Home > Savannah Blues (Weezie and Bebe Mysteries #1)(5)

Savannah Blues (Weezie and Bebe Mysteries #1)(5)
Mary Kay Andrews

“For Christ’s sake! It’s a garage behind the house your husband lives in with his girlfriend,” Daddy said.

“Ex-husband,” Mama said, always helpful. “I guess we should be grateful she’s got a roof over her head, Joe. If it weren’t for your brother James, she’d be out on the streets. Or back here, living with us.”

Be sweet, Weezie, I thought, biting my lip. But I knew I’d live in a Dumpster in hell’s back alley before I moved back into that princess pink shrine at my parents’ house.

From their point of view, I was a mess, I knew. I was over thirty, newly divorced, with no money or direction or marketable skills. Dropping out of the local community college to marry Talmadge Evans III had seemed like a good idea when I’d done it ten years ago. The ink on his Georgia Tech architecture degree was barely dry, and we were tired of having sex in the back seat of his mother’s big white Lincoln Continental.

Genevieve Evans has always driven Lincolns, and his father, Big Tal, has always driven Cadillacs. Tal’s family are what Mama likes to call “well-fixed.”

In Savannah, that’s a euphemism for old, Episcopalian money. “Filthy rich” on the other hand, is new, Yankee money. “Stinking rich” is Jew money. If a woman is “popular,” it means she puts out. If a man is “artistic,” he’s gay. If a rich kid is “troubled,” he’s a sociopath. It’s easy if you’ve lived here long enough. And the Foleys have always lived in Savannah. Well, always since Aloysious Francis Foley came here from county Kerry, Ireland, in the 1850s to help lay track for the Southern Railroad.

Daddy turned on the television on the kitchen counter, sat down at the chrome-and-Formica dinette table, and unfolded his television viewing chart. He frowned. Jeopardy would not be on for another half hour. He would have to settle for Wheel of Fortune.

“Selling junk!” Daddy muttered. “What the hell kind of work is that?”

“I’m a picker,” I told my father for the bazillionth time. “I buy antiques at the source and fix them up and sell them to antique dealers. It’s a real job and I make real money.”

“Garbage picker,” Mama said, lapping up her bourbon/tea.

“Look at the time,” I said, edging toward the door. “Bye-ee.”

“What’s your hurry?” Daddy asked. “Have lunch. You look like you could use a free meal.”

I snatched another handful of potato chips and dashed for the door. “Thanks!” I called over my shoulder.

Chapter 3

James Aloysious Foley leaned back in his chair and studied the wooden fan blades doing slow circular laps around the high pressed-tin ceiling over his head. He sighed, then looked back at the woman sitting in the wing chair opposite his desk, who was waiting for him to say something profound.

“You see, Father James,” she began, dabbing nervously at her forehead with a crumpled tissue, “I don’t want a divorce. Divorce is a sin. I just want you to fix it so that Inky brings his paycheck home like he’s supposed to.”

“Mrs. Cahoon, please,” James said. “I’m not Father James anymore, remember? I’m out of the priesthood. I’m a lawyer. Now, from what you’ve told my secretary, you haven’t had much of a marriage for a long time. It’s time you ended it. Start a new life for yourself and let Inky get on with his.”

Denise Cahoon jumped from the chair, her face flushed beet red. In her early fifties, she was a good-looking woman by James’s standards; nice trim figure, sleek dark hair pushed back behind her ears, soulful gray eyes. Why she wanted to cling to some beer-soaked lout like Inky Cahoon was a mystery.

“That’s not true!” she said in a piercing voice. “Our vows are sacred. I don’t want a new life. I want my old one back. You make Inky do the right thing. Call his boss down at the newspaper and tell him Inky’s spending his paycheck on whores and liquor. Tell him they’re to send that check right to the house instead of letting Inky spend it all.”

James looked back up at the ceiling fan. Sometimes he swore he could see patterns in the dust motes as the blades cut through them. Running horses, majestic oak trees. Today, as Denise Cahoon implored him to salvage the unsalvageable, he swore the dust swirls looked exactly like the holy card of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the one that was pierced by a flaming sword and bound in chains. He shook his head and looked back at Denise Cahoon.

“Mrs. Cahoon,” he said, his voice taking on the gentle note of the confessor he’d been for twenty-four years (one year shy of his silver jubilee, he’d up and quit, turned in his cassock, surplice, scapular, and holy-water font), “Inky moved out five years ago. You told my secretary he’s been living with a girl from the composing room. They have a four-year-old child and another on the way. That doesn’t sound like a good sign for your marriage.”

“It’s probably not his kid,” Denise said belligerently. “That girl sleeps with anything in pants. I’ve seen her, the slut. Inky just wants to think it’s his. He always wanted kids.”

James reached into a tray on his desk, got out the divorce forms, handed them across the desk to Denise Cahoon.

“It’s probably for the best,” he said. “No children involved. Look over those papers, call me, and we’ll get them all filled out. We can file for the divorce; everything could be taken care of in six weeks.”

She stared at James as though he were an alien, beamed down there to that dusty little office on Factors Walk by whatever unholy forces had already been at work destroying her life for the past five years.

“That’s it? That’s all you can tell me? No counseling, no family therapy? Just boom, sign here, it’s over? Twenty-two years and now I’m no longer Mrs. Bradley R. Cahoon Junior?”

Her voice rose a little with every syllable she spoke, and her face got pinker, and she loomed higher and higher over James’s desk. It occurred to James that Inky had possibly been wise to get out while the getting was good.

“You can call yourself whatever name you like,” James pointed out. “But I’m afraid divorce is probably your only option now. If you drag things out, it’ll just cost you more money in legal fees. After five years and two children, it’s doubtful to me that Inky is going to have a change of heart.”

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