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Authors: Brooke Davis

Lost & Found (19 page)

BOOK: Lost & Found
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millie bird

arth to Captain Funeral. Captain Everything to Captain Funeral. Over. Psst.

Millie looks under the table. Jeremy is down there. She slips off her seat and slides in next to him.

Hi, Captain Everything
, she says.

Who’s that?
he says.

Who’s who?
Millie says.

, he says, pointing to Manny.

Manny. He’s a Dead Thing.

No he isn’t.
He knocks on Manny’s leg.

He’s plastic. He’s our friend. He saved my life.

The boy stares at the mannequin.
You can’t have a plastic man for a friend.

Who says?

The Bible.

No it doesn’t.

Does he have a, you know, thingy?
He wiggles his index finger in the air.

I don’t think so.

They both eye Manny’s crotch uncertainly.

Have you ever seen a Dead Thing?
Millie asks Jeremy.

Yeah. Of course. All the time.

Like what?

Like . . . I don’t know. Some things.

Bet you haven’t.

Bet I have.

Like what?

Millie pulls her Book Of Dead Things out of her backpack, opens it up, and hands it to him.
Like all of these things. Rambo. The Old Man. Spider. My dad. There’s more.

Your dad?

What do you think happens when you die?

Jeremy pulls a doughnut out of his pocket and chews thoughtfully on it.
A spaceship comes and takes you away.

Where to?

Another planet, of course.

Which planet?

Pluto, maybe. Jupiter, too.

Who drives the spaceship?


God drives the spaceship?

Of course.

But doesn’t he have a lot of other things to do? Like help people, and run the universe, and all that?

He has sidekicks.

Like elves?

Kinda. They don’t sing songs, though, if that’s what you’re thinking.

How do you know so much?
Millie asks.

He shrugs.
You pick stuff up. Your mum’s old.

She’s not my mum. I told you about my mum.

I was just testing you.

Want me to show you how to make Walking Poems?
Millie asks.

, he says.

Jeremy and Millie crawl out from underneath the table, down the aisle, and into the next carriage without Agatha and Karl noticing.

Millie and Jeremy sit on the ground outside the restroom in the rear carriage.

Isn’t it funny
, Millie whispers to Jeremy,
to think that someone is going to the toilet right there?

I guess.

There’s someone with their pants down right there.


They’re pooping or peeing right there.

I borrowed Mum’s phone
, he says suddenly, holding it up for Millie to see.

Millie takes it from him.
You stole it.

I’ll give it back
, he says.

Millie stares at the phone. She feels Jeremy staring at her. She wants to ring her mum more than anything, but what if she doesn’t answer? What if she does answer? What if she answers and she doesn’t want to talk to Millie? What if she answers and doesn’t want to be her mum anymore?

Can you stop being someone’s mum if you want to?

Jeremy takes the phone back.

, Millie says.

Tell me the number
, he says.

Millie tells him, he types it in, presses the green button, and holds it up to her ear.

Millie takes a deep breath and holds the phone.

Ba-boom. Ba-boom. Ba-boom.

It rings and rings and rings. And rings and rings and rings.
Voice mail
, Millie says to Jeremy.
I’m sorry, Mum
, Millie starts to say, but her voice goes funny, and she starts crying, and the words won’t come out anymore, because it’s her mum’s voice, and she just said
out loud, and she didn’t realize how much those two things would make her body hurt.

Jeremy takes the phone from her and she doesn’t look at him. She stops crying when he hands her an apple.

Thank you
, Millie says, and puts it on the floor beside her.
I’m sorry for making you cry, Captain Funeral
, Jeremy says.

It’s okay, Captain Everything
, she says, wiping her eyes with her beer cozy.
I’ve got a plan

I’ve got heaps of those.

Okay, then, what’s your plan?

It’s top-secret.

Millie rolls her eyes.

What’s yours then?
he asks.

You’ll tell.

I will not.

You will!

I will not!

, Millie says, moving in closer.

, he replies, blinking solemnly.

You said you know everything.

Yup. Pretty much.

You know how that lady talks to everyone in the whole train sometimes?

The intercom?


It’s called an intercom.

I need to find it.

What for?

She looks down at her beer cozy.
To do something good.

You’re gonna get in trouble.

She puts her face up close to his. He doesn’t seem to know where to look
. I need your help, Captain Everything. Will you help me?

He gulps.
Yes. Yes I will. Ca-Ca-Ca
, he stutters. Clears his throat.
Captain Funeral.

karl the touch typist

hat is love, Agatha Pantha?
Karl announces, sloshing his wine around.

she asks, pressing her nose against the window.
I can’t see anything!

Exactly. Exactly, Agatha Pantha. It’s too dark!


Her forehead bounces up and down on the glass of the window.
It’s making me feel uneasy!

Karl, his eyes closed, nods vigorously. He leans forward, unsteadily.
But it’s worp it
, he proclaims, tapping his index finger on the table in front of Agatha and then raising it in the air as though appealing to a cricket umpire.

Agatha turns back to him.

It’s worth it.

What is?


Worth what?

The struggle, the heartache, the turmoil.

I have no idea what you’re talking about!

Karl sips his wine.
Hab you ever been in lub, Agatha Panfa?
he says softly, swaying a little.

What? I had a husband for most of my life! You know that!

Yes, but—
Karl grabs Agatha’s hands with his wineglass-less hand and looks her in the eye—
Did. You. Lub. Him. DID-YOU-LUB-HIM?

Agatha snatches her hand away, downs the last of her wine, and plonks the glass on the table. She wipes her mouth with her sleeve.
I suppose so!

You suppose so. Did you tell him?

Why would I? It was assumed!

Assumed? Assumed!
Karl stands up and yells to the rest of the restaurant car as if he is delivering a public address. His wine splashes on the table as he flaps his arms around.
You assumed he knew you loved him?

Agatha stands up, grabs the wine from him, and throws back the rest of it.
she says defiantly, breathy with the activity.

They stare at each other for a few moments, both unsure of what the other will do. Eventually, they lower themselves to a seated position, as if they are playing mimes in a mirror.

Karl likes the vein that sprouts out of her neck and runs up to her earlobe when she yells. He has a sudden urge to lick it, to
run his tongue along it and put her earlobe between his teeth. He wants to take off her glasses, kiss her face, press himself against her. He wants to see what is below that brown suit.

Did he lub you?
Karl says eventually. He drags his fingers through the spilled wine on the table.

Agatha shrugs and stares into the darkness.

Karl makes love-heart shapes in the wine.
I’m sure he did.

It didn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. It was never the point.

It’s the only point
, he says.

Agatha leans her head against the back of the chair.

Karl stares at her: her old, tired face, her old, tired lips, her old, tired eyes. He stands up and shuffles around Manny to the other side of the booth. He slides in next to her. He can smell her now, mothballs and juice, somehow. She won’t look at him. He moves in closer, can feel her starchy suit on his arm, the heat of her body on his leg. Could he love this woman?

Could she love him?

He takes a deep breath, grabs her face, pulls her toward him, and kisses her.

He pulls back from Agatha, leaving her stunned and breathless, and stands.
We’re only here because of sex, you know. And you’re ashamed of it. You all are. You. And you. And you. Yes, you. Just intercourse her
, he says to the young couple in the next booth over. He looks to Manny for support. Karl’s sure he sees Manny give a thumbs-up.
, Karl says.
, he says.
Fuck each other
, he says to the couple.

We do
, the man says.

The woman lets out a strangled sound and hits him on the bicep.

That’s the spirit
, Karl says.
, he says again. The word feels amazing in Karl’s mouth.
Fuck fuck fuckity fuck. Say it with me, Agatha.

Agatha sits in the booth, not looking at him, holding on to the table as though it’s the only thing keeping her upright.

There’s other words too, you know
, Karl says, on a roll now.
Pubic! Nipples! Pink bits!

Get ahold of yourself, sir!
Derek says, storming down the aisle, notepad flapping around his neck.

Two small children at the table behind them are wide-eyed.

one says.

, the other one adds.

The old woman who has been too engrossed in her book to look at her husband suddenly says,

her husband says.

, Karl says, pointing at her.
That’s right.

, Derek stamps his foot.
He walks closer to Karl and tries to shoo him with his hands.
. He spits as he talks.
I knew you were trouble.
He writes a note on his notepad, tears it off, and throws it at Karl. It swings through the air like it’s conducting music.
Out! You’re banned from the eating area.

Karl smiles hugely.
, he says.
That’s fucking great.

Agatha, who has been silent the entire time, stands and yells,
I think it’s 9:23
but I’m not sure!
, and pushes past Karl.

, Karl says. He hoists Manny up to rest on his shoulder in the same way Branson Spike held his stereo, and follows her out of the carriage. But not before turning around to face his audience.
Thank you
, he says, and takes a bow.

the old man says to his wife.

The night is long for Karl. Agatha locks him out of the cabin. They are drunk and loud and he enjoys it. He feels Italian. Or Mediterranean. Foreign, anyway, as though they are in a faraway country, hurtling through mountainous terrain. He throws his arms around as though he is directing something, he uses dramatic language from films, he feels his face bending and moving in ways it never has.

She pushed him away and climbed past him, and he was amazed at himself, and at the moment, because everyone stared, so he trundled off after her, because that’s what he was supposed to do, yes? Now he yells,
just for the benefit of the audience listening in on his drama (HIS drama!), and knocks on their cabin door, and there is so much silence, big and empty, like the desert and the sky, and he looks down at his hands, holds them up to the light and thinks,
You magnificent bastard

He knows Agatha doesn’t want him, but it doesn’t hurt in
the place it should, and in fact it doesn’t hurt at all. THIS is real life! Heartbreak! He’s had his heart broken! By a real woman! He kissed her, just like they do in the films—or perhaps just like people do in real life, he wouldn’t know—he just took her head in his hands and kissed her! With everyone watching. They all looked at him as though he was someone who DID things, someone who may be questionable in spirit, and no one has ever looked at him like that before, and the thrill of not being linear, of grabbing a woman’s face with both hands and kissing her. And everyone watching!

So he sits outside the cabin and talks and talks and talks, he tells her everything there is to know about him, his shoe size, his favorite teacher at primary school, his son, the time Evie kissed someone else, his phobia of low-flying objects, why he doesn’t miss his fingers, the nursing home, his escape. Everything. And just as he is falling asleep, he whispers through the keyhole,
That’s it, that’s everything I have

He starts to fall asleep, his back against the door, his legs stretched out across the corridor, but then he remembers something else, and says,
, and puts his lips against the door.
I think I love you but I could never love you like I loved Evie.
But there is nothing from Agatha, nothing at all. He listens for something but there is nothing; he thinks he can hear her crying, but he can’t be sure, and he falls asleep in an uncomfortable position, one arm around Manny, and dreams of voids and blackness, and it feels like nothing.

another thing karl knows (a little bit) about

Karl can count on one hand the number of people who have cried in front of him. Evie. His mother. His uncle cried when Karl’s mother died, and it was not like the crumpled-up, giving-in crying he had seen before. His uncle cried as though it was an activity, each tear pushed out with a violence that made Karl feel like he was doing it wrong.

Everyone knows that everyone else has a crying face, just as they all have an orgasm face, but they are on The List Of Faces No One Sees. Everyone knows everybody else masturbates and cries, and you speak to each other with this contract, you carry on conversations with this see-through wall between you:
I don’t masturbate or cry, I don’t masturbate or cry, I don’t masturbate or cry, but because I really do, I know you do too, because we are all the same

He had seen Evie’s Crying Face. Orgasm Face. Terrified Face. Death Face. Was that love, then? When you stopped pretending? When you were able to say to another person,
I masturbate. I cry. I’m scared. I die

BOOK: Lost & Found
4.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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