Seven Deadly Pleasures

Seven Deadly Pleasures by Michael Aronovitz

Book: Seven Deadly Pleasures by Michael Aronovitz Read Free Book Online
Authors: Michael Aronovitz
For sometimes magic floated in the air just out of sight and other times wishes came true. They just didn't wind up exactly like the wisher pictured them to be.
    It was 4:01 P.M.
    The stranger was waiting for Denny on his front steps.

    3.

    "Hey there," she said. She moved her small purse to the other shoulder. "You Denny?"
    He shrugged. The tall girl standing in front of him was about sixteen years old. She was African American, bone thin, and dressed in Catholic school clothes. Her teeth were slightly bucked, but it worked for her in a cartoon rabbit sort of a way. She chewed her gum hard. One hand was knuckled to her hip. She shrugged back at Denny and dug into her pocketbook.
    "Here's my I.D., so you know I'm not some street freak or something."
    Denny gave a glance to Josephine Thompson's temporary driver's license and shrugged again. Grandma Rosetta had been a much better babysitter, that was for sure. Grandma Rosetta always let him do what he wanted while she played with the downstairs remote and ate microwave popcorn all night, so any rules this Josephine Thompson was about to lay down were sure to be major league bummers.
    But what could he do? Grandma was getting older by the minute, no, by the second, and had recently started calling Dad by the names of old relatives she had not seen in ten years. And though it was no secret that Bob Sanborn never much liked the Cleveland cousins to begin with, it became quickly clear that he liked even less a sitter (even family) who couldn't remember his first name, write down a phone message, or scrub a dish or two while she was at it. The whole thing had been building for weeks.
    And so here stood the golden answer, chewing her gum and flashing I.D. like a pro. Josephine Thompson, daughter of Mr. Jarell Thompson, friend of Dad's from Core Cutters Concrete and Demolition for four years running, or so Denny had heard. Oh sure, if you worked the wreckers and dozers with Bob Sanborn on late shift you were the man. You were the bomb. And it gave your daughter full dibs to snag a house key, push Grandma out the door, and boss around a fourth grader all night.
    "Well?" she said. "You got a key? It's cold out here."
    Denny sniffed.
    "What's a tampon?" he said. She didn't even blink.
    "Every month a girl bleeds from her private place. A tampon's a sponge. Anything else?"
    Denny's jaw dropped. Even though he had not known the exact answer until now (and awesome it was after all!) he had been quite aware that this particular question was a doozy. He had asked it twice before, once to the snack lady at the roller rink and the other to a meter maid giving his Dad a ticket outside the State Store at 30th and Arch. Both women had gone wide-eyed, tight-lipped, and flushed, the first spouting, "Never you mind!" and the other going off about Jesus, spoiled children, spare rods, and lead paint.
    But this Josephine had given it to him up front and straight. He felt a small part of his heart warm to her, but he wasn't ready to show it off just yet.
    "What's that stuff?" He was looking past her to the knapsack on the stoop and the large, square-looking zipper bag leaning against the screen door. She gave a half-turn back, swinging her long, tightly woven braids.
    "It's my homework, some books, a few charcoal sticks, and a portfolio case filled with blanks. I draw. If you want I can show you, make a picture or two."
    Denny moved to the first stair.
    "Maybe and maybe not."
    "Suit yourself," she said, and as Denny brushed past he realized that by her not seeming to care whether he checked out her drawings or not, he would now just explode if he didn't get a chance to see at least one. But again, he did not need to show this just yet. He turned the lock and pushed into the dark living room with his new sitter lugging her stuff in behind.

    Dad had cleaned, but Josephine curled her lip just a bit once the lights were turned on. Sure, the couch was swept clear of last week's newspapers and the coffee

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