November 2019 Newsletter
IN A BADGER WAY
She’d stopped speaking to him and they’d eaten their desserts in silence. Angry silence. But that was okay. He was fine with her being angry. He preferred an angry Stevie to a self-destructive Stevie. And what else could he call what she’d been planning for herself but self-destructive?
He parked the SUV and got out. By the time he stepped onto the curb, she had stormed her way up the house’s front steps and now stood on the porch, staring at the swing where Max was sitting.
Shen moved in beside her and turned, quickly taking a step back. “What happened to your face?”
“Don’t get so dramatic,” Max complained, ignoring the large diagonal skin tear from her forehead, across her nose, to the opposite jaw.
“Max,” Stevie said with a shake of her head. “You can’t keep getting into street fights with that cat.”
“A cat did that to you?” Shen asked.
“That fucking thing is rabid.”
“It’s not rabid,” Stevie replied. “Although if you are so concerned about rabies, you really should stop chasing those squirrels.”
Shen pointed at her face. “You really should . . . clean that.”
It was like the cat had dug in all the claws from one paw and just ripped downward at an angle. A few more hours and the wound would go septic.
“Don’t worry about my face.” Max lowered her phone. “Where have you two been?”
Knowing the constant bickering between Stevie and Max, Shen could only imagine the reply Max would get from her baby sister, but he never expected—
“On a date!”
Max raised a brow at Shen but he immediately shook his head. “No, we weren’t.”
“You took me out to eat,” Stevie replied calmly. “That’s a date.”
“I was being nice.”
“That is so cute,” Max said, now grinning. The effort made her wounds bleed. “What else did you guys do?”
“Then he took me out for ice cream.”
“That’s totally a date, dude.”
“We did not have a date.”
Stevie held up her middle and forefinger and said, “Two desserts. He bought me two desserts.”
“Awwwww. That is so cute!”
“And we’re going on a date tomorrow.”
“We are not!”
“You promised to take me to the Sports Center tomorrow morning,” she said, appearing completely innocent when she was not innocent at all! “Didn’t you?”
“Yes. I guess I did.”
“The Sports Center, huh?” Max glanced at her sister, then asked, “You think she’s kind of fat? She needs to lose a few pounds?”
Shen frowned. “What? No! Of course not.”
Stevie put her hand on his shoulder. “He said if I wanted to be his girlfriend, I’d have to be a certain weight. I have to lose at least another twenty.”
He started to argue, but quickly realized they were just messing with his head. Which Shen did not appreciate. He already had sisters who used to torture him like this while he was growing up; he didn’t need to experience that again.
“I’m going inside.”
“No kiss goodbye?”
He growled and started toward the front door, but an SUV pulled up at the curb and one of Kyle’s sisters came storming out from the driver’s side.
Kyle came running out after her, but she was fast. Not surprising. She was the dancer.
She came up the stairs and went right to Stevie.
“Give me my jeans,” she ordered.
“You heard me.”
“Sorry, sorry, sorry,” Kyle chanted, going around his sister and standing by Stevie’s side. “Stevie, you remember my sister.”
“Oh.” Stevie smiled. “Hi. Nice to meet you.”
“We’ve met. Now give me my jeans.”
“The ones you took from the house earlier today.”
“Ohhhh.” She nodded. “Right. I borrowed them.”
“Right. Now give them back.”
Berg and Dag came from around the side of the house; Berg’s gaze on Shen’s, the pair cringing at the same moment.
“Well,” Stevie glanced down at herself, “I’m still wearing them.”
“Take them off.”
“You may want me to wash them.”
“She’s not wearing panties,” Max explained, clearly enjoying herself. “She’s gettin’ pussy juice all up in your jeans!”
“Max!” Stevie barked.
“Ewwwww!” Kyle’s sister whined. “Get them off! Get them off! Get them off!”
“Look, my idiot sister is right. I’m going commando here. Let me throw them in the wash first. I’ll get them to you tomorrow.”
“But I want them now.”
Stevie looked at Kyle.
“O-C-D,” he replied.
“O-C-D?” she clarified. “Or O-C-D personality disorder? Because those are two different things and—”
“I know what the differences are.”
“And? Which is it?”
He shrugged. “Let’s put it this way. She’s one good trauma away from full-blown O-C-D.”
“Oh. I see.”
“You two do know I can hear you, right?”
“But do we care that you can hear us?” Kyle asked. “That is the true question.”
“I hate you.”
“Look,” Stevie interrupted, “I hate to do this, but you’ll get the jeans tomorrow.”
“Why tomorrow and not now?”
“Do you want them washed first?”
“Because I’m about to fall asleep and I’m going to be out for a few hours.”
“What are you talking about?”
But Stevie didn’t answer Kyle’s sister. Instead, she held up one finger and called out, “Shen?”
That’s when Shen jumped forward, his arms out, and like a freshly cut tree, Stevie just went down.
When he caught her in his outstretched arms, she was already snoring.
“Is she okay?” Kyle’s sister asked, actually showing concern.
“She does this sometimes,” Max said, going back to her phone. “After one of her . . .”—she briefly glanced around—“ . . . episodes. Just drop her in bed, Shen. She’ll be fine.”
Shen picked her up in his arms, glaring at Max. “She needs to lose a few pounds? What’s wrong with you?”
“I was joking! God!”
“No wonder that cat hates you.”
“That cat is trying to kill me!”
“I don’t blame her!”