Not One Clue

By: Lois Greiman






4


Dogs, they may drink from your toilet and pee on your carpet, but they will not cheat on you with your friends. Unless they are from Saltillo, Mexico. Then who can be sure.

—Rosita, the mother of Jack

Rivera and the ex-wife of

Senator Rivera, who was

from Saltillo, Mexico



The phone rang again. In all honesty, I didn’t think it would have the nerve. In even more honesty, I thought I had taken it off the hook. I hadn’t gotten to sleep until nearly two a.m. and every fiber ached where Lavonn had hit me with her knees and fists. I opened one eye to stare at the clock and refrained from swearing even though it was officially morning and I knew who was on the phone. The police station grapevine was a thousand miles long and news traveled at the speed of light. I answered on the fourth ring.

“Listen, I didn’t do anything wrong,” I said, and covered my eyes with my hand.

“Chrissy.” The voice on the other end of the line was a mix between a jackhammer and a road-grader.

“Mom?” I snapped my eyes open and sat up straight. Harlequin trotted in, tags jingling, lips wet from slurping water from the toilet bowl. He was a big believer in hydrating. “How are you?”

“Why didn’t you tell me Elaine’s getting married?”

My throat felt as if it had been corked up tight. The previous night had been scary as hell: The sight of Jackson’s bleeding body tilted against the foyer wall, Lavonn’s oddly dilated eyes, the gun, the angst, the anger. But there are few things that can compete with my mother’s righteous rage. Harley plopped his head on my foot and swore undying devotion with his eyes.

“What?” I said. It was the best I could do at seven o’clock in the morning. Maybe with a couple more hours of sleep I could have come up with “Whatever do you mean,” in a dynamite antebellum lisp, but I wasn’t up to that sort of clever wordplay just then. And besides, it would probably have been nothing short of verbal suicide. My parents love Laney. Well, maybe not my father. As far as I know, Dad only loves two things. One of them is his easy chair, the other is produced in Milwaukee. Neither of those things would be available at Laney’s wedding. I hoped to say the same of my parents.

“Elaine’s getting married and you didn’t think I should know?” Mom asked.

“Know? No. I mean, yes. Didn’t I tell you?” Harley was drooling on the coverlet. “I was sure I told you.”

“Where’s the ceremony?”

“Where?”

“Yes. Where?”

Oh God, oh God, oh God, maybe I could convince Laney to perform her ungodly act of matrimonial stupidity in Las Vegas. Or Disneyland. Or Timbuktu. Anywhere that wouldn’t lead my sordid kindred to L.A. “I’m not sure.”

“What do you mean you’re not sure? You two haven’t had an argument or something, have you?”

Silence hung in the air like smog. For a moment I thought I saw a glimpse of an out and almost made a mad dash for it, but mothers can be sneaky and I thought I smelled a trap. “Why do you ask?” I asked.

Silence stretched on again, then, “Because I spoke to Pastor Butterfield.”

So I’d been right about the trap. It had been yawning right in front of my feet, but I’d managed to escape it. Still, I winced. “Laney’s dad?”

“He said you’re Elaine’s maid of honor.”

“Oh.” I nodded, sure she was watching me. Some people can see through a thousand miles of telephone wire. It’s called mother-vision.

“Is that true?” Her tone was slick, as if she didn’t care.

There it was. That sneakiness. I mean, of course it was true. Would a pastor lie about his own daughter’s wedding? And more important, could I pull off a lie involving a pastor’s daughter?

No. Even I wasn’t that good.

“Well …” I yawned. It was entirely fake. I hadn’t been this wide-awake since my brothers put red ants in my underwear drawer. “It’s just a little ceremony.” A couple hundred of her closest friends and most of the Hollywood community. “I didn’t think you’d be interested.”

“Not interested? Elaine is like a daughter to me!”

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