Yours, Mine, and Ours
By MaryJanice Davidson
St. Martin's Press Copyright © 2012 MaryJanice Davidson
All rights reserved.
"— doing in here?"
I blinked at the woman across from me. She was not pleased, not even a teeny tiny bit. Her hair, which was once probably a lovely brunette pageboy, now looked as though the woman had been combing it with a wire whisk. Her face was red and shiny. Her clothes were a mess — a run in her pantyhose, her blouse untucked, one shoe missing — and she was standing ankle-deep in a drift of snow. Her brown eyes were really, really starey.
"Well? What do you have to say for yourself?"
"I didn't miss Christmas, right?" I asked. This wasn't an idle question. The last thing I remembered was December, but hardly any snow — it had been a weirdly "green" winter.
"That's your question?"
I wondered if she had a hearing problem. "Um. Yeah. That's my question. I really, really hope I didn't miss Christmas again."
"Didn't you hear me?" the woman croaked. Her voice was hoarse, either because she was ill or she'd been screaming. Probably at me, poor thing. Unless she was hoarse and ill. Poor thing! "The cops are on the way! This is ... it's ... it's destruction of property! You think I don't know that? Everybody knows that! You're ... you are a destroyer of property! My property!"
Well, that certainly sounded bad. I nodded encouragement ("yes, my, sounds terrible, really, just awful awful awful") but it didn't calm her down, not even a little.
I tried to figure out where I was. There were no newspapers around, so I had no idea what city I was in or what the date was. No TVs running with a CNN stream. Windows, sure, but too high for me to see billboards or the Golden Arches or any sort of landmark. (Mmmmm. Arches! Suddenly I wanted a Filet-O-Fish or five.) Nothing indicating the name of the building the poor thing and I were trapped together in. Just barking.
Lots of barking from, I would deduce (being a trained investigator for the FBI, I could do that; I could deduce all over the place), lots of dogs.
I looked down and observed that the "snow" I was standing in was actually mounds and mounds of poodle fur.
"That's it? That's all you have to say for yourself? After what you did?"
"Um ... oh, crumbs?" (Profanity was for the unimaginative.) "And ... I'm sorry?" An apology seemed like the right move. When I woke up in a strange place with enraged strangers who were wearing only one shoe while standing in poodle fluff, it was almost always the right move.
"And there they are!" she shrilled, pointing with a flourish at the approach of two police officers. "You boys! You come over here and ... and get her."
"Get me?" I asked, appalled. "But you don't even know me."
"Don't say that like we haven't spent ten horrible minutes together."
Well. We hadn't. She and I, is what I meant. She had spent time with my body, but not with me. Don't worry: it's not as depraved as it sounds.
"She committed felony assault on all my show poodles!"
Scratch that. It was at least as depraved as it sounds.
"Ohhhhh, that sounds bad," I said as the officers hurried up. They were St. Paul police, I noted, as I nodded politely and tried to look the opposite of dangerous. Both big and blond and puffy, one with blue eyes and one with brown.
"You called in the assault, ma'am?" Blue Eyes asked.
"I think, yes, Officer," I said, well into helpful mode.
"You shut up! I did." She blew a hank of hair off her forehead with a gusty, egg-scented puff. "She committed assault all over everything and I'll lose now and months — months! — down the drain!"
"You should probably arrest me," I agreed. I went to set down my mocha, then realized my hands were empty. No wonder I was thirsty. "I'll come along quietly."
And I did.
I looked up and stifled a groan. My partner, George Pinkman, was standing just outside the holding cell bars, clutching his stomach with one hand and pointing at me with the other. "Oh my God! I thought the police report had been exaggerated. But you really did it. Shaved poodles!" He hee-hee'd for several seconds; I'd rarely seen him in such a good mood.
"You did not think that," I said, appalled. "Cops wouldn't exaggerate on a government document."
"Like I give a shit," he replied, instantly bored ... the classic mood swings of a clinical sociopath. He eyed the contents of the holding cell, which looked and smelled exactly like holding cells all over the country. I had reason to know, I was sorry to say. "Okay, so, this could still be interesting. My situation can be salvaged."
See that? My situation. Like I said. Classic.
He looked up and down the corridor. "So, is there some kind of Chained Heat thing going on here?"
"Don't take this away from me," he begged. "I have so little in my life. Caged?"
"Bare Behind Bars?"
"Are you trying to make me throw up, or is it just a side effect from talking to you?" Zow! I must be grumpier than I thought. I could usually be a little more civil. "Sorry."
(I was a compulsive apologizer. I saw a doctor for it and everything. I was a get-along girl; if everyone wasn't content I apologized. My sisters hated it. Hated.)
"So Young, So Bad? Women In Cellblock 9? Cell Block Sisters?"
"I'm sorry to have to point this out." Really. I was! "And maybe you'll remember I've told you this before, but there's something deeply wrong with you."
He cursed me. "Goddammit. Reform School Girls, at least?"
I shook my head. "The terrible things I find out about you when I'm stuck in a holding cell."
"No thanks. I'm a cocoa girl."
"I mean you should buy me coffee, you useless harpy." He yawned and ran his fingers — pianist's hands, surgeon's hands, psycho killer's hands — through his thick black hair. "Goddamned Michaela called me at the crack of dawn, and I had to haul my firm and wonderful ass down here to get you out. On my day off, I had to get up early and rescue your sorry ass!"
"It's two o'clock in the afternoon."
"Shut up. I had stuff to do first." He rubbed his eyes, which were a fine, pure green. "Hey, I said "crack" and "ass" in the same sentence. Let's go."
I turned to the three women I'd been spending time with. Two of them were in the far-left corner. The other one was crouched beside the lower bunk. They were all staring. My, what big eyes you have, cell mates. "It was nice talking to you."
"Please don't hurt us anymore."
"No, no," I soothed. "Of course not. And, um, I'm very sorry." For whatever it was I did.
If I had to guess (and I didn't have to guess; I knew), I'd say my sister, Shiro, had paid them a visit. That was bad, but if my youngest sister, Adrienne, had come, things would have been much, much worse.
Natch, I couldn't remember a thing. This was behavior I was used to, but never cared for. I remember reading Sybil, by Flora Rheta Schreiber, years and years ago and thinking Thank goodness somebody gets it somebody really gets it this woman is writing about me!
Sometimes I hated the sorry fact that my sisters could hijack my body, make it do all sorts of odd and unacceptable things, and then return the body back to my control ... usually after they've used it to commit various felony acts.
All that to say, I don't know what nonsense my cell mates pulled, nor did I know what Shiro did for payback, but I was never one to hold a grudge.
"So. Um. It was nice meeting you all."
The gal by the bunk was going to have a gorgeous shiner. As for the other two, the moment I got my body back I'd been able to stop their nosebleeds after a couple of minutes. I'm not one to badmouth, but I really think they blew this whole thing out of proportion.
Cadence was right. They blew this whole thing out of proportion.
"— she do?"
George stepped aside as the duty officer unlocked the holding cell. Officer Crayon (the poor man! what a name), too, was careful to stand far back as I exited.
"Sorry, George? I didn't catch that." Most people would think Huh, I must have drifted off or Golly, guess I wasn't paying attention. I never drifted off. Stupid fargin' MPD. Shiro must have popped back in the driver's seat, probably to show off by coming up with a silly obscure fact. Less frequently, it was to agree with me.
And again: I was trying to keep my internal whining under control. It could have been worse. There are much worse things than putting Shiro in the cockpit.
"I said — and try to stay in your body for half a minute if it's not too much damned trouble — what'd you do to those poor bitches?"
"Don't call them that!" I was so shocked, if they hadn't closed the door I would have fallen back into the cell. "They are human beings, George Pinkman, and deserve respect."
"They're two whores and a dyke-beater." He turned, walking backward, the better to talk to my former cell mates. "For the record, I'm into that. Hey, domestic abuse should apply to everyone, not just heteros. So keep up the good work, gals. Hip-hip-hooray for equal rights!"
"You shush your big mouth!" I was frantically waving my arms, trying to hush him up. "They can hear you!"
"You look like a duck trying to take flight when you do that. And of course they can hear me," he said reasonably, with no idea why I was upset. "We're only eight feet away. Now, after we walk through this big iron door and they clang it behind us, then they won't be able to hear me."
"You ... you never get it, do you? And you never will. You look at them, you look at me, you don't see people with feelings. You don't see people at all. Just things to play with. Toys. At best." I wouldn't say it. I wouldn't say it! "Sorry."
George yawned. This wasn't anything he hadn't heard from any one of his number of bosses, therapists, coworkers, family members, or random strangers. I didn't know why I was wasting my breath. I didn't know why his yucky crapola was getting to me more than usual.
Yes, I did know. I promised my psychiatrist I would make a real effort not to lie to myself so much. "We lie best when we lie to ourselves," he said, which I thought was profound and accurate, though my sister Shiro thought
I thought it was obvious, and idiotic. Trust Cadence to be charmed by the yappings of a fortune-cookie therapist.
it was idiotic. But Shiro could be strangely close-minded sometimes.
I pinched the bridge of my nose, then rubbed my eyes. The month had barely started (at least, in my head) and I was already tired of it. And tired of George's ickiness.
"— more pathetic than usual. Are you all right? For you, I mean?"
No. Though I appreciated George's attempt to fake empathy. He, too, received regular instructions from a platoon of therapists. But at least in my case, there was hope. George would be out of luck for the rest of his life. There was no cure for sociopathy.
My sisters and I could theoretically be put back together, like a grumpy Humpty-Dumpty, but no one can grow a conscience past, say, the age of five. When George wasn't being a big mean poopie, I felt sorry for him.
"Did one of those bitches get a shot in before Shiro took them out?" He instantly turned on his heel. "Hey! Nobody smacks, taunts, or bruises my partner except me! And maybe a random bad guy! Which one of you worthless cows —"
"Stop it, please. I'm getting a headache. They didn't bother me. Just ... stop being mean for five minutes. Please?"
"No." His gaze was on me, green eyes narrowed. "If that's true, if they didn't hurt you, then what's your problem?"
"Oh, God! You're actually gonna tell me. Christ, I can't believe I'm opening myself up to more whining ... you don't have to tell me. In fact, I'm officially withdrawing the question."
What was wrong with me was the thing that was always wrong with me. I was tired and scared. I didn't like waking up in holding cells. I didn't like being sprung by sociopaths. Two-thirds of a murderous trio were in the wind. I was expecting my period any second.
Oh, and the bigger problems (yes, bigger than two-thirds of a murderous trio out in the world somewhere plotting against me)? My psychiatrist was trying to kill my sisters. My boyfriend wanted to date my sisters ... and me. My best friend wanted her brother, also my boyfriend, to go away — which, since he was about to close on a house in the area, was problematic. (These weren't two different men! I was a good girl, not some skeevy, sleep-around, icky, yuck-o slut puppy.)
"A day without a lecture on morality from Cadence Jones is a day that is really, really great," George was saying. His yakking was giving me a headache. So was his tie: decapitated goats against a lime-green background. George was not a subtle man. Any stranger could tell after a glance that he was good-looking, smart, deranged, and had odd taste in men's neckwear. "Really really really really really really great."
"Stop that, please. My head is killing me."
"Well, maybe you shouldn't go around shaving poodles!" His voice actually cracked on "poodles." He could get pretty shriekey when he wanted. And my head, my head, it was just pounding; I could have used about a thousand Advil right then. A million. A billion. This must have been what Zeus felt like right before his daughter Athena popped out of his brain.
I take it back; it couldn't have hurt more than this. My head really
Yesyes and the only cure
is the hurt cure the only cure
is to hurt back and George stupid George with his
stupid tie his stupid stupid and who who's holding their head now George who
has a headache NOW?
Ha! His head hurts
like a bus
The wheels on the bus
And who needs Advil, anyway? Not me and not the geese! The geese are
Advil free and so am III
III the wheels on the geese
go 'round and 'round
and they didn't
they didn't hurt me NOBODY HURTS ME I do all the hurting III
The only thing worse than waking up in a holding cell is waking up handcuffed to a hospital gurney. (It's dreadful that I know that. It's worse that I've known that since I was fourteen.)
My clothes were torn. My hair, when I reached up with my uncuffed hand and cautiously fluffed it, was sticky. Two of my right knuckles were starting to puff. And there was a terrible racket just on the other side of the curtain.
"Godammit! She attacked me, you dumb shits! I'm the one who got tossed through a fucking window like fucking Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop! I'm Axel Foley and you assholes are Victor Maitland and his henchmen!"
George paused, but only to take a breath. "Get these fucking cuffs off me and give me back my shoelaces and get me some coffee and get the hell out of my way and then kindly die screaming! And call my boss so she can fire my numb-fuck partner! Is anybody listening to me?"
It really wasn't funny. It was sort of horrible. I mean ... poor George. Poor, poor George. First Shiro showed up to torment my cell mates, then Adrienne came out to ... well, I don't know what she did, but not only was it spectacular, it seems as though she'd managed to get George restrained, too.
Which was not funny.
I cracked up anyway. I guess I'm just weak that way.
Since George was still being forcibly restrained, and would be for a while judging by his enraged shrieks, I used the chance to clean myself up and then trot downstairs to donate platelets. I won't deny I was seriously hoping Dr. Welch, the gentleman who ran the Red Cross sharing space with the hospital, hadn't yet hired his replacement.
Dr. Welch understood things that many other people wouldn't. If the new guy was there and running the show, I'd have to deceive him or her all over again.
Unlike my nutty-bar sister, Adrienne, I hate hate hated deceiving people. It made me break out in a clammy sweat and sometimes a rash. (Dear Gepetto: You should have made Pinocchio get a rash when he lied, because that would be much worse than a growing nose. Most sincerely, Special Agent Cadence Jones.) (Continues...)
Excerpted from Yours, Mine, and Ours by MaryJanice Davidson. Copyright © 2012 MaryJanice Davidson. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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