An Abundance of Katherines

Page 42

“. . . ”
“. . . ”
“. . . ”
“Well, I like you. And you aren’t chameleoning in front of me. I just figured that out. Like, you bite your thumb in front of me, which is a private habit, but you do it in front of me, because I don’t count as public. I’m at your secret hiding place. You’re okay with me seeing inside you a little. ”
“A little, maybe. ”
“Because I pose no threat. I’m a dork. ”
“No, you’re not. That’s—”
“No, I am. And that’s why. ”
“Maybe. I never thought about it. ”
“I don’t mean to sound judgmental about it, it’s just interesting. I’m not threatened by you either, because I never liked popular people before. But you’re not really like them. It’s more like you found a way to hijack their cool. That’s awe—”
“Hi. ”
“Hi. ”
“We shouldn’t. ”
“Well, you started it. ”
“Right, but I started it just so that I could say ‘we shouldn’t’ really dramatically. ”
“Ha. ”
“We should leave it at our foreheads touching and our noses touching and your hand on my leg and we shouldn’t, you know. ”
“Your breath smells like booze. ”
“Your breath smells like you just made out with a dragon. ”
“Hey, that’s my joke. ”
“Sorry. Had to defuse tension. ”
“. . . ”
“. . . ”
“What are you doing?”
“Biting my goddamned thumb. My private habit. ”
They finally left the cave well after dark, but the moonlight was so bright, Colin found himself blinking it away. It was an awkward and largely quiet hike down the hill to the car. From there, they drove back to the Pink Mansion. They had just pulled into the driveway when Lindsey said, “I mean of course I like you and you’re great, but let’s just—it’s just not to be,” and he nodded, because he couldn’t have a girlfriend without a finished Theorem. And anyway, she was a Lindsey.
They opened the door quietly, hoping not to disturb Hollis’s work/QVC watching. The moment Colin closed the door, the phone rang.
“Hello,” he heard Hollis say from inside the kitchen. Lindsey grabbed Colin then and pulled him over against the wall, where they could listen without being seen.
“Well, leave it out for the garbage men, then,” Hollis said. “What a bunch of bullshit. . . . They can’t charge you to pick up trash; that’s why we pay taxes. . . . Well, I’m sorry, Roy, but that’s bullshit. . . . No, we can’t afford it, believe me. . . . No. Absolutely not. . . . Well, I don’t know, Roy. . . . No, I understand the problem. . . . Hold on, I’m thinking. Christ, my daughter’s gonna be home any second. . . . What about that field back there? We own that field, right? . . . Yeah, exactly. . . . All you need is a goddamned bulldozer and a forklift. . . . Well, I don’t like it either, but unless you’ve got another idea. . . . Fine. I’ll see you on Thursday. ” The phone clanked against the receiver.
“Hollis,” Lindsey whispered, “owes a shitload of money to the swear jar. ” Then she led Colin through the hall and into the game room. “Out the window,” she whispered. Colin raised the slim window facing the front yard as quietly as he could, and then motioned to the screen. He would have said something about the screen, but he knew he couldn’t whisper.