Loralee: The Dimestore Novella
Chapter Ten, Real Estate
Originally published on June 30, 2012
“Henry, I don’t think I can take it anymore.” Loralee was sitting on the bed, slumped. She eased herself to the floor, back against the mattresses.
“Get off the floor, Loralee.” Henry had had about enough.
“It isn’t as far to fall from here.” She was drinking. Slow, little sips.
“You’re spoiled, Loralee, feeling sorry for yourself.” He had somewhere to be.
“Oh, let’s do this.” She rolled her eyes. “I thought you loved me.” He didn’t say anything. She picked herself up onto the bed. “Sorry.”
“I have to go out for a while.” He hated the taste of the words, not wanting to leave her there alone like that.
“Yeah?” She turned over on her side, crawled back up to the pillows, pulled back the covers, undid her jeans, pushed them off onto the floor. Wriggled her bra from underneath her silk blouse and slid between the sheets.
“I’ll be back as soon as I can.” He stood across the room, watched her close her eyes.
The sidewalk in front of the house was still damp from an afternoon rain. Even in the dark, he could see that the gardeners had just been there. The front door gave easily under the weight of his shoulder against the decaying wood, the cheap, old chain lock swinging free. The front room was dark. A slash of light cutting across the floor at the end of the hallway from a half-open bedroom door, the strains of a Shania Twain song mixed with overacted moans. Henry put his open palm against that door, pushing it open slowly. Shame really, she was good at what she did. Her round ass rolling on top of the sandy-haired boy. She didn’t look too good as a blonde, though.
“Hit the road, Shawn,” Henry said. He pulled his gloves up a little tighter. “Don’t make me say it twice.”
The ex-high school quarterback scrambled out of the pocket, picking his clothes up off the floor as he made his way out the door in a flash. Shawn Daniels was already a recipient of the James Nevelle Scholarship Fund. His new Challenger squealing tires out of the driveway, they’d have to talk to him about that later.
“You wanna go for a ride, Henry?” She arched her back, eased her hands down in front of her, on all fours, round ass in the air.
Henry walked to the edge of the bed. He pulled her head against his midriff in the most loving way, feeling her cheek against his belt buckle. She looked up at him and for a moment, seemed to understand, then looked bewildered, just the way he wanted her to. He slowly tightened his grip around her neck, squeezing as she flailed her arms and tried to kick.
He walked out the front door and around the corner fifteen minutes later, a black Chevy Silverado waiting at the curb, Henry climbed in.
“We need to find Thompson.” Don McCoy kept his eyes front. He had never liked Henry all that much.
“You’re gonna have to do that yourself. The more I am away from Loralee, the more questions she asks.” Henry lit a cigarette.
“Don’t smoke in my truck.” Don shook his head no. Henry took a long drag and flicked it out the window. “Can’t you deal with her.”
“Hey, now.” Henry was making up his mind that he and Don were going to have a long talk at some point.
“Hey, now my ass, this shit has got to get dealt with. You falling in love with the missus, ain’t my problem. She’s passed it, you know? You got a stable of some of the sweetest honey you could write your own ticket with, and you go after Miss Tulsa Pie, 1988.”
“My love life is none of your business. I’m not the one who lost track of Thompson.” Henry was all too familiar with McCoy’s sparring tactics.
“Hell, you probably think you can trust her. World be a lot better place when they start spelling trust with four letters.” Don was grinning ear to ear, knowing Henry wouldn’t jump at any of it, but maybe, maybe someday. “It took hours, you know? It got bad, that one. Thompson can’t hold his water. We got to put a lid on this shit right quick.”
“I want my cut.” Henry was just about done.
“You ain’t going nowhere until this is done, son. We are going to find Thompson. Roget is staying disappeared, and you ain‘t going nowhere until.” Don eased the truck to a stop.
“Your imagination always did get the better of you.” Henry smiled.
“Least I ain’t screwin’ that has-been beauty queen.”
“That’s right, you ain’t.” Henry shut the door of the truck so quietly it was loud.
“I want to leave,” Loralee mumbled the words in her sleep.
Henry slid his arm the rest of the way underneath her, his hand around her waist, pulled her backside up against him, slid her panties down to her knees.
“Henry…” She fussed. Her hand going up to her hair, like she was shooing away a fly.
“Sshhh, just let me.” He buried his face in the back of her neck. Her hair smelled like stale smoke and whatever they’d been using to mop the linoleum in the police station. It was the sweetest thing he’d smelled all day. “Come on, baby.” His hand slid over her rib cage. When he was a young man, someone had told him that if he could still feel a woman’s ribs, then she wasn’t overweight. He could never help himself, checking. He counted every one of Loralee’s ribs. His hand gliding up under her chin, hovering around her neck for a little too long, then back down her rib cage and around her tummy. It didn’t matter what anyone said, she felt like home. “I love you, Loralee.” He whispered, and she moaned, pushing harder against him. “I love you, Loralee.”
“Henry.” Her body shuddered against his.
“I’m right here, I’m right here with you.” He pulled at her hips harder, then falling back from her onto his pillow.
Loralee closed her eyes and hoped she’d dream of home.
The phone was ringing. Loralee walked out of the bathroom, fully dressed, ready to go. Henry didn’t reach for the phone until she was almost on it. She sat down across from him, put her shoes on, stood up, smoothing her skirt. Henry put the receiver back in its cradle, looked up at her.
“You look beautiful, all dressed up.” Henry nodded.
“Thank you. I had to send my jeans to the laundry. Didn’t pack enough, I thought we’d be home by now. I don’t like these clothes.” Loralee shrugged.
“That’s not what I meant. You look strong, cleaned up. Like yourself.” Henry was sizing things up.
“I bounce good.” She was sizing things up too. “I’m sorry about last night. I’m not spoiled Henry, I’m tired. My carefully constructed world has evaporated. Trusting you shouldn’t mean expecting you to pick up the pieces all the time. I thought about it all morning, woke up early, couldn’t sleep. My kids are grown. Jan is a nightmare, she hasn’t needed me or wanted me around for years. Billy needs to separate himself from all this.” She paused. “I’m going to have divorce papers filed after Malcolm’s arraignment.”
“Loralee, you have nothing to apologize to me for. But we need to have a talk about some things. That was Hardy on the phone, that football player, that Daniels kid, found Roxanne Carole’s body.” Henry turned, reaching for his cigarettes on the nightstand.
“Where were you last night, Henry?” Loralee kind of cocked her head sideways, calm, looking at him.
Henry smiled at her, ran his hands through his hair. “Did you know that I saw you at a party? New Year’s Eve at Nevelle’s house about five years ago. You were there with Malcolm. It got late, started to get loose. You had a car take you home, didn’t even tell anyone that you were leaving. That blonde mane of yours trailing down your back and I thought, that’s the woman, right there. She is the one. You know why?”
Loralee lowered her eyes. “No, Henry, I don’t know why.”
“Because I could tell you wanted to stay, not with him but just there, to be at the party. I watched you all night, holding back everything. I could see that you knew about Malcolm and Suzanne.” Henry squinted at her through his cigarette smoke. “You went home because of your kids, and I thought, I’m going to get that woman alone and get every bit of what she’s been holding back.” He put the cigarette out. “But you’re not like that either, Loralee. You’re genuinely good.”
“Where were you last night, Henry?” She didn’t know why she was asking, it didn’t matter where he’d been. Her sudden awareness of her own transparency was unnerving.
“We need to have a talk.” Henry nodded again.
“I guess we do. There are some things I should probably tell you too.”
To read previous chapters of Loralee, click here.
This chapter was inspired by a Shania Twain song. Keeping in mind that when I wrote this, I was writing it just to see if I could, for fun. ~ TS