My cell phone rang. I grabbed it and looked at the faceplate. It was a number I didn’t recognize. It was either Rahim’s parents calling for me to pick them up from the airport, or hopefully Mirriam telling me where she was.
I hit the talk button.
A computerized female voice said, “Will you accept a collect call from—” The computer’s voice faded out and then Kailee said, “Kailee Hill.” She was crying. I heard it in her voice. I punched one to accept the call.
“I can’t talk long, but I needed you to know I didn’t burn down the mosque and I’m sorry for what I said.” She sniffled.
“Baby—what mosque? Kailee, what are you talking about?” I wanted to make everything okay for her, but I didn’t know what happened.
“I got arrested for burning a mosque, but I swear I didn’t do it. You have to find my dad or Jackson to get my dad, so he can get me out of here. I used my one call because you needed to know I didn’t burn a mosque and you needed to hear it from me.”
Oh God. The girl that told me earlier today she couldn’t count on any man she knew was depending on me, when it would have made more sense to depend on someone else. And she did it for me. I went back into the living room and grabbed a pen. “Kailee, give me phone numbers for your dad and Jackson.”
“I didn’t do it.”
“I know, sweetheart. I’m not worried about that. Please, phone numbers?”
Before Kailee could get the numbers out, someone yelled at her to get off the phone in the background. It made me sick. I had to find her dad or brother, and I had to do it now. I called her dad first, and when he didn’t answer, I tried Jackson. I called her dad again. He didn’t pick up again, so I called Jackson half a dozen times. I left voicemails and tried texting. I couldn’t help but wonder if either one of them gave a damn about my girlfriend. Kailee was probably in jail for something Jackson had done. And the bastard wouldn’t even pick up the phone.
I grabbed the phone the first time it rang, expecting to hear Jackson’s gruff voice. The dumbass was probably drunk, and I’d have to pick him up from some jarhead party. I’d do it though, because Kailee needed him. “Abrahem?” It was a gruff voice all right, but it wasn’t Jackson.
“We found Caleb’s Jeep in Dallas.”
My heart stopped. He said he found Caleb’s Jeep not that punk and my sister. Dear God, please take care of Mirriam. “Okay?”
“We thought we found them. But a white girl was driving it wearing your sister’s head piece.” Under different circumstances I would have taken offense to that. It was a chapel cap. “And there was another white kid in the passenger seat. A Dallas police officer ID’d them both. The boy wasn’t Caleb. Do you know a Morgan or a Josh? The officer told them if they didn’t return Caleb’s car immediately, his mother would report it stolen, so I expect they’ll be back as quick as they can get back from Dallas.”
“I’ll find them when they return, and see if they know where my sister is.”
“They told the officer Caleb borrowed the girl’s car, so he left the Jeep. The girl was very cooperative and gave her plate number, but we haven’t found that car yet.”
“How can he drive with a bashed up leg?”
“His mom said he can’t.”
I sighed. “Mirriam can’t dive, and she doesn’t have a license.”
“We’ll keep lookin’. Just wanted to keep you updated.”
“Thanks.” I hung up the phone. The day couldn’t get any worse. Both Mirriam and Kailee needed me, and there was nothing I could do to help either one of them.
I called Jackson again, but it went to voicemail. Again. I grabbed the keys to the car and told Ommy I was leaving.
“What can be so important you need to leave today?”
“Someone else needs me, too,” I said.
“Is this about that white girl? Your family should be more important.”
“Her name is Kailee and we can argue about this later, because right now she needs me.” And I wouldn’t let her down.
The door shut behind me and I said, “She doesn’t want to be found.” Ommy couldn’t hear, but it was true. Mirriam made sure we found Morgan instead of her. Mirriam caused her own problems. Kailee was in trouble for trying to take care of someone else, and I wouldn’t prove to her that I was another man she couldn’t rely on.
When I pulled into Kailee’s driveway, it was empty. But I had to try. I got out and banged on the door until my knuckles hurt. No use. No one was home. I called Jackson several more times. I tried her dad again. Neither picked up.
Not knowing what else to do, I searched for bail bondsmen on my phone. The first one that popped up advertised being open twenty-four hours. I punched the address into my GPS. I arrived at a small shack with bars on the windows and knocked on the door.
A short fat lady with auburn hair and a cigarette sticking out of her mouth pulled the heavy door open but left the glass door locked. She removed the cigarette and blew out a puff of smoke, and I was thankful for the door between us. “Can I help you?”
“I need to get my friend out of jail.”
“What’s he in for?”
“She was arrested for burning down a mosque.”
Her eyebrows shot up, and she unlocked the door. “Say what?” She motioned for me to follow her.
“Burning down a mosque.” I followed her to a room with two desks, each with an office chair on one side and a couple of chairs on the other side.
“Are we talkin’ about an A-rab girl?” She stuffed the cigarette back in her mouth.
“She’s white.” I sat down in a chair across from her desk as she slid into the other side.
“Why would you be friends with a girl that burned down a mosque?”
“I’m not Muslim!” I should have recorded it on some device so I could hit play every time I needed to say this. I would get thousands of hours of my life back that way. “And she didn’t do it.”
“Honey, I don’t wanna burst your bubble, but every person that walks through that door tells me that. And the judge usually says they did.”
“Why would a girl dating an Iraqi burn down a mosque? What would her motive be?”
“Not my business. I’m just here to help you bust her out.”
I rolled my eyes.
“Are you sayin’ the charge is arson? ‘Cause burnin’ down a mosque, that could be a hate crime or terrorism.”
“Kailee is not a terrorist!”
“Son, I need the facts to write this up. I need to know what they’re settin’ bail at, and if I know the charge, that will help.”
I shook my head. “I don’t know. I can’t find her brother or her dad. She used her one phone call to tell me she didn’t do it.”
“Her dad? How old is this kid?”
“Is she at the county?”
“I don’t know.”
She blew out another puff of smoke, and I coughed. She chuckled and put the cigarette out in the ashtray beside her computer. “I don’t know of any mosques being burned down around here. I’ll call the county and see what I can find out. We’ll start from there. And before I go any further our fee is twenty percent of bail. You’ll pay me bail plus the twenty percent.”
I nodded. “Whatever. Just get my girlfriend out of jail.”
She picked up a landline and dialed out. She covered the receiver. “What’s this little angel’s name?”
I didn’t like her tone. She still thought Kailee did it. “Kailee Hill.”
“You got a Kailee Hill there?” she said into the phone. “Thank you anyways.” She hung up the phone and looked to me. “Son, she ain’t here. I can try Travis County.”
“Where is that?”
“Let’s try it.”
She picked up the phone again. “You got a Kailee Hill there?” She went quiet for a minute. “What’s the bond set at?”
We found her. She would have already hung up if Kailee wasn’t there. God, I hope I have bail.
“Well, do you know what they’re chargin’ her with?” I gripped the arm of my chair through her silence. “Come on, now. They had to have to a charge to pick her up.” Something about those last words didn’t sound good. “Okay.” She hung up. “They picked her up on arson, but the D.A. is lookin’ to up it. I couldn’t get that jackass to tell me what they wanna up it to though… Kailee Hill—that wouldn’t be Rex Hill’s daughter would it?”
“Her dad’s name is Rex.”
“Your best bet is to find her daddy. If he can’t get her off, she’s fryin’ anyways.”
Great. Back to square one. “Thank you.” I stood to walk out of the door.
She stood and grabbed her keys. “I gotta let you out. The door stays locked. When you work with thugs like we do, you don’t want an open door.” She chuckled.
I would have laughed, if I hadn’t been so worried. Back in the car, I called her dad and left a voicemail. “Mr. Hill, this is Kailee’s friend Abrahem. She’s in jail in Austin for arson, and so far they haven’t set bail. Please call me as soon as possible.” But if the previous three calls hadn’t caught his attention, I doubted this one would. So I called Jackson again, and he picked up this time. He didn’t say hello. I only heard music and people screaming.
He laughed into the phone. “Hey?”
“Kailee? Hey, you’re that raghead aren’t you?” He laughed.
I sighed. “Yeah, that’s me. Kailee needs your—”
“Hey, baby,” he said and then clipped the call.
I called back. “Sup?” he asked.
“Damn it! Kailee, needs your help. Where the hell are you?”
“Kailee? Is she okay?”
“Would I be talking to you if she were? She’s in jail.”
“Shit. What my little sister do? Baby, quit for a minute.” I didn’t want to know what he was doing. All I wanted was for him to help me find his dad. “Hey, I’ll call you when I get home.”
“How far are you from your house?”
“About fifteen minutes.”
“I’ll meet you there.” As soon as I hit end the phone rang. Please be Kailee’s dad. “Hello?”
“Abrahem, where on earth are you? You have to go pick up Rahim’s parents.” Of course I did, because everyone needed me to do everything.
“Ommy, you’re going to have to do it. Take a cab and get them. You can put them up in a hotel room there. There is no point in having them come here when they have to back to Austin to fly out.”
“I cannot do that. I cannot take a cab all the way to Austin by myself. And if I could, it would cost a fortune. It’s bad enough your sister took off. We can’t keep them in Austin.”
“Rahim wants them to think he cancelled the wedding. We owe him at least that, and it would make sense you would be upset if he cancelled the wedding, so given the circumstances it’s reasonable that you would keep them in Austin. I can’t come home right now. You’re going to have to do this on your own.” If my baba were here to see this, he’d slap me in the mouth, but I couldn’t care tonight.
“Abrahem, are you busy playing with that white girl?”
I had never had anything but respect for my mother, but I was ready to strangle her. “Ommy, we will talk about this later, but her name is Kailee. And no she’s not with me.”
“What is so important you can’t take care of your family?”
I slapped myself on the forehead with the phone. “Mirriam is your daughter. I do take care of her. I’ve kept her out of as much trouble as possible, and with a sister like Mirriam that hasn’t always been easy. But we’re not back home. She’s your daughter. You are going to have to clean this one up, because someone else needs me right now.”
Ommy broke into sobs. “I cannot believe you could talk to me like that. Today of all days. Your family needs you.”
I was well aware of that, but Kailee didn’t have anyone else. All of a sudden, I understood why so many cultures valued arranged marriages. If a girl my parents picked out and my mother needed me at the same time, it would have been very easy to let that girl wait. But Kailee wasn’t some girl Ommy had picked. She was the girl that spent time with an outcast to learn chemistry. She was the girl who hid her talent from the world, because people might not think a smart girl was cute. She was the girl who attacked a guy more than twice her size for insulting me, and the only thing that mattered was that she owned my heart. I would have to find a way to make it up to Ommy later, because at the moment taking care of Kailee mattered.