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    Katya Dee
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

The First Lock - 24. Part 2, chapter 4

- IV -

 

Several weeks later, Katrena caught herself thinking more and more often about asking Paul to move into her house. At first, she shook that idea off -- just giving him the key felt like a task of enormous difficulty to her. However, lately, she thought about it more and more often. Finally, one Sunday night in April, while she was watching Damien play one of his Mario Brothers games, his forehead wrinkled in some serious concentration, she said without even looking at Paul who was lazily scanning through apps on his cell phone:

“McGregor...”

“Mmm?” he replied without looking up.

“Do you want to run to your apartment and grab your toothbrush?”

That question made him forget about the phone and he looked at her with genuine surprise.

“I have a toothbrush here,” he said, and she nodded.

“I know,” she said, still looking at the screen. “How about you bring your own toothbrush though, not just a spare? Also, while you are at it, grab some other stuff... Like...” she shrugged. “Oh, I don’t know... Everything...?”

He blinked at that for almost a minute.

“Huh?” he said finally, and she sighed and rolled her eyes.

“You can be amazingly daft sometimes,” she said seriously, and finally looked at him. “I am asking you to move in with me, genius.”

He slowly put the phone aside and got up.

“Are you feeling okay?” he asked after he sat on the couch next to her. “No fever or anything?”

“Fine, smartass,” she said and turned her gaze to Damien again. “Never mind...”

“It was a legitimate worry,” he muttered. “I just wanted to make sure you are not asking me that because you are running a high fever, you know... I would hate to do all that moving just to find out that you were delirious when you asked.”

“I am not delirious,” she said and looked at him again, her eyes serene. “Yes or no?”

“Hell, yes,” he answered seriously, and she smiled.

“Good,” she nodded and stared at the screen again. “Hey, watch him for fifteen minutes, will you? I gotta take a shower...”

“Okay,” he nodded and kissed her temple before she got up.

He watched her disappear in the bathroom, and then switched his attention to Damien, who left his game alone.

“You didn’t make her do it, did you?” Paul asked quietly when he heard the water run in the shower.

“Nope,” the kid shook his head. “I did what you told me. I just gave her an idea... I didn’t do anything else. I didn’t even remind her.”

“Cool,” Paul nodded with a smile. “I owe you one.”

“Nah,” Damien turned towards the screen again. “I like you,” he said simply and unpaused the game.

Paul listened to his inner self for a few minutes, expecting to develop a powerful desire to go out right now and raid the nearest toy store, but it never came. Finally, he grinned and nodded to himself.

 

...He finished moving his stuff – which wasn’t a lot – by the end of next week.

 

****

 

It was the last week of August, and Mandy’s birthday was less than three days away. Katrena bought her a present – a new espresso-maker, which she knew Mandy would be ecstatic about – and she was about to start wrapping it when she realized that the only wrapping paper in the house was Christmas-themed. She thought of wrapping the box into Santas and snowmen, sighed, and reached for the phone.

“Lieutenant McGregor,” he answered after a few minutes.

“Hey,” she said. “Can you do me a favor?”

“Depends,” he answered seriously. “If it’s something that involves gerbils, then definitely not.”

“Perv,” she laughed. “No, I need wrapping paper. I need to wrap Mandy’s present, and I only have Christmas paper left... I figured, since the store is on your way home...”

“I’ll get Hanukkah one, how’s that?”

“Perfect,” she nodded seriously.

“Okay,” he said. “Hanukkah it is then.”

“See you around eight?”

“Yup,” he replied. “Ugh, I gotta go...”

“Bye,” she smiled again and hung up the phone.

 

...She checked on the meatloaf and nodded with satisfaction. Almost ready. She looked at the clock. 8:10, perfect. She turned off the oven, figuring that the meatloaf would finish itself in the remaining heat, and marched to Damien’s room.

“Hey, monkey!” she yelled. “Go wash your hands! The food is almost ready!”

“I am not a monkey!” he yelled back. “And my hands are clean!”

“Show me!” she demanded, and he grunted loudly.

He walked out of his room and stuck his hands out. Katrena’s eyes immediately narrowed.

“You call that clean?” she said, looking at his hands that were covered with paint.

“It’s paint,” he said with reproach. “Not dirt.”

“Just go wash your hands,” she rolled her eyes, and then the doorbell rang. “They better be clean and paint-free when I come back!” she said before walking to the door.

The bell rang again.

“Hold on!” she called loudly. “Why are you ringing the bell anyway? Don’t tell me you lost your key!” she turned the lock. “Because if you did lose it, you are going to be the one who...” she opened the door, and then stopped talking and just stood there, blinking in surprise. “Brent?” she said finally.

“Hey,” he said.

Ever since she used him as her demonstration dummy that one time five years ago, Brent and she were getting along just fine. Better than that actually. They were friends.

“What’s up, Brent?” she said when he just stood there, shuffling his feet. “Are you looking for Paul? He’ll be home in a minute...”

“Ummm,” he said. “Yeah...”

“Come in,” she stepped aside and he slowly walked in.

“Want some food?” she asked. “I just finished making meatloaf...”

“No, thanks...” He took a deep breath. “Katrena... Kat...”

She looked at him with suspicion.

“What?” she narrowed her eyes. “What’s up, Brent?”

“It’s...” he hesitated, avoiding looking into her eyes.

“Brent...” she said slowly. “What is it?”

He took a shaky breath and finally looked her in the eyes.

“It’s Paul...” he said quietly, and her heartbeat slowed down to crawling speed.

“How bad is it?” she asked calmly, feeling as if someone else was doing all the talking for her.

“It’s...” he hesitated again. “...bad,” he finished, and his eyes shifted again.

“Spit it out, Brent,” she said as calmly as before.

“We got a 211S code...” He took another shaky breath. “It means...”

“I know what it means,” she interrupted him, feeling as if she was wrapped in cold vinyl. 211S meant silent alarm in case of a robbery.

“Right...” he muttered. “He wasn’t even there; he left ten minutes before we got the code...”

Katrena heard him speak, but every single word he said, was accompanied by a dull ‘Thud-thud’ sound that came from her heart.

“Well, when we got there...”

“Thud-thud...”

“...turns out he ended up in the same store...”

“Thud-thud...”

“...he decided to take care of it by himself; he didn’t know if anyone was coming... I mean, the cashier girl was at gunpoint...”

“Thud-thud...”

“...he thought it was just another customer, but it turned out to be an accomplice...”

“Thud-thud...”

“...and then he was shot point-blank in the head...”

“Thud...”

“Kat, I am so...” he choked on the last word.

“Hey, mom... My hands are clean...”

She slowly turned her head and blindly stared at two small, semi-clean hands.

“Are you hungry?” she asked without even hearing herself speak. She felt her lips move, but she didn’t hear any sounds.

“Not really,” Damien shrugged.

“Go play some more then,” she moved her lips, wondering if he could hear her.

“Can I play with my paint?” he asked carefully.

Good, he heard her.

“Yes,” she felt her head make a nod.

“Cool!” he beamed and dashed into his room.

She slowly turned her head again, almost hearing the screeching sound that the movement caused. Weird, she thought absent-mindedly. She couldn’t hear her voice but she could hear phantom sounds that never really came from her neck.

“Excuse me,” her lips moved once more, and she slowly picked up the phone.

She pushed number 2 on her speed-dial and pressed the phone against her ear, registering the long, beeping sounds that went somewhere into her brain.

“Hello, Mandy,” she said a minute later. “Is Danny around...? Could you please, put him on the phone? I am fine, Mandy, thank you for asking, how are you? Is Danny... Oh, he is...? May I speak with him, please? Thank you... Danny? This is Katrena. Danny, could you do me a favor and watch Damien for me tonight? Something came up and I need to leave soon... I am fine, Danny, thank you for asking, how are you? Great, I will see you in ten minutes then. Thank you, Danny...”

She carefully replaced the receiver in the cradle and looked at Brent without blinking.

“I have to wait for ten minutes, Brent,” she said, still failing to hear her own voice. “I cannot leave Damien alone, and I do not want to take him with me. Danny will be here in ten minutes, so I have to wait. Because I cannot leave Damien alone, and I do not want to...”

“I got it,” he interrupted her in a strained voice. “I got it...”

Once again, she felt her head go in the up-and-down nodding motion.

“Would you like something to drink?” she asked politely. “I have soda, juice, water... I could make coffee if you would like that...”

“Water,” he muttered without shifting his gaze from her face. “Water will be fine... Thank you,” he added in a few seconds, and she nodded once again and walked to the fridge.

“I always keep my water bottles in the fridge,” she said after he took the bottle out of her hands. “This way, it is always cold, you see? Works great for the hot time of the year. When it is cold, however, you might want to skip water and go straight to the tea. It will warm you up like nothing else possibly could...”

Brent glued his mouth to the water bottle, wishing for Danny to hurry the hell up already. He didn’t like her tone of voice, dead eyes, and lack of any intonation whatsoever. “Move it, Danny,” he thought helplessly while gulping that water down.

Finally, after ten or so minutes, he heard the front door open, and then someone’s voice called loudly:

“Katrena? Hey, I am here! Where are you...?”

“I am in the kitchen, Danny,” she called in a loud, empty voice.

“Cool,” he said, and walked into the kitchen. He stopped dead in his tracks the minute he saw her face. “You okay?” he frowned, and she blinked.

“I am fine, Danny,” she said, and Brent closed his eyes. “Thank you for asking,” she continued. “How are you?”

“I am okay,” Danny answered slowly.

“That is great news,” she nodded. “There is meatloaf in the oven,” she said robotically. “Would you please, make sure that Damien washes his hands before eating dinner? See, he is playing with finger-paint right now, and it is quite messy...”

“Yeah...” Danny muttered and glanced at Brent, who felt like he was chewing on his own heart right now.

“Thank you, Danny,” she nodded. “I have to leave now, I apologize. I will be back soon, all right?”

“Katrena, what happened?” Danny asked quietly, and she felt her mouth stretch in a rubber smile.

“I am fine, Danny,” she said. “Thank you for asking. How are you?”

Danny felt a cold and very unpleasant shiver run down his spine.

“Ummm...” he said. “I’ll just go see what Damien is up to...”

“Thank you, Danny,” she nodded again, and glanced at Brent. “Let’s go,” she said and headed towards the door.

©Katya Dee; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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If whoever shot Paul is still alive, they probably won't be for very long. Kat in this mode is seriously freaky.

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