Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Part 13



I was sitting in the sheriff's office spinning around in his desk chair when he came in.  He stopped short, nodded to the man that had been about to follow him in and then shut the door in his face. I got up out of the chair but wanted to keep spinning.  I didn't though, that would have been a "childish and emotionally stunted" thing to do.

I went to the other side of his desk and sat in the chair the man outside probably would have sat in.  Instead of sitting behind his desk the sheriff sat in the chair next to the one I was in.  "Deandra Dawn, that face would curdle milk."

Trying harder for him than I would have for most people I kept my voice even as I said, "They don't believe me."

"Who doesn't believe you and about what?"

I tried to get rid of the pouty face I knew that I had on.  I was trying real hard.  But when you're short and have a small, turned up nose it doesn't give you quite as much scope to look righteously indignant as a long legged blonde bombshell.  "Dr. Riccardo and those military people.  They don't believe I've been in the city the whole time.  They want me to prove I'm not lying."

The sheriff's lips tightened.  "And did they say just how they wanted you to prove this?"

"I have to take them back the way I came."

I could tell he was mad.  "And you don't want to go."

"No."  There, I said it.  But then I said, "I'll take them as far as the bridge.  I'll show them how I used the harness and where I climbed but I am not going to cross that bridge."

"You don't have to do that much if you don't want to," he said fidgeting in his chair the way only an adult could get away with.  "There's absolutely no sense in this."

"Well if I don't then they'll be able to tell everyone that I lied so they won't be so freaked out that people can get out of the city despite their dumb wall."

He gave me a look then sighed.  "Witt said you had a good brain."  He was quiet for a moment.  "They could say that anyway even if you took them all the way into the city."

I snorted in a less than ladylike way and said, "If I took them all the way into the city they wouldn't be coming back out.  I might not be coming back.  They can't do what you have to and I can't make them.  There was only twelve puss brains yesterday and they just stood there shaking in their boots and wouldn't shoot because they were going to hit their precious trucks and might have to walk or something.  The people around here are too soft."  I looked at him under my lashes and added, "Even Lee.  He's too nice.  To survive the city you have to ... lose something.  It's going to get like that here too."

"Deandra Dawn ..."

I shook my head.  "You still have your lights and your water on demand.  You still have food ... it may not be the same kind of food as before but it is still there and no one goes hungry.  You feel safe.  But you aren't.  And that's the part that will get people killed.  That wall gave you some breathing room that you should have been using to get ready.  All people did was try to go back to the way things used to be.  It'll take more than a wall for it to be that way again."

He sighed.  "Well you're in a mood young lady."

I thought I'd completely goofed.  Dad had always said if I was in trouble and he wasn't around I was to go to the sheriff but it didn't sound like he was hearing me.  Then he surprised me.

"But then again I've been in a mood for months now myself.  That's why I've been so hard on Lee.  But I'm just one man, even if I'm his father.  When everyone else is telling him something else it is very hard to get him to believe me.  One of the reasons that I agreed to him going out on the salvaging runs despite his age is so that he could be exposed to things he wouldn't be if I kept him wrapped up and safe here in town.  I already lost his mother and sister, I don't want to lose him too and if that means making him angry enough to see things he doesn't want to see then so be it."  He sighed before adding, "We'll get back to the issue with the infecteds in a moment.  Now you tell me what else is bothering you."

"Aren't the puss brains enough?"

"Deandra Dawn, I'll have you know Witt would get that exact same look on his face when something had burnt his tail feathers and he needed to talk about it."

I thought about it then said, "There's nothing wrong with not being ready to take on all the rights and responsibilities of being a fully grown woman."

His eyebrows parked themselves up in his hairline.

I continued on.  "Seriously, just because I don't cuss and don't care to discuss certain things does not mean that I am traumatized or emotionally stunted."

The beginning of an all too understanding look crossed his face.  "Whew.  Said that did they?"

"She did.  Just because she's tall and looks like a model and can lead men around with both her front side and her back does not mean she knows everything."

"Dr. Riccardo?"

"Yes.  And I do not have a crush on Sgt. Watson.  I didn't have a problem with her thinking that even if it isn't true but that was a very rude thing to say out loud; especially since she said it in front of everyone and they smiled and laughed at me like it was silly and cute.  Silly and cute.  Grrrr.  First off I haven't known him long enough to go stupid on him like that and mostly I wouldn't anyway because it would be a bad way to repay him for getting me a lift back home.  He's just nice ... like Dad and you.  A real man kind of guy.  I can tell the difference you know, even if she doesn't think I can."

"Really."

"Yes.  And Dad would have had kittens if I'd ... well you know what I mean.  Nice girls that want to stay nice just don't act like that.  And no matter what they say they can't make me act like that or even want to act like that.  She seems bent about the fact that I won't no matter how much I get egged on."

He nodded.  "I happen to agree with you there, but I'll let you in on a little secret.  I'm not too sure that Dr. Riccardo understands that.  She's a nice woman but she's ... hmmmm ... a liberated kind.  What she considers ... er ... age appropriate and allowable just isn't the way girls around here are supposed to be raised."

Only part of what he said made sense.  I asked him, "What's being liberated got to do with it?  I'm liberated too.  If I was eighteen I could vote.  Dad would have never made me marry someone I don't want to like they do in some other countries.  I don't have to be a slave to anyone.  I could work a job and have a bank account if things like that still existed.  I can own things in my own name.  And I've got opinions all my own.  Being liberated is not the problem.  Being stupid seems to be their problem."

I was stepping close to the line and I guess the Sheriff felt he had to defend the adults.  "Whoa now Honey.  They aren't stupid people.  Actually they are very smart ... maybe too smart.  They believe in their smartness so much they can't see the danger that they could be wrong."

"Like Toddie."

He looked at me then admitted slowly, "Like your brother.  And speaking of, you ready to talk to me about what's been going on with you since Z-Day?"

So I told him.  Some parts made him sad.  Some parts made him mad.  But he never called me childish and he never called me a liar which was way better than anyone else had done.  Sgt. Watson hadn't wanted to hear what I could tell him because he knew it would make him mad or embarrass him.  Lee couldn't hear what I was saying because he was too nice to understand what I had I lived with.  The sheriff wasn't squeamish like that.  He knew he had to know so he could put things in perspective.

4 comments:

  1. This is one of my very favorites of your stories. These old eyes find the grey print on black background very hard to read though . I need glasses ugh

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  2. Great story. Just found it. The print problem you refer to started about pt.10 or 11 didn't it?I thought my monitor dimmed.

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  3. Even otherwise smart people have a "normalcy bias" and ignore things that interfere with their view of normal. Has and will continue to cause problems with survival on an individual basis.

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  4. Reading again to catch up. Just as good the second time. You've got some mad skills Kathy. Thank you!

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