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!


  1. Is it time to find Anne ? (They sure could use the help.)

    Otherwise, bring on the cops (a rational outcome), but don't let them wind up in jail unless it is with the guy in the jean jacket.

  2. Oh I like the idea of them being detained and then meeting the guy in the jean jacket! I see where you get your awesome writing superpowers from, J!