Sinking Stones in the Sky
(Miki Radicci Book 8/Lorelei Cox Book 2)
Copyright 2015 M.E. Purfield
Published by Trash Books
Cover Design by Janiel Escueta
All Rights Reserved
This is a work of total fiction
jesus freakz + buddha punx
Party Girl Crashes the Rapture
Fountain & Fairfax
A Black Deeper Than Death
In A Blackened Sky Where Dreams Collide
Blood Like Cherry Ice
Bawling Sugar Soul
A Girl Close to Death
Heart on the Devil’s Sleeve
Sinking Stones in the Sky
In Heaven/Let Down
Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style & Others
Joy Rides for Shut-ins
I take the photo out of the envelope and the bile begins to rise in my stomach. How could something so normal as a white envelope used for so many good things contain something so heinous and nauseating?
Using shaky hands, I slip the photo back into envelope. It doesn’t go in right the first time. I pull it back out, turn the picture on its side, and shove it back in. Ignoring the open mailbox on the porch, I enter the front door of the two family house we rent, walk down the small hall, and enter our first floor apartment. Even though Rick’s at his classes in the city, I still look around to make sure I’m alone. I hear nothing but the radiator’s slight hiss and Mrs. Suarez vacuuming upstairs.
I walk through the front living room and the kitchen in the middle to the back bedroom. Using the chair from Rick’s writing table, I stand at the open closet and take down the Half Price shoebox on the top shelf at the back. I open the lid and drop the envelop in with the others. They’re all the same. All bright white and letter sized. All addressed to me here in Jersey City. All with no return address. And all with one Polaroid photo inside. I slam the lid down on the box and toss it to the back of the shelf.
I step down, roll the chair back, and get ready for work.
I rush onto the sidewalk, my bag on my back, and cross my arms. Looking through a pair of Wayfarer sunglasses, I walk down to the diner. I stop at the corner and wait for a car to slow at the stop sign. They never do around here. Maybe because the Holland Tunnel is so close and self-important people are in a hurry. I’m so glad I don’t drive; I’d smash the shit out of some of these people.
A bell goes off. I turn to the liquor store behind my back. Some guy steps out and carries a bulky brown bag that’s probably hiding a six-pack of beer. He pays me no mind and walks away. I stare at the signs that cover the new windows. The store opened up a few months ago. Before that it was an all-night bodega. The posters advertise in big block letters the beer and vodka for sale and bikini clad women try to persuade jerks led by their penis to buy it.
I should have enough for a bottle of vodka. Maybe it will calm the nausea floating in my stomach.
I step closer to the entrance and reach for the door handle.
“Stupid,” I whisper.
I fight off a phantom chill and walk to work.
In my uniform and my blond hair in a ponytail, I enter the Holland Tunnel Diner. The best part about working here is that it’s just a few blocks away from Eerie Street where we live. If I ever have to work late Rick can always drop by and walk me home. Not that the neighborhood is so bad. Even though it’s near the Holland Tunnel it’s fairly safe and decent. It’s the other side, in Hoboken, that instills the most fear for one’s safety with the abandoned buildings, restoration, and industrial sites.
I enter the diner and pass Rochelle working the reception counter. She’s a few years older with dark high hair and over-tanned skin. She wears short skirts and clinging tops all the time. She’s got the body for it. Sometimes I get jealous. My body is just as fine and I’m stuck wearing these frumpy waitress uniforms. And even when I’m not, Rick and I just don’t have the money to go anywhere exciting where I could dress up and make the other guys envious of him.
“Hey hey, Lorelei,” Rochelle says as she finishes ringing up a burly guy in a flannel jacket and graying beard.
“Ho ho, Rochelle,” I say as I head to the back and enter the kitchen. I pass Carlo the manager and Brandon the head chef talking by the stove. They manage to wave and say hi but are too deep in conversation about the menu to give me more. Fine with me. The less a boss talks to you the better.
In the back, I enter the employee room. It’s not a break room or a place for us to eat and hide from the customers. I wish we had one of those. Sometimes I’m so fed up with the public’s attitude that I need a little quiet time away from them. Shit, even just to feel their eyes are off of me would be heaven. Nope. The employee room is a wide-open space where we can hang our jackets on one side and a bay of lockers on the other. I immediately go to my locker – no coat today since the weather has been decent this October – and twist the combination to open the door.
I notice Mimi a few lockers away. The girl stares into her magnetic mirror on the door and tries to apply eye make up. The poor girl. Out of all the waitresses she’s the only one I worry about. She’s this mousy thing about eighteen or nineteen with stringy brown hair. Skinny as spaghetti and just as flat. She’s cute though. If you look really hard. She’s got nice blue eyes and perfect white skin. But also, she has something sad inside of her. Something that shows when she works. The other waitresses and the customers boss her around or treat her like shit. Carlo and I are good to her. Maybe that’s why she sticks around. If I were getting that kind of abuse I would show them my entire ass walking away.
“Hi, Mimi,” I say. “Doing 2-10 with me tonight?”
She flashes a fragile smile. “Yeah.”
“Cool. If you want Rick and I to walk you home just let me know.”
She nods and applies her lipstick. I doubt she’ll ask for an escort. Not like I know where she lives. I think she mentioned Kennedy Boulevard once. She keeps her private life exactly that – private. I wonder if she has a boyfriend. A girl like her really needs a good guy in her life, someone to be nice and accepting. I would fix her up with one of Rick’s friends from school but a lot of them are immature art snobs who smoke too much weed.
After three attempts, Mimi applies her lipstick right and closes the door. I notice her wandering around, glancing at the rules and state regulations board. I doubt she’s really reading it. She’s probably waiting for me like I’m some shield or something. Maybe I am.
I double-check my pockets for my order pad and pen and adjust my tail. If looks could kill then the customers all have a death notice.
“Why you smiling?” Mimi asks.
I close the locker and turn to her. “Dunno. Happy, I guess. Which is strange because I had such a crummy morning.”
She blushes and looks at her soft white nurse’s shoes. “Guess you have a lot to be happy about.”
“I am working with you tonight.” I say.
She blushes deeper.
I walk over and guide her out of the room. “Let’s go feed these motherfuckers.”
“How is the steak cooked?”
The black woman is in her late sixties with wild gray curly hair. Her face is as serious as the sharp suit and skirt she wears. I think she’s been in here before. She might teach at the community college. I stand by the table for two next to the empty chair across from her and try not to laugh in her face. I’m surprised I have the energy to find humor. I’m an hour late for my break and my stomach won’t stop talking.
“Excuse me?” I ask.
The dinner crowd starts to thin out. People wave for their bills or stand in line to pay them with Rochelle at the counter. We should be a little emptier soon. Then I can finally go fill my belly.
“How is the steak cooked?”
“Anyway you want it,” I say.
“Hmmm, I’m sure,” the woman says, pursing her lips and looking down at the menu. “I may say I want it well done, but when you bring it to me it could be medium. Places like this, in my experience, the cook back there just does what he wants. And, in a way, how would he know that a piece of steak is medium and ready? Does he have a timer going on back there when he cooks the meat? I bet he has so much going on in his mind that he can’t keep track of how long things cook on the grill.”
“Okay. Um, should I come back and give you some time?”
“No. I’ll have the Chicken Cordon Blue.”
“How would you like that cooked?”
The woman tips her nose down and looks up at me while she hands over the menu. “Ha ha.”
I flash her a smile and walk off to put her order in the computer. As I punch in the chicken dish on the touch screen, Mimi stands behind me for her turn.
“Holy guacamole,” I say. “Seems they opened the gates to the asylum again.”
“I know, right?” Mimi says. “I got this guy at my table who keeps ordering bread and complaining it’s not hot enough to melt the butter.”
Finished, I step to the side for Mimi to use the computer.
“Mimi, I need you to bus that table,” Gwen a real bitch in heels (really, heels on this job?) calls out from one of the booths by the window.
Her shoulders tense and her finger nearly punch a hole into the touch screen.
I crane my neck at Gwen and shout, “Where are the bus boys?”
Gwen poses with her hands on her hips and swivels her head side to side. “I don’t know. Do I look like their momma?”
“You don’t look like Mimi’s momma so why you telling her to do something that is not her job?”
“Girls, cut the crap and get back to work,” Carlo shouts from behind the counter as he puts in a new lemon meringue in the display case. “Gwen, find a bus boy.”
Gwen squints her eyes at me and goes off on her search.
“You shouldn’t have done that,” Mimi says as we walk back into the dining room.
“Why not? It’s not your job to bus tables. Waitresses should only do it when we’re backed up and short handed,” I say.
“I know, but now she’s going to give me shit later.”
Mimi rushes off to handle her tables. I sigh hard and work on my own.
I sit in a corner booth and wait for my French Onion soup to cool a bit. The traffic moving in and out of the tunnel lightens up the night. Seems like more cars are leaving the city now than entering. My cell phone vibrates on the table. I pick it up and see I have a text from Rick.
Home now. How you doing?
Fine. Miss you.
Miss you too. Miss that sweet ass.
I smile and type: Lol it misses you too.
Don’t work it too hard.
I wont. U coming for me tonight?
Yes. Of course.
Might want to stop at AA.
They have meetings that late?
One at 1030.
I have a craving for stale donuts. :-)
I have a craving for you.
Are we going to sext?
You know I’d rather have the real thing.
Okay. Keep it warm.
I place the cell down and start on my soup.
“What are you so happy about?”
Gwen slips in the seat across from me and holds her lighter and cigarettes. Her head tilts to the side like she doesn’t care about shit.
“You know you’re the second person to ask me that today?” I say, sipping the soup.
“Guess you got it all going on. Perfect like a picture, huh?”
“You didn’t come here to tell me how perfect I am did you?” I keep my eyes on the soup, not giving her the satisfaction of my attention. “Because I know how perfect I am.”
“Shit, you wish,” Gwen says, tapping the cigarette box on the table. “Why you always sticking up for that freak?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I say.
“You gonna play it like that?”
“Just leave her alone unless it has to do with her job.”
“See. There you go again. You her big sister? Or maybe she your labia lap dog or something like that?”
I sputter out the soup and drop my spoon. My mouth clear, I laugh hard and loud. Gwen squirms and looks around. Customers glance at us but I couldn’t care less. So what, I’m a psycho.
“Damn girl, what so funny?” Gwen asks.
“You. Labia Lap Dog. I bet you don’t even know what a labia is.”
Gwen slams her hand on the table. “Seriously, Lorelei, I like you. You all right. But if we’re going to keep butting heads about this girl, then shit gonna get serious.”
I finally look into her eyes. Any happiness that I had drains away. This girl has gotten me in a sour mood now and it’s probably going to carry into my work, which just makes me even angrier. I haven’t felt this angry since my last year of high school. And it must be showing. Gwen leans back and breaks eye contact.
“Just forget it.” She slips out of the booth and walks to the door to smoke her cigarettes.
My stomach has turned sour again. I rub my eyes and gather my small mess. I stand out of the booth and carry the saucer and soup bowl. Nausea hits my stomach like a punch. I stop and place my free hand on my belly. Pressure builds in my eyes.
Mimi stands a few feet away by an occupied booth. The customers, a Spanish family of four, peek over too.
“Are…you….all…right?” she asks. But why is she talking so slow?
Mimi walks closer…her limbs resistant as if the air turned to water.
I haven’t seen the world move like that since…
“Oh…” I release the soup bowl and saucer. “…no…”
Color drains from the world. The bowl falls slowly to the ground. Mimi stops a foot away and reaches out. The bowl is about to smash the floor when…
…the ground drops. I close my eyes and fall through the air. A wind presses my face, a humid musky smell. When I feel the Earth return to my feet, I open my eyes. The bright colors of the room sting my pupils. An old room. Wide and spacious. A bedroom set up in the corner. Bright white sheets and ruffled pillows. A bright white dresser to the side with a fish tank filled with water and algae. A roach-covered brown carpet on the floor reaches out six or so feet from the bed. After the carpet, hard concrete…
I blink. She appears next to the bed. A little girl with wrinkles around her pink eyes. She wears baby blue footie pajamas zippered to the top that seem too small for her. She tilts her head to the side, her face drained of emotion.
“Darby?” I say without my mouth moving.
“My daddy loves me. Does my mommy love me?”
I take a step closer.
The white furniture and bed flicker like a florescent light bulb.
I flinch. My heart pounds faster.
“Home is a rage,” Darby says.
Before I can respond, she releases a scream so loud that I cover my ears. The room shakes. Cameras rain from the black clouds above, smashing on the hard floor, and spilling blood.
Someone grabs my shoulders. I turn to…it. An old man with sagging gray skin. His eyes yellow with large pupils. He’s naked and shoves a large video camera in my face.
“It’s beginning to and back again…”
I’m still in a room. This one is different. I lay on a gurney and the space is surrounded by an off white curtain. Beeping and talking on the other side of it. I rise up and find Mimi sitting at my side. Her eyes and mouth are wide
“Oh my, God,” Mimi says. “Are you okay?”
I catch my breath and notice the tubes attached to my arms and the sensors on my chest. Machines monitor my vitals.
“Yeah,” I say. “I’m okay. Why?”
She releases a nervous laugh. “Uh, you screamed and scared the crap out of me just now.”
“Sorry.” I remain up and rub my face. My heart calms, so does the beeping monitor. “What happened?”
“I don’t know. One minute you were standing there in the diner and the next you fell and started shaking. Carlo called an ambulance and I went with you,” Mimi says. “Scared the shit out of me.”
“I’m sorry,” I say. “At least you won’t have to go to the bathroom for a while.”
The curtain parts and a Middle Eastern man enters. His face smiles so soft I can see why he became a doctor. Comfort floods me already. He pulls a pen from his lab coat breast pocket and says, “Oh, hello. You’re up. Hm?”
I nod my head. Mimi stands.
“I am Doctor Khan. Seems you had a fall at work. Hm? How are you feeling?” He picks up my chart at the end of the bed, checks the machines, and makes a few notes.
“I’m fine. I would like to leave now.”
“We ran a few tests on you while you were out. It seems you had a seizure,” the doctor says. “Have you had seizures before?”
I turn to Mimi. “Rick. Did anyone call Rick?”
“I called him on your cell phone. He should be here soon,” Mimi says.
“Please, Ms. Cox. I’m trying to help you. Hm?”
“What?” I ask, turning back to the doctor. Any comfort he instilled has been replaced by annoyance. I want to break his face.
“Have you had seizures before?” he asks again, pen ready for my answer.
“Yes. A few years ago.”
“Are you on any medication?”
“For the seizures. I was for a while but then I stopped taking them.”
“Okay, fine. We are going to run a few more scans on you and …”
“No.” I hold up my hands as if his words were Mack trucks aiming to crush my body.
“I don’t want you to run any more scans or do any more tests.”
“I don’t think you understand the seriousness of your symptoms. Hm? You didn’t just faint at work. You did not have low blood sugar and just needed a break. Hm? No. You had a seizure. We need to find out how it happened.”
“Holy guacamole! I know how it happened,” I say. “I’ve been through this before.”
Khan and Mimi stare at me, waiting for the answer.
“Listen, I just want to leave. You can’t hold me here.” I pull the wires out of my arm, setting off the machine that monitors my vitals.
“Ms. Cox, please don’t do that.” He places the clipboard on the foot of the gurney. “Nurse!”
The curtain parts but a nurse doesn’t come through, Rick does. I have never been so glad to see his moppy black hair and Latino-tinged face. “Lorelei,” he whispers. Rick slides down the side of the bed and wraps his arms around my shaking body. Mimi presses to the machines, trying to give us space.
“Oh, my God. Rick, get me out of here.”
“Hello, and who are you?” Khan asks.
“I should wait outside,” Mimi says, moving behind Rick and sneaking out through the curtain.
“Thanks for calling me, Mimi,” Rick says. “I’m Lorelei’s boyfriend,” he says to the doctor.
“Oh, fine. Maybe you can help talk sense to her. Hm?”
“I had a seizure, Rick.”
His brow wrinkles in confusion. “A seizure?”
“Yes, I understand that she was treated for them before but she stopped her medication?” the doctor asks.
“Yeah, my mom was treating her. She’s a doctor at Freehold Hospital. Doctor Taylor.”
“Good, I will try to contact her. But in the mean time I would like to run some tests to make sure there is nothing else to worry about. A tumor for example.”
“Okay?” Rick asks.
“Not okay,” I say. “I just want to leave. Just get me out of here. Why is that so hard to understand?”
“Shh okay, okay,” Rick says. He turns to Khan. “Can you give us a moment?”
The doctor nods, “Hm”, and parts the curtain.
When he’s gone, I take Rick into my arms again. He kisses my lips and holds me tight. I shiver against him. “Are you okay?” he asks. “I was so scared when Mimi called.”
“I’m fine. I really am. It’s not like I’ve never had a seizure before.”
“Yeah, but you haven’t had one in a long time. Not since we lived in Owel.”
Rick slips his fingers under my chin and makes me look into his deep beautiful dark eyes. “This is serious, baby. It’s your health. If you’re having seizures we need to find out why.”
I bite my lip. I want to tell him everything that I saw in my vision, but not here. Not in this cold, sterile hospital. I need the safety of my bed. I need his arms wrapped around me when I speak. I need to feel his breath on top of my head while I press my ear to his chest and listen to his heart.
“I don’t want to go through those tests. They might do X-rays.”
“Okay. What’s wrong with X-rays, they shouldn’t hurt you. The body can take a little radiation, plus you haven’t had any X-rays in years.”
“It’s not me I’m worried about,” I say. “It’s our baby.”
I’m not sure where I am. I know I’m at a bar. I’m leaning on one. I also hold a drink in my hand. The music blasts out of the large corner speakers in the ceiling and it’s not too annoying. The DJ favors 90s music and I recognize all the old songs. I finish my fourth shot of whisky – no rocks please – and turn to the cutie at my side. His expression of amazement makes me laugh.
“Damn,” he says with a slight British accent that I find way too adorable. “You’re a pro.”
“Fuck yeah I am,” I say, leaning in close to his ear. “What did you say your name was again?”
“Did I tell you my name?” He smiles.
“Been sitting here drinking with me for almost an hour. It might have come up.”
“Close enough,” he says, then works on his rum and coke.
“I like you Roderick.” I lace my arms with his left one. “You haven’t tried to grab my ass all night.”
“I have a slight confession to make,” he says. “I grabbed it twice.”
I laugh and fold over. He keeps me from landing on the floor. “Man, I must be numb from the waist down.”
He raises a brow. “I hope not. For your sake.”
I wiggle my eyebrows. “We might have to do some experiments later just to be sure. I don’t want to wet my pants and not know.”
He makes a serious expression, then we both break out laughing.
“You’re funny, Laura,” he says.
“That’s me. Laura Bush. Comedienne!”
At lease that’s what it says on my fake ID. Minus the comedienne part.
Another song pops out the speakers. I recognize the band, a grebo band called Pop Will Eat Itself.
“Oh, my God!” I shout. “I must dance to the Poppers. You should know them, they’re from England.”
“But I’m not from England,” Roderick says as I drag him out to the dance floor.
“What?” I scream.
“Nothing,” he screams back.
We start off moving fast and distant. The boy has a few moves, which is more than what I can say for myself. I don’t dance well, and when I’m shit-faced I do even worse. Mostly I pinwheel my arms and stomp my feet. Others on the dance floor glare at me, probably wondering what asylum I escaped from. Fuck ‘em. I swing closer, not caring if I hit them. A fight might spice up the night.
But Roderick probably cares. He manages to place his hands on my hips and brings me closer. My spinning arms settle on his shoulders. Our hips together, we grind slowly to the fast music. I look deep into his sweet blue eyes. Smiles play on our faces until our lips come together in a kiss. Laced with rum and coke, his lips move so sweet and smooth over mine. I pull him closer and take his tongue. He grunts and grinds his stiffness against my lower belly. I reach down and show him my appreciation.
Roderick breaks apart and looks around the dance floor. Worry crosses his face. No one is watching. No one cares.
“Maybe I should get us a cab?” he asks.
I have Rick right where I want him. We’re in our apartment, in our bed. The lights are off. My head rests on his chest and my ear on his heartbeat. It almost matches my own by now. As soon as we came home from Medical Center, I took a shower and crawled into bed. Rick was waiting and watching TV. As soon as I curled up against him he turned off the television.
“And you’re sure it was Darby?” he whispers.
“Baby, I can never forget that girl.”
“Okay, but why do you think you’re pregnant?”
“Because, the last time I was pregnant she was there. She told me she couldn’t come around and that I would have been a good mother to her,” I say.
“So…Darby was supposed to be the baby you were pregnant with a few years ago? Like, I don’t know. Her soul was supposed to go in the baby?”
“I guess. I don’t know a lot about this spiritual stuff.”
“But what about the rest of the seizure? The scary guy and the cameras and that fake bedroom? Does that have to do with you being pregnant?”
“The last time I had a vision, Darby was trying to tell me something. To make me remember something before it was too late. Before I could lose her.”
“Yeah. Him. But I remembered too late and killed any chance of Darby being born,” I say. “Maybe she’s doing it again. Maybe she’s trying to make me remember something. Or warn me so that she can be born this time.”
“This is nuts.”
I rub my palm on his chest. “But you believe me.”
“Of course I believe you,” Rick says. “I love you.”
“And the baby?”
“If you’re really pregnant, then yes. I’ll love you and the baby.”
I release a sob and hug him tight. He squeezes me harder and doesn’t let me go, even when I fall asleep.
I open my heavy lids and stare up at the ceiling. My brain feels like it’s sharing the space in my skull with a wet beach towel. I slap my face and rub my eyes, “Ohhhh fuck,” and roll over to the weight at my side. A man’s face. If I could I would open them in shock. He looks familiar so that’s a plus. He’s cute with thick curly hair cut short enough that it doesn’t look like he has ocean waves in his hair. His tan skin is smooth except for where the stubble grows. No, wait. He is familiar. Rodney, right?
I sit up in the strange bed and look around the room. It’s small. Almost like a dorm room. Three doors. A kitchen nook is next to one door directly across from us. The other two are sharing another wall. One of them has to lead to a bathroom. Good to know incase I need to puke. I’m sure I will soon.
I swing my legs over the side of the bed and hug the blanket around my nakedness. I stare at my bald toes. I’m not girlie enough to paint them. I then notice the cheap Bed, Bath, and Beyond garbage pale next to the night table. It’s empty.
My eyes widen and I stand up. I take the blanket and shake it out. Nothing falls to the floor. The only thing on the bed is Rodney over the fitted sheet that managed to stay on after last night. I walk to the other side of the bed and find it clean as well.
“Shit shit shit.”
I look under the bed and all around the room. I even check the bathroom. Nothing’s inside the pail but used tissues and an empty toothpaste box. Could he have flushed it down the toilet last night?
I rush back to the bed and press my foot to his skinny butt. “Hey, Rodney. Wake up.”
He groans and rolls over. “Laura?”
Laura? Oh right.
“Yeah, Laura. Wake up.”
He sits up and smiles, staring at my body. Suddenly self-conscious, I find my T-shirt on the floor and slip it on.
“Don’t be shy on my account,” he says.
“Where is it?” I ask.
“Where is what?”
“The condom you used last night. I can’t find it.”
“We didn’t use one.”
I throw my hands down and look up to the ceiling. “Ohhhhhh.”
“What? You said you were clean and so am I.”
I sit on the bed and hold my hands.
“How could you do it without a condom?” I ask.
“I asked if you had one and you said no,” he said.
“Did you have one?”
“No. I’m not the one that expects sex right away with every girl I meet. Normally I wait a few days and prepare.”
“This is so not good,” I say into my hands.
“Don’t worry. I didn’t – you know – inside you. And I cleaned you up after every time.”
“Stupid, all you need is one drop to get me pregnant.”
“Oh. Right. But…I’m pretty sure I didn’t…I mean…”
The blood drains from my head as the world turns black and white. “I think I’m going to be sick.”
“Seriously?” he asks.
I belch and the bile rushes up my throat. I make a run for the bathroom.
“Wait, that’s not the-”
I shove open the door, slamming it to the wall. I make it two steps before the puke drops on the hardwood floor. A man screams out in disgust. I continue to stand with my hands on my bent knees as last night’s food rushes out.
“Oh, my God,” Rodney says behind my back. “Are you okay?”
“Dude, what the fuck?” the other guy asks.
Saliva and bile dripping down my chin, I straighten up to see another guy around Rodney’s age with sleep-spiked hair sitting on a bed. He wears a white tank and a disgusted expression while under the blanket. I realize I’m not in the bathroom.
“Jeez, Roddy,” the guy on the bed says, “You sure can pick ‘em.”
I can’t argue with that.
I step out of the apartment building and zipper my leather jacket. The neighborhood seems familiar. I peek between the apartment buildings and recognize the ones in the distance. I think that’s Newport Tower. The mall should be next to it. The street sign reads Eerie Street. Yeah, I ended up in Jersey City. At least I didn’t wake up in the Bronx or Queens. I can just take the PATH back into the city and then a taxi.
I walk south towards Sixth Street, which should then take me to the PATH train. After a few blocks I find a Duane Reade that conquers the whole corner of the block. I enter through the glass door and wonder if it’s even open. The time on my phone says 10:13 AM. All the yuppies and kids should be at work and school. Fine. The less action to bother my head ache the better.
I walk down the aisles and read the signs until I find the one for Family Planning. The morning-after pills are conveniently placed between the condoms and the pregnancy tests. Nice marketing. I pick up each brand and figure out what’s best. They all proudly state how they work if one uses it soon after conception. I decide on the most expensive brand. Better safe than sorry.
I flinch to the person next to me. A guy. I don’t think I know anyone who lives in Jersey City. He looks familiar, though. He’s almost six feet tall, decent build, and moppy dark hair. His skin is tan for this time of year. Maybe he has some Latino in him. Oh, shit. Now I know.
“Rick,” I say. “Oh, my God. How you doing?”
Last summer when I was dating Parker we used to hang out with his friend Rick from school and his girlfriend Lorelei. After Parker and I broke up, Lorelei and I kept in touch through texting and always promised to hang out. So far it never worked out.
Rick sighs and smiles. He looks tired like he’s been up all night.
“I’m okay,” he says. “Hanging in there.”
“Is Lorelei with you?”
“No, she’s home sleeping.”
“I know, right.”
I remember what I’m holding in my hand and casually move it behind my back. Rick holds something, too. I catch the word EPT. A pregnancy test?
“So you hear from Parker?” he asks.
“God, no. We’re so over.”
“That’s too bad. You two seem so good together.”
“Not like you and Lorelei,” I say. “You guys are like concrete.”
“Well, we’ve been through a lot. That might have something to do with it.”
A few months ago I told Parker about my psychic ability. He thought I was crazy and wanted me to seek help. Yeah, like I was going to be able to save that relationship.
“I guess when one person doesn’t accept a person for who they are, they can’t last long,” I say.
“True,” Rick says.
He smiles. I smile back.
“I miss hanging out with you guys,” I say.
“We do, too. Lorelei brings you up a lot.”
“Yeah. We keep in contact. It’s been hard trying to get together.”
“She has her crazy work schedule and I’m always doing stuff at night for school. Feels like we don’t even have time for ourselves.”
“And my life has been…complicated.”
“Don’t worry,” Rick says. “We’ll figure something out.”
“Yeah. Of course. I’d like that.”
He smiles wider and stares down at the box in his hand.
“We might have some good news soon,” he says. “It would be great if you can celebrate with us.”
I have to get out of here. I’m so not in the mood hearing about how wonderful their life is even though it hard on them. Not that I’m jealous. Ah, yeah, I’m jealous. If I could only find someone to help me deal with the sack of garbage I call my life.
I nod and hug him.
“Definitely,” I say. “I better get going. Don’t want to be late. I mean, I have to be somewhere.”
I move down the aisle and wave to Rick. He waves back and focuses on the pregnancy test in his hand. I’m sure the good news rests inside the box. I smile and hope I’m right.
I board the 33rd Street PATH train and sit down. I snag a seat with an empty space on either side of me. No wedging between two large or smelly people. It’s one of the many reasons why I hate public transportation and insist on taking taxies instead. I used to ride a bike but I lost it a few months ago at a crime scene.
A few people in business clothes blend in with working and lower class Joes. A homeless man enters the car from the connecting one. He doesn’t look in bad shape. Not too dirty or unhealthy. Maybe he’s been taking advantage of state programs and charities. He holds his Dunkin Donuts cup out, quietly walks down the car, and shakes it for change. The car is so empty that people don’t have to move out of his way. He’s able to weave through the few standing people. Most of them ignore him.
He stops in front of me sitting at the middle of the train. He smiles and shows off his two missing teeth, one on the top and one on the bottom. I smile back and reach into my pocket. I only have thirteen dollars and some coin change in my jacket pocket. I separate the singles from the ten and drop the ten into the cup.
“God bless, sister” he mumbles over the rumble of the moving train.
I nod and pocket the singles. No taxi for me.
As the train speeds up, slows down, stops, and speeds up again in the tunnel under the river, I close my eyes and try not to fall asleep. Last thing I need is to wake up at 33rd Street which is far out of the way for home.
I feel the car stop. The computer voice announces Christopher Street. I listen to the people move in and out. Someone sits next to me and…
…a fist punches me in the eye…I stumble back and hit a brick wall…a mean looking Asian kid in a jump suit yanks my arm…he throws me to the alley floor…I try to crawl away…something hard slams into my arm…a baseball bat…breaking sensation…tingles up my shoulder…a siren…people run away…screams…
I open my eyes. An Asian kid sits at my side. His eye is puffed and bruised, he has a cut on his brow, and his arm is in a cast. He wears a satin gold jacket, jeans, and red Doc’s. Our eyes connect. I go to turn away, but he does it for me.
The train announces 9th Street. I lift myself up and move to the doors, grabbing onto the metal railing. I leave the train and remember another reason why I hate public transportation.
Later that morning I enter my West Street condo. I hang my coat up on the rack by the door and shuffle to the kitchen. My body feels stretched and worn. I take a water bottle out from the refrigerator and bring it to the island table. Before opening the Plan B box, I read the back of it one more time. It says that the pill is most effective if I take it within 24 hours. If Rodney truly did do what he said he did last night back at his apartment then I should be even finer. God, I hope he did. The last thing I need to be is pregnant. Images of me being a mother pop into my head. All bad images. There I am sitting on the couch, passed out, while the baby walks around and plays with knives or sticks its fingers in a light socket. Headlines flash through my mind: Famed Child Artist Arrested For Murder And Child Neglect.
Yeah. Mother of the year material.
I wash the pill down with the water and leave the mess on the tabletop.
On the couch, I pull the blanket over my shivering body and curl up on my side. The apartment is so quiet with the exception of the morning traffic. No Grandpa dressing for work, no Corey getting ready for school, just me panting on the couch and hoping I don’t throw up.
I’m still on the couch and watching the afternoon news. I haven’t cleaned up the puke yet. I managed to open the windows earlier so the smell isn’t that bad. Most of the morning I doze in and out. My eyes have been open for at least twenty minutes now. I don’t think they’ll close again. Sourness hides in my stomach, but my headache has left. I really should brush my teeth, it tastes like a corpse exploded in my mouth, but I can’t bring myself to move.
Most of the news focuses on some big murder down in New Jersey. A police Lieutenant named James Waterson was killed last night. His wife found him dead when she returned from a business trip earlier in the morning. The poor bastard was shot in the head with a small caliber gun. The news keeps going on and on about how great this Waterson was; a real pillar of the community.
And why am I watching this shit?
I grab the remote and click the channel button. “Fuck ‘im. Who cares?” I settle on the Cartoon Network and watch a couple of slackers work in a park. Shit, my lids are starting to feel heavy again.
The door buzzer blares through the apartment.
I open my eyes and a heavy sensation slaps my head like I’ve just woken from a deep dreamless sleep. I stay on the couch with no intention of rising.
The buzzer goes off again and again and again. The God damn freak is leaning on it now. Who the fuck wants to talk to me that bad?
I scream out and roll off the couch. I stomp to the door as the world spins around. A few times I bump into the furniture and the walls. At the intercom I slam my hand on the TALK button.
“What the fuck?” I scream.
“Miki?” a girl asks.
“Who do you think it is? I’m the only one that lives here.”
“It’s Miranda. Can I come up?”
No, I want to say. But knowing Miranda she’ll keep buzzing the door until I let her in and I don’t think I have the strength or concentration to rip this intercom box from my wall.
I poke the OPEN button and unlock the door to the unit. I walk into the kitchen, grab a bottle of water from the fridge, and press it to my head, hoping to kill the headache that snuck back into my skull.
“Miki?” Miranda asks.
“In here,” I croak.
She turns the corner into the kitchen and her smile drops like a piano out a window. Today she wears her long, light brown hair up in a French braid. I wonder who did it for her. Maybe one of the resident psychics from Elite. Surely not Gray. She crosses her arms on top of her overcoat. Underneath I can see she’s wearing one of her traditional ankle length sundresses.
“Dear, God. You look horrible,” she says. “Are you okay?”
“No.” I open the bottle and sip the cold water. It chills all the way down to my stomach. I should have taken a warm bottle from under the counter.
She places her bag on the island at the center of the kitchen and flashes a smile as if there’s nothing wrong in the world. How I wish I can be that stupid.
“I tried calling you all night, but you didn’t answer your phone,” Miranda says.
“Did you? I didn’t check messages yet.”
A silent moment in the kitchen. I sip water and Miranda looks around my messy condo.
“Oh, Miki.” She steps over and places her hand on my cheek. “What is going on with you?”
I push her arm away and walk off to my work area. Well, maybe I shouldn’t call it a work area. I haven’t finished a painting, least of all a sketch, in a long time. The only kind of work that leans against the walls is unfinished canvasses of half-assed attempts.
“Nothing’s going on with me,” I say.
“Miki, we’re worried about you. Gray and I were talking…”
“Great, my friends are talking about me behind my back.”
“We weren’t talking behind your back. It wasn’t like that at all.”
“And what did you and Gray have to say about me?” I ask, wandering to a window that looks out to West Street.
“We think you should talk to someone.”
“I talk to people all the time. I’m talking to you right now.”
“That’s not what I mean. We think you should talk to a professional.”
I turn to her and flinch. “A shrink?”
“Well, yes. Exactly.” She smiles.
“Fuck that. What am I going to talk to a shrink about?”
“About your father.”
“Oh right. Sure. I’m going to talk to a shrink about my insane father. Right, right. How do you think something like that would go? Maybe they’ll call the cops on me, huh? Maybe they can arrest me for aiding a murderer and, shit, why not arrest me for murder. By that point I already confessed to it.”
“I know how you…”
I rush to her and hold up my hand as if shielding from her words. “Do not tell me you know how I feel. No one knows how I fell and they never will.”
“So what’s the answer? You’re just going to drink yourself to death?”
I throw my hand at her. “I’m not going to die.”
“Yeah, sure. You drown your brain in alcohol and probably wake up in strange men’s beds the next morning. Is that what you want?”
I give her my back and shrug.
“Maybe it is what you want. Or maybe you’ll find the easy way out like your father did and have someone kill you.”
I squeeze the water bottle so hard the contents splash the floor.
“I’ll be praying for you,” she whispers.
I listen to Miranda gather her belongings and leave the condo. A surge of anger whips through my limbs, making me throw the plastic bottle. It doesn’t reach very far. It just lies their limp, drained, and crushed on the floor. Kind of the way I feel.
I wake up the next morning, keep my eyes closed, and reach to the side for Rick. The bed is empty. I open my eyes. Sunlight leaks in through the blinded windows. A saw or something runs in the distance as if someone’s working on a repair or a renovation down the street.
“Rick,” I call out, hoping my voice reaches the front room of the apartment.
I grab my phone from the night table and check for messages. A text from Rick: BRB went to RX store.
I lie back down and stretch out under the cozy blankets. Sleeping late in the morning is my favorite part of the day and the few perks of working nights at a diner. I remember that it’s Wednesday. I don’t think Rick has a class until noon. I smile, touched that he got up early to go to the store. My eyes wander the walls. Rick made most of the framed pictures mixed up with art by Alex Maleev and Charles Burns. He’s been obsessed with this comic he’s been working on called Munki Moo Moo. He drew amazing pictures of a teen black girl with a weird looking white baby, strange hooded monsters with killer claws, and a redheaded rock God. I can stare for hours at the pictures. I can’t believe that such talent comes out of my love’s head.
The front door opens and closes. Footsteps approach the bedroom. Rick walks in and smiles. He wears a pair of paint-stained jeans and a Sonic Youth T under an open flannel shirt.
“Good, you’re up.”
He crawls onto the bed and kisses me deep. I hold the back of his head, not wanting to let him go; the boy is so damn tasty in the morning. He then lays on the bed and hands me a small brown paper bag.
“For you,” he says.
I open the bag and spot the pregnancy test inside. “Such a gentleman.”
“Why you love me.” He rubs my belly over the blanket. “Did you pee yet?”
“No. I have to though.”
“Good. Says the first pee is the best one for it.”
“Will you help me?” I ask.
He wiggles his eyebrows. “Of course.”
We enter the bathroom between the bedroom and the kitchen. I take the test out of the box and hand the directions to Rick.
“Says here you have to pee on it,” he says.
“Fuck that,” I say. “Why would anyone want to pee on a stick? I might pee on myself.”
“Oh, you can’t control your stream?”
I flip him a sour expression.
“Really? Even though you know how to do those things with your vagina?” he asks and smiles.
“Hand me a cup over there, you goof ball.” I roll my eyes. “We can dip the stick in the cup.”
Rick hands me a plastic Dixie cup. I hold it under my woo woo as I squat over the toilet. The strangest fascination crosses his face.
“What?” I laugh and feel my cheeks flush.
“Sorry. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you pee before. Kinda sexy.”
“Well, don’t expect me to do it like this very often. Normally I sit.”
I hand him the half-filled cup and pull up my panties. Rick checks out the directions one more time and dips the end of the absorbent tip in my pee for twenty seconds. He then places the cap on and lays it on the edge of the sink.
“Says we should know in thirty seconds,” he says. “If it makes a plus that means you’re a momma and I’m a baby’s daddy.”
I pace around the small bathroom, knocking Rick into the sink. “God, did this room shrink?”
“What’s wrong with you?”
“Sweetie, I’m about to find out if I’m pregnant, I’m a little nervous.”
He opens the door. I rush into the spacious kitchen. Rick holds the test flat, glances at it, and follows.
“Is it ready?” I ask.
“Ten more seconds, I think.”
I open up the cabinets and start making coffee. By the time I have the grinds ready and my finger on the start button, Rick says:
“Ready?” he asks.
I breathe deep, lean on the counter, and cross my arms. “Okay.”
“It says…you’re sexy.”
I glare at him and reach out for the test. He pulls it away.
“Rick, stop fucking around, now.”
“I’m serious. It says you are one sexy MILF.”
I move into his arms. He hugs me and smiles.
“It’s positive?” I ask.
“We’re going to have a baby,” he says.
He shows me the test and the plus sign is there in all its purple glory. I smile and release a nervous chuckle.
“Oh, my God,” I say.
He kisses me light and sweet on my cheek.
I hold him so tight and whimper. “I so can’t believe this.” I push off of him but not away. I focus on the test, just in case it turned negative while I wasn’t watching.
“You know what we have to do next, right?” asks Rick.
“I’ll call my doctor and set up an appointment. He’s probably going to want to give me a blood test to be sure.”
“Yeah. But we’re going to have to get married.”
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In the 8th book of M.E. Purfield’s addictive noir fantasy series, two characters from two different novels come together to find a killer and break a chain of evil. Miki Radicci, a teen psychic who can experience one’s pain and death, lives in Manhattan where she tries to drown her past sins and guilt. Lorelei Cox (Party Girl Crashes the Rapture), a recovering addict, lives in Jersey City with her one true love and works as a waitress, far from the dark past that almost killed her. When Lorelei is accused of killing a police officer, Miki spares no expense in helping her friend prove her innocence. Soon both girls discover a child pornography ring and also that they share a demon that will bind them forever.