Monday, November 27, 2017

Chapter 339 What are friends for


What? Simon said. Why would you have Uncle Tommys number?

Dude, he has Rangers season tickets and he knows how much I like hockey, Ronnie said, looking through his contacts list on the cell. He calls me up and we go whenever I can make it. We go to Mets games, too, and to see the Knicks whenever theyre on a winning streak.

What the hell. He never calls me! Simon whined.

Why would he? He figures you cant sit comfortably for that long with that stick up your butt, Ronnie said, sharing a chuckle with Sophie. Besides, he knows youre at medical school, and that youre very serious about it and that you cant just take off at a moments notice. I bet we can catch more games now that Ill be living in the city.

Waityoure going to live in the city? Whenwhy? Simon asked.


Gotta job, Ronnie said, vaguely.

Doing what? Who would hire you? Simon continued his interrogation, sounding more and more skeptical.

Like Cassies brotherI mean father? Sophie said, casting a sympathetic look toward her friend.

Another bartender job? Mom will be so proud, Simon said.

Bartending isnt bad…” Cassandra said, but as usual no one heard her soft voice.

Any work is decent work and a learning experience, Simon. Thats what Grampa says and he should know, Ronnie said. He worked as a bartender once.

He told you that? Simon said, incredulous.

No, he read it at the bottom of a Cracker-Jack box, Sophie snapped.

So, wheres this job? Simon asked, ignoring her.

Nowhere youd know, Ronnie said, frowning at his phone.

You dont have a job at all, do you? Simon said, smirking. Youre just making it up because youre tired of babysitting Dads new brats.

Shut the hell up, Simon, Ronnie said.

Hes got a great job at Abercrombe and Fitch as a…”

Sophie…” Ronnie tried to stop her, but too late.

“…sales manager!

Even Ronnie stared at her in surprise, but wisely said nothing to contradict her.

Thats real nice, Ronnie, but…” Cassandra tried to interject but was again ignored.

Sales manager? What experience do you have in sales? Simon asked.

About as much as he does in bartending and he did great, Sophie defended. Frankie even said so.

What are you, his agent? Simon said.

I could be! she said.

Hello! Can we get back to finding my mother? Cassandra shouted. 

All eyes turned toward her, looking guilty.

Im sorry, Cassandra, Simon said. "Of course we should do that. Ron?" 

You can get in touch with your Uncle Tommy. Can you do that now, please, Ronnie?” Cassandra pleaded.

Umyeahonly thing is…” Ronnie said, putting down his phone. Its Christmas and Uncle Tommys in Delaware visiting his family and Id hate to bother him there.

Cassandra looked ready to cry.

You understand, Cassie, dont ya? Ronnie said. He doesnt get much time off during the year. Dads law firm keeps him real busy, so he always goes there for Christmas week when nearly everything is closed. Hell be back right after New Years.

You waited this long to find your mom, Cassie, Sophie said. Its only another week.

Cassandra bit her lip and nodded. But what do I do in the meantime? Im NOT going back home, no matter what, but I dont have enough money with me to even get a room at the Motel 6. Bank doesnt open until tomorrow…”

You can stay with us, Ronnie and Sophie said at the same time.

Two geniuses, you are, Simon muttered. Where do you think her brother…”

Father, Ronnie corrected.

Whatever! Where do you think Frankie will look first for Cassandra? Simon asked.

Sophie and Ronnie exchanged worried glances. My house, they said, simultaneous.

Bingo, Simon said. We have to take you somewhere your family will never think of, Cassandra.

Like where? Sophie asked.

Ronnie stared at Cassandras miserable expression. I wasnt going to leave until after New Years, butthis is an emergency.

What are you saying, Ronnie? Cassandra said.

I think you should stay at Dads apartment in the city, Ronnie said. Frankie doesnt know about it and…”

Thats crazy, Simon said. Cassandra in Manhattan, all by herself?

She wont be by herself. Ill be there, Ronnie insisted.

You and Cassandra living together? Simon shouted. Even worse. I dont think so.

Not living together…” Ronnie said. "Just...living in the same apartment."

"How is that any different?" Simon asked.

Im with Simon, Sophie said. I meanits like taking the country mouse into the big, bad city and letting the rats feed on her.

Hey! Cassandra said, obviously affronted. Im not totally helpless!

When have you ever been outside of Catalpa Valley? Sophie asked, her arms folded over her chest. I mean besides Meridale for community college?

Cassandras cheeks turned crimson, looking very much like a cornered country mouse.

Like I said, she wont be alone, Ronnie said. You can stay in Simons room, across the hall from mine. I can help you find a job if ya want, on my days off Ill show you around so you can get a feel for the city and Ill take you to see Uncle Tommy as soon as hes in town. Youll love him, Cassie. Hes a total hoot! But hes very professional when he has to be. Simon, you wont mind her staying in your room, right? You havent used it in well over a year.

I…don't...” Simon started.

But what about your dad? Cassandra asked. Will he be okay with me living in his apartment? I mean, I cant pay rent or anything.

Ocourse not! Ronnie said. He loves you and hed do anything to help you... but we cant tell him.

What? You gotta get permission from him! she said.

No, listen…” Ronnie said, scrunching his face in concentration. What is it he always says? Plausible deniability or something.

Huh? Sophie said.

If Dad doesnt know where you are, he wont be lying when your when Frankie comes looking for you and he says he doesnt know where you are.

But what happens when he asks you and Sophie and Simon? Cassandra asked. You all know.

Pretty sure we can all bluff a little, Sophie said. We can say you were here for a little while, but you were upset so you left andyou didnt say where you were going and we just assumed you were heading back home.

Perfect, Ronnie said.

Buthow would I get there into Manhattan? Cassandra asked.

Ronnie shrugged. I gotta car now. I can take you, he said. And Frankie doesnt know I have a car so…”

We wont give you away, Cassie, Sophie said. Promise.

Even if Frankie beats Simon to a pulp, Ronnie said, almost wishing he might see it happen.

You would do that for me? Cassandra said.

What are friends for? Ronnie said. You in, Simon?

Simon, who had been mostly fuming in silence, sighed. Is this what you want, Cassandra?

I wanna find my mother, Simon, she said. If its at all possible.

Well, thenit sounds like a plan...although maybe not a great one," Simon said.

"You gotta a better one?" Sophie said.

"No, but…even if Im not thrilled by it, you should do it if this is what you truly want, Cassandra and if you promise to take care of her, Ron, he said.

You know I will, Ronnie said. Come on, Cassie. We should go now before Frankie finds youre missing.

You cant go now! Sophie said. ItsChristmas. You should spend it here with us.

What if Frankie comes looking for her now? Ronnie said.

How long until you think Frankie will come looking for you? Simon asked.

Cassandra shrugged. I dunnoafter he eats hell be too sleepy and lazy to do much of anything except play dominos with my uncles. Assuming he doesnt get an unusual bout of guilt, he should leave me alone most of that time. I guess when the relatives start leaving for home he might decide to bring up a plate for me or somethingaround six or seven. Then hell see Im not there or assume Im not talking to him. I locked my bedroom door.

We have some time then...little bit anyway, Ronnie said. I really should give Grampa a ride in the car before we go. He was so excited about it. You guys can all come too.

Id like to spend some time with Cassandra before you take her away from me, if you dont mind, Simon said.

You make it sound like Ill never let you see her again, Ronnie said, getting up from the floor and giving Sophie a hand up. She wants to find her mom, Simon, and Uncle Tommy can help her. I just gotta bring her to him.

And keep her away from Frankie, Sophie said, grabbing Ronnies arm and shoving him out the door. Well see you in a bit.

Once they closed the door behind them, Simon opened his arms to her and Cassandra slipped right in.

No need to say more. Let your imagination fill in the rest.



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