Chase Banter [02] Marching to a Different Accordion

BOOK: Chase Banter [02] Marching to a Different Accordion
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Table of Contents

Copyright © 2011 by Saxon Bennett

 

Bella Books, Inc.

P.O. Box 10543

Tallahassee, FL 32302

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, without permission in writing from the publisher.

 

First published 2011

 

Editor: Medora MacDougall

Cover Designer: Judy Fellows

 

ISBN 13: 978-1-59493-242-7

Other Bella Books By Saxon Bennett
 

Back Talk

 

Date Night Club

 

Higher Ground

 

Family Affair

 

Sweet Fire

 

Talk of the Town

 

Talk of the Town Too

 

The Wish List

To Darla Sue because she’s always there

About The Author
 

Saxon resides at 35 degrees 55’ 43.14 N 94 degrees 58’ 3.27’’ W or thereabouts and most days is grateful. She is the author of a whole bunch of other books most of which she cannot remember the titles to. She’s not a serious lesbian. Not to mean she’s not serious about being a lesbian, because she is. Serious. About being a lesbian. But she’s not a serious lesbian. Meaning she’s not serious. But she is a lesbian.

Chapter One—Fishing

To fish in troubled waters—Matthew Henry

 

“Don’t panic. It never helps in a crisis and often hinders any efforts to remedy the situation.”

Chase said this as much to herself as to the child. Being prone to panic on her own, she mustered all her sensibilities as best she could and peered down the garbage disposal looking for the tiny puff fish.

Bud shrieked as she sat on the counter, clutching the small glass fishbowl. Annie, a medium-sized, black and white, good-natured-if-a-little-willful dog of indeterminate parentage, and Jane, a black and tan version of her littermate who used a tennis ball as a constant pacifier, danced around barking and howling as if in sympathy with the four-year-old’s heart-wrenching dilemma.

The kitchen door opened and Gitana said, “What on earth is wrong?”

Chase looked up from the sink. “We lost the fish. It’s down the disposal, but his tail is still flapping around. I think that’s a positive sign.” She turned on the faucet, letting a little water in so the poor fellow wouldn’t suffocate.

Bud put her arms up, reaching out for Gitana who picked her up, kissed away her tears and then went to the door and, opening it, said, “Out!”

The dogs made a hasty retreat. She set Bud on the kitchen stool. “Don’t worry.” She took the fishbowl, filled it with water and set it on the counter next to the sink.

“What are you going to do?” Chase inquired with trepidation.

Gitana opened a drawer and pulled out the salad tongs. “Rescue Paddington.” She stuck the tongs down the disposal and carefully lifted the fish out and deposited him in the bowl. Then she put it on the kitchen island. “See, all better.”

Bud shrieked with joy this time. She cooed at the tiny fish and petted the outside of the fish bowl.

“You’re amazing,” Chase said, bending slightly to kiss her cheek and thanking the powers-that-be that this lovely olive-skinned, brown-eyed beauty, her long hair pulled up in a messy bun, was her partner. She was also grateful that no weird midlife crisis had destroyed their lengthy relationship now that they were both in their forties and such things were possible. They had, after all, survived the unexpected circumstances of Bud’s conception—a pap smear turned pregnancy. Having a child had completely changed their lives and Chase liked to think for the better.

“Glad to be of service, but how did Paddington get there in the first place?”

“Bud wanted to do a little housekeeping…there was this green stuff, well, anyway, I let her clean the fishbowl, but during the transfer process from Tupperware to home base we lost him.”

“I see.” This was Gitana’s standard response to all matter of household weirdness.

“How was your day?” Chase asked.

“Not as eventful as yours.”

The intercom buzzer rang and Gitana clicked it on. It was Donna calling from the writing studio. Chase still couldn’t believe she had a paid personal assistant, but ever since the mystery series she wrote as Shelby McCall—a pen name she rather liked despite her difficulty of becoming this other person who was supposed to have a poise and decorum Chase hadn’t exactly mastered as yet—had taken off, Donna had become indispensable.

“Is everything all right? I thought I heard something like bloody murder.”

Gitana responded, “It was Bud. She lost her fish down the garbage disposal.”

Bud pointed at Chase.

“I did not. You dropped him,” Chase said.

Bud shook her head and said in her own language, “Seil.”

“Oh, poor Paddington,” Donna lamented.

“He’s all right, we rescued him,” Gitana said, pulling her Day-Timer from her bag.

Donna must have sensed this or heard the flipping of pages. It seemed to Chase that Donna always reminded Gitana of schedules: She invariably drew out her Day-Timer whenever Donna was around. “I’ve drawn up next week’s schedule, did payroll for the office and ordered groceries which will be delivered in the morning. All items being ordered according to the menu that we decided on, including Bud—mind you, those tofu hot dog things are not an easy find.”

Before Donna had a chance to go on, Gitana said, “Why don’t you come over and we’ll coordinate the rest of the stuff?”

“Be right there.”

“How did we live without her?” Gitana asked Chase, peering in at Paddington who appeared to have completely recovered from his ordeal.

“We had a lot less going on. All we had to do was buy dog food, get their yearly shots and pick up poop. Our laundry list was short.”

“And you weren’t a very important author,” Gitana said, kissing her neck and sneaking a hand around to fondle her left buttock in order to avoid detection by the child.

“I was important before,” Chase said, feeling obligated to defend her earlier works.

“Ah, but moist-mound sagas didn’t pay like this Shelby McCall gig,” Gitana said, snagging a piece of Swiss cheese from the cutting board where Chase was now chopping broccoli and purple onions for the veggie frittata.

“I wish we could have some prosciutto in it but…” she pointed at Bud, who, despite being under age for kindergarten, carnival rides and complete control of her financial affairs, was a militant vegetarian. She did make exceptions for dairy, having ascertained that no animals were harmed in the making of cheese, butter and milk. Chase was thankful for this because she’d heard that being a true vegan was impossibly complicated, and she was already taxed with the pursuit of protein to insure that Bud did not remain a midget due to her dietary restrictions—which was why Donna was in charge of research, menu preparations and procurement.

“I’m sure she’ll grow out of it,” Gitana said, sneaking a peek at Bud to see if she was paying attention, but she was still engrossed with the fish.

“I had a green chili cheeseburger with Lacey for lunch,” Chase said.

Bud instantly peered at her and wagged her tiny forefinger and said, “Dab, dab.”

“What does that mean?” Gitana said.

“I think I’m being scolded.” Chase abstained from mentioning in Bud’s presence that she’d purchased four more cheeseburgers from McDonald’s and had them secreted away in the produce drawer so that she and her willing accomplice could snack on them after Bud and her ethics were safely in bed.

Donna arrived with her massive, heavily bound-in-brown-calves-skin Day-Timer that Bud always eyed with the evident suspicion that it was not an organic plant-based product as she had been told. Donna had the keen gaze of a lieutenant major about to inform her subordinates of the intended battle plan.
Her
laundry lists were as enormous and convoluted as the annotated tax code used by the IRS to entrap the unwary. She set the encyclopedic book on the counter and went to check on Paddington. She looked at the fish and then at Bud. “Do I need to schedule a veterinary appointment?”

Bud shook her head. “Eh si yako.”

“All right, if you’re sure.” She opened the bible of time keeping. “Okay, now the agenda. Gitana, the people from
Orchid Monthly
are due on Thursday morning at nine. I wouldn’t count on a timely arrival at the nursery. It appears these media types have no concept that time is money and that holding up productive working people, the engine that produces the steam that runs this country, is a sin against human nature which strives to be active and accomplish something by the end of the day.”

“How do you know that?” Chase asked.

“I talked to a very helpful young woman named Tracey who is on staff at the magazine. If you want to know anything go to the little people, aka the only ones that do anything, and they will know everything.”

Chase was always amazed by Donna’s research abilities. Her command of knowledge or the attainment of it put to shame even that of Lacey, Chase’s best friend and who heretofore had been the Keeper of Odd Knowledge. Chase kept this to herself, naturally, so as not to hurt Lacey’s feelings.

Donna continued, “Nora is getting everything set up and is in charge of the staff lottery.”

“Lottery?” Chase asked, as she whipped the eggs up on the counter behind her so that Bud would not see the yolks and get all fired up about compassionate consumption.

“We decided that a lottery for the position of helpers in the photo shoot was the only fair way to deal with the situation as everyone wanted their fifteen minutes of fame,” Donna said.

“Very egalitarian,” Chase said, adding milk to the bowl in the same covert manner.

“Right,” Gitana said, noting down the time. Donna had procured a set of interview questions that she had been drilling Gitana on so that she would not be taken unawares by any controversial issues. Chase couldn’t imagine what controversial issues were possible in the world of orchids—bisexual orchids? orchids abusing their hosts? earth orchids terrorizing rock orchids?—but according to Donna anything was possible and it was best to be prepared. As the owner and manager of the orchid nursery Gitana would be held entirely responsible if something was found to be awry.

“Now, Chase, you have an online chat with your Shelby McCall readers’ on Friday evening at seven—pronto. We cannot be tardy as e-readers are not a patient bunch. I will be onsite so the Luddite need not worry, and for goodness sake get into character so you sound like Shelby McCall, the uber confident worldly mystery writer they expect and not some socially inept lesbian ghetto writer.”

Despite her newfound fame and amped-up level of production, Chase was no better with her tech skills than she had been before and her acting skills were practically nonexistent. It had taken Donna months of training for Chase to comprehend the mysterious workings of her BlackBerry at even an elementary level, and despite trying to be in character she most often failed.

Donna continued as Chase, not wanting to fry the eggs until the meeting was completed, started in on the chef salad, cleaning the romaine and spinach and thinking about the nice chunks of Boar’s Head hard salami and peppered turkey breast that used to accompany the greens.

“Bud, you have your interview for fall semester at the Albuquerque Academy of Arts and Sciences, providing we can get you to speak a normal language instead of…” With this Donna was at a loss. Despite numerous searches on the Internet, she had yet to discover the origins of Bud’s peculiar linguistics. At one point she was certain it was Sanskrit but upon further inspection had vetoed it.

“It’s not even Easter yet,” Gitana said.

“I know, but there’s a waiting list and serious competition. We have to be ready,” Donna said.

“She’s only four,” Gitana screeched. Bud reached out and patted her hand as if to say, don’t worry, let them plan and the perverted universe will cast them all asunder.

“But she’ll be five in the fall and we have to think of her future,” Chase said. She eyed Bud suspiciously, sensing what the hand patting and the doe-like liquidity of Bud’s look had meant. Sometimes she felt like there was a hallway that conjoined their brains. “The universe is not a slave to chance, there is order in chaos.”

“Yllof.”

“We’ll see,” Chase said.

“What are you two talking about?” Gitana asked.

“It’s difficult to explain. I think we’re having a dispute about the nature of the universe.”

“Good God, Almighty,” Gitana said. She’d taken to swearing great oaths on the seeming comedy of errors that now resided permanently in their lives. Her mother, Jacinda, a devout Catholic, took these oaths to mean a great reverence for the cause and always bowed her head as if Gitana had become the Fatima of Guadalupe.

“It’s settled then. We’ll get her a speech therapist. I know we can fix this,” Donna said.

“Kcuf ffo!” Bud screamed, banging her tiny brown fist on the counter. The reverberation rocked Paddington’s watery home and she refrained.

“Don’t talk like that, young lady,” Chase said.

“What did she say?” Gitana said.

“I can’t repeat it.”

“How come you’re the only one who can understand her?” Gitana asked.

“I don’t know. I can’t explain it. I just do.”

“It doesn’t matter. She can’t go to school with you tagging along as her interpreter,” Donna said.

Chase and Gitana looked at each other and sighed heavily. Donna often ended up as the voice of sanity when it came to making household decisions. The addition of Bud and the change of Chase’s writing career had put their quiet little lives into a Star Trekian hyperdrive. Donna, whom Chase had met at a Halloween party before Bud was born—Chase dressed as an Oompa Loompa and Donna as Dorothy—had gone from an unpaid beta reader and researcher to a full-time, well-compensated personal assistant.

“She’s right, you know,” Gitana said, stroking Bud’s brown curls. Bud looked up at her with her exquisite almond-shaped eyes—Gitana’s own eyes. Sometimes Chase wished she looked a little more like them instead of being blond and blue-eyed with aquiline features. She looked more like Bud’s nanny than her mother.

Chase and Donna stared morosely. “I know it seems like we’re selling out her individuality for the sake of the social contract, but she must intellectualize her thoughts in a recognizable language—a common language,” Donna said ruefully.

Donna was avid disciple of Ayn Rand’s objectivist philosophy—a code of rational ethics that Chase found very helpful. She ran a lot of things by Donna for that reason. Chase hoped this wasn’t like Joan Crawford calling that quack Scientologist fortune-teller for advice, but Donna had a way of weeding through the slag pile and coming up with lapis lazuli just when it was needed.

BOOK: Chase Banter [02] Marching to a Different Accordion
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