Book: The First - Part: Two - Chapter: 6 - Installment: ii

        The key was under a planter where she said it would be.
        Bev, Bev, Bev. Templeton may be getting to be a nicer place to live these days, but it’s still a high break in area. A planter is the first place a burglar will look for a key.
        Scott figured that he could give her some security tips as part of his repayment of the favour.
        It was a toss-up. The single level home was more homey than the hospital, but it was clear that Bev didn’t have a lot of time or will to keep it tidy. 
        There had once been an uncountable number of homes like this one between here and Burnaby. They’d been put up quick and cheaply according to common plans as veteran’s housing after World War II.
        His grandmother had lived in one for nearly fifty years until she moved into a nursing home. The house had been bought by an Indian family, torn down and replaced – as so many houses like it had been – by a monstrous single family home that filled the entire lot except for the carport and a small ‘yard’ of crushed gravel. The design was derisively referred to as the ‘Vancouver Special’ and they were long-since more numerous than the soulful bungalows that they replaced. Scott had driven past “grandma’s old place” once. It had made him sick to see the boxy fortress that had taken its place. He had never gone back.
        Bev’s place gave him a fuzzy nostalgic feeling that seemed, after the last few days, to be the most comforting feeling in the world. It wasn’t messy in a dirty sense – at least not very. But it was clear that Bev only ever got around to putting stuff away on an intermittent basis. Scott was well acquainted with the habit. He guesstimated that her cycle was about once every two weeks – roughly his own pace.
        Just like home.
        It was small. Inside of one minute he had the layout sussed. Kitchen and living room made one large area – divided by a supporting arch. A back door to the kitchen led to the overgrown backyard. Grandma had kept a thriving garden in her analogue. A short hallway led from the front to a bathroom and a pair of bedrooms – Bev was using the smaller one as an office. A pull-out couch indicated that it doubled as a guest room. He decided that Carly should have the room. He could do with the couch for a few days. He couldn’t count the number of times he had passed out on the couch during his drinking days. It would be another level of nostalgia.
        “You must be hungry.” He asked the young girl.
        She nodded her head sleepily, but emphatically. According to the clock it was approaching Noon. Scott wasn’t surprised that she was hungry. He wasn’t surprised that she was tired either. She played tough, but like him, she couldn’t have been sleeping well – quite possibly even worse – and he had pulled her out of bed before sunrise.
        Feed her. Give her a nap. Both of us a nap.
        The refrigerator was in better shape than the rest of the house. If it had been his fridge he could have expected it to be nearly empty and that fully half of the food within would be spoiled. He found some fresh vegetables and some milk that hadn’t met its best before date yet. Some bread from the freezer, defrosted in the toaster, built the foundation for a pair of cheese and tomato sandwiches. He found some hot chocolate mix in the cupboard and warmed the milk up to make some cocoa the way his mother used to – flagrantly ignoring the instructions to use water – for a creamier answer to the classic cold-weather warmer.  He figured that the warm milk would also help serve to get Carly to sleep more easily.
        They sat at the kitchen table and munched on their late breakfast.
        “Whose place is this?”
        “A friend.”
        “Your friend?”
        It seemed like a child’s question, but now that it was asked it struck him that it wasn’t so impertinent. He hardly knew Bev. That had been part of the logic for coming here – they wouldn’t get traced here. But for all he knew, as soon as she’d hung up she’d called the police.
        No way. They’d have been waiting for us to show up. As soon as we got in they would have swept in on us.
        It appeared as though Bev was true to her word and could be trusted.
        “Yes. My friend Beverly.”
        “Oh. Is she pretty?”
        Again. The child had a knack for taking his mental legs out from underneath him.
        “I suppose she is. Yes.”
        And that was that. Carly seemed satisfied. Scott smiled. He wished he could recall a time when his perspective was so simple, so black and white – if flawed. Attractive people were trustworthy, disfigured people were evil.
        The phone rang.
        Scott’s instinct was to answer, but he stopped himself. He winked at Carly.
        “We’ll let the machine get it.” He told her as though they were getting away with something by doing so.
        Carly nodded in agreement, giving him permission to be so ‘irresponsible.’
        On the fifth ring, the machine picked up. “You’ve reached Bev. I’m not home, so leave a message or try my cell.”
        Again with the poor home-security practice.
        The machine beeped.
        Scott if you’re there, pick up. It’s Bev.”
        He got up and looked for the phone while Bev continued to beckon him. “Hello? Oh come on. You’ve got to be there by now -”
        “Hey.” He picked up the receiver.
        “‘Hey’ yourself.” She said. “Just making sure you have everything you need.”
        “Yeah. I figure. We’re both pretty beat. I think we’re going to bed.”
        “There’s blankets in the bedroom closet. If the kid needs something to sleep in there’s some t-shirts in there too.”
        “I’ve got a question.”
        “Ummm… the girl. Who is supposed to be looking after her? Aren’t both her parents dead?” Bev asked.
        “I don’t know. I don’t really know if that’s been looked into yet. The quarantine took precedent.”
        “Okay, so… is this – I’m not accusing, I know it’s not your intent – but, technically, isn’t this kidnapping?”
        “I suppose in a sense it is. Look, Bev, if you’re calling the police, tell them they can find me on the couch. I’ve got to get some rest.”
        “I’ll see you later tonight.”

     Installment iii

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Necropolis by Kennedy Goodkey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada License.
Based on a work at necropolisnovels.blogspot.com.