In the Wash: The Rona Shively Stories

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Chapter Ten

I waited a few more minutes before driving away from the State

Patrol office. I wanted to make sure the bastard didn’t turn around. I dropped Norman off at a Best Western, telling him not to open his door for anyone and to call me first thing in the morning. He had a gun, but I wasn’t sure he knew how to use it to any real effect. I waited for him to check-in and when I was sure he was able to get a room, I took my leave. He told me to be careful and he kissed my cheek again before climbing the steps and entering his room on the second floor. I sent up a silent prayer that nothing would happen to him. He was the closest thing I had to a best friend besides Kimball and I had already lost her. Even though I tried not to make connections with people, there were those who had managed to matter to me even though I continuously pushed them away. As I turned into the parking lot outside my apartment building, I looked for suspicious cars. Seeing none, I locked my car and headed for the gate. I punched in my security code and stepped inside.

Fortunately, my apartment was one of the safest places I could be. The security cameras, coded entry and 24-hour security guards helped. I used to live in a house out by the highway but had to give that up after the shooting. Turns out, they don’t make allowances on catching up your property taxes while you’re vacationing in prison. I heard the phone ringing from the other side of the door. I hurried to unlock it and rushed over just in time to hear the machine pick up.

“Leave a message, I’ll call you back,” my voice said. After the obligatory beep, I heard the following:

“Ms. Shively, I need to see you right away concerning your receipts,” it was Delvecchio. He was keeping to our cover story and went on to say that he would be at a restaurant called the Chow Hound out on Mead Boulevard for another couple of hours, but if he didn’t hear from me, he would call me in the morning. I tried to pick up, but the damned machine wasn’t cooperating. It clicked off before he finished his message and before I could say, “Wait, I’m here.”

“Well, fuck!” I said, “God dammit, I hate this machine.” I was just about to rip the damn thing out of the wall when I noticed that the message waiting indicator read fifteen unheard messages. Now, who the hell had been trying to call me? I pushed the button and listened to the first of six messages from a Detective Marsh with the LVPD. They must have figured out I was at Kimball’s. The next few were from Norman, but he had called earlier in the day. Whatever he needed, they had talked about at dinner. There were a total of five hang-ups and one message from a woman who claimed to be Rita Gofski.

“Ms. Shively, I’m calling because I need your help,” she said, “I got your name from a friend and I wondered if I might meet with you.

Please call me back at 555-4039.”

This worried me. Why would she be calling me? It didn’t make sense that she would be looking to hire me when she had her uncle’s team to help her with whatever she might need. This reeked of a setup. I went back and forth for a while trying to decide whether or not to call her back. It was about ten thirty now and I didn’t want to wake anyone up. I decided to sleep on it. If I still felt like calling in the morning, I would try to reach her then.

I had no intentions of going out again to meet with Delvecchio, not after the day I’d had. I checked the fish tank to make sure Opie and Aunt Bea were still swimming around. They appeared to be all right so I threw a little fish food in and said, “Goodnight.” I wasn’t really hungry, but I found myself looking in the refrigerator for something to eat. I wasn’t going to be able to sleep tonight and I was sure there was nothing on television. I just love paying for all those channels so I can choose between paid programming and reruns of COPS when I have the time to watch.

I pulled out some roast beef and a package of provolone cheese, a jar of horseradish sauce and some bread and butter pickles. I grabbed the package of hoagie buns from the top of the fridge, praying that they hadn’t molded over yet and carried it all to the kitchen table. Lucky for me, the buns were still good. I slathered some horseradish on the top bun and piled the roast beef and a couple of slices of the provolone on the bottom bun. I stuck both of these on the rack of my handy-dandy toaster oven and turned the knob to thirty. I watched as the cheese began to bubble and the outer edge of the bun started to brown. The smell was comforting. The spicy, beefy aroma wafted through the tiny apartment and, apparently down the hall to nosy Charlie’s because he was knocking at my door. I groaned as I left my sandwich watching post to answer the door. I knew it was Charlie by the effeminate knock. Dink, dink. Dink, dink. Just for shits and giggles, I looked through the peephole to make sure. There he stood in his lime-green, silk kimono with the big dragons on either shoulder. His red hair moussed into a sensible spike. “What do you want?” I said impatiently as I opened the door. “I smelled food, what are you making in there?” he said, sniffing as he pushed his way through my door. I wasn’t really trying to keep him from coming in, so it didn’t take much effort on his part.

“Beef and cheese hoagie, you want one?” I asked unenthusiastically. “Sure, sounds yummy,” he said. He stopped sniffing and looked at me with what appeared to be concern. “What’s wrong with you,

Rona?”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“You usually tell me to get fucked and get my own damned groceries,” he said, “Now all of a sudden, you want to share. What gives?”

I waved it off and said, “Nothing’s up, I just don’t feel up to it tonight.”

“Listen, I know we’ve had our differences, but you can talk to me if you need to,” he said, “I’m a great listener.”

“Thanks for the offer, but really, everything’s fine,” I said, not wanting to get anyone else involved. I took the sandwich out of the toaster oven and cut it in half. I put both halves on a plate and threw a few bread and butter pickle slices on for fun. I placed the plate between us on the table and then reached into the refrigerator and pulled out two beers. I scooted one across the table to Charlie and sat down. He grabbed the beer and nodded his thanks. For a few moments, we sipped our beers and snacked on pickles. Finally, I grabbed my half of the sandwich and took a bite.

“Oh, man, this is good,” I said, wiping the horseradish from my chin. Charlie picked up his sandwich and began to eat. He made a few noises that signified his agreement with my initial assessment of the sandwich. We gobbled up the rest of the sandwich and finished our beers. I picked up the plate and started to put it in the sink. This must have triggered something in me, because I started to cry. I flashed on Kimball lying there on her kitchen floor covered in her own blood and it was too much for me. I turned away pretending to be coughing, there was no way I could let Charlie see me this upset. I tried to regain control, but too much had happened in the last couple of days and I was just exhausted. I put my hands over my face and leaned against the counter. I heard Charlie’s chair scoot away from the table. He walked around the counter and stood by my side, putting his arm around my shoulder. I gave up trying to be tough and laid my head on his shoulder while I cried.

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