HO SPRINGS
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Posts Tagged ‘Pamela Redmond Satran’

72. CORA: The End

eady?” Cora asked Juliette.

The girl hoisted her suitcase and gave a wan smile.

Cora gave up. She would have guessed that Juliette would have been delighted to go back to France, but instead the girl had been sullen, even weepy, all week.

“Is there something wrong?” Cora asked. “Something you’re not telling me?”

Juliette shrugged and blinked harder against the tears that seemed always to be lingering in her eyes.

Cora sighed. She’d been so full of doubts leaving Paris and coming here, so wracked by misgivings through all the weeks of dealing with her brother and her father and George and the family business and especially with Juliette herself. But she never expected she’d feel just as conflicted — more conflicted — about going back.

“It’s time,” said Medhi.

Hugo took Juliette’s hand and led her toward the stairs.

“Did you say goodbye to your grandfather?” Cora asked.

Again, the only answer Cora got from her daughter was a shrug, though this time it was more understandable. Cora’s father, Juliette’s grandfather, sat dim-eyed on the sofa beside his girlfriend, Jimmie Sue.

“Goodbye, Pop,” Cora said, crossing the room to kiss her father’s grizzled cheek.

He looked up at her, confused. “Who are you?” he asked, sounding almost frightened.

Would this be the last time she’d see him? At least with Jimmie Sue here, she could be sure that he’d eat and not drink himself to death. But even without the bottle of bourbon each day, some light had gone out behind his eyes.

“Remember what I told you,” Jimmie Sue said.

Jimmie Sue had told Cora not to go. She’d laid out the cards the night before and advised against the trip, against Cora getting back together with Medhi, against taking Juliette across the ocean.

“Your destiny is here,” Jimmie Sue had said, talking about a man in Juliette’s future who could only be George.

But Cora couldn’t let herself make decisions as big as how to raise her daughter and whether to reunite with her husband of 20 years based on what some old cards said, could she? She might be impulsive, she might be ambivalent, but she wasn’t a complete fool.
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71. DWAYNE, DaSHAWN, LaTONYA: Let Us Pray

DWAYNE

e raised his hands to the congregation.

For the brothers and sisters in need of divine intervention, let us pray!

Amen.

For those, who have lost their way in the sight of the Lord, let us pray!

Amen.

For the thieves, for the flesh peddlers, for those who have turned away from their families, let us pray.

And let us pray, oh Lord, for our own souls, for who among us is without sin, or without earthly hopes and heavenly dreams? Give us your aid, sweet Jesus, in achieving our goals, in purifying our intentions, and in casting out the devils who walk among us and live within.

DaSHAWN

Suitcase in hand, pockets empty, he stood before her door for a long moment, head bowed.

He never thought he would be reduced to this, not since he was 17 and left home for the last time. His fortunes had been on the rise ever since. At least until recently.

After a long moment, he lifted his hand and range the bell. He could hear her footsteps in the apartment, see her eye on the other side of the peephole. At last, she opened the door.

“Mama,” he choked out. “I want to come home.”

She didn’t move from the doorway.

“Ma, please. I have nowhere else to go.”

At this he nearly coughed out a tear, it was so close to being true. I have nowhere decent to go, was a hard fact. I have not enough money to do anything impressive and no one who loves me, including maybe you.
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61. JULIETTE: Let’s Play Kidnapper

abysitting was not how she wanted to spend her day. Hugo, who was at this very moment snoring on the couch across the room, was sure to be leaving very soon, and Juliette might never see him again. And after all their efforts to be together last night were foiled — well, she felt she had to spend every single available second with him.

And if not with him, at least with her dear Papa. And if not with Papa, at least in bed, unconscious, trying to sleep away what had happened to her in the woods.

And now here was this spooky little girl, dumped just about literally in her lap, staring up at her with eyes big and blue as robin’s eggs behind those weird thick glasses.

“Wanna play horsies?” the girl, Beth, asked, holding up one of her mangy plastic horses.

“Ummmmmmm…..no,” Juliette said.

The kid blinked.

“How about CandyLand?” she asked, her voice so soft it was almost a whisper.

Juliette examined the child. She might have been cute, if somebody had taken the time to fix her hair and get her some chic little clothes. Plus she definitely needed cooler glasses.

“How about kidnapper?” Juliette asked.

“How do you play that?” Beth asked shyly.

“I hide behind the couch, and you walk by, and then I jump out and kidnap you.”

They both looked over at the couch, where Hugo snorted and flipped over so he was facing away from them.

“I don’t know,” Beth said, sticking her thumb in her mouth.

“Come on,” Juliette said. “It’ll be fun.”

She stood up and, taking Beth’s hand, walked her over near the couch and positioned her in front of it. Maybe Hugo would hear them. Maybe he would wake up and join in the game. Maybe he would see how great Juliette was with Beth and want to marry her for real and have babies with her.

“Okay,” Juliette said. “Just walk like this, like you’re little Red Riding Hood on your way to grandmother’s house.”

“Are you the grandmother?” Beth asked.

The grandmother? This kid really was funky. “No! Can’t you see I’m young and pretty?” Juliette said.

Beth nodded, but then asked, “Are you the wolf?”

Juliette clucked impatiently. “I’m the kidnapper,” she said. “Now walk, back and forth, in front of the couch.”
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27. GEORGE: The Sleeping Game

eorge drew the Queen Frostine card, and immediately tried to shove it back in the pile before Beth could see. But too late: The little girl’s eyes caught the vision of the lavender-bedecked fairy queen and her face started to crumple.

“I wanted to get the queen,” she said, a whimper at the edge of her voice.

“I drew this card by mistake!” George cried, trying to put it in her hand. “Look, did you see that? It was supposed to be your card which means you would….”

He swooped her pink playing piece up into the air, bouncing onto the queen’s space and then hopping ahead. “…..jump all the way to the end which means you are the big winner!”

Beth broke down in giggles. “Oh, Daddy,” she said.

“Enough Candy Land? What do you say we go out for a walk? See if we can pick some flowers for Mommy?”

It was his day off and Taryn had taken the opportunity to go into town to get her hair done. He’d offered to drive her, figured that he and Beth could get an ice cream, take a stroll down Bath House Row and see what stores were starting to open up for the season.

But Taryn had said no, she could get there perfectly fine on her own, and she had other things to do besides: buy clothes to replace everything she’d left behind when she’d moved back in, look for something for his upcoming birthday. When he hesitated, she said, “Don’t you trust me, George? How can you be married to me, if you don’t trust me?”

She was right, of course she was right. So he’d smiled and kissed her and let her go.

Now Beth was shaking her head no, she didn’t want to go for a walk.

“How about we feed the fish? I bet they’re hungry after a long winter with no bugs on the water.”

Again, Beth shook her head.

“Well, what do you want to do? Play tea party with Bunny and your dolls?” Please God, he thought: anything but another round of Candy Land.

“Let’s play the sleeping game.”

“The sleeping game? How do you play that?”

“You lie here on the floor,” Beth said, “on your tummy. Then you close your eyes and I play with your hair and tickle your back.”

George did as he was told. It wasn’t until he was fully stretched out, lulled by the rock of the boat, his daughter’s delicate fingers drumming on his shoulders, that it occurred to him to wonder what was happening.
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21. TARYN: Out of the Rain

m never going back there again,” Taryn said.

She shivered at the very thought of it and pulled Beth, nestled on her lap, even closer for warmth. Outside the houseboat, the rain beat down, gusts driving the water in sheets against the windows, the boat rocking with the waves.

But in here all was snug, the smell of frying butter rising from the little cooktop as George cooked them pancakes. He’d even gone out in the rain to get real maple syrup, the kind that Taryn loved.

“I’m glad to hear you say that, baby,” said George. He flipped a pancake shaped like a B, for Beth. “I just feel terrible for LaTonya, losing her boy like that.”

“LaTonya! What about poor Tiffany, dumped in an alley?”

Beth twisted around and stared, eyes huge behind her thick glasses, at her mother. “Why was Tiffany dumped in a alley?” the child asked.

Taryn and George locked eyes.

“Oh, nothing, sweetheart,” George said, slipping the pancakes onto a plate. “Mommy’s friend fell down and got hurt.”

“She didn’t get hurt, George. She was murdered.”

It was bad enough that nobody cared about poor Tiff when she was alive. Now they wanted to deny her existence when she was dead too.

“What’s murdered?” asked Beth.

“She doesn’t need to know the gory details, Taryn,” said George, setting the pancakes on the table.

“What’s gory?” said Beth.

“There are probably three people on earth who give a shit about Tiffany, and I’m one of them,” said Taryn. “She was from Texas: Did you know that? Her stepfather got her pregnant when she was 13. She has a kid somewhere she’s never seen, but who she thinks about every day. Thought about. How can you just act like nothing happened to her?”

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1. CORA: Home After Dark

ora should have known better than to drive into Hot Springs at night. She and her daughter Juliette were up before six in Paris to get to the airport on time, swaying on the Metro through the gray dawn, gripping the suitcases that held everything she had to show for twenty years in Paris.

But it was all right, she told herself.  They’d sleep on the plane and then her brother Jamie would meet them at the airport in Little Rock and then her father would be waiting for them, a fresh platter of fried chicken at the ready, and maybe a big bowl full of mashed potatoes cratered with salt and a volcanic pool of melted butter floating on top.

But their takeoff was delayed, so they were late getting into Houston and had to get a later flight to Little Rock.  And then Jamie was not waiting for them at the Little Rock luggage area, and her father wasn’t answering the phone . They were bone tired and all Cora wanted to do was check into the nearest motel and make her way home in the morning.  But she had a bad feeling, and Juliette could sleep in the car, and she could definitely drive that hour of mostly interstate to Hot Springs, couldn’t she?

Even with no energy, and no brain.

But she had forgotten how dark things got out here, in winter, when the tourists were not around. How close the hills crowded in, how dense the fog could be from the damp crevices in those hills.

It never got dark like this in Paris.

Juliette snored softly and Cora flicked on the radio, settling on the third and last station on the dial, all of them country, but at least something to keep the coyotes at bay. Was Medhi combing the streets of Montmartre for them right now, banging down the doors of her friends, demanding to know where she’d gone, where she’d taken his daughter? Or maybe, relieved to find that she’d vanished at last, he was laughing in bed with one mistress or another, happy to be alone.

Your cheating heart will pine someday
And crave the love you threw away

She would not cry, would not. First with her mother’s death, and then with the discovery of Medhi’s extravagantly adulterous life, and then with Juliette’s rebelliousness and with the intimations that her father and brother were not holding things together in Hot Springs, she’d cried enough.  She was starting a new life now.  A life that would not include the kinds of things that made her take four showers a day just so she could cry.

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