H Is For Homicide Page 35


The date I was using on the fake ID was a match for mine. ’’May fifth,’’ I said, and gave her the year.

’’And me without a pencil. Hey, Nettie? You got something to write with?’’

Nettie shook her head. ’’Not unless you count Chap-Stick.’’

Bibianna shrugged. ’’What the hell. Look here.’’ She licked her finger and drew a big tic-tac-toe grid on the floor. She wrote the number 5 in the center and raised it to the third power. The lights in the cell were dim, but the floor was so grimy I could read the spit graph without squinting. She said, ’’This is great. See that? Five is the number of change and movement. You got three of them. That's hot. You know, travel and like that. Growth. You're the kind of person has to be out there doing things, moving. The zero out here means you don't have any limits. You can do anything. Like whatever you tried, you'd be good at, you know? But it can scatter you. Especially with all these fives here. Makes it tough to pick the thing you want to do. You'd need to have the kind of job that would never be the same. Know what I mean? You have to be in the middle of the action... ’’

She looked at me for confirmation.

’’Weird,’’ I said, for lack of anything better.

Nettie shot us a look. She had one arm around Heather, who had leaned against her for warmth. ’’We're trying to get some sleep here. Could you keep it down?’’

’’Sorry,’’ Bibianna said. She abandoned the reading and stretched out on the mattress, making herself comfortable. The gridwork she'd drawn seemed to glow in the half-light. The bulb in the cell remained bright, but we were reasonably warm. There was the sense of ongoing activity in the corridors beyond: a phone ringing, footsteps, the murmuring of voices, a cell door clanging shut. At intervals, the smell of cigarette smoke seemed to drift through the vents. Somewhere on the floor below us were the dormitory rooms that housed the fifty to sixty women doing county time in any given period. I could feel myself begin to drift. At least we were out of the rain and the bad guys couldn't get us. Unless ’’they’’ were somebody locked in the cell with us. Now, there was a thought.

’’One good thing,’’ Bibianna murmured drowsily.

’’What's that?’’

’’They didn't find that joint...’’

’’You are one lucky chick.’’

After that, there was quiet except for the occasional rustling of clothes as one of us turned on the mattress. The skinny white woman began to snore softly. I lay entertaining warm thoughts about Bibianna, realizing that from here on out, I'd remember her as the person I first got jailed with, a form of female bonding not commonly recognized. I'd have felt a lot better if Jimmy Tate had come to our rescue, but I really wasn't sure what he could have done to help. Right now, he was probably sitting in a cell over on the men's side in roughly the same fix. Crazy Jimmy Tate and Bibianna Diaz, what a pair they made...

10

THE NEXT THING I knew, there was a jingling of keys. My eyes popped open. One of the female jail officers was unlocking the door. She was short and solid, built like she spent a lot of time at the gym. The other four women in the cell were still asleep. The jail officer pointed at me. Bleary-eyed, I propped myself up on one elbow, pushing the hair out of my face. I pointed at myself - did she want me? Impatiently, she motioned me over to the door. I curled forward, rising to my feet as quietly as I could. There was no way to judge what time it was or how long I'd been asleep. I felt groggy and disoriented. Without a word, she opened the door and I passed through. I followed her down the corridor in my sock feet, wishing with all my heart that I could brush my teeth.

I once dated a cop who had an eight-by-eleven-foot desk built for himself, boasting that the surface was the same size as the two-man cells in Folsom prison. The room I was ushered into was about that size, furnished with a plain wood table, three straight-backed wooden chairs, and a bulb covered with a milky globe. I would have bet money there was recording equipment in there somewhere. I peered under the table. No sign of a wire. I sat down on one of the chairs, wondering how best to comport myself. I knew I was a mess. My hair felt matted, probably sticking straight up in places. I was sure my mascara and eyeliner now circled my eyes in that raccoon effect women so admire in themselves. The trampy outfit I'd concocted was not only wrinkled, but still felt faintly damp. Ah, well. At least if I were subjected to police brutality, I wouldn't mind bleeding on myself.

The door opened and Lieutenant Dolan appeared in company with another (I was guessing) plainclothes detective. I felt a spurt of fear for the first time since this ghastly ordeal had begun. Dolan was the last man I wanted to have as a witness to my current state. I could feel a blush of embarrassment rise up my neck to my face. Dolan's companion was in his sixties, with a thick shock of silver hair brushed away from a square face, deep-set eyes, and a mouth that pulled down at the corners. He was taller than Dolan and in much better shape, substantially built with wide shoulders and heavy-looking thighs. He wore a three-piece suit in a muted glen plaid with a denim blue shirt and a wide maroon tie with a floral pattern more fitting for a couch cover. He wore a gold ring on his right hand, a watch with a heavy gold band on his left. He made no particular attempt to be polite. If he had an opinion of me, nothing registered on his face. Together, the two men seemed to fill the room.


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