by Greg Yingling
Part 1 – Katherine
“Wake up, Kat, wake up.”
Katherine tosses in her bed, but continues sleeping.
“I said wake up!”
“Five more minu..” Katherine begins to say before shooting up in bed, smacking her head against a low shelf.
“I told you to move that shelf.”
Katherine rubs her eyes, “Who’s there? Who is that?”
“You know who it is, silly. I was here when you went to bed, and I’m here now that you’re awake.”
“I’d rather not be awake right now, and I don’t recall anyone being here when I went to sleep.”
“It’s Kari, Kat, your sister. Don’t you remember last night?”
“Karis?” Kat replied, “Last night is a blur, how much did I drink? You haven’t visited in ages.”
“Yeah, well I’m back in town for a few days. Why wouldn’t I visit my little sis?” Karis asked.
“So where are you anyway? I can’t seem to see you,” said Kat.
“I’m right behind you, silly.”
Turning, “Oh! How the heck did I miss that?”
“You’re tied, and you had a little too much fun last night,” Karis told her.
“Right, well, nothing a quick shower won’t fix. I’ll meet you downstairs for some quick breakfast!”
“And then you and I are going to the mall,” Karis called as Kat closed the bathroom door.
“Mom? Mom? What’s for breakfast?” Kat cried as she came rushing down the stairs.
“Waffles, honey,” her mother replied. “How many would you like?”
“Two, but you’d better fix some for Karis too.”
“Yeah, she’s in town for a few days. Didn’t she already talk to you?”
“No…she didn’t. What do you want on your waffles?”
“Strawberries. Strawberries and bananas.”
“What do you want on yours, Karis?” asked Kat.
“Oh, I actually already ate. You were taking so long to clean that huge ass of yours – I could have starved!” Karis joked.
“My ass is not huge!”
“Katherine? Are you feeling ok?” her mother asked.
“I’m feeling pretty good today, mom. How about you?”
“Oh…I think I might be coming down with something today.”
“Uh oh, mom, you should see the doctor. You won’t want to get really sick like last time.
“Karis and I are going to the mall, but we’ll be back this afternoon if you need anything.” Kat told her mother.
“And I’m doing peachy, everyone, thanks for your concern,” Karis added.
“Ha! We’re out, mom,” Kat called to her mother as she swung out the door.
“Dan, honey, you’re going to need to come home early today,” Katherine’s mother told her husband over the phone.
“Is everything alright, dear?”
“What’s wrong? Is she ok?” Dan asked anxiously.
“She just left for the mall….with Karis.”
“Oh no… but… it’s been eight years. This wasn’t supposed to happen!”
“Just, come home, please. I don’t know what to do.”
“I’m on my way dear, I just need to let the boss know I’m leaving. We’ll figure this out.”
On the twenty-third floor of the McMurphy building downtown, a phone began to ring.
“The brother’s Nod, specialized psychiatry, Roderick speaking.”
“Yes, we do specialize in treatment that fits what you describe.”
“You’d like to schedule an appointment?”
“Oh, for your daughter, ok.”
“The soonest we have available would actually be…..tomorrow afternoon, at three. We had a cancellation.”
“Excellent, we’ll see you and your husband and daughter tomorrow at three.”
“Superb news, brothers. We’ve got another one!”
“Wonderful. Perhaps this one will prove more tenable then the last.”
The mall was a large one – over three stories, but it was in a period of decay. Two-thirds of the shops had closed down, and the remaining third were understaffed.
“Street kids” had even taken up in some of the shops further from the most activity. The cops routinely drove them out, but they always came back. Cops had better things to do than clean up riff raff.
Kat didn’t mind any of this. It had been so long since she’d spent time with Karis, she was pleasantly oblivious.
“So, Karis, where have you been all this time?” Kat asked her sister.
“Oh, traveling the world, mostly,” Karis replied. “I spent a few years in Europe – It’s beautiful over there.”
“Wow. I’ve always wanted to go to Europe, but mom and dad won’t take me.”
“That figures. They never took me anywhere either,” Karis responded with disdain.
“Isn’t constantly traveling expensive? How do you get by?”
“Maybe if I was staying at five-star hotels and eating caviar and lobster every night. When you save that for once a week, though…” Karis joked. “It’s cheaper than you might think, and with an odd job here and there to pay the bills, and the occasional wealthy and lonely man for the rest, anyone coul…”
“Karis!” Kat cried, blushing.
“Hey, I can’t help it if they’re free with their money. It’s not like I let them do anything.”
“Still..” Kat noticed they’d walked quite a ways from the open stores. “Where are we going?”
“There’s something out here I wanted you to try,” Karis said as she climbed over a large pile of fallen clothing racks.
“Hey, what have we here? All alone, miss? It’s dangerous out here,” a young punk said, brandishing a knife.
Kat cased a confused glance to where Karis had been standing moments before, but was surprised to see her missing.
“Lose your friend, miss? I’ll go looking for her once I’m done with you. Now give me your wallet, phone, and any jewelry!”
Kat did as she was told, shaking nervously.
“Nice phone,” the punk told her, pocketing it. “Now, into the store,” he said, pointing to the nearby door with the knife.
He led her past the registers and down past several dilapidated shelves, into a small dressing room in the back.
Brandishing the knife again, he began to undo his belt and said “Get naked.”
“What?!” Kat uttered in disbelief.
“Do it!” He yelled as he smacked her across the face, bringing the blade precariously close.
She began to unbutton her blouse when she heard Karis.
“Tell him his uncle Tommy was outside looking for him.”
Kat was confused, but having no alternatives, she told him: “Your uncle Tommy is outside looking for you.”
The punk, who up until that moment had been eyeing her greedily with his eyes, went pale.
“Tell him his uncle wants to show him how to do it right, since he obviously didn’t learn the first time.” Karis told Kat.
Still confused, but confidence growing as she saw the punk’s fear, Kat stated “He’s going to show you how to do it right, since you didn’t learn the first time.”
Quite terrified now, the punk dropped the knife and started to back away.
“Tell him his uncle wants to laugh at him cause he’s so small, and show him what a real man looks like.”
Kat started to relay this message, but it was too much for the punk. He tripped as he continued to back away, slamming his head against the floor and falling unconscious.
“I thought he was never going to do that,” Karis said as she came around the dressing room door.
“Where were you?!” Kat yelled at her.
“I must’ve just gone around the corner, since that’s where I was when I heard him call out.”
“Well why didn’t you do something?!” Kat yelled at her.
“I did! It just took a while. I wanted to see if he was armed.”
Footsteps and voices could be heard approaching.
“Quick, take what’s in his pockets and let’s bail before his friends show,” Karis whispered to Kat.
Wanting her phone back, Kat quickly complied. “Shouldn’t we get the cops?”
“We’ll worry about that later, when we’re safe.”
They headed to the back of the store until they found a door leading to a hall connected to the loading dock. Running down the hall they burst into the back lot, not stopping until they were clear of the building and could see they weren’t being followed.
As Karis caught her breath, “So what’d you get from his pockets?”
“I phone I got my phone. Why’re you so concerned with it?” Kat shot back, irritated.
“We’re safe now,” Karis said sitting down at a picnic table, “Take a look at what you grabbed.”
“Fine,” Kat said as she started spilling the contents of her pockets onto the table.
A small wad of cash, a wallet, a switchblade, some keys, a broken watch, Kat’s phone, and what looked like a small baggy of roots lay in disarray in front of them.
“See, Karis?” Aside from the phone and the cash it’s a bunch of crap.”
Karis’ eyes were transfixed for a moment on the baggy, it was a moment before she realized Kat had spoken.
“Huh? Oh, I wouldn’t say that, Kat. If you’d had a switchblade like this beforehand maybe we wouldn’t have had a problem earlier. Look through the keys, see if you recognize what any of them might go to.
“This one looks like it’s for a padlock, I dunno about these, but this one says Cadmium City Bank. Maybe it’s to a safe deposit box?”
“I bet it is,” Karis replied, looking around. Keep that one, and the one for the padlock, and toss the rest in that groundhog hole over there along with the other junk, but keep the switchblade and that baggy.”
“Keep the baggy? What for, it looks like it’s just roots or something.”
“I think I know what they are,” Karis explained, “but I’ll explain later, just hang onto them.”
“Whatever,” Kat said as she dumped the other items in the hole, “I think it’s time to get home.”