Loralee, Chapter Eight, Luxury

Loralee: The Dimestore Novella
Chapter Eight, Luxury
Originally published on May 20, 2012

 

โ€œMalcolm’s arraignment is set for Monday morning. Donโ€™t expect them to release him.โ€ Hardy Pattershaw sat down at the head of the conference table in Loralee and Henryโ€™s suite. He opened his briefcase.

โ€œHardy, I donโ€™t understand why. They have no evidence. You said it is all circumstantial.โ€ Loralee said. She twisted her hands around one another, fidgeting.

โ€œThey are going after a charge of Murder in the First Degree. Prepare yourself.โ€ Hardy said.

โ€œI donโ€™t really understand this.โ€ Loralee wanted a drink, a cigarette, and a getaway car.

โ€œOh, Mother, please! You just donโ€™t have any idea whatโ€™s going on, do you? I mean, just not at all!โ€ Jan paced the room, biting and sucking at her fake nails, her eyes darting around, taking in her surroundings. She glared at Henry. What was her mother thinking, cohabitating with a ranch hand? It was so base.

Henry imagined slamming Janโ€™s head into the wall, the little pieces of her skull shattering around his hand, coming apart between his fingers, splintering like shards of glass.

โ€œJan, I think that Mom has been through enough for a while.โ€ Billโ€™s hands were folded in his lap. He stared at the floor.

โ€œOh, Billy, not you too? Youโ€™re all protecting her, just protecting her all the time, and I am so sick of it. You know why Iโ€™m sick of it, Billy? Because it is sickening! Thatโ€™s why.โ€ Jan looked around the room. โ€œI donโ€™t suppose the two of you left any tequila for the rest of us?โ€ She opened the minibar. โ€œEmpty? Really mother? Is it that bad? You have them empty the minibar and then bring in your own? You need a meeting mother, seriously.โ€ Jan shook her head. She walked to the window and stared down on the traffic, at all the little people.

โ€œThatโ€™s about enough out of you.โ€ Henry imagined throwing her off the balcony, listening to her body whistle past the floors like a rocket launching itself into the sidewalk.

โ€œDonโ€™t threaten my sister.โ€ Bill looked at him from under his Stetson.

โ€œYou all done?โ€ Pattershaw shuffled papers, listening to them but ignoring them.

โ€œOh, for Chrissake! Just tell her the truth!โ€ Jan yelled. Henry moved towards her. Bill stood up between them.

โ€œPlease do enlighten me, wonโ€™t you all?โ€ Loralee smoothed her skirt, picked at the lint that had come off a sweater in the suite case.

โ€œOh, mother! Daddy is a pimp!โ€ Janโ€™s face was bright red. โ€œDaddy is a pimp, a drug dealer. He and Nevelle have been at it for years. You know who my first time was? Do you? Mother, I will tell you!โ€ Jan ranted.
Billโ€™s Stetson was under Henryโ€™s boot, and lucky for him, his head wasnโ€™t in it, the two of them locked up against each other. Henry went after Jan. Bill was a big boy, tall, broad-shouldered, strong. Exactly the kind of son Loralee had been expected to have.

โ€œShut that bitch up,โ€ Henry said.

โ€œHenry, no,โ€ Loralee said quietly. โ€œI have the impression that you all, for your love of me? Have quite the wrong idea of me and what I can handle.โ€ Loralee had had about enough of the patronizing.

โ€œThatโ€™s enough. Everybody needs to sit down and shut up.โ€ Pattershaw looked up. โ€œSit down.โ€ His voice went lawyer, and they all did as he said.

Jan twirled a strand of golden brown hair around her index finger. Henry could see her as the girl sitting in the back of the classroom, bored, rich, smart, waiting to skip the next class, sit under the bleachers with the quarterback. Henry imagined choking her, slowly at first and then faster, wanting to see her body on the floor at his feet. Jan was the kind of daughter every mother could do without.

โ€œHardy, I would appreciate it if we could clear up as much of this as possible this morning,โ€ Loralee said.

โ€œBill? Better that you should tell her since I really donโ€™t know anything about any of this particular business.โ€ Hardy said. His look was stern, and Loralee understood that her daughter had been telling the truth. They had kept it from Loralee for however long, years. What must they think of her?

โ€œMom, I, well, itโ€™s the way it is, Dad and Mr. Nevelle, well, they have a lot of side interests andโ€ฆโ€ Bill stammered.

โ€œSide interests? Bullshit.โ€ Jan folded her arms across her chest.

โ€œJanean, if you do not shut up, I will take you out behind the barn.โ€ Bill looked sideways at his sister. His lips tight together. Jan glared at him for a second then looked out the window. โ€œOkay, well, Mom, see, when the real estate market collapsed a few years ago, all those houses they bought, that development they were going to call The Pines? Well, that cost them a fortune. Mom, you would just not believe how much money Dad lost. Mr. Nevelle too. I donโ€™t think they had a choiceโ€ฆโ€

โ€œBill, son, just tell me.โ€ Loralee reached across the table and patted his hand.

โ€œMr. Nevelle, James, well, he owns the service, Satin Gloves, escorts. But they wanted to start something else, something more exclusive for out of town business associates. Suzanne had the idea for it, really. She runs things from the house. โ€œ

โ€œCareful here, Bill, you donโ€™t want to have to plead the fifth later,โ€ Pattershaw warned him and looked at Henry.

โ€œI donโ€™t really know anything about the drugs. Youโ€™d have to ask your boyfriend about that.โ€ Bill said.

โ€œThatโ€™s a lie.โ€ Henry fixed his gaze on Loralee, shook his head โ€œNoโ€ and didnโ€™t offer up anything else in front of them all.

โ€œDonโ€™t call me a liar,โ€ Bill said.

โ€œIโ€™m not calling you a liar, Bill. I think that you donโ€™t have your facts straight. How could you, since you donโ€™t really know anything about it? I donโ€™t have anything to do with any of those operations. I work for your father at the ranch.โ€ Henry said.

โ€œOh, thatโ€™s hardly ALL you do.โ€ Jan rolled her eyes and made a pfft noise that she was particularly fond of.

โ€œSo, let me see if I understand this since you are all so hesitant to break my heart.โ€ Loralee gave her daughter a polite smile, a second-runner-up smile that sheโ€™d only ever had to give once in her life but thought that she remembered well enough how to do. She realized that her daughter had never learned those things from her, things like manners. โ€œMalcolm and James are running a prostitution ring, and there are drugs involved? Sounds simple enough. Do they even still sell real estate?โ€

โ€œOf course, Mom, of course. Business has been booming too. Weโ€™ve got a high rise in negotiations and broke ground on three new developments last spring, all the lots are sold. And Carmichael, he thinks that heโ€™s got the mine rights all sewed up. Iโ€™ve been to the sight, I think itโ€™s a good chance thereโ€™s money to be made there.โ€ Bill was rambling, excited. โ€œSorry.โ€ He said, looking at his hat.

โ€œWhat does Malcolm say, Hardy?โ€ Loralee said.

โ€œHe says he didnโ€™t do it. Of course. He says they argued earlier in the evening about James, that Donna slipped, and that he grabbed hold of her but hadnโ€™t kept her from falling. Something about the shoes she was wearing, platforms, and that was how she got the bruises. He said that after that, they went to bed. He found her in the bathroom in the morning, doesnโ€™t remember hearing anything after they went to bed.โ€

โ€œDo you have to tell her all that?โ€ Henry was thinking about the bruises on his own knees and having his hands full of Loraleeโ€™s hair. What a bunch of liars they were.

โ€œWould you prefer that I just say they found semen? The way that weโ€™ll get to hear it in court? Because Malcolm isnโ€™t telling me everything, and as it stands now, this is going to trial.โ€ No one said anything in response to Hardy. โ€œJan, sis, you bring your yearbooks?โ€

Jan got up in a huff and took the yearbooks from a tote bag. Henry was getting the idea that โ€œin a huffโ€ was her usual state. โ€œI donโ€™t know why you need them. It isnโ€™t like we donโ€™t all know everything about her. Nevelle could probably tell you how many fillings she has.โ€

โ€œI need to know her background, what did the other girls say about her in the locker room? That sort of thing. I need to know what the press will get hold of in terms of pictures.โ€ Pattershaw took the two annuals from Jan, she had marked the pages for him with post-it notes. โ€œPopular girl.โ€ He looked at Jan.

โ€œNow, you get to talk, Jan.โ€

โ€œRoxanne Caroleโ€ฆโ€

โ€œMiddle name?โ€ Pattershaw turned pages, taking notes.

โ€œAbilene. Really, the girlโ€™s middle name is Abilene. Her mother was a tramp too. She showed up our junior year with all that jet-black hair. She used to wear this powder blue sweater that was so tight, my God, looked like they sewed her into it. All the girls were pissed about that. Like Roxanne had discovered that light blue turns a manโ€™s brain into Jell-O.โ€ Jan flicked her lighter, shook it, and finally got the Benson and Hedges menthol lit. โ€œSo, anyway, she had that hair and those tits, you know, but if you got up close, her nose was too big. Everyone hated her. She must have been fucking someone right from the start because she made the cheer squad that first year, and she was so nobody. I was already on Varsity dance, so what did I care? The girls jumped her at an away game. I donโ€™t get involved in those scuffs. I look the other way. What I heard was that right in the middle of it, she reached up and grabbed Cookie Butler and frenched her. Everyone must have freaked out because they backed off, but what I heard was that she and Cookie ended up in the shower together, and well, after that was when Roxanne got so popular. I mean, she just did not care about anything. I hated her, of course, but she was already popular. You know? Then she made the Varsity dance team our senior year, I mean, really. What the hell was I supposed to do?โ€ Jan gulped diet soda.

โ€œSo, everyone knew when you were in high school that Roxanne was bi-sexual? I need to know more about her family relationships.โ€ Pattershaw continued to leaf through the yearbook, jotting notes.

โ€œShe was tri-sexual. Thatโ€™s what she said, to anyone who would listen. Her mother was an alcoholic. What youโ€™d expect. I never went to her house, but I heard it was decent enough, average. They rented, but the place had a gardener. Her mother had alimony, that sort of thing, worked as a receptionist somewhere. Roxanne used to brag about fucking her momโ€™s boyfriend. She said he gave her things, jewelry, drugs. She used to drive his old Corvette to school sometimes. She fucked James Nevelle in our bathroom. Melanie could hear them through the door. I guess thatโ€™s how she got involved with him, at one of our parties at the house. Me, Melanie, and Barbara Jean stood outside the door.โ€ Jan was slightly winded, but that didnโ€™t keep here from lighting another menthol off the spent one.

โ€œWhat happened to Barbara Jean?โ€ Pattershaw opened the second yearbook. โ€œShe was running around with Shawn Daniels? Oh, my word, the girl could make a mess.โ€ Pattershaw shook his head, made a tsk, tsk, tsk, sound, clicking his tongue against his teeth.

โ€œBarbara Jean got married to Chris Tollson, remember Hardy? You were at the reception? He was an intern? They moved to California. Heโ€™s a surgeon. I heard that she got fat. We donโ€™t keep in touch.โ€ Jan got up to stretch. โ€œWe almost done here? Who the hell cares about Shawn Daniels anyway?โ€

โ€œIn a minute.โ€ Pattershaw closed the book. โ€œI need to keep these for a while, Jan. Youโ€™ll get them back.โ€ He took his glasses off. โ€œIโ€™ve hired Trixie Davenport.โ€

โ€œOh, God.โ€ Loralee groaned and put her hand to her head. โ€œI cannot stand Trixie. So, you can just go right ahead an unhire her. That woman would just as soon see me buried.โ€

โ€œI didnโ€™t know there was a conflict,โ€ Hardy said.

โ€œThatโ€™s an understatement. Trixie had an affair with Malcolm, it was ten years ago, but nonetheless. She had her eyes on my ranch.โ€ Loralee said.

โ€œOkay, no Trixie. Jan, I want you to go home, donโ€™t gossip with your girlfriends. Donโ€™t say anything to Melanie, sheโ€™ll either talk or she wonโ€™t, if they get that far. Donโ€™t talk to Bob about any of this. If Roxanne should contact you, try to keep her there and call me. This afternoon, at three oโ€™clock, I have you in to see Malcolm, Loralee. Thereโ€™s something that he isnโ€™t telling me, likely thinking that heโ€™s still protecting you somehow. Heโ€™s got to tell me everything, or I wonโ€™t be able to help him.โ€ Pattershaw collected up his papers. He stood and looked at Henry. โ€œDo I need to tell you to control your temper?โ€

โ€œYou just did,โ€ Henry said.

โ€œThen Iโ€™ll see you this afternoon, Loralee.โ€ Pattershaw closed his briefcase.

 

 

To read previous chapters of Loralee, click here.ย