Monday, August 10, 2009

Koala Killer Eleventh Installment

"I hate to ask you, but, Cass, that's exactly what I want."

"You got it, honey. What hospital?"

"I'll be home soon, so come there okay?"

"How's Owen? He miss me?"

"Bea is looking after him right now. He's probably forgotten all about you just like I have."

"Yeah right."

The uniformed policeman had come into the room to introduce himself. She covered the phone and smiled at him. When she told Cass, he said he had to get going anyway so he could make arrangements. So they hung up.

She felt better already. Then she called her girlfriend Shirley to ask if she could come take her home from the hospital. She told her she'd been in an accident so she wouldn't get too upset.

Shirley told her to call when she was ready so she could take her kids to her mother's. She was still on maternity leave for her second child, Jesus Junior. Her little girl, Brianna was two. No, she was going to be two at the end of this month.

The wheels of hospital paper work and doctor's releases ground slowly but surely to the moment of actual freedom. The, 'you can go home this morning,' translated into 2:00PM. At last Shirley was helping her into the passenger seat of the Honda. Her police guard was there too and Shirley could hardly wait to get her into the car to grill her.

"What's going on, Mari?" she said.

"There's so much going on, Shirley, I don't know where to begin. I do know I don't feel up to going into it in any detail right now. I really will tell you every detail once I've had a rest. Basically, a hit-and-run vehicle at the zoo ran me down and the police were called to look into it. Will that hold you for now, dear friend?"

"You bet, girlfriend!" she grinned.

"Tell me about the high intellectual accomplishments of Brianna and Jesus in fifty words or less."

"Brianna has the temperament of a hyper-active pit boss and never stops talking or moving. Even asleep. Jesus, on the other hand, is calm and mild-mannered. So far. The question is, will his baby personality hold? How many words is that?"

"Well under the limit, I'm sure. Brianna's just trying to wrest control of the household from you, mom, and at an earlier age than most. Don't bother resisting. Having to earn her own living will shut her up soon enough."

"'What are you like?' as Ainsley Harriott would say."

"Who's Ainsley Harriott?"

"I'll tell you when you've rested. He'd wear you out for sure."

"I love talking to you."

"Una vieja amiga es el mejor espejo." She translated, "An old friend is the best mirror."

Shirley wheeled into Mari's sparsely graveled, bumpy driveway. The ground was still damp in former puddle depressions and the middle orange tree had perked up. The sky lingered in shades of gray and white. The sun would win soon and carry on with summer's siege.

Bea came out of her gate with Owen. The strain of trying not to jump up was driving Owen into his usual you're home, you're home, thank god you're home, which included play stance, stand on hind legs, hop, turn, repeat.

She told Bea she was in her debt once more. Bea told her she was glad to do it. "Anytime."

"He's such a good boy, aren't you Owen?"

"He's got you wrapped around his hairy paws too, I see." Mari told her.

Bea declined the offer to come in for a cup of tea.

Shirley drank herb tea on all occasions. Inside, she stood looking at Mari's newly placed picture, a Robert Wood print. The picture is of two campers in front of their lean-to building tending a fire on the bank of a river, at the base of a mountain, as the last light of day fades behind the peak.

"That's cool, almost bracing, in a put-on-a-vest, gather-wood-for-the-fire, kind of way."

"Do you like the canoe?"

"Sure. Why?"

"I added it. I cut it out of a catalog and glued it on. It just happened to fit."

"Get out of here. Isn't that sacrilege or something"

"I didn't do it to an original. It's a print and now it's personalized."

They drank chamomile tea from the English Rose pot Shirley had given her. As Shirley was leaving, Mari told her that Cass was coming down from San Francisco to visit.

"All of a sudden?" she asked.

"I called him from the hospital, just before I called you, Shirl."

"Good , I can get the story out of him. Call me in a couple of days, okay?"

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