
She tilted her head. “I do.”
“How do you know?”
“It’s my job… When Marnie was little, before her father took off, he was a jerk and made it a point to explain the difference between parents and step parents. He made a big deal about it, right? So Marnie didn’t know any better. She tried explaining it to Eric when he was like 2 or 3… ‘Step Mom’ ended up being Smom. In 1st grade, one of his teachers tried to correct him because he made a ‘Smother’s Day’ card for her… and he told his teacher that it wasn’t his fault everyone else had a ‘plain ole mom’. By then, he thought it was short for ‘super mom’… and he was fine with that.”
I laughed, “That is absolutely the most adorable thing I’ve ever heard.”
She narrowed her eyes and pointed at me. “If you make fun of him, I swear, you as a flapper will be on every available billboard in Dallas.”
She had her eyebrow cocked when Carm asked, “What’s a flapper?”
Sookie’s eyes lit up. “A flapper is a girl from the 20s. You know… Like Betty Boop. We have a party coming up and we have to wear costumes.” I was so going to beat her ass. I couldn’t see the boys in the rearview anymore. They were both laid over in the seat laughing their little asses off.
“Boys… every… hey… boys… all the guys in…” Fuck. There was no point. Sookie knew it well enough to stick her tongue out at me. “At least I’ll be more covered than Eric.”
“Are you going to shave your legs?” The boys’ laughing got louder and I’m pretty sure Carm managed to cackle ‘daddy’s wearing a dress’. She reached out and thumbed my ear. “If we pierce your ears now, you could put pearls in them for the party.” Jack yelled that he was going to pee.
“You’re going to get it. Since I got here, they’ve seen me get kissed by nothing but guys… they’re gonna start to wonder.”
Jack gasped, “Who’s your date? JASON!?”
Fuck it. If you can’t beat ‘em… “No. He wanted to go as pinup girls. I don’t have the figure for that!” One of them snorted. “If Sookie hadn’t stolen Eric, we could’ve gone as Hannah Montana and Lola like I wanted…”
They were still trying to settle down when we pulled into the driveway and before we started unloading the groceries, Sookie told them to keep the party to themselves because CMC didn’t know that it was a drag event yet and Smom wanted him to take her… I braced myself for having to explain what drag was… and I wasn’t sure how to act when they didn’t ask.
While we unloaded groceries, Eric found me. He looked like he wanted to ask me if I needed a hug. I saved him the trouble. “Thanks a lot, you asshole.”
“What did I do?”
“It’s not what you did, it’s what I had to do. That’s fucked up.”
“It wasn’t my idea. When I told her that I didn’t want any parts of it, she said she’d ask you.”
“That was some disturbing shit.”
“I’m sure. You could have told her no.”
“I would have if Kenya wasn’t on duty. If I said ‘no’ it would have left her to do it. I didn’t think she needed to see two friends like that.”
“How realistic are they?”
“That’s the creepiest fucking part. Everything looks dead under those bright ass lights and with the way she’s so banged up… I’ll probably die with the distinction of being the only mother fucker to see her naked and feel sick.”
It was written all over his face that he already knew that. “I need the card from the camera.”
“After all that, you’re going to look at them anyway?”
“No… It’s my turn to take my balls back from Pam.” Yep. Another small step in proving that I wasn’t a retard.
“Are we going on a field trip?”
He nodded. “And it just so happens to be take-your-father-in-law-to-work day.”
“Why the fuck are you taking Corbett?”
“Because Sookie made him promise to keep his hands off of Bill. This way, Bill gets bludgeoned and he gets to be a witness. I’ve already lined things up with Cater. His official reason for going is that he can witness the interview and corroborate details.”
“I’m going to miss Monday Night football so that you can go play fuck-fuck games with a plecko who’s already circling the pishadu?”
“I don’t… You don’t have to go. I can just coach Corbett on the way there…”
“No. I’ll go. I’m not letting you out of my sight. You’re not allowed to kill him either.”
“I never made the promise that Corbett and Jason did though… You were right about closure. Over the next few days, we need to work on handing out as much as possible.”
Yeah. Like I said.
While the adults put the groceries away, Sookie helped the boys with their homework… Carm whined about the letter of the week being ‘J’ this time. It was like pulling teeth to convince him to pick something. Jalapenos, Jamaica, Japan, Jets (planes and the team), Jaguars (the animal and the team), Jackals and Jury Duty were all stupid. January, June and July were boring. The Julian calendar would just confuse everyone… We established that I have ‘a thing’ for maps and Eric still watched too much Animal Planet… and discovered that the reason Corbett had called Sookie and Had ‘June’ and ‘July’ was because there had been a Sports Illustrated style calendar of the cheer squad when they were in school to raise money for uniforms… They posed for their birth month… I had to pretend to not be interested and hope that the calendar didn’t get put away again before I could get a better look.
Smom won the prize for ‘Least Retarded’ when she suggested that he use a Joker. Her grandfather had taught her how to play Euchre (which as it turned out was where Jokers came from- who knew?) and Sookie told him where to find a deck of cards…
Smom was explaining why there was a big joker and a little joker when Corbett got there… and stole the fucking show.
“Hey men. Did Sookie behave today?” Carm tried to shuffle the deck, but he ended up flinging cards all over the floor.
Jack nodded. “She did a lot today, but she did most of it from her kiester. She only really went to the store.”
“Roger that. What’s with the cards? I never miss a game. What’s the buy in?”
Carm was under the table and yelled like the table made everyone further away, “I have to take something that starts with J to school for Show and Tell. I’m taking a Joker!”
He waited until Carm stood up and held his hand out for the deck. “Want to add some flair to Show and Tell? I bet I could teach you a card trick.”
His eyes got wide and he slapped the deck into Corbett’s hand…
The boys were hypnotized when he spread his hands and squeezed the whole deck from one hand to the other… then fanned them out… then spread them out on the table in front of Smom…
As told, she picked a card…
Showed it around… 9 of clubs.
Put it back and shuffled the deck herself…
Then Corbett put the deck in his hand and used his thumb to push one card after another off the deck and onto the table until he got to the joker that was sitting face up…
The next card: the goddamn 9 of clubs.
He did it all over again and used Marnie as his ‘lovely assistant’… same thing.
He was ordered into the chair to show Carm how to do it and Carm climbed up to sit on his lap and Jack hovered while Corbett took the magic out of the trick for them.
The boys were smiling, talking, laughing with everyone else while they learned that trick and two more.
When Eric mentioned that he was going to get Sookie’s evening dose of meds, they took a break from learning another card trick to dart to the fridge… Carm grabbed a bottle of tea for her and Jack grabbed some sandwich fixings so that he and Smom could make a ‘halfer’ since some of her meds were supposed to be taken with food.
Everything was great…
That mother fucking word.
Other than Sookie being damaged, everything was fine UNTIL the theme song from the Exorcist started playing from my pocket.
It was the instant mood change I was thinking of on the night I finally decided to leave Ame. The night I watched a whole family laugh and enjoy each others’ company and my drunk ass sat around afraid my fucking phone was going to ruin everything.
The only reason I answered it was to get it over with.
I didn’t want to talk to her. The boys didn’t want to talk to her. Life suddenly would’ve been made better if I’d just let my phone battery die.
I had Eric follow me out to the back porch, hoping that Amelia just wanted to harass me and leave the boys alone… Both of them looked like they wanted to puke.
“Am I on speaker?”
“Yes. My lawyer suggested I have witnesses when you contact me.” So that there would finally be a witnesses to her anti-mom behavior.
“Yeah. When one is getting a divorce, one tends to secure legal representation. What did you need?”
“I was just calling to see how things were going and talk to the boys.” Because she cared so much.
“Things are fine.”
“How do they like their new school?” They loved it before they got there. They have teachers who actually give a shit.
“Love it. Jack has a dozen girls after him and Carm likes to help run cheer practice.”
“How’s the house coming?”
“It’s done. Just waiting on our stuff.”
“And everyone is getting along okay there at the house?”
“Yes. Sookie’s taught Jack how to play drums and he’s working on piano. Carm is a pretty good bass player even though the couch holds the bass up for him and he can play Chopsticks.”
“Really?” Yes really. It’s funny how far a little time, effort and attention goes to make kids smile.
“Can I talk to the boys?” I wanted to reach through the phone and yank her fucking head off. The cunt didn’t ask if they’d want to talk to her. She didn’t care. She walked out on them and was oblivious to the fact that there could be hard feelings.
I was going to regret it… “Jack. Carm. Can y’all come here for a minute?” They took their time. They didn’t want to talk to her any more than I did. “Your mom wants to talk to you.”
Carm said ‘hi’, but Jack looked like he wanted lightning to strike me so that my phone would die.
“Hey baby. How are you doing?”
“We’re awesome… now.” Good for him.
“What have you been up to?”
“Doeing to school, and practice and Sookie’s teaching us music and cooking. Hunter is our new best friend. It’s dood here.” It was until they realized she could still get to them via the phone.
“That’s great. I’m glad you’re happy. Are you making a lot of friends?”
“Uh huh… Sookie took us shoppin’ yesterday and me and Jack used some cuss bank money for a new dame.”
“Oh yeah? That sounds fun… Jack?”
He bit the inside of his mouth. He was just as pissed as I was that he had to deal with her bullshit. I nodded at the phone, hoping he’d just get it over with. He rolled his eyes and growled, “What?”
“How are you doing?”
“I’d be better if you hadn’t called.” Double good for him.
“Daddy, I know you have to be nice. Do I?” I wanted to tell him no. I wanted to give him a green light to be as nasty and hateful as he wanted to. She’d ditched him and then called like they were just on vacation… but being shitty was just going to make Amelia think that I’d turned the kids against her or some shit.
“As nice as you can be.”
“Who do I pay if I cuss?” No one. If I thought it wouldn’t make her pull something stupid, I’d have coached him on ‘fuck’ usage.
“The piper. I’ll ground you.” Believable?
“Can I just go then? I don’t want to talk to her. We don’t need her. We’re happy now.” She’d have heard a high five.
“Boy, you need to settle down. You won’t be mad forever.”
“I know. But I’m allowed to be mad now.” He most definitely was. He was allowed to be nuclear.
Amelia blurted, “Jack, I’ll come back. I’ll move closer if you want.”
“NO! I don’t want you. We’re happy now that you’re gone and if you come back, you’ll ruin it!… Daddy…” One more word from her and he was going to go on a shooting spree. When I gave him a nod so he could leave, he ran back into the house like he was being chased.
“Alcide! What have you been telling them!? You’re poisoning them against me!” Oh. Didn’t see that coming.
“Amelia, we haven’t talked about you since the night they found out you weren’t coming to Bon Temps.”
“What did they say? How did they take it?” They wanted to be adopted by Sookie.
“They were just as relieved as I was.”
Carm stepped closer, raising his voice enough to make sure he was clear. “He’s not lying, Mommy. We don’t like you. You’re mean and you yell at us. No one has yelled at us all week. And we det to talk to Daddy because you aren’t yelling at him. It’s like you were the boogie man… Daddy, can I go too? Smom’s donna let us cook with her like Sookie does.” That was a nice dig for a kid his age. He wasn’t as pissed and hurt as Jack was… He seemed like he was just annoyed over the interruption.
I caught Eric watching him go back to the kitchen… He looked like he was on the verge of handing out hugs. “You should get one of these to help you appreciate what’s in there.” It definitely made me appreciate Had more once I’d been through a ringer.
“I’m cool. Thanks.” He was more than ‘cool’. That mother fucker was one of those assholes who’d won the lotto with his first ticket. Not bitter. Not at him anyway.
“Amelia, are we done?”
“Are the boys gone?” Probably hiding under a bed thanks to her call.
“Yeah. I’m on the porch. They’re in the house.”
“So you have a lawyer, what are you suing for?”
“And, what’s theirs. Their college fund. Shit, once I get the boxes of little stuff out of the truck you can have the furniture. I want to get new stuff anyway.” We’d been working with an amazing interior designer.
“You want the boys. Nothing else?” They were the only things she’d touched that I cared about.
“They’re the only reason I put up with you for so long.”
“You? Put up with me?”
“I’m not picking a fight. I’m stating a fact. Are we done?” Please. Please. Please.
“I miss you.” No. She. Didn’t.
I couldn’t help it. I laughed at her. “That’s a shame. I’ve never been happier. I’m hanging up now.” Who the fuck would want an Amelia? Who the fuck would be retarded enough to want to be with an Amelia when there was a Hadley option?
I put my phone away, hoping like hell that Lafayette would say it was ok to change my number.
Eric gave me his ‘victim face’. “You good?” I could’ve been pissed, but… I’d been around the Stackhouses for long enough that I found a silver lining… I didn’t have to go home to her. I was going to sleep in a clean house, with a full stomach after kissing my kids goodnight… and if I played my cards right, the last voice I’d hear would be a friendly instead of that hostile bitch. Amelia might’ve thrown a wrench in the works, but a side by side comparison of things… I couldn’t be better.
“Yeah. I’ll be even better after we get to play. You ready?”
“Oh yeah. Let the games begin.” The goofy douche bag danced a little and it made him look like a goddamn puppet.
“Then let’s get out of here, Howdy Doody.” All he needed was freckles.
I almost bailed on Eric…
When we walked back in, Jack was on Sookie’s lap, strapped to her neck… She was shushing him and running her fingers through his hair while she gave her smiling fuckwitz fiancé a semi-hard time about taking off.
He left as soon as she told him to be careful so that she wouldn’t have the chance to change her mind and Corbett said his goodbyes as he followed.
She didn’t give me the chance to offer to stay home. “I had to talk to my mother today too… Hey Jack, want to hear something funny?”
He didn’t move.
“Alc, what’s my favorite color?” That was probably the most random question I’d ever been asked.
“Uh… blue or green, I guess. Why?”
She smiled and winked at Smom when she giggled. “Jack…”
“She said she’d come back…”
“So did mine. You know, she said she wanted to come to my wedding, but when I asked her what my favorite color was… She didn’t know. I haven’t known your daddy very long at all and he knows what my favorite colors are.”
“So… there are people who think about other people and there are people who don’t care. The trick is to not waste a lot of time on people who don’t really care. My mother called and threatened to ruin my wedding by being there and called me nasty names this morning. Who do you think I’m going to be thinking about tonight?”
“No sir. She not worth it. She interrupted my day, but I’m getting back on track. I’m going to be thinking about people I love like your daddy and Eric.”
“She said she’d come back.”
“She’s already here. Look at you. You’re so worried that she’ll show up that she’s already ruining all the fun you had planned for the night. Don’t let her, baby. It’s not fair to yourself to carry her around.”
“I hate her.”
“All the more reason to move on. If you spend all night thinking about that instead of having the fun we have planned then she might as well already be here. I say screw that noise. I say that you should get revenge on her for calling and have as much fun as you can. If she shows up then we’ll get rid of her because she isn’t welcome in your house… But then we’ll get back on track.”
“It’s not fair.”
“I agree with you a million percent.”
“Why won’t she just go away?”
“Oh, you don’t want her to go away. You need her…”
“What do I need her for? I have Daddy!”
“True… You have an awesome Daddy that takes care of you and would do absolutely anything to see you smile right now. But let me tell you something; you need to see bad things so that you’ll appreciate the good. Case in point: your Daddy.”
He sat back to give her a confused face. “Huh?”
“Your grandma thought the sun shined out of his butt. She busted her back to be and do everything he needed. She was a good woman with high standards and very powerful principles…” I could’ve cried hearing her talk about my mother like that… I hadn’t told her any of it. The only way for her to know would’ve been to base that opinion on what she knew about me. “She is 100% responsible for how great your daddy is. But she’s also 100% to blame for why your daddy put up with so much from Amelia. His mom was so great, he had it in his head for a long time that yours just needed patience. He took it for granted that eventually she’d be a good mother like his. I don’t think he realized until he met my mother that some people just don’t change. Now, if she just went away, you could forget how unhappy she made you…”
“I could end up in the ‘old shoes’.” He said ‘old shoes’ like it was synonymous with misery.
“Yes sir, you could. You need to keep those old shoes in the front of your closet so that when you reach past them, you appreciate the new ones that much more. If you push them to the dark in the back you could forget them.”
“I could end up with more by accident, forget what I didn’t like about the old ones.”
She smiled and kissed his forehead. “Most definitely. Why else would I let my jerk ex-husband move in right next door? Now give your daddy some love before he goes to work. He probably won’t be home before bedtime… and go grab your iPod. Music makes cooking more fun.”
He slid off of Sookie’s lap carefully and came over to hug me… He didn’t have any spring to his step, but he was trying.
She watched him leave and gave me a smile. “A hurricane’s threatening his honeymoon. He’ll calm down once we’re back on sched. I’ve got Jack covered. You get Eric. Go on. Before his giddy ass takes off without you.”
I forced a smile and kissed her cheek on the way out…
And thanked God that she was ok… I had no idea what I’d have done without her.
Eric had a few calls to make so that he could seal up his party plans…
I went ahead and called Laf while Amelia’s call was still fresh on my mind. I wasn’t happy about not being able to change my number, but since it was only one phone call, I could get over it…
Poor Corbett ended up calling Keisha from the sound of it. It’s not like he had anything else to do since Eric and I were on our phones, but… I couldn’t help but wonder what the fuck he’d done with Pam since he was telling Keisha that he wasn’t going to be over until much later. The idea of Pam channel surfing alone in Corbett’s den because she’d been ditched made it hard not to laugh my ass off.
It seemed like forever before Eric was off the phone so that I could talk to him.
“Alright Princess, what’s the plan?”
Eric scooted over to put his head between the seats, wearing his creepy grin. “Those pictures you took today have a purpose. Bobby is meeting us so that he can give us the autopsy pics for de Castro…”
“You’re going to scare a confession out of Bill.”
“Not before I manhandle him though.”
“You sure that’s a good idea.”
“I’ve never lost it in an interview room before.”
“You’ve also never been in the room with anyone who put your fiancé on a serial killer’s hit list before.”
“Point taken. Moving on?” Shit head.
“Cater says he hasn’t even been talking to his lawyer… Nothing unless you count that he’s filed complaints about the ‘cuisine’ and ‘sanitation’.”
Corbett snorted, “Some shit never changes. He got that shit from his mother. His dad would come to cookouts and hang out when Bill used work as an excuse to not show up. Not that we minded… Tom was always a fucking pool shark. Couldn’t run a ball with a gun to his head, but he was a fair ref.”
“You were friends with Bill’s family?”
“Well… Just his dad. We had business interests that overlapped. Bill’s interest in Sookie is why Tom sent him to Washington for college. He made donations at closer schools to reject him. And… I kind of had some fun with one of his wives. Well… two, but who the fuck is counting. They weren’t together at the time. Almost married one, but then Sheila turned up pregnant. Had used to babysit for some of his step-kids. Linda did Junior League with most of his wives. Small town.”
Eric stared at the side of his face for a minute before Corbett noticed. “You did Bill’s stepmother?”
“No. I did… yeah. Sure did.”
We played the intimidation game… The Beta Game.
After inching our way through 7 checkpoints where over paid guards dragged their asses, we stopped at the window and stared into the room where Compton was waiting. Cater too. The four of us watched like he was in a fishbowl…
And then we went into the observation room and watched him sweat it out while he tried to figure out why the fuck we were there.
Eric waited longer than usual, but as soon as he left and then sat in front of Compton, I warned Corbett, “We could be here for a while. Eric is going to have fun with this.”
“Fun? How the fuck can he sit there and stare at him? He lost it on him at Dirges.”
“This is what Eric does. The mind fuck. Bill’s been here for days. They’ve tried to interrogate him every day and he’s given Cater nothing. By the time Eric’s done with Bill, he’s going to confess to eating glue in grade school.”
“He’s just staring at him though.”
I shrugged. “It works. Eric can play the staring game for hours. Bill. Will. Break.”
“What if he doesn’t?”
“He will. Do you want to go get some coffee or something? It’ll be a while before we get to the show.”
“What’s the show?”
No point in lying… “Eric’s going to kick the shit out him until he confesses.”
“How will that help? Coercion is…”
“Bill is going to spill his guts and then repeat his admission in front of the judge so that he gets life. If he hires a lawyer and gets set loose, he knows Eric will be waiting.”
I nodded even though he was still staring through the two way mirror. “When the situation calls for it. Don’t worry about Sookie…”
“If he beats on suspects…”
“He’s only ever ‘abused’ people in a victim’s defense. Sookie’s safe with him. He’d shoot me if he thought I’d hurt her.” And vice versa.
“You, huh? The guy who almost killed his supervisor and just so happens to be fucking my niece. You sure know how to make a point.”
“Are you going to be an asshole about tempers?”
“I think I am. My daughter is marrying a boy who gets his rocks off by beating the shit out of people and my niece is sneaking around with a guy who needed his bell rung so that he wouldn’t put a woman in the hospital.”
“Whatever. Save that shit for someone who doesn’t know better.”
“You heard me. You lived with a shrew for 30 years and never laid a hand on the bitch, but Compton got his dumb ass handed to him in front of God and everybody at Dirges for talking to your daughter. You know damn good and fucking well that there’s a difference between being violent and being protective. Don’t start being a bitch now when you should be happy that Bill’s about to put himself in a cage and eat the key.”
“Did you just call me a bitch?”
“If that’s what you heard.”
“That takes balls. You didn’t bother denying that you’re fucking Had either…”
“Like anyone can hide anything around y’all? Really? Do I look that retarded. I’m with Had. You’re with Keisha. Linda’s with Bravo. You’ve got two grandkids on the way and your pussy hurts because your future son-in-law can get the bane of your fucking existence out of the picture for you?”
“Seems like Sookie’s just found another violent asshole.”
“What do you mean, yeah right? Sticking up for your pal?”
“Not when he doesn’t deserve it. That’s not how I roll. Shut the fuck up. I know what your real problem is. Don’t be a shit about it.”
“What’s my real problem then?”
“That Eric’s been in the picture for all of 30 seconds and he’s taking Bill out of your ass. You’re jealous that he gets to do it because Sookie tricked you into making a promise you didn’t want to keep. Just be happy you get to see the fucker undo himself.”
“We still haven’t talked about you and Had.”
“Whatever you want to know as soon as you own that you’re just jealous of Eric.”
“Fine. What’s going on with you and Had?”
“We’re having fun.”
“She lie to me? When I walked in on y’all, she said you just got out of hand.”
“No. That was the first time. Until then we’d just been gossiping back and forth.”
“Am I supposed to believe that?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. Ask her. Compare our stories.”
“You’re hiding her like you’re ashamed of her.”
“Fuck you. I’m not ashamed of her. We don’t want to jump the fucking gun when I just got away from Amelia and I’ve got fragile kids to think about. Watch your fucking mouth.”
“And she’s just fine with being your dirty little secret?”
“What the fuck did I just say? Watch it. And no, neither one of us likes sneaking around. I just want to give my kids some time to adjust to the idea of me being with someone other than their mother. Do you have a fucking problem with that?”
“So you aren’t just fucking her on the rebound?”
“No. Sookie was my rebound. All it took was living proof that some women aren’t useless twats. Ame managed to make me forget that since my mother died. All fixed. Moving on. We clear?”
“You’re being pretty defensive.”
“You’re being pretty fucking insulting. Does that make us even? Are we ignoring that you’ve been hung up for a year because you got a taste of sweet, smart and normal?”
“How long do you plan on waiting? Your kids don’t seem too torn up about the divorce.” Yes. We were avoiding the topic of Keisha, apparently.
“No more than yours are. When are you telling them?”
“That’s complicated. How long?”
“Fuck. I don’t know. Long enough for them to see us hanging out together. Long enough for them to start to settle in. My fabulous wife has spent most of Carm’s life screaming into the phone that I’m a cheating bastard. I don’t want them to start believing it by thinking that I jumped into bed with the first willing blonde.”
“Isn’t that what you’re doing?”
“Depending on how you look at it, you could say I got lucky. I really like her.”
“Why depending on how you look at it?”
“Because it’s complicated by my wife. Sound familiar? The timing for starting something with anyone is insane, but I’m lucky that Had understands why I’m wanting to ease my kids into the idea of me dating.”
He had his mouth open to say something else that was going to piss me off when my phone started ringing. It was Had. Thank God. “Speak of the devil.”
“Hey you. I thought of a good excuse to stop by so I can torment you, but I’m being told that my slap and tickle partner left for work under a mysterious cloud of ambiguity. What are you up to?”
“I’m in a building that doesn’t officially exist, witnessing something that didn’t officially happen.”
“Oh. Having fun?”
“Not at the moment.” Far from.
“Why did Daddy tag along?”
“Apparently, his sole purpose is to piss me off until I shoot him in his fucking face.” He rolled his eyes.
As per the usual, it only took her a second. “He isn’t!”
“What’s on his tampon?”
“Razors and napalm. He’s running through the list. I’m aggressive. I’m ashamed of you. Now I’m on the rebound.”
“You don’t get to shoot him. I’m going to. Is he close by?”
“He’s right here.”
“Let me talk to that asshole.”
He looked like he wanted to punch me when I handed the phone to him. I watched him like he’d been watching me. When my phone first went to his ear, he answered ‘yeah’. I couldn’t make out what she was saying, but she sounded like she was chewing him a new asshole until he said ‘bye’ and handed the phone back to me.
I wanted to stick my tongue out at the prick. “I’m back.”
“He’ll get over it. When he fights he goes for the throat, temple, jejun and nuts; in that order. He has arthritis in both shoulders if you need to take him down fast.”
I chuckled at her. “Oh really. Thanks for the intel.”
“He’s just being a prick because of Sheila though. He thinks you’ll be as stupid as he was and take her back… you know, ditch me.”
“It probably doesn’t help that Amelia called just before we left the house.”
“I know. Jack’s still trying to rebound. He said that she mentioned moving closer, but he called it a threat. I’m sorry. You alright?”
“I will be when the kids bounce back. Everything going ok at the house otherwise?”
“Yeah. Carm’s hoping that a song or two might help Jack out of his funk.”
“Sookie shouldn’t try the stairs. Can CMC or Hunter carry her?”
She giggled at me. “We’ve already told her that tonight’s lesson would be piano based. She’s still pouting about her chili getting iced so she’s not putting up a fight.”
“I’m a better bad girl.”
“Tell me about it.”
“I’ll make sure to put dishes in the oven for y’all. Call me when you get settled?”
“You’re not sticking around?”
“Not with the excuse I used. I just brought by some sea salt so that Sookie can rinse the deeper cuts.”
“Good call. I’ll talk to you later then.”
As soon as I set my phone down, Corbett growled, “You told her.”
“I’m in the FB fucking I, dickhead. I deal with enough secrets on the job and do my damnedest to not take it home with me.”
“That was a chicken shit fucking move to tattle on me for worrying about her.”
“Or I just don’t like keeping secrets. I told you. I don’t want to be sneaking around, but since my ex is psycho, my son thought I was moving to Bon Temps for a girlfriend I didn’t have. We aren’t even in our house yet. They already know I like her and tease me about asking her out. I want some fucking dust to settle before I throw something else at them. Back your shit down.”
“This isn’t a fucking game. It’s not like your bullshit grudge with Pam. This is my family you’re fucking with asshole…”
“No. It’s not. This is MY. FUCKING. FAMILY. My kids are priority number one. My marriage has been fucked for long enough that I’m sure my kids can’t remember seeing me kiss their mother. Had is an adult and she gets why the fuck we aren’t public. I give two shits for your opinion, but so help me, if you say anything to my kids about it, you’re going to need your buddies to watch your ass.”
“That’s how it’s going to be, huh?”
“That’s exactly how it’s going to fucking be. We’ll be public by Christmas so that we don’t get busted while we’re in New York and fuck with the mood for the wedding, but for now, my kids aren’t getting told jack shit.”
He snorted and leaned back in his chair. “Welcome to the family then.”
I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or punch him. “You asshole! Eric got Chevy versus Ford and I got a Mindfuck: Stackhouse style!?”
“Eric got his.”
He started laughing. “I already like your ass. Linda approves… She’s the one that asked me if you could stand up because you seem too passive to make it around this family.”
“Ok. Then Cougar’s on my shitlist too.”
“She’ll make it up to you in food.”
“I could’ve just hit you.”
He winked and blew me a kiss. “That wouldn’t have made me worry less about my niece, now would it?”
“Did I say ‘fuck you’? Because I meant it. Fuck. You.”
“What are y’all doing about Hunter?”
“That little shit probably knows already. He’s a fucking watcher.”
“Just like his mother. She’ll get you. Watch out.”
“She’s already got me a few times.”
He raised his eyebrow at me. “And you know about it? She must be slipping in her old age.”
“It was little… I only know because she let me know.”
“Like just now on the phone. She knew you were fucking with me didn’t she?”
“Yep.” She’s going to get it.
“She told me how to take you down and then threw your wife at me so I wouldn’t get pissed enough to go after you.”
He started laughing. “Good luck with that one.”
“I’ll bet… It says a lot that we’re about to see Billy start rowing his own boat up the river and you’d rather be back at the house.” It didn’t matter if he was implying that I’d rather be there for the kids or Had.
“Damn straight. So what’s the complication with Keisha? Just her little ones?”
“No. That’s not an issue at all. They’ve known me all their lives… Supaul, her husband, is the business manager at my greenhouse…”
“That’s not the problem. I talked to him when I first started seeing Keisha. She kicked me in the nuts when she found out that I talked to him, but I wasn’t going to let it sneak up on him and have it be a thing… The problem is that I’m friends with her dad. Since grade school… He had a shit fit when I took custody of Tara. Said that she was better off with ‘her own kind’… And gave me shit when I ‘let’ Sam date her… I love Hugh, but he’s a racist prick.”
“Stackhouses don’t know how to do anything the easy way, do they?”
“Nope. Guess not.”
“He flip out when Kenny and Jason hooked up?”
“He didn’t know. He’s a homebody. Doesn’t party much. So he doesn’t see them hanging out and being friendly. He’d have something to say about it if he did.”
“Y’all can’t sneak around forever though.”
“We won’t. He’ll find out when he finds out. She knows he’ll disown her and stop talking to me… Thanks for helping out the other night… She said you carried her fat ass all the way out to the crash house because she was trashed.”
He rolled his eyes. “So she says. Kenya’s convinced of it too. Their mom was a house. Issues.”
“Ahhh. Gotcha… She seems like a real sweetheart. How long did it take you to get used to it?”
“I’m still not used to it. Part of me is waiting for her to go psycho… Shell shock.” After 30 years, I could only guess.
“I know why I put up with my crazy wife. Why did you?”
“I was determined to fix that cunt. She’s the only fucking thing I’ve ever given up on. You?”
“Scared she’d take the kids.”
“I can think of a few places to hide a body. Just say the word.”
“Pshhhh. I know better than to weaken a plot with co-conspirators. They always come back to bite your ass.”
He rolled his eyes over to eye Compton. “You mean, like being twisted enough to plan your ex-wife’s murder when you came out on top of the divorce and not having the balls to do the deed yourself?”
We watched Bill raise his chin like it would keep anyone from noticing that he was at his lowest. “Exactly.”
“At least the Vampire had the balls to suicide… How long is this going to keep up?”
“Eric can sit there all night. Bill? I give him about half an hour.”
“You said coffee. Is smoke an option too?”
Unfortunately, smoke wasn’t really an option unless we wanted to risk missing something. Going outside meant getting back through the security checkpoints that would’ve tied us up.
I watched Corbett move the table over and climb up… That mother fucker had boosted some empty coffee cups and McGuyvered shields to slip over the smoke sensors in the ceiling.
The staring match between Eric and Bill was still going strong as we settled into our seats and lit up. I was completely prepared to blame the fire chief if we were caught.
After a few minutes of watching Corbett text at an insane speed, we had company.
When Drew walked in, he looked just about as pissed as he had been about de Castro being a crypto. “I’m hurt Alc. I thought we had something special.” Oh shit.
“We didn’t want to get you involved if this fell flat…”
“That’s precious… And why I’m not here.”
He sat down on the other side of Corbett and I was pretty sure that I had fucked up by forgetting to fill him in. I’d let myself get distracted by Ame again. I opened my mouth to introduce him, but he cut me off.
“I’m not here, darling. I might call you later for a nightcap though…” And when Jennifer walked in a few seconds later, he told us that she wasn’t there… neither was the camera she was setting up. Fuck fuck fuck.
I fucking broke a sweat waiting.
Bill finally broke the silence. “I want my lawyer.”
Eric leaned forward fast enough to make him yelp. “You don’t have a lawyer.”
“Sullivan, Davies and Lombard have terminated your representation. They’ve found a conflict of interest.”
Corbett smiled from ear to ear and mumbled, “Since Sookie owns the practice now and she’s one of his victims… Beautiful. Remind me to kiss that boy later.”
Bill shook his head and hissed, “What conflict? They’ve represented my family for years.”
Eric shrugged. “You should write them a letter… I met with a friend of yours yesterday.”
“Felipe de Castro… Victor Madden… Victor, Felipe, Felipe, Victor… Fun, fun….” That got his attention. Bill’s eyes bulged and Eric slid a folder to him. “Maybe this will jog your memory.”
Bill didn’t want to look, but when he finally lifted the cover, he turned green.
Eric shook his head. “You want to know something about ‘bad guys’?”
“They tend to get chatty when they know they’re about to die.”
“He didn’t. He… I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Bill, why didn’t you ask what he was doing when we caught him?”
“I don’t know him. Why do I care?”
“Because he told us that he knows you very well. He says that you gave him his documentation to stay in the states so that he could continue to rape and drain mothers and daughters. He said that you gave him his credentials in exchange for his services. You offered papers to a psychopath in trade for your ex-wife’s murder.” Corbett gnashed his teeth together.
“That’s absurd. I don’t know him.”
“You might want to change your mind about your answer.”
“Because you don’t know how many witnesses there were to his deathbed confession. And you still haven’t asked what he was doing when we found him.”
“Why are you here? If you know for sure it was me, then why are you even here?”
“Ask me, Bill.”
“Ask me what he was doing, Bill.”
“Fine! What was he doing?”
Eric tossed another file folder onto the table to land right on top of de Castro’s autopsy pictures. While Bill just stared at it, Corbett leaned over to ask what was in it.
He wasn’t the only one who wanted to know. “Sookie’s autopsy.”
“She had me take her to the station today…” Before I had the chance to finish, we were all distracted by Bill…
Sookie’d been right about what a weak stomach Bill had… He was puking everywhere while Eric smiled at him.
Eric sniffed the air and leaned over and came up chuckling. Bill hadn’t just barfed. “So I figure that we have a few things to talk about.” Drew crooned, ‘spectacular tactic’.
Bill gagged again. “What do we need to talk about?”
“Fuck you! I’m not talking to you!”
Eric stood up and grabbed his hair and put his face into the table like a touchdown spike before Bill ever saw it coming, he’d bounced back again and spit out a tooth past the river of blood coming from his lip. Bill called for a guard, but Eric was on the move, circling around behind him.
“You’re yelling into nothing. You’re mine, princess… And I think that you WILL be talking to me.”
“Why would I talk to you?”
“Because I’m patient. We can dance for 72 hours… just like this. You’re covered with your own shit and piss and blood and puke… I can tell why you rape… you’re just a pathetic prick without power…”
“Her own mother told me to put her in her place! You’re the only one that doesn’t know what an uppity whore she was!”
Corbett growled about hiding places for bodies while we watched Eric yank Bill backwards, putting him on the floor like he was shot from a gun…
Bill wailed like he was hoping to be rescued until he managed to but words together. “You’re a fucking hero, huh! You didn’t get to her in time and now you’re going to beat the shit out of me while I’m chained to the floor.”
I half watched Eric, half watched the rest of the audience when Eric lifted Bill by his neck and punched him in the dick harder than I’d ever seen him hit anyone. Corbett’s face was a lock until Drew asked Jennifer if his hard on offended her. She chuckled and told him that she was about to ask him the same thing… That was when I finally relaxed. Drew wasn’t there as damage control. He was there to see how his team worked.
Eric growled in Bill’s face. “72 hours. We can continue our dance or you can play by my rules… So tell me, baby-dick, do you need to be taught a lesson? Would you like the ‘alley treatment’? It can be arranged… You know… it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Lots of girls like you have an itty bitty piss pump. I’m sure there’s lots of rapists that need to use a strap on. They’re useless little fucks like you who couldn’t handle it when a date starts laughing.”
“I’m here for forgery. Not rape.”
“No no no, Buttercup… Forgery got your ticket. Conspiracy to commit murder will secure your stay. Who you raped is why you have my attention.”
“I didn’t…” Eric cut off Bill’s bullshit with his brand of aversion therapy as he called it. He fired another punch into Bill’s dick and dropped him.
“Are we ready to talk yet Billy?”
“Don’t call me ‘Billy’!”
“Ohhh, do give me a hint… coward… bitch… wuss… wimp… douche bag… punk… pussy… sissy… cry baby… loser… sissy mary… chump… poser…nancy boy… Oh, how about candy ass!?” Drew agreed that candy ass won and chuckled about adding it to his repertoire.
Bill yelled while he tried to get up, “Go fuck yourself!”
When Eric shifted, all four of us stood up to get a better visual… “How much pressure did you have to use to shatter her wrist? I wonder.” My partner was standing, toes up, heel down, crushing Bill’s wrist and twisting down. Bill cried and blubbered while his hand sounded like twigs snapping.
“I don’t know about you, pet, but this seems a little counterproductive. Are you ready to discuss things yet?”
“What difference does it make? You’re going to do whatever you want to me!”
“Awww! Precious, don’t be so negative. Free will is a big deal. You’ll be free to make a choice. Beside’s if you think that this is what I want to do to you after what you’ve done… you aren’t nearly as smart as you think you are.”
Just like that, Eric was ‘normal’ again. He picked Bill’s chair up, but left him there, and went back to his seat.
Bill couldn’t handle pain any better than he handled gore and when he finally climbed back into his chair, he whined, “Fine. Let’s hear it then asshole!… Like it’ll bring your whore back!”
Eric backhanded him. “I told you to be nice. The only reason you’ve lived this long is because Sookie didn’t want your death on her conscience.”
Bill spit out more blood and seethed, “My options.”
“You can stay in jail or go home.”
“Then I’ll go home.”
“I thought you’d want to. That’s why I brought Corbett. We’re anxious to get you settled in.” Corbett started laughing in his throat and called Eric a tease.
“What! I can’t… You can’t…. NO!”
“You wouldn’t rather stay in prison, would you?” Eric didn’t use that pandering tone on kids… just suspects he was scaring the shit out of. It made me laugh every time.
“Rather than die! I think I would!”
He pushed a legal pad closer to the prick. “Confess.”
“Confess to what?”
“Confess to raping Sookie in Nashville. Confess to providing documentation to an illegal alien who you knew to be a serial killer and rapist. Your part was the last 8 victims and I want every fucking email address, phone number and PO box you used to facilitate your fake ID empire. Confess to exchanging services with de Castro so that he would murder Sookie… Confess to all of it or Corbett and I will bail you out and be your ride ‘home’. I need to warn you though… don’t think for a second that it will be fast. He knows too well where to hide you long enough to turn your sweet little ass into a sport… and I know how to get away with it…”
“This is entrapment!”
“No it isn’t. Entrapment is when a law enforcement agent induces a person to commit an offense which the person would otherwise have been unlikely to commit. This, my pet, is Coercion: the practice of forcing another party to behave in an involuntary manner (whether through action or inaction) by use of threats, intimidation, trickery, or some other form of pressure or force… Normally, I might get put on a desk for a couple of months, but because you are responsible for putting my fiancé on that table and my partner and I technically just bagged a really big meanie… They won’t even take away my gun; I’ll just have a couple weeks of therapy… And just in case we’re unclear, mastering in psych gave me a step by step on how to get through the return-to-service evaluation.”
Eric grabbed the pen from the table and bowed up on Bill with the pen pushed up against his neck. It wasn’t his usual MO. That was yesterday coming into play. That was the exact place where de Castro had pushed those sheers into Sookie’s neck. “You really are cocky for a guy with no dick. No matter what you decide, I get MY way. Not you. Not ever again. Anything that happens to you, for the rest of your pathetic fucking life… is on my say so… You BELONG to me now, Bill.”
Bill wasn’t smart enough to realize yet that there wasn’t a guard to answer him. “You’re nuts! You’ve gone crazy!”
“You’re so fucking stupid I can smell it… I’m no different than I was yesterday, but now Sookie isn’t here to keep you alive… You fucked up… You didn’t know who you were dealing with… Your bad.”
“Fine! Fine… I’ll confess… I’ll confess! Let me go.”
“Say pretty fucking please, cocksucker.”
Bill sputtered, “Pretty… pretty please.”
When Eric gave the pen back to Bill, he stabbed his arm with it and left it there like a psychotic lawn dart. “Good boy… start writing.”
As soon as Bill put pen to paper, Drew leaned over to Jennifer and whispered, “You see, my dear, this is why I called in favors to get them for myself.”
“Rubbing it in that I couldn’t get the confession? Drew, that’s very unsportsmanlike behavior.”
“No no no, I’m rubbing it in that I now have a shiny new profiler, interrogator, marksman and linguist… Four for the price of two… and sexy too. FBI: 2. Homeland Security: Love. And I’ll be getting my hooks into Mr. Lanier tomorrow.”
She chuckled at him. “You’re still a cocky gobshite.”
“Of course I am… Call Ravenscroft once these princes leave and give the message that ‘you still have a few questions about Compton for them’.”
“It doesn’t matter. She won’t return your call. I’m lining up some fun for later… Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m returning to my voyage to discover a proper pint…”
As they headed out, Corbett reminded them about the camera.
Drew went over and ejected the disk and snapped it in half. “That was just in case I wanted to offer a few critiques. I should’ve known better. Ta chaps.”
Knowing that Drew was fine with how Eric handled Bill kept me from having a heart attack, but the hard part wasn’t over…
Poor Corbett, not to mention Eric, had to sit through the 20 minute description Bill gave of Sookie’s rape.
He was toast.
He knew he was toast so he made it a point to make his downward spiral as infuriating and miserable for everyone as he could.
Eric must’ve turned himself off. That was the only thing I could figure… otherwise Bill wouldn’t have lived… If I thought he was smart enough, I’d have sworn Bill was trying to get Eric to kill him…
As it was, I had to return Corbett’s favor…
He paced and chain-smoked until the small room we were in was full of smoke and the coffee cup we’d been using as an ashtray was full…
I had to put myself between him and the door when Bill was describing the rape…
But when Bill smiled and described how he ripped off Sookie’s uniform shirt… used it to get her blood and his cum off of his dick… And kept the fucking thing as a souvenir…
Punching him didn’t work… He was too pissed to seem to notice and I ended up putting my arm into his throat to pin him to wall… That mother fucker managed to put up a hell of a fight AND argue that if I let him go then, he could claim temporary insanity and be out in time for Christmas.
It wasn’t fair that I couldn’t let him go.
It wasn’t fair that the taxes that poor bastard was paying was going to feed and shelter the piece of shit in the next room who was fondly describing what Sookie looked like when he left her in the alley.
And I had to tackle him to keep him in the room when Bill started bragging about what he’d done to Lafayette which I didn’t know about…
The longer Bill went on and on, the closer I was to going after him…
The cake taker was when he asked Eric for Sookie’s nipples.
They’d been part of the deal he’d made with de Castro… The sick fuck told her fiancé with a straight face that Eric could keep the rest of her, but he’d ‘earned them’…
I was already feeling sick, but when he reached down and touched his fucking dick, hard just from talking about it, I was afraid that if I moved, I’d puke…
And Corbett got into the hall and almost to the door before I managed to catch up to him.
I couldn’t do it.
Corbett shouldn’t have heard any more either.
I couldn’t stand to listen to another fucking word and if I hadn’t promised Sookie that I’d keep an eye on Eric, I’d have waited in the car.
I managed to talk Corbett into standing at the window in the hall to watch instead of hearing the rest.
We’d already heard enough to give us nightmares.
When we got back to the house, Eric went straight to the bathroom because he stunk to high hell…
And I went straight to my room, kissed my boys and watched them sleep for a few minutes…
But for once, seeing that they were safe and sound wasn’t enough. I couldn’t get shit out of my head.
I ended up on the couch with Marnie, watching but not watching the game.
When Eric came out, he sat with Sookie while she pushed for answers that he surprisingly gave her… I was more surprised that he explained in front of his parents to be honest. Smom was horrified that her ‘sweet boy’ could beat on someone like he had.
I was on my way to grab a smoke when Corbett was heading out… He actually hugged me and thanked me for keeping him straight.
I was just going to turn in after a shower and when I went through to tell everyone goodnight, Sookie had already dozed off…
Eric carried her to bed, but while I grabbed clean clothes, I heard them talking in their room.
I managed to chuckle since Sookie had pretended to go to sleep so they could be alone and she could grill him.
I’d just turned the water on when I got a text from Had. “Getting late. Everything ok?”
“Just getting home. Getting shower. Call in a few?”
A second later, she replied with “K”.
My phone and a fresh pack of smokes in hand, I walked through the house that had been shut down in just a few minutes… Everything had been turned off and cleaned up and the Northmans were talking quietly upstairs…
I walked out onto the porch to call Had and she was sitting on the swing in a nightgown and robe. She smiled and pat the swing. “You had a shitty afternoon.”
I sat next to her and waited to light up. “You could tell that by the tone of my text, huh?”
She giggled. “I’m good, but I’m not that good… Wanna talk about it?”
“About how good you are?”
“We could do that, or we could talk about what Sookie did to you…”
“You heard about that?”
“Kenny called Keisha to vent. Keisha called Momma and tattled. Momma called Sookie and told her that Bill might have deserved to see that, but you didn’t… read her the riot act.”
“I already yelled at her over it after I snapped.”
“I scared the shit out of her by breaking a glass test tube… she hurt herself trying to get away from the noise… I just couldn’t listen to her trying to play off what happened like it was nothing.”
She laid her head down on my shoulder. “Good for you. She needed to know that she wasn’t the only one affected. She’s always been like this though; hypocritically compassionate.”
“That’s a great way to put it.”
“So not only did you have to see your friend like that, you got that call from your ex… and then Daddy fucked with your head… I’m sorry for my part in that, by the way. I didn’t find out about Sookie’s bullshit until I got home and talked to Momma.”
“Is there something else?”
“Yeah… I had to beat the shit out of your uncle.”
I nodded. “Where we ‘weren’t’, what we ‘didn’t’ do… Eric beat a confession out of Bill… It was fine until Bill started bragging about Sookie’s rape… I hate that I couldn’t just let him kill Compton.”
I nodded again. “To everything he’s ever done. Raping Sookie, jumping Lafayette, making IDs for kids so they’d DUI themselves to death, every detail of his deal with de Castro… All of it.”
“What was he going to get out of it? I mean other than Sookie being dead.”
“I’m not telling you.”
“Yeah. That bad.”
She was quiet for a minute and finally climbed into my lap and wrapped her arms around my neck.
Another long hug that I didn’t realize I needed.
“Keep it up and I’ll get spoiled.”
She squeezed a little tighter. “Good… you deserve it.”
“I don’t know about that, but I like it.”
She was grinning when she leaned back. “Then get used to it. I’ve got to head home before I’m busted for sneaking out. Get some rest.”
“I’ll try. Do you have a reason to come by tomorrow?”
She gave me a kiss and started sliding out of my lap. “Just to take the boys to school. Let me know if you need me to pick them up too.” She winked and made her way to her car.
I gave the boys another kiss good night and, somehow, I died as soon as my head hit the pillow.