“lease,” Juliette said.
“Let me hear you say it in French,” said Jimmie Sue.
Juliette blushed. “S’il vous plait.” Though that didn’t really convey the begging quality, she’d learned via her Mom, you could get from a long, drawn-out American please.
“As you know, I do not have my cards, so I can’t guarantee that the reading will be 100 percent accurate.”
Juliette felt her face go even hotter. It was clear that Jimmie Sue was not going to tell her mother about her role in the fire. If Juliette did certain things, sometimes specific, sometimes vague, sometimes small, somethings big things that Jimmie Sue wanted.
“But you said there were other methods.”
“There’s the palm, that’s what we can do today. There’s staring into fire, but I have to be in the mood for that, and right about now fire’s kinda not sitting so well. But the cards are the best. Did you order those new cards for me like I told you?”
Yes, Juliette had. She’d gone online, as Jimmie Sue had instructed, and ordered a deck exactly like the old one, which should be here in a few days. She’d even paid for the cards with her own money.
“All right,” Jimmie Sue said, gesturing. “Let me see that pretty young hand.”
Jimmie Sue was sitting in Juliette’s grandfather’s bed, Senior snoring beside her although the lights were on overhead and the television blared in the background. Juliette and her mother had cleared and scrubbed the whole room, changed the sheets and the mattress pad and the blankets too. Cora had cleaned the kitchen, too, and cooked Juliette’s grandpa his favorite meal. They had gotten the whole house in pretty good shape, with the exception of her uncle’s room, which Cora just shut the door on and said she would not deal with.
The alligator in the bathtub turned out to be some giant sort of pet lizard of Jamie’s. Cora had put on oven mitts and kind of swept it, with Juliette’s extremely reluctant help, into a box sprinkled with cat food. It was difficult to tell whether the lizard was dead or alive.
They’d taped up the box and put it out in the cement garden for Jamie to take care of if he should ever show up.
“Ah,” said Jimmie Sue, raising her eyebrows. “That’s interesting.”
“You have two lovers.”