Monday, July 22, 2019

Crazy lady with a cannon

Okay, enough about other people and events, it's time for me me me! Or in less egotistical words, here's another snippet from The Language of the Dragon. Do I have to remind you to get it now, while it's only 99 cents?


I dried off, slipped into a long cool nightgown of super-thin white lawn and wrapped a towel around my hair. Sat down on the bed to give some serious attention to my fingernails…
… And heard a clunking sound from the bathroom I’d just vacated.
Oh, well. It was probably Cath Palug, expressing his dissatisfaction at having been left with only Laura to take care of him for a week. He’d knock a certain number of things off flat surfaces before condescending to knead my chest and purr.
A louder clunk was followed by a string of curses.
I froze, and all the little hairs on my arms stood up. The week before leaving for the beach, I’d chased a daytime burglar out of the house. Had he come back to try his luck at night? It certainly wasn’t possible to write the voice off as the doings of a disgruntled cat-monster. Nor was it my absconding tenant come back without warning. His voice had been higher, and his English not so smooth. Whoever was cursing was clearly fluent in English. Certain kinds of English, anyway.
I reached into my bag and retrieved my cell phone, held it up in front of my face and waited for my new app to unlock the phone.
No dice. It didn’t recognize me with a towel wrapped around my wet hair. I knew I shouldn’t have let Blossom talk me into installing that oh-so-convenient facial recognition app. She’d pointed out how it would save me the trouble of typing a passcode every time I used the phone. And I’m such a sucker for saving trouble, I actually took the advice of a girl called Blossom with a twin sister named Floss.
Setting the phone down, I reached down between the mattress and the box spring where I’d just stashed my other favored accessory. The one I started keeping handy after I decided that no one was ever going to invade my space again. I tiptoed to the bathroom door, threw it open and took a two-handed shooting stance. “Hands up and behind your head!” I shouted.
A white-faced stranger straightened up from the sink, banged his head on the open door of the medicine cabinet, raised his hands and slowly backed away from me.
Well, so much for the faint hope that it had only been Craig, seriously overstepping his bounds and earning a well-deserved shock. I’d never seen this man before.
He was young, well, about my age anyway. Average height, dark hair, blue eyes, jaw nearly blue with what looked like permanent five o’clock shadow. Might have been good-looking if he hadn’t been white and shaking. Not that I minded. Terrified was, in my view, a very good look on men who sneaked into my house in the middle of the night.
“Who are you and what are you doing here?” I demanded.
“Lady, I don’t know what you think you’re—”
“I’m asking the questions here!” I interrupted with a little twitch of my Smith and Wesson .38 Special to emphasize the situation.
“Look, lady, I paid for my room, and if there’s some kind of house rule about not using the bathroom that opens right out of my bedroom, somebody should have mentioned it, okay? And do you have to keep pointing that thing at my face?”
I lowered the gun until it was pointing at his legs. “You paid?”
“First and last month’s rent and deposit. And who the fuck are you, anyway, crazy lady? Does the landlady know you run around threatening the other tenants with that baby cannon?”
“You know the landlady?”
“Nice lady. Georgia Brown. She—”
I lowered the gun even more, to point at the floor. My breathing was just beginning to get back to normal. “No, she was just the rental agent. I’m your landlady – Sienna Brown, her niece. This is my house.”
“Yeah? I bet you get a rapid turnover in lodgers if you greet them all by shoving a gun in their faces. Crazy lady.”
“You startled me. I’ve been out of town. I didn’t know the room had been rented.”
“Well, I’ll be very careful not to startle you again,” he said.

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