Welcome To the Neighbourhood

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Tessa makes her move...

5:30 p.m. Friday

I have always been a pacer. Nerves are my battery power. Back and forth, back and forth. It's past dinner on Friday night and I'm supposed to go and get my pills from Jacob, but, I'm so freaking nervous. I feel like he could tell that I'm nervous and that makes me even more nervous. Nervouser? Is that a word?

5:32 p.m.

Maybe I'll sit for a minute, muster some courage. Maybe I'll just see what's on. OH! This is the episode of Oprah I've been waiting for, I better nuke some pizza and grab a throw blanket. I'll go over after Oprah. I couldn't possibly be expected to miss the 'Releasing Your Inner Sexpot' episode?

6:02 p.m.

Ok, I have to go now. Maybe he has plans for tonight and he's waiting on me. Maybe if I wait a few more minutes he'll go and I can just go and see him tomorrow. No, I have to do it tonight. I've wanted to be near him for months and now I have the opportunity I can't just be a wuss and go and wuss out, all wussy-like. I'm not a wuss. Ok, I'm just going to go and get changed and go over there.

6:34 p.m.

CRIPES. I don't have one thing in here that fits me right. Is my ass getting bigger? Maybe the sundress. No, that's too obvious. I have to look like I just stopped by and am wearing what I was wearing before, but good, better than good. Easy and beautiful. Maybe my tight black pants and that sparkly tank? No, that's not it, too hooker. Jeans it is. Jeans and my safety shirt, the one that makes my boobs look big and my stomach flatter. That's it.

6:48 p.m.

I can't cover this pimple for the life of me. He's going to stare at it and think I'm disgusting. I'll wear a band-aid and tell him I cut myself making a sandwich. Making a sandwich? I'm such an idiot. I'll just keep my face facing a little to the left. Maybe he won't see it. That's impossible, it's massive, it's like the size of my face. CRAP. *sigh*

6:56 p.m.

Ok... *sigh*... just walk. Left, right, left, right. Ok, now knock. KNOCK. Ok.

*Knock, knock, knock*

Oh, ok. I did it. Oh god, I'm so nervous. What do I say? I never thought of what to say. Maybe he's not there. Oh god, I hear something. Does he have a dog? Maybe he's in the shower. Maybe he didn't hear me.

*Knock, knock, knock*

*Thump, thump, thump. Click. Clank.*

Oh my god he's coming, oh my god, oh my...

"Hey Tess"
"Uh, Tessa, but that's ok"
"Oh, right, sorry again"
"It's ok, really"
"So, what's up hun?"

Oh my god, did he just call me hun, my face is getting hot. I hope he can't tell I'm nervous. Oh god, is he looking at my pimple? Face to the left...

"Um, well, I wanted to..."
"OH! The pills, right"
"Listen, about that, I couldn't get them"
"Oh... oh, well... that's ok"
"If you don't mind my saying, I don't really think you need them anyway"
"Oh, ha... thanks, but they're not for me"

Good way to start Tessa, tell a lie. Dumb-ass.

"Good, cause honestly hun, there's no need"
"Ah, thanks"

Give him that look, bashful but sexy, head down, eyes up, keep your face to the left...

"Ok, well, thanks anyway"
"Hey, don't mention it"

Ok Tessa, walk away now, you're staring. He'll think you're weird. Go!

"Hey Tessa... have you eaten yet?"

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Stevens Trudges Forward

Detective Paul Stevens disliked the guy immediately. During his 18 years on the force, Stevens had gleaned considerable skill in sizing people up at a glance and these days, people rarely surprised him. As the he sat next to his wife on the plush leather sofa, Stevens knew that the skinny marriage counselor sitting across from them in the tailored grey suit with the red suspenders and platinum tie pin would prove no exception.

As was obvious from the elaborately decorated office, business was booming in the troubled marriage trade. The seventh floor office was lavishly carpeted and extravagantly decorated with fragile antiques. The room contained nearly a dozen large paintings; Stevens assumed that all of them were ridiculously expensive, for he couldn’t think of any other reason for them to be so brazenly abstract, ugly and stupid.

If this guy gave even half a shit about the couples that came to him for help, Stevens thought, he’d at least have the decency to stick his golf-ball-sized gold Piaget in his desk drawer before his clients walked in the door.

The dark grey clouds outside matched Stevens’ mood as he stared out the window while the counselor droned on. “As I tell all my clients, the path to a healthy, nurturing relationship and a fruitful marriage is paved with open and honest communication. Neither of you should ever feel ashamed to express your true feelings to each other.”

The grizzled detective chuckled at the statement’s inadvertent irony. The reason they were sitting here, after all, was because his wife Eileen had chosen to “express” her true feelings by systematically packing up her key belongings and moving in with her sister on the other side of the city. The timing couldn’t have been worse. This Jocasta Smith thing was plaguing him. In all his years as a cop Stevens had never seen a case like it.

On the surface the case was a straightforward rape -- Leo the middle-aged landscaper gets a sudden hard-on for some mature woman action and plies old lady Smith with a batch of Seconal. The party ends a few days later with Stevens taking statements and trudging through ankle-deep dirt, moss and muck in forest in Stanley Park, searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack.

But for Stevens, too many things didn’t add up. First, the timing was all wrong. Smith was missing for more than three weeks. She couldn’t possibly have survived that long drugged and passed out in the forest without succumbing to exposure. So where had the woman been all this time?

The second problem rested with the case’s only suspect, Leo Oliver. So far Stevens could find no specific motive, nor any physical evidence connecting the man to the assault. The rape kit results at the hospital were inconclusive; furthermore, Leo himself kept repeating the same vague story and swearing that he couldn't remember anything else. Stevens hadn’t pushed for a polygraph yet, but regardless the veteran cop sensed some truth in the man’s statement. When the uniforms picked him up, Oliver’s physical condition was nearly as bad as his alleged victim’s. And he had been genuinely scared.

Then there was the “thing” Smith kept rambling about. She was sure that it raped her, but it definitely wasn’t Leo. It was sort of like a bear, but sort of not. Sort of like a man, but sort of not. Sort of floating, but sort of not. Stevens just couldn’t put the all the different pieces together. Yet.

Now, on top of the increasing pressure for answers from Smith’s daughter -- not to mention that fucking reporter MacIntosh -- Stevens had to sit here and deal with a wife who felt angry and ignored and some pencil-necked psychotherapist who loved to listen to the sound of his own voice at $185 an hour. Stevens turned his attention to one of the paintings near the window. To the cop, the painting looked like the purple tail of a seahorse sticking out of the mouth of a dancing green-and-white hippopotamus outlined by skewers of vegetables amidst a cloudy aquamarine sky. But he supposed it could have been something entirely different.


Stevens snapped his gaze away from the painting. “Pardon?”

“I said,” continued the counselor, “did you want to address that statement?”

“Sorry, which statement was that exactly?”

Eileen glared. “The one where I said I was tired of you not fucking listening to me.”

His wife didn’t give him a chance to respond before turning back to the counselor. “You see what I mean? I’ve been patient. I’ve been understanding. But I’m tired of being the mistress that comes second to your goddamn job.”

“So the job is the problem?” Stevens said.

“Stop being an ass. You’re the problem.”

“I’ve been a cop for as long as we’ve been married, Eileen. How come now it’s suddenly such a big deal?”

“It became a big deal the moment you started obsessing over your cases. You never used to be this bad. You used to leave all that drama at work, where it’s supposed to be. Now you come home all irritable and lost in thought. God help me whenever I try to ask you what’s wrong. Lord knows how you refuse to actually talk about anything.”

“You know I don’t discuss my cases. Why do I have to keep telling you that?”

“Since when does police work revolve around ghosts hiding inside bears and shapeshifting shamans and things? The few hours a day you come home, you either fall asleep on the couch or you bury your nose in one of your precious animation books.”

“It’s not animation, Eileen. It’s animism. It’s a completely different thing.”

Eileen made a disgusted sound and waved her hand in the air. “I don’t care what it is. I have to put up with a hell of a lot being a policeman’s wife. I shouldn’t have to deal with all this hocus-pocus spirit malarkey.”

The counselor leaned forward. “Is that what’s bothering you inside, Paul? Are you perplexed about the supernatural?”

“Look, it’s just a fucking case, all right? I thought we were here to discuss our relationship. That’s the thing that happens to be perplexing me at the moment.”

“Well Paul, as I tell all my clients, sometimes in order to isolate the problems in a relationship we have to take a few unexpected detours.”

Stevens held his breath for a moment as he clenched and unclenched a massive fist. He finally said quietly, “Is the hour up yet?”

“That’s right,” sniffed Eileen. “Bury it all away. Keep it inside. Typical.”

“I’ll tell you what’s typical...,” said Stevens. His sentence was interrupted by the shrill ring of his cell. Stevens fumbled to dig out the phone from his jacket pocket.

“You’re kidding me, right?” said Eileen. “This is a joke, right? You’re not possibly thinking of actually taking this call.”

“I believe there’s a sign in my waiting area, Paul, that suggests turning off all cell phones and pagers for the duration of our sessions. As I tell all my clients…”

But Stevens was no longer listening. He quickly scanned the number on the call display. Finally, he thought. This is exactly the call I’ve been waiting for.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


"Shit, Az, watch it Keith's been bitching about the noise."
"Urrpp, fuck 'im. Fuckin fachist. You know, you know, you know..."
And Az was out on her feet. Wes leaned her up against the wall and leaned againt her to hold her up while he flexed his shoulder and arm, it had gotten sore hauling her up the stairs.

He looked at her and saw how the norms looked at her; long scraggly dark hair that was usually matted at the back and allways hiding her face. She didn't bath often enough and distained anything girly that could be construed as maintaining her appearences. Her clothes were replesent with food stains and dog hairs. He never could figure where she picked up dog hairs cause she didn't have a dog, no one she hung with had a dog (as far as Wes knew). She never stayed in the same apartment for more than a couple months (that's when the rent would start bouncing and the neighbours would start complaining about the noise and the smell of garbage). She was incapable of holding any sort of work. She would get fired from vounteer work. Her breath smelled like asse. And, she was his sister.

Az started out as Sandra, with a soft a, and when she read "The lion, the witch & the wardrobe" she became fascinated with Azreal. She memorised everyline he said in the whole series. That may have been an indication of her future obsessive-compulsive behaviour. Wes started calling her Az as a joke and it just stuck.

Wes is 3 years her junior and has always been the older of the two. Az never seemed to grow past her fourteenth birthday. She has always retained her rebeliousness and found a devine calling at getting under everybodys skin and on their nerves. She had a talent for being an olympic caliber pain in the asse at the best possible times.
The summer of her fourteenth birthday was probably the turning point in their lives. Az was becoming a young adult and she was spending all of her time with friends, always skiping school, her tutors, band practice, dinner. Wes had gone to summer camp, after spending 2 months begging, pleading, and whining to his parents. It was kinda fun, some of his friends from school were there and one kid from the block was there with his crybaby little brother. The would spend all night devising ways of making the little baby cry or squeal to the camp counselours. But it was also kinda sucky, you had to do what you were told and if you wanted to anything that wasn't on the list of scheduled activities you had to get permision and beg on of the CC's to supervise. That and the lake was freakin cold.

When camp was finally over Wes was busting to tell everybody how awsome it was, just to rub their noses in it. All his friends were jealous of him cause of all the stuff he did at camp (although he did freely embelish most of it). Except for Az. She was like a different person. She was never a girly-girly like their mom or some of her friends, but now she seemed to ab trying to push people away. Her closet was almost empty. His mother said she had come home one night and burned everything in her closet in the bar-b-que pit and almost everything in her drawers before they had noticed and stopped her. She wouldn't say why and wouldn't talk to her friends anymore. If they came to the door she would say something sarcastic and mean then slam the door in their faces. She seemed to get pleasure out of actually hitting them with the door if they wearn't fast enough. And she would throw books at Wes if he came into her room.Their parents tried to pretend this was a phase and thought they hid their little conversations about "maybe getting her some help" from him. But he always heard, people forget kids hear everything.

Before they could get her to see a therapist, she got arrested for attempting to set a stray cat on fire. She hadn't actually done it, she just doused it with gas and was threatening to throw a match at it. The story was that she was trying to impress some of the "bad" kids in the neighbourhood but went too far. They only wanted to be seen as "bad" not actually be "bad". He read the pamphlets his mom hid in the side-board about schziophrenia. He understood what it was, but he couldn't get "why"?

Since then, he's always tried to look after her.