Deirdre calls Fred to see if he can come home, but he’s fairly sure he can’t get away. Aiden tells her about his night with Wendy. Afterward, he asks if he can stay home from school the next day.
“Since when do you use lurid in a sentence?”
“I guess I started today. Is it okay if I stay home?”
“Yes. I’ll see if they can give your work to Burl.”
“Thanks. I don’t want to be the guy who identified the dead body.”
Deirdre could understand that. He’d either be shunned, or attract all the creepy girls who got off on death.
“You don’t think it will be a problem for your brothers?”
“They didn’t know her. Burl will let it roll, Corin—who knows? They’ll be fine.”
“I hope you’re right.”
“We aren’t little kids anymore, Mom.”
“You’ll always be my baby,” she said softly, touching his cheek. “Even when you’re old and gray, you’ll be my baby boy.”
“I love you, Mama,” he said, tears falling again.
“I love you too, Sugar Plum. Even if you aren’t going to school, I am. I’d better get my happy ass to bed.”
Aiden grinned through his tears. “You’ve always said that, even when we were kids. Didn’t you worry about cussing in front of us?”
“With Daddy’s mouth? F**k, no. You were the first kid in kindergarten to say shit in class. I thought your teacher would have apoplexy. I told her she should be glad you didn’t say something worse.”
Aiden chuckled. “And the first kid to learn all the words to Fade to Black and Iron Man.”
“I taught you well.” She gave him a kiss on the forehead. “Try to sleep. If you can’t, have a couple Benadryl. That will make you sleepy.”
“I’m gonna stay up and play guitar for a little while. I won’t use the amp. I just need to unwind.”
“Okay. I’m gonna lock up. Goodnight, son. Each day gets better, I promise.”
Nodding, he shuffled off to his room. She heard him start to play his acoustic guitar as she made the rounds, locking up and setting the alarm. Since it was one of Fred’s jobs, she sometimes forgot. Finding Wendy’s body had spooked her, though. She felt vulnerable, on edge. She wasn’t tired, but 6:00 came awfully early. She had finally decided to start sleeping in, once she felt that Aiden was able to drive his brothers to school. They could find a secondhand car for him, or he could drive his father’s heap. Fred could use hers to go to work, or she could drop him off and pick him up.
Planning and plotting, she got ready for bed. It was barely 10:00 when her phone rang. She was getting into bed and hadn’t turned it off yet. She didn’t recognize the number, but had a feeling it was important.
“Mrs. Partridge? Detective Weinstein.”
“I apologize for calling so late. I wondered if I might speak to Aiden.”
“I’ll see if he’s still awake. This really shook him up. The young lady, Wendy, was his first love.”
“Oh, wow. Poor kid! I had a couple questions to ask him, if he’s available?”
“I’m looking now.” She tapped on Aiden’s door.
The guitar music stopped and he answered. He looked like he’d been crying again. “Yeah?”
“Detective Weinstein to speak to you.”
His face full of questions, Aiden took the phone. “Hello?”
“Hi, Aiden. I’m sorry to bother you, but I wondered if you knew where Wendy lived before she graduated?”
“Um…isn’t there a record of it? I thought the foster system kept track of those things.”
“Normally, yes. But it seems that she wasn’t in the system the last year she was in school. She had been assigned a home, but left.”
“I don’t know their names, but I remember where she lived. I saw her there a couple times. I didn’t ever meet anyone, but she showed me the house. It was over on Lime. The far end, north side of the Boulevard. I don’t know the number, but it was a ratty looking place, second house on the left in the first block after the intersection. At the time, it was that white cinder block with brown trim, but that’s been a few years.”
“I think I know the house you described. Thank you. Do you remember anything else?”
“Not really. She wouldn’t invite me in. I remember seeing someone peering out of the window. There weren’t drapes, or they were open. A fat lady with her hair in rollers, smoking. That’s all I remember. I’m sorry.”
“No need to be. That’s more than I had earlier. I’m very sorry for your loss, Aiden. I know this must be really hard. If you feel you want to—talk to someone, I can recommend a couple people.”
© 2018 Dellani Oakes