ou wait in the car,” Taryn said.
“Why do I have to wait in the car?”
Taryn sighed theatrically, so he’d know she was out of patience. “Because you’re a Negro, and they’re not going to like that,” she explained to DaShawn, the way she would to Beth.
She undid another button at the neck of the housedress she’d bought at Goodwill and plumped up the cleavage she’d created with the help of one of the supersonic bras from the costume room at the Go Go. Humble yet hot, that was the look she was going for.
“Now give me the cash,” she said to DaShawn.
“Why do I have to give you the cash if I can’t even get out of the car?”
She held out her hand. “Do you want to be a bonafide businessman or don’t you?”
He gave her the book-thick wad of bills, which she had trouble stuffing into her stiff purse, even though it was the biggest one they had at Goodwill. From somewhere in the distance, sirens sounded.
“Shit,” DaShawn said, flattening himself on the car’s front seat.
Taryn laughed. “Not every siren blares for you, D. You know what, you better stay down like that till I get back.”
She didn’t wait to see whether he obeyed her — of course he would; she wouldn’t have brought him into this deal otherwise — but got out of the car and walked gingerly in her cream high heels down the gravel driveway toward the farmhouse. It was a sorry place, all scrubby lawn and peeling paint, falling-down barn and untilled acres stretching toward forested hills.
But it suited her perfectly: Large, secluded, unflashy, and gettable for a song. Or at least for a purse full of cold hard cash.
She rang the bell and then, realizing that it was broken — the first of many things needing repairs, she figured — she banged on the plexiglass storm door. A stocky older woman wearing baggy jeans, her steel-colored hair cropped close, came to the door.
“I’m Mrs. Forrest,” Taryn said in her softest voice, honeying up the Southern accent. “The widow who called about the farm?”
“Oh yes,” the farm wife said, opening the door. “Barney? That young woman is here.”
“This sure is a beautiful place,” Taryn said, batting her eyes as she gazed around at the soot-stained walls painted a Godawful hospital green, at the torn gold synthetic carpet, an ancient television on legs blaring in the corner. Panels were missing from a dropped ceiling and it seemed as if every window in the place was cracked.
“Lot for us to keep up, now,” the husband said. “Can’t get enough for crops to keep things going.”
“Oh, that’s not something I’d be worried about,” said Taryn. “I’m just looking for a place in the country, where my children can play and where we can keep some horses. My late husband….”
She choked back a tear then, genuine enough when she thought of George. The wife gestured toward a chair and she sat down, making sure as she did so to bend over in Barney’s direction.
“….well, he left me enough money so that I’d be able to buy a place without having to get a mortgage. It’s so hard for a widow with no income, trying to deal with the banks….”
She saw the couple trade glances; they’d obviously had plenty of their own trouble with banks. Might have owned the place free and clear at one point, and then remortgaged, and remortgaged again, so that now the best they could hope for was to walk away debt-free with enough cash to pay the first month’s rent and security deposit on an apartment downtown.
“I know it’s a little less than you wanted,” said Taryn, “but there wouldn’t be any, what do you call them?, contingencies, and I’d be willing to pay cash….”
She opened the purse and, pop!, just as she’d hoped, the $100 bills jumped out of her bag, spilling onto her lap, the floor: the perfect money shot.
She jumped up, bent over even more dramatically, feigned an attempt to gather them up.
Barney cleared his throat. “I think we might be able to work something out.”