As I said I would, I swiped the whole first chapter from Sutures, LAC 13.
Very bravely and with great determination, Maggie rapped on the door of the Crawford-McCallister homestead. “Nobody lose your nerve,” she ordered.
I took a deep breath and watched Kris and Janice do the same.
Momentarily, the door opened and a seemingly confused Holly appeared.
Maggie point-blankly and very loudly said, “We’re here for Laura.”
“Good morning to you, too.” She narrowed her eyes at us.
Unswayed by Holly’s demeanor, Maggie explained, “Section 37a of the Lesbian Adventure Club bylaws reads, ‘Any couple forfeiting their weekend in the established rotation also forfeits all their rights. They are, in essence, at the mercy of all other members.'”
Holly gnawed on that for several seconds before she bellowed, “It does not! We don’t have bylaws!” She snatched the paper from Maggie’s hand and read. Finally, she asked, “Laura and I actually signed something like this?”
“Um, no,” Maggie admitted. “We just made it up this morning.”
“You can’t just make things up!”
“Sure, we can,” Maggie responded.
“We’re quite good at it,” Janice added with a snicker.
Holly’s hands went to her hips. “Where is everyone else?”
Maggie shrugged and simply repeated, “We’re here for Laura.”
“She’s in the living room.” She turned, and although the living room was well within earshot, she shouted, “Babe, I think we’ve got trouble.”
We waited for a response, and when none came, we barged our way inside, politely plowing Holly out of the way as we did so. Posthaste, we infiltrated the living room.
Laura lay on the couch, an open book in her hands, and she did not seem happy to see us, not at all. That, however, did not deter us.
“We’re here to kidnap you,” Maggie informed her as we all hustled to stand in front of the couch.
“Why?” she calmly asked.
“Because you’re an impostor.”
“Hey!” Kris snapped as she swatted Maggie a good one. “I thought we agreed not to use that word.”
Immediately, Maggie apologized to both Laura and Kris. Then, she smiled at Laura and said, “Parts of our friend have gone missing, but as luck would have it, we know exactly where those parts are. We’re going to kidnap you, get you back with those missing parts, and get our friend back.”
I couldn’t quite ascertain Laura’s reaction to the plan. Perhaps she had the same difficulty, for she said nothing.
Janice dared, “You have two choices, Laura. Either you come peaceably with your eyes closed, or you come kicking and screaming with the blue bra tied around your head.” She produced the bra she had been hiding behind her back and started twirling it over her head. “Which will it be?”
Laura stared at her for a moment, possibly assessing her limited options. Finally, she sat up and slowly twisted around as we backed up a bit to give her room. Unhurriedly, she placed her bookmark between pages, closed the book, and set it down beside her. Then, without a word, she lowered her head.
A moment of confused silence ensued.
“Laura, what exactly does that mean?” Maggie finally asked—thankfully, because I had no frickin’ clue.
“You’ll have to use the blue bra,” she answered.
Shit! That was not what we had anticipated.
Janice braved a laugh. “Does that mean you’ll be kicking and screaming, too?”
“That all depends on what you do to me.”
Okay, that seemed reasonable.
Janice cautiously approached and set about blindfolding her with Ginny’s bra. The task seemed simple enough, but elastic things had a tendency to do as they damn well pleased. But, Janice did not give up. She stubbornly struggled, forcing both Laura’s head and the bra to cooperate.
“Do not hurt her,” Holly ordered from the room’s periphery.
“We have no intention of hurting her,” Kris said, and she seemed to be two seconds from wussing out. “Do you need some help, Janice?”
“I can get the damn thing,” she insisted, and not a moment later, she did just that. She backed up so we could assess her workmanship, and Laura raised her head.
At any other time in life, what Laura looked like would have doubled us over in a fit of laughter. But at this juncture, she somehow seemed more vulnerable than hilarious, and I reminded myself of Maggie’s directive not to lose our nerve.
Maggie extended her hand to grab Laura’s. “Come on,” she said. “Make this easy on yourself.”
Wordlessly, she clasped Maggie’s hand and pulled herself off the couch. Maggie maneuvered her out of the living room, and we closely followed.
When we reached the front door, Maggie stopped to ask, “Holly, does she need to take any medications with her?”
“No,” she replied, “but you better take her cigarettes. She can get awfully cranky. Can’t you, babe?” She leaned and kissed her cheek.
“Hol, aren’t you going to stop them? Get me out of this.”
“Babe, they said they wouldn’t hurt you.” She began swatting us. “I’m serious, you guys. If you hurt her, you deal with me. I can get awfully cranky, too.”
“She will not be hurt,” Kris said in a way that both reassured and warned.
“We promise,” Maggie said, and Janice and I vowed the same.
I caught the pack of cigarettes Holly tossed to me just as Maggie opened the door. She slowly led her outside and headed for Janice’s car in the street, taking extra care on the inclined and bumpy lawn. Once there, she opened the back door.
Holly pushed through and wrapped her arms around Laura. As she tightly embraced her, tears spilled from her eyes. “I love you, babe,” she said. “You’ll be okay. Just trust them.”
The blue bra made it impossible to determine Laura’s expression, but I guessed it wasn’t much different from Holly’s pained one. If Laura was to trust us, who the hell were we to trust in order to know this was the right thing? It sure as hell didn’t feel right.
Laura whispered something to Holly, and then they kissed. As though accepting her sentence, she turned and groped her way into the back seat. I hurried around to get in before she could scoot all the way to the other side. Kris got in after her, and Janice and Maggie took the front.
In perfect silence, we drove, exchanging occasional glances that alternated between pity and guilt.
About twenty minutes later, we were in the midst of downtown Granton. It seemed happy in its Saturday morning bustle, and I wished some of it for ourselves.
“We need to stop for necessities,” Janice said as she eased into a parking spot.
We were making a run into Timmer’s Book & Bean, but through her blindfold, Laura had no clue. I knew Road Swill had the best coffee in town, but Laura loved the stuff from this joint. So, there we were: kidnappers with mercy we had been unable to check at the Crawford-McCallister door.
“Spare no expense,” the redhead who wasn’t paying told Maggie and Kris as they disembarked.
Maggie leaned her head into the car and said, “Kate, do not let her escape.”
I assured, “I don’t think she’ll want to make a run for it with Ginny’s bra around her head.”
Laura cracked my leg really hard. “I could if I felt like it.”
“Yes, you could,” I concurred and cracked her back, “but you won’t.”
Maggie and Kris disappeared into the store, and the three of us remained quiet—two of us with great difficulty. Janice kept rolling her eyes at me in the rearview mirror, and we both struggled not to laugh.
But, what the hell was so funny? As I watched cars whiz by, I thought about it.
Kidnapping Laura was a drastic thing, yet so was the fact that she had somehow deserted us, deserted her life. I missed her immensely. Maybe the need to laugh came from nervousness, a fear of the unknown territory upon which we attempted to tread. Maybe it stemmed from the sense that this was the closest any of us had really come to her since that dreadful day she had gotten shot. Shot! Who the hell wouldn’t change if they had gotten shot? But, our attempts at patience and sympathy did not pull her back in. In some ways, it allowed her escape. I wanted her back. We all did.
I rapped her leg. “You okay in there?”
She grunted, and I wondered what swirled in her brain. I remembered the last time we kidnapped her and Kris’ later supposition that she could have easily eluded capture. She could have this time, too. I chose to take her capitulation as a sign of hope. Maybe she missed herself, too. Maybe she had been waiting for us crybabies to do something drastic. It did require something drastic, didn’t it? We were masters at drastic. Okay, and maybe disaster, too. Still, we had to do something.
Soon, Kris and Maggie returned. Kris leaned in the back seat and asked Laura to extend her hand. “Be careful,” she instructed as she put a paper cup into her hand. “It’s cappuccino. Kate said it’s what you always get.”
“Timmer’s,” she wistfully surmised and moved the cup to her face. She took a whiff and offered what seemed a heartfelt thank you.
Then, a blessed cup came in my direction and Janice’s.
Kris and Maggie got back in, and Janice started the car. We simply sat there, sipping in silence for a few moments.
“Let’s roll,” Janice suddenly said and prepared to get us back into the flow of traffic, just as a familiar blue van passed. How convenient! Okay, how choreographed.
Janice sped up until we were right on the blue van’s ass, and that was when I saw something I would probably never forget as long as I lived.
Lover Doll waved at us from the backseat of the van. Okay, perhaps she had a little help from Claudia and Susan, but still, she frickin’ waved at us. With each wave of a blowup hand, with each wave of laughter we fought to tame, it felt more and more like a bona fide Lesbian Adventure Club weekend. Damn, I needed one of those. Damn, we all did.
Lover Doll abruptly disappeared, and in her place appeared the green-eyed beauty, Susan, Alison, and Holly. Yes, Holly. Seriously, would you attempt to kidnap Laura in full view of Holly without her cooperation?
See, this was June. Laura got shot in April. In May, we cancelled Maggie and Susan’s weekend because Holly and Laura wouldn’t come, despite the coaxing Holly did. We got together for breakfast without them, and even that somehow seemed sacrilegious, and it sure as hell proved depressing. This month’s weekend was to be Holly and Laura’s, and again, they refused—or more precisely, Laura refused, saying she wasn’t up to it.
But then Holly started making phone calls, and it became clear she believed something was wrong with Laura, something she had been unable to help her with, let alone even get her to admit. Laura’s feistiness was gone, she said, and that caused her worry and fear. And both those horrid feelings proved highly contagious. The nine of us decided we needed to do something—something drastic.
Since Laura had been shot, I went out to see her a few times a week, usually during my lunch breaks. I’d bring coffee I knew she wouldn’t decline, and we’d sit outside, sipping and smoking. At first, I just let her be. Then, I started probing to find out her state of mind, but her brain would simply stiff-arm me. Then, I started pushing, because each time I saw her, she seemed more distant, more aloof, less like the friend I had known for years. But, pushiness got me nothing—not even her irritation or anger. Just like Holly, I knew something was wrong, and I was at a loss, a profound loss.
Sometime during those phone calls between us, Holly determined that if any of us could get through to Laura, it was Maggie and Alison. That made sense to me for a variety of reasons. Each wore her heart on her sleeve. Each possessed an innate and indisputable kindness. More specifically, each had a unique characteristic vital to possibly butting heads with the formidable and pigheaded detective. Maggie greatly respected Laura, but she also had a knack for not being bowled over by Laura’s bravado. And Alison… Alison was strong in her own right, but if you knew her at all, you understood how easy it was to hurt her, and that bit of knowledge always forced Laura to relinquish her brassy exterior. And perhaps most importantly, Laura had a soft spot for both of them.
So, we decided to forego the unspoken rules of the Lesbian Adventure Club. Now more than ever, we needed to be Dykes Who Dared. For the first time in our illustrious history, a couple would not be in charge of the weekend. Rather, it would be our Cape-less Crusader and our yoga instructor. Just by saying it like that, the idea blossomed into perfect sense: Put her in a duck pose and save her ass.