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Posts Tagged ‘Taryn’

32. TARYN: The Swimmer

t was nearly dark when Taryn got back to the houseboat, breathless, a six-pack of George’s favorite pale ale on the front seat beside her to make up for being so late. George hadn’t answered her last couple of texts so he was undoubtedly pissed. It had just felt so good, to not only have a day to herself, but to have a day when she was sober, and awake, and able to enjoy those simple things that other people claimed to enjoy: Having her hair washed, getting a massage, shopping for new white underwear, even buying George the beer that made him feel like a man of sophisticated taste and experience.

When people talked about how much they liked doing things like this, she’d always thought, Yeah, right. I so believe the natural high you get from gardening is as good as a hit of meth.

But today, she had felt that.

Driving home, taking the curves in the mountain road a little too fast, playing her favorite Duffy CD a little too loud, she was so lost in singing along to Warwick Avenue that she thought at first that she’d missed the right turnoff.

Listen to Taryn’s favorite song

She doubled back around twice until she fully understood that no, this was the right parking area, this was the right dock.  What was different was that the houseboat was not there.

Heart hammering, she paced frantically back and forth, trying to think of what might have happened.  The ropes were lying there, not cut, just loose.  It was windy, had been all day, the water choppy in the glow of the setting sun.

Flipping open her phone, she tried again to reach George, and again got no answer.  This wasn’t like him.  If only for the sake of his damn horses, he never let his phone go dead, never let himself be out of reach.

Could George and Beth have gone somewhere and the boat gotten loose while they were away?  Could someone have untied it, for fun or out of malice?  There were people who had it in for George, for not giving them drugs or for just being an all-around goody two shoes.  And there were more people, a lot more people, Taryn realized with a sinking heart, who had it in for her.

An image of Tiffany, poor Tiffany, her body hacked to pieces and thrown in that alley, flashed across Taryn’s mind.  She’d been trying to keep it at bay all day, had been so proud of herself for managing to resist drugs in the face of what had happened to her friend.

But now the reality of Tiffany’s murder, and Taryn’s own fears, came rushing back in.   Taryn knew all of the same people Tiffany did, had at least as much potential for pissing them off.  Whoever did that to Tiffany could do it to Taryn too.  To Taryn’s family.

Without thinking, she dove into the frigid spring water.  The lake was so shallow off the end of the dock she scraped her chin on a rock, felt the weeds around her arms as she swam.  She’d always refused to swim here, no matter how hot it was, for fear of the muddy bottom and the snakes and the snapping turtles, but now she felt none of that.  She thought she could see the houseboat, bobbing by itself out in the lake.  The more she swam, the more convinced she became that George and Beth were out there.


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?”


16. TARYN: Home Alone

aryn assured George that of course, he had to go to LaTonya for their lesson. When he hesitated, when he said that perhaps he ought to take Beth with him, so Taryn could rest, she told him he was being ridiculous. Beth was fast asleep; he’d woken her up and dragged her out with him the night before.

Now Taryn was here, she was the child’s mother, for God’s sake. Didn’t he trust her?

“Don’t worry, you don’t have to answer,” she said, smiling gently, bringing her fingers to his lips. “I know I haven’t given you much reason to trust me. But things are going to be different from now on, George, really. I love you so much. You and Beth too.”

He hesitated just one more moment before enfolding her in his arms. She loved how he felt, big, tender, warm, different from any other man. If only he could be enough for her.

She curled up on the built-in sofa, leafing through a magazine, while he went out and got in the car, turned on the engine, backed out of the gravel drive, drove off into the darkness. It was so snug in the houseboat, the only sounds the lapping of the lake outside, and Beth’s quiet breath.

Taryn got up and went and stood over her daughter, gazing down. She couldn’t believe this was her child. The little girl looked nothing like her, and not much like George either. Taryn had been a tomboy, tearing around the woods with her brothers and cousins, swinging from trees, while Beth was shy and frightened, happy only when George was nearby and she had her play horses and stuffed animals, paper and crayons close at hand.

Taryn thought of kissing the girl on the cheek, but she didn’t want to risk waking her. Briefly, she considered getting into bed and going to sleep herself, but she’d been half-waiting for George to leave her alone in the place ever since she woke up. What did he have around these days?, she’d been wondering. Now that she wasn’t around here much anymore?


11. GEORGE: The Heart Wants

eorge, on his knees, watched as Taryn slid down into the water, legs bent, to rinse her long blonde hair. Her eyes were squeezed shut and her face was scrunched up, layered over with a veil of bubbles.

She stayed underwater so long he nearly reached down to rescue her, but then suddenly she bolted upright, water cascading off her hair and down her lovely back.

“You’ve still got shampoo in it,” he said, running a hand over her sleek, soapy head.

“Can you wash it again?” she said, twisting around to look at him, beads of water suspended like dew from her eyelashes. “Like in the beauty parlor.”

He laughed. Beth, who had been playing with her plastic horses on the floor, scrambled to her feet and rushed over to them.

“I want to play beauty parlor,” she said, stationing herself behind Taryn’s back. “Please, Mommy.”

“Okay, baby,” said Taryn. “You can do my hair and Daddy will do my back.”

Taryn leaned forward against her bent knees in the old white porcelain tub, deeper than it was long, rescued from one of the bath houses that was being torn down. The tub was perfect for the houseboat, where space was at a premium. George had built this place himself one long summer, when he and Taryn were first together. She had lain on the dock in the sun in a bikini, reading magazines, while he hammered and sawed and drove nails into the log siding, the cedar-shingled roof. He wanted to create a fairy tale cottage, floating like a magical place on the enchanted lake. At the end of the afternoon, Taryn would join him on a blanket under a tall yellowwood, where they drank beers icy from the cooler. Then, if there was no one in sight, they made love, after which they ran laughing and naked down the dock and jumped into the lake.

George took up the long handled brush now that he used to wash his own back and prepared to scrub Taryn’s.

“No,” she said, pushing it away. “With your hands.”


8. GEORGE: So Hard To Do Nothing

ho was there?

George hesitated, listening, in the entrance to the houseboat, Beth sound asleep in his arms.

He might have forgotten to lock the door when he left for the McAdams’ place in such a hurry, but he knew that was a justification: He often left the door open, had some deep sense that if he filled his life with enough pure trust, nothing bad would happen to him.

That was certainly foolish, with the mushrooming of the meth cabins throughout the hills that surrounded him, with the belief that, because he was some kind of doctor and worked at the track, he was both rich and possessed a store of narcotics, and also with his connection to Taryn.

He heard nothing, but then, relaxing enough to take a breath, he smelled her, that unmistakable mix of lilies of the valley and smoke, of sweat and the Sour Patch Kids that were her dietary staple. He wanted to call out her name and throw on the lights, but he didn’t want to disturb Beth, and who knew, after all, what he’d really find? The only thing he was sure of was that she’d been there.

He tiptoed in, setting Beth gently on her bed and smoothing the comforter over her, straightening up slowly and looking around. Taryn might be here with someone else, Jamie maybe, or one of her other cranked up friends. They would have seen his headlights, heard his car door; they might be hiding, waiting to spring.


5. DaSHAWN: The Finger

ick dancers were definitely not something that DaShawn was supposed to be handling. That was on Llewellyn’s list of jobs: Number one, hire the girls, a task that Llewellyn embraced full-heartedly, though it wasn’t as simple and as pleasant as everybody seemed to think, finding hot-looking non-skanky females who were both willing to grind their naked booties on stage and who could be relied upon to show up and do so.

Number two on Llewellyn’s list of duties: Fire the bitches who were chronically late or who fought with the other girls or who tweaked or shot up on the premises or who had perennial babysitter problems or psycho boyfriends or who gained too much weight or got too old or who attempted to turn tricks without giving DaShawn a cut of the action. Llewellyn had initially pussied out on the firings but after being played by enough females was now turning nicely cold.

Llewellyn job number three: Deal with the girls who fainted because they didn’t eat enough or yacked because they drank too much or who went crazy from too much crank or two many hands pawing at their pussies or who cut themselves or who passed out or nodded out because of whatever reason.

But it was DaShawn’s arms that Taryn fell into when she toppled off the stage. Girl was usually prancing around the stage, racing around, working that pole, shimmying so fast she was a golden blur. Taryn Piper was the finest child ever to wander into the Exquisite, and her talents had a lot to do with DaShawn’s success, he never denied that. It was, shit, nearly ten years ago the first time she walked through the door, claiming to be 18 and with the phony papers to prove it, but looking more like 12. Barely up to his shoulder, barely 100 pounds, with teeny little turned-up breasts tipped pink as rosebuds and hair the color of home-churned butter on her head AND below: that was one special sight. Everybody, DaShawn included, was so mesmerized by that blonde-haired pussy that Taryn still held the distinction of being the only girl never sent over to the spa to be waxed.


3. TARYN: I Cross The Line

aryn slammed down the receiver of the old pay phone still bolted to the wall outside the men’s room at The Exquisite A Go Go, and then slammed it down again, and then banged it against the wall a few times for good measure.

Fuck George! George was a class-A motherfucker. He was a first-class asshole, was what he was. Man says call him if she was ever in trouble. Man says don’t worry, he would always be there for her, of course he would be, she was the mother of his child, and he would always love her.

So this was what he called love? She phoned him in need, sick, and he said he was sorry, but he had to go take care of someone who was genuinely sick? Genuinely: She understood what that meant. It meant Fuck off, you druggy bitch.

Wade Perkins, another first-class asshole on her endless list, pushed out of the men’s room just as she was about to see if she could tear the phone out by its roots.

“Whoa, little girl!” he said. “Calm down there. Somebody do you wrong?”

Wade, with his flowing silver locks, big belly straining against pearl-buttoned black cowboy shirt, and Margarita breath, was the only dentist that Taryn had ever been to. George had sent her to Wade when they were first together, and she remembered Wade leaning over her, breathing through his mouth, clucking as he poked at her many cavities and exclaimed that she had the gums of an 80-year-old, a comment for which she would never fucking forgive him.

“It’s just George,” she told the dentist now. “He owes me my support money, you know, and he won’t pay me.”

Wade drew his head back, looked surprised. Yeah, nobody would believe such a thing of St. George, the Eagle Scout and Biggest Ass Good-Doer of central Arkansas. But it was her word against George’s, and she had the advantage of standing right here in front of Wade Perkins, batting her eyelashes and wearing nothing more than a rhinestone-studded patent leather mini-dress.

“Wade,” she said, stepping closer and laying a hand on his chest. “Do you think you could spot me some cash, just till tomorrow?”