Debbie knew Jonathan, and her voice often told me she was some sort of dominant. I knew she knew, if not the details, the broad strokes. “Inappropriate” was too mild a word to describe talking to her about my relationship with Jonathan.
“When I’m in the middle of it, it’s very comfortable. But if I think of it any other time, I start to feel like I should be ashamed. As a woman. I’m sorry I’m…” I’d gone too far.
“Don’t be sorry. You are what you are. You don’t have to apologize for it to me or anyone. Especially yourself. And not feminism either. It’ll get along fine with you doing what you want in private. Now, get to the floor.”
“Okay.” I ran back out to do my job.
When I got home that afternoon, the street was crowded with parked cars, and the foundation guy was still in my drive. I was stuck. I found a spot down the block and walked up the hill, wishing I’d worn sneakers. I crossed the street to my house next to a green minivan. I lived on a small block and knew most of the cars, but sometimes the odd car parked nearby when the lot at the coffee shop got too crowded. The minivan shouldn’t have raised an eyebrow or a hackle. I looked at it anyway. Just a glance. I saw a glass circle enclosed in a larger black one tucked behind the driver-side window, near the side mirror. Must be a trick of the evening light. Why would a camera lens be pointed at my front door?
I peered into the car. A cord went to the eye of the camera, which looked like a webcam, and a red light blinked at the bottom of the cable.
That was not okay.
What was he trying to do? Make sure I didn’t f**k the foundation guy? Check to see if Kevin came around? I stormed across the street, getting madder with each step. A camera was not protecting my health and happiness. It was creepy, stalker bullshit. I got my new keys out of the lockbox, then I remembered who paid for them.
Fucking great. He would have gotten the keys from Benita. I’d have to call her so she could take things out so I could have another locksmith, who I hired, put in new tumblers. Pain in the ass.
I took the whipped cream out of my fridge.
I couldn’t even think straight. I was full on white hot rage from my core to my fingertips as I stomped back across the street and sprayed whipped cream all over the minivan’s driver’s side window.
Let’s see what he saw through that. Motherfucker.
As I crossed back to my house, I texted him.
—WTF did you think you were doing with the stalker bullshit—
Dave, the foundation guy, stopped me at the sidewalk, wielding a clipboard. “Miss Faulkner? I have an estimate.” I took the clipboard. The number was insane. “Your house is falling down the hill. We need to jack it up and shift it. The whole thing. Then it’s gotta be bolted. It’s a big job.”
I scanned the work list, then the line at the bottom for a signature. “I’m not the homeowner. It’s my mother’s house.”
“I assume you can’t continue without the homeowner’s signature?”
He looked disappointed. The guy needed work, and I didn’t want to screw him out of it. I read the estimate again. I couldn’t afford the work, but since I found out Dr. Thorensen’s house would meet my house on the day of “the big one,” not getting it fixed was irresponsible.
“I’ll bring this to my mom to sign and let you know.”
He brightened. I didn’t know if I was lying or not. Maybe my mother would shell out the money to protect her property. I could mail her the permits to sign. Or fax them. Or carrier pigeon. Anything to avoid Castaic.
But as God was my witness, I would not let some guy who couldn’t trust me, and who put cameras on me, pay to fix my foundation or change my locks. Oh, f**k no.
My phone rang. Jonathan. I waved to Dave, and he walked to his truck. I answered the phone in a white heat. “I can’t do this,” I said.
“What happened? What are you talking about?” He was in a crowded place full of voices shouting. In my mind, I saw him pressing his finger to his other ear.
“I do not need to be watched. I don’t need you if you can’t trust me.” He didn’t answer. “Say something.”
“I just want to make sure you’re all right.”
“I’m. All. Right.” My voice was tight and firm, pure intention in every syllable.
“I didn’t think it was that big a deal.”
“Fuck? What? You don’t think it’s that big… Are you from another planet?” I paced my living room as Dave pulled his truck out of my driveway.
“Monica, calm down.”
“Calm… What? No! I will not calm down. This is serious. This is a problem. And you know what? I don’t have time for it. I don’t have time to describe to you proper boundaries outside the bedroom.”
“You’re out of line.”
“Don’t you use that voice with me now. You’re out of line.”
“I’m coming over there.”
I hung up.
I wanted to run. I wanted to somehow foil his stupid f**king plan to come over and soothe the common sense right out of me. But I had to shower and change to play at Frontage. Rhee and I had agreed to continue on a trial run, and I wanted to be my best, not all screwed up. When I got out of the shower, my phone was ringing. I picked it up without looking, thinking it was Jonathan.
“My doors are locked.”
Fuck, not Jonathan. The caller ID identified the caller as Jerry, the producer I’d done a scratch cut with two weeks earlier.
“Hi, sorry. Thought you were someone else. How’s it going?”
“Good, I’m having drinks with Eddie Milpas tonight. He’s one of our acquisitions guys. You playing that dinner club?”
“You playing the song we cut?”
“I don’t usually play my own stuff. I can ask.”
“Do it. He’s looking for something, and I think you have it.”
My heart raced. “Thanks. I’ll see you tonight.”
“Great. Keep the doors locked.”
I hung up. It had been twenty minutes since Jonathan called. I stuffed my crap in a bag and ran out with my hair still wet.
“Lil.” I knocked on the window. “Forget Sheila. Take me to Echo Park.”