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Authors: David Zimmerman

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BOOK: Caring Is Creepy
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“You think I could take a shower?”

“Yeah, but you have to be quick.”

“Don’t worry.”

Ten minutes later he came back with wet, ruffled hair and the smell of my chocolate ice cream soap on his skin. I got some blankets out of the linen closet and took a pillow off of my bed. We crawled through my closet over old shoes and under hangers jammed with clothes. Behind last year’s too-small church dress, there was a door the size of an opened newspaper with a fake bronze handle that opened onto the attic access. The room was a quarter the size of my bedroom and the ceiling slanted down low enough for Logan to bang his head against if he tried to stand up. On the far wall, a small window would of given a view of the lawn if it hadn’t been covered up and darkened by the holly bushes. Unpainted plywood
covered most of the floor and only one of the walls was finished with sheetrock. Two-by-four studs and itchy pink insulation made up the rest. It smelled of stale ginger bread and old pine needles. Piled from floor to ceiling along the side closest to the living room were boxes of Christmas decorations and my old kiddie stuff, black plastic bags of worn-out clothes and junk my dad never took when he left. Dust covered everything and it felt twice as hot as the rest of the house, but Logan didn’t seem to mind any, or didn’t say so if he did.

I made a bed for him and we lit emergency candles and stuck them in beer bottles. He asked about a painting on the wall I did when I was about ten. It was a sloppy picture of me riding a brown horse in the princess outfit I wore for Halloween that year. Long pink scarves and an upside-down ice cream cone hat. He moved his blankets over beneath it, so he could look up at me while he went to sleep.

“Princess Lynn Marie,” he said and laughed. It was a nice laugh and not one that was making fun of me.

I went and got him a plastic water bottle in case he got thirsty in the night. Logan smiled when he saw it and pulled out a bottle of Boone’s Farm wine, saying he got it because I’d seemed to like it so much. This time I got us a couple cups to drink from. We drank while I told him about the games I used to play in the storage space when I was younger. Prisoner in Troll Castle. Or the cave of a monster snail who guarded over a treasure hoard. I used bottle caps as silver coins and my Cabbage Patch Kid, Penny, as the snail. Occasionally I traveled through space, stuck in suspended animation until I arrived on a blue planet populated only by singing whales. Other times terrorists with turbans kidnapped me but their leader, a sock monkey named Chief Biltmore, Esquire, was kind enough to provide cherry Kool-Aid and Ritz crackers. We sat quiet for a moment.

“Oh, yeah, I nearly forgot.” Logan reached inside the lower pocket of his cargo shorts and pulled out something crinkly. Going down on one knee, he bowed his head. “These, my princess, are for you.”

He held out a bouquet of paper flowers glued atop fuzzy green pipe cleaners, all folded dozens of times to look like tiny roses. They looked so real that for just the littlest moment, I was amazed they hadn’t wilted in his pocket.

“I made the white ones from the certificate I got when they gave me my mosquito wings a couple years ago. The pink one’s a parking ticket, and those blue ones are from the paper my dress uniform came wrapped in. They’re like …” He stopped to kiss the knuckles on my hand one by one, then on the crook of my elbow, and a last, longish smooch on the base of my neck.

“Like what?” I asked.

He shrugged. I watched his eyes and they watched me right back. They looked to be worried, waiting, and maybe the tiniest bit afraid. It was this last possibility that thrilled me through and through.

“They’re gorgeous,” I said, to make this strange expression on his face go away.

“I’m going to kiss you now,” he said in an odd, flat voice. The flickering candlelight made his eyes look sunken in, but not in a gruesome way, more like intense. He put his hands on my shoulders and we kissed. This time we opened our mouths and touched our tongues together. He didn’t slobber or try to ram his tongue down my throat, like Billy had the night in the barn. He touched my cheek and my hair. I put my hands on his hips. Almost from the moment he touched me, the shaking started again. I don’t know where it came from, but it took over my entire body and wouldn’t stop. My teeth chattered.

“Is something wrong?” he asked, tilting his head back.

“No, no,” I said, “it’s just … I’m not …”

“Don’t worry,” he said, and he kissed me again.

Embarrassment gave me a fever. My face probably glowed in the dark. I closed my eyes and let my hands rest on his hips and tried to forget my name.

I don’t know how long we’d been doing this when my mom came home. It didn’t seem all that long, but I’d lost track of time. I jerked up when I heard the front door slam and banged my head against a two-by-four on the ceiling.

“What is it?” he said. He must not of heard the door. I’d been listening with half an ear the entire time.

“It’s my mom. I’ve got to go back and get into bed or she’ll think something weird’s going on.”

I crawled into my bedroom. My hands still shook so bad it looked like I’d swallowed some convenience store speed. A long bit of cobweb stuck to my arm.

Filthy

“W
hat have you been doing? It’s four thirty in the morning,” my mom said, giving me an up-and-down look and shaking her head. “God, Lynn, what’s that smell? It’s like, like—”

I cut her off by pretending to fan my armpits at her face. Until this conversation started, I thought I’d sobered up some. Now I felt dead drunk and none too sure on my feet. She wrinkled her nose at me.

“Like what?” I said, keeping it short. I didn’t trust my voice to do or smell as it should.

“You’re all covered in grime and your hair looks like you haven’t brushed it in weeks. What are you doing up anyway?”

“I got worried, so I couldn’t sleep. I was waiting up for you.”

“Where?” she said. “In a trash can?”

“A book fell back behind my bed.” I spoke slowly and carefully. I must of sounded half-retarded. “It got stuck and I had to crawl under there and pull it out.”

“Jesus,” she said. “It looks like you’ve been rolling around in Mr. Cannon’s charcoal grill. You should take a shower before you go to bed tonight.” She reached over and plucked something off of my head. “You’ve got a leaf in your hair. When’s the last time you cleaned under your bed? You growing trees back there now?”

“Where have you been?” I said, and then added, for the guilt it might stir up in my favor, “I really was worried.”

She narrowed her eyes and went quiet a moment.

“I went to see Hayes.” It was her turn to speak slowly and carefully.

“How’s he doing?” I hoped to God she didn’t hear the Boone’s Farm wrestling with my tongue because I sure as hell did. Shut up, I told myself. Stop while you’re still not grounded.

She didn’t say anything to this. Instead, she went into the kitchen and got a beer out of the refrigerator. She sat down at the table and took her quilted cigarette bag out of her purse.

Paranoia kept me talking. Her silence spooked me. “Is he feeling better?” I asked, sitting down across from her. Suddenly, I had a wine headache and my eyeballs felt like fried grapes. Just like that, the fun part of the drunk was gone.

“You’re sweating like a pig.” She ran a finger across my forehead, examined it in the overhead light, and then wiped it on my shirt.

“It’s hot in here. We need to get the window unit fixed.”

“Not as hot as all that. Why don’t you go take a cool shower?”

“Are you working in the morning?”

“No, thank God, Velma’s taking my shift. I’m exhausted.” So was the smile Mom gave me. “I might just sleep till noon.”

“What did Hayes say?”

“He’s still going through a rough patch.” She gave the wall above my head an empty look. Her eyes went dull.

“You ain’t going to help him again, are you? You promised you wouldn’t.”

“I didn’t promise shit.” Her eyes met mine. “This ain’t none of your concern, Lynn.”

“That means you are helping him.”

She said nothing, but her eyes went from dull to full-on glare.

“I knew it.” I tried to keep the sob out of my voice because I could feel it creeping in and clamping down on the muscles in my throat. “Mom, I wish you’d let loose of him. He’s going to get you arrested or worse.”

She squeezed the tip of her nose between her thumb and forefinger.

“Mom?”

“I told him he should run away.” She lowered her head and picked at the label on her beer. I sat very still and watched her pick. Outside, crickets argued and shouted and told each other scratchy-scratchy lies. Inside, my mom’s nails went
click, click, click
as she tore away the silver paper. “He said no. The dumb bunny is too scared to leave and too stupid to be scared to stay. He thinks he can handle it. I tried to tell him that if he stays …” Her voice trailed off and she looked too tired to explain what she tried to tell him. This wasn’t the answer I’d hoped to hear, but at least Hayes wasn’t here at the house anymore. And if he wasn’t here, maybe the creeps wouldn’t come here looking for him anymore.

“But you’re not going to help him again, right?” I said, trying to catch her eye. “Right?”

Mom let out a sigh, blowing her bangs out of her eyes, and pushed herself away from the table. “If you’re not going to take a shower, I will.”

When I didn’t say anything, she got up and went back to her room. I drank the rest of her beer. After a couple of minutes, the shower started running. I sat at the kitchen table and stared at the ashtray, wondering what I’d do if all this went wrong, how I’d find my dad if it came to that.

Sex Slave

“A
nd?” Dani whispered. It was Sunday morning around eleven. Water ran in the background and something metal clanked. I couldn’t help myself. I’d told her everything. Or near about. We had a new half-ring system. Half-ring and she’d call me back. Logan Loy was still snoring softly in the storage room when I’d last checked on him.

“And what?” I asked.

“Have you done it?”

“Not yet,” I said. “My mom’s here. She doesn’t have to work.”

Dani’s flip-flops went
smick-smack, smick-smack, smick-smack
. A door slammed and something rattled. “So he’s stuck in there for another night?”

“At least,” I said.

“Now you have your own personal sex slave in your closet. That’s what I need while I’m grounded.”

“Yeah, right.”

“When he kisses you—wait, you have kissed him, haven’t you?”

“Yeah,” I said, embarrassed suddenly. “I told you already.”

“Oh, right, you said it was like eating chocolate velvet pie.” She snickered. I’d said no such thing. “So when he kisses you, does he move his tongue up and down or in a circular motion? And if in a circular motion, is it clockwise or counter?”

“Is this something out of
Vogue
?”


Cosmopolitan
.”

I thought for a second, moving my tongue in my mouth to remember. “In circles, why?”

“Direction?” Paper rustled.

I guessed. Who remembers stuff like that? “Clockwise.”

More pages turned. “Ahh, that’s very interesting.”

“What? Come on.”

“That means he’s passionate, but prone to outbursts of anger, and has an artistic nature.”

“You already knew about the art stuff,” I said. “Has the eyeball bothered you again?”

“No, my dad stayed out all night on the sleeping porch with the shotgun.”

“He see anybody?”

“Nah, my mom said he was asleep when she went out in the morning.”

A cabinet door banged. Then I heard a toilet paper tube clatter, roll, and rip. A toilet flushed. I made a face.

“Are you going to the bathroom?” I said.

“Don’t you just love cell phones?” She laughed. “I found out where my mom hid the phone
and
the charger. On top of the fridge. Can you believe it? Like I was three and couldn’t see up there. I have to make sure I put it back is all. So how long is he going to stay, your Mr. Logan Loy? Or is it Private Logan Loy? Be careful. He could go to jail, you know, if your mom told the police.”

“Forever,” I said.

“No, they’d let him out after a while.”

“I mean in my closet. I’m keeping him forever.”

“Or at least until Mr. Jenkins’s brother Captain Crook gets him.”

“Clap your hands if you believe.”

Dani clapped and laughed, but I stopped thinking it was all that funny almost as soon as it came out of my mouth. I could believe all too easy.

The Dangers of Girl Warming

A
fter I hung up with Dani, I told Logan good morning and we kissed again, but only for a little while. This time the shaking wasn’t so bad. I told him he’d have to stay all day today, since my mom wasn’t working and he couldn’t leave anyway. He smiled at me then, and it felt like a hot water bottle popped inside my belly. If Greenpeace had seen it, they’d have killed him to save the ice caps.

“Sure,” he said. “I think I’d like that.”

We messed around for hours and hours until my lips were actually sore. He never tried to get under my clothes, but he didn’t hold off from various sorts of rubbings. By the end, I could of exploded into a million pieces if he’d touched me in the right place. And by then I wanted him to, but I didn’t know how to ask.

Afterwards, I lay on my bed and went back over every word we said to each other that day and the one before and my heart beat so hard I could feel it in the tips of my fingers. My mom stayed up looking at the TV that night until three in the morning. The thought of him back there sleeping behind my closet, with my princess picture watching over him, kept me awake for most of the night. Was he thinking about me too? I liked knowing he couldn’t come out of the closet unless I told him it was alright. I wasn’t used to being able to tell someone what to do, especially someone older, and it felt nice. But it scared me a little as well, because I didn’t know where all this would end. And scared because anymore I didn’t want it to.

A New Boat

“W
here did you get that bracelet?” my mom asked me Monday morning. I’d been wearing it since I got it, but this was the first she’d noticed. Since she didn’t have to go in to work until noon, she’d started working on a new boat. Mom spread the pieces out all over the kitchen table. The room had a sharp chemical smell from the glue. The boat was called the Cutty Sark and she was building it in an old vodka bottle. She wanted to build it in a bottle of Cutty Sark scotch, but she figured the label would hide the boat, so what would be the point. I wasn’t allowed to come into the kitchen when she worked on her stupid ships. She was afraid I’d walk too hard and vibrate the table and ruin it. I’d done this once when I was six, so ever since then she made me stand in the doorway to talk to her when she was working on one.

BOOK: Caring Is Creepy
11.42Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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