Wednesday, April 30
“Where is she?” Arthur looked at the phone, expecting it to ring.
Lane looked at the clock; it read 3:30 AM . “I have no idea.” He rubbed at the remains of his ear lobe. A drunken, abusive husband had bitten off the rest during a domestic dispute call.
Arthur pulled the curtain back and looked out the window of their front-to-back split-level home. The light outside the front door highlighted his pear-shaped silhouette. “Matt didn’t shovel the sidewalk.”
“Want me to do it?” In an attempt to wake up, Lane rubbed his face with his open palm. Matt must be hoping the sun will come out and clear away the snow. There’s warmer weather in the forecast, he thought.
Arthur let the curtain close and turned to face Lane. “No.”
Roz’s nails tapped the floor. She looked at Lane, yawned, and stretched with her paws way out front so that her back and tail curled. Lane rubbed her head and the thick fur behind her ears. She wagged her tail in thanks.
“Want me to make some coffee?” Lane asked as he went into the kitchen.
“Sure.” Arthur sat on the couch. Roz moved over and sat next to him.
When the knock came, the volume and the force of it told Lane what and who to expect.
Unfortunately, Arthur opened the door before Lane could get to it. “Oh no!” His face paled as he stepped back from the door.
Lane moved past Arthur. He looked at Christine’s face, or, actually, the top of her head and its fresh dye job. Today, her natural black was a silver azure. There was no makeup on her face. Lane put his hand on her shoulder.
She looked at him.
He studied her eyes to read what words might not tell him.
Christine looked back at him with a mixture of embarrassment and rage. She shrugged his hand away.
Good, no permanent damage and no drugs, Lane thought.
He recognized the officer dressed in his blues. Noted checked his nametag: McTavish. Lane looked at the officer’s face. The intense lights at the front door illuminated McTavish’s salt and pepper hair. “Come in,” Lane said.
Christine brushed past Lane. McTavish handed Christine’s backpack to her uncle.
“Are you okay?” Arthur asked her as she unlaced the combat boots she’d bought with money from her first job.
Christine didn’t answer. Instead, she sat on the couch and glared at each of them in turn.
“Cup of coffee?” Lane asked McTavish.
“That would be nice,” McTavish said.
“Please, sit down.” Lane indicated the living room. “Christine? You want a coffee?” He moved into the kitchen.
“Yep. And, by the way, this is bullshit!”
Lane poked his head back into the living room to glare at Christine.
She closed her mouth.
A minute later, Lane brought out a tray with four coffees, milk, brown sugar and spoons. He set the tray on the coffee table so each of them could doctor their drinks. Then, they sat at opposite corners of the living room and studied one another.
“Well, now that everyone has talked my ear off.” Arthur attempted to make a joke and shrugged his round shoulders when it flopped.
Lane looked at McTavish, remembering their last meeting. Lane thought, He’s probably remembering the same thing. He looks a little greyer since the blockade.
McTavish said,“When I asked her where she lived, and who she lived with, I remembered your name. What’s the relationship?”
“I’m her uncle.” Lane nodded at Arthur, who was getting some colour back in his face. “We’re legal guardians.”
McTavish nodded, gripping the cup. It disappeared in his large hands.
“Christine, what happened?” Lane asked.
Christine crossed her arms under her breasts then crossed one leg over the other. “The facts,” he said.
“I was in Kensington. I took my can of paint out and tagged a dumpster. He,” Christine nodded in McTavish’s direction without making eye contact, “cuffed me, put me in the back of his car, asked me some questions and brought me here.”
Lane looked at McTavish.
“That’s exactly what happened.” McTavish went back to sipping his coffee and watching.
Lane looked at Christine. What do I say next? he thought.