Loralee: The Dimestore Novella
Chapter Eight, Luxury
Originally published on May 20, 2012
“Malcolm’s arraignment is set for Monday morning. Don’t expect them to release him.” Hardy Pattershaw sat down at the head of the conference table in Loralee and Henry’s suite. He opened his briefcase.
“Hardy, I don’t understand why. They have no evidence. You said it is all circumstantial.” Loralee said. She twisted her hands around one another, fidgeting.
“They are going after a charge of Murder in the First Degree. Prepare yourself.” Hardy said.
“I don’t really understand this.” Loralee wanted a drink, a cigarette, and a getaway car.
“Oh, Mother, please! You just don’t have any idea what’s going on, do you? I mean, just not at all!” 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 Jan’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.
“Jan, I think that Mom has been through enough for a while.” Bill’s hands were folded in his lap. He stared at the floor.
“Oh, Billy, not you too? You’re all protecting her, just protecting her all the time, and I am so sick of it. You know why I’m sick of it, Billy? Because it is sickening! That’s why.” Jan looked around the room. “I don’t suppose the two of you left any tequila for the rest of us?” She opened the minibar. “Empty? Really mother? Is it that bad? You have them empty the minibar and then bring in your own? You need a meeting mother, seriously.” Jan shook her head. She walked to the window and stared down on the traffic, at all the little people.
“That’s about enough out of you.” Henry imagined throwing her off the balcony, listening to her body whistle past the floors like a rocket launching itself into the sidewalk.
“Don’t threaten my sister.” Bill looked at him from under his Stetson.
“You all done?” Pattershaw shuffled papers, listening to them but ignoring them.
“Oh, for Chrissake! Just tell her the truth!” Jan yelled. Henry moved towards her. Bill stood up between them.
“Please do enlighten me, won’t you all?” Loralee smoothed her skirt, picked at the lint that had come off a sweater in the suite case.
“Oh, mother! Daddy is a pimp!” Jan’s face was bright red. “Daddy 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!” Jan ranted.
Bill’s Stetson was under Henry’s boot, and lucky for him, his head wasn’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.
“Shut that bitch up,” Henry said.
“Henry, no,” Loralee said quietly. “I have the impression that you all, for your love of me? Have quite the wrong idea of me and what I can handle.” Loralee had had about enough of the patronizing.
“That’s enough. Everybody needs to sit down and shut up.” Pattershaw looked up. “Sit down.” 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.
“Hardy, I would appreciate it if we could clear up as much of this as possible this morning,” Loralee said.
“Bill? Better that you should tell her since I really don’t know anything about any of this particular business.” 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?
“Mom, I, well, it’s the way it is, Dad and Mr. Nevelle, well, they have a lot of side interests and…” Bill stammered.
“Side interests? Bullshit.” Jan folded her arms across her chest.
“Janean, if you do not shut up, I will take you out behind the barn.” Bill looked sideways at his sister. His lips tight together. Jan glared at him for a second then looked out the window. “Okay, 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 don’t think they had a choice…”
“Bill, son, just tell me.” Loralee reached across the table and patted his hand.
“Mr. 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. “
“Careful here, Bill, you don’t want to have to plead the fifth later,” Pattershaw warned him and looked at Henry.
“I don’t really know anything about the drugs. You’d have to ask your boyfriend about that.” Bill said.
“That’s a lie.” Henry fixed his gaze on Loralee, shook his head “No” and didn’t offer up anything else in front of them all.
“Don’t call me a liar,” Bill said.
“I’m not calling you a liar, Bill. I think that you don’t have your facts straight. How could you, since you don’t really know anything about it? I don’t have anything to do with any of those operations. I work for your father at the ranch.” Henry said.
“Oh, that’s hardly ALL you do.” Jan rolled her eyes and made a pfft noise that she was particularly fond of.
“So, let me see if I understand this since you are all so hesitant to break my heart.” Loralee gave her daughter a polite smile, a second-runner-up smile that she’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. “Malcolm and James are running a prostitution ring, and there are drugs involved? Sounds simple enough. Do they even still sell real estate?”
“Of course, Mom, of course. Business has been booming too. We’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 he’s got the mine rights all sewed up. I’ve been to the sight, I think it’s a good chance there’s money to be made there.” Bill was rambling, excited. “Sorry.” He said, looking at his hat.
“What does Malcolm say, Hardy?” Loralee said.
“He says he didn’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 hadn’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, doesn’t remember hearing anything after they went to bed.”
“Do you have to tell her all that?” Henry was thinking about the bruises on his own knees and having his hands full of Loralee’s hair. What a bunch of liars they were.
“Would you prefer that I just say they found semen? The way that we’ll get to hear it in court? Because Malcolm isn’t telling me everything, and as it stands now, this is going to trial.” No one said anything in response to Hardy. “Jan, sis, you bring your yearbooks?”
Jan got up in a huff and took the yearbooks from a tote bag. Henry was getting the idea that “in a huff” was her usual state. “I don’t know why you need them. It isn’t like we don’t all know everything about her. Nevelle could probably tell you how many fillings she has.”
“I 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.” Pattershaw took the two annuals from Jan, she had marked the pages for him with post-it notes. “Popular girl.” He looked at Jan.
“Now, you get to talk, Jan.”
“Middle name?” Pattershaw turned pages, taking notes.
“Abilene. Really, the girl’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 man’s brain into Jell-O.” Jan flicked her lighter, shook it, and finally got the Benson and Hedges menthol lit. “So, 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 don’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?” Jan gulped diet soda.
“So, everyone knew when you were in high school that Roxanne was bi-sexual? I need to know more about her family relationships.” Pattershaw continued to leaf through the yearbook, jotting notes.
“She was tri-sexual. That’s what she said, to anyone who would listen. Her mother was an alcoholic. What you’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 mom’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 that’s how she got involved with him, at one of our parties at the house. Me, Melanie, and Barbara Jean stood outside the door.” Jan was slightly winded, but that didn’t keep here from lighting another menthol off the spent one.
“What happened to Barbara Jean?” Pattershaw opened the second yearbook. “She was running around with Shawn Daniels? Oh, my word, the girl could make a mess.” Pattershaw shook his head, made a tsk, tsk, tsk, sound, clicking his tongue against his teeth.
“Barbara Jean got married to Chris Tollson, remember Hardy? You were at the reception? He was an intern? They moved to California. He’s a surgeon. I heard that she got fat. We don’t keep in touch.” Jan got up to stretch. “We almost done here? Who the hell cares about Shawn Daniels anyway?”
“In a minute.” Pattershaw closed the book. “I need to keep these for a while, Jan. You’ll get them back.” He took his glasses off. “I’ve hired Trixie Davenport.”
“Oh, God.” Loralee groaned and put her hand to her head. “I cannot stand Trixie. So, you can just go right ahead an unhire her. That woman would just as soon see me buried.”
“I didn’t know there was a conflict,” Hardy said.
“That’s an understatement. Trixie had an affair with Malcolm, it was ten years ago, but nonetheless. She had her eyes on my ranch.” Loralee said.
“Okay, no Trixie. Jan, I want you to go home, don’t gossip with your girlfriends. Don’t say anything to Melanie, she’ll either talk or she won’t, if they get that far. Don’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 o’clock, I have you in to see Malcolm, Loralee. There’s something that he isn’t telling me, likely thinking that he’s still protecting you somehow. He’s got to tell me everything, or I won’t be able to help him.” Pattershaw collected up his papers. He stood and looked at Henry. “Do I need to tell you to control your temper?”
“You just did,” Henry said.
“Then I’ll see you this afternoon, Loralee.” Pattershaw closed his briefcase.
To read previous chapters of Loralee, click here.