Authors: Andrea Portes
Tags: #Fiction, #General
Copyright Â© 2014 Andrea Portes
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Bury This : a novel / Andrea Portes.
1. GirlsâCrimes againstâFiction. 2. MurderâInvestigationâFiction.
3. MichiganâFiction. 4. Suspense fiction. I. Title.
Cover design by Debbie Berne
Interior design by Domini Dragoone
Soft Skull Press
An Imprint of Counterpoint
1919 Fifth Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
Distributed by Publishers Group West
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For my grandparents, who saved the world, and for my son, who saved me
t would be lily white, this snow. On a strange sort of day where the earth and the sky were the same shade of gray.
How funny. He thought later, that in this moment, the thought tumbling through his head had been annoyance with his wife for wasting so much money on those stupid dolls. A doll collection! Collectibles! He told his friends he would eat his face off if any of those fucking things were ever “worth millions someday” or “gonna be worth a fortune” as his wife pled, pondered, prayed.
It was the last thought he would have before he would become forever “the snow plower.” Or, better yet, “the snow plower who found her.”
Make these branches coal, grabbing down from the sky. What are they eager to clutch? Make these snow prints hurried, and hurried, and rushed. What are they eager to hush?
There he goes following them, now it's a path, a scurry, a brush. Probably nothing but might as well. Into the woods and the grabby grabby trees, greedily waiting to pluck.
A doll collection!
What a hoot. How gaping and stupid, degrading it was, to
think of that time, what, now twenty years ago, when he had looked into his bride's eyes, under that veil, on that altar, and said the words, “I do.” If only he'd known about the doll collection. Just one doll. Things might've been different.
Just one doll is what's there in the snow, in the clutter, in the shutter of light, stab stab stab through the trees.
Just one doll. There it is. But there are porcelain fingers and ceramic toes and glass twinkly eyes, unblinking, unblinking. It is, in fact, a girl.
Not a doll at all.
t was a silly job, really. Almost no reason to take it. Except. She remembered now, the panic of the paperwork. Forms!
You must fill this one out, and then this one, too, don't forget this here, and we'll need a copy of your driver's license. Also, a contact. In case of emergency. A formality, really.
Struggling to comprehend the form upon form, little boxes in big boxes, sign here, dot here, if you just initial here. She had forgotten, initially, her name. What is my name? (But why should I remember my name . . . ? It's not as if I ever call myself. When was the last time I saw myself across the room and called my name? Never. That's when.) Well. Why should I know my name?
Okay. There it is. That's it, isn't it? The name I seem to inhabit, have been inhabiting this whole time. And yet, to me, a puzzle. It might as well be Mickey Mouse. At least Mickey Mouse I have said more often.
“Last name Krause.”
That is a name my parents have. At least that one's easier to remember. That is not the foreigner staring back at me in the mirror each morning, like Alice through the looking glass.
No, this was the parents' name, and grandparents', too. All these German names. German German German! My name? My name is German Germany. How 'bout that? My name is Sauerkraut Strudel. My name is Pretzel Wienerschnitzel!
She laughed to herself, out loud, in this silence. The receptionist pretended not to hear.
(Now they'll think I'm crazy.)
(Now they'll know I'm crazy.)
Oh, wait, no. That's right. I get to go around in this outfit, this skin. My deception is complete. Here's how I get to squeak through. What they see:
A young girl, almost twenty-two. With a white rat head of hair, albino hair, yes it's a little stringy and washing it takes too long, it hurts my arms, what if someone else could wash it? Honky skin. White as paper. Almost blue. You see, a ghost. I get to be a young-looking sort of ghost with white mouse hair and gray saucer eyes and a stupid little nondescript form skinny and stringy and I'll put a dress on me and no one will know.
No one will know that underneath there are circles and then nipples and a triangle down below. I don't want these circles, never asked for them. They shouldn't be there, I sure as hell don't want them. I should ace bandage them so no one will know. If no one knows then no one will give me that eating look and I am safe. See me in my dress. A french fry with eyes.
This room. Blue and birch with papers everywhere, a
clipboard, a cork board, put a note on it and then you'll remember. Then another and another. “Terry's bake sale, September 5
,” “Don't forget to lock up!!,” “Drops = 8
!,” “Toiletry Kits under the SINK! $1 for extras â No exceptions!!!” A convention of exclamation points, as inane as it is urgent.
This desk. Metal but a green sort of metal. Mint green metal. A candy desk. Clunky. Behind the coffee machine, there is Jimmy Carter and his big peanut smile. That jar filled with yellow wrapped butterscotch candies. That half-fridge. Something always smells sour in that half-fridge.
And the receptionist. Well, let's be honest, she's seen better days. Maybe one day I'll look like that? I think she drinks. Maybe here. Maybe underneath that desk in drawer number two is a little flask of Seagram's to take the edge off the day or put the edge on, or just do something, goddammit, to eat these hours, gobble them up. Endless, this life.
“What do you think are your qualifications?”
A ridiculous question. The woman, bright blonde, it doesn't match her face, and brown eyes. Her hair must be black for God's sake. A sea-foam green sweater jacket, there's a tie, a sweater at the waist and she is bundled up. A little bundle of brisk blonde beauty, fading, but yes, she would find company, at the tail end of happy hour, there she would be, at that hour, or later, a find. A virtual treasure.
“Your qualifications? What do you think qualifies you to work at the Green Mill Inn?”
I mean, you might as well laugh in her face.
Well, ma'am . . . and I do use that term loosely . . . I believe I am qualified to work at this shithole because I have nothing better to do and I'd like to have some money around for a change and maybe disappear from my parents a few hours a week to something other than choir practice at St. John's Presbyterian.
“I'm a real people person!”
Banana blonde feigns interest.
“'Sides that I'm a real quick learner and I took a typing class at Hope, fifty-five words per minute. Not that I'm bragging or anything.”
“I see. Well, you won't have to do much typing here, Miss . . . ”
“Miss Krause. This is mostly just taking reservations, signing in guests, making sure the front bathroom is clean . . . you don't have to clean it, Janelle does that. Just making sure it's nice and there's toilet paper and, sometimes, it's nice to have a candle or Glade freshener, just if you want it. It's mostly your bathroom, after all, customers rarely use it. But, if they do, you know, it's the first thing they see, so, you want it to look nice. Professional.”
Mind-numbing, this monologue, ode to a well-stocked bathroom, applesauce through a sieve. And now the mere facts, now rattled off like gunfire, too quick, can't catch it.
“Open at five. Close at one. One-hour break for dinner. You can take a fifteen-minute break every few hours, but, really, the whole job's like a break. Between customers. So might as well stay here, in case the boss drops by. Coffee's in the cabinet, Folgers, you gotta make it. There's Styrofoam cups for customers, if they ask.
Creamer, sugar, Sweet 'N Low. You can put out cookies. Maybe at Christmas. Makes it festive, ya know. See ya Monday.”