Chapter 52: Rough Call
Renee tapped her fingers on the counter top impatiently. The vid screen was still dialing, which translated into Lenora not picking up her phone. This was call number three.
It started playing Lenora’s answering message and Renee snapped, “Hang up!’ to the screen, which immediately obeyed.
David watched with wide eyes from the sofa across the room. He wasn’t contributing anything else to the conversation – he had said quite enough.
Renee’s intentions behind calling Lenora was to dispel David’s ridiculous notion that Lenora had become a stripper at Vixens to make up the bills. The entire idea was stupid. No doubt, David had waited until last minute to take his SuperSoda and now the ocular was really starting to fuck with him.
Renee’s first impulse was to take him to the emergency room.
However, David was adamant, and kept being adamant until Renee had to raise her voice, and tell him to just sit the hell down and shut the fuck up!
One phone call could settle this.
But only if Lenora actually answered.
Renee stared at the blank screen, eyes narrowed.
“Dial Lenora.” Renee snapped, ignoring David.
“Dialing: Lenora Whitmore. Please hold.”
“I’m telling you –“
“I’m done with you, David.”
“All I’m saying is if we go there –“
“Renee, it’s ten minutes down the –“
“Shut it, David.” Renee closed her eyes and tried to calm down. Staring at the ever-dialing screen was not helping her temper cool off.
“I can just show you!” David insisted, rising from his seat.
“Enough! I said shut up!” Renee’s eyes snapped open, and one arm snapped out in finality towards her brother. “I don’t believe it, so just –“
“Call incoming; Lenora Whitmore identified. Answer?” The vid screen interrupted the dial.
Renee jumped on it. “Answer!”
“Oh God, hello? God, Renee, Oh God….” Lenora’s voice came over the vid screen.
Renee was on her feet and by the screen in a moment, David right on her heels.
“Lenora? What’s wrong? Lenora?” Renee insisted.
“Calm down, ’Nora, we’re here.”
“I don’t know how this happened…” Lenora was breathing heavily.
Was she crying? Renee softened her voice as much as she could with her nerves in high gear. “Lenora, please, where are you? We’ll come pick you up-“
“No! No, no you can’t. I – I uh, I have to go…”
Renee heard noise in the background, and strained to pick out what it was. She could feel David hovering behind her.
“Are you at Vixen’s?” David blurted.
Renee elbowed him in the ribs, viciously. He moved quickly away.
“What?” Lenora gasped. “How – No. No, you can’t come here…”
“It doesn’t matter, Lenora. We can pick you up.”
“Renee, no, please…”
The catch in Lenora’s throat made Renee clench her jaw in anger. What had happened? What was she afraid of? She took a deep breath and continued. “We’re coming to get you –“
“ – David knows where Vixen’s is, we can get there in…”
“Stop, listen – “
“…Maybe ten minutes. Just sit tight. You can stay with us tonight if you –“
“YOU CAN’T COME TO VIXEN’S!” Lenora’s shout echoed in the small apartment and Renee was stunned to silence.
There was a full minute – or years, what it felt like – of silence before Lenora’s trembling voice came over the vid screen again.
“Renee, please.” Her voice split down the middle and cracked, breaking a part of Renee’s heart with it. “I’m… I’m not there. Not now. I promise… I promise if anything… happens. I promise to call you. Right away.”
Renee looked over at David, finding him perched on a bar stool with his arms tightly crossed over his middle, eyes dark and brooding.
“Lenora… are you… alright?” Renee asked, watching David glare at the vid screen.
“I’m… I have to go, Renee. I have to go.” Another catch in Lenora’s voice made David drop his eyes to the floor. The vid screen went dark, and ‘Call Ended’ scrolled across the bottom as the never ending ads once again began to pour over the airwaves.
Renee stood there in awkward indecision.
David moved and it caught her attention. She watched him numbly as he started strapping on his delivery gear. His movements were jerky, every limb quaking with an intense emotion that Renee couldn’t really pin down. She had never seen him angry enough to shake, so she really didn’t believe that was it.
David was afraid.
“David, where are you going?” Renee asked, slowly moving over to the counter.
“I’m going to Vixen’s.” He slumped down onto the kitchen floor, all limbs. Right there he started strapping on his boarding boots.
Renee looked back at the vid screen.
This was Lenora’s life, right? She had no right to intervene. But even so, as she tried to justify Lenora’s sense of newfound independence or whatever made her go to Vixen’s… Renee still couldn’t shake the idea of what happened a little over a year ago.
If Renee had only known she was walking home alone, maybe she could have been there somehow; maybe her presence could have stopped the monstrous things that happened to her friend…
“You aren’t taking that board.” Renee muttered.
David looked up at her with exasperation only to find his sister pulling her car keys off of the hook by the front door.
“There’s more space in my car. Come on.”