"Your mother's locked herself in the bathroom and she won't come out," Grandma said. "She's been in there for an hour and a half. It's the menopause. Your mother was always so sensible until the menopause hit."
"She's probably taking a bath."
"That's what I thought at first but she's never in there this long. I went up and yelled and banged on the door just now and there's no answer. For all I know, she's dead. She could have had a heart attack and drowned in the tub."
"Anyways, I thought you could get over here and unlock the door like you did last time when your sister locked herself in the bathroom."
At Christmas time my sister Valerie locked herself in the bathroom with a pregnancy test kit. The test kit kept turning up positive and if I was Valerie I would have wanted to spend the rest of my life locked in the bathroom too.
"I wasn't the one who unlocked the door," I told Grandma. "I was the one who climbed onto the roof over the back stoop and went in through the window."
"Well whatever you did, you better get over here and do again. Your father's off somewhere and your sister's at work. I'd shoot the lock off but last time I tried to do that the bullet ricocheted off the doorknob and took out a table lamp."
"Are you sure this is an emergency? I'm sort of in the middle of something."
"Hard to tell what's an emergency in this house anymore."
My parents lived in a small three bedroom, one bathroom house that was bursting at the seams with my mom and dad, my grandma, my recently divorced, very pregnant sister and her two kids. Emergencies tended to blend with the normal.
"Hang tight," I told Grandma. "I'm not far away. I'll be there in a couple minutes."
Lula looked down at Punky. "What are we gonna do with him?"
"We're going to take him with us."
"The hell you are," Punky said. "I'm not getting up. I'm not going anywhere."
"I don't have time to mess with this," I said to Lula. "You stay here and baby sit and I'll send Vinnie over to do the pick up."
"You're in trouble now," Lula said to Punky. "I bet Vinnie likes greased up fat men. People tell me Vinnie used to be romantically involved with a duck. I bet he's gonna think you're just fine."
I hustled down the stairs and out the front door to the Escape. I called Vinnie on the way to my parents' house and gave him the word on Punky.
"What are you nuts?" Vinnie yelled at me. "I'm not gonna go out to pick up some greased up naked guy. I write bonds. I don't do pick-ups. Read my lips ...you're the pick-up person."
"Fine. Then you go to my parents' house and get my mother out of the bathroom."
"Alright, alright, I'll do your pick-up, but it's come to a sad state of affairs when I'm the normal member of this family."
I couldn't argue with that one.
Grandma Mazur was waiting for me when I pulled to the curb. "She's still in there," Grandma said. "She won't talk to me or nothing."
I ran up the stairs and tried the door. Locked. I knocked. No answer. I yelled to my mother. Still no response. Damn. I ran down the stairs, out to the garage and got a step ladder. I put the ladder up to the back stoop and climbed onto the small shingled roof that attached to the back of the house and gave me access to the bathroom window. I looked inside.
My mom was in the tub with earphones on, eyes closed, knees sticking out of the water like two smooth pink islands. I rapped on the window, and my mom opened her eyes and gave a shriek. She grabbed for the towel and continued to scream for a good sixty seconds. Finally she blinked, snapped her mouth shut, pointed straight armed to the bathroom door and mouthed the word go.
I scuttled off the roof, down the ladder and slunk back to the house and up the stairs, followed by Grandma Mazur.
From To the Nines by Janet Evanovich. Copyright Janet Evanovich 2003. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from the publisher St. Martin's Press.
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No Man's Land
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Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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