“Battle lines? Retreat? Jesus, somebody needs some sleep.”
“Yeah, I do. I’m still right though.”
“Okay. Switching the channel now, what time do you want to head over to Titus’s homestead?”
“We can head out about 0730. It will take about half an hour to get out there.”
“Wanna leave from your house?”
“Sure. Do you need to call your parents and see if you can stay over?”
“I do not, but Gareth needs to see his mom.”
“How is the little dude?”
“The little dude is five now, Konan. He’s a persistent little turd. Gareth wants to know why his pre-school chums have dads, and he doesn’t.”
“Because his dad was a scumbag and got whacked by his own partners? That’s the truth of it, just tell him that.”
A sad smile crossed Lilly’s mouth, and I cringed. Why did I say that? I looked at Lilly, and said, “I’m sorry, Lilly. It’s gotta be tough talking to him about that.”
“It is, Konan. I’d put it that way to him too if he wasn’t five years old. It pains him to see the other kids playing with their dads, and he’s got a mom that’s always at work.”
“Would taking leave help sort it out, Lilly?”
“Crime doesn’t take a holiday, Konan. You know that. Best I can do is a weekend trip thrown in here or there.”
I pulled into the parking garage and shut off the car, and then I closed my mouth. I’d overstepped my boundaries and hurt my partner. She patted my arm and opened the door.
“I’ll see you in the morning, Konan. Have coffee made when I get there.”
“Roger, partner. I will.”
I waited until Lilly got in her vehicle and drove away, then I muttered “you stupid jackass” over and over while punching the steering wheel. Of all the people in the world that deserved to be hurt, Lilly Thompson wasn’t one of them.
Satisfied that my knuckles had been sufficiently punished for my verbal assault, I climbed out of the vehicle and walked toward the bus stop. From the corner of my eye, I noticed a man sitting on the bench watching me.
He didn’t move, and I stayed away. It was a scene from my past, the ghost of Blankenship or some derivative of it, I mused as I boarded the bus. When I turned to look at him from my seat, he was gone.
I had no idea why a sudden chill ran up my spine, but it did, nonetheless.
0730 came earlier than I expected, and Lilly was late. I made coffee and sat down in my recliner. I pulled on my boots and poured me a cup of coffee. The rumble of her engine informed me that Lilly had arrived, and I poured her a cup.
She walked to the door and stuck her head inside. I handed her a cup of coffee. She took it and sat down on the porch, I walked out and joined her.
Lilly sat in one of my rockers, I sat in another next to a stump and put my coffee down.
“Before we head out, Lilly, I’ve got something to say.”
“Um, last night I overstepped my boundaries with you. I know what you went through, and it was calloused of me to say what I did concerning Figueroa.”
“It’s okay, Konan.”
“It’s not okay, Lilly. I have never told you how much I admire you for choosing to keep your son, even after all that happened to you, you chose to let him live. He’s blessed, even if he doesn’t know it yet, that you are his mother.”
Tears welled up in my eyes, and I blinked them away. Lilly sipped her coffee and gave me a soft smile.
“Look at you,” she said with a smirk, “last night it was all battle lines this, and retreat that. Now, you’re a softie. Sleep does wonders. You look tired though, Konan. What happened?”
“I dreamt of my mother.”
“Oh. You never mentioned her before, or at length anyway. Why did you dream of her?”
“I don’t know.”
I sipped my coffee and looked out at my driveway. Tall trees full of green leaves covered the road and concealed my home from nosy neighbors. Lilly finished her coffee, and I took our cups into my trailer.
“Well, let’s go see if Jackson Titus has returned to our humble little town.”
“I sure hope not, Konan.”
I nodded in agreement, but I knew in my heart of hearts that we weren’t that lucky.