Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Dead Raiser--Part II


The next morning, I put the phone next to my bowl of Fruit Loops. In case Tabby called. She did.

“Let’s do it again,” she said.

“Do what?” I said. Like I didn’t know.

I heard her huff. “Bring something back, silly.”

“Like what?”

“I know just the thing. I’ll be over soon as I get dressed.”

We rode our bikes over to Old Man Farley’s property. For some reason, it was the county’s drop-off-unwanted-baby-animals-in-garbage-bags location.

“Puppies or kittens?” I said, as we ate granola bars beside the creek.

“Puppies today. Kittens tomorrow,” she said.

We’d pulled off the road a quarter mile away from Farley’s place. Didn’t want to set off his alarm system—two big, honking, Doberman Pinschers. My dad called ‘em the Dobie Brothers. When they barked, I could feel it in my breastbone.

I squinted toward the compound of buildings. “How long ‘til he leaves?”

Tabby glanced at her watch. “He’ll head for Kwik Mart to get his Frappucino from Ilsa, in approximately 20 minutes.”

We knew Farley’s schedule ‘cause last summer we’d been bored the two weeks before school started up again. We decided to sit outside of Kwik Mart and document the folks coming and going. The most interesting thing we discovered was that Old Man Farley had a thing for Ilsa, the former Swedish super model. She was a big deal back when Twiggy was queen of the Paris fashion shows. Least, that’s what Darla, the old gal who ran the Dairy Dream said.

“I have no idea who Twiggy is, but that’s gotta be a drag,” Tabby said. “Going from modeling in Paris to being check out girl in Cabin Creek.”

“Darla told me Ilsa dated Rod Stewart, back in the day,” I said.

“Who’s Rod Stewart?”

“Not sure,” I said.

“And now Mr. Farley likes her,” Tabby said.

I popped the last bite of chocolate chip granola bar in my mouth.

“Kinda sad,” I said, with my mouth full.

“And yet, kinda cute,” Tabby said. “It’s nice when old people find love.”

I snarled my nose. “I think it’s gross.”

My little brother, Vince, was totally into spying. He’d let us borrow his binoculars for our project.

“He said, ‘You owe me now,’” I told Tabs, imitating Vince’s hold-his-nose-and-suck-helium voice. “I told him I’d bring him a Laffy Taffy.”

Tabby held the binoculars up to her eyes.

“What’s Farley buying today?” I said.

“Same thing as yesterday,” Tabby said. “Same thing as every day. A Frappucino and a pack of gum.”

I picked up a milky white pebble and licked the dust off. Stuck it in my pocket. For my collection.

“Now what’s he doing?”

“Leaning on the counter. Sweeping his hair over to one side.”

I nodded. “He does have nice hair,” I said. “For an old guy. What’s Ilsa doing?”

Tabby made a gagging noise. “Oooh! She’s putting on lipstick. Does that mean she wants to kiss him?”

I wrinkled my nose. “Probably. Now what?”

“She just lifted her hair and let it fall. It’s so white. Do you think she bleaches it?”

“Oh, pa-lease,” I said. “Of course she does. Grey hair starts when you’re like, 30.”

We had watched that whole ritual for two weeks straight. Then it got old.

Tabby stood. “Almost time.”

We giggled when Old Man Farley came out his front door.

Tabby spoke in my ear. “Just like clockwork.”

I grinned and nodded.

We watched him walk into the outbuilding that held his many works-in-progress—motorcycles, totaled cars, old trucks.

“Bet you a quarter he takes the Harley,” Tabby said.

“Nah,” I said. “It’s gonna be the Mustang.”

Farley drove out in the Mustang. I held out my hand. Tabby huffed and pulled out the empty pockets of her shorts. We watched the car disappear in a puff of gravel dust.

The Dobie Brothers started barking their heads off when we were still 100 yards off. Sounded like they wanted to eat us for supper. We ignored them.

On either side of Farley’s driveway there were always a couple black garbage bags. Everybody knew they were flimsy body bags, full of litters of puppies and kittens. Dead or close to. There were never more than two or four bags though.

“Brad McMillion over at Save-A-Lot says Old Man Farley never buys dog food,” Tabby said. “You know what that means, don’t you?”

I shook my head.

“It means he feeds the dead babies to the Dobie Brothers.”

I put my hand over my mouth as my stomach lurched.

“Just kidding,” Tabby said. “I think.”

“Maybe coyotes get ‘em,” I said.

Tabby grinned. “Not today. It’s these pups lucky day.”

She pointed to a bag off by itself. “Let’s do that one.”

I crossed my arms and rubbed them. It felt chilly all of a sudden.

“What do I do?” I said.

Tabby huffed. “I don’t know. Say whatever you did for that baby boy.”

We stopped about five feet from the bag. I closed my eyes. Put my hands together and tucked my nose into the space in between my pointer fingers.

Hey. It’s me again. Katherine Martin. I bowed my head in the direction of the bag. They’re so young. It’s not their fault some stupid jerk didn’t want ‘em. Why don’t you give them another chance? Like you did the little boy in the super small coffin.

Tabby almost knocked me off my feet when she started shaking me.

“Holy cow, Kat,” she said. “You did it! Again!”

I opened my eyes to a squint. I looked at the bag. It was wriggling, like a roadkill full of maggots. My mouth fell open.

“Do something, Tabs,” I said. “Cut open the bag with your knife, or they’ll die all over again!”

Tabby dug in her back pocket for her little pink Swiss Army knife. The one with her initials on it. She pulled out the serrated blade, then knelt down. She sawed back and forth on the bag, right below the knot. I heard the babies before I saw them. Their tiny whimpers seemed miles away.

I reached into the bag and pulled them out one by one. I felt like a doctor delivering babies. Only thing was, they were cool to the touch. The last one came out still dead. It felt like a half thawed-out pot roast. I could press my fingers in about an inch. After that, it was like I was pressing on a cinder block.

I looked up. Did you forget this one? I looked down at the puppy. One eye opened, then the other. Its little baby jaws started working like it had Purina Puppy Chow in its mouth or something.

Tabby shook her head. “I can’t believe you did it again,” she said. “I didn’t think you could.”

Wednesday Night

“Did you girls hear the fuss?” Miss Sandy said as we set out the little plaster Noah’s arks the kids would be painting that night.

Tabby looked over at me. I narrowed my eyes.

I shook my head. “No ma’am,” I said. “What fuss?”

“A little boy was found alive over at Tatham’s Almost Final Resting Home,” Miss Sandy said.

“Did he just wander in there?” Tabby said.

Good thing Miss Sandy wasn’t looking at her. She was about to crack up.

“No,” she said. “He was dead. Least they thought he was. They were gonna bury him on Friday. A mysterious caller tipped off 911. The police found him. He was sitting up in his little white coffin.”

I scratched under my nose. “No kidding,” I said. “What the heck?”

Miss Sandy squinted at me and frowned. She gave us paint brushes to set out.

“They haven’t decided if it was a medical mistake or a miracle,” she said.

She snorted. “As if it could be anything but a miracle,” she said. “Don’t they know this kind of thing happens all over the world? Every day?”

Tabby and I gawked at her.

“What kind of thing?” Tabby said.

“People raising from the dead?” I said.

“Absolutely. I read stories about it all the time in Today’s Church magazine,” Miss Sandy said. “In Africa. In the underground church in China. They see this kind of stuff all the time. God’s moving in Cabin Creek. Mark my word, girls. This is how God grows his church. One believer at a time.”

I snuck the phone into my room later that night. Whispered into the receiver, under the covers.

“It happens all the time?” I said.

“And just think,” Tabby said. “You've done it twice.  Maybe it's like Miss Sandy said, and God's using you.  How cool is that?”

I hung up the phone and folded the covers back down. I looked up at the ceiling. You’re using me? But I’ve never even been in a church. Not ‘til this week.

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