Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chapter 30: In which Katie and Eoin meet even more cops, one of whom has a Ron Swanson 'stache.

"Oh my God," said Eoin. "Do you see that?" There on a building near the parking lot was a spray painting of the fairy godmother. And there she was again a little further up the road, and then, while they were driving home, at odd intervals for about a block or two, she appeared three more times.
Eoin parked in front of the last one, on the side of a crumbling, concrete wall. The sun was coming up. Katie climbed out of the truck and went towards the painting. Eoin called after her, "Someone has been doing this, Katie. Someone has been doing this for you."

*  *  *

Katie and Eoin crawled into his bed and slept. Normally Katie would be worried, anxious about the First Sleepover but since it was 7am when they got into his soft, warm queen-sized bed with it's clean white sheets and plain navy blue duvet cover she didn't think too much about it. They slept in their underwear and tshirts from Eoin's pajama drawer.

"Your bed is awfully nice," Katie said, her head luxuriating in his down pillow. "This pillow case smells so clean."

"I've been changing the sheets, like, every two days since you first came over," he confessed, his face close to hers, sharing her pillow, their foreheads nearly touching. "I kept thinking you'd end up sleeping over and I'd be horribly ashamed of my old sleep-smell hanging around."

"I bet I'd like your old sleep-smell," said Katie. She frowned. "That sounded way more romantic in my head," she whispered, and Eoin leaned in and kissed her.

*   *  *

When Eoin woke up around one that afternoon, he found a note on the pillow beside him. "Have gone to your studio. Come find me. Please bring snacks."

He found Katie sitting on the floor of the apartment next door, surrounded by art supplies. "What'cha doing?" he asked. He was holding a tray with peanut-butter and apple sandwiches, a pot of coffee, and the half-empty bag of Cheezies.

"I'm working on calling cards," she said. "I figured we could hand them out while we search. Just in case we don't, you know, find her right away."

Eoin handed her the tray and sat down. Taking a sandwich, Katie began to tell him about her plans.
"See, I found you have some print-making stuff. Right? You've got this soft lino -- " she held up a floppy piece of rubber "--and these carving tools. And printmakers' ink!" Katie held up a jar of thick black liquid.

Eoin took the artists' lionleum out of her hands. "I didn't know I had all this stuff." He ran his hands over the delicate design she'd cut into the soft surface.

"How could you not know?"

"I inherited a bunch of boxes from a friend who moved west. He left it all here. I never really went through it, I guess."

"Well it's a good thing you have me," Katie said, rolling black ink across the surface of her carving.
Eoin handed her a small piece of card, and smiled at her. "Yeah, it is."

He watched her press it across the inky surface, and when she pulled it back the card had a reverse image of what had been carved into the soft lino. "How do you know how to do all this?"

"I took a printmaking class when I was doing my degree. I totally loved it. But I kind of forgot about it until now." Katie reached for a sandwich. "Want me to show you how?"

By the time they left the house, Katie and Eoin had a stack of 45 postcard-sized prints. They'd made three different images -- one with a simplified version of the caesar from her first poster, one of just the wand with a couple of stars trailing behind them, and one that just said, "We Are Fantastic." (She'd had to make a few versions of that one, as carving letters is hard enough, let alone carving them backwards). The back side of all of them said simply, "Please find me," written in black pen in Katie's own, optimistic cursive. 

It was early evening. They drove the truck over to the Amato and grabbed a couple of slices, which they ate while they drove towards Eastview, an area with a mix of older, well-kept homes, derelict apartment buildings, a couple of donut shops, and some convenience stores stuffed with things from far-away countries that would be convenient only to the people from said countries.  (As much as Katie was intrigued by jars of ghee, steamer baskets, and giant bags of baby bok choy, she never knew what to do with these fascinating items once she'd gotten them home.)

Katie and Eoin stood on the sidewalk and stared around. "Well? What do we do now?"

Eoin shrugged. "Knock on doors?'

"Which doors?" Katie pointed at the house beside them. The grass was a little overgrown, but there were curtains and a mailbox. "Like, that might be full of squatters. But it might be filled with people who pay rent and taxes." Her own house had overgrown weeds in the flower bed and one of her windows was taped up as she hadn't the faintest idea about how to fix broken windows. (Did you call someone? Or was this a DIY thing, and she'd be mocked if she hired some one to do it for her?) "How do we know? I mean, I don't want to assume I know how squatters live. They might be very house proud." She bit her lip against the fear growing inside her. "But how do we know how to start?"

Eoin slapped his pile of cards against his palm. "We don't, Kate. We just have to try." He began to walk down the sidewalk, his long, skinny legs taking purposeful strides. Katie felt a heat throughout her body; he'd never called her Kate before and she really, really liked it.

She ran after him, her ballet flats smacking against the sidewalk as she went.

After about ten minutes, they'd slipped their cards into a couple of sad, lonely phone booths, some newspaper boxes, and they'd left one with a rather sad, lonely woman sleeping on a bench. "Do you know of any abandoned houses around here?" Katie had asked her, hopefully, but the woman had shook her head.

"I'm pretty new to this whole thing," she'd replied, coughing into her sleeve. "Good luck looking for your sister."

They got a few blocks off the main street and found a house that looked promising. Broken windows, an overgrown yard and a mailbox overflowing with junk mail, long-exposed to rain and melted into a smeared, solid mess of paper. They stood at the base of the walk. "You go," Katie nudged Eoin. "You're the man."

"Hey!" Eoin shoved her back. "That's no way for a liberated woman to talk. Besides, you should go. She's your sister."

Katie sighed. He was right. With a nervousness filling the pit of her stomach, she began to walk toward the front door. She would knock, Anne would open, she'd be sober, Katie would take her home….

"Uh, Katie?" The apprehension in Eoin's voice stopped her. She turned and found him gesturing down the sidewalk. A couple of cops were walking toward them. "Maybe they're coming to get us! Maybe they screwed up last night, and there's a warrant out for our arrest!" Katie frowned. He was far too excited about this life of crime.

"Good evening," one of the cops said. She was tall, nearly as tall as Eoin with red hair tucked under her black cop-lady had. "How're you two doing today?' Her partner, a shorter guy with a thick Ron Swanson moustache drummed his fingers along the billy club at his hip.

These two clearly had the Good Cop/Bad Cop thing down.

Katie came back to stand next to Eoin. She reached out and held his hand. "Hi," she smiled wide, winningly. "I'm Katie, and this is Eoin."

Eoin nodded at the cops, wondering, perhaps, if the names rung any bells.

"Umm….We don't know the area very well," Katie said. "And my sister, she's … missing. I heard from an acquaintance of hers that she might be around here. Living in a … Well. She's homeless?" Katie's voice went up at the end, like a question. Like she was ashamed. And she wasn't. But she kind of was. Not because Anne was missing. Not because Anne was homeless. Tears pricked Katie's eyes, and Eoin squeezed her hand tight. Katie was ashamed because she had lost her sister. Because she had no fucking idea how to find her.

"We're looking for abandoned houses. Squatters' homes. You know," Eoin spoke up. "Not that we want to get these people evicted, or get the houses shut down. But maybe you know where they might be?"

The red-haired cop grinned. "You're Irish!"

"Yep," said Eoin. "So squatters' houses…?"

"I'm Irish, too. Well, my grandparents. Came over from Limerick." She took off her cap and pointed to her red hair. "I'm proud to be a ginger!"

Hmm. Maybe the Good Cop took her role a bit too seriously. Katie turned to the short, silent Bad Cop. "Do you have any idea where my sister might be?"

He shrugged. "Like your friend says, if we know where the squatters are, we have to go in and break them up. So all I can do is tell you that that one there is not a squat. Nor is the one two blocks over, with the blue door? No squatters there. And there are never, ever people in tents down in the ravine, and you'll never find people living in the empty warehouse on River street." He winked, and Katie smiled.

"Thanks," she said, and thought maybe he was the Good Cop, after all.

Katie and Eoin went together up the walk to the first house. They knocked, but no one answered. Katie peered in the window. "I don't see anyone." They tried the door, but it was locked. "Who knew?"

"It makes sense. Everyone wants to feel safe," Eoin said, quietly. They slid a couple of cards under the door, and decided to check out the house with the blue door, a few blocks over.

5 cards later (placed on telephone poles and in public flower boxes) they found themselves in front of a slightly less sketchy house. There were actually plants in the window. "Are they pot plants?" Eoin asked, always on the lookout for a criminal activity, apparently.

"No," said Katie. "They're African violets. They were my grandmother's favourites," she said. "I feel really good about this one."

"Lots of people like violets," Eoin said. Katie shot him a look, feeling betrayed. "I just don't want you to get your hopes up," he said. She knocked. No one came. Katie pushed on the front door, and it creaked open.

"Hello?" Katie called, stepping inside. The house was cold, dark. "Anne?"

Somewhere from the back of the house, there was movement. A door opened, shut. There were footsteps moving toward them. Katie and Eoin held their breath.

Your Turn!

Katie has finally found Anne.

Yes or No?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chapter 29: In which Eoin really, really, really wants to go to jail.

“I’ll hold her down, and you spray the paint,” Eoin suggested. Using the pink as a base, Katie painted the stars and the wand and the wings silver.  The word “fantastic” was the only thing she did in black.

“Done!” she said, giddy. “What’s next?”

“We go to our next bridge,” said Eoin, giving her a quick kiss.

The quick kiss sort of slid into a longer kiss, and then she was putting down the knapsack and they were kissing with his back up against the chain link when suddenly there was a light shining into the darkness around them and a voice called out, “Hey! What are you two doing up there?”

“Shit. It’s the cops!” Eoin said, laughing, and pushing Katie ahead of him up the fence. “Hurry!”

“Stop where you are!” called the police officer, his tone angry, frightening. The light shone in their faces, making Katie squint.

They scaled the fence, swearing, laughing, tumbling over one another in their descent from the bridge. “The stuff! The stuff!” Katie gasped as they raced down the steep slope, thinking of her little fairy godmother stencil and those cans of spray paint they'd abandoned.

“Just leave it!” Eoin called over his shoulder, and he leaped to the ground. “Try to get to the truck!” He shouted, over his shoulder, but there was no hope, never any hope. Katie and Eoin got about ten feet before the cops (on bikes, it turned out) cut them off.

“Oh, no.” Katie grabbed Eoin’s hand. He was laughing, nearly hysterical, and she felt sick. Sick. Sick. And giddy. And full of adrenaline. She wanted to cry and vomit and laugh all at the same time.

“What were the two of you under the bridge?” asked one of the officers, a burly man with a deep voice and Mr Universe biceps. He looked kind of funny straddling a bike.

"Just exploring," said Katie, at the same time that Eoin said, “We were...being intimate?” Eoin’s voice was high, lit up with adrenaline of his own; while Katie was pretty sure she came across as innocent and remorseful, she thought Eoin probably seemed, like, actually high.

“We’re sorry, sir.” Katie said in her calmest voice, squeezing Eoin’s hand in what she hoped was a chill-the-fuck-out kind of way.

“You weren’t spray painting the bridge?” Asked a smaller, less intimidating police officer (who definitely suited the bike a bit better).

“No sir.” Eoin and Katie shook their heads.

“You’re sure?” asked Mr Universe, his hands tightening around his handlebars.

Katie said nothing. Eoin giggled.

Twenty minutes later Katie and Eoin found themselves in a police station. “An honest-to-Christ police station!” Eoin was grinning from ear to ear. “This is awesome!”

They'd been handed over to some cops in a car by the cops on the bikes. They were not cuffed, and the sirens did not blare, much to Eoin’s dismay, though the cops did put their hands on the back of their heads while guiding them into the car which Eoin did think was “just spot on”.

During the ride, Eoin tried to convince Katie to see this as some kind of adventure.

“Look. This is not the sort of thing everyone gets to experience. We’re lucky. We’re two of the chosen few!”

“We didn’t win this, Eoin! This is not lucky. This is bad!”

Eoin took her hand, lowering his voice even more. ‘Look, I’m sorry I got you into this. I really, really am. But honestly, neither one of us has a record, right?” he raised an eyebrow and Katie shook her head. “Then this is nothing. We’ll be fine. Just play along. Enjoy it!”

“But I--” Katie started to protest, but Eoin put a finger to her lips, cutting her off.

“Shh! We can’t hear the police scanner if you keep worrying. We might get taken to a murder scene!”

With Eoin’s twinkly eyes and devil-may-care attitude, Katie had no choice but to stop worrying. Really, it was no fun to worry on your own. So while she didn’t enjoy it, exactly, she certainly didn’t vomit. And that was something.

An hour later, Katie and Eoin were sitting in what Eoin kept calling "the holding cell" but it was really just a waiting room. There was even a vending machine, from which Katie had purchased a bag of baked ketchup chips. "You sure you don't want any?"

Eoin shook his head. "It would ruin the experience," he said. He was a bit disappointed they hadn't been taken into custody, or into small rooms to be questioned about their "nefarious activities." All that had happened so far was that they'd been deposited at the police station, questioned about what they'd been up to for about ten minutes in a small room off the lobby, and then told to wait in this waiting room across from the front desk. The cops were watching them, alright, but they weren't doing anything about them either.

"I feel like I'm at the hospital," Eoin whined, and craned his neck to see if there was any action behind the desk where the cops were. He rose from his seat.

"What are you doing?" Katie tried to pull him back down again but Eoin just yanked away from her.

"I'm going to see what's taking so long," he said, and he strode towards the front desk. "I either want them to arrest us or send us home."

Katie shivered. She knew Eoin was likely hoping for the arrest scenario.

Just then a cop came in with a scruffy-looking guy with long, greasy grey hair and a dirty jean jacket. The cop was holding him by the arm, tightly -- a bit too tightly, thought Katie.

"Oh, boy, what's Old Joe been up to now?" asked the tired-looking cop from behind the desk.

"Nothing," said Old Joe, defensively, but the cop who was clutching his arm disagreed.

"Caught him outside a 7-Eleven, holding this," the cop held up a baseball bat.

"So I was playing ball earlier. No harm in ball. It's a very healthy activity," Old Joe swayed a little on his feet.

"And he's drunk. Real drunk. We're going to keep him in the tank tonight, let him sober up." The cop led Old Joe over to the hard plastic chairs. "Sit here while we get the paperwork started," he said, not totally unkindly. Perhaps he felt bad about the tight grip on his arm. Or maybe he'd been gripping so tightly because Old Joe was a bit of a wreak, realized Katie, when Old Joe started to slide off his plastic chair and onto the cold, dirty floor.

"Hey, man, let's get you back up here," she said, and pulled him up into a seated position.

Old Joe turned to look at her, his eyes watery and old-man-squinty. "Hey," he said, and reached out to touch her face. "I know you."

"No, no you don't," Katie said, backing away from him. The alcohol and body-odour stench was pretty bad.

"Yeah, yeah. You used to bring me sandwiches," Old Joe said, looking at her. "But you're too skinny now. You've got to fatten up. Winter's coming."

"Yep, okay," said Katie. "Thanks for the tip." She looked down at her half-finished bag of chips. "You want these?" She passed them over to him, and he took them, hungrily.

"See? I told you. You bring me sandwiches."

Eoin was striding toward them, with an angry look on his face.
"Oh no! Are we being arrested?" Katie asked, but he just shook his head.

"No. We're not. We're being sent home."


"Yeah. They forgot we were here. We were discharged with a warning. Not even a ticket!" Eoin tossed up his hands in dismay. "Can you believe it?"

"Not really." Katie knew Eoin was disappointed, but she was relieved. "Listen, Eoin, we should get out of here before you make a scene and they change their minds. C'mon," Katie took Eoin's hand, and began to lead him out of the station before he turned around and begged for justice. 

"Annie." Old Joe's voice was raspy, loud. "Annie, it's you." Katie spun around and went back to the drunk old man.

"What? Do you know Anne?" She knelt in front of him. Was this the guy with long hair and a jean jacket who used to go to the 7-Eleven with her sister? Is that where she bought him sandwiches?

"You're Annie," he said, squinting at her. "Aren't you?"

"I'm Katie. Annie's sister. do you know where she is?"

"Annie has a sister? I never knew that."

"She does. I'm the sister. This is important -- I've been looking for her. Do you know where she is?"

"No," he shook his head. "We met in a house, we were squatting in a place around Eastview, about …oh, a long time ago. But I haven't seen here in a long, long time. I don't know why." He shrugged. "But that's the way the world is. People just come and go…."

"So you don't know where she is?" Katie grabbed him by the shoulders, the stench from his clothes and his hair and his breath filling her nostrils, not even mattering.

"People come and go…." he said again, and began eating his chips again. "Please tell her Old Joe says hello. Tell her thanks for everything," he smiled at Katie, and then he closed his eyes. "Oh, I'm so tired." His head tilted backwards and withing seconds he was asleep.

Katie and Eoin took a cab back to the truck under the bridge. "This weekend, we'll go to Eastview, we'll try to find that house," she said to Eoin.

"Do you think it's the same guy from the 7-Eleven?" Eoin asked. They were both so excited, talking over one another. They got into the truck, and were going to drive back to Eoin's.  It was nearly dawn.

"Oh my God," said Eoin. "Do you see that?" There on a building near the parking lot was a spray painting of the fairy godmother. And there she was again a little further up the road, and then, while they were driving home, at odd intervals for about a block or two, she appeared three more times.

Eoin parked in front of the last one, on the side of a crumbling, concrete wall. The sun was coming up. Katie climbed out of the truck and went towards the painting. Eoin called after her, "Someone has been doing this, Katie. Someone has been doing this for you."

You Decide! 

Eoin and Katie go to Eastview to look for squatters' homes


Katie has to go shopping for Melissa's birthday present -- the party is tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chapter 28: In which we very nearly never get to the spray painting because Katie and Eoin keep making out!!

“I am. I’m doing what’s best for my grandson. Now you have to get out, Katie. He’s coming!” Her mother was frantic; the meter man was only one sedan away.

“Okay, okay.” Katie eased her way out of the car. “Tell dad I say hi,” she said, and slammed the car door, just as her mother responded with, “You could tell him yourself if you’d ever come by the house.”

Katie’s mother peeled away just as the meter man arrived at their meter.

“Fuck!” Katie yelled, and marched back towards her office building.

(Too bad she was so caught up in what happened with her mother, otherwise she might have noticed that she passed by a copy of one of her You Were Going To Be Fantastic paintings on the way -- only it wasn’t a copy that Katie had made, and it was hanging in a place where Katie herself had never put up a painting: someone was talking back.)

The rest of the afternoon dragged on. Katie made sure to take Erica aside and explain why she’d been hiding under the desk earlier -- she knew Erica already thought she was nuts, but she wanted to make sure that she understood her reasons for behaving like a maniac in this specific instance. Of course, “impersonating a southern belle in order to trick important clients” didn’t really make her seem sane or normal, but Katie thought bosses should at least try to be honest wherever possible.

Katie tried working on some ideas for a few campaigns, but her mind was elsewhere. She knew she should be more vigilant about watching for Rebecca and Angus, in case they came out of the board room, but she kind of didn’t care. What was going on with her sister was much bigger than the silliness of faking a personality. Only a few hours ago she’d been hiding under her desk like an idiot.  But now the real world was much more serious, and no amount of hiding was going to fix what was going on with Anne.

Katie pulled out a large sketch book with wide, white pages. She, Erica, Mike and Paul pretty much worked exclusively with computer graphics programs -- clients liked them better than hand-drawn stuff, as the results looked so much more modern (and modern, in their minds, was superior).  Don Juan liked them to use the computer programs; Katie knew this because he would grumble, “we paid enough for the damn software, where's the results?" whenever a pen-and-ink sketch made its way into a presentation.

But sometimes she liked to draw, just draw. Freehand, 4-B pencil, a dark, soft lead. She was deeply engrossed at her desk when she heard a familiar voice and her stomach collapsed. “Ms Marsh?”
Katie looked up to find Rebecca, Melissa’s client, standing at her desk. Her round face cocked to the side, a strange smile on her face.

Katie held her breath for what felt like a million seconds. And then Erica was at her side. “Hi there, Ms Murphy? Erica Saccaro.” Erica stuck out a hand, which Rebecca shook.

“Hello, Erica. I’m Rebecca.” She looked a bit bewildered. She picked up the name plate on Katie’s desk. “I could have sworn you were someone else.”

“You thought she might be Violet Marsh?” Erica pushed her round pink frames up her nose. “This is Katie, Violet’s cousin. Don’t they look alike?”

Rebecca raised an eyebrow. “They really do.”

Katie swallowed. “Yeah, really close cousins.” She stood up, too. “My dad -- Violet’s uncle -- left the South right after high school and moved to Canada.”

“Draft dodger,” Erica whispered.

“And I work here because...." Katie had nothing with which to complete the sentence.

“Oh, you don’t need to say it. I totally understand.” Rebecca nodded sagely. “Nepotism," said Rebecca, and Katie breathed a sigh of relief -- this whole pretend-you're-someone-else situation was basically writing itself. "They gave you the job because your family are such long-time clients.” Rebecca lowered her voice. “That’s completely why Angus got his job with my company. His wife’s our board president.”

“Yes, well, it helps I’m pretty good at what I do,” Katie said, somewhat defensively. Rebecca glanced down at the doodles on her desk. Katie quickly closed the sketch book.

“Of course,” Rebecca smiled wanly. “Okay, well, lovely to meet you. Both.” She winked in a way that made Katie wonder if they’d gotten away with it.

She turned to Erica. “Where did that come from? You were awesome!”

Erica blushed a bit, and shrank inside her wolf sweatshirt. “I’m getting pretty good at improv?” She suggested.

Katie kind of wanted to reach over and ruffle Erica’s hair, but suspected that wasn’t a very supervisory sort of thing to do, so she settled on giving her a thumbs-up. “You sure are, superstar!”

Katie left work late that day. Not because she’d been working hard -- mostly because she’d been staring off into space, wondering what to do about her sister. She’d logged onto Facebook and had been staring at her sister’s page -- it hadn’t been active in nearly a year. All the pictures were from Before, when she’d had a home, a job, a family. The comments had petered out about five months ago, and the last dozen or so were mostly just from friends asking, “Where are you?” There was even one from Bobby: “Hey, ex-nearly-sister-in-law -- Katie tells me you’re not doing so hot. If you want to talk, I’m still here for ya.”

Katie turned off the computer and met up with Melissa at the elevator. “So now you’re Violet Marsh, as well as Violet Marsh’s cousin?”

“I don’t know. It’s all Erica.”
"So what will you do when Rebecca and Angus find out? We could be in serious shit, Katie." Melissa's pretty forehead creased with worry.

“You know, I don’t particularly care.” Katie’s words were bitter. She knew this was probably not how she should be treating a newly-mended friendship, but she couldn’t help it. “Sorry, Melissa. I just … can we get a drink?”

“Sure," said Melissa, and over cocktails and tapas at the Senator, Katie told her about Anne’s husband filing for divorce and asking for full custody. They sat in a back corner, so Katie could cry without anyone noticing.

Two hours later, feeling somewhat unburdened and somewhat drunk, Katie found herself on the wrong streetcar. Instead of going east, towards home, she found herself heading north. It was an easy mistake to make -- she’d gotten tripped up at an intersection where a lot of streetcar lines bisected each other. She almost got off to turn herself around when she realized she was headed towards Eoin’s. It’s fate! she decided, and texted him quickly.

Hey. Want to hang out? I’m in your ‘hood.

Yes. Absolutely, was his instant reply. And then, seconds later: + bring Cheethingies.

Armed with a bag of Hawkins Cheezies purchased at the Loblaws by his apartment, Katie was about to knock on Eoin’s front door when it swung open and there he was, all 6’5’’ of tall, skinny energy. He was wearing dark blue jeans with a yellow belt, and a long-sleeved purple shirt with a lime green tshirt over top. He looked like a bag a Skittles, and Katie decided he was officially the strangest and the awesomest dresser she’d ever met. 
“Katie,” he said, in that lilting Irish voice, and he leaned over and kissed her, long and warm and lovely. The Cheezies crunched between them. “I’ve had such a shite day,” he said between kisses. “I’m so glad you’re here.”

“Me, too,” said Katie. “But I’d rather not be standing in the hallway...”

He laughed and took the Cheezies from her, and led her inside. “What’s that?” he pointed to the notebook she’d taken with her from work. He’d ripped open the Cheezies and was shoveling them in like a man possessed.

“It’s my notebook,” she told him. “I’m was sketching some stuff and I didn’t want to leave it at work. In case I had more ideas.”

Wiping his Cheezie fingers over the backs of his jeans, he sat down on his ugly brown sofa and began flipping the pages. Katie perched on the ottoman opposite him, holding her breath. What would he think?

Eoin was quiet for a long time. Katie took the Cheezies from him and started munching, hardly tasting them. Just cramming them into the anxious hole in stomach. And then....

“Katie,” Eoin said, quietly, and her hand froze, the Cheezies halfway into her mouth. "These are … really great."

Katie crunched down hard. "Yeah?" she asked around her mouthful of Cheezies.

"Yeah. Especially this stuff," he motioned for her to come sit next to him. "It's all really ethereal. And delicate." He pointed to one of the pictures Katie had drawn that day. It was a little girl, dressed up in a sparkly dress, with wings and a magic wand. She was waving it above her head, and a long stream of stars trailed after her, the word "fantastic" woven into the mini milky way. "I’m surprised."

"Why? You didn't think I could be delicate?" Katie teased. Her heart felt like bursting. Not just because she liked this guy, but because he was an artist and he knew what he was talking about.

"No, though at the moment…." he reached out and wiped powdered cheese off her face. "I just imagined your work to be a lot louder."

"Sometimes it is," she said, "but today I've been a bit introspective." She put the bag of Cheezies on the floor. “See, when I was about three, we inherited this bag of Hallowe’en costumes from our older cousins. And one of the outfits was this fairy costume. You know -- wings, a wand, a fluffy pink skirt. Apparently one day I was feeling really upset about something, I don’t know what, and Anne put on the fairy costume and told me that she was my fairy godmother and would grant me three wishes. And I guess it cheered me up, because for, like, years after that, we played fairy godmother. Whenever one of us was having a crappy day, or our parents were fighting, or whatever, we’d take turns granting one anothers’ wishes. But then we got too old, I guess, or we lost the wand, or the wings didn’t fit....” Katie shrugged. “So I drew it.”

“Which one of you is this?” Eoin traced a finger over the drawing.

“Both of us? Neither of us? I don’t know. I think maybe she’s a new girl, all her own. Granting wishes for both of us.”

Eoin closed the sketch book and placed it on the floor. “I love this story. And I think you’re amazing,” he said, and then he kissed her. Katie kissed him back with a surety she hadn’t felt in years, decades, possibly ever. 

Together they leaned back and down into the soft sofa cushions, Eoin’s hands running the length of her body until they were lying together, side-by-side, tucked into the couch. He was so much taller and heavier than she was, and yet they fit so well into that space, and they stayed there, together, for a long, long time, the sun sinking low, down, past the horizon, the room around them growing ever darker, the air between them becoming electric.

It was worth breaking Bobby’s heart for this, this is worth all the pain that came before, because if she hadn’t felt that hollowness then Katie would never have known what it meant to feel this full.

*  *  *

By midnight they were eating scrambled eggs with cheese and toast on the fire escape. Katie knew she should feel tired but she didn’t, she couldn’t. She and Eoin were planning something. And it was going to be great.

“Won’t we get caught?” She’d been telling him about the pictures that she’d been putting up around town for her sister to find, and he’d come up with this super idea. But Katie was nervous. She had never done parkour, or spelunking,  or whatever it was called, before.

“It’s not dangerous. Not if we’re smart about it.” (Smart? He wanted her to be smart? Her brain was all orgasmy. It wasn’t easy to be smart and sensible when one was sex-addled). “And if we’re quick no one will see. I really think this will be a good way to keep getting messages to your sister.” Eoin took Katie’s empty plate and stood up. “Come on. We should really get going if we’re going to make this happen tonight.”

In Eoin’s studio they laid out large sheets of Bristol board, and Katie made a large version of the fairy godmother picture. Then, using a sharp utility knife, Eoin turned the picture into a stencil, which, once sprayed over with the pink, silver, and black spray paint Katie had found in Eoin’s art supplies, would create a life-sized picture which they were going to paint on the bridges around the city. It was scary, it was exhilarating, and totally new for Katie, though not so new to Eoin, who explained that back in Galway, when he’d been a high school drop out looking for a way out of Ireland, he’d used the bridges and overpasses of his home town as a kind of canvas. “Like most hood rats, I guess, I learned to explore my urban jungle,” he’d grinned a bit proudly, a bit sheepishly, and Katie had kissed him, hard.

Dressed in dark tops pulled from Eoin’s closet (really, as cute as it was, they decided that Eoin should probably not be dressed in his Skittle outfit while engaging in illegal activities), they drove off in the rattling pickup. The streets were nearly empty, the moon was full and high, and the radio was tuned to an all night oldies station.

“We should probably pick a bridge relatively near downtown, seeing as she’s been hanging out around there,” Katie reasoned, and so Eoin drove them to the Queen Street bridge. “It’s the closest bridge I can think of to the 7-Eleven where they knew Anne,” he said. “Plus it’s over the Don Valley. And I think uh....” He let his voice get overwhelmed by the Chuck Berry on the radio.

“Where transient people might go?” Katie supplied, and briefly squeezed his hand. “It’s okay, Eoin. You can talk about it. It’s a real thing.”

They stopped for some coffees and then, feeling caffeinated and high on the cold late night air and the illegality of their activities, they parked near the underpass and walked towards the bridge. “How do we get up there?” Katie looked up at the massive structure, sipping her drink.

“We climb,” grinned Eoin, who led her to the base of the bridge. “See there?” He pointed about half-way up the base where there was a fence, presumably to prevent further climbing. “If we can climb over that fence, we can get around to the front of the base, and we can paint the fairy godmother so she’s facing the valley,” he said, and he made it sound so easy that Katie hitched the knapsack full of paints up on her shoulder and said, “Lead the way!”

The climbing wasn’t as easy as Eoin had made it sound, but it wasn’t as hard as she’d thought. And, seeing as a group of people had gotten to the fence before them and made some pretty good footholds in the chain link, climbing up and over wasn’t too hard, either.

“I’ll hold her down, and you spray the paint,” Eoin suggested. Using the pink as a base, Katie painted the stars and the wand and the wings silver.  The word “fantastic” was the only thing she did in black.

“Done!” she said, giddy. “What’s next?”

“We go to our next bridge,” said Eoin, giving her a quick kiss.

The quick kiss sort of slid into a longer kiss, and then she was putting down the knapsack and they were kissing with his back up against the chain link when suddenly there was a light shining into the darkness around them and a voice called out, “Hey! What are you two doing up there?”

You Decide!
1. The voice belongs to the guy in the jean jacket that the girl at the 7-Eleven said had been hanging around with Anne
2. The police see them and there’s a chase!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Chapter 27: In which Katie hides under her desk for awhile, and then her mother turns up with an unexpected bit of news.

###Apparently comments are currently acting up -- you can "like" the Facebook page and then post your votes over there.....####

Back at the office, in her new white t-shirt, Katie watched the elevator doors opening and closing with an anxious churning in her stomach. What if Melissa brought Rebecca and Angus back to the office? It was entirely possible. Not every meeting could be conducted on the sidewalk or in Cuban-French fusion restaurants. Eventually people want big wooden tables and receptionists to make a deal seem real. She took out her bun, wiped the makeup off her face, and hoped that with her tshirt and Canadian accent they'd be fooled. These diversionary tactics were the kinds of things that would only work in a chick-lit novel. But given that her life often felt like a chick-lit novel, Katie kind of expected this ruse to work.

By four o'clock Melissa had not yet returned, clients in tow or alone. Katie was starting to relax when the elevator doors opened up and out walked Melissa, who was talking over her shoulder to someone.  Katie couldn’t see who it was. Was it Rebecca and Angus? She couldn’t tell! Panicking, Katie dropped down and crawled under her desk. I will just hide under here until I know who’s out there, she thought, not feeling entirely confident in her “tshirt and no makeup” disguise.

“Katie?” Erica’s voice called out to her. From her desk, Erica had a direct sightline to Katie’s hiding spot.  Still crouching,  Katie turned around, putting her finger over her lips.

“Shh!” She hissed at Erica, whose eyes went wide with understanding. She nodded slowly and went back to her keyboard, where she continued typing away.

“I don’t know where she is,” Katie heard Melissa saying. Oh no! Had she confessed the ruse to Rebecca and Angus? Or was Melissa pretending to be looking for Violet Marsh? Not knowing who she was expected to be, Katie stayed tucked into the tiny space under her desk. For once having the body of an underdeveloped teenaged girl was playing in her favour.

“Erica? Have you seen Katie?” But Erica was keeping her word -- Katie had told her employee to “shhh!” and shhhing was what Erica was doing. “Erica?” Melissa’s voice got louder, more managerial, but Erica continued to ignore her. This blanket “shhhing” was not entirely what Katie had intended, but she was rather touched by Erica’s loyalty.

“Well, I don’t know where she could be, Mrs Christensen,” said Melissa. “Would you like to wait in the boardroom?”

Mrs Christensen? Wait a minute! That was Katie's mother!

“Thank you, Melissa," said Katie's mother. "I only wanted a quick word, but I’m not sure I have time to wait. I only put a loonie in the meter.” So it wasn’t Melissa’s clients after all. Katie started to crawl out from under her desk. She could just tell them she had been rebooting her computer, or something.

“Do you want to leave a note?” asked Melissa as Katie was about to stand up. She could tell their backs were to her desk and they hadn’t seen her yet.

“No, what I have to say has to be said in person.” Katie stopped mid-stand. “It’s about her sister.” Katie inched back into her hiding spot. “It’s not good.” Katie’s heart nearly stopped. Anne was dead. Anne was dead. Anne was dead. Anne was --

“Is she--?” Melissa’s voice was a whisper, but Katie still heard it. “Oh, my god.”

“No, it’s not that. It’s just....” Katie’s mother’s voice trailed off. “Listen, could you just have her call me when she gets back? I was down here meeting with some friends and I just thought I’d pop in and try to catch her.  She’s a hard one to pin down, you know.” Though her mother was laughing, Katie thought she sounded a bit disapproving. Like, a responsible, mature daughter would make regular phone calls. The mother of a responsible, mature daughter would not be forced to cut a lunch date short and waste a loonie in order to "catch" her kid. Her mother laugh-sighed. “We're not like you and your parents, with your weekly Williams-family get-togethers.” Now her mother just sounded wistful. Katie felt equal parts guilt and rage. She as also getting sick of hiding under her desk.

“Yes, my family is a bit co-dependent.” Melissa’s voice was airy, non-committal; she wouldn’t get sucked in the mother-daughter drama, bless her. “I’ll see what I can do about getting Katie to get in touch with you.” Melissa’s voice was fading; Katie figured they were walking toward the elevator.

So Anne wasn’t dead. But something was happening with her, a d it was serious enough to make Katie’s mother brave the downtown traffic, but not serious enough to warrant two loonies in the parking meter.

“Erica!” Katie hissed and Erica looked up from her keyboard.

“Yes?” She mouthed.

“Is my mother gone?” Katie whispered and Erica nodded. “You can talk again, Erica,” Katie said, using her inside-voice. She crawled out from under her desk and brushed off her pencil skirt, which was now wrinkled and dusty. So much for dressing like a professional.

“Katie?” Melissa was standing at her desk. “I was just leaving you a note. Were you under your desk?”

Katie nodded. “Um, yeah?”

“This whole time?”

“Um, yeah?”

“What didn’t you tell me?” Melissa jabbed a beautifully manicured finger at Erica. “You have a direct line of vision to the underside of her desk.”

Erica’s eyes got big again. She bit her lip but said nothing, as loyal to Katie as she was to her Sunday night Dr Who downloads.

“Don’t blame Erica. I swore her to secrecy.” Katie took the note from Melissa. It said, Be a decent human being and call your damn mother.  “So, my mother was here?”

“Yeah. She wants to talk to you about Anne.”

“What do you think is going on?”

“Chase after her and find out.” Melissa raised her eyebrows. “Or you could just hide under your desk for a while and think about it some more. What were you doing down there, anyway?"

Katie was about to explain that she'd panicked when she thought it might be Rebecca and Angus, when the elevator doors opened up and guess who strolled out?

“Shit!” Katie dove back down and crawled under her desk for a second time.

“Yoohoo! Melissa! We’ve come to talk terms.” Rebecca’s voice boomed across the office. Katie waited until she heard Melissa’s voice fade away completely, and then she crawled slowly out again.

“That was close,” she said to Erica, who merely nodded and smiled. She really had no idea what Katie was talking about, but she thought she needed to be supportive.

Katie hurried towards the elevator, and quickly texted her mum on the way downstairs. Heard u’re looking 4 me. I’m in lobby. Whats up?


10 minutes later Katie and her mother were sitting in her mother’s Toyota Camry. She hadn’t wanted to commit to another loonie to the meter, so they were sitting in the car just in case the meter maid came along and ran them out of their expired spot.

“This is crazy, mum. Jason’s serious?”

“I don’t think this is crazy at all. I think he’s being very responsible.” Katie’s mother’s hands gripped the steering wheel.

“But full custody? Anne’s Jonah’s mother.”

“By blood, maybe, but your sister … she’s not … maternal right now.”

“Yeah! Right now being the operatiave words. This is temporary. It’s not forever.”

“Anyway, I wanted you to know, just in case you hear from her first.” It was as though her mother had stopped listening. “Your father and I agree with Jason's move on the divorce and his custody suit. Well, maybe you shouldn’t tell her that part -- we don’t want to appear unsupportive.  But do tell her she needs to get in touch with Jason so he can send her the divorce papers.”

“How? Drop them off under the Don Valley bridge? Leave them at the Y? This isn’t happening. I can't be the one to tell Anne her marriage is over. That's messed up.” Katie’s guts felt all loose. At Anne and Jason’s wedding there had been 175 guests. They’d had a make-your-own-sundae bar and there had been 7 bridesmaids.

Just then a meter maid (though it was an elderly gentleman) came down the street and her mother turned to Katie. “You have to go.” There was real panic in her eyes. Her mother didn’t do well with authority figures.

But Katie wasn’t budging. “We can’t let this happen, mum. We have to find her so she can fight for her son!” Katie coudln’t see how her mother could be so blase about this. "We have to do something!”

“I am. I’m doing what’s best for my grandson. Now you have to get out, Katie. He’s coming!” The meter man was only one sedan away.

“Okay, okay.” Katie eased her way out of the car. “Tell dad I say hi,” Katie said, and slammed the door, just as her  mother responded with, “You could tell him yourself if you’d ever come by the house.”

Katie’s mother peeled away just as the meter man arrived at their meter.

“Fuck!” Katie yelled, and marched back towards her office building.

(Too bad she was so caught up in what happened with her mother, otherwise she might have noticed that she passed by a copy of one of her You Were Going To Be Fantastic paintings on the way -- only it wasn’t a copy that Katie had made, and it was hanging in a place where Katie herself had never put up a painting: someone was talking back.

You decide!

Katie gets her aunt to hire a private detective to help find Anne


Katie and Eoin do an overnight graffiti blitz of the city’s bridges to try to communicate with Anne.