Cathy Eats Her Words

December 10, 2007

Day Eighteen

Filed under: NaNoWriMo,Novel — jeanne @ 5:39 pm

Star’s belly didn’t show yet. But she slept as if she were eight months pregnant. Cathy’s days were filled with plaintive cries from Star’s bedroom. “Mom, make me some pancakes. Mom, bring me some orange juice. Mom, I’m out of my shampoo, and your smells bad. Mom, tell Gray to stop making so much noise downstairs. Mom, I’m hungry.” Cathy’s nights were filled, not with hot sex, but with putting cream on her daughter’s belly and tossing and turning to the sounds of Law and Order, gunfire, screaming, cheap dramatic music, and the brilliant dialogue of slasher movies.

There was a certain distance between her and Gray. Not that they weren’t affectionate and caring toward one another, just that Cathy was tired all the time and preoccupied with Star and her chances of being found out. Every siren that cruised by could be coming to their door. Every phone conversation could be taped. Every homeless guy coming up onto the porch for a handout might be undercover. The fact that it never turned out bad didn’t mollify Cathy a bit.

And then it did. There was a knock at the door. Star was in the kitchen, complaining with the fridge door wide open that there was nothing to eat in the house. Cathy went to the door, annoyed with Star for making her into a waiter and short order cook, and thinking of something snappy to say to her complaints. There was a tall, gangly shadow on the door glass.

“Star, quick, get back into your room,” she hissed. Star shot her a glance full of scorn, but went into her room. And turned the TV up. Great, thought Cathy. Anyone will know its her just by the sound.

The shadow at the door was Spike. “Hello, Ma’am, he said politely, touching his brow as if he had a hat on. “I’m looking for Star.”

Cathy looked him in the face, trying not to look down or look away, trying not to look like she was lying. “I’m afraid I haven’t seen Star in awhile,” she said simply, standing behind the screen door just waiting for him to ask to come in.

But he didn’t. “I spoke to her just the other day on the phone, here, at your house,” he said. “I have reason to believe you’re harboring her.”

So formal. “I guess she must be staying with friends,” Cathy said. Her father hasn’t seen her in some time. He told me you and she had stopped by to get her things.”

“No, Ma’am.”

“Well, that’s funny. I thought she was down living with you.”

“No, Ma’am.”

“Hmmm.”

“I need to find her. I’ve got something important to discuss with her.”

“Oh. Well, she was here a few days ago, long enough to use the phone. If I see her again, I’ll tell her you’re looking for her.”

“Yes, Ma’am. I’d appreciate it. It’s important,” he repeated.

Cathy assumed he wanted to talk about their baby, or their marriage plans. “Are you two planning on getting married, still?”

He looked away. “No Ma’am, I mean yes Ma’am, but that’s not what I need to talk to her about. It really is important that I speak with her. Are you sure she’s not around?” He tried to peer over her shoulder into the kitchen. Cathy could hear the TV; so could Spike. “I hear voices,” he said.

“Yes, I’ve got the TV on while I do my ironing,” she lied. “Some silly game show or soap opera. It distracts me.”

“Yes Ma’am,” he said doubtfully. “Please let me know if you see her again. It’s really important.”

Cathy got a dangerous vibe off the boy. He was the soul of politeness, but she could sense the gun in his waistband, and the truck he’d parked at the curb was big enough to run right up her front porch steps and crash into her living room. He scared her. His eyes, which she used to think rather squinty, now looked hooded and malevolent. His sticky-out ears and close cropped hair now reminded her of a hedgehog or a wild boar. He loomed over her, behind the screen, and even thru the yes Ma’am and no Ma’am she felt the threat. Of what? she wondered.

Once she’d seen him drive away, she went back to Star’s room to find out more about what she’d obviously failed to disclose the first time.

“Spike was here,” she announced.

The TV had been on so loud that Star hadn’t noticed. She looked distressed. “Why didn’t you tell me? I want to see him so bad.” She flopped back on her bed in despair.

“I want to know why he was here looking for you. He knows you called him from this house. Are you sure you used call blocker?”

She looked uncertain. “I’m pretty sure.”

Cathy sighed. “Maybe you told him you were at my house?”

“Maybe. But why didn’t you tell me?”

“I didn’t want him to see you.”

She wailed. “But why not?”

Because it’s dangerous for anyone to see you.”

“Not Spike! He loves me.”

Cathy was unsure. Maybe not Spike. If he was as devoted to her as he seemed, then he could help to hide her. He had more experience with people on the lam than she did. Maybe she was being too cautious. But her gut told her otherwise. “I know he does, sweetie. But you’ve chosen to hide from the cops, and so you have to hide from everybody.”

“I do not! You’re just keeping me a prisoner.”

Gray came upstairs “What was all that about?” he asked.

Cathy filled him in, feeling confused about her instinct to quarantine her daughter. She hoped that Gray could help her resolve it, and help Star agree to stay hidden.

Gray thought about Spike’s visit. “Do you know why he might have come by?” he asked Star.

“Because he loves me, and he’s concerned about where I am.”

Gray nodded. “But what other reasons might he be interested in where you are?”

Star rolled her eyes. “I don’t know. Why don’t you two leave me alone?”

He persisted. “He’s a bail bondsman, isn’t he?” Star nodded. “Do you know who your dad went to when he bailed you out of jail?” She shook her head.

Cathy had been on the verge of letting Star see her boyfriend, but something in Gray’s question made her hesitate. “Don’t use the phone,” she snapped as she and Gray left the room.

She called Richard. “Who did you use as bail bondsman when you got Star out of jail.”

“I forget,” he said immediately, his first reaction being to say anything to get her off the phone.

Just like Star, Cathy thought. “It’s important. I need to know.”

He must have been very busy with a computer problem. She expected him to ask her sarcastically just why she needed to know, but instead he was silent for half a minute, and the said “Everywhere Bonding. I think.”

“Do you know if that’s the bonding company Spike and his grandma own?”

“No, I don’t. Look, I really have to go now. I’ve got a computer emergency.”

“They’re all emergencies. Just turn it off and turn it back on and see if that doesn’t do it.”

“Har har.”

Then she called Everywhere Bonding, using the call block feature on her phone. She really must find out what it cost one of these days.

“Everywhere Bonding,” came a young woman’s voice.

Cathy felt relieved. It wasn’t the grandma. “Can I speak to the owner?”

“She’s not here.” She wasn’t going to volunteer anything, Cathy knew. As closed-mouthed as cops.

Cathy thought fast. “I think I’ve dealt with you before. But I’m not sure. Can you tell me if a young man named Spike works there?”

“Sure,” she said. Her voice changed, as if she really liked him.

“Okay, thanks,” Cathy said, and hung up.

She told Gray what she’d found out. “That explains his visit,” he said. “She skipped out on his bond, and now he’s looking for her to turn her in.”

“Let’s tell Star.”

But Star didn’t believe them. “Spike would never turn me in. He loves me.” The couple looked at each other. This was bad. He would try again and again to find her, and she would practically waltz into his arms one fine morning when Cathy and Star were out walking the dogs.

Something had to be done.

So Cathy went back to her plans for the attic. She nailed boards over the dormer windows, and put up heavy blankets and rugs on the sloping ceiling to block any light and to insulate the little room she was building. Gray put a lock on the outside of the attic door and cut a hole for a doggie hatch. He made another little door for her, thru the wall into the bathroom so she could use it whenever she needed to. Then he put a lock on the bathroom door so she couldn’t get into the rest of the house.

Cathy moved the oil filled radiator into the attic, and she and Gray assembled a spare brass bed they’d stored up there for years, and took the mattresses out of big plastic bags, and put rugs down on the floor, and suspended rugs along the makeshift walls like tapestries, and installed floor lamps around the bed, and found a desk to put in one corner, and emptied a chest of drawers of its junk and moved it to another corner, and dusted off a rocking chair to put in the third. It was small. It was cozy. It was adorably private. And it was where Star was going to spend the next seven months. All it needed was Star and her TV, and it would be home.

Star screamed bloody murder. “This is worse than jail. I’m not going up there. You’re going to lock me in and keep me there, and I haven’t done anything wrong. I don’t deserve this.”

Cathy was cold. “Then I’ll drive you down to the courthouse right now and you can have your baby in jail.”

“Where’s Spike? He’ll fix it.”

Cathy laughed. “Yeah, he’ll fix it so his bonding company doesn’t lose the bail they paid on you.”

She screamed. “You’re lying. I don’t believe you.”

“Look,” Cathy said, trying to calm her down. “You don’t have to be locked up there all the time. We just want to make sure you can’t sabotage yourself when we’re not around. When we’re home, you can hang out in the kitchen while I make dinner, you can eat with us. You can even take a bath when you want to. We just can’t let you run around the house. People are looking for you.”

“Yeah, they’re looking for me to take me away from you two crazies.”

“Go back to jail, then.”

Reluctantly, Star let herself be moved up into the attic. She had nothing positive to say about the work Cathy had put into making it comfortable. She complained how uncomfortable it was, in fact, even when Cathy pointed out how much warmer it was with the sun on the roof and the insulating blankets and rugs. Star pointed out how none of the rugs and blankets matched, and then complained about the mattress, and complained some more about the secret door into the bathroom.

But she stayed up there, and didn’t protest very much when they locked her in for the night. “You’ll be sorry if there’s a fire and I’m locked in the attic,” she threatened.

Cathy responded by taking away her lighter. “You’re not supposed to smoke while you’re pregnant,” she said.

go to tomorrow’s writing

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1 Comment »

  1. […] go to tomorrow’s writing Leave a Comment […]

    Pingback by Day Seventeen « Cathy Eats Her Words — October 12, 2009 @ 2:57 pm | Reply


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