Tuesday, March 12, 2019
The Stupidest Angel Chapter 4
Chapter 4 lead YOURSELF A NASTY LITTLE CHRISTMAS bait wiped the teatimers arrive at his providedtock, took a deep breath, and headed up the walk to his house. He was unbosom shaking from having watch foreverywheren Santa pretend a shovel in the throat, except standardised a shot it occurred to him that it might non be enough to get him tabu of trouble. The prototypal thing his mama would say was, Well, what were you doing out(a)(p) so late anyway? And dumb Brian, who was not Joshs real dad s gondolacely Moms dumb boy patron, would say, Yeah, Santa would probably still be alive if you hadnt stayed so tenacious at Sams house. So, there on the antecedent step, he mulish to go with total hysteria. He started breathing hard, pumping up most tears, got a good whimpering sob liberation, hence opened the room access with a dieseling back sniffle. He fell onto the welcome mat and permit loose with a full fire-truck-siren wail. And nothing happened. No ane say a word . No one came running.So Josh crawled into the sustainment room, tracking a enough fiber-optic string of drool from his lower mouth to the carpet as he chanted a mucusy Momma, cognizeing that it would on the whole disarm her temper and get her only fired up to nourish him from dumb Brian, for whom he had no magic earthipulation chant. But zero called him, nobody came running, dumb Brian was not sprawled across the couch corresponding the large(p) sleepy slug that he was.Josh wound it spatewardly. Mom? mediocre the hint of a sob there, ready to go full wear again when she answered. He went into the kitchen, where the memo light was blinking on Moms machine. Josh wiped his nose on his sleeve and add the neverthelesston.Hi, Joshy, his mom state, her cheerful all overtired voice. Brian and I had to go out to eat with some buyers. Theres a Stouffers mac and tall mallow in the freezer. We should be home before eight. Do your homework. Call my cubicle if you get scared .Josh couldnt believe the luck. He checked the clock on the microwave. Only seven-thirty. Excellent Latch-keyed loose gradered a magic elf. Yes still Brian had come through with a business dinner. He grabbed the Stouffers out of the freezer, popped it corner and all into the microwave, and hit the pre good deal time. You didnt really book to peel the ductile back manage they verbalise. If you notwithstanding nuke it in the box, the cardboard allow keep it from exploding all over the microwave when the formative goes. Josh didnt go to sleep why they didnt scarcely put that in the instructions. He went back into the living room, fermented on the TV, and plopped down on the floor in anterior of it to wait for the microwave to beep.Maybe he should call Sam, he thought. see to it him slightly Santa. But Sam didnt believe in Santa. He utter that Santa was exactly something the goys made up to make them feel bringter or so not having a menorah. That was crap, o f course. Goys (a Jewish word for girls and boys, Sam had explained) didnt want a menorah. They wanted toys. Sam was just saying that because he was mad because alternatively of Christmas they had snipped the tip of his penis off and verbalize mazel tov.Wow, sucks to be you, tell Josh.Were the Chosen, said Sam.Not for kickballShut up.No, you shut up.No, you shut up.Sam was Joshs best friend and they on a lower floorstood each other, entirely would Sam k at one time what to do around a murder? Especially a murder of an important someone? You were supposed to go to an adult in these situations, Josh was pretty accepted of it. Fire, an injured friend, a bad touch, you were supposed to tell an adult, a parent, a teacher, or a police composition, and no one would be mad at you. (But if you found your moms boyfriend lighting a giant chili-dog-and-beer fart in the garage workshop, the police absolutely did not want to k immediately about it. Josh had learned that lesson the hard way .)A commercial came on, and Joshs mac and high mallow was still surfing the microwaves, so he debated calling 911 or praying, and decided to go with the prayer. Like calling 911, you werent supposed to pray for just anything. For instance, theology did not care whether or not you got your bandicoot through the fire direct on PlayStation, and if you asked for facilitate there, there was a good chance that he would ignore you when you really needed supporter, want for a spelling tryout or if your mom got whoremongercer. Josh reckoned it was sort of like cell-phone proceeding, save this seemed like a real emergency.Our Heavenly Father, Josh began. You never use Gods first name that was like a commandment or something. This is Josh Barker, six-seventy-one Worchester Street, long Cove, California nine-three-seven, flipper-four. I solidus Santa tonight, which was great, and thank you for that, merely then, right after(prenominal) I saw him, he got killed with a shovel, an d so, Im afraid that theres not going to be any Christmas and Ive been good, which Im for sure youll see if you check Santas list, so if you dont sagacity could you please make Santa come back to life and make everything fine for Christmas? No, no, no, that sounded really selfish. Quickly he added And a Happy Hanukkah to you and all the Jewish people like Sam and his family. Mazel tov. There. Perfect. He felt up a rope better.The microwave beeped and Josh ran to the kitchen, right into the legs of a really tall man in a long black coat who was standing by the counter. Josh screamed and the man took him by the arms, picked him up, and looked him over like he was a gemstone or a really tasty dessert. Josh kicked and squirmed, but the blond man held him fast.Youre a child, said the blond man.Josh halt kicking for a second and looked into the impossibly blue eyes of the stranger, who was now studying him in more the same way a retain might examine a por get across television whi le question how to get all those tasty circumstantial people out of it.Well, duh, said Josh.The Christmas tree took a wide left onto Cypress Street. Finding that somewhat suspicious, Constable Theophilus Crowe pulled in behind it as he dug the infinitesimal blue light out of the glove compartment of his Volvo and stuck it on the roof. Theo was relatively sure that there was a vehicle under the Christmas tree somewhere, but all he could see right now were the taillights shining through the branches in the back. As he followed the tree up Cypress, past the burger stand and Brines Bait, Tackle, and beautiful Wines, a wastecone the size of a Nerf football broke loose and turn off to the side of the street, bouncing and thumping into one of the gas pumps.Theo hit the siren one time, just a chirp, intending hed better catch this before someone got hurt. There was no way that the driver under the Christmas tree could see the road clearly. The tree was driving trunk first, so the w idest, thickest branches were shell outing the front of the vehicle. The trees tires chirped with a downshift. It killed the lights and screeched around the corner on Worchester Street, going away a trail of rolling pinecones and pine-fresh eject.Under normal circumstances, if a comical tried to elude Theo, he would oblige called it into the county sheriffs immediately, hoping a deputy in the area might provide backup, but hed be damned if he was going to call in that he was in hot hobbyhorse of a fugitive Christmas tree. Theo turned the siren onto full shriek and took off up the hill after the fleeing conifer, thinking for the fiftieth time that sidereal day that life had seemed a lot easier when hed smoked pot.Boy, you dont see that every day, said Tucker Case, who was sitting at a window table at H.P.s Caf, waiting for Lena to come back from freshening up in the rest-room. H.P.s a blend in of pseudo Tudor and Country Kitchen Cute was Pine Coves most prevalent restau rant, and tonight it was completely packed.The waitress, a pretty redhead in her forties, glanced up from the tray of drinks she was delivering and said, Yeah, Theo hardly ever chases anyone.That Volvo was chasing a pine tree, Tuck said.Could be, said the waitress. Theo used to do a lot of drugs.No, really Tuck tried to explain, but she had headed back to the kitchen. Lena was returning to the table. She was still in the black tank buy the farm under an open flannel shirt, but she had processed the streaks of mud from her face and her dark hair was brushed out around her shoulders. To Tuck she looked like the commovey but tough Indian guide chick in the movies, who always leads the group of nerdy businessmen into the wilderness where they are assaulted by brute(a) rednecks, bears gone mutant from exposure to phosphate laundry detergent, or superannuated Indian spirits with a grudge.You look great, Tuck said. atomic number 18 you autochthonic American?What was the siren ab out? Lena asked, sliding into the seat across from him.Nothing. A traffic thing.This is just so wrong. She looked around, as if everyone k saucy how wrong it was. Wrong.No, its good, Tuck said with a king-size smile, assay to make his blue eyes visible radiation in the candlelight, but forgetting where exactly his twinkle muscles were located. Well have a nice meal, get to hit the hay each other a diminutive.She leaned over the table and whispered harshly, Theres a bloodless man out there. A man I used to be married to.Shh, shh, shh, Tuck shushed, gently placing a finger against her lip, trying to sound comforting and whitethornbe a little European. Now is not the time to lecture of this, my sweet.She grabbed his finger and bent it back. I dont know what to do.Tuck was twisted in his seat, leaning back to redeem the unnatural angle in which his finger was pointing. Appetizer? he suggested. Salad?Lena let go of his finger and covered her face with her hands. I cant do this.Wh at? Its just dinner, said Tuck. No pressure. He had never really dated much gone on dates, that is. Hed met and seduced a lot of women, but it was never over a series of evenings with dinner and conversation usually just some drinks and vulgarity at an airport hotel lounge had done the trick. He felt it was time he behaved like a grown-up get to know a woman before he slept with her. His therapist had suggested it right before shed stop treating him, right after hed hit on her. It wasnt going to be easy. In his experience things went a lot better with women before they got to know him, when they could still project hope and potential on him.We just buried my ex-husband, Lena said.Sure, sure, but then we delivered Christmas trees to the poor. A little perspective, huh? A lot of people have buried their spouses.Not personally. With the shovel they killed him with.You may want to keep it down a little. Tuck checked the diners at the nearby tables to see if they were listening, but they all seemed to be discussing the pine tree that had just driven by. Lets talk about something else. Interests? Hobbies? Movies?Lena tossed her head as if she didnt hear him right, then stared as if to say, argon you nuts?Well, for instance, he pressed on, I rented the strangest movie last night. Did you know that Babes in Toyland was a Christmas movie?Of course, what did you think it was?Well, I thought, well now its your turn. Whats your favorite movie?Lena leaned close to Tuck and searched his eyes to see if he might be joking. Tuck batted his eyelashes, trying to look innocent.Who are you? Lena at last asked.I t doddery you.But, whats wrong with you? You shouldnt be so so calm, while Im a nervous wreck. Have you done this kind of thing before?Sure. Are you kidding? Im a pilot, Ive eaten in restaurants all over the world.Not dinner, you idiot I know youve had dinner before What, are you retarded?Okay, now everybody is looking. You cant just say retarded in public l ike that people take umbrage because, you know, many of them are. Youre supposed to say developmentally disabled. Lena stood up and threw her napkin on the table. Tucker, thank you for helping me, but I cant do this. Im going to go talk to the police.She turned and stormed through the restaurant toward the opening.Well be back, Tuck called to the waitress. He nodded to the nearby tables. Sorry. Shes a little high-strung. She didnt mean to say retarded. so he went after Lena, snatching his leather tip off the back of his chair as he went.He caught up with her as she was rounding the corner of the build into the set lot. He caught her by the shoulder and spun her around, making sure that she saw that he was smiling when she completed the turn. Blinking Christmas lights vie red and verdure highlights across her dark hair, making the scowl she was aiming at him seem festive. let me alone, Tucker. Im going to the police. Ill just explain that it was just an accident.No. I won t let you. You cant.Why cant I?Because Im your alibi.If I turn myself in, I wont need an alibi.I know.Well?I want to spend Christmas with you.Lena softened, her eyes going wide, the tribal sheik of a tear watering up in one eye. actually?Really. Tuck was more than a little uncomfortable with his own satinpod he was standing like someone had just poured hot deep brown in his lap and he was trying to keep the front of his pants from touching him.Lena held out her arms and Tuck walked into them, guiding her hands inside(a) his jacket and around his ribs. He rested his cheek against her hair and took a deep breath, enjoying the smell of her shampoo and the residual pine scent picked up from handling the Christmas trees. She didnt smell like a murderer she smelled like a woman.Okay, she whispered. I dont know who you are, Tucker Case, but I think Id like to spend Christmas with you, too.She buried her face in his chest and held him until there was a thump against his back, fol lowed by a loud scratching noise on his jacket. She pushed him back just as the fruit bat peeked his little bow-wow face over the pilots shoulder and barked. Lena leaped back and screamed like a bunny rabbit in a blender.What in the hell is that? she asked, backing across the parking lot.Roberto, Tuck said. I mentioned him before.This is too weird. Too weird. Lena began to chant and pace in a circle, glancing up at Tuck and his bat every dyad of seconds. She paused. Hes tiring sunglasses.Yeah, and dont think its easy finding Ray-Bans in a fruit-bat medium.Meanwhile, up at the Santa Rosa Chapel, Constable Theophilus Crowe had finally caught up to the fugitive Christmas tree. He trained the headlights of the Volvo on the suspect evergreen and stood behind the car door for cover. If hed had a public-address system he would have used it to issue commands, but since the county had never given him one, he shouted.Get out of the vehicle, hands first, and turn and face meIf hed had a we apon he would have drawn it, but hed left his Glock on the top shelf of his closet next to mollys old nicked-up broadsword. He realized that the car door was actually only providing cover to the lower third of his body, and he reached down and trilled up the window. Then, ruling awkward, he slammed the door and loped toward the Christmas tree.Goddammit, come out of the tree. Right nowHe heard a car window whiz down and then a voice. Oh my, Officer, you are so forceful. A familiar voice. Somewhere under there was a Honda CRV and the woman he had married.Molly? He should have known. Even when she stayed on her meds, as she had promised she would, she could still be chaste. Her term.The branches of the big pine tree shuffled and out stepped his wife, wearing a green Santa hat, jeans, red sneakers, and a jean jacket with studs down the sleeves. Her hair was tied back in a ponytail that trailed down her back. She might have been a biker elf. She rushed out of the branches as if sh e were ducking the blades of a helicopter, then ran to his side. nip at this kingly son of a bitch She gestured to the tree, put her arm around his waist, pulled him close, hunchbacked his leg a little. Isnt it great?It certainly is uh, large. Howd you get it on the car?Took some time. I hoisted it up on some ropes, then host under it. Do you think therell be a flat postal service where it dragged on the road?Theo looked the tree up and down, back and forth, watched the car exhaust boiling out of the branches. He wasnt sure he wanted to know, but he had to ask. You didnt buy this at the hardware store, did you?No, there was a chore with that. But I saved a ton of money. Cut it myself. all totaled my broadsword, but look at this son of a bitch. Look at this glorious bastardYou cut it down with your sword? Theo wasnt so worried about what she had cut it down with, but from where shed cut it. He had a secret in the forest near their cabin.Yeah. We dont have a chain saw that I dont know about, do we?No. rattling they did, in the garage, hidden behind some paint cans. Hed hidden it when her artistic moments had been more frequent. Thats not the problem, sweetie. I think the problem is that its too big.No, she said, walkway the length of the tree now, pausing to jump through the branches and turn off the Hondas engine. Thats where youre wrong. Observe, retell doors into the chapel.Theo observed. The chapel did, indeed, have double doors. There was a single mercury lamp illuminating the gravel parking lot, but he could clearly see the little white chapel, the shadows of gravestones showing dimly behind it a graveyard where theyd been planting Pine Covers for a hundred years.And the ceiling in the briny room is thirty feet tall at the peak. This tree is only cardinal feet tall. We pull it through the doors backward and stand that baby up. Ill need your help, but, you know, you dont mind.I dont?Molly pulled open her jean jacket and flashed Theo, expos ing his favorite breasts, right down to the shiny scar that ran across the top of the right one, cocked up like a curious purple eyebrow. It was like unexpectedly running into two tender friends, both a little pale from being out of the sun, a tad humbled by time, but with alert criticise noses upturned by the night chill. And as quickly as they appeared, the jacket was pulled shut and Theo felt like hed been shut out in the cold.Okay, I dont mind, he said, trying to buy time for the blood to return to his brain. How do you know the ceiling is thirty feet tall?From our wedding pictures. I cut you out and used you to measure the whole building. It was just under five Theos tall.You cut up our wedding pictures?Not the good ones. Come on, help me get the tree off the car. She turned quickly and her jacket strike out out behind her.Molly, I wish you wouldnt go out like that.You mean like this? She turned, lapels in hand.And there they were again, his pink-nosed friends.Lets get the t ree set up and then do it in the graveyard, okay? She jumped a little for emphasis and Theo nodded, following the recoil. He suspected that he was being manipulated, enslaved by his own sexual weakness, but he couldnt quite figure out why that was a bad thing. After all, he was among friends.Sweetheart, Im a public security officer, I cant Come on, it will be nasty. She said nasty like it meant delicious, which is what she meant.Molly, after five years together, Im not sure were supposed to be nasty. But even as he said it, Theo was moving toward the big evergreen, looking for the ropes that secured it to the Honda.Over in the graveyard, the pulseless, who had been listening all along, began to murmur apprehensively about the new Christmas tree and the impending sex show.Theyd heard it all, the dead crying children, wailing widows, confessions, condemnations, questions that they could never answer Halloween dares, raving drunks-invoking the ghosts or just apologizing for drawin g breath would-be witches, chanting at indifferent spirits, tourists pass the old tombstones with paper and charcoal like curious dogs scratching at the grave to get in. Funerals, confirmations, communions, weddings, square dances, heart attacks, junior-high hand jobs, wakes gone awry, vandalism, Handels Messiah, a birth, a murder, eighty-three Passion plays, eighty-five Christmas pageants, a dozen brides barking over tombstones like taffeta sea lions as the best man gave it to them dog style, and now and again, couples who needed something dark and smelling of damp earth to give their sex life a jolt the dead had heard it.Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah Molly cried from her seat astraddle the town constable, who was squirming on an uncomfortable bed of flexible roses a few feet above a dead schoolteacher.They always think theyre the first ones. Ooooo, lets do it in the graveyard, said Bess Leander, whose husband had served her foxglove tea with her last breakfast.I know, there are thre e used condoms on my grave from this week alone, said Arthur Tannbeau, citrus farmer, deceased five years.How can you tell?They heard everything, but their vision was limited.The smell.Thats disgusting, said Esther, the schoolteacher.Its hard to appal the dead. Esther was feigning disgust.Whats all the racket? I was sleeping. Malcolm Cowley, antique book dealer, myocardial infarction over Dickens.Theo Crowe, the constable, and his crazy wife doing it on Esthers grave, said Arthur. Ill bet shes off her meds.Five years theyve been married and theyre still at this kind of thing? Since her death, Bess had taken a strong antirelationship stance.Postmarital sex is so pedestrian. Malcolm again, ever bored with provincial, small-town death.Some postmortem sex, thats what I could use, said the late Marty in the Morning, KGOB radios top DJ with a bullet a pioneer hijack victim back when hair bands ruled the airwaves. A rave in the grave, if you get my meaning.Listen to her. Id like to sl ip the bone to her, said appreciate Antalvo, whod kissed a pole on his Kawasaki to remain ever nineteen.Which one? Marty cackled.The new Christmas tree sounds lovely, said Esther. I do hope they sing in effect(p) King Wenceslas this year.If they do, spouted the moldy book dealer, youll find me justly spinning in my grave.You wish, said Jimmy Antalvo. Hell, I wish.The dead did not spin in their graves, they did not move nor could they speak, except to one another, voices without air. What they did was sleep, awakening to listen, to chat a bit, then, eventually, to never wake again. Sometimes it took twenty years, sometimes as long as forty before they took the big sleep, but no one could remember hearing a voice from longer ago than that. sise feet above them, Molly punctuated her last few convulsive climactic bucks with, I AM SO GOING TO WASH YOUR VOLVO WHEN WE GET HOME YES YES YESThen she sighed and fell forward to nuzzle Theos chest as she cau ght her breath.I dont know what that means, Theo said.It means Im going to wash your car for you.Oh, its not a euphemism, like, wash the old Volvo. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge?Nope. Its your yield.Now that they were finished, Theo was having a hard time ignoring the flexible flowers that were impressed in his utter(a) backside. I thought this was my reward. He gestured to her bare thighs on either side of him, the divots her knees had made in the dirt, her hair played out across his chest.Molly pushed up and looked down at him. No, this was your reward for helping me with the Christmas tree. Washing your car is your reward for this.Oh, Theo said. I love you.Oh, I think Im going to be sick, said a newly dead voice from across the woods.Whos the new guy? asked Marty in the Morning.The radio on Theos belt, which was down around his knees, crackled. Pine Cove Constable, come in. Theo?Theo did an awkward sit-up and grabbed the radio. Go ahead, Dispatch.Theo, we have a two-oh-seven-A at s ix-seven-one Worchester Street. The victim is alone and the suspect may still be in the area. Ive dispatched two units, but theyre twenty minutes out.I can be there in five minutes, Theo said. peculiar is a white male, over six feet, long blond hair, wearing a long black raincoat or overcoat.Roger, Dispatch. Im on my way. Theo was trying to pull his pants up with one hand while work the radio with the other.Molly was on her feet already, naked from the waist down, holding her jeans and sneakers rolled up under her left arm. She extended a hand to help Theo up.Whats a two-oh-seven?Not sure, said Theo, letting her lever him to his feet. Either an attempt kidnapping or a possum with a handgun.You have plastic flowers stuck to your butt.Probably the former, she didnt say anything about shots fired.No, leave them. Theyre cute.