Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Oak Cliff Confidential: Chapter 22

  The doorbell rang.

  Sharon paused in her retelling of the fateful events in Merrifield Cemetery twenty-five years ago. She glanced at Theresa.

  Theresa glanced at Raz, who was standing in the arched doorway to the kitchen. “It’s too soon to be Spiral Diner. Are you expecting somebody?”

  Raz rolled her eyes. “The doorbell rings and it’s somehow my fault? I’m not the one who has been here all day inviting complete strangers into the house. But to answer your question, no, I did not send out any invitations.” Then she glanced at Hexom.

  Hexom, startled, glanced back at Raz. “What? Why are you glancing at ME? Why is it my turn now? How am I possibly responsible for you doorbell ringing?” Hexom then glanced at April.

  April choked on a surprisingly vicious ice cube as she swigged her vodka lemonade. Recovering, she glanced back at Hexom. “Oh, no you didn’t. Don’t drag my ass into this mess. You know I don’t invite nobody to nuthin’. You think I’m gonna call one of my friends and say, hey, lesbian fest on Hampton Road? Be there or be square? Girl, you trippin’.” She took another swig, this one pleasantly void of any truculent ice cubes, and glanced at Alejandro.

  Alejandro sighed. “All I do is drive the car, people. And take my shirt off. That’s it. That’s my skill set. Done.” Then he glanced at Theresa. “But I suppose if someone were to actually answer the door, we might solve a few things and stop with all the glancing.”

  Theresa nodded, glancing briefly out a side window for no other reason than glancing was kind of fun and she really wasn’t ready to stop yet. “I’ll go see who it is.” She slipped her sandals back on and trotted off to the door.

  “You do that,” muttered Raz, glancing back into the kitchen to ensure no one had avoided any glancing. “I’ll just continue to suffer from constant accusations of somehow being responsible for random events concocted by a writer who thinks that literary tricks can somehow flesh out a blog post when he’s hit a dry spell.” Raz glanced at the writer.

  The writer kept typing for a bit, ignoring this unexpected melding of reality and fiction, then glanced at his partner for validation and support. His partner chose to not glance back, instead glancing at his PC and working on making copies of country CD’s for his various friends. Sighing, the writer glanced back at his laptop, slightly irritated and intent on making at least one of his characters face an alarming fate just because it would feel good.

  Theresa finally got to the front door, having walked very slowly to allow all this glancing business to take place and not interrupt the writer’s roundabout way of advancing the story. She flipped on the porch light and opened the door.

  There stood a very severe-looking woman, her hair slicked back with some type of intimidating gel. Think Jane Lynch in a bad mood when she has not been satisfied with the day’s events. “Hello,” said Theresa, in a falsely soothing manner that reeked of political pretense. “Can I help you?”

  Jane grimaced. “I’m here to help YOU. There have been violations.”

  Well, that was an odd utterance for one to hear from their front porch. “Interesting,” said Theresa. “Who the hell are you?”

  “My name,” said the woman who was about to no longer be known as Jane, “is Anastasia Cleaverhacken.” She dramatically pulled the screen door open and stepped through. “May I?”

  “It seems that you already have,” said Theresa. “Might I remind you that this is Texas, and your bold actions have qualified you for immediate gutting with a pitchfork.”

  “Duly noted,” said Anastasia. “We’re working on having that changed. In the mean time, we are forced to concentrate on code violations.”

  “Code violations?” repeated Theresa. “And what code would that be?” She briefly glanced at…. Oh, screw that glancing mess. We’ve moved on.

  Anastasia sucked in a huge lung-full of air and tried to appear very important. “The Lesbian Code of Proper Representation. I’m with the Lesbian Anti-Defamation League, and there have been reports of wrongful utterances of negligible nature taking place in this room.”

  Raz, still standing in the kitchen archway, laughed. “Are you serious with this?”

  “Quite so,” said Anastasia, looking askance at the outdated copy of Curve magazine peeking out from under the beverage tray. She skillfully slipped it out without disturbing the alcohol. “For instance, take this. Do you not realize that this thing is three years old?”

  Theresa snatched it away from Anastasia. “I like that edition. I didn’t realize there was an expiration date. But I do realize that you are really on my nerves. Get to your point.”

  Anastasia did so, pulling out a notepad. “Fine. The accusations include someone referring to cans of tuna as potpourri, references to arcane uses of lemonade for personal betterment, and something about a pig. Do you deny any of this?”

  Theresa scoffed, putting her hands on her hips. “Of course I don’t deny it. I think I said all of that. And I’m a lesbian. What is your issue here?”

  Anastasia shoved the notepad into her trench coat that we hadn’t really noticed until now, distracted by her gelled hair. “You are a lesbian? Where’s your card?”

  Flummoxed, Theresa went to find her purse.

  Hexom turned to Sharon in total shock. “They actually have cards? I thought that was totally figurative. Why don’t my people have cards?” Sharon ignored him and kept drinking.

  Theresa returned from wherever and handed her membership card to Anastasia, who pulled out some type of notary device, using it to demarcate something of significance on the card. Anastasia handed it back to Theresa. “You are now on probation.”

  Theresa numbly took the card back, and glanced, I mean, looked at Raz. “What the hell?”

  Raz held her hands up. Honey, you did this to yourself. You know the rules.

  “Oh,” said Anastasia, taking out yet another form of some kind. “Here’s your bill for the court costs. Most major credit cards accepted.”

  Theresa took the form. “Two hundred and thirty-six dollars?”

  Anastasia smile primly. “You got off easy. I’m sure that if I took a look at your medicine cabinet, there would be more violations. But I just got an emergency alert that someone down the street said something disparaging about Ellen DeGeneres. Gotta jet.” Then Anastasia marched to the door and departed, screen door slamming.

  April turned to the writer. “Dude, I just checked the poll results. Can we get away from this lesbian thing? Some people are getting bored and going to YouTube to watch videos of cats who know how to flush a toilet. Seriously.”

  The writer kept typing, head down and ignoring this plea. Stay with me, people.

  Theresa closed the front door and started to march back to her comfy place on the couch, but the doorbell rang again. “Good Goddess, woman,” said Raz, still in the archway. “Who else have you offended tonight?”

  Theresa smirked at Raz, with subtle hints of sex deprivation, then opened the door again. Luckily, it was only the delivery guy from Spiral Diner. Theresa tipped him generously (because you always should, people, shout out to the food service industry where folks make less than the minimum wage). Theresa then carried the overstuffed plastic bags into the kitchen.

  There was a bit of a hubbub as dinner was placed on the table along with server ware and accoutrements. As folks milled about and filled their plates, Theresa grabbed a spatula and focused on the biggest dish in a lovely foil container. “You have GOT to try the dandelion casserole. Not kidding. Best EVER.”

  Well, nobody wanted to miss out on that, so plates were shoved at Theresa and servings were delivered. Forks danced, and exclamations of joy rang out. How could something vegetarian taste this good? Small orgasms were enjoyed by all.

  Then April had to go and throw a wrinkle in things. She suddenly made a choking noise, leaned over, and spat out something that rolled across the otherwise jovial and pleasantly-set table. “Wow,” she proclaimed. “I’ve swallowed a lot of things but THAT wasn’t going anywhere.”

  All eyes focused on the clump of whatever on the table.

  Hexom was the first to realize what was going on. “Oh my God,” he muttered, snatching up the expectorant, much to everyone’s slight repulsion, and racing to the kitchen sink. He rinsed said item off under the faucet, and then held it out to Sharon. “I think it’s a ruby.”

  Sharon, setting her plate aside, wasn’t sure what to make of this. “What are you saying?”

  Hexom held the object up to the stylish light fixture over the table. “I think it’s your second stone. Something happened here tonight that is actually a clue.”

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