Sequence: Drawn Upon Imagination (part five)
“No…why shouldn’t he come looking for you? If it’s what you say, why shouldn’t I believe it?”
These words came out tetchy and self-pitying. And full of mistrust. He decided he might as well make it as bad as possible. “So…you want us to go out to California?”
“I don’t want us to. I think I have to. You don’t.”
No, she had never said you to him that way. He started to push himself out of his chair, thinking they should go to the café after all. They might sit silent under public eyes, but then, coffee might cool her off. She might explain.
“You see,” she said.
He sat down again.
“I can’t stay with you and keep my job. And we can’t afford another place if I don’t keep my job.”
She crossed her arms. “A little bird, that’s why. I have to move in with one of the other sales girls, or I’m sacked. Don’t you think whoever wants to make trouble for us, will make trouble no matter what?”
Bruner put the thought of his mother aside. “Tell it to me like I’m slow in the head.”
She blushed at this, and for some reason he felt pleased.
“Your husband turned up, he had this plane trip already paid for…”
“Phillip has got a job. He’s going home. The change of plan came suddenly.”
Not that Freda sounded believing, but Bruner by reflex let out a derisive noise…and saw her shrug. “You know Mr. Godshaw, of Gamotte’s?” He nodded. “I know Mr. Godshaw, too. Very slightly. He rescued me once. I only say so—” (She threw this in quickly.) “Because, for that reason, I think better of Mr. Godshaw than I do of Phillip. That is, I find him somewhat honorable. Phillip made a point of telling me that California was Godshaw’s suggestion. So I don’t know how to take that.”
Now when she looked up, her eyes were engaged. She’d told enough of her story to have got lost in it, this puzzle of what Gamotte’s boys could have in mind.
“You trust Godshaw…a little. You don’t trust Phillip. Phillip makes you a shady offer, says it’s not his offer at all. He wants to muddy the waters…but he’s got some stake in your saying yes. Did he ask you for money?”
“No. My uncle has given him money. He doesn’t need mine.”
Uncle. Bruner had to think for a moment. He decided he didn’t care about Stanley Carpenter. “Did you find out if this Prairie-Pacific company is on the level?”
“If you tell me how to do that.” Again a tad raw.
“No, I’ll do it.”
Drawn Upon Imagination
(2016, Stephanie Foster)