Sunday, August 29, 2010

Oak Cliff Confidential: Chapter 26

  Sharon suddenly realized that she could hear calypso music. Coming from somewhere in the house. Great, she thought. I’m dealing with the aftermath of voluntary kidnapping while those idiots are up in there playing “Fantasy Island” or some crap.

  She picked up the small ashtray and studied it again (Ruby’s Diner? Why did that ring a bell?), then turned to go inside. She paused, reached back for her empty tumbler (which was not going to remain so for long), snatched up her purse, opened the screen door, and went through.

  Sharon eventually found the rest of the tribe in the living room, where Alejandro was holding April out in front of him, parallel to the floor, while Theresa and Raz were trying to limbo under opposite ends of her stiff body. God. Leave these people unsupervised and anything could happen.

  Sharon had to yell over the music. “Okay, twits and twats. That looks very festive, but can we settle down for just a second? We need to talk.” Her statement somehow upset the balance of Nature in general, and Raz chose this very moment to trip over something non-existent on the floor, careening into Alejandro, who then inadvertently hurled April over the back of the sofa. Weighing all of three pounds, her crash landing sounded like a crouton skittering across the wood floor.

  “What am I doing down here?” came April’s muffled voice. “Where you trying to hit Sharon with me? Because I can sort of understand that.”

  “My bad,” said Alejandro. “The mean one with the blonde hair knocked my trick knee.” He stepped around the end of the sofa to survey the damage. “Are you okay?”

  More muffled voice. “I’m good. But I’m not sure why my foot is so close to my head. I don’t remember wanting that.”

  Theresa, her face flushed and sweaty because lesbians take any athletic competition seriously, even if music is involved, turned to Sharon. “Where’s Hexom?”

  “He had to leave suddenly,” said Sharon, approaching what was left of the impromptu mini-bar and quickly fixing herself another beverage. “I need to talk to you about that, April.”

  “I’m listening,” hollered the tiny one, then said in a quieter voice to Alejandro: “Honey, could you help me pop that back into place? Thanks.”

  Sharon slid into one of the comfy chairs. “Are you able to move, April? Can you come out and join us?”

  “I kind of like it right here,” explained April. “The floor is nice and cool and feels good against my face. And there’s a dust bunny that reminds me of my first dog, Cucumber. Hey girl, want a treat?”

  Sharon looked at Theresa. “How many of those damn lemonades did she have?”

  Theresa shrugged her shoulders. “I really wasn’t keeping score. But you were out there on the porch for quite a while. We had to do something to pass the time. Not that I’m complaining. Alejandro is very creative.” Theresa gazed over the top of the couch at Alejandro’s bobbing head as he helped reassemble April, her eyes aglow as if he had just parted the Red Sea and everybody had received a free toaster.

  Sharon quickly decided that she really didn’t need any more details on what may or may not have transpired in this house while she had been distracted by Hexom causing issues with her stones. She turned back to the couch. “April, darling, really. It would be nice if I could see you. Talking to someone that you’re not really sure is there is too much like church.”

  April suddenly launched into view, all smiles, with what might be the remains of Cucumber the Ghost Dog in her hair. “All better now. Alejandro has great hands. Plus, I’m really very bendy. Seriously. I can blow smoke up my own ass. Wanna see?”

  “Most certainly NOT,” muttered Sharon, shuddering slightly and then taking a swig of lemonade. However, the other three potential respondents in the room glared at Sharon for once again sucking the joy out of the party. It had really been much more fun when Sharon had stayed on the front porch and no one was negating entertainment options.

  April sighed, pouting slightly, but then walked around the sofa and sat down. Alejandro joined her, one of Cucumber’s puffy friends entrapped in the glistening sheen on his right pectoral. He plucked the puff off and handed it to April, who graciously thanked him for the gift and absently petted it as Sharon began to speak.

  “As I was saying, Hexom was… called away urgently. And he may be gone for a few days or so, it’s not clear. So, April dear, I was wondering if I could arrange for your services. I’ll pay you well, of course.”

  April was confused. “But I just cut your hair.”

  “And you did a very nice job,” inserted the now slightly-less sweaty Theresa, fingering one lock of her identical ‘do. “It’s very flattering.”

  Sharon shook her head at April. “No, I was speaking of other services. You know. Help me out with this… other business. Since Hexom can’t be here. That business.”

  Raz paused in refreshing her own beverage. “Are you talking about The Game?”

  Startled, Sharon glanced in Raz’s direction. “You know about The Game?”

  Raz nodded her head with great enthusiasm. “Sure do. I knew that we had seen two stones tonight, but I tried to stay out of it.” She looked at her partner. “Besides, Theresa has been trying to explain to me lately that everybody else’s business is not necessarily my own.” They reached out and took each other’s hand, sharing a brief moment of tender love and support, then they were quickly over it. “So I’ll help you,” said Raz, taking her own seat. “If April can’t.”

  Sharon turned to Theresa. “So you know about it, too?”

  Theresa smiled. “Yes. In fact, we have a dear friend who is also playing. Although, now that you mention it, I haven’t heard from Sara in a few days.” She looked over at Raz. “Have you spoken to her?” Raz shook her head.

  Sharon heard a dim bell go off somewhere in her mind, but she had a more pressing matter right at the moment. She turned and looked off-camera at the writer. “Is there anybody in this town, besides me, that doesn’t know about this game?”

  The writer calmly plunked a sign in front of him, reading “Would you like to become the first actual body in this thing?”, and kept typing. Sharon made a noise of personal dissatisfaction and turned back to the other actors, her lips pursed to show her unspoken thoughts on the matter.

  “Hold up,” said April, still petting her new friend, and realizing that she wasn’t quite ready to give up co-star billing. “I didn’t say I wouldn’t help you, Sharon, especially if money is involved. But I have GOT to go to my Momma’s barbecue tomorrow. There’s no discussion. She will snatch me bald if I don’t show up with that turkey.”

  Sharon considered this. “Can you eat fast?”

  April nodded. “Sure can. Give me a couple hours for that, and then you can start handing me cash. I’m your hookup.”

  “And your hooker,” said Alejandro, suddenly grabbing April’s dusty friend and throwing it over the back of the couch and onto the landing pad, because he wanted quality screen time as well.

  “Sounds like a plan,” confirmed Sharon. Then she picked up the tiny ashtray from where she had placed it on the coffee table. “Now, since everybody seems to know more about this game than me, I could use some help. Theresa, do you know where you got this? Because I think it’s important.” She flipped it over. “See this pentagram? It’s on the back of the second stone that April spit across the room because she’s an attention hog.”

  April made a noise indicating that people named Sharon better not walk home in the dark.

  Raz spoke up. “That’s actually mine. And I think we might as well go directly to the source. She whipped out her phone, hit a button, waited patiently, then spoke: “Hey, girl, ‘sup? Uh huh. Uh huh. No, that’s really not interesting and that’s not why I called. There’s someone here who has a question for you. Her name is Sharon. Be nice, okay?”

  Raz walked over to Sharon and handed her the phone. “This is my sister. Her name is Ruby Wednesday…”

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