A little while later I pulled the car into my garage and hit the button to close the door behind us. I’d been thinking about what to do for a while.
“Okay,” I said. “We’ve all got Ted’s DNA on us, and I don’t want it in my house. So you’re going to have to strip before you go in.”
“Oh, Tommy,” Lynnie said. “Your seduction skills are lame! You’re supposed to get a girl drunk before you tell her to strip.”
“We’ll do it backwards,” I said. “We can get drunk inside.”
We all got out of the car and I looked over at Sally and Lynnie. They were—filthy. Dirt and blood smeared across their faces and arms and shirts. I suppose I looked as bad. I found an old Styrofoam ice chest and sat it on the hood of my car.
“Keys, phones, money, whatever,” I said. Then I pulled a big lawn and leaf bag from a box. “Clothes and shoes in here.”
“I’m glad I wore old boots,” Sally said. She tossed her phone and cigarettes and money and keys in the ice chest and then balanced against the car and began unlacing her boots.
I emptied my pockets into the ice chest. My billfold, my keys, my phone. Ted’s big wad of cash. Ted’s wallet and keys and phone and SIMM card, though—I wanted to keep those separate. I found a blue plastic bucket and tossed them in.
Sally and Lynnie undressed quickly and stood naked uncomfortably in their bare feet on the gritty garage floor, Lynnie totally fit and strong with packs of muscle on her shoulders and a tattoo of a tornado on one arm and a mushroom cloud on the other, Sally soft and full with that big red orange flaming starburst tattoo on her upper left thigh that ran up her hip to her waist and an intricately-patterned sleeve that ran up to her collar, both of them with smeared dirty dusty faces and hands, both wonderful. They were looking at me, too.
“You always crack me up, Holt,” Sally said. “Your body’s so—white.”
“Vampire purity,” I said. I slipped out of my boxers and stuffed them into the trash bag.
“Try looking at him sometimes when he thinks nobody’s looking at him,” Lynnie said. “I’ll bet he killed a man.”
“I’m not that mysterious,” I said. “So—go inside and get cleaned up.” I was lucky—my little house had two full bathrooms. “Sally—end of the hall. Lynnie—my bedroom. I’ll find you some clean clothes in a minute.”
They stepped delicately up into the house. I reached under the car seat and pulled out the Walther. I unloaded and disassembled it, and here was an unexpected problem: there were only three pieces to the gun—the slide, the spring, and the frame. The barrel and the frame were one piece, a piece that would look kind of conspicuous if someone found it. My Ruger, by contrast, broke down into six pieces, and the barrel and frame were separate and probably easier to toss.
Well, I’d have to make sure nobody found the Walther parts.
Murder was fucking complicated.
I dumped the pieces of gun and my extra clip in the blue bucket with Ted’s stuff.
Inside, I found Fuzzhead sitting on the couch looking puzzled. I could hear water already running in the bathrooms. I sat the ice chest of belongings on the kitchen counter and went down to my bedroom, my closet, and found some clothes—t-shirts, boxer shorts, athletic socks. Enough for tonight.
I knocked on Lynnie’s door and ducked in. I said, “Clothes!”
Lynnie yelled, “Peeper!”
I ducked back out. In the guest bathroom, I could see Sally’s outline, sort of, through the shower curtain. She stuck out her wet head and looked at me.
I said, “Clothes.”
She asked, “Yeah?”
I closed the door and went back out to the kitchen. Fuzzhead trotted over, hungry. I opened a can and dumped it into a bowl for him. I looked in the fridge—beer, Coke, 7-Up. There was wine, too, and rum. Nothing to eat. I hadn’t planned this evening very well.
Suddenly—I felt exhausted. Like fainting, like every bit of energy suddenly drained away. I grabbed hold of the kitchen counter and looked at the clock on the microwave—it wasn’t even ten o’clock yet. Jesus.
Lynnie came down the hall wearing a gray Pete the Prairie Dog t-shirt and black boxer shorts. She said, “Tommy, you’re just standing there naked looking confused.”
I said, “I’m tired.”
“So go get cleaned up.”
I went down to my bathroom and got in the shower. Oh—warm water. Enough warm water. Washing off the sweat and mine grit and Ted DNA and guilt—or something like that. The sweat and grit and blood, at least. There wasn’t much guilt guilt to wash away. I stood there for a while, holding on to the shower head, thinking. There was so much to do—get rid of the clothes, the gun, Ted’s car. My bloody car, too, maybe. Murder was complicated—it was a lot of work. Though maybe crimes of passion were simple—you just got pissed at someone and shot them and that was that. Executions, though—executions took planning.
Well, I could plan.
All my life I’d been smarter than everyone else—except maybe Lynnie.
We would get through this—we’d get out of this. All I had to do was think.
I washed my body, rinsed off. Felt better. I forgot to grab a dry towel so I used Lynnie’s. Her DNA was good. Probably lucky. I put on a t-shirt and shorts and went down the hall and found Lynnie and Sally sitting on the couch watching the Weather Channel.
“We ordered pizzas,” Lynnie said. “We’re starving.”
“There was a tornado outside Independence,” Sally said. She pointed at the TV.
I felt tight in my chest. I thought—I love them.
Those two women. My conspirators. Love them.
I got a beer and sat down.
“The line of storms will hit us around two-thirty,” Sally said.
“And tomorrow’ll be worse,” Lynnie said. “The whole system’s train-tracking right over us.”
“Good,” I said. Maybe the storms would wash out any sign we’d been at the Schwable Boy’s mine. Maybe even raise the water level.
“Tommy loves big storms,” Lynnie said.
Sally said, “I can do without.”
The pizza guy rang the doorbell and Lynnie answered the door—the boxers half-falling off her slim hips but not quite. I grabbed money from the ice chest—from Ted’s big wad—and paid for the food. We ate pizza and watched the weather guys, not talking much. After a while, Lynnie got up and stumbled off to bed, and then Sally. I watched the weather a bit more and tried to think of everything I had to do—but then I thought, Fuck this. I needed to sleep.
I went down the hall and crawled between the warm soft soapy-smelling women, Lynnie on my left, Sally on my right. Felt good between them.
Lynnie woke up—or was still awake. She said, “I don’t feel bad about what we did, but I don’t want to get caught.”
“We’re not getting caught,” Sally said. She sounded sleepy. She rolled over and reached across
me and took Lynnie’s hand. I took both their hands. Sally said, “We’re not getting caught, sweeties.”
There was a—boom. Boom. I jerked away from an unremembered dream and opened my eyes, and everything was black dark—and I weirdly thought of a girlfriend from years ago who would insist on sleeping with a big overhead light on, afraid that if she woke up in the dark, she’d be dead.
But I wasn’t dead. And there was a flash and another boom—lightning, thunder. The line of storms were moving into Weirton. I wasn’t dead. I was squeezed in between Lynnie and Sally. Fuzzhead was stretched out on Lynnie’s back. Sally was snoring. I had an erection. Rain was hammering on the roof.
I scooted out of bed, stopped in the bathroom, and went to look at the storm. I’d left the TV on with the sound off, and the local weather guy was up and excited, pointing at the radar, diagramming some rotation. A big storm was hitting us, and a chyron under the radar read SEEK SHELTER IMMEDIATELY.
Yeah. Then the town tornado sirens went off, a distant wail. I opened the front door and looked out—saw nothing, of course, except blackness and lightning flashes and rain running off my roof. A light went on at the house down the road—they had a tornado bunker, and were probably heading for it. I didn’t have one—and didn’t worry about it, too much. If the tornado was going to get me, it was going to get me. So there was nothing for me to do except stand on the steps and feel the wind, the rain, the power, the sublime, the beauty.
My favorite thing about Kansas. Spring weather.
The only thing I could love about Kansas.
Still there was nothing to see, just blackness and flashes, and after a few minutes the wind shifted and I was wetter than I wanted to be, so I went back inside and got a beer and went to my computer. I was thinking about the email that Courtney mistakenly sent to Devon.
And I quickly found it. One of the emails with attachments I’d forwarded to the Yahoo address.
So I removed 10k from the endowment for the Martens reading, 2k for him per our agreement, and T wants in this time so 1k for her and 6.5k for you and me and Nancy to split and 500 for expenses. Let me know what you think.
And that was it. Devon died for that lame bullshit.
I printed off a few hard copies of the email, and made a PDF, too, and emailed it to my seksu.edu account. Ammunition for me. Another bomb I was going to lob at the department.
The rain was letting up. I finished my beer and crawled back into bed.
“What’s happened?” Sally asked, sleepy.
“A tornado,” I said.
“I’m so happy for you,” Lynnie murmured.