H Is For Homicide Page 41


’’So you can owe me. Don't sweat it.’’

Her look was puzzled. ’’But why now? How come you didn't do that in the first place?’’

’’I just remembered I had money in a savings account. My car's in the shop. I was saving to get the tranny fixed. What the hell. Let it sit. It's not doing me any good here.’’

She hadn't bought my story yet. ’’I can't believe you'd do that.’’

The skinny woman piped up from the mattress in an aggravated tone of voice. ’’What's the matter with you, crazy? Take the money and shut your mouth.’’

Bibianna flicked a look at the woman and smiled in spite of herself. She studied me for a moment and then murmured a ’’Thank you.’’ Her eyes closed again. She turned over on her stomach and tucked her arms under her for warmth. Within minutes, she'd dozed off.

The air in the cell was permeated with the scent of sleeping bodies: damp socks, stale breath, unwashed hair. I had thought my cellmates might waken with my return, but no one else stirred. The light in the corridor shone dimly. The quiet became absolute. On the floor, I could still see the numerology grid Bibianna'd drawn for me with spit. Movement and change. Well, now wasn't that the truth?

11

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT was the result of a bureaucratic error for which responsibility was never assigned. The paperwork came down at six and Bibianna and I were mustered out. Just like that. There was no word from Dolan and Santos, no sign of the tech who was supposed to fit me with a wire. I kept waiting for the jail officer to call me back, take me aside under some pretext or other for the promised briefing. What was the deal here? Had there been a change of plans? For the life of me, I couldn't think of a reason to delay my release. I'd just have to play the situation as it came to me. I was carrying my personal property, still sealed in the clear plastic pouch. They'd returned our shoes, belts, and other potentially death dealing items, like tampons. I was feeling vile, but the first breath of fresh air restored my good spirits to some extent. After a mere four hours in the slammer, the freedom had a giddiness attached to it.

The morning was cold and foggy, the ground still saturated from the rain the night before. The scruffy hills around the jail looked serene. Little birdies sang. The passing traffic out on the freeway seemed to ebb and surge, rhythmic white noise, very restful, like the ocean at high tide. I longed for a shower, for breakfast, for privacy. I'd have to conjure up an excuse to separate from Bibianna, contact Dolan, and find out what the hell was going on. In the meantime, I was going to have to stick to her like glue.

The first order of business, of course, was to find a ride home. I checked my plastic pouch, feeling like a mental patient just released from the institution. I had ten bucks in cash, which I decided to blow on a taxi. I'm too cheap for cabs as a rule, but I really felt I deserved this one. Bibianna and I clopped down the long drive that led away from the jail. I was a sight to behold, tank top and wrinkled black pants, my little white socks turning black where the dye on my wet pumps had rubbed off. Bibianna wasn't looking all that hot herself. The red of her dress was unflattering by day, a mismatch for the spike heels, which the rain had pulled out of shape. She was applying a fresh coat of lipstick, open compact held in front of her face as she walked. She'd stripped off her panty hose, which had been riddled with runs after our adventures of the night before. Her legs looked pale and scrawny in the harsh light of day, and her dress was as pleated across the lap as the bellows of an accordion. Oh, well. I suppose there are times when you rejoice just to find yourself on the move again. Behind us were the chain-link fences, incessant lights, the locks, the barred windows. In spite of our liberation, I couldn't think of a thing to say to her. ’’Thanks... it's been fun... we'll have to do this again sometime soon.’’ The simple rules of etiquette didn't seem to apply.

Bibianna tucked her compact in her purse, her manner anxious.

’’Did they ask you about the shooting?’’ I asked.

’’Not yet. Some homicide cop is supposed to come around to my place later today.’’

’’What are you going to tell them?’’

’’Who cares about that? I gotta find a way to get outta here before Raymond shows up...’’

I felt an anxiety of my own. What the hell was going on here? Where was Dolan? What was I supposed to do?

Suddenly, Bibianna clutched my arm, digging her nails into my flesh. ’’Sweet Jesus,’’ she whispered, staring dead ahead.

I followed her gaze, realizing belatedly that her attention was riveted on a dark green Ford that was parked down the road, its rear end lowered until the pan nearly scraped the ground. Her fear was so palpable that the hair rose up on the back of my neck.


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