The Obsession Page 84

“Get that thing out of here!” Xander shouted. “It’s bad for business.”

“I’m bringing you business, man. And half a jumbo Diablo sub.”

Xander paused long enough to glance over as Lelo, dripping rain, walked in. “Diablo?”

“I went by, saw your chick, and she is hot. She is smoking hot. Made me want some hot.”

“You went up to Naomi’s?”

“Still think of it as the old Parkerson place. Not for long if she hires us. Trade you the sub for a Mountain Dew.”

“Two minutes.” Xander went back to the brake pads. “So you went up, took a look at the yard?”

“I’ve been dreaming about that place since I sat up there smoking dope with Dikes. Now I find your smoking-hot chick’s pretty open and flexible about landscaping. She listens. She’s got the vision, man, just like with the photos.”

Lelo boosted himself up to sit on a workbench, unwrapped the sub. “We get a job like that? That place is a landmark—sad one these last few years, but still. Showing how we can turn it around’s got my parents doing the bebopping boogie. Going to try to work a deal for pictures we can use for promotion, keep her outlay down some. How come you let Denny play that country shit in here?”

“It’s all right, and it keeps him happy.” Finished, Xander walked over to the soda machine, plugged in coins for a Mountain Dew and a ginger ale.

He grabbed paper napkins—Diablos were hot, and messy—then joined Lelo on the bench.

“Is that Mrs. Wobaugh’s Camry?”

“Yeah, she’s driving it into the ground.”

“I had her for American history.”

“Me, too.”

“About bored me brainless.”

“Me, too.”

“Who said that shit about history repeating itself?”

“There are a lot of people who said that shit,” Xander told him. “A favorite is: ‘History, with all her volumes vast, hath but one page.’ That’s Byron.”

“Cool. So, why do we have to study it, be bored brainless, if it’s got one page?”

“We keep thinking if we do, we’ll change the next page. Not so much,” Xander decided. “But as somebody else said, hope springs. So high school kids get bored brainless.”

“Guess that’s it.”

They ate in the easy, companionable silence of old friends.

“Saw you got a couple banged up good in the lot.”

“Wreck last night on 119. Driver of the Honda blew a one-point-one.”

“D-W-fricking-I. Hurt bad?”

“Busted up some, and the other driver, too. Didn’t sound major. Cars have it worse.”

“Cha-ching for you.”

“Should be.” As he ate, Xander studied Lelo’s truck. “Are you bringing that piece of shit in here for me to fix?”

“Yeah. I can leave it if you can’t get to it, hitch a ride home.”

“I can get to it. I bought the damn muffler a month ago, figuring you’d come to your senses eventually. I can shuffle you in next.”

“Dude. Gratitude. The chief stopped me this morning on my way out of town—let me off when I told him I was coming back here after some business, and you were taking care of it.”

Unsurprised, Xander washed down fire-hot Diablo with ice-cold ginger ale. An excellent combo. “That’s one way to come to your senses.”

“I’m going to kind of miss the noise.”

“Only you, Lelo.”

“The chief told me they haven’t found Marla.”

Xander paused with the can of ginger ale halfway to his mouth. “She’s not back?”

“Nope, not back, nobody’s seen or heard from her. Since he had me pulled over, he asked if I had, if I noticed her with anybody Friday night. Saw anybody go out after her. It’s gotten serious, Xan. It’s like she poofed.”

“People don’t poof.”

“They run off—I tried that when I was pissed at my mother over something. Packed up my backpack and set off to walk to my grandparents’. I figured it only took about five minutes to get there—by car—and being eight I didn’t calculate the difference on foot so well. I got halfway there when my mother drove up. I figured I was in for it big-time, but she got out and cried all over me.”

He took a hefty bite of his sub. “Not the same, though, I guess.”

“We can hope it is. She took off on a mad, and she’s sitting somewhere sulking.” But the odds of that now, Xander thought, weren’t good. “It’s too long for that. Too damn long for that.”

“People are thinking she got taken by somebody.”


“They were talking about it in Rinaldo’s when I got the sub. Local cops are talking to everybody now, from what I can see. Seems she hasn’t used her credit card since Friday either. And she didn’t take her car, any clothes. They had Chip and Patti look at that, to see if they could tell if she grabbed up some clothes. Everybody there saw her walk out of the bar, and that’s it.

“I can’t say I like her. I know I had sex with her a couple times, but Jesus, she has a mean streak. But it’s scary, man, thinking something really happened to her. A lot of people are fucked-up, you know? And do fucked-up things. I don’t like thinking about it.”

Neither did Xander.

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