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Part Seven

(Part One), (Part Two), (Part Three), (Part Four),

(Part Five), (Part Six), (Part Eight), (Part Nine), (Part Ten),

(Part Eleven), (Part Twelve)

Ginny Good, A Mostly True Story:

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Chapter Twenty-six

"Have I been driving my ass off forever or what?" Giselle blurted, removing her hands momentarily from the steering wheel.

"It's been important," he said. "You've been an angel."

"That's what Oprah called you. She thinks you're a angel. Ha!"

"She said I sing like an angel. There's a big difference."

"So, you're not an angel?"

"Nope," he said.

Giselle wanted to know what he meant by that, but just as she was about to ask she wasn't sure she wanted to hear the answer. Her mouth hung open like she was a complete idiot, then she said, "What was it like having Oprah for a mother?"

"We didn't see each other much. After I had my father for a father, having her for a mother was a piece of cake." He smiled.

He had such affection for his mother—they had such affection for each other, Giselle could tell. It was sweet. It was touching. It made her want to cry. She wondered what it would have been like to have had a mother she loved—a mother she could love, a mother who would have let her love her, a mother who had loved her, a mother who had liked her. If she'd had that kind of mother, no mother would have been better than her mother.

"Will she be all right?" Giselle asked.

"Yep. She's amazing. My father used to say that about her too. He helped her out here and there, saw to her education, got her some of her first jobs, pulled strings. I think that may have been what they talked about on the phone."

"I don't think so," Giselle said. "Well, I don't know, but what she said they talked about was hearts. He told her everyone has one. That made her cry."

"She told you that? Well, good for her. I'm glad. She's cool. Rocco and Davis know what they're doing."

"Hey, you want to go bowling?" Giselle asked.

"Nope," he said.

"Yeah? Why not? I'd kick your ass, that's why not."

"Yep," he said.

"How do I know you so well already?"

"We were made for each other," he said.

That shut her up.

They'd crossed back over the Rock River again, on one of the Erector Set bridges built during the depression, and were coming into the outskirts of Rockford, the second biggest city in State of Illinois. Was that a joke, or what? Compared to Chicago, it looked like this podunk little jerkwater prairie town lost somewhere in the fifties without enough lights on at night to drown out the reflection of the moon in the river. Her parents and their parents and their parents hadn't known any other cities—except back in Poland or Ireland; Dublin, maybe, or Krakow.

Rockford, Illinois had been home to all the people Giselle had known when she'd been growing up. It might have been a podunk little prairie town, but Rockford was their podunk little prairie town; their community, the hub around which their lives had revolved. The Register Star was where they found the jobs they worked at and where they read about who got married and who was born and who had died. WREX was where they watched Tom Brokaw. Rockford was where they went when they went shopping, where they bought their groceries and did their banking and had their cataract surgeries. St. Mary's Cemetery was where they buried the people who died; well, Catholic people—Giselle wasn't sure what the hell they did with the rest of the people. There was a Scandinavian Cemetery for Scandinavians, she knew, but beyond that, she didn't have a clue. St. Mary's was where they'd buried her grandmother, where they'd buried Mame. In that purple dress.

Mame would have had a heart attack if she'd known she'd been buried in that god damn ugly purple dress. Giselle's mother had bought it for her for her birthday, three or four birthdays ago. Mame had hated it then.

"I wouldn't be caught dead in a purple dress," Mame had told Giselle, holding the dress up, shaking her head sadly, but almost laughing at the same time. "Your mother knows I hate the color purple. I've always hated the color purple. Why she'd buy me a purple dress, I do not know."

"She's weird," Giselle had said.

"I know, dear," Mame said. "I'm sorry."

Yeah, well, Mame did get caught dead in a purple dress. That was most likely why Giselle's mother had arranged with the funeral director to have Mame buried in the thing—to get her money's worth; to get the last laugh. Ha fucking ha. Then she didn't even show up at the funeral! What the hell kind of a mother was she? What the hell kind of a daughter had she been? Giselle did not know. There were millions of things Giselle didn't know.

"You want to hear about Tennessee?" Abraham turned, stretched out his left leg, rested his foot in her lap and leaned his head against the window.

Giselle put her right arm under his ankle and hugged his soft shoe against her chest and said, "Sure. Yeah. I do." She wanted to get used to saying, "I do."

"Nice," he said.

"That's descriptive."

"Grassy. Woodsy. Not too warm in the summer. Not too cold in the winter. Just right the rest of the year. You'll see. There's a river, well, a creek more like. We've dug out a big old swimming hole, with a rope you can swing on like Tarzan of the Apes—and splash! Like a cannonball or a swan dive, whatever you want, and there are flowers...asters, lilacs, hyacinth...pine trees and oaks and berry bushes and moss. Soft, light green moss, the color of pistachio nuts, spread like icing on big warm granite rocks," Abraham moved his hand as if over an imaginary rock.

"Okay, too descriptive. More matter, less art. Oprah said that. Remember? It's a quote from Hamlet. I wonder if she knew that?" Giselle scrunched up her nose.

"Probably. She's pretty smart. Do you want to hear about Tennessee or not?"

"Yeah, yeah. Sorry. Sorry." She hugged his foot tighter.

"Roses," he said. "Wild roses." Abraham went on, talking slowly, as if he were talking in his sleep, as if he were describing a dream he was seeing. She knew he could feel her tits against his leg, though. He wasn't that asleep. She didn't think he'd ever be that asleep. "Honeysuckle. Jasmine. The houses are all made of rocks. Stone fireplaces in the winter. Handmade everything everywhere."

"Okay, okay, that's enough. I want to go there," Giselle said, pulling his shoe up to her chin, holding his bare ankle against her breasts, feeling his skin against her nipples through her silk shirt. "Right now," she said. "Let's just pick up Ketchum and the little dogs and go. Drive all night, get there tomorrow sometime, or the next day, or the day after that, I don't care. Really, seriously, let's just take off. Like birds. Ha! My dad used to say that, 'Take off like birds.'"

"We can. We might have to. We probably will. As soon as our work here is done. I'm getting homesick. You'll love it, Giselle. There are paths through the forest...soft leafy, pine needle paths with grasshoppers everywhere...flying grasshoppers that whir up out of the purple thistles and startle the littlest of the kids, the babies, the toddlers, the ones who smell like tears and snot and drool...then that makes them laugh—it makes them laugh that they were scared, then all that laughing makes them drool—we wipe off their faces and they look at us funny."

"I want to walk there with our baby, toddle there with our toddler. Can we?" Giselle asked, pushing the heel of his shoe down her belly, embracing the thin fabric of one of his blue and white Asics between her legs.

"Yep," said Abraham, still with his eyes closed. "We can walk for miles, clear up to the top of the mountain and down the other side, anywhere. We might cross the Appalachian Trail here and there, but that's as crowded as it ever gets."

"Are there lightning bugs?"

"At night, sure. A bunch. I don't know where they go during the day."

"Mason jars," Giselle said. "Are there foxes? I like foxes."

"Yep. And coons and squirrels and a nasty old badger my father said he saw once but I never did. Deer. Lots of deer. Fawns in the spring come right up to you until their mothers take off, loping gently through the trees." Abraham moved his hand in front of his still closed eyes to show her the way a mother deer might take off through the trees. "Crickets in the evening. Hummingbirds. Bumblebees."

"Alligators?" Giselle asked.


"Crap. I want to learn how to restrain an alligator. I've always wanted to feel what it would feel like to restrain an alligator. If you put your hands over their eyes so they can't see, they don't know what to do so they don't do anything. They just sit there. I was thinking I could maybe slip a pair of sunglasses on an alligator. Like, you know, so he could see a little, like 'through a glass, darkly.' Ha! Then maybe I could ride around on his back for awhile. I'd like to ride around on an alligator's back. In Tennessee. You could be there, watching me. I'd wave to you."

"Sorry, hon. We could bring one up from our place near the Everglades."


"Absolutely. Sure. Anything you want."

"What about mosquitoes?" Giselle narrowed her eyes. "I hate mosquitoes. I don't care if they bite me. I like when they bite me. I watch their little bellies fill up with blood...then I splatter them. Ha! But I hate when they buzz in my ears."

"Nope. No mosquitoes. But stars, stars like you've never seen, lots of bright stars...twinkling their little hearts out. You know what makes stars twinkle?"

"Yeah," Giselle said. "Some kind of atmospherical stuff."

"Nope." Abraham was emphatic. "Love," he said. "It's a scientific fact."

"My ass is a scientific fact," said Giselle.

"I know. Your ass is the cutest little scientific fact I ever did see. But do you want to hear about how love makes the stars twinkle or not?"

"You mean, like scientifically speaking?" she asked, batting her eyelashes.

"Yep," he said. "Yes or no?"

"Okay, yes. I do. Then will you marry me?"

"I already married you. I married you a long time ago. I was born married to you. You were born married to me. We were born married to each other; we'll die married to each other."

"Yikes. How cool is that?" she asked.

"Very cool. Are you going to keep interrupting me?"

"Um." She put her finger beside her nose. "Is that like a yes or no question?"

"Yes," he said. "Have you ever heard of Wilhelm Reich?"

"That Orgone guy? The one they locked up 'cause he was nuts?"

"He wasn't nuts," Abraham said solemnly.

"I know. I was joking." Giselle didn't feel like arguing. She was so gosh darn in love she was going to cry.

"They locked him up because they were fascists," Abraham said.

"I read some book once where he said love filled up the space between the stars. Like they were looking for where all this black matter bullshit there's supposed to be left over from the big-bang. Wilhelm Reich told them it was love, that all that missing black matter was love, and they locked his ass up for trying to catch it in a box. But I never heard about love being what made stars twinkle, for gosh sakes. That's a new one on me," she said.

"I'm a new one on you too." He wiggled his foot in her lap.

"Man, are you ever," she said. Then neither of them talked for awhile.

Oprah was right. He was no angel. He'd said it himself. "So, you're not a angel?" Giselle had asked. "Nope," he'd said. She liked that about him—an angel would probably be pretty boring—but the comment had stuck in her craw all the same. What wasn't an angel about him? What did she really know about him? Not much. He was Oprah Winfrey's illegitimate son and his father lived somewhere in Tennessee—that was it; that was all she knew. The way he was with her seemed too good to be true. She didn't want to go throwing a monkey wrench into that; well she did and she didn't—sometimes a monkey wrench needed to get thrown into things.

"Hey, so, what went on with you and that Dow chick?" Giselle asked.

Abraham opened his eyes. He blinked. Giselle glanced out at the familiar skyline of Rockford passing by on either side of the road. She was almost all the way through town by then, getting closer to home. She let go of his foot and put both hands on the steering wheel. They listened to the quiet interior of the car for awhile.

"When?" Abraham asked.

"Ever," Giselle said. "What are you like with each other?"

"Affectionate," he said.

"Do you fuck?"

"We have," he said without much inflection.

"Oh." Her face got hot. She got hot all over. She was burning up. Her skin prickled with heat, waves of prickly heat flashed up the skin at the sides of her neck, ducked behind her ears, crawled into her hair and stayed there, throbbing like a third degree sunburn. She couldn't talk for a second, then Giselle asked, "When?"

"It's been awhile."

"How long? Days? Weeks? Months? Years?" She rattled them off quickly, hoping she could get at least to centuries before he stopped her—centuries would be okay, centuries she could handle, the more centuries the better.

"It's been a year or so. We've known each other all our lives. Well, I've know her all her life. She's my buddy. She's my father's daughter, my half-sister."

"That's incest."

"Yep," he said. "That's partly why none of us have kids with each other." He was straightforward; there was no deception or guilt or embarrassment in his voice.

"Do you want to have a kid with her?" Giselle flushed hotter than ever.

"Nope. Having sex with Dow...or anyone else down there...was just fun. There wasn't anything more to it than that."

"So, what we did wasn't fun? Jesus. And what the hell do you mean, '...or anyone else down there?' Do you have sex with all the other women too?"

"Giselle..." He stopped. She'd asked a lot of questions, she knew. She would have stopped too. "I want to have a kid with you," he said matter-of-factly.

"When was the last time you fucked her?"

"Who?" he asked.

"God damn Dow, that's who. You can tell me about all the rest later."

"You don't want to know this stuff, Giselle. It was meaningless."

"Yeah. Meaningless fun, ha, ha. Yes I do. Where were you? In Tennessee?"

"Yep," he said.

"Tell me about it." Giselle's throat was constricted. Her heart was flipping and flopping all over the inside of her chest. "I want to know. I want to hear."

"Why? I'm not in love with Dow. I'm in love with you."

"I know. I know." She was dizzy. She may have been hyperventilating. That was okay. She didn't have a headache. Anything was okay. She was so in love she was going to explode. "I just want to know. Tell me the last time you two fucked."

"It was at her mother's house. In the shower. I'd stayed there that night."

"With her? Like did you sleep with her the night before?"

"Yep. I slept with her lots of nights. We're close. We like each other."

"Did you fuck her the night before?"

"Nope. In the shower the next morning. That's it."

"Tell me about it."

"I was taking a shower. She got in with me. We fucked."

"Tell me how. Tell me the whole thing, like from start to finish."

"Giselle..." He turned his hands like he thought that was a bad idea.

"I want to hear." She insisted. "'Let love be without dissimulation.' You just said that. I want the way we love each other to be like that. Without dissimulation."

"So do I," he said.

"Yeah? So? You were in the shower..." She made a few circles in the air with her index finger as if to say, get on with it.

"Yep. Washing my hair." He closed his eyes again. Tiny wrinkles appeared at the corners of his eyes as if he were trying to recreate the scene. "Dow snuck into the shower with me. I had my head under the shower nozzle. I had no idea she was there. She poked me in the ribs." He demonstrated, using both fingers. "Scared me. I jumped. Yelled at her. Called her some name or other." He smiled.

"What name?" Giselle asked.

"Probably 'fucker.' Or, 'You fuck!' We were like that, like kids. We sang songs together, snapped towels at each other's butts, goofy stuff."

"Then what?" Giselle's esophagus was so small she could hardly swallow.

"She laughed. Then she got under the shower too and handed me a bar of soap. She leaned the palms of her hands against the tiles. I was washing her back. I washed her ass. She liked it. I liked it. My dick got hard. We fucked. She fiddled with her clit and came. I pulled out of her and ejaculated."

"Where?" Giselle asked.

Abraham opened his eyes and looked at her, maybe to make sure she wasn't going to throw something at him, then answered her as clearly and directly as he'd answered all her questions. "Sort of on the right side of her butt. I wiped it off with a washcloth and kissed the top of her head. Is that enough?"

Giselle was making notes to herself. What was happening to her, all the things that were happening simultaneously were so...what? Interesting? Fascinating? Good to know? Unknowable?

The white lines down the center of the road were like spears coming at her. They didn't do anything, just disappeared under her tires, under the left side of the car, but they felt like they were being thrown at her, like they were going to hurt her before they disappeared. She had urges to drive the car into them, to cross them, to crash head-on into a Fed-Ex van coming straight at her on the other side of the road, urges to get away from the white lines, to turn her steering hard to the right, to crash into a utility pole, to crash into a whole forest of trees.

"Yeah," she said.

"Wow," she said.

"Thanks," she said.

She swallowed, gripped the steering wheel as tightly as she could with both hands and said, in a whisper, "I'm so jealous I'm going to die."

"I know," he said. "We're going to know each other. Inside and out. Our hearts are going to know each other. We're going to belong to each other. You're going to be mine. I'm going to be yours. I'm not going to fuck anyone else. You're not going to fuck anyone else. We're going to be each other's one true love forever."

"I never knew what jealous was. It hurts."

"Yep," he said. "It hurts me too."

"Will you tell me everything?" she asked.

"Anything you ever want to know."

"Good. That's what I want."

"You want to hear something I've never told anyone?" Abraham asked. "Something I've never done?"

"Sure. What?" Giselle asked.

"I never came in a chick before. Not until last night. I never wanted to make a kid in anyone. I never wanted to be in love with anyone. I never was. I am now."

"Wow," Giselle said. She didn't know what else to say. She shut up. She got completely quiet for what felt like the first time in her life.

Her headlights dodged between trees and illuminated the occasional telephone pole on either side of the Old River Road. She wasn't in any danger anymore. She was calm. Cool. Collected. Secure. Happy. The white lines weren't spears. They were white lines, helping her to stay on the right side of the road.

They were almost home, but that was still going to take too long. She looked for someplace she could pull off into the bushes, somewhere secluded. She wanted to stop the car and turn off the engine and turn off the lights and climb with Abraham into the back seat. She wanted him to pull off her panties, to stick his dick in her without any preliminaries, just to fuck her, to come in her, to make another kid in her, and another and another...that was when she heard the siren and saw the flashing lights speeding up behind her.

"Aaarraahh," she screamed. "I fucking can't fucking believe this!" She grabbed a handful of the thick hair on the top of her head and squeezed it in her fist, then kept pulling it, harder and harder, until it hurt, until she said, "Ow. God damn it." Then she said, very distinctly, "Cocksucking. Motherfucking. Motherfuck!"

Abraham removed his foot from her lap and scrunched down in his seat. "Giselle," he said. "Chill. Just pull over. Talk to the guy. Take your time. Don't do anything dumb."

"Don't do anything dumb, my ass," she said. Then she slammed on the brakes and turned the car onto the shoulder of the road.

Clouds of dust swirled up around the windows after the car had come to a stop. Abraham held his hands with the tips of his fingers touching like a teepee in front of his face, the way he'd had his hands propped together at the dining room table. Giselle remembered the shadows from the candles his hands had made across the wall. She undid her seat belt, turned off the engine and the lights, got out of the car and shoved the door closed, as if all those things were a single well choreographed action. The door slammed shut with a final, muffled, airtight swoosh.

She worried it might have hurt Abraham's ears.

Chapter Twenty-seven

Officer Harley stood there grinning, rocking back on the heels of his spit-shined Wellington's with his right arm slung over the open door of his patrol car. He was holding the microphone of a police radio. Giselle heard it crackle with static. The dispatcher was saying something she couldn't make out. Cop talk. His headlights were shining into the rear window of her Firebird. He had a flashlight in his left hand. He shined it into her eyes as she walked toward him.

Officer Harley pushed down on the talk button and said, with an annoying smirk, "Copy that."

"Copy this." Giselle flipped him off.

He pushed the talk button again and said, "Hang on, I got a situation." Then he put away the microphone and said, "Hey, Giselle."

"Hey, my fucking ass!" She spit out the words while she was shading her face with her hand. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

"My job," he said. "Who's that in the car with you?"

"None of your fucking business. You better have a good god damn reason to pull me over, man."

"I do. Don't worry. The guy I seen you with, he had a beard."

"Yeah? So?"

He shined the light directly into her eyes.

"Get that the fuck...out of my face." Giselle instinctively grabbed the flashlight away from Officer Harley with her left hand, switched it quickly over to her right hand, then tossed it high up into the air and over toward the far side of the road. The flashlight went flying, its bright sword of light tumbling end over end against the dark trees, until it finally came to rest in a clump of spirea, shining up into the bare branches of a silver maple.

"Ha!" Giselle said. She brushed her hands together. Her pink Winnie-the-Pooh sweatshirt was still unzipped, her running shoes were still untied. Her shirttails weren't tucked into the waist of her skirt. She must have looked whacked—especially with all those god damn blinking disco lights going back and forth and around and around on the top of Ron Harley's cop car. She didn't care how whacked she looked; she was pissed.

"Now you assaulted a officer," Officer Harley said.

"What are you gonna do? Arrest me? Go the fuck ahead. I'll kick your ass."

"Calm down, Giselle. What the heck's got into you?"

"Calm down, my ass. I'm sick of you dicking with me." She pointed her index finger at his chest, just below his chin, then jabbed it at him. "Got it?"

"I'm not dicking with you, Giselle. This is serious police business. Oprah Winfrey's went and got herself kidnapped. They're thinking it's terrorists."

"What the fuck's that got to do with me?" Giselle turned the palms of her hands toward the thousands of stars in the sky.

"I'm telling you, that guy I seen you with, he had a beard."

"Ron," she said, evenly, temperately, with an almost conciliatory smile. "Go get your flashlight. I'm going home. You're leaving me alone. That's it."

Officer Harley looked both ways, then trotted across the blacktop road, holding onto his holster with one hand and onto a jangling set of about a hundred keys with the other hand, over to where his flashlight was shining in the bushes.

"Don't go nowhere, Giselle. I mean it," he said. "I need to check your car."

"Check this." She flipped him off again. The way Giselle figured it, she'd just hop into her car and take off. Harley wouldn't follow her. He'd realize she wasn't in any mood to be messed with any more that night. He wasn't that dumb.

"I'm serious, Giselle," he called from across the road.

"So am I, Ron."

Giselle opened the car door.

Abraham was gone.

The dome light had come on when she'd opened the door. She checked the back seat. He wasn't there. Motherfuck. She looked into the bushes beyond the shoulder of the road. He must have slipped away while she and Officer Harley had been tussling with the flashlight. She got into the driver's seat and started the car. That was when she heard the gunshot crack and echo through the crisp, cold, dark, black night. She spun back out of the car and slammed the door.

Officer Harley was back on her side of the road again. He'd fired his weapon into the air. She saw the smoke and smelled fresh gun powder. Had he actually fired a lethal god damn weapon in her presence? He had. Jesus Christ! Was he nuts? Did he not know who she was? Had he forgotten who he was? Giselle put her hands on her hips and screamed at him, "What the fuck, Harley! Are you god damn insane? Are you going to shoot me? Is that what you're going to do? Go the fuck ahead."

"You can't do what you're, doing, Giselle. I'm an officer of the law."

He'd put the flashlight on the ground and was standing next to the front of his patrol car, holding the 9mm Beretta in both hands, aiming it at her chest.

"Hey, man, if you're going to fucking shoot me, go the fuck ahead."

Giselle walked slowly toward him. The events of the whole improbable day tumbled into her consciousness—Abraham showing up, all they'd been through—and now Abraham was gone! And Ron Harley was pointing a gun at her chest! Giselle ripped her silk shirt open, exposing her breasts. Some of the buttons from her shirt popped like tiddlywinks into the dirt on the shoulder of the Old River Road.

"Shoot me right in the heart, Harley," she said. "See if I give a fuck. Shoot me like I'm your daughter, like I'm your mother, like I'm your wife. Come on, officer of the fucking law, cold-blooded murder my ass, go the fuck ahead."

"Giselle, knock it off, okay? You're scaring me," Ron Harley said, still with his gun aimed at her chest.

She kept walking toward him. He was looking at her tits by then. He couldn't help himself. "I'm scaring you?" Giselle asked. "You've got a god damn gun pointed at me, Ron. What the fuck!"

"Please stop, Giselle. Cover yourself up."

"Fuck you," she said. She stood right in front of him. She knew she had nice tits. She knew he knew it too. Then, as if she were oblivious of her exposed breasts, she held out her right hand and said, "Give me your gun, Ron."

"I can't do that, Giselle. Please don't do this."

"The fuck you can't. Just hand it over."


"Then shoot me," she said. She pulled her shirt wide open again, took a deep breath. "Give me your motherfucking gun or motherfucking shoot me."

"How about I just put it back in my holster and we forget the whole thing? You go ahead on home. I'll turn around and drive back the other way?"

"No. I want the fucking gun, Ron. I'm gonna throw it into the god damn river. You're not ever going to find the son of a bitch again."

"It cost me two weeks pay."

"Are you gonna leave me the fuck alone?" She let go of her shirt, let it and the unzipped sweatshirt just hang there, half covering her bare breasts.

"Yes," he said softly.

"I'm not fucking around with you anymore. Look at me. I'm a god damn mess. Did you try to rape me? Look at my shirt. It's ripped all to fuck."

"You ripped it yourself, Giselle." He frowned.

"Yeah? Did I? You don't think you tried to rape me?"

"No. Come on, Giselle. You know I wouldn't never do nothing like that."

"Do I? Does Sheriff Wittingham know that? Does my Uncle Norman know that? Does your wife know that? Who do you think they're gonna believe?"

"Please don't tell no one nothing like that, Giselle."

"No? Why the fuck not? You've got a god damn gun aimed at me, Ron. Just give me the god damn gun. Don't say another word, just hand it over."

She held out her hand. She felt calm. She felt polite, cordial, reasonable.

Officer Harley hesitated for another few seconds, then looked like he was about to get tears in his eyes as he offered his pistol to Giselle, butt first.

She took it from him, then pointed the gun toward his chest, aimed it just below his bright gold Deputy Sheriff badge, unlocked the safety, slipped her finger onto the trigger and said, "There. Now. How do you like it?"

"I don't," he said.

"Do you think I'm going to shoot you?" She watched his face. He may have been considering trying to grab the gun back. Then she saw in his eyes that he knew better. He just stood there with his arms at his sides. He had no other choice.

"I wouldn't of shot you," he said. "I knew that."

"You shot a god damn bullet into the god damn sky!"

"I wouldn't of shot no bullet at you, Giselle. I knew I wouldn't."

"So did I. You know why? 'Cause you're a pussy, that's why."

"Can I have my weapon back?"

"No." She nudged her finger closer to the trigger.

"Please?" he asked. He looked like a little boy.

"What's that supposed to be? Some magic word? It doesn't work," she said. "I know. I tried it. There's no magic word."

"Who's the guy in your car?" he asked.

"Nobody," she said quickly. Then she remembered that Abraham really wasn't in the car. God damn Harley pulling her over had scared him away. Him stopping them had ruined everything...and that pissed her off all over again. She aimed the gun higher. If she pulled the trigger, the bullet would hit him in the throat. He'd be like that cop in The Godfather, McCluskey, that fucker, wheezing, clutching his neck, gasping for air, falling face first into a plate of spaghetti.

"Come on, I seen him at Woo's. Has he been over there watching all this?"

"Nope. You want to go check? Go check," she said, moving the gun back down so that it was pointed at his heart again.

"Nah. I believe you."

"No, you want to go look, go the fuck and look." She stepped back, motioned with the gun for him to go ahead of her over to her car.

"I don't need to look. Really. It's okay. Who was he though?"

"The Mayonnaise Man," Giselle said.

"Is that another one of your dumb jokes?"

"You think my jokes are dumb?" She flexed her finger against the trigger of his weapon again, then smiled slightly—perhaps only to herself, but he might have seen it in her eyes.

"No, no, no, you tell the funniest jokes I ever heard, Giselle. You're the best joke teller ever. Nobody tells funnier jokes than you."

A smile tugged as the corners of her small mouth. She tried to keep a straight face but couldn't. She was a sucker for anyone who liked her jokes. "Yeah?" she asked. "When's the last time you heard a joke I told?"

"Oh, it's been a long time. Maybe not since high school."

"Did you hear the one about the monkey?"

Officer Harley shook his head. "I never heard that one, no." He smiled too; it was nervous, tentative smile, but it was a smile nonetheless.

"Okay. Hm. So. Why did the monkey fall out of the tree? Do you know that one?" she asked.

"No, I don't know that one. I never heard it. Tell me. Why did the monkey fall out of the tree, Giselle?"

"Because it was dead," she said. "Ha!" She laughed her big horse laugh. Then she laughed her big horse laugh some more and looked down at the pistol. It was heavier than she had imagined it would have been. Her eyes came to rest on the small, red, white and blue American Flag etched toward the front of the barrel. She read the words, "United We Stand," and shook her head.

What the fuck that was supposed to mean, she did not know. It sounded good, though. It was their town, she supposed. It was where they'd all grown up, gone to school, got married, had kids, where the kids had grown up. She'd been a kid. He'd been a kid. Now they were adults. He was a deputy sheriff. Somebody had to be a deputy sheriff. His wife washed his white Valentine boxer shorts with the big red hearts all over them in her Maytag. Their kids ate Froot Loops. She was a math teacher. Somebody had to be a math teacher. She pushed the gun closer to his chest, then turned her hand over, let it lay there.

He took the Beretta gingerly away from her, clicked the safety back on and returned it to its black, hand-tooled holster, then blew a long sigh that Giselle felt flutter through her hair.

"Whoooh." Officer Harley sighed.

"Yeah," she said. "You and me both."

Now that the gun was safely back in its holster, Giselle felt how freezing cold she was and pulled her shirt and sweatshirt tightly across her chest.

"You kind of worried me when you took the safety off," Ron said.

"Hey, I watch Law & Order. I know how things are done."

"I thought maybe your dad taught you."

"Nah. He didn't teach me anything fun. Hey, why are you so god damn nuts, tonight, though? Shooting bullets into the poor sky. What's up with that?"

"Aw, it's that Oprah Winfrey stuff. The whole world's going plum crazy tonight. Everywhere. They called me back to work the minute I got home. I can use the overtime, sure, but it's a gol durn zoo."

"I heard a little about it on TV at Woo's. Have they found her?"

"Nah, they don't even know where the heck to look. She ain't gonna be around here, I know that for a fact. They probably got her up in Canada by now."

"So what the hell did you stop me for?"

"Well, you did have that guy with the beard in your car. They're thinking it's towelheads from how good it was organized. I thought he might of been holding you against your will. He's really one of the new teachers?"

"He's really none of your business, Ron."

"Okay," he said.

"So, are we through?"

"Yeah, I guess. Hey, Giselle. Sorry, you know?"

"Yeah, me too," she said.

Chapter Twenty-eight

What she was going to do now, Giselle did not know. Go home to her little dogs? Yell at them? Yes. Call them names. Tell them to quit barking, to stop jumping on her; tell them to shut the fuck up—then apologize. "Oh, I'm so sorry, my darlings," she'd say. She had it all pictured. "Come on," she'd say and pat her thighs and they'd jump on her and yipe and stick out their hot little pink tongues and pant and chase their tails and make such happy noises she'd have to laugh.

As the headlights of Officer Harley's police cruiser receded further in her rearview mirror, Giselle took her foot off the gas pedal. "Fuck," she said. The car slowed down. What the hell had she been thinking? She had to go back.

The Winnebago County Sheriff's vehicle made a U-turn across the Old River Road and headed south. There was a poplar tree, taller than the rest, outlined against the still moonlit sky. Giselle kept its location in mind. The minute the patrol car had disappeared behind a bend in the road, Giselle expertly turned the Firebird completely around, kicking up dirt on either side of the road, and headed back toward the tall poplar tree. Ron Harley wouldn't be back. He wouldn't dare. Abraham would be waiting for her, hiding out in the bushes, skulking in the aspen trees.

He'd probably seen the whole thing. He would have been proud of her. They'd laugh about it. Then they'd go home and talk about the happenings of the night—big happenings, Woo had said. Ha! They'd talk and talk, talk and kiss and take off their clothes and hop into the shower together, then get into her warm bed and kiss some more, kiss and fuck, maybe, talk and kiss and fuck; laugh and cry and kiss and talk and fuck. They could leave the door open for the little dogs, too. The little dogs used to snarl at Ted, but they wouldn't snarl at Abraham. They liked him. Sure, they'd let the little dogs in. She loved her little dogs; she loved Abraham. They'd all just love each other up among the pillows and the blankets and the soft down comforter.

She got back to the tall poplar tree. "Popular trees," her dad used to call them. "Crack me up," she said and smiled.

Then she made another U-turn and parked the car close to where she'd been parked before. She waited for Abraham to emerge from the bushes. He didn't. After she was sure Officer Harley was well out of range of any kind of possible earshot, she blew the horn. Then she waited some more. After awhile, she blew the horn again, louder, this time...longer; and waited, again.

Maybe she hadn't got the right poplar tree. Crap. There were a bunch of tall poplars, now that she looked up and down the line of trees standing along either side of the road. She got out of the car, left the engine running, left the headlights on, the heater blasting, and closed the door. Man, was it cold. Brrr. Why she'd ripped her blouse half off, she didn't know. Giselle covered herself as best she could, zipped up her sweatshirt as far as it would zip, pulled its hood over as much of her hair as she could get it pulled over and stomped off through the underbrush, toward the river.

There was sort of a path for the first twenty feet or so, then thorns started snagging at her short skirt. The sharp ends of branches grabbed at her knees, ran runs in her stockings. She kept the higher branches out of her face by holding her arms in front of her, but some of them got caught in her hair all the same. She was a worse mess than ever. She didn't care. She never should have left Abraham in the first place. Maybe he thought she wouldn't come back, that she'd abandoned him. She hadn't. What else could she have done? With god damn Ron Harley standing there, rocking back on his heels, grinning his head off like a god damn Cheshire cat?

As Giselle edged her way further through the woods, she came upon a little clearing. In the summertime it would have been a meadow. There would have been wildflowers and tall grass and moss. Who was that moose who used to find moose moss to munch? Mame used to read her the story. Thidwick! Ha! Her mother never read her stories, but her mother pawned her off on Mame as often as she could, and Mame read her stories. Mame was who her mother should have been.

"Come on up, buttercup," Mame used to say.

Giselle would climb up into her lap. Mame always sat in her big green overstuffed chair next to the brass floor lamp with the yellow lampshade and a three-way light bulb. Giselle didn't like the arms of the chair. They were prickly. She stayed on as much of Mame as she could manage. Mame was soft. Giselle leaned her head back and squirmed her shoulders against Mame's chest and smelled her powder and her perfume while Mame read to her from books she'd bought at Friends' of the Library Book Festivals—she'd been the head reference librarian for thirty-five years and always had first pick of the books they took out of circulation.

Giselle's earliest memories were of Mame reading Dr. Seuss books, one right after another, over and over and over again until their spines wore out, but later on Mame read her Winnie-the-Pooh and the Alice books, the Oz books, Wind in the Willows, The Secret Garden, The Little Prince—and when Giselle was too big to sit on her lap anymore, Mame read out loud to her from The Chronicles of Narnia—all of them, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe clear through to The Last Battle.

Giselle missed Mame. She was dead. Giselle was the only one who went to her funeral, just her and people she hardly knew, people who thought Mame had looked good in that god damn purple dress. Giselle was glad she and Abraham were going to Tennessee. Her mother could go fuck herself.

She made her way across the rest of the little meadow and came to another clump of trees between her and the Rock River. How did the story of Thidwick go? "Up at Lake Winna-Bango they were lunching." Yeah, yeah. It had all started out so innocently, Giselle remembered. A Bingle Bug had hopped up onto Thidwick's antlers. Then along came a spider and a bird who invited her uncle, a woodpecker. Holy shit. All of a sudden there was a whole family of squirrels, a bobcat, a turtle. Thidwick wanted them gone but they took a vote and he lost. They asked in a fox.

"They asked a big bear in and then, if you please,
came a swarm of three hundred and sixty-two bees!"

Giselle remembered that part word for word. Ha! Poor Thidwick. This whole business with Abraham had been just as weird, though, just as unlikely, just as implausible. Some guy saying, "I'm the Mayonnaise Man," called her up in her third period math class. That was it! That was how it all started—innocent as a Bingle Bug hopping onto her horns—then the guy's sitting on her couch, wearing her clothes, calling himself Abraham Lincoln, eating quiche at her dining room table, waiting for her in her bed, making a kid in her, for Christ's sake, taking a shower in her shower, using her toothbrush, taking her to the Woodfield Mall—and all of a sudden, out of the blue, Oprah Winfrey's his mother and she's hanging out with them too...eating Woo's barbecue pork, wearing her lynx jacket and bobbing up and down in the back of her Firebird on her way to being smuggled into a nuclear power plant by two Bozos and some Asian chick with a thong up her butt...and now here Giselle was, out in the woods by the river in the middle of winter, alone late at night, freezing her ass off, shivering and shaking and listening to the chattering of her teeth under the hood of her pink Winnie-the-Pooh sweatshirt while she looked everywhere for Abraham Lincoln so they could get married, go on a few of Oprah's shows together, have their baby in peace and live happily ever after on a mountain top in Tennessee!

"Poor Thidwick, my ass," Giselle muttered under her breath.

Then she called into the darkness, "Hey! Abraham! It's me! Where are you, you fuck?"

There was no answer. She stopped and listened. Trees in winter were quiet, a creak or two here and there was about all she could hear; wind whistling low notes through dead branches. Her ears perked up at the sound of the river lapping against the shore. Giselle made her way down to water's edge. The moon's reflection was distorted, ugly and scary and disturbing, like Edvard Munch might have painted a moon in the river. The muskrats and beavers were all asleep. Or dead. The sound of her right shoe breaking a dry stick with a loud crack made her jump.

"Abraham!" she called. "Hey! Mayonnaise Man! You motherfucker! Where are you? Come out, come out wherever you are!"

She could see in the moonlight that there was a row boat tied to a tree on the opposite bank of the river. Maybe Abraham had found a boat tied to a tree. Giselle's house was up the river, not more than a mile or so. Abraham must have known that. Maybe he was rowing home. She leaned as far out over the water as she could to try to make out a row boat heading upstream. She couldn't. He had the heavy army coat. He'd be all right. He'd find her. They'd find each other. They'd found each other once, they could find each other again.

"Fuck it," Giselle said. She'd just go home. He'd show up. God wouldn't be that cruel. God couldn't be that cruel. Oh, yeah? Giselle knew all about God. God didn't do anything for anyone ever. How many times had she prayed to God to make her head quit hurting? A million. Had her head ever quit hurting? Hey, wait a minute, her head had quit hurting. Holy smokes.

"God help me," she said out loud, then waited for something to happen. Nothing did. She waited again. Nothing kept happening.

She headed back toward the car, pushing tree branches away from her eyes, until she saw her headlights—but when she saw her headlights, she also saw the flashing lights of god damn Officer Harley's god damn cop car again! Motherfucking motherfuck! How god damn crazy was he? She'd totally kick his ass. She'd pummel him down onto the ground and scratch his eyes out.

Only this time it wasn't Officer Harley. It was Sheriff Wittingham. What the hell he was doing there, Giselle did not know. He never left the office except during an election. Well, according to what her dad always said when the two of them got together to drink beer and watch football on TV, anyway.

"What in the ever-loving blue blazes are you doing off in the woods, Giselle?"

"I saw a cat," she said. It was the first thing that popped into her mind to say.

"A puddy tat?" The sheriff smiled.

"Heh, heh." Giselle shivered.

"Have you taken a good look at yourself lately, young lady?"

"You sound like my mother," Giselle said.

"Sorry." He chuckled. He knew the whole sad story of Giselle and her mother.

Sheriff Wittingham was a big man, like her dad. They'd played football on the same team in high school, offense and defense, both. He was a tackle. Her father had been a guard. They'd both wanted to be Ray Nitschke. Sheriff Wittingham was a real bruiser of a guy, with broken fingers, a graying crewcut, a nose that was crooked in at least five different directions, huge raggedy ears and thick eyebrows, but with the prettiest, most kind, softest blue eyes of anyone she knew.

"I need to get in the car. I'm gonna die of freezing to death," she said. That was no lie. Her teeth were practically clattering out of her jaw.

"Sure thing. Here," Sheriff Whittingham said and opened the door for her.

Giselle hopped in, pulled the hood of her sweatshirt off, rolled down her window and said, "How come you're out driving around, Sheriff?"

"Ron was on the radio saying he had some trouble out this way," the sheriff said. "You know anything about that?"

"Yeah, yeah, he stopped me down the road. But that was awhile ago. There wasn't any trouble he told me about—except that I was supposedly driving too fast, which was a crock. Then I saw this little white kitty cat take off into the bushes."

"He tell you anything about the whole Oprah Winfrey hullabaloo?"

"Yep. So did Woo. I'm gonna go home and see all about it on the news."

"His radio must be on the fritz. He told the dispatcher he had a 'situation.' That's the last we heard."

"He was fine when he stopped me. Gave me a warning, you know. Like he always does. He took off headed south, the last I saw."

"Well, don't worry about it. I saw your car by the road." the sheriff said. "Lights on. Engine running. Thought you might be in some trouble."

"Nah. I'm tough. Trying to save a kitty cat from freezing to death, is all."

"Okay, kid. Say hi to your mom and dad for me."

"Hey, Sheriff, you really think it's terrorists? Here in Rockford?"

"I don't know, Giselle. The Federales are all het up. FBI, Secret Service, DOD, they got everyone and his brother involved in this god dang kidnap case—and it's all coming out of my budget, too. We don't even have the money to buy radios that work." Sheriff Wittingham shook his head sadly.

"I heard it might be some prank?" Giselle offered.

"No way. Whoever's behind this is gonna pay. Oprah Winfrey's high profile as it gets. If it is terrorists they could do worse than to snatch someone like her."

"Has there been any kind of ransom demand or anything?"

"Haven't heard a peep out of anyone. Nobody's got a clue."

"Thanks. Take care of yourself, Sheriff."

"You too, Giselle. Go home. Get into some warm clothes. Leave the kitty cats alone. They take care of themselves just fine."

Chapter Twenty-nine

The lights from Sheriff Wittingham's cruiser faded out of sight in Giselle's rear view mirror, but his words stuck in her head. Abraham would be okay. He was like a cat; he could take care of himself just fine. What the hell had happened to Ron, though? Maybe Abraham had gotten into his car while she'd been telling the monkey joke. Ha! Wait. That wasn't funny. Fuck. Maybe he really had done something like that, wrecked Harley's radio, taken his car, left Ron in the woods somewhere. Jesus. That was all she needed.

Niggling worries were clogging up her head. God damn Abraham better be home when she got there. And how the hell had the power plant people made out? Had anyone gotten around to rescuing Oprah yet? Talk about a snowball—one weirdo phone call in third period math class and two days later she had the FBI on her ass like she was Osama bin-Laden. Holy shit.

"Pfssh," she said as she pulled into her driveway. Things would figure themselves out. Maybe she'd heat up more of Woo's Chinese food in the microwave. Woo hoo! She had a plan—Giselle always felt better when she had a plan.

She kept her keys out and went up the front steps. Her legs were sore—sore from what she wasn't sure. Driving all day? Crashing around in the freezing cold, dark, stickery woods by the river half the night? Clattering up and down metal escalators and marble aisles at the Woodfield Mall in five-inch heels all day? Getting herself fucked half to death the night before? She felt like she was a kid again, coming home late after playing Statues or Hide-and-seek or Kick-the-can. She remembered how she used to pull herself up the front steps, one leg at a time, long after dark. She remembered the way she used to barge through the door, dirty, sweaty, bedraggled, with her shorts ripped and grass stains everywhere, then fall into a heap at her mother's feet. Now, all these years later, here she was again, dragging herself up the front steps, one leg at a time.

Giselle slipped her key into the lock, pushed open the door, closed it behind her and fell face first onto the white Karastan carpet. She breathed a low, satisfied sigh, squirming her arms and her breasts and her pelvis into the soft carpet, clear down into the thick pad under the carpet—thank God she'd forgotten to turn off the thermostat before she and Abraham and Oprah had left. The wool radiated warmth through her frozen carcass and into the marrow of her frozen bones.

The only difference now was that her mother wasn't standing there, yelling at her: "Where have you been? Do you have any idea what time it is? Do you know it's a school night? Have you done your homework? You look like something the cat dragged in. Get up this instant. March yourself straight up those stairs and get to bed." Blah, blah, blah, it went on endlessly—no supper...no TV...grounded for a week...no allowance for a month...no friends over for two thousand years—la la-la. She'd loved being a kid. She'd hated having a mother.

Her little dogs were clambering all over her; whining, licking the backs of her hands, breathing little dog breath through her tangled snarls of curly red hair, panting into her frostbitten left ear, perhaps waiting for her to warm up enough to sink their tiny teeth into her thawing flesh.

"Settle down," Giselle said softly, as if those were the last words she might ever be able to say. They didn't sound too bad, as last words go. She could have done worse. They could put them on her tombstone. She smiled sleepily. Then, miraculously, her little dogs did settle down. Giselle adored her little dogs. She used to be so envious that Mimi Crenshaw had Jasper...except that Jasper used to give Mimi away when they played Kick-the-can. Ha! Giselle hadn't been envious then. Jasper would follow Mimi into whatever bushes she'd found to hide in, then stand there, wagging his fluffy golden tail, and she'd get caught right away.

"Over the can on Mimi," Fatso Jimmy Slattery would scream, practically before he was even done counting. He said it really mean, too. He was a vindictive little prick. Nobody liked him. He got killed in Lebanon. His mother had mentioned it to her at Longli's one day. Giselle had said, "Oh." That was more than she'd felt like saying.

"That's not fair!" Mimi would wail.

Then, wham, you could hear it clattering toward the curb again, a big sturdy pineapple juice can with holes punched in it, holes that whistled and whirred when Bobby John Davies came tearing out from behind Mr. and Mrs. Fenske's blue Dodge Dart and kicked the can about a mile into the air. Fatso Slattery had to start counting again, and Mimi took off running, her tennis shoes slapping the cement, with Jasper still running behind her no matter where she went.

Giselle closed her eyes. Why didn't Mimi just leave Jasper at home? If Jasper had been Giselle's dog, would she have left him at home? No. He could have gone anywhere with her. That was so long ago...so, so long ago. The warmth of the white carpet crept around her like a cocoon...

Chapter Thirty

It's the same lagoon. She's standing at its edge, wearing her pink sweatshirt and her taupe skirt, but it's no longer night, it's a warm, bright, sunshiny day in May. There's no sign of the pregnant black woman who was bit in two by the big blue fish, no sign of the little green fish following behind. She feels like Thidwick on the shore of Lake Winna-Bango. Hunters from the FBI are chasing her. They want to put her antlers on the wall. Her antlers are about to fall off. The FBI can have them. Ha!

She takes off her clothes but for her black panties and bra. Her belly's hard, swollen, as though she's pregnant but just beginning to show. The dirt is moist and warm between her toes. She wades into the water. The muck oozing up around her feet gets slipperier, yuckier, more slithery. She touches the surface of the lake with her fingers, then submerges her torso and starts swimming. If the big blue fish wants to leap from the water and bite her in two, fuck it, he can—and if a little green fish flips out from her belly, well, what the hell, that will be okay too.

She swims languidly, in a sort of breaststroke, pushing her arms through the heavy water with her hands cupped, with her legs bending and unbending at the knees and her feet kicking behind her like a frog. The water's cool when it comes into her mouth, clear and fresh. It tastes good, like she could drink it if she wanted to. When the water gets warm in her mouth, she spits it out and lets more cool water come in. Her hair sops up water like a mop except for on top...until she ducks down under the surface. She stops swimming, stretches out, opens her eyes, looks around under the water, but sees it's so deep there's nothing to look at but green, clear, bottomless water—no seaweed, no logs, no fish, nothing but water with shafts of sunlight shining through it, shining endlessly, shimmering deeper and deeper, like she might have been swimming across the crater of an old volcano, like if she could see deep enough there would be the bones of about a billion sacrificial virgins piled in piles like a huge, magnified coral reef at the bottom of the crater but she can't see that deep, she can't see deep enough, she can't see anything but shafts of sunlight in water.

On the other side of the lagoon she feels her feet touch tentatively down onto the ground. It's not muck anymore, but solid, slippery, granite rock. She steadies herself, stands up, walks, feels water fall from her hair, from her underwear, feels her strong thighs flex as she emerges onto the far shore, feels water drip from her in torrents decreasing to trickles. The vegetation has changed. It's no longer philodendrons and orchids, but pine trees, aspens, small oak trees. There are wild roses and honeysuckle. Jasmine. It's warm. It's almost summer. It's Tennessee!

She's walking along a path, a soft, leafy, pine-needle strewn path. A grasshopper whirs up from a patch of purple thistles. There's a stream—a bubbling, burbling, gurgling brook—washing over millions of smooth, multicolored stones, lapping against the sides of big granite rocks. The water leaves green algae along the bottoms of big, moss covered flat granite rocks. The rocks create small, still backwaters where there are minnows, where a water spider walks on tiny indentations on the surface of the water it's walking on. There's a yellow butterfly. Then another, and a white butterfly, and a Monarch Butterfly.

Someone's singing. It's a woman. She has on a powder blue flower print dress with bunches of tiny pink and white flowers on it. She's carrying a basket, filling the basket with blackberries. Her back's turned. She's on the opposite side of the brook. She's singing a song Mame used to sing. She's singing Little Sir Echo:

"Little Sir Echo, how do you do?
Hello! (Hello!) Hello! (Hello!)
You're a fine little fellow, I know by your voice,
But you're always so far away! (Away!)"

It's Mame!

"Mame!" Giselle yells, throws her hands up, splashes across the cold creek and crashes through tangles of thorny bushes that slash across her bare legs.

Mame stops picking blackberries. She looks up, smiles, says, "Hi, Giselle. What are you doing here?"

"I don't know. What are you doing here?"

"Picking blackberries," Mame says.

"I thought you were dead."

"I am, dear. Are you?"

"I don't think so," Giselle says.

"Well, either way, it's nice to see you my darling. How's your mom?"

"My mom's an asshole."

"I know, dear."

"She didn't even go to your funeral. Did you know that?"

"She didn't? Why not?"

"She said she got sick. That was a crock. She made my dad take her to the hospital. He had to stay with her. I had to go to your funeral all alone. They put you in that purple dress my mom got you for your birthday that year. The one you said you wouldn't be caught dead in. You'd have hated it."

"Nah," Mame waves her hand. She's smiling. The sun's filtering through fragile green leaves, dappling her pretty face. "I'm sure it was suitable," she says.

"I poked you."

"You did what, Giselle?"

"Poked you. You know. Stuck my finger in you, here and there. Told you, 'Hey, wake up.'"

"You always told me you were going to do that, my angel."

"Yeah, well, I did it. Ha!"

"I don't suppose I minded, dear."

"I think you liked it. I think with a few more pokes I could have got you to at least smile a little smile for me. Then the undertaker came nosing around."

"Are you going to be staying? I'm baking a pie." Mame shades her eyes. "It's an important day. The Mayonnaise Man is back!"

"My Mayonnaise Man?" Giselle asks.

"Is he yours, too, my darling?" She touches Giselle's cheek, looks into her eyes, smiles, gives her brimming berry basket a shake, then says, "My work here is done."

"Don't you want to know anything?" Giselle asks.

"No, my sweet. You have all my love forever. What more is there to know?"

"You have all mine too." Giselle touches Mame's arm. "Just so you know."

"I know, dear. Run along home, now."

Home? Run along home? Where the heck is home? Home to her mother? Pfssh. Her mother could go fuck herself.

Giselle keeps walking down the path by the bubbling, burbling, gurgling brook until it widens into an old swimming hole. There's a rope hanging from the sturdy branch of a tall elm tree. A man swings on the rope from the top of a huge granite rock out over the surface of the swimming hole. He's naked. It's Abraham! Sun through the leaves sparkles off his dark, shimmering, naked body. He gets to the deepest part of the water and lets go, tucks his legs up under himself with his head bent down between them and crashes into the water with a gigantic splash.

Dow's in the water, waiting for him. She's doing a little dog paddle, treading water, watching the waves from his splash as they wash under her chin, soak the strands of her short black hair stuck to her cheek. There are kids everywhere, small children, toddlers. Naked kids. No clothes anywhere. Naked birds, naked insects, naked people. There's laughter. Dow's laughing. They're having fun. She splashes water at Abraham. He splashes her back. They're playing, goofing around, like kids.

Dow swims over to a big moss covered rock. She climbs out of the water. Her lithe little body with the big tits and cute butt shimmers in the sunlight. Abraham swims toward the same rock. He makes his way up to the moss covered rock she's lying on. There are no overhanging branches, just pure warm sunshine. Dow lies back, spreads her legs apart, bends her knees, stretches her arms above her head. The sun's reflecting off her wet skin, off his wet skin. Her tits don't look so big when she's lying on her back. Abraham's shadow creeps across her. She smiles. He's laughing. She's laughing. She turns onto her side, reaches to touch him. Her tits get big again. Her cute butt sticks out. The slick black hair between her legs glistens.

Previous, Part Six

Next, Part Eight


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Gerard Jones
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