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The Destroyer
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Thread: The Destroyer

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    The Destroyer

    1.

    Summer was a burning blade rippling through the streets of Manhattan. It made ovens out of the tenements in Harlem and mocked the struggling window units that dotted their brick facades. Perspiration coated the nameless faces that passed beneath the open mesh of Mallorie Ortiz’s fire escape. She sat, leaning forward against its bars, her hair hanging loose in a tumbling cascade, her tan, sandaled feet dangling high above the broiling pavement. Traffic was grid-locked and noisy at that hour; the poisonous smell of diesel exhaust just typical city incense.

    “Eat something.” Her mother hurried past the living room window, fixing a final bobby pin to a neatly restrained bun of black hair, her feet twisting into a pair of sensible shoes. Stopping at the mirror, she applied dark lipstick and tossed the tube in the pocket of her apron. “Mallorie!” she shouted, glancing out the window while she clipped on a small teardrop earring. “You’ll be late.”

    Mallorie leaned her head to the side and closed her eyes for a second, and then she stood and climbed back inside. “I don’t have to be there till ten this morning. All I have left is my Math final,” she said, convinced the impending end of her junior year still hadn't registered with her mother.

    The busy woman laid her purse on the table and disappeared into the hallway. “Maybe you get a job this summer?” her voice called from the bedroom.

    Mallorie’s eyes rolled. “Maybe,” she mumbled, adding a determined “not” under her breath. Taking a seat, she poured the last drops of milk into a bowl of stale beige flakes.

    Her mother raced past her and paused at the door. “I love you. Don’t forget your key.”

    “Love you too,” Mallorie said, pulling out her test notes, not that she needed to study. Good grades had always come easy to her, and unlike most of the students in PS39, Math was her favorite subject. Her eyes lifted towards her mother’s purse and she cocked her head at it. “Oh shit,” she whispered, then shouted, “Mom!” Jumping to her feet, her hand reached for its straps, and then she stopped, her inquisitive gaze narrowing on a check that sat inside it. Her head tilted as she poked it sideways. It was written to her mother in the amount of $1,000 from a company called DVC.

    Suddenly, the door swung open and her mother reappeared. “Your crazy mother forget her purse,” the woman said in a blur of Spanish, grabbing the loud floral pocketbook and tossing it over her shoulder. “Love you. Again.”

    “Goodbye, again,” Mallorie said with teenaged irritation. Her eyes dropped back to her notes, and then lifted, staring at the closed door. It seemed odd that her mother wouldn’t have mentioned a $1,000 check, considering she’d once won $100 from a scratch-off lottery ticket and talked about it for a month. “DVC...” she whispered, trying to imagine what it could be from. Poor as they’d always been, a thousand bucks was an enormous amount of money. While her mother made decent tips working as a maid in the most expensive hotel in town, her wages there after nineteen years still barely covered their rent.

    Mallorie blinked the sweat from her eyes and focused back on her papers, twice tucking her chestnut locks behind her ear before reaching for a scrunchie. The heat inside their home was insufferable, the air so thick with moisture it was hard for her to breath. From the hallway outside, she could hear the woman from 4B bang on the elevator door, complaining that it was running slow. Another neighbor screamed for her to shut up. “Ain’t nothing work right here,” the man from 4G chimed in.

    “Tell the landlord, not us,” the second hollered, both of her dogs barking behind her.

    Mallorie stood, her fingers curling into fists. “You know I’m trying to study in here!” she shouted into the hall, before angrily gathering her things together and storming out the door.

    ---

    PS39 was an uninteresting brick box that ran six stories high, and it sat across the street from another brick box that acted as a senior center. Mallorie strolled past a line of old folks perched on folding chairs and benches, pausing only when a decrepit man reached out a hand to her.

    “My trumpet.” His voice came out trembling and weak. “Won’t you bring me my trumpet?”

    The elderly woman sitting next to him shook her head. “He says that all the time. He’s confused. He thinks it’s still 1945.”

    Mallorie smiled politely and lowered her eyes, not wanting to engage in a pointless conversation with a bunch of Alzheimer’s patients. Relief from the heat was the only thing on her mind, and the school’s library, which sat down in the basement, was always mercifully cool. It was also a place of solitude and blissful quiet, but not when her friend, Jada, was there.

    “Mal,” the girl gestured to her from a table in the corner the second she entered, pushing aside her books to make room. “Did you see the selfie Naill posted last night?” She reached into her backpack and pulled out her iphone, tapping open twitter.

    “No, let me see,” Mallorie squealed, glancing apologetically at the librarian as she raced to her friend’s side. “Oh God, he’s so sooo cute. Where’s the one where Liam is winking?” she whispered, leaning in closer.

    “I have that...wait,” Jada said, clicking through her large collection of boy band videos, her bright pink and yellow bracelets making a tropical contradiction against her warm brown skin. Their hushed giggles echoed throughout the library, which was always filled with poor kids in the morning, trying to escape the heat.

    “Oh, hey,” Mallorie suddenly exclaimed, “Can you look up something for me real quick? My mother had a major check in her bag from some place called DVC?”

    Jada raised an eyebrow. “D...V...C...” she recited, her fingers dancing deftly across the keyboard on the screen. “Durham Venture Capitol, Manhattan,” Jada read. “I’ll bet it’s like a 401k. She’s probably saving for her retirement.”

    “No....no, that’s not what venture capitol is,” Mallorie said, taking the phone from her friends hand and clicking on the link for the site. “They’re like a group of investors who give you money for start-ups.”

    “So maybe your Mom is starting a business or something.”

    “What?” Mallorie laughed out loud, and then shook her head. “My Mom is not starting a business. She can’t even keep track of what day it is. Besides,” she sighed, “she doesn’t make the kind of money where anyone would loan her anything.”

    “Well, okay then, Miss Math Genius,” Jada said, “Then why are they sending her a check?”

    “I don’t know,” Mallorie started, her eyes drifting to the log-in prompt for account information. “But I bet I know how to find out.”
    Last edited by Kritter; 12-23-2013 at 09:17 AM.

  2. #2
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    Yay! Another Kritter story. Thanks Kritter, good start.
    "Southern Gentlemen are not always Gentlemen by nature. They are 'Exposed' to proper behavior and manners early in life, and are smart enough to remember, and to refine them, through a constant practice".

    My good friend, Shelby Foote

  3. #3
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    Thank you for the great start

  4. #4
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    I've been hoping Kritter would get another story up.

  5. #5
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    Hmm, where is Kritter going?
    How many miles to Galt's Gulch?

  6. #6
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    Looking forward to more!
    Visit my Etsy shop at www.etsy.com/shop/TheCrochetFarm

    If we aren't showing love, His love, then what are we doing calling ourselves Christians?

    Psalm 73: 25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
    26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.

  7. #7
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    2.

    Summer vacation began with a ringing bell, a torturous half-hour after Mallorie finished her exam. Her eyes had already started to glaze over, staring at the walls. A second later, the school’s hallways came alive with the squeaks of rushing sneakers and the clang of shutting lockers. Music started filling the air, accompanied by the students’ excited chatter.

    “I’m gonna stay in bed for a week,” Jada said, sounding more irritated than happy.

    “We have to go to the beach next week.” Mallorie grabbed her by the arm, her blue eyes flashing with mischief. “We can take the train down.”

    “With what money?”

    “Your dad’s.” Mallorie laughed, knowing Jada’s father couldn’t say no to his daughter.

    “How about your mom’s,” Jada said. “Since she’s got a thousand dollars.”

    Mallorie’s eyes widened with the memory of the check. “Hey, come home with me,” she said as they exited the building. “I wanna hack into my mom’s account.”

    “Um, having it send her password to her email isn’t hacking.”

    “Whatever, just come,” Mallorie said, dragging her across the street. “It’s not like you have anything else to do.”

    Jada pouted at the truth of her friend’s statement. Even though they’d looked forward to summer, it was still guaranteed to be boring. Nothing interesting ever happened to them in their tiny corner of the world. It was still fun to talk about it though, despite knowing most of it would never happen. Their steps were suddenly halted by the old ‘trumpet’ man, who stuck out his cane in front of them.

    “Okinawa,” he said.

    “It’s 2013,” Mallorie responded loudly, as if yelling might help it sink in.

    His hand rose, a single shaky finger rising towards something in the distance.

    “Cunningham,” he said to Mallorie, as the girls started to pass. “Alfred A...Cunningham.”

    “Oookay,” Jada said, glancing back at him over her shoulder. “Whatever you say, mister.”

    “He’s looking for his trumpet,” Mallorie explained. They peered back at him again and folded over together in laughter, their girlish giggles resounding down the street.

    ---

    Mallorie sat at a scratched-up desk in front of their old computer, which was second hand and horribly outdated. She took a deep breath, not sure why she was so nervous. Her mother wouldn’t be home for another five hours, so there wasn’t any chance of her getting caught.

    “Just remember to delete the email after, and clear the browsing history,” Jada cautioned, leaning over her friend’s shoulder.

    “I know.” Mallorie’s heart started beating faster. She felt like a spy in a Hollywood movie, infiltrating top secret information. Entering her mother’s email in the log in screen, she clicked ‘forgot my password.’ Both their eyes eagerly darting to the open gmail tab beside it. A second later the email appeared, followed by Mallorie’s groan. “It’s not giving me the password. Just an option to reset it.”

    “So reset it,” Jada said plainly. “Knowing your mom she’ll just think she forgot it.”

    “You’re right. Oh god,” Mallorie whispered, her fingers trembling as she typed a new password in and clicked open the account.

    “Your account.” Jada pointed at the screen.

    “I know. I know.” Mallorie waved her hand away and selected the second link. A mile long page of transactions came up.

    “What?” Mallorie narrowed her eyes at the screen, taking in each monthly check of $1,000; scrolling the screen all the way back to 1998, when the site was apparently created.

    “Wow...it’s...monthly payments,” Jada said with a hint of sarcasm in her voice. "And look.” She gestured towards the transaction type, noting it was listed as ‘Personal.’

    Mallorie sat there with her mouth hanging open, scrolling up and down the page, opening each individual transaction, looking for any clues. "I'm so confused."

    “Well, I hate to say it, but you know what I’m thinking.” Jada moved over to sit on Valeria Ortiz’s bed.

    “What?” Mallorie lifted an arm over the back of the chair, shifting to face her.

    “Mallorie...” Jada started with a sympathetic tone, knowing how sensitive her friend was on the subject. “I know you don’t like to hear it....but that’s probably child support.”

    “No,” Mallorie answered quickly, shaking her head, a bitter lump growing in the back of her throat.

    “Mal.” Jada stood and put a hand on her back. “I’m really sorry, but come on. You’ve said it a couple of times yourself...that Willie probably wasn’t your father,” she said, referring to the Jamaican man who had lived with her mother for years. “I mean, look at you.” She made a wide sweep towards Mallorie’s light complexion and eyes.

    “Stop it,” Mallorie choked on her words, glancing at the screen again. Although it was true she'd always suspected it, it seemed incredibly sad and too callous to be believed. “Why wouldn’t he want anything to do with me then?” she bleated out, unable to hold back her tears.

    “Because some people are jerks?” Jada offered. “Or...maybe he’s married?”

    “That’s no excuse,” Mallorie cried. She took a second to take a deep breath, trying to get a hold of her emotions. “Who could he be?” she wondered, staring back at the screen.

    Jada give a her a lop-sided shrug. “Maybe it’s time you ask your mother.”
    Last edited by Kritter; 12-24-2013 at 12:40 PM.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the new story Kritter.
    The word RACIST, and the ability to debate race-related issues rationally, are the kryptonite of white common sense.

    After the first one, the rest are free.

  9. #9
    What a lovely Christmas prezzy to find waiting. Hugs & Thanks Kritter! Merry Christmas
    !!!!!!!!

  10. #10
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    Mallorie paced across the living room floor, her eyes making frequent trips to the clock, her stomach a pile of knots. It was always possible Jada was wrong about the money, although she could think of no better explanation. Still, she felt funny confronting her mother after all this time. As far back as she could remember, Willie had always lived with them. Her earliest memories were of him greeting her at the breakfast table and saying ‘Hello, sunshine’ with his warm, eager smile. He was a brilliant man in her eyes - a lover of science and technology, always talking about politics and current events with knowledge of every angle. She loved that he’d bow his head and say grace before each meal even if they were eating out, and he had an easy-going attitude that made him a pleasure to be around. Mallorie’s friend adored him, and she was proud to call him ‘papa.’

    But her mother had never addressed him to her by anything other than his name. It was never ‘ask your father’ or ‘your father will be home soon.’ It was always ‘Willie this and Willie that,’ and on one occasion, Mallorie recalled, he had introduced her to his boss as “Valeria’s daughter.” Her schoolmates found him more suspect than she did, and often teased her that she was adopted.

    Mallorie stopped pacing and gazed out the window, recalling the day he’d left. She had just turned twelve, and her and her friends were dancing to Usher out on the front stoop. Willie slammed through the building’s front door with a duffle bag in his hand, storming past her with determination before stopping and turning around.

    “Mallorie,” he said sharply, waving her over. She cast a nervous glanced at her friends before walking slowly towards him. He put the bag down and bent to one knee, putting his hands on her shoulders. “I’m leaving your mother. I can’t...” he started, the weight of his decision painfully apparent in his red, glossy eyes. “I can’t do this anymore...” His shook his head and looked away, unable to continue. “You be a good girl for your mom.”

    Mallorie watched in stunned silence as he stood and walked away. When he disappeared around the corner, she raced after him, screaming, “Papa!”

    He stopped in his tracks and turned again, his tall, lanky form a silhouette against the setting sun. “Mallorie,” he said, shaking his head. “I’m sorry, but...” He winced from a jab of emotional pain, his lips crooked and trembling. “I’ll come back and visit, ok? But honey, your Mom has to tell you.”

    “Tell me what?” she asked as he walked away. It was the last time she ever saw him.

    --

    “Do you want me to stay?” Jada asked, twisting the straps of her backpack in her hands while she lingering by the door.

    “No, I’ll be okay,” Mallorie said, settling down on the couch.

    “Call me if you need me.”

    Mallorie smiled and nodded appreciatively, trying to visualize the discussion in her mind, but there was no answer she could imagine her mother giving that didn’t still lead to the painful final question. Where had this man been all her life?

    --

    It was 6pm when Mallorie's head lifted to the sound of heels clicking in the hallway. Her mother entered with a tired smile, immediately removing her shoes and tossing her bag on the table. "Hi baby," she said, taking a seat on the couch and leaning her head back. "God, what a day."

    "Rough?"

    "A nightmare," her mother laughed. "You should see this woman who just checked in. She took an extra room just for her poodles."

    “Hey Mom," Mallorie asked, ignoring her story. "Was Willie really my father?”

    “Of course,” Valeria Ortiz smiled, quickly standing and retreating into the kitchen.

    “My real father?” Mallorie followed.

    The women poured herself a glass of water and took a long, slow sip before turning to face her daughter. “He’s the man who raised you and loved you, Mallorie. That’s all that matters.” She tapped her fingertips against the air as if that answer was sufficient.

    Mallorie sighed. “Mom...” she said, letting her tone convey her desire for the truth.

    There was a pause while her mother stared at the wall. Twice her mouth opened as if she was poised to speak, and twice it clamped shut. “Why are you asking me this now?”

    “Because I want the truth?”

    “The truth...is a little complicated,” her mother finally said.

    Mallorie bit her lip, reading an admission from her mother’s answer. “Who is he?”

    Valeria walked to the stove and turned it on, picking up a pan, glancing at her daughter repeatedly with troubled eyes. “Let’s just say he was mistake,” she said with a heavy breath. “Not you, just him.”

    Mallorie’s stomach sank. It was confirmation of what she’d always believed but never wanted to face. It was like a bad episode of ‘Maury’ with shocking results, and she wasn’t sure which was worse. Her absentee father or the fact that, at seventeen years of age, she was only now learning the truth. “Well, who is he? Why won’t he talk to me?”

    “Like I said, it’s complicated,” her mother answered, sound a little perturbed. “He’s not someone who deserves your love.” She quickly backtracked. “Actually, that’s not true. He’s been very good about paying for you, it’s just...he’s not in the position to care. Not 'not to care,' but to show it. He’s...married. He has a family.”

    “Great,” Mallorie growled. “Are you gonna tell me who he is?”

    “I can’t, Mallorie, I’m sorry. I promised him you wouldn’t be a problem.”

    “What?” Mallorie staggered backwards. “I can’t believe you just said that.”

    “Don’t,” her mother snapped. “You don’t understand the circumstances here. There’s a lot at stake.”

    “Like what?”

    “The money, for starters. He’s paying for us to have this place. You know I couldn't afford this apartment alone. And he’s paying for your college when you go.”

    “Who...is he?” Mallorie seethed.

    “You can not bother him, Mallorie.”

    “Who?” she screamed.

    Her mother stood in stunned silence a moment, and then bowed her head in defeat. “Matthew Durham.”

    “THE Matthew Durham?” Mallorie gasped. “The one on TV? The millionaire?”

    Valeria Ortiz shook her head. “Yes,” she answered softly.
    Last edited by Kritter; 12-25-2013 at 02:32 PM.

  11. #11
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    Thank you and Merry Christmas.

  12. #12
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    4.

    Glowing bars of light imprinted on the wall, peeking in from streetlights behind the blinds. Unable to sleep, Mallorie just stared at them, her mind a tangle of thoughts - most of them set on denial. It seemed too incredible to believe she was Matthew Durham’s daughter, although it wasn’t entirely out of the question. Her mother did work at Wellington Park West, the most luxurious hotel in Manhattan. She would have had ample opportunity to run into such a man. But the circumstances of their tryst was hard to imagine, and her mother refused to give details.

    Mallorie slipped out of bed and tip-toed into the living room, turning on a single lamp. She removed a photo album from the end table drawer and smoothed her hand over the faded, green leather cover. It was a record of her childhood and her mother’s life before her, but Mallorie hadn’t had much interest in it until now.

    The oldest photo showed her grandparents, still fresh from Puerto Rico, with her mother just an infant in their arms. Flipping past the childhood pictures, she stopped on a photo of her mother as a teen, wearing ripped jeans and a nirvana t-shirt, looking ready to take on the world. And then there was a single photo of her in her first year at Wellington Park, posing with a dozen other maids, her lips tight and eyes dull. Despite her sullen expression, she was incredibly beautiful, but clearly she wasn’t happy. It wasn’t until the next photo, where she was five months pregnant, that her face regained any signs of life.

    It was a contrast she kept clear in her mind when she woke up the next day, and the second her mother left for work, she was on the phone and the computer, relating the story to Jada while trying to find anything she could on Matthew Durham.

    Jada took the news the way she’d expected, squealing with complete delight. “That...is so crazy! Meet me at the library in half an hour. I’ll help you look,” she suggested, knowing Mallorie’s computer took forever to load a picture.

    ---

    Unlike the business-suit laden streets of midtown, everyone in Harlem was wearing t-shirts and shorts, half of them with wires running to their ears from the ipods and iphones in their pants. Street vendors were out in abundance, selling everything from clothing to fresh fruit. Mallorie strolled past the little old ladies who waited in line for the bus, and around the small groups of younger men who were just hanging out, the sounds of their laughter easing her frayed nerves a little. It was at least cooler than the day before and not nearly as humid, a merciful reprieve everyone seemed to be enjoying.

    When she turned the corner by the senior center, her eyes rolled at Jada, who was standing with some other kids, having an actual conversation with the trumpet man.

    “He says he left his trumpet in a basement in Normandy,” Jada said, lifting her thick black curls off the back of her neck and letting them bounce back in place.

    “He thinks it’s World War II.” Mallorie frowned, trying not to look at the man, lest he ramble to her as well.

    “We should help him find it,” Jada suggested as they started across the street.

    “He’s crazy,” Mallorie responded, not even trying to sugar-coat her words.

    Jada pouted, and then her eyes widened. “Speaking of crazy, let’s hit up your new dad for some money!”

    “Okay, stop,” Mallorie said, feeling mildly uncomfortable with the very thought. She felt so detached from the wealthy, middle-aged real estate developer, she couldn’t even fathom it being true. It was embarrassing in a way, to possibly be the illegitimate child of someone so known and respected, and having that stigma was definitely not the way she wanted to gain fame and fortune.

    “He has a family,” Jada said as they trotted down the basement stairs and entered the library’s cool air.

    Mallorie paused and swallowed, not sure she was ready to do this, but nothing was stopping them now.

    The internet has plenty of pictures of Matthew Durham from different points in his life. Mallorie studied the photos of the dark-haired, blue-eyed man, trying to decide if she looked anything like him. He was forty-seven years old, which would have made him thirty when he met her mother. She decided he looked kind of like an older Taylor Lautner - one of the two Twilight stars whose posters donned her walls.

    There was an older photo of his family at the Christmas tree lighting, a parade of three blonde-haired children trailing behind his wife. The boys were in long coats with folded ascots and the girl was in a fancy, red velvet dress complete with a white-fur hand-muff. The woman had the long neck and high cheek bones of a model, her flaxen hair pulled into a severe bun, her eyes icy and distant. And to her side stood a handsome man with greased back hair, his chin lifted with a prideful grin as the crowds admired his brood.

    Jada started sniveling with laughter. “One of his sons is named ‘Parker.’”

    Mallorie grinned, acknowledging it was the whitest name she'd ever heard. “And Richard is the other,” she added, but her eyes were particularly drawn to the most recent photo of his daughter, the budding young debutante Brooke Durham. “She’s the same age as me.” Mallorie frowned with a shock of pain, feeling an odd stab of jealousy and a sense of injustice. Her eyes narrowed darkly on the girl.
    Last edited by Kritter; 12-27-2013 at 11:48 AM.

  13. #13
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    Thank you. Jealousy makes people do things they normally wouldn't do.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by sssarawolf View Post
    Thank you. Jealousy makes people do things they normally wouldn't do.
    Very true.

  15. #15
    Kritter thanks for the new story. I believe that you have every one that has read it hooked already. Great start, looking forward to more, soon Please?
    Wayne

  16. #16
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    Every picture Mallorie could find of Brooke Durham showed the young woman in impeccable designer clothes, flashing a sublime, white-toothed smile. Her hair was like sunshine with perfect highlights, and the lustrous curls you only found in shampoo ads.

    “I’ll bet she’s a total bitch,” Jada said, leaning over from the desk next to hers.

    Mallorie nodded in agreement. “Look at these,” she said, swiping her hand across the screen. There were pictures of Brooke riding a horse, winning a tennis tournament, placing in a swim meet. Brooke with her brothers on a lake in a speedboat and skiing with her friends in Aspen. Brooke attending a wedding in the Hamptons, a rosy blush on her flawless cheeks. “I already hate her,” Mallorie seethed under her breath.

    Jada snorted, then returned to her own screen, pulling up the Wikipedia page on the man. “It says they live in New Jersey.” She pulled out a notepad and jotted down the town name. “I’ll see if I can find an address.”

    “Why?” Mallorie asked, rising up from the desk in frustration and gathering her purse.

    “Well, don’t you wanna confront him?”

    “No,” she answered quickly, as if the thought was out of the question. “If I ever talk to Matthew Durham, it’s gonna be in private.” She sucked in her breath, unable to even imagine the conversation. It was complicated, like her mother said, and still more than a little disconcerting. But deep in her heart, she wanted to know if he even cared she was alive. “If there was just some way I could get him alone.”

    “How about this.” Jada pointed to her screen. “He gives out an award at a banquet every year for the Young Entrepreneurs competition.”

    Mallorie rolled her eyes and crossed her arms. “Hundreds of kids enter that. You know what my odds would be?”

    “Probably better than you think. Look at the past winners.” Jada started scrolling down the page. “Black guy, Asian guy, Asian guy, Black guy. They’re due for a Hispanic girl to win it.”

    Mallorie laughed, then tilted her head, sitting back down at the desk and bringing up the application. “So all I’d have to do is make a business and run it for a few weeks?”

    “Not hard for you, right?” Jada said. “And the deadline isn’t until January 1st, so you’ve got plenty of time to think about it.”

    “Hmm.” Mallorie puckered her lips with serious contemplation. Even the runner-ups went to the banquet, and it looked like there was about twenty of them. “But what am I gonna do? What kind of business can I make?”

    “That..is your problem,” Jada said, hitting the print button on the application before her friend could back out.

    Mallorie bit her lip, tensely rubbing her hand against her forearm as she went to retrieve the paper.

    “Last year’s fifth place winner was kind of cute,” Jada mentioned, tapping at the screen. “Armando Martinez.” She raised a teasing eyebrow at Mallorie. “And he goes to Columbia...right down the road.”

    Mallorie peeked over her shoulder and giggled. “You’re so bad,” she said, giving Jada a shove. “He is beautiful, though,” she agreed, taking a second look at the handsome young man’s picture.

    “Maybe he can help you out,” Jada suggested.

    Mallorie laughed, refusing to entertain the idea. “I’m sure I’ll come up with something.” Her own search took a different turn, bringing up Brooke Durham’s twitter feed. “She’s staying in Manhattan,” Mallorie changed the subject. “And she’s going to some charity auction on Friday.”

    “Ooh, we have to go,” Jada gasped, grabbing on to her shoulder. “We can follow her after and find out where she’s staying.”

    “Like a couple of creepy stalkers?” Mallorie frowned.

    “She’s your sister,” Jada pointed out. “Don’t you wanna get to know her?”

    “She’s not my sister,” Mallorie mumbled. “She’s a half sister at best. And no, I don’t wanna know her,” she growled.

    “Suit yourself.” Jada scribbled down the auction’s information and then tucked it into her pocket. She sat back a moment and stretched her arms, bored of the current subject, and then leaned in and did a search on ‘Justin Bieber.’ “I can’t wait to see this new movie of his.”

    “I know.” Mallorie squealed, abandoning her screen to join her friend. “Play his new video,” she cooed, moving her chair closer.

    ---

    Crossing the street on the way back home led past the senior center with it’s colorful cast of characters, but while Mallorie liked most of the older folks, some were downright annoying - the trumpet man being the leading contender. He spoke to every person that got within earshot, repeating the same few words over and over. She tried to avoid looking at him as they walked past his chair, which sat under the shade of one of the street’s few elm trees.

    “Pearl!” he said with an excited smile.

    “It’s Jada,” Jada corrected him, stopping a moment to talk with the man despite Mallorie’s attempts to keep going.

    The man took hold of his cane and stood, a few tiny wisps of whitish hair still left on his balding head. “I want you to know...” he started, his eyes turning upwards, trying to recall what he was saying. “It was a good party.”

    “That’s good,” Jada said, with a kindly air, glancing at Mallorie with a look that said she had no idea what he meant. “Well, have a nice day.”

    “Alfred A. Cunningham,” he called after her. “That’s where I left my trumpet.”

    Jada stopped and looked back. “I thought you said you left it in Normandy,”

    Confusion clouded the old mans eyes. He poked a finger at the air, seemingly recounting some steps in his life. “It could be there too. Yes, it’s there...in the basement.”

    “Well, I hope you find it,” Jada said, smirking back at him as they continued on their way.

    “You know who he is?” Mallorie snickered under her breath. “He’s the ‘boogie woogie bugel boy from company C.’”

    “And he called me ‘Pearl.’” Jada laughed out loud. “I hope he don’t think I’m Pearl Bailey.”

    A delighted smile lit Mallorie’s eyes. Summer vacation was already infinitely more interesting than she'd expected, and it was only the second day. She walked on a moment in silent contemplation and then shook her head, hoping she wasn't crazy. “Do you still have the information for that charity ball?”

    “Right here in my pocket,” Jada grinned.
    Last edited by Kritter; 12-28-2013 at 04:28 PM.

  17. #17
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  18. #18
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    Ok figuring out how the trumpet will work in is killing me!
    Keep it up.
    How many miles to Galt's Gulch?

  19. #19
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    Wow, Kritter, you have another winner started here. I am so hooked, MOAR, please?

    Thank you, and please be sure to read the post I started in the Members Only sub-forum.

    DM

  20. #20
    Thanks Kritter, Great story.
    Wayne

  21. #21
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    Mallorie lay prone in the living room, staring at the ceiling; the tan velvet couch beneath her acting as a multiplier for the heat. Air from the fan made a lazy pass across her legs before oscillating back towards her mother, who sat with her feet against the coffee table, polishing her toe nails. Whatever show was on the television went unwatched by them both.

    “Do you wanna talk about it?” Valeria glanced at her daughter’s wistful face.

    Mallorie closed her eyes, feeling the hollow pinch in her stomach that came with voicing her question. “Has he ever asked about me?”

    “No,” her mother said. “I’m sorry, but that’s mostly my fault. The money was kind of a payment to stay out of his life...and I made sure that we did.”

    “That is so messed up,” Mallorie groaned, rubbing her hand against her forehead.

    “I know. I’m sorry. I was stupid. But it was seventeen years ago...and back then...all I thought about was myself...my job, my survival. I never even thought about the impact to you. And I know I should have told you sooner, but...well, part of me was hoping you’d never find out.”

    “So was it just a one night thing?” Mallorie turned her eyes on her mother.

    “Kind of.” She nodded, avoiding her daughter’s gaze. There was a few seconds of uncomfortable silence, and her mother started talking again. “But you know how much I love and wanted you, right? You’ve always been the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

    “Okay, Mom,” Mallorie said dismissively, still harboring a fair amount of angst, and then she sat up and leaned forward. “The money you say he’s giving you...is there any of that left?”

    “Some,” her mother nodded. “I’ve been putting it aside to help with your living expenses when you go to college. And you will go to college.”

    “If I asked you to lend me some of that money so I could start a business...would you do it?”

    “What kind of business?” her mother questioned.

    “It’s for the Young Entrepreneurs competition. I’m not sure what I want to do for it yet, but if I have the resources....”

    Her mother laughed lightly. “Well, aren’t you your father’s daughter. I guess I can help you with that. But it would be a one shot deal, sink or swim. No more after that.”

    Mallorie bit back a smile, her fingers tapping against her cell phone. “Thanks Mom,” she said, getting up and giving her mother a hug. Then she quickly retreated into her bedroom and texted Jada: ‘I’ve got it!

    ---

    Mallorie was always thrown off by the noise level in Jada’s home, between her parents and her three younger siblings. Someone was always talking loud or blasting the TV, and one of the kids was always screaming or crying. It was mayhem to her, as an only child from a one parent house, and she privately cringed whenever they asked her to dinner. She went though, because she loved Jada’s father, who was easily the funniest man she knew.

    “So, Jada tells me you need a driver,” he said, giving his daughter a wink. “I think I can work something out.”

    “It would just be for a few hours,” Mallorie promised, “and we’d be parked for most of it.”

    “I understand. It’s gonna be a stake-out.” He grinned. “I always wanted to do a stake-out. I’ll take the company car home for the evening on Friday, and we can tail this woman wherever you like...so long as they don’t try to shake us.”

    Jada laughed. “I don’t think it’ll be that dramatic, Dad.”

    “Ooh no, I want them to try and shake us!” he said, his voice gaining volume. “We could have a whole car chase...flying around corners, running red lights...”

    “Dad, please.” Jada rolled her eyes, growing embarrassed, and then she turned to Mallorie with a gasp. “Oh, hey, I forgot to tell you, I did a search on that name the old trumpet guy keeps saying...Alfred A. Cunningham?”

    “Seriously?” Mallorie shook her head at her, before leaning forward on the table with curiosity. “So who is he?”

    “Turns out he was just some old fart Colonel in World War I.” Jada laughed.

    “It was also the name of a ship,” Jada’s father said. “A destroyer. Used during World War II.”

    Jada’s eyes widened. “It was? How do you know that?”

    Her father squinted at their inquisitive faces. “I like to watch the History Channel,” he said defensively.

    “So, wait a minute...” Jada glanced at Mallorie. “Maybe he left his trumpet on a boat.”

    “Why...do you care?” Mallorie asked, looking at her like she was stupid.

    “I just think it would be cool if we could find it,” Jada said, sounding a little dejected.

    “All the old destroyers have been dismantled by now,” her father pointed out. “But they built all those ships right over there in Staten Island. Maybe they hang on to things like that. You could always check at the shipyards.”

    “Ooh lets,” Jada said, her dark eyes sparkling with excitement as she grabbed Mallorie by the arm. “Let’s do it tomorrow. We could take the ferry...hit Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Come on...we’ll make a day of it.”

    Mallorie let out a long, slow sigh, not sold on the idea. It seemed an awful lot of trouble to go through for a crazy, old stranger, but she understood...Jada saw it as an adventure. And now that she thought more on it, it was an interesting one at that. “Okay, sure...why not?” she said.

  22. #22
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  23. #23
    "Let's go look"
    "It will be fun they say"
    lol! somehow I'm thinking something is gonna happen looking for that trumpet! but boy that should would be swell if they found it!

    Thanks so much!

  24. #24
    Thanks for the new chapters Kritter.
    Wayne

  25. #25
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    I am so intrigued! I can't wait to see where this is going

  26. #26
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    Cutting through the upper bay, the glaringly orange ferry left a trail of white foam in its wake. Tourists lined the observation deck by the dozens with their cell phones held out, catching videos of their trip. Mallorie leaned over the railing, enjoying the feel of wind in her hair, but her mind still dwelt on the latest web searches she’d done on the Durham family. Besides Brooke, who had attended a fancy private school and was active in the equestrian circuit, there were her brothers: Parker, who was twenty-two and had a career in racing speedboats, and Richard, who was nineteen and excelled in baseball, lacrosse and football. They were a healthy, athletic lot, seemingly never involved in alcohol or drugs the way most rich kids were. Their mother, Katherine, had been a model, and there were articles in the old tabloids suggesting she’d had numerous affairs. In every group photo Mallorie had seen of her, she always looked wooden - like a tall winter oak surrounded by a bevy of chiffon-clad fairies.

    “The mother of exiles,” Jada’s father pointed to the Statue of Liberty in the distance, breaking her concentration. “Do you know what she’s saying? She says, ‘Keep your rich assholes,” he shouted as if he was reciting street poetry. “Give me your tired, your poor, your homeless...and I will offer them great freedom and opportunity.”

    “For only three easy payments of $29.95,” Jada added dryly.

    “She looks mad,” Mallorie said, studying the woman’s stoic face, deciding it reminded her of Katherine. She frowned at her thoughts, knowing she was bordering on obsession with the Durhams, but there was something so intriguing about them being blood relations. She was tied to them on a genetic level, although she could see no family resemblance in anyone but Matthew, and only because they shared the same eye color, hair color and face shape. He was an interesting man, though. He had inherited part of his money, but it was his shrewd dealings in real estate development and his savvy business investments that turned it into a billion dollar empire.

    “Oh, I gotta take a picture,” Jada suddenly remembered. Pulling out her iphone, she stretched it to arms length, and they both quickly struck a pose and smiled. “You look really pretty,” Jada said, turning it to view the picture. “I should caption it, ‘Me an’ Matthew Durham's daughter.’”

    “...out on our yacht,” Mallorie added with a grin.

    Fifteen minutes later they arrived on the shore of Staten Island, and grabbed a taxi to take them to where Bethlehem Steel used to stand - an area that was now known as “Mays Shipyards.” It was fortunate that Jada’s father had an interest in seeing the place himself, as the girls both swallowed uneasily at the imposing, graffiti-strewn red brick wall that skirted the waterfront. Pulling in to the parking lot did nothing to help their unease, as the main building was ancient in its appearance. Aside from the one modern looking boat that sat against the nearest dock, the rest of the shoreline was dotted with rotting and splintered wood, rusted-red hulls and old construction equipment. Mallorie half-expected an old sea captain, complete with long white beard, wooden leg and pipe, to greet them inside the building. Instead, it was a stout, middle-aged lady who peeked up from a desk, her eyes narrowed at the three of them in befuddlement.

    “We had a question about a World War II destroyer that was made here...is there anyone we can talk to?” Jada’s father inquired on their behalf.

    “Yes, Mr. Gant can help you,” she nodded, standing and beckoning them down a hallway. Curious eyes peered out at them from the blinds of each small office, until they entered a large room that was covered with old black and white pictures.

    Mallorie blinked, tilting her head at the hundreds of young faces from a by-gone age. It was incredibly clear photographs from the 1940s, displaying the workers who built the destroyers that fought in World War II.

    “There was so many women,” Jada said with surprise, staring at the photos.

    “Most of the men were at war,” a man’s voice came from behind them. “John Gant,” he said, extending his hand. He was a clean cut man in a business suit, looking out of place from his surroundings. “Supply manager and...resident historian. I heard you have some questions.”

    “There’s this old man at the senior center who claims he left his trumpet on the destroyer, Alfred Cunningham? We were hoping to find it,” Jada explained.

    “Ah,” the man smiled, taking a seat at his desk. “Highly improbable, but not impossible. That ship was decommissioned in California back in the late 70s and probably sunk as a target, but there was an antiques place out there who used to buy up the removable parts from the rooms and galleys and such. Things like the old brass portholes, compasses, clocks. They may still be in business.” He started digging through the yellowed cards of an old Rolodex.

    “These pictures are amazing,” Mallorie said, haunted by the workers’ faces. They were perfectly frozen slices of time, each one with a story to tell. “I’ve never seen anything like this. They should put these in a museum.”

    “I wish. We have dozens more of those in storage down in the basement. This place has an amazing history...but sadly, not many people are interested in World War II anymore.” The man found the card he was looking for and started writing its information on a piece of paper.

    “I’ll bet people would come to see these faces,” Mallorie said. “I love the look in these women’s eyes. So proud and determined.”

    “Well, I’m glad you got to see them.” The man stood and handed the address to Jada, along with his business card. “If you ever have anymore questions...”

    “Thank you.” Jada’s father allowed the girls to examine the photos a few more minutes before smiling and herding them out the door.

    ---

    “San Diego.” Jada frowned, looking over the address when they got back into the cab. “I hope they have an email address.”

    “If they don’t, you write them a letter,” her father said sternly. “Everything doesn’t have to be this instant. You kids today...”

    “Hey,” Mallorie said, interrupting him. “I wonder if I could put together a little museum display for those photos in the city, and maybe put them in a more modern light? That might make a cool business, right?”

    “If you could make it interesting enough.” Jada's eyelids drooped as she fought back a yawn.

    "Ooh..I'll make it interesting." Mallorie grinned, a hundred amazing ideas already bouncing around her mind.
    Last edited by Kritter; 12-31-2013 at 05:17 PM.

  27. #27
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    Very good. Thank you.
    I'm just now catching up.

  28. #28
    that would be something I'd love to see.

    thank you! loved the chapter!

  29. #29
    Thanks for the story. Looking for soon.

  30. #30
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    Another thank you from me.

  31. #31
    Kritter,
    I'm liking the story so far and looking forward to more of it. I'm interested in WW II so to me the ship angle seems interesting and i'm sure others will to.
    Keep up the good work.
    alangator

  32. #32
    Kritter great story, thanks for the new chapter, looking to more soon.
    Wayne

  33. #33
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    Thanks guys...Hope you all have a great New Year. More tomorrow.

  34. #34
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    The plan to follow Brooke Durham was simple in their minds: find a spot outside the 5th Avenue hotel where the charity auction was, and just wait for the young woman to exit - but nothing was that easy in Manhattan. Parking was non-existent for miles around and traffic was at a standstill. Policemen in reflective vests occupied the middle of each intersection, trying to keep everyone moving. Limousines lined the road two lanes deep. Curious onlookers flooded the sidewalks. Cameras flashed wildly from the throngs of paparazzi. Jada’s father circled the building several times in the course of an hour, but the idea of getting close grew futile.

    “I don’t think this is happening,” he apologized, choosing not to make another pass.

    “Maybe one of the limo drivers knows,” Jada suggested, pointing to where the dark-suited men all stood huddled together.

    Jada’s father cocked his head at the men. Suddenly, he pulled up tight to the car parked beside him and cut the engine. His eyes shot sideways at Jada. “If anyone asks, you broke down,” he said, opening his door.

    “Dad?” Jada shouted in a panic as he exited the car. Her eyes nervously darted to the nearby policeman as her father started jogging down the street.

    “I cannot believe he just did that,” Mallorie gasped, looking out the back window. Every car and bus behind them began pounding on their horns. Jada’s father reached the corner and slowed his steps, casually strolling up to the group of drivers.

    “Hey...move it,” a cabbie shouted behind them.

    Jada slid into the driver’s seat and rolled down the window. “I broke down! Just go the hell around me,” she shouted back angrily. Mallorie giggled, more from sheer anxiety than amusement. It was both frightening and crazy, and amid the noise and flashing lights, it bordered on surreal. Alerted by the commotion, a traffic cop turned in their direction, his eyes narrowing on the young female driver.

    “Oh God,” Jada gasped. “What do I do? What do I do?”

    “Pretend you don’t speak English,” Mallorie said, leaning forward in her seat, ready to unleash an epic blaze of Spanish if she had to.

    At the same moment, Jada’s father raced back and shooed his daughter aside, hopping back in the car with an enormous grin on his face. “I got it, officer, thank you,” he said, waving the confused man off. He scanned the rearview and pulled back in to traffic, not giving the cop a chance to argue. The exhilaration of having done something so erratic danced in his eyes, his chest pumped out in adrenalized bravado. Glancing over his shoulder at Mallorie, he laughed. “You'll never guess where she’s staying.”

    “Wellington Park West,” Mallorie said, nodding at the answer.

    ---


    Crystal chandeliers glistened over polished marble floors inside the forty-story mirrored building. Rich velvet wallpaper graced the walls, and leather couches and wing-back chairs sat tastefully arranged throughout the Wellington’s foyer. Soft light focused down like some mysterious hotel deity, highlighting a myriad of sculptures. It was a glorious sight Mallorie had beheld just a handful of times, when she came to work with her mother.

    Now she wandered quietly through the halls of the hotel, wearing her prettiest summer outfit, trying to make it look like she was a guest there. She’d spent the whole night trying to think of ways she could spy on Brooke Durham, wanting to get a feel for the girl without ever being seen, but she didn’t want to stalk her in the hotel. She just wanted to get an idea of her schedule, hopefully without her mother catching wind. But keeping on eye on the elevator banks wasn’t the most interesting way to spend a summer weekend, and she found herself walking in aimless circles around the lobby.

    When she rounded the corner by the empty banquet hall, the soft teal tablecloths and tiny candles gave her the flash of a memory. It was a few days before Christmas, 2006, and she was there with her mother for the hotel employees’ holiday party. Mallorie smiled, recalling how the party Santa had given her a stuffed princess bunny and how she hugged it in her arms all night. That memory trailed into the fragment of another. At the end of the night, when they’d walked out of the banquet hall, her mother had grabbed her back, holding her tightly by the shoulders while a couple of guests walked past. There was fear in her mother’s eyes and urgency in her grip, as if they’d trespassed on hallowed ground, and now that Mallorie thought back on it, she realized the guests were Mr. and Mrs. Durham.

    Mallorie took a seat at one of the tables, running the memory over in her mind. She could recall the way Matthew Durham had glanced at her mother with dispassion, as if she were no different than any other object in the room, and then his eyes had briefly dropped to her. The couple continued walking towards the hotel lobby. When they reached the desk, the man looked back at her again, studying her with interest. Mallorie remembered she had smiled at him - simply because he’d made eye contact - and he returned her smile with one of his own, albeit thin and guarded. His eyes then returned to her mother with the dark look of reproach.

    Confusing feelings of anger and resentment rose in Mallorie’s chest, a spate of emotions she didn’t know how to deal with. He’d smiled at her the way one would smile at any cute kid holding a pink, princess bunny, but he’d clearly found her mother’s presence an intrusion. It brought a stark reality to her mother’s situation and cast the man in a newly unpleasant light. He truly didn't care about her, although he certainly knew she existed. It struck her as an intensely sad thought. Mallorie choked back the threat of tears, her heart now desperately needing the love of her mother. She walked quickly to the elevator and selected the 30th floor, knowing her mother worked somewhere above it, but a second before the doors rolled shut, Katherine Durham and her daughter Brooke stepped into the elevator behind her.
    Last edited by Kritter; 01-02-2014 at 07:19 PM.

  35. #35
    oh wow! now see if she had just went to the elevator first to find her mom instead of her sister, that would have saved a whole lot time lol!

    thanks!!! loving it!!

  36. #36
    Kritter, fantastic story, thanks for the new chapter.
    Wayne

  37. #37
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    Thank you. It's a very good story.

  38. #38
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    Mallorie froze against the elevator wall, her breath held prisoner in her lungs. There was a moment of heart-pounding terror as the doors closed and the elevator started to move, but it was eased a second later by the Durham family matriarch, who glanced at her with a plastic smile. There was no spark of recognition in Katherine’s eyes or whitening of her face. She had no clue who Mallorie was, and in Mallorie’s mind, it answered the question of whether Katherine ever knew at all.

    The floor indicator ticked to ‘3’ and Mallorie allowed herself to breathe, becoming aware of the strong scent of perfume. Her eyes drifted slowly along Brooke Durham’s back, taking in everything from her simple gold flats and plain black skirt, to the diamond-studded clasp on her handbag.

    “Patricia looked nice,” Katherine said, most likely referring to someone at the charity auction. She slid a hand full of glittering rings across her forehead, her sharp red nails pushing a single strand of hair back into place. “She loved that Linder painting.”

    “Mmm,” Brooke nodded, picking through her purse. Her eyes briefly flitted to Mallorie, scanning over her dress, before returning her attention to whatever she was trying to find.

    Mallorie bit back a laugh. It was like something a snobby, rich girl would do in a movie, but it came without the expected snort and eye-roll. Even though her dress was straight from Macy’s, apparently it passed the test. The elevator slowly continued its ascent with a long, metallic scrape, betraying the building's actual age.

    Brooke suddenly grunted at her bag in annoyance.

    “What are you looking for?” Katherine asked with irritation.

    “My Chapstick,” she answered, giving up on her purse and patting down her pockets.

    “Well, here, use mine.” Her mother started digging through her own bag.

    “Eww.” Brooke laughed. “I don’t wanna use yours. Gross!”

    Katherine threw up her hands and shook her head, shooting Mallorie a ‘my daughter is completely ridiculous’ look. It was cute, unexpected and oddly endearing, and Mallorie broke into a smile.

    “What exactly is wrong with my Chapstick?” Katherine playfully inquired.

    “Nothing. Just...stop,” Brooke said, waving away her question.

    “I don’t think I’d wanna use my Mom’s either,” Mallorie said honestly.

    “Right?” Brooke turned and smiled at her, pleased that she agreed.

    The elevator stopped on the 30th floor and Mallorie stepped out, walking with a confident stride, trying not to show her nerves. She glanced back just as the doors started to close. Brooke had leaned her head to the side and was peering inquisitively into the hallway. Mallorie slowed her steps and faced a door, reaching into her pocketbook as if to find her key card. The moment the elevator disappeared, she leaned back against the wall and slid down it into a sitting position, her hand trembling as she clutched at her heart.


    ---

    “You were in the elevator with them?” Jada put her hands on her hips, looking for confirmation because she didn’t believe what she was hearing. She was wearing a one-piece, bright-pink bathing suit, her feet disappearing in a kiddy pool behind the forms of her three younger siblings.

    Mallorie grinned, leaning back on the stoop in front of Jada’s apartment, a beach towel beneath her legs to keep them safe from the searing hot stairs. “In the elevator with them.”

    “That’s just crazy.” Jada bent down to cup some water in her palms and rubbed it against her legs and forearms, her voice growing serious with warning. “Your mother is gonna be mad if she finds out you’re messing with them.”

    “I’m not messing with them,” Mallorie said defensively. “I don’t want anything to do with them.”

    “You sure?” Jada cocked her head at her friend, “Cause that’s not how it seems.”

    “Yes, I’m sure.” Mallorie laughed, although she knew her laugh wasn’t too convincing.

    Jada sighed, stepping out of the pool to join her friend on the stairs. “I wrote a letter to that antiques place, asking about that trumpet.”

    “Wow, you’re really obsessed with that thing.” Mallorie picked up Jada’s iphone and started browsing through her music.

    “No, I was gonna let it go. My Dad is making me do it.” She sprung back to her feet, pointing towards the youngest child. “You stay in that pool,” she shouted, not wanting to chase a diapered child down the block. “I hope I don’t have to spend my whole summer doing this,” she groaned, frowning at her little brothers.

    “Where do you think I should put my museum?” Mallorie questioned, using Jada’s iphone to do a search on ‘World War II working women.”

    “I don’t know.” Jada shrugged. “But no one’s gonna come.”

    “Why do you say that?” Mallorie pouted, put off by her friend’s forwardness.

    “Cause museums are boring, and if they really wanna see those pictures, they can do a search on them, same as you.”

    Mallorie stared at the screen of the iphone, considering Jada’s words. “Okay. What if instead, I put the pictures on T-shirts...along with some kind of cool logo?”

    “That would be better.” Jada nodded. “You could write like...’Work it, Girl!’”

    “I love that!” Mallorie bit her lip with excitement, and then scrunched up her face. “But I don’t know how to design stuff like that...or where do I buy the shirts? Oh God," she whimpered. "Face it. I have no idea what I'm doing.”

    Jada commandeered the phone from her and typed in a couple of words. And then she turned the phone around, displaying Armando Martinez’s Facebook page. “Remember Mr. 5th Place Winner?” she said with grin. “I’ll bet he knows how to do it.”
    Last edited by Kritter; 01-02-2014 at 07:12 PM.

  39. #39
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  40. #40
    Kritter thanks for the new chapter, great story.
    Wayne

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