He sat dejectedly, his head in his hands. The rest of them sat around in silence. Deacon went back to an idea that had been bothering him for several minutes.
“Why would the kid, Obi, work against his mom? It makes no sense. His mom and grandmother love that flower shop. It’s very profitable, isn’t it?”
Dino shook his head. “Actually, no. His dad left them in pretty heavy debt. He had a woman on the side, with expensive tastes. He ran up a lot of bills, then ran off with her. He’s a real piece of work, that guy. Then he had the gall to say if Milly didn’t absorb the debt, he’d do his best to get the shop away from her. She didn’t know any better, and gave in to him. I’ve bailed Milly out a couple times, in the last few years. She never wanted to sell, because her ex would get half the money.”
“Maybe the boy’s working with his father against his mother? Not the first time that one parent has used the child against the other,” Cindy interjected.
Dino shook his head. “I don’t think so. Obi’s not very bright, neither is his father. In fact, I’ve often thought his old man was pretty close to retarded, too.”
“Not supposed to use that word, Dino,” Kacy chided teasingly. “You’re to say mentally handicapped.”
Dino looked surprised, then started to laugh when he realized she was kidding. “Well then, he’s as close as you can get to mentally handicapped as it’s possible to be without actually crossing over. No, this has been planned by someone who’s clever enough to keep himself well out of it.”
“So what do we do now?” Karmina asked, gazing around at all the unhappy faces.
“We wait,” Dino said sadly. “And we hope nobody else gets hurt.”
Reyes called Dino from home about fifteen minutes later. He was very interested in Karmina’s information and asked to speak to her. She took Dino’s cell phone delicately in her left hand and gave him a very precise explanation.
“That’s all I know, Mr. Reyes,” she told him simply. “I don’t know anything else. I just remember I wondered if they could use some part time help when they opened. My daughter’s working on her aerobics instructor’s license, and is lookin’ for work.” She shrugged and looked up at Dino questioningly. “Okay then. You have a nice afternoon, Mr. Reyes.”
She handed Dino’s phone back to him uncertainly. He put it away.
“I don’t know how that helps much, but he seemed right happy about it. If y’all don’t need me no more, I got to go and get dinner cookin’, or my husband’s gonna be crazy when he gets home. If I don’t have him somethin’ to eat the minute he walks in that door, he flips!”
Dino handed her two hundred dollar bills with a sheepish grin. “I feel so bad that we’ve kept you this long,” he said. “Please, go out to dinner with your husband, on me.”
Karmina jumped up excitedly and flung her arms around Dino’s neck, kissing him heartily on the cheek.
“Oh, Mr. Sawyer, you don’t know how much this means to me! Tonight’s our anniversary, and I was just gonna fix us something at home, but this is even better!” She kissed him again squarely on the lips, giggled and left in a flurry.
Dino blushed, putting his hand up to his cheek. Karmina’s bright red lipstick smeared on his hand. Laughing, Cindy took a damp paper towel and went to work on the smear.
“That was a sweet thing, you just did, Dino Sawyer,” she told him, adding a pink smear of lipstick on his other cheek.
She looked deeply in his eyes, smiling secretively. The paper towel was forgotten in her hand. She and Dino had eyes only for one another.
Deacon and Kacy left them alone, going into their bedroom, and shutting the door. Deacon sat slowly on the bed. His leg was starting to throb and his toes were turning dark red. With Kacy’s help he propped it on pillows and lay down. Kacy lay down beside him, her head on his chest.
“We’re no closer to knowing who it is, even if we do know why,” she said, her voice muffled slightly by his shirt.
“I keep wondering who’s working with the kid. It has to be someone who knows the theater better than the rest of us. Obviously, there’s a way in that we don’t know about. I’m going to look at those plans tomorrow.”
They cuddled up, not talking, until they both fell asleep.
Deacon slept fitfully, his bad leg throbbing and aching most of the night. He tried hard not to bother Kacy, but after a while he knew that trying to sleep was completely pointless. Carefully disengaging himself from her embrace, he slowly rose from the bed and went to the living room to watch a movie. One thing that Kacy had bought was an extensive video collection for his convalescence.
He started watching the Star Wars movies in a marathon session, starting with Episode II. Darth Vader was just pulling himself from the volcano when the phone rang. Deacon jumped, startled by the sound so early in the morning. He looked at the clock, it was two. He had no idea who was calling, but letting it ring might wake the others. He answered hesitantly.
“Deacon?” It was Everett Du Champs.
“Yeah, Ev. What’s up?”
©2021 Dellani Oakes