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?