Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Short Fiction

She Got Back Home

Shep took Lindy away from her home one hot summer night. They agreed to meet at two by the Reseda Boulevard onramp to the Ventura Freeway, making for a quick and easy getaway. She brought along her traveling bag, two hundred dollars, and her mother’s diamond ring. At the tender age of fifteen, Lindy had instantaneously transformed into a thief and a runaway. Her wild heart beat faster than the wheels turned round on Shep’s darling Dodge Fury as they sped north, and she didn’t dare look back as they left The San Fernando Valley behind.

During quiet days when Shep was away Lindy would often sit alone by the banks of the mighty river just yards away from their back door. Memories of the bridgeless city she left behind would cause her to lose track of time. Under the canopy of giant trees and impossibly green wild undergrowth she would loll idly on the dock, helplessly batting at persistent horseflies and mosquitoes, marveling at the scarcity of such creatures in her arid homeland. Her little brother’s face, the sound of the rushing traffic, the splashing screeching children in the apartment building’s swimming pool, the feel of the plastic straps of the lounge chair under her oily thighs, the scent of coconut, these memories haunted and troubled, and in some strange way, cheered her. Dink had been three years old when she left, he would be twelve now. Did he even remember her? Were they still living in The Valley? The old phone number had been disconnected. When Lindy told Shep that she wanted to find her mother his scowl gave way to a full-on giggle-fest, fueled by his nightly six-pack. Why would she want to speak to that whore she used to call a mother? He did not understand the way her mind worked, or if it even worked at all. She was retarded, of that he was sure.

Only yesterday, another child, lost. This time Lindy hadn’t even told Shep about having missed two periods. She didn’t tell him about the cramping and the blood. It was a blessing that he had three weeks work, logging in the bush, always leaving before it got light. The thirteenth miscarriage took place at sunrise, in bed. She had to wash the bedding in the river. Without a car she had no way of getting to the Laundromat. She hung the sheets and blankets out to dry from a clothesline that ran between two stands of thick jack pines.

Lindy called information for Reseda California, and hearing that no Renee Jacobs could be found listed, she decided to try Nina White. Nina had lived in apartment 28; her daughter Kelly had been Lindy’s best friend for several years during elementary school. Nina answered the phone. Her voice had not changed. Still as raspy and breathy as ever, she croaked, “Hi there,” using a familiar greeting.

“Nina,” Lindy squeaked, her mind racing, “it’s me, it’s Lindy. Do you remember?”

“Oh, my, God! Lindy Jacobs? Of course I remember. They’re still looking for you.”


“Where on earth are you girl? I can’t believe this, you’re alive!”

“I ran away Nina,” Lindy said.

“But why? You were a straight A student, and Dink, you were so devoted to Dink!”

Lindy didn’t want to give her reasons; she resorted to supplying facts. “A guy talked me into leaving with him. He was older. He is older. I’m in Canada, still with him.”

“Jesus, how much older is he?”

“Now? He’s thirty-six.”

“That kidnapper. Your poor mother. Do you know the effect your going missing had on her life? It’s 1978; it’s been such a long time. Why do you call now? After all this time?”

Lindy almost hung up, but instead asked what she needed to know, “I would like to talk to Mom,” she said. “Do you have her number?”

Nina sighed, “I do. She’s remarried, to a super nice guy, an engineer. They live in Santa Monica. Dink’s a big brother now; you have two half-sisters. Maybe I should call Renee for you. Soften the blow. Hearing from you will come as quite a shock, you realize that, don’t you?”

“I really, really need to talk to her,” Lindy said. “Now.”

“Are you alright?” Nina asked. “I could call the authorities for you.”

Lindy began to shake. Fear took hold and she slammed the receiver down. The only thing to do? Hide. But, Shep would see the call to California listed on the phone bill. There would be no hiding from him, or his heavy fists.

When the fever took hold Lindy had trouble getting out of the platform waterbed. Dreams carried her to swampy snake-ridden locales and she woke from the nightmare shivering madly. A trip to the hospital would be necessary. The reclusive next-door neighbor Ethel, the woman with the long gray hair and knowing eyes, had readily agreed to drive her. “Thank you,” Lindy said, after they arrived at the emergency exit, just as an attendant settled her into a wheelchair. Ethel’s wrinkled face zoomed in much closer to Lindy’s own face, and then she whispered, “Leave him. Leave him while you can.”

After the procedure the doctor asked Lindy, “Is your boyfriend a draft dodger?”

“I don’t really know,” Lindy said. “Maybe.”

“You’ll never have children now,” he said gravely.

“Shep wanted five,” she told him.

The doctor shook his head. “How many miscarriages, altogether?”


“Good Lord,” he cried. His hands were everything Shep’s weren’t. Small and smooth, he used them in the most measured purposeful manner. “A beautiful girl like you,” he said, slicing through the air with a swift wave, “how did you end up with that brute?”

Now, Lindy had heard this before, that she was beautiful. And she supposed that she was, but the notion seemed abstract. Farrah Fawcett was beautiful, and so was Brook Shields. It seemed impossible that anyone would deem her as such. Bashful as ever, she looked down at the blanket while answering, “I’ve been with Shep for nine years, since I was fifteen. You see; I ran away from home with him.”

The flight from Vancouver to Los Angeles was uneventful. Lindy counted the number of backyard swimming pools she spotted as they prepared to land at LAX. When she caught sight of Renee as she reluctantly approached her, Lindy thought that her pretty mother looked much the same, save for a few crow’s feet. But Dink, he called himself Dirk. One letter change, he had pointed out. Her little brother’s long blonde hair and cool dude surfer look took Lindy’s breath away. She went to hug him, and he said, “Glad you’re back, butt hole.”

“Dirk,” Renee snapped, “What a thing to say.”

“He’s right,” Lindy said, squeezing Dink in a tight embrace. “I am a butt hole.”

The husband, his name was Art, he stood next to his two little daughters and merely grinned.

On the walk out to the parking structure one of her brand new sisters reached up and slid her tiny hand in Lindy's. Five sweet sticky sister fingers brought an immediate rush of tears to her grateful green eyes. Even the smoggy air smelled good on the day she got back home.

RIP Farrah Fawcett Feb 21, 1947 – June25, 2009

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.


lakeviewer said...

Oh, this is a salvation story, my favorite types.

Anonymous said...

Really enjoyed the washing of the sheets in the river...the ergency of the action and the desperation to be clean wherever and however - great detail!

Marguerite said...

Wonderful story, Elizabeth! So captivating and rich in detail!
So glad you're back, cher!

K. said...

You are such a GIFTED writer, Elizabeth, and so damn intimidating!!!

By the way, I just wanted to tell you that I think it's so wonderful that your daughter is a fashion designer! I do think they are extremely gifted artists, of a different variety, and people don't appreciate them as such...

Most people probably think appreciating fashion is superficial, but I think it is just as valid as appreciating fine art...
Have a great evening!

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Thanks so much, I can't wait until my daughter is famous. I just know she will be. I sound like a parent but she really is talented. They accepted her into the school at the age of 17 because her drawings and ideas were so advanced and cutting edge! Now she may be sewing silly costumes for Del Taco commercials and doing fittings for basketball players and stuff, but we all had to start somewhere!

Kim said...

This was a wonderful read. I love the names and the places. Glad you're back and writing.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Glad you dropped by Kim!

Anonymous said...

Wow, you captured so much in such a short piece!

Very nice.