Yoharie: Jeremiah (part two)
Giarma Yoharie, bending into the trunk of her car, tensing up. Cathlyn Burris jogging, flipping a hand at him; Roberta Witticombe standing with her camera, deaf to him. Getting a shot, for some reason, of her window boxes.
Well, he knew the reason. She got likes for this dumb shit, and there were other people who posted their flowers under her flowers.
Here’s an old pic of my begonias from 2003. Wow! Can you believe 2003’s such a long time ago now?
He followed everyone’s social accounts. He was jenniesmom; he was ashley13. Todwillow had given him a picture of a little girl, another of a teenager. Todwillow wanted Hibbler to do all of this, and tell him about it, which he wasn’t completely down with. But Todwillow…ex-CBI, don’t forget…was always telling him stories about nasty revenges, weird gadgets that could make you sick, in humiliating public ways, choking and farting. Identity thefts.
Todwillow had Hibbler’s password.
He’d been pretty relentless with his pimping—coming on to Petersen, Kate would say—and still Todwillow hadn’t gotten anything…but that (he said) didn’t prove anything. When Raelyn was selling cookies, Todwillow had wanted her to go knock at Petersen’s door.
“Nothing’ll happen. But if something happens, we just nailed a perv.”
So when they were looking for chaperons for one of Savannah’s class trips, Hibbler had said, no, no. In his mind he wasn’t completely sure this fear was sympathy for Petersen.
He had a problem with that kid, Valentine.
Not just the strip razored around the back of his head, new yesterday…like the blue-tipped hairdo wasn’t enough. Here, it appeared to Hibbler, was another one out of work. Who was going to be around the neighborhood all day, when Hibbler himself had to be at work. In his head, he’d been rehearsing a conversation with Giarma.
“You a lot older than your…brother?”
Instead, he blurted this at her, catching her again at the trunk of her car. Giarma Yoharie always shopped, it seemed, always came back from wherever she went with bags of stuff. Sometimes only groceries…so maybe she at least helped out Mrs…
Nuh uh, Dawn. You had to call her that.
It was weird to Hibbler, that society had got away from addressing women as miss or ma’am (although you did, and got glared at, when you needed to get their attention)…but there wasn’t any answer when a guy’s wife wasn’t married to him. He didn’t want to talk like a friend to Dawn. She didn’t like it, either, wincing and forcing a smile…maybe because he skipped and balked at using her name. He’d just done the same to Giarma.
Her face, as she turned to him, hugging a paper sack with handles, showed undisguised incredulity.
“Oh, Jesus,” she said, and then looked abashed. “What did you want?”
“You a lot older than your brother.” He said it flatly now.
“I’m thirty, Mr. Hibbler. Val is twenty-one. That’s how it is.”
“Hey, hi!” This was Dawn, pulling back the front door.
Giarma darted off. Beatty, who’d been sniffing her boot heels, seemed to bristle like a hedgehog. He whined, wagged, heaved himself onto his back and wriggled. Dawn came out, dropped a black trash bag, crouched and took Beatty by the ears, knuckling his skull. The dog suffered ecstasy for a moment, then jumped to his feet and charged away down the street.
“Silly,” Dawn said. “How’re your kids?”
Hibbler stared at the bag.
“I’ll take that for you, if you want.”
There was no reason for this. The thought had come opportunistically, and in his head Hibbler hadn’t scripted an excuse. He didn’t know what sort of favor he might be offering…but Dawn seemed unsuspicious.
“No, you stupid mutt!” Hibbler yanked him off his back by the collar.
Dawn winced and smiled.
(2018, Stephanie Foster)