Serialization Sunday: Hoodoo – Chapter 25
Every Sunday, Fiction365 presents a new chapter in a previously unpublished novel. Our first serialized novel, the taut thriller City of Human Remains, can be found in full here.
Our current novel, Hoodoo, tells a story of visionaries, heretics and lunatics in Utah, centered on the life of Alice Lott, a twelve-year-old girl who believes that God wants her to have an affair with her junior high school counselor.
Find earlier chapters in Hoodoo here.
“You’re drinking coffee,” was the first thing I managed to get out.
Bobby’s eyes let go of mine, and he looked at the coffee cup at his elbow. He closed his eyes and rubbed his face, nodding.
“I was,” he started, then held his hands over his face for a minute before taking them away and looking at me. “I was excommunicated.”
I thought about men in black robes, and torches, and Bobby in chains.
“No, it’s okay,” said Bobby, quick, like he knew what I was thinking, “Listen, Alice. Alice.” He smiled for the first time, disbelieving, my name in his mouth. “Alice.”
My hand was on the table, and he gently turned it palm up.
“You have blisters,” he said.
“I was sandbagging.”
“With the Academy. I’m at the Ballet Academy, over on South Temple.”
“You live here?” He shook his head, “For how long?”
“Ever since, since the day after I saw you last.”
The waitress dropped Bobby’s dinner on the table, and he pushed it over to one side.
“I worked on a building just two blocks from the Academy. You know the new arts center?”
“You worked on it?” I said. I didn’t get it.
“Construction. I work in construction now. All I have to do is look for a crane. I can walk onto a lot and have a job. Nobody asks questions.”
We were quiet. I looked over to the window, where I knew the parking lot was, where I’d stood watching Bobby. It was dark out, and I saw us reflected back, sitting across the table from each other.
“Alice,” he said, quietly.
I pulled my eyes away from our reflection.
“What happened with the baby? Was it a boy or a girl?”
He didn’t know. Three years and Bobby didn’t know. I felt sick, deep in my stomach, thinking about that day in the Principal’s office, and Bobby and his wife, and all that blood.
“I miscarried. That day.”
Bobby looked up when I said that, and opened his mouth like he was going to say something, but his mouth just hung open and nothing came out. Red splotches showed on his cheeks and he looked away again, snapping his mouth shut, the muscle in his jaw twitching. He stood up suddenly.
“I can’t…” he started, then yanked out his wallet and put some money on the table, next to his untouched food, and headed for the door.
I only sat for a second before following him. His movements were quick and violent. He was mad. He was mad at me. Did he think it was my fault?
We were both out on the sidewalk now, and he was walking fast. I hurried after him. I had thought it was my fault, then. When I was all mixed up about things. I had this idea that I wished the baby away, no, that I killed it by denying the whole thing. It was dumb. It wasn’t my fault, it just happened.
I wasn’t going to chase after him. He was still walking, but I stopped.
“What?” I said, louder than I meant to. I was big and stubborn. He could come to me this time. Explain himself.
He slowed down, then turned around, coming back in my direction. Bobby wasn’t looking at me, still. He kept moving, in sort of a circle, like a nervous kid. I saw the corner of his mouth quivering.
“I haven’t seen my little girl since that day,” he said, finally. I remembered her white hair, white eyelashes. Her big blue eyes while I showed her Mother Buffoon’s skirt. “I’ve been – I just – I had this picture, in my head, of your baby. Our baby.” His voice wobbled right up the scale. He put one hand over his eyes, and I could see he was crying for real. “I’m sorry.” He shook his head like he was shaking an Etch-a-Sketch to clear the picture, then reached out for my hand and pulled me right to him and into his arms. My heart was about to shatter, sending pointed shards through my whole body. I’d never live through it. We held onto each other while Bobby cried. I could feel the sobs rising up through his body, over and over, but I kept holding on, his arms tight around me.
Founder of the Portuguese Artists Colony in San Francisco, Caitlin Myer regularly reads her work at Why There Are Words, Quiet Lightning, and other established reading salons in California. Her one woman show on Simone de Beauvoir was produced in Seattle.
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