I received a phone call the following day from another police officer. At least that’s the idea I got from my side of the conversation.
“Ok, come on over and I’ll give you a copy of the report,” I said to the caller before I hung up.
“Who was that?” asked Rosemary, coming out of the bathroom.
“Just some cop I know. She’s coming over for a copy of a report on a case I’m working on that kind of pertains to a case she’s working on as well.”
“Oh, well I’m going to be out wandering around if that’s ok.”
“Sure. Just don’t get lost out there.”
“Hardly,” Rosemary said with a laugh. “I’ll prop the outer door open for the cop.”
“Ok, thanks, babe.”
I shuffled through papers, then turned to the computer. I was doing more and more on my own with the thing these days, thanks to Rosemary.
Rosemary was out walking when a young auburn-haired girl showed up. She was petite and kind of cute. “Hi, officer Hawkins,” the girl said with a wide smile.
“Hello there, officer Roan. And how are you today?”
“Fine,” came the cheery reply.
“How’s work going?”
Roan rolled her eyes. “The usual. Sometimes up, sometimes down. Haven’t seen you in a while. Whatcha been up to?”
“I’m not at the jail as much these days because I’m going more and more undercover.”
“Oh, I see. You like it better undercover?”
“Way better,” I said.
“Me too,” Roan said. Then following a brief pause of silence as I sifted through some papers, she asked, “So, are you married?”
“Yes,” I said with a smile, glancing at her and realizing that she had a crush on me or at least a degree of attraction.
“Oh. He’s a very lucky man.”
“I wouldn’t tell her that. She’d be very upset to be referred to as a man.”
“Oh!” she laughed. “Oh, I’m sorry.”
“It’s ok,” I assured her with a chuckle of my own.
“It’s just that I never got a chance at the jail to slow down long enough to realize just how good looking you are.”
“Bet you also never realized just how taken she is either,” said Rosemary, who had entered the building behind Roan’s back.
Roan spun around at the sound of her voice. “Yeah, she told me that,” she said with a laugh.
“This is my little wife, Rosemary,” I told Roan when she turned back towards me.
“Hi Rosemary,” Roan said.
Rosemary nodded with uncertainty, remaining polite, but not friendly.
“She’s adorable,” Roan added, turning back towards me.
“That she is,” I said with a proud smile.
Roan thanked me for the copy, then said, “I’m going to get going now and pick up these new scratch tickets they have. You ought to try the new bingo game some time. You just might win big and then you could have everything you ever wanted in life.”
“I got all I want in life,” I said, nodding towards Rosemary.
Not long after officer Roan left, Melanie stopped by.
“You forgot to take this with you when you visited us last time,” she told Rosemary.
“The perfume Jenna gave you in exchange for the musk incense.”
“Oh, I forgot about that,” Rosemary said, taking the bottle from Melanie. “Thanks for remembering.”
Rosemary went back out to enjoy the muggy, yet beautiful spring day, leaving us alone to chat.
“So how’s married life going, partner?” Melanie asked, standing beside the desk.
“Great. How are things with you and yours?”
“She’s a nice girl and she’s kind of cute, but I don’t know if she’s the one for me.”
“Oh? Why’s that?” I asked.
Melanie shrugged. “I guess I want someone that’s even nicer and even cuter, but anyway, what did you find on Asaro?”
“That he’s a pervert, a thief, a druggie and a general asshole. When I told Rosemary about it, she was surprised that Rosa would even see such a person. I guess he kept his true character hidden for a while or that Rosa’s a bit naïve or maybe both.”
“Do you really think she can will him away from court?”
“I think anything’s possible. She’s proven to have some rather extraordinary abilities.”
“Like little Miss Profit?” Melanie said with a grin.
“You’re never going to let me live that one down, are you?” I asked with a laugh as I sat back in my chair.
“Either way, I agree with you as far as her not doing time or even any probation. Besides, she’s a cop’s lady and they all know it.”
“Yeah, I’m not worried about it, and little Miss Doom Psychic doesn’t seem to have any bad vibes either. She told me when she got framed and thrown in jail out west that she knew something bad was coming, just not the extent of it.”
“So do you think you’ll be living in this place a long time?”
“No, I want to give her a home at some point. A real home. However, I do expect we’ll be here at least until next March when the lease expires. That way we can take our time searching for a suitable house for us and whatever kids we may have.”
“So how’s the fun part been?” Melanie asked in a low devilish tone.
I grinned and said in a conspiring voice. “Unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before.”
“But are you sure she’d make a fit mom?”
“I don’t see why she wouldn’t. Besides, studies say that most people who were abused in
the ways she was, take their aggressions out on other adults, not kids or animals.”
“She’s calmed down a lot too, since you got her. You’re definitely good medicine for her.”
I smiled. “That feels good to know. Especially after all the times you and I were forced to sit on the wall, unable to help her in any way. Besides, she displays plenty of smarts and common sense. She knows right from wrong.”
“That’s true,” said Melanie. “I’m so happy for you. How I wish I could’ve been the one to nab her, though I’m also glad I didn’t. Don’t know if I could put up with that little firecracker for long. She’s beautiful and she’s smart, but she’s a nut.”
We giggled some more.
“She must drive you crazy at times.”
“She’s worth it,” I said.
Melanie shook her head, and smiling slightly she said, “I can’t imagine having a girl who felt that 3 AM was a fine time to make popcorn and to sing to music blasting so loud you could hear it on Mars.”
I laughed. “Or a girl who thinks the world should be asleep at 10 AM or that 6 PM is the time for a big bowl of cereal.”
“Either way, she’s one hot little fox.”
“Yes, she is. Very sexy, very cute, and very mine,” I said in a ha-ha tone of voice.
“Maybe I ought to go home, dump Jenna, and find me a looker like that who’s at least half sane.”
“Mel!” I cried out in mock surprise. “You wouldn’t.”
Melanie shrugged. “I don’t know. If it doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t feel right.”
“That’s true,” I said thoughtfully. “I know I couldn’t make myself stick to a relationship my heart wasn’t truly in. If that were the case I’d still be with Lea.”
“Instead the nutty, rat-toting psychic was what you really needed all along,” said Melanie.
“Sure was. I guess I just didn’t know it. Or maybe I did know it but never believed I’d have it. She sure says and does the funniest things,” I said beaming. “Bugs Bunny can be on her T-shirt, but Scooby Doo was a no-no on these pants we looked at.”
“What?” Melanie asked with a confused laugh.
“Yes, she’s quite particular about where she wears her cartoon characters and who they are, too. Minnie and Mickey Mouse are acceptable anywhere anytime because hey, they’re rodents after all, and rodents are fabulous. However, when we went to try on some skirts in the girl’s section, which she can fit into being as small as she is, Tweety Bird on the hem ruined what was otherwise the perfect skirt.”
We cracked up with laughter.
“Then when I picked up an outfit for myself the other day,” I continued, “and asked for her opinion, she goes, want me to be polite and tell you it’s nice, or shall I just be honest and tell you it’s ugly and too conservative?”
Again we roared with laughter just as a squad car pulled up in front. I frowned with curiosity as two uniformed cops exited the front. One then opened the back door to let out a woman in plainclothes.
When they entered the building, the woman in plainclothes, who was a detective, explained that they had come for Rosemary’s assistance in locating a missing child. The four-year-old girl had last been seen playing in a sandbox in the enclosed backyard of the house she lived in.
“Her mother was sitting just inside the door reading when the phone rang,” said the detective. “She says she only spoke to the caller for a minute when she returned to find the child had vanished.”
“If she could get any visions that might help us,” said the short, stocky balding cop, “we’d really appreciate it.”
“That’s because as it is,” his tall and lanky partner finished, “we have nothing to go on at the moment.”
“Oh, well Rosemary’s outside right now, but I can… never mind. Here she is.”
The cops and detective turned to Rosemary as she entered the building. The detective then filled her in on the situation.
“How long has the little girl been missing?” asked Rosemary.
“Almost two days.”
“And you have no clue as to who could’ve taken her?”
“None. All the alibis of the girl’s family and friends check out. We first suspected the girl’s father, but according to her mother, they broke up before she was born and he refuses to even acknowledge the child.”
Mr. Short and Stocky spoke up. “You come highly recommended, and as always, your name would be kept from the media. That way you won’t have to worry that any creeps you may lead us to are going to hunt you down when they get out of jail. We were hoping you could help us. Maybe make contact somehow with the girl from the other side, if heaven forbids, she’s dead.”
“Uh-uh,” Rosemary said shaking her head. “I’m not a spirit guide. All I can do is go to the place she was last known to be and hope to get some vibes or visions.”
And so they took Rosemary with them, leaving Melanie and I to discuss what was known of the case so far, and with the hope that Rosemary could be of some help.
When she did return, Melanie had left. I was full of questions. “So what’s the scoop?” I asked.
“At first I didn’t get anything when they took me out into the yard,” Rosemary said. “Just when I didn’t think I would at all, I saw it.”
“What man?” I asked with eager curiosity.
“The man with the black pants, blue shirt and red cap. He had salt and pepper hair and was somewhere in his early forties. He was of medium height and weight, though he had a bit of a middle-age paunch.”
Rosemary nodded. “As soon as I said this, the girl’s mother cried out, oh my God! That’s Hank! He lives three doors down in the yellow house.”
“I’ll be damned,” I said with surprise and awe.
“Anyway, he simply hopped right over the fence, scooped up the girl, and took off back over the fence with her, from what I saw. I can’t tell why he took the girl, though I can take a wild guess. I also can’t say if she’s alive or not, though I think she is. The cops are on it now.”
Just then, a car came speeding up to the door in a screeching halt.
“I wonder who this could be?” I said curiously.
“That looks like my niece Zola Ann’s car.”
Rosemary nodded. “She’s eighteen now. The poor kid is miserable. Not only was my sister a carbon copy of our mother, but she’s got a real shit of a father, too. Used to beat the shit out of her because she’s not biologically his like her two younger sisters. Golda had her with this Mexican guy down in Texas. He too, was your typical male. Especially when it came to the idea of having a kid around. That’s just how Golda was, though; always attracted to assholes. A part of me wondered if she actually liked the abuse. God knows she was a hypochondriac and a sympathy junkie, and being abused seemed to be a good tool for her to use in order to get people to feel sorry for her. Anyway, I’m the only family member Zola ever really got along with. We’re so much alike. There’s so much of the old me in Zola, which isn’t good, so I hope we’ll continue to be alike in that her life will improve with time as mine did, and that just like me, she’ll one day have someone who really loves her.”
I flashed a quick smile.
Rosemary opened the door for Zola. She was a few inches taller, slender, with long dark hair and eyes. She wore jeans and a T-shirt. The girl was visibly shaken. “I’m sorry, aunt Rosemary,” she began. “I know I should’ve called first. I went over to your old house and Marilyn told me to come here.”
“It’s ok,” Rosemary told her. “Come in and sit down. This here’s Kay. She and I were married recently.”
“I heard. I’m happy for you.” Then Zola turned to me and introduced herself.
“Nice to meet you,” I said with a smile. Then, glancing back at Rosemary I asked, “Would you two like some privacy?”
“I’m ok with you sticking around if Zola is,” said Rosemary.
After Zola said she was ok with me staying, she began to tell us of her unhappy household and how she was having urges to cut her arm up due to the anxiety, depression, anger and frustration.
“As I told you, Zola,” Rosemary said in a gentle voice, “it’s not your arm that’s the problem. Take it from someone who’s made these dumb mistakes before. Bill’s the problem, and cutting your arm won’t make him a good father or a good person, for that matter. Meanwhile, you’re of age now, you’ve got your diploma, so just get the hell out of there.”
“I know I should,” Zola said, wiping away a stray tear that had run down her face as I watched with empathy, “and I want to get out of there, but I have no place to go and I’d hate to leave my little sisters behind.”
“I know you would, but they’re only a phone call away. Besides, you can’t be there for them all the time anyway.”
“That’s true,” Zola said, taking the tissue I offered her and dabbing her eyes with it. “I just can’t get over the things that have happened in the past. I try to put them out of my mind, but they keep coming back.”
“You never really do get over it. All you can do is learn to live with it.”
I smiled slightly, obviously impressed with the way Rosemary was handling Zola.
“You still don’t see your parents?” Zola asked Rosemary.
“Think you’ll ever give them another chance?”
“No, I don’t. They had a chance for over twenty years. Some people are simply so set in their ways, and take it from me when I say we can’t change others. Only they can change themselves and only if they want to. When people don’t change their ways that most of us perceive as bad, it’s usually because they’re either too blind to recognize that they’ve got a problem, or they’re simply comfortable with being the way they are.”
Zola nodded, then she studied me a moment and said, “Well, I love guys, aunt Rosemary, but I can see how a gay woman would find Kay beautiful. You both are. Just in different ways.”
“How did you two meet?” asked Zola.
“Well, she’s an old friend, actually. She looked me up, we got together, and hit it right off,” Rosemary told her.
“That’s way cool,” Zola said, smiling for the first time. “They said you’re a cop.” She directed her gaze at me.
“Mmm hmm. Private detective mostly. Other times I’m a guard in a jail.”
“So is that asshole still on you about your weight?” Rosemary asked.
“Not since you let him have it about the way he was taunting and degrading me,” Zola said.
“What asshole?” I asked.
“Her father. Or at least the man that’s supposed to be her father. I don’t know what it is with guys and fatherhood, but you might as well know this young,” I said to Zola. “It’s not only going to be hard to find true love, gay or straight, but if you want to have kids someday, it’s not going to be easy to find a man who’s willing to do so with you.”
“Why?” Zola asked.
Rosemary shrugged. “Why do most women like flowers as opposed to men? It’s just the way they are. But there are some exceptions, so there’s hope for you. After all, there are billions of people on this earth, even if some of their fathers weren’t exactly thrilled to learn of their existence. Meanwhile, you’re too young to be thinking of that now anyway. What I suggest you concentrate on is getting out of that damn house. I’ll talk to Marilyn and Rosa. I don’t think they’ll mind you staying with them as long as you do your fair share as far as bills and chores go. They don’t make much money so I think they’ll be happy to have a new roommate.”
Zola let out a breath of relief. “Oh, thank you so much, aunt Rosemary. I don’t know what I’d do without you. You’re the only one I can turn to and that I can trust.”
I watched with a smile as Zola stood up to hug Rosemary who patted her reassuringly on the back.
“You just hang in there and don’t let Bill know where you are or the phone number over there. Don’t even tell your sisters unless you can trust them to keep it a secret. Marilyn and Rosa don’t need him putting them in the middle of whatever shit he may try to stir up for you there,” Rosemary said, pulling back to give Zola a kiss on the cheek.
“I have my cell phone, so no one has to have their number, and I’ll keep the address a secret. Do you think it’s wrong for me to hate him?” Zola asked, face turning serious again as she sat back down on the couch.
“I think it’s ok to feel whatever it is you feel for him. It’s not ok, though, to go cut up your arm just because he says or does something to piss you off.”
Zola looked at Rosemary, then at me. I smiled reassuringly.
“Are you two going to adopt any kids?” Zola asked us.
“Better yet,” I said, “we’re trying a special form of artificial insemination first.”
“Will it work?”
“She thinks it will,” Rosemary said motioning towards me, “but I don’t.”
“Because I’m a pessimist. Besides, it’s said to rarely work for those of the same race, so I doubt it’d work with two different races, since in this case, Italian-American is pretty much considered different than us regular white Americans.”
“I hope it works,” Zola said as she rose from her seat, “I’m tired of being the only biracial one in the family.”
“Things are fucked up, aunt Rosemary. They’ll get on you more for that than for being with the same sex.”
“Yeah, I know how it is,” said Rosemary.
“See?” Zola said to me, “Not many people’s aunts let you swear around them.”
We chuckled again.
“Well, I’m going to hit the road now. Will you call me as soon as you talk to your friends?”
“Of course,” Rosemary told her.
“Again, thanks so much for your help and for caring,” Zola said gratefully.
“No problem. I can’t guarantee they’ll go for it. For all I know, one of them could have a replacement for me already lined up, but I think it’s pretty likely they’ll let you move in. You just may have to stay down in the cellar.”
“That’s fine with me,” Zola said. “Anywhere is better than where I am now. It was nice meeting you, Kay.”
“It was nice meeting you, too,” I said.
“Please take good care of my aunt.”
“Oh, you can count on it.”
Rosemary spoke with Marilyn, and as she suspected, she and Rosa were willing to let Zola move in with them. She called Zola once she hung up with Marilyn and told her what time would be good to go to the house. She was elated and extremely grateful from what I could gather from my perch on the wall.
Later that night, the missing girl’s mother called to thank Rosemary, who had been right about the neighbor scaling the wall and grabbing the child. The child was now back safely at home and unharmed.