Sunday, August 12, 2012

Part 13: Stoners and Allens

The silence had hung among them for ages. All the while Stoner had picked at the meat stuck amid her crooked teeth and looked everywhere but at Kopczik. But eventually she had to admit that she didn't have a good response, so she shrugged and shook the dirty strings of hair clear from her face.

"Okay," she said. "Maybe I don't."

"Mebba y'doan what?" asked Brown Lizzy, utterly confused.

"Jeez, are you stupid?" Stoner said. She scratched mindlessly at her left shoulder, and didn't even notice when her fingers came back stained with her blood. "Kopczik said I really don't understand. OK, well, maybe I don't understand. Anything. So why don't you two just explain it all to me?"

"Y'do 'member Rachel, don'cha?" asked Brown Lizzy.

"Yeah," Stoner said blankly, and she held her right hand up in front of her and gazed at it curiously, as though she had never seen it before.

"Rachel, our oneiromancer," put in Kopczik. "She can understand things she sees in her dreams, remember?"  Stoner said nothing, and he pushed desperately onward. "Her dreams led her to find us, and they helped us to find the only source of water in this entire area that hasn't been claimed or defiled by the warclans. They've guided us through this entire area, and led us to people we can trust. The Allens got her."

"Rachel?" asked Stone. "Brown hair, kind of short, right?"

"Yes," said Kopczik, and not for the first time, he wondered why they bothered to bring someone as useless as Stoner with them. The first time they had met her, Stoner had been crawling around on all fours, insisting that she was a goat and that if everyone called her Herbert, she would give them milk in the winter and wool in the summertime. Now she was picking small rocks up from the ground and rattling them around in her hand as though they were dice.

"Where is she, anyway?" said Stoner. "Gotta be at the airport this afternoon."

Kopczik groaned, and silence fell back over the group again while he pored over the map they still had of the area.

* * *

Rachael had been having a grand time in her mother's office, with her mother, who been explaining to her mysteries that had haunted the young girl almost her entire life.

"So you're saying that the whole time, my Barbie doll was over at Susie's house?" she said, as she helped herself to the last of the S'mores her mother had offered her.

"Yes," her mother said. "You went over there for the party the day before they moved, and I told you not to take the doll with you, because I knew how careless you could be, but you wouldn't listen to me, and took it with you anyway."

Rachael sighed, an exhalation of air that released a moment of exasperation that had overstayed its welcome by more than 10 years. She leaned back into the brown leather sofa, and gazed emptily at the wall opposite, where hung an oil painting of a seascape. A lighthouse stood on a rocky shore, while a ship headed dangerously toward the harbor.

"I looked for that thing for weeks, and couldn't stop crying for months, when my stepmom got me a new one," she said. "It never really replaced it, you know. It knew it wasn't really Barbie Boo-kins, no matter what she said."

Her mother nodded, but already her attention was being consumed by a piece of Ikea furniture that was waiting to be assembled.

"I'm sure I can find you the real one, if you want. My company may not be the biggest one, but I do have enough authority for that," she said. She lifted a board, and looked at the imposing hex nut in one corner. "Could you pass me the Allen wrench on my desk?"