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Authors: David Zimmerman

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BOOK: Caring Is Creepy
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“That’s the sound of my stomach eating on itself.” Travis made his horrible giggle again, like a ten-year-old troll girl.

“That be the case, bo, you ain’t got nothing to worry about for a while. You could live off that belly for a month or two.”

“Fuck you.”

“Fuck you yourself.”

“And if you don’t quit with that bo shit, I’ll take up calling you
Wenzell again. I noticed bo is what you always call people you’re fixing to punch. Don’t be calling me that. It’s like you calling me bitch or something.”

“No, you dumbass. It ain’t nothing like the same thing,” Burns said. “For somebody so ugly, you sure are sensitive.”

“I’d like to see you say something like that to Butthole.”

“Bah.” Burns paused for a couple beats. “Who?”

“Butthole Gibbs. You know. The one who laid down the law over in Jasper that time. Marty might bring him up to do a job on Hayes.”

Burns grunted and said, “Nuh-uh, I don’t recall nothing about that.”

Travis told him last fall the Higgins brothers held up a high-stakes poker game. The night they came, there was almost forty grand on the table. The man who ran the game called up Marty after it happened, pissed off because he paid Marty to provide protection, and so Marty called Butthole and said for him to fix the ones who did it. The older Higgins boy’s mask slipped when he was scooping the cash up off the table or they might of gotten away clean. Half the room had a good, long look at him by the time he shoved it back in place. A week later and he was in the hospital, a stuttering idjit with half a dozen broken bones. Butthole split his head open and all of elementary school fell out. They never found the younger one, but Travis heard he’d poured lighter fluid in the kid’s mouth and set him alight. The oddest part of all, according to him, was that Butthole lived forty minutes away in a little house in Garden City with his mama. Every Sunday morning he bought her a fresh bouquet of pink carnations and took her to the early service at Second Baptist. Supposedly, even his mama called him Butthole.

The two stopped talking. A car rolled slowly down the road. I’ll be damned if I didn’t hear them scramble behind the holly bushes next to the door. As the headlights strafed the windows,
their shadows hunched and fattened against the blinds. I hoped to God it wasn’t my mom coming home. Somewhere close, gravel crunched and a bad muffler farted twice and then the engine quit. A car door slammed. Maybe next door. Then a man started humming an aimless tune. Mr. Cannon. His screen door creaked open and shut, bouncing three times before it came to rest. I smiled to think of those two getting jumpy over Mr. Cannon, who always put me in mind of a pink trash bag filled with mashed potatoes.

“We best be getting on soon,” Travis said. “That was close.”

Baby’s Got a New Pair of Shoes

T
he first thing my mom said when she came home an hour or so later was, “Did you try on your new shoes?”

“No,” I said.

“Try them on. Let’s see.”

“Mom, did you get my message?”

Mom frowned.

“I told Carla it was urgent.”

She jammed one of the sneakers on my left foot, but it was a right shoe. “Hmm, that don’t fit like it should,” she said. “I hope I got your size. Eight, right? Hurry up now, I’ve got to go back and finish my shift.”

“Are you listening to me, Mom? It’s important.” I pinched her on the thigh. She thumped me on the forehead with a finger. I took the shoe from her and put it on the right foot. “Mom,” I said.

Mom let out a little whoop when she saw the shoe fit.

I put my face right up to hers and said, “Mom, some scary men came by an hour ago. I tried to call the nurses’ station three times, but it was busy. Didn’t Carla say nothing to you? She said she’d tell you.”

“No, Carla didn’t tell me noth—” Her face froze. She dropped the other shoe in her lap. “What’d they look like?” she asked in a tight voice.

“I didn’t see them. I only heard them through the mail slot.” I
told her what they’d said, especially the part about Butthole. “One of them was called Travis.”

“Travis?” Mom said, pinching the tip of her nose. “I don’t know.”

Either the name rang a bell and it worried her, or it didn’t, and this worried her more.

Advice

“H
e came,” I whispered to Dani. I was sitting on the seat of the toilet with the phone to my ear. My mom was still up watching TV.

“I hope he didn’t ruin your dress.” She made a smirking sound, a cross between a croak and a snicker.

“Oh, please.”

“Is he a hunk or a gunk?”

“Can you hear that?”

“What?” She sounded suspicious.

“It’s only just the sound of my heart melting.” I laughed when I said it, but it felt true enough.

“Oh, Lord Jesus,” she said and groaned. “Well, your heart sounds like a bathroom sink running to me. What’s the scoop?”

“Longish blond hair, good nose, muscles but not gross Schwarzenegger ones. Smells good. Nice kisser.”

Dani squealed. I held the phone away from my ear. “Did you do it?” she asked.

I said nothing. The jealous sound in her voice made me smile extra wide at myself in the steamed-up mirror. I ran a brush through my hair and examined the blackheads on my nose.

“Well, did you?”

“Sure. Just like you said. Right under the giant shrub shaped like Jesus’ head.”

“You did?” I think she almost believed it, not that she’d admit it in a billion years.

“No, we hung out in a flower patch behind an old barn and drank wine. I mean, come on. What do you think? It was our first—”

“Second, if you count the online one.”

“—and anyway,” I said, ignoring her, “I’m not doing it for the very first time in a weed patch, squishing bugs with my bare butt.”

“I thought you said flowers.” She made a
got you
noise. “Think you’ll do it next time?”

“We haven’t scheduled a next time yet.”

“Oh, but you will, I know it. Now you’ve had a taste of the forbidden fruit, there’s no turning back.”

“What movie is that from?” I said, thinking his kisses tasted more like forbidden Boone’s berries.

“None.” She laughed, a bright, tinny sound. “I’ve been reading one of my mom’s Scottish time-travel romance novels. That’s how bored I am, cooped up in the house all day.”

I knew for a fact she read them all the time. And loved them.

“I don’t know if I’m ready to do it yet,” I said, chewing my cheek and wondering if this was true. “Probably not.”

“When you
do
do it, make lots of sounds.”

“Why?”

“Men like it.”

“How do you know?”

“I read it in
Vogue
.”

“I thought you said not to.”

“Only at first, when he tears the flesh of your hymen. Afterward, yes. Double yes.”

I yelped at this.

“Be more realistic come mating season or you’ll sound like a
piglet.” Then she cleared her throat in a way that told me something serious was coming up next. “Something happened.”

“Oh, shit,” I said, “not another e-mail.”

“No, maybe something worse, or I don’t know, Lynn. Maybe you’re right. Maybe I should tell my dad.”

“You don’t have to tell him the whole story.”

“I saw somebody spying on me through the bat cave window.”


What?
” I nearly yelled.

“Yeah, I was painting my toenails around nine thirty with this new ice-blue polish I swiped from my mom and I heard this sound, this—” She ran her fingernail along the side of the phone so it made a hollow scraping sound. “When I looked up, I could swear I saw the shadow of a head and I screamed. I must of sounded pretty scared ’cause my dad came running down the stairs. When I told him, he ran out there lickety-split with his shotgun.”

“Damn,” I said in a hushed voice. “Did he—”

“No, but he thinks he found footprints. There’s a new flower bed beside the window and the landscaping guys did something up there the morning before so the dirt’s all loose.”

“Jesus Christ.”

“I know. Dad called the police and they said they’d have someone circle the neighborhood a few times tonight.”

“Can’t they do anything else?”

“No, it pissed my dad off like nobody’s business. He raved and ranted about how he’s going to blow the guy’s head off. The police can’t do nothing at all unless we catch the guy red-handed or he actually does something.”

“Like—”

“Yeah, tear me a hole I can’t fix.”

You Did What, Now?

I
went to bed after talking to Dani. Early Sunday morning, the cell phone rang under my pillow. The clock said 3:30
A.M
. I near about ignored it, not being in the mood for any more Dani drama. But when I looked, it was Logan Loy.

“Lynn Marie?” he said, not sounding quite right. Even though I loved that he called me by both my names (nobody but my mom did that and usually only when pissed off), I also felt something hard and prickly doing angry laps around my stomach lining.

“Yeah?” I said. “Is something wrong, Logan? You don’t sound—”

“Remember I told you about that sergeant? One who knows that old man we saw out by Cobbtown? His brother or cousin or something?”

“Mmm-hmm.” I thumbed away some sleep from my eye.

“Your nosy old man called him up. I’m looking at a buttload of trouble. He told me, tomorrow morning I’ve got to go up.” He breathed in wisps and wheezes. “They’re going to article my ass. I know it. I fucking know it. I’m dead, honey.”

“Slow down, Logan. What do you mean, articled?”

“I hauled off and thumped him one. Just the once, but it knocked him clean out. Now I’m well and truly fucked. Backwards, sideways, you name it.”

“You did what, now?” I asked.

Logan spoke so fast it was hard to follow what he said. I’m not
even sure he heard me because he kept right on talking. “I lost my shit and ran. I’m on I-16 now, going near about ninety miles per hour.”

“Man, you best slow down or the regular police will drag you in.”

“You’re right, you’re right. I didn’t even think of that. I knew you were a smart one the first time I talked to you.”

Despite the circumstances, I couldn’t help but feel a gush of pride. “What are you going to do now?”

“I don’t know. Run.”

“But where? You got friends you can stay with?”

“Uh. My grandma.”

“Oh, Logan, you can’t go there. That’ll be one of the first places they come looking.”

As it turned out, he was only about three miles from the Metter exit. I told him he might as well just come here for the night. He could figure out what to do in the morning. Nobody would think to look for him at my house. He wasn’t all that sure about it, but I added that Mom wasn’t home, and then all at once he was.

“You saved me, girl.” He nearly sang this to me, like the sweetest gospel song ever sung and aimed straight into my ear.

Should I Really Let Logan Loy
Spend the Night?
Yes
No
I’m ready to lose it
I’m not ready to lose it
He can protect us against creeps
He might be a creep
I’m lonely
He could be really crazy
He seems kind
It’s only the one night
He might be faking it
Mom could find out
I’ll do it before Dani
Dani might tell people
He’s the sexiest thing ever
He might snore or have nasty feet
He’s 25
He might think I’m a baby
I’m ready to lose it
I’m not ready to lose it
3:46 to 3:47
AM

L
ogan said he’d only talk for a minute and he meant exactly that. He wanted to make sure I hadn’t changed my mind and where I wanted to meet him. I told him to park where he did before. I’d be waiting.

“Are you ready for me?” he said. “I’m passing the town limits.”

“I can’t wait,” I said.

“Good,” he said. “I have a surprise for you.”

Sort of Green

I
hugged my knees and leaned against a pine tree. The late night air didn’t move an inch. Like instead of oxygen, the air was made of chocolate syrup. Tree frogs sang sex songs one to one to one, from this end of town to the other. By the time I saw those headlights wash across the lot up on the hill, I’d near about lost control of my entire body.

“You alright?” he asked once he got closer. His smile was bright as beer neon as he swung his duffle off his shoulder. “You’re looking sort of green.”

“I … it’s the streetlight.”

With that, he folded me up in his arms. I never thought a man’s sweaty pits could smell so good. Logan kissed the top of my head and held me out at arm’s length to take a look at me. My huge, new feelings for him filled me up to the crown of my head. Any doubts I had about him staying flew out my ear right then.

“Are you sure this’ll be alright?” he said, smiling and smiling. I gave him a dozen or two smiles right back. “It’d only be for the one night. I’ll be out of your hair before the sun rises. I won’t try anything unseemly. I’ll be as quiet as a mouse.”

“We just can’t let my mom find out. She’d kill me. You too.”

“Where you going to stash me? Under the bed?” He linked his arm through mine. “Remember, I’m a mouse. Mice are easy.”

“Yeah?” I said.

“They require very little space.”

So I told him about the little room behind my closet.

“Sure enough,” Logan Loy said.

Princess Lynn Marie

L
ogan lugged in his green duffle bag and I hid it under my bed. I had to mash it down before it would fit. We sat down on top of the comforter and looked at each other. It was hot in the house, as usual, and sweat dotted his upper lip. It was all I could do not to kiss it away. I swayed on the bed. The room spun a bit.

“Where’s your mom at?”

“I don’t know. Work maybe. She told me when she’d be home, but I forgot.” I really did. I searched my head for the answer, but it had completely up and vanished. It took every last one of my powers of concentration just to listen to what he was saying.

BOOK: Caring Is Creepy
13.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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