Preppy the life amp deat.., p.7
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       Preppy: The Life & Death of Samuel Clearwater, Part One, p.7
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         Part #5 of King series by T. M. Frazier

  clothes. I was looking through drawers in my old room, hoping to find a t-shirt or pair of sweat pants, when Preppy appeared in the doorway.

  “I forgot to tell you something,” he said, punching numbers on his cell phone and placing it back in his pocket.

  “What?” I asked, pulling out an old boy band t-shirt from the bottom drawer.

  “You remember what I said about using H again, right?”

  “You mean when you said that either I break up with her or she kills me?”

  “Yeah, well I forgot to add one tiny little thing,” he said.

  “What’s that?”

  He stepped into the room and lowered his voice. He stood over me, leaning on the dresser. His shoulder brushed mine. “If you do use again, make sure you’re far, far away from Logan’s Beach and Mirna first, because if you fuck her over again, I’ll kill you long before the heroin will.” He smiled happily, as if he hadn’t just threatened my life. “Mmmm…kay?”

  CHAPTER TEN

  DRE

  Preppy had told me to take care of Mirna, but he still stopped by every afternoon to check on her before locking himself in the grow-room for at least an hour. Either, he wasn’t up for conversation, he was purposely avoiding me, or he hadn’t figured out exactly what it was I could do for him, in return for giving me time with Mirna. But then, I realized that wasn’t it at all. He wasn’t avoiding me.

  He was toying with me.

  Every time he was near, he found a way to touch me and make me jump. He winked at me when Mirna wasn’t looking. He undressed me with his eyes every chance he got, and he’d laughed when I squirmed uncomfortably under his gaze.

  But talk?

  Nope. Not to me, anyway. Although, with Mirna he happily chatted and made small talk, like he wasn’t there to torture me with his presence, the lingering favor looming between us.

  I should have been happy he didn’t want to talk to me but was oddly annoyed by the whole thing.

  I’d been out of society for too long. That must have been the real problem. My need for social interaction was probably the very thing that led me to believe that the psycho killer growing pot in my grandmother’s guest bedroom was someone I could have a conversation with, when in actuality I should’ve just taken a page from Preppy’s book and start talking to the damn pig.

  Mirna and I had used our gift of time wisely, and over the course of several days we unburdened our souls and told each other everything there was to tell. Well, everything that wouldn’t have her tossing me out just yet. She hadn’t slipped back into her alternate state of confusion, and I was beginning to think I overreacted or made it more than what it was in my head.

  Mirna now knew all the events that led up to me being back in Logan’s Beach, and she told me about being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s the year before.

  There was a lot of crying. A lot of laughing. A lot of looking at old photos, and a lot of grieving over my mother, even though she’d passed when I was just a baby.

  Mirna also told me that she wished she were still close to my father, but they were both in a lot of pain when my mother passed and it was too hard on both of them to continue being a family without her.

  Physically, I was feeling better, although I was still fidgety. The want for heroin was there, but it no longer had its hands on the wheel. Thanks in large part to Mirna and her keeping me good and unconscious during the worst of my withdrawals, and the vitamin shots she insisted on giving me twice a day.

  “There you are!” Mirna exclaimed as she came out on the front porch where I was fixing the third step, setting it back in place. The top had warped and arched under the harsh Florida weather, and the nail had rusted out from the bottom, making it the perfect height to trip anyone coming to the house. A few well placed screws would keep Mirna from tripping over it like she had the day before, but luckily I’d been there to soften her fall. I’d also rehung a cabinet that had fallen from its hinge in the kitchen. Tacked the falling gutter back to the side of the house. And then tackled the pesky step. Mirna had told me that keeping busy was good for a healing soul, and I think she was right because I’d began to feel lighter. Like my old self again. She clapped her hands together. “I was just looking for you.”

  “What’s up?” I asked. Mirna followed me as I carried my grandfather’s old fashioned toolbox over to the one car garage, placing it safely back onto his old workbench like he was going to be home any minute and would be mad if I misplaced it. He might have been long gone, but his anger over his tools being mistreated lived on.

  “You’ve always been good at fixing things,” Mirna pointed out. “And speaking of fixing, you seem to be doing much better.”

  “I’ve only been up and about for a week,” I pointed out. “But thank you. Dad taught me how to do this.” I held up the drill.

  “I know he did,” Mirna said, glancing around the garage at my grandfather’s half finished projects. She never even pretended like she wanted to get rid of them. “Did I ever tell you that when your dad married your mom that it was your grandfather who showed him how to be handy around the house?”

  “Really?” I asked. It sounded pretty unbelievable. There wasn’t anything my dad couldn’t fix.

  “Yep, your Grandpa Rick wanted to make sure your dad could take care of your mom, so he taught him everything he knew.” She smiled as she recalled the memory which was obviously a happy one. “When Becky first brought him home, your poor dad couldn’t so much hang a picture on the wall.”

  Of course I believed her, but the entire scenario was pretty hard to imagine when my dad’s workshop at home looked like something out of a handyman’s dream. My heart fell when the memory of my dad fixing the roof of my dollhouse came to mind. It was then he taught me how to use an electric drill. He’d always been my hero. There was nothing he couldn’t fix.

  Until me.

  “I wrote him a letter you know,” Mirna said, breaking the spell.

  “I appreciate that Mirna, I do. But you know Dad, once he decides something, he doesn’t change his mind. Maybe someday I’ll reach out and try again, but it’s probably for the best that I leave him be for a while. I’ll try to fix things when I can back up my promises with some good old fashioned proof.”

  I wondered what my father would think when he read her letter, or if he’d even read it. My money was in the middle, him reading a few sentences, realizing what the letter was about, and tearing it into a million pieces. I’m sure he wouldn’t be putting that one in my old blue shoe box, where I’d kept all Mirna’s letters in my room back home.

  But you don’t have a room back home anymore.

  One step at a time, I reminded myself.

  “If nothing else, at least my letter will let him know that you’re safe.”

  If you’re not on that bus, then we’re not family anymore… My fathers voice rang in my ears.

  “Now, come, come!” Mirna said, the excitement back in her voice and the spring back in her step. She grabbed my hand. “I want to show you something.” She was practically bouncing as she dragged me back up the newly fixed porch steps.

  Mirna didn’t do casual. Her mental state might have been slipping, but her style was as strong and bold as ever. Looking very much like an older pinup, her white hair fell right above her shoulders in large barrel curls. Heavy bangs with a slight bend on the ends stopped right above her perfectly symmetrical eyebrows. Her eyes were always lined, but just on the top with a dramatic cat-flare on the ends, making her already large gray eyes appear doll-like. Dramatic Red was the color of lipstick she wore daily, regardless if that day only consisted of gardening at home.

  Many times in my early teens I tried to copy Mirna’s style. Many times I ended up looking like a child who colored outside the lines, where as Mirna was a walking piece of fine art.

  Mirna yanked me down the hallway to her bedroom. Much to my surprise, she led me to her closet and opened the double bi-fold doors in dramatic fashion. “Ta da!” she exclaimed, t
aking a step back and waving me forward.

  Mirna’s closet itself wasn’t anything special. A small walk-in with a few rows of shelving. It was what was IN IT that had me gasping and holding my hand over my rapidly beating heart. Dresses. Not just ANY dresses, but dresses from an era long forgotten. Halter necks with flared skirts. Floppy hats. Platform heels that had me falling to my knees in the center of the room.

  “Where did you get all this?” I asked, clutching the most perfect high-heeled, black, platform pump to my chest. It was complete with a large white bow across the rounded toe and the heel. Holy hell, the HEEL was incredible. Laced up from the bottom like a corset. “I don’t remember you ever wearing any of this.”

  “Some things I’ve worn only once. Some I’ve never worn at all.”

  “Why?” If I had a closet with these dresses in it I’d make every occasion a special occasion. Laundry. Getting gas. Watering the marijuana.

  “Your grandfather loved it when I dressed up, so I wore something nice for him every single day. When he was overseas he sent back some of the european styles that were trendy at the time. Sometimes as many as a dress a week. When he came home I was pregnant almost immediately.” When I gave her a knowing smile, she simply stated, “There was no television in the bedrooms back then, dear,” before continuing on. “I still planned to wear them, even three babies later, even after you were born, but when Rick died I couldn’t bare the thought of putting them on ever again. However, I also couldn’t bring myself to throw them away.” Mirna laughed. “Of course, there is no way on God’s green earth that these would ever fit me now.” She sighed and plucked a hanger from the rack, shoving it into my hands over the perfect shoe I was still cradling.

  “I’m sure you could get them tailored. Or better yet, I’ve always wanted to learn to sew, maybe I could do it for you,” I suggested.

  Mirna shook her head. “No, my sweet girl.”

  “No? Why not?”

  “Your grandfather risked his life to buy me dresses and ship them back to me. Feels wrong to change them now. Besides, I think they’ll fit YOU just fine.”

  I pointed at my chest. “Me? Mirna, I can’t.” I held out the beautiful shoe, and the hanger, for her to take them back. “No. I don’t deserve this. Any of it.”

  She ducked around my outstretched arms. “Andrea, I don’t know how much time I’ve got left, or how long the lights are going to stay on upstairs before they burn out for good, so I’m going to tell you this now while I still have a chance.” She placed a loving hand on my shoulder and squeezed. “You are a good soul. A good person. We all make mistakes. Lord knows I’ve made my fair share of them in my day. You have to forgive yourself. LOVE yourself. And for Christ’s sake girl, you have to grow some balls. Men want a strong woman who can give it as good as they get it.” She winked.

  I groaned. “We’re not talking about clothes anymore are we?”

  “Nope. Just remember. Lady in the street and a wild cat between the sheets.”

  “Mirna, seriously. I think my ears are bleeding,” I said with a laugh. “Besides, men are the last thing on my mind.”

  “What about Samuel?”

  “Mirna!” I said, “You want to hook me up with the guy who grows pot in your guest bedroom?”

  Mirna shook her head. “No, my dear. But I wouldn’t mind if you considered the man who’s a lot more than he seems on the outside.”

  “What exactly is your arrangement with him anyway?” I asked.

  “That’s not my place to say, dear. That’s part of our arrangement. But I will say that you shouldn’t be so quick to judge. You only really know someone’s true heart when they really want to show it to you.” She squeezed my arm. “He reminds me a lot of your grandfather, you know. I just hope one day you find someone who takes as good care of you as he did of me.” She plucked another dress from the rack and held it up to me. I hooked my fingers into the top of the hanger so she could take a step back to appraise her selection.

  “I’m sorry,” I said, Mirna waved off my apology. “I just want to make sure that you know what you’re getting into with him and that…”

  “That’s not something you need to worry about. Samuel is a good man.”

  Who killed Eric. “Are you sure about that?”

  “Because he’s shown me his heart.” Mirna sighed. “Good people can do bad things, Andrea. You’ve told me yourself that you’ve done some bad things. That doesn’t make you a bad person, right?”

  “I’m not entirely sure it doesn’t,” I admitted.

  “Oh phooey, you’re not at all a bad person. You’ve got a big heart, and your grandmother’s eyes.” She opened her arms wide. “And with that you can conquer the world.” She added the dress, plus some high waisted shorts and some crop tops to the pile in my arms.

  My hands started to shake, aftershocks is what Mirna had called them. I dropped the clothes, and when I bent over to pick them up, she shot me a concerned glance. “It’s getting better,” I reassured her. “I swear.”

  “You need to go to a proper rehab facility so you can make sure this sticks. Professionals can get you through this better than I can. I’m a nurse, not a counselor. I know there’s more to this addiction thing than the physical part.”

  “Proper rehabs cost a lot of money, and the government funded ones are more like jails or mental institutions,” I said, trying to gather the clothes back up. “And besides, I can’t go because you wouldn’t be there.”

  “Then here is what we are going to do,” Mirna said, again clapping her hands together. She took the clothes from my hands and walked out of the closet, setting them gently on her bed. “We are going to get you all fixed up proper, and then we are going to go outside and meditate in the fresh air.”

  “We’re gonna what?”

  She put her hands on her hips. “Don’t tell me you’ve never meditated.”

  “Not…recently?” I squeaked. “Meditation wasn’t really something I’d manage to squeeze in with all the shooting up and letting people down I had going on.”

  She rolled her eyes and returned her attention to sorting the clothes. “Your sense of humor can be as off-colored as Samuel’s. I have a book you can read, and I will teach you. The world is a tricky place. Meditation is a vehicle that will help you navigate through it better, you know, avoid the potholes.”

  “In my case that vehicle better be a tank,” I said, bumping her with my hip and dropping a precious shoe in the process.

  “Don’t you sass me young lady. I may be losing my marbles, but I’m still your grandmother.”

  “Yes, Ma’am,” I said, with a shoe salute.

  “Meditation is like…stretching after a run, but instead of your muscles, you’re stretching your soul,” she said, pinching my cheek like I was a child, making me yelp. “Now, you’re going to take these clothes as my gift to you and you’re going wear them. For ME. For as long as you love them. And right now, we are going to play a little dress up,” she ordered. “Is that clear?”

  “Yes, if that’s what you want. But…why?”

  “Because, dear, I’ve been waiting what seems like a hundred years to see these dresses on a real person again, and what seems like even longer to see what they’d look like on you. These belong to you now.”

  My heart squeezed in my chest. There was no arguing after she said that, even if I’d wanted to argue. Which I didn’t. Not even a little.

  An hour later Mirna spun me around to look in the mirror, and I gasped at the reflection before me.

  The green and white sundress Mirna had picked out for me had thick halter straps that snapped around my neck, and a squared neckline that pushed up my breasts and gave them a fuller, more rounded, look. The middle was corset-tight and accentuated my waist, while the bottom flared out slightly in an a-line, ending right above my knees.

  And, of course, I was wearing THE platform, black pumps with bows. “Who says love at first sight doesn’t exist?” I whispered as I turned my foot fr
om side to side, to better admire my new lovers.

  Mirna set my long hair in a style I wasn’t sure I could ever duplicate myself. One side was tucked behind my ear, and the other side fell in cascading waves over my shoulder. Decadent Red was now on my lips as well, while black liner on my eyelids topped off the look. For an every day look, I’d prefer a more muted version of the pinup in the mirror. But, right then, I couldn’t even believe that girl was me.

  For the exception of the scars on my arms, the junkie was nowhere to be seen.

  “I look… I look like…” I stammered. A human being.

  Mirna stood behind me. Her eyes glazed over. Pride filled her expression as she joined me at appraising my reflection. She rested her chin on my shoulder and smiled. “A woman,” she said. “You look like a beautiful young woman. Which is exactly what you are.”

  I angled my head so I was resting against my grandmother. “I was going to say that I looked like you.” I turned around and held up my arms. But it had only been two weeks since Preppy brought me to Mirna’s, so even though most of the scabs were gone, the scars, both new and old remained. “Except for these.”

  She cupped my cheek. “We all have scars, my dear.” She grabbed my wrists and lifted them to her lips, pressing a kiss to each of my forearms, patting them when she was done, as if the matter was now settled and Grandma’s kisses solved all. And in a way it did.
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