Thursday, August 5, 2010

Oak Cliff Confidential: Chapter 9

  “Well, then,” said April. “I’ll just run downstairs for a smoke and let you two chit-chat.” She turned to go.

  Sharon’s hand shot out and grabbed April’s arm with a surprising speed that startled everyone, including Sharon. “Wait. What did you do to me?”

  April looked at her with a vague expression. “Nothing that hasn’t been done before. Now, let go of my arm before I go all ghetto on you.” Once released, April sashayed over to the coffee table and snagged one of the vodka bottles, plucked a lime out of a nearby bowl, and marched down the little hallway.

  Hexom called after her. “Sweetie, don’t you want a glass with that?”

  “Nope,” came the reply. April banged out the door, and, from the sounds of it, leaped off the stair landing and splashed-down in the goldfish pond. This was followed by laughter and a belch, so we can assume that she survived and was just fine.

  Hexom turned back to Sharon. “Do you need me to get the other bottle?”

  Sharon shook her head vacantly. “In a minute. Hexom, tell me what is going on. Why do I look like someone I haven’t seen in decades? Who told April to do that? What was up with that music? Why is there a bedpan on the wall behind you?”

  Hexom sighed, then marched over to said wall and ripped the pan from the wood paneling. He threw it behind one of the couches with a clang. “I’ve always hated that thing. Sometimes I just don’t understand April.”

  He came back and plopped down in April’s chair next to Sharon. “Okay, this haircut business. Don’t get upset about it. In fact, you should get used to it. I mean, there probably won’t be any more haircuts, at least not for a while, but there are going to be times when you have no idea what’s going on.”

  “Like right now.”

  “Like right now,” Hexom agreed. “The thing is, you have to try and figure out what they are telling you or wanting you to do. This is all one big clue, your first stone. It may or may not having something to with this… Did you say Theresa?”

  Sharon nodded. “Theresa Thomas.”

  “Okay, she might be the clue, or maybe she’s just supposed to point you in the direction of the clue.” Hexom paused, then “I hesitate to suggest too much. I might distract you from what you’re really supposed to see, and then you’ll miss the real thing.”

  Sharon sighed. “I don’t like this, Hexom. I don’t like this at all. And I don’t understand why you don’t just go to the police and-”

  Sharon’s new phone rang.

  She looked at Hexom. “I don’t want to answer that.”

  Hexom touched her arm. “Do it. You’ll have to get used to it. And listen. Sometimes things are revealed and you get a really big hint. Other times, you have no idea why they called.”

  Sharon hesitated a bit more, then pulled out the phone and flipped it open. “Yes?”

  “Sharon, we never contact the police.”

  The monotone voice had enough of an edge that some of Sharon’s normal resolve came back. “And why not, Roboto? You know, it would be very easy to shut your little game down. I just have to make one phone call.”

  “You won’t do that, Sharon.”

  Sharon was now in her comfort zone of bitterness and outrage. “How do you KNOW that? You don’t know anything about me.”

  “On the contrary, Sharon. I know quite a bit more than you realize. Especially one very important thing.”

  The thought of blackmail flitted through Sharon’s mind but soon vanished. “And what is that?”

  “You’re already hooked. You won’t be able to walk away.You have to know how it ends”

  The phone went dead.

  Hexom stood and put his hands on Sharon’s shoulders, gently turning her chair so she faced the mirror again. “Theresa Thomas,” he whispered. “What do you remember?”

  Sharon stared at her reflection, one hand reaching up to touch a strand of hair on the left side of her face, then dropping back into her lap. She felt herself getting slightly dizzy, then realized the creepy Enya music was still playing. “Hexom, go turn that crap off, please. It’s hard for me to think.”

  Hexom crossed to the boom box and slapped at a button. The resulting silence was instantly calming.

  Two seconds later, Nirvana was shattered by a clattering sound at the entrance door, and April’s head poked around the corner of the small hallway. “Sorry to interrupt, girls, but thought I’d ask before I got busted. That hot guy without a shirt in the parking lot. Does he belong to either one of you? Can I have him? Momma wants her some of that BAD.”

  Hexom glanced at Sharon, Sharon glanced at April. “Do what you must. I’ve never really figured out what he wants, maybe you’ll get somewhere. Is there a swimming pool around here? You’ll have better luck with that. It’s his native habitat.”

  April squealed and banged back out the door. “Hey!” she yelled down the stairs. “I’m not wearing any panties! What’s your name?”

  Hexom came back from the boom box and joined Sharon. “That tramp will hump anything.” Their eyes met again in the mirror. “Tell me about Theresa.”

  Sharon shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t even know where to start.”

  “It doesn’t matter. Just talk. We’ve got all the time in the world.”

  From outside, there came a burst of exuberant girlish laughter, completely fake, most likely coming from April as she found an excuse to paw at Alejandro in an inappropriate but probably welcome manner. This was followed by an odd squelching sound, source unknown and possibly anything.

  “That’s it,” muttered Sharon.

  “Yes?” encouraged Hexom.

  “That’s where I should start. The Zucchini Festival.”

  “The mind boggles at the imagery.”

  Sharon touched her hair again. “October of our senior year in high school. When I first realized that Theresa Thomas was trying to steal my boyfriend. And the greased pig stopped traffic on Jefferson.”

  Hexom turned and fetched the second bottle of vodka off the coffee table, then produced two glasses out of a cabinet and a container of lemonade out of a small fridge. “I believe it’s time to drink, as I quite relish hearing how those two random items are connected. Ice or no?”

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