Poisoned Pins

Poisoned Pins by Joan Hess

Book: Poisoned Pins by Joan Hess Read Free Book Online
Authors: Joan Hess
    â€œYou’re not funny, Mother.”
    I’d assumed otherwise, but merely said, “What’s the cause of the ruination of your life at the tender age of fifteen? Out of deodorant? Expired subscription to
magazine? New pimples?”
    Inez blinked sternly at me. “You shouldn’t make jokes about it, Mrs. Malloy. Didn’t you see the ambulances and police cars in the alley behind the Kappa house last night? There was a horrible accident and one of the girls was—”
    â€œI wasn’t making jokes about that. I know what happened, and it’s not in any way amusing.” I began to realize the source of Caron’s eloquent and well-dramatized misery. She wasn’t mourning Jean’s death by any means. “This has to do with your Beautiful Self, doesn’t it?”
    â€œPippa’s thinking about dropping out for the rest of the summer and going with some friends to France orsomeplace dumb like that. She says she’s too upset about Jean to stay in the house.”
    â€œAnd you can’t continue doing the analyses without her?”
    â€œNot if she takes her kit with her,” Caron said with the long-suffering resignation characteristic of the age. “If you’d lent me the money in the first place, I wouldn’t be in this situation, but you wouldn’t so much as invest one lousy dollar in my career. Now there’s no way I can buy a car at the end of the summer. All along, you’ve encouraged me to be resourceful and industrious, and you’re the one who said—”
    â€œThat’s enough,” I said evenly. “I did not tell you to do something that goes beyond the ethical pale by exploiting your friends. If you want to earn money, line up some baby-sitting jobs or yardwork. Run errands for people. Clean houses.”
    She stared at me as if I’d suggested she rob graves in order to sell the body parts. “You’re telling me that I ought to scrub other people’s toilets or rake their leaves or wipe their babies’ noses? I can’t believe it, I really can’t! Come on, Inez, let’s get out of here before Mother decides I ought to ride bulls in a rodeo.”
    Inez dutifully followed Caron out the door, and no doubt would nod just as dutifully until indignation faded and some degree of calculation replaced it. In the interim, the pedestrians on the sidewalk could be entertained by a lengthy tirade of artistically colorful phrases, explosive sighs, and accusations of parental perfidy likely to provoke a visit from the Department of Child Welfare.
    Two uneventful hours later, the telephone rang, and I answered it with some hesitancy, hoping it wasn’t a social worker.
    â€œMrs. Malloy?” whispered a voice. “This is Debbie Anne Wray.”

    â€œDebbie Anne,” I said, clutching the edge of the counter to prevent myself from toppling off the stool to shatter like a cheap vase, “where are you?”
    â€œI can’t tell you. I was just calling to ask you to let my mama know I’m all right. They might have her line tapped so they can trace calls. It’s long-distance, but I swear I’ll pay you back when all this is over. Every last penny of it.”
    â€œI’ll make the call for you, but you must tell me where you are, Debbie Anne, so that I can come pick you up. You’re in trouble, and hiding out is not going to help the situation.”
    â€œGolly, Mrs. Malloy, you think I don’t know I’m in trouble? I should have stayed home and maybe gone to the junior college like my friends, but my mama insisted I go to school in Farberville, and look where it’s got me!”
    â€œWhere?” I said cleverly.
    â€œIn a passel of trouble, that’s where. Please won’t you call my mama for me? If the police call her first, she’ll most likely have a heart attack right there in the middle of the kitchen.” She

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