Not One ClueBy: Lois Greiman
The daughter she had never had. The daughter every mother longed for. I had never wished more that I could hate the little bride-to-be. But Brainy Laney’s like spaghetti, long and slim and impossible to dislike.
“Give me her address. I’ll send her a gift …” She paused. It was a lengthy pause, and about twelve months pregnant. “… since she doesn’t care enough to invite me.”
That’s when the war began inside me. Because although I wanted with stark desperation for Mom to send a gift instead of delivering it in person, I couldn’t bear to allow anyone to believe that Laney was callous enough to neglect to send an invitation to her maid of honor’s mother.
“She didn’t invite us, right?”
And suddenly I couldn’t come up with a single lie. Me, a tuba-player, a woman, a psychologist. Nothing.
And then my cell rang. I couldn’t believe it. It was like a trumpet call from the heavens. Like Gabriel’s ethereal fanfare.
Sliding past Harley, I reached for the purse I had dropped on the floor. “Listen, Mom, I’d like to chat, but I have another call.”
“I don’t care if it’s Saint Peter, himself. I want to know—–”
“Oh, look. It’s Rivera.”
She was just inhaling for another blast, when she paused. “Gerald?”
I closed my eyes and covered them with my palm. There was some sort of proverb about a frying pan and a fire. Which was preferable?
“So you two are still dating?” she asked.
“I’ve really got to go. This could be important.”
“Important?” Her tone had sharpened to a needle point jabbing my eye. “Important how? Is it serious between you two?”
Yes, it was serious. As serious as a body tipped against the wall and bleeding onto the rosewood floor, but I had a feeling that wasn’t exactly what she meant, and I didn’t share the specifics. “I think it is,” I said, and for that one statement I knew I could burn in hell. Or worse yet, be cornered by an irate mother insisting that I had misled her into believing there might be wedding bells in her only daughter’s future.
Maybe it was that thought that made me stammer an apologetic good-bye. Maybe it was some long-dormant sense of masochism that made me snap open my cell phone.
“What the hell were you thinking?” Rivera snarled.
I closed my eyes and rubbed my gritty lids. “Whatever happened to early morning pleasantries such as ‘good day’ or ‘top of the—’”
“You knew he had shot someone before you went skipping over to Glendale, didn’t you?”
“Actually, I drove. I’ve never been good at skipping. Something about the rhythm of hopping and—”
“Why the fuck would you get involved with him?”
“Who? Micky?” I asked.
For a moment there was a silence. “Was there another shooter?”
“Well, there was Lavonn,” I said, and froze. To this day, I still don’t know why I would say such a thing. In the past there has been some evidence to suggest that I’m not completely brain-dead. Not a lot, but—
“She shot at you?”
“Not at me exactly.”
“Who exactly did she shoot at?” His voice had taken on that patient-father tone I had come to detest.
Laney appeared in my doorway wearing an oversized T-shirt and baggy sweatpants. Her hair was mussed, her face bare of makeup. She was beauty personified. It almost made me wish I had kept the gun, just in case I caught a glimpse of my own face before applying my usual half a gallon of foundation. But cops are funny about letting could-be psychopaths walk away bearing arms.
“Rivera?” She mouthed the name.
“How’s it going?” Mouthed again.
“Excellent.” My answer was silent, accompanied by a confident nod.
She grinned at my lie. “I’ll wait to hear the story,” she said, and headed for the bathroom.
It was impossible for me to guess how she knew there was a story. Laney hadn’t returned home yet when I’d left for Glendale. I had privately hoped she was still honing wedding plans at midnight or maybe out knocking over 7-Elevens … anything besides sharing a bed with Solberg. But it’s impossible to say for sure. Brainy Laney’s spooky in a lot of ways.