Linny moves in upstairs to apartment 2B, so finally, Nadine, my wife’s kid has a buddy for first grade. I put out Coca Cola and Oreos when Linny comes down to watch cartoons with Nadine. Cook them bacon for supper when the wife goes to sisters in Paloma, leaving me in charge. Nothing sweeter than the smell of Linny’s nape – like peppermint Chiclets, fabric softener and perspiration all rolled into one.
Saturday afternoons, take them on a bus to the movies at Fortune Square, Disney flicks with mermaids and princesses. Buy them kettle corn, big tubs of it, and chew Dots out of one box. I overhear Nadine ask Linny one time why she doesn’t have a daddy of her own taking her to matinees. Linny just hunches down and lowers her face to her lap.
Home all day on SSI, I tell her mama that Linny can join Nadine and me at Severs Park after school; I’ll watch out for her. Docile as a kitten, she never raises her voice or sasses back. Never stands up for herself neither when big kids want their way. Linny, you’re safe with me, I know how to keep you safe, I say. Skinny little girl smiles wide as the sky.
When Severs Park gets flooded for an ice rink, I find skates at St. Vincent’s that fit both of them. Lots of pretty mothers in parkas smile at me, say I’m patient lacing skates; wished their husbands were so nice. And Linny’s mama, after a long shift at St. Augusta’s, calls us a ‘godsend’ when she brings Linny to our door. Such a nice family, she says. You all a godsend.
That’s what we are! Wife with bag of Doritos and the TV blasting in the dining room, me in the living room letting both girls climb into my lap for storytime. Nadine holds Velveteen Rabbit while I read the words out loud.
When around the page the rabbit goes on a picnic, I slide my hand gentle-like beneath Linny’s yellow dress. Next I slide it between her thighs. Not my fault girl starts sucking her thumb. Wiggles closer. Soon that cotton dress is blue, then it’s denim, corduroy, wool. Cotton panties, nylon panties, no panties. This gal is dressing for me !
During Christmas break, wife says Nadine’s old enough to have sleep-overs now. So, it’s after midnight when Linny pushes mine and the wife’s bedroom door open, says she’s hungry, can’t sleep. I get up, and in our pajamas, the two of us prowl to the kitchen, like panthers. I make her a snack by moonlight. She climbs into my lap to eat her butter sandwich, and both of us are happy.
Not long after that, though, the wife whisks Nadine off to Paloma with no warning, hardly any luggage. Cops come to my door and clamp handcuffs on me before I even stand up out of my chair. Tell me I’m under arrest for what I done to Linny Straker. Like I did anything the kid didn’t want! Those Sunday mornings the wife and Nadine go to mass at St. Luke’s, she come knocking at my door calling Mr Jameson play with me Can you play with me Mr Jameson till Deen come home? I tell the sheriff this when he books me. He shakes his head, lips rolled tight, eyes squinty; doesn’t want to hear it. Neither does the judge. Act like I stole something when all I did was help myself to what stupid Straker had no idea was hers in the first place.
I’m out of jail now. My efficiency on 4th Street in this backwater burg across state is on the same floor as Ms. Beldon’s apartment. Parole officer says not a problem Ms. Beldon stops in with a casserole now and again. Not a problem she got a grandson named Jeffrey stays with her. I say no problem Jeffrey doesn’t talk much for a five-year-old, and so what Ms. Beldon asks me to watch him when she goes to Bingo? No one’s fault Jeff wants a bit of storytime.
No one’s fault but his.
Image – Pixabay.com
Story previously published by Thrice Fiction in 2016.