Chapter 20. On the gravel path

veronica.jpgPhoto by Heather D'Augustine

'Veronica Street' is a novel of Los Angeles by Jenny Burman, serialized here at LA Observed. Read previous chapters.

After Betschart's performance, Eva unloaded the dishwasher, then went out to check the Henrik's to-do list and schedule for tomorrow, and see him off to bed.

Martin dropped into Eva's aeron chair, swivelling it. He saw a piece of card stock on her desk and tore it down to credit card size. In the center of the card, he drew a pendant-like picture of Eva's face with an angelic expression and at the top he wrote, I Am A Citizen Of The United States Of Eva. He was decorating the card with a eucalyptus leaf pattern when Eva came in.

She let her hair down and stepped close, turning the chair so she could sit in his lap. She was so light - it surprised him sometimes. He tended to think of her as larger-bodied until she did something like sat on his lap. Likewise, whenever she returned from out of town he was surprised to find her so small, like she had hollow bones.

"Have you lost weight?"

"I doubt it. But since when are you talking?"

"I don't know."

He handed her his United States of Eva citizen's card.

"I made this for myself."

There. He got a genuine smile out of her. He had conjured the sprite who ran into his arms on Ashton Park Avenue.

"In this house, this card will grant you many privileges." She pulled out of her sweater pocket a string of black, pastic beads with no clasp on the end.

"What are those?"

"She had a twinkle in her eye. She led him upstairs, she forgetting Betschart, the slave and everything except for Martin's new secret.

If Martin possessed a new secret, he was not yet aware of it. He closed the bedroom windows against the rain and sat on the bed, laying back as Eva unbuttoned his shirt and then her own. The beads came out soon enough, and he never forgot them.

After, he turned toward her with a cheshire grin that didn't look like his own.

"Well, we made a huge investment just yesterday, and it's natural to feel stressed about it."

"And I do." He turned toward her. "I've never done this kind of thing before. I don't go to auctions and buy acreage."

"Yes, you do."

"Well, I do now. That's true. I mean, I've done it now."

"Are you worried about the money?"

"It's the slave, Eva. We need to get rid of him."

Eva sat straight up. "I can't do that."

"You mean, you won't."

"It's okay," she whispered. "We're just dizzy."

But there was something she knew, a certain kind of information. And her knowledge, he was out there--on the gravel path, with thoughts, with power, and a mind she could not read.

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