How the Pieces Fit Together
Six short stories written with tongue in cheek and mind in the gutter, for 42_souls.
Part Six: The Coyote and the Roadrunners
Waffles were good, because Kid could use the waffle iron to make them, thus ensuring that each waffle would turn out perfectly symmetrical. His attempts at making pancakes or french toast, however, only ended in frustration and tears.
"I want nanners on my waffles!" Patti demanded. She sat at the kitchen table and watched him work, swinging her legs back and forth impatiently.
"Bananas, Patti. Say it properly."
Patti grinned at him. "Does nanners really sound more silly than bananas?" she asked him.
He paused in the midst of stirring a bowl of waffle batter. "Huh," he said. "I suppose you have a point."
It was Saturday morning, they had no school and no missions to worry about, and Patti was in a bouncy good mood. She was always in a good mood after she had Kid all to herself, all night long. Liz had left them early in the evening yesterday, because she'd had a French tutoring session over at Charlene's house. She had come back sometime around three or four in the morning, smelling of alcohol, with glitter from some inexplicable source left smeared around her eyes and tangled in her hair, laughter still on her lips, wearing one of Charlene's borrowed dresses. Her drunken stumbling had briefly woken up both Patti and Kid. Kid had asked where she'd been, and Liz had answered that she and Charlene (and the names of some other girls that Patti didn't even know) had been "tearing up the town." Kid had accepted this explanation and gone immediately back to bed. Patti had been jealous for a few minutes, as she always was whenever Liz did something fun that Patti and Kid couldn't do because they weren't old enough yet, but the moment had passed quickly. Now, Patti still felt warm and happy from her night with Kid, and as for Liz, well, she was currently upstairs in her bedroom, nursing a painful hangover.
Patti bounced up and down in her seat and watched Kid trimming the asymmetrical edge off one finished waffle. "Are they ready yet? Are they ready yet?"
"One is," Kid said. "And this one's for Liz. Invalids first."
Patti laughed as she watched Kid carefully position the waffle on the center of a plate. "Are you going to take that up to her?"
"In a moment." Kid pondered his creation thoughtfully. "What does she normally like on top of her waffles?"
"A smiley-face of chocolate syrup!"
"No, Patti, that's what you like."
"Do it anyway!" Patti said. "Liz is sad because her head hurts. It will make her feel better."
Kid shrugged. "A reasonable suggestion," he admitted. Then he set to work very, very carefully drawing a smiley-face on top of the waffle. Two drops of chocolate syrup in two perforations for the eyes, then a series of carefully-placed filled perforations forming the mouth. When he was done, he stood back and admired his own work. "Perfectly symmetrical," he said.
Patti was pretty sure that Liz wouldn't care about the symmetry of her waffle, but she applauded him anyway.
Kid arranged the rest of Liz's breakfast on a tray: waffle in the center, two forks and two knives on either side (for symmetry's sake), and two cups of coffee. "Perfect," he declared again. Then Patti followed him out of the kitchen, up the stairs, and into her sister's bedroom.
Liz lifted her head off her pillow and regarded them both blearily. "Aw, no," she groaned. "Don't look at me, Kid, I'm a mess."
"I've seen you look far worse," Kid said.
She sat up fully, and glared daggers at him. "Gee, thanks." Then she winced. "Ow. It hurts to move."
"And that is entirely the fault of your own irresponsibility and overindulgence," Kid pointed out, self-righteously. "But as Patti and I do indeed have sympathy for your predicament, here," he said, handing the tray to her, "we brought you breakfast."
"Pity-waffles. Great." Liz balanced the tray on her lap. Then her eyes widened when she saw what Kid had put on top of the waffle. "Kid, what…?"
"It was Patti's suggestion."
Patti sat down on the bed beside her sister. "It's a smiley-face to make Liz happy," she explained. Then she peered at Liz carefully. "Sooooo… Are you happy yet?"
Liz stared down at the waffle in her lap. She didn't look happy at all.
Then, suddenly, Liz burst into tears.
"What? What?!" Kid demanded, impatiently. "What now?"
"I don't deserve a smiley-face waffle!" Liz sobbed.
"Why not?" Patti asked.
"Because I slept with Charlene!"
Kid's jaw dropped.
Patti felt her mouth hanging open with shock, too. Suddenly, her mind was a numb blank. She wasn't even sure if what Liz had just said was supposed to be funny.
"When?!" Kid spluttered.
"Last night," Liz sniffled, miserably. "And six times previously."
Patti stared at her sister. And stared. And stared. Normally when Liz started crying, especially when she did the stupid-looking crying that left her cheeks bright red and made boogers drip from her nose, Patti thought that it was hilarious.
But this was something different.
This was something that Patti hadn't expected.
Which didn't make sense. It couldn't make sense. Patti knew Liz inside and out. They didn't keep secrets from each other. Even when Liz tried to keep a secret or lie to Patti, Patti could always see right through her. Nothing that Liz ever said or did could possibly surprise Patti. Nothing.
And Charlene was a girl!
"No way," Patti said, "No waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!"
"I did," Liz said, her voice still choked with tears. "I'm sorry, but I did." She raised her red eyes toward Kid. "And, for the record, I called it off last night. I mean, permanently. It's over."
Kid stared at her. Then he snapped, "Why did you not inform me of this earlier?"
She blinked at him. This was apparently not the reaction that she had been expecting. "Excuse me, what?"
"I feel it only fair that I be kept aware of your extracurricular sexual liaisons," Kid stated, calmly.
Not it was Liz's turn to have her jaw drop. And for some reason Patti still couldn't laugh at that, no matter how funny Liz's face looked. "Are you kidding me?!" Liz asked, aghast. "I-- I-- No, Kid! That's not…" She flailed her hands around, helplessly, as if she couldn't find the right words to explain things to him. "That's not how an affair works!" she finally said.
"That was an affair?" he asked.
"Yes, you idiot. I was cheating on you!"
He looked confused. "But… with a girl."
"Yes, Charlene is a girl."
"So…" Kid still seemed completely baffled, not so much by the situation at hand, but by Liz's sudden anger. "So that's not technically cheating," he said. "You with another girl. That doesn't count."
Patti clapped her hands over her mouth. What? What?! Now both Kid and Liz were doing and saying totally weird things that Patti would never, ever, ever have expected either of them to say. Patti began to seriously contemplate the possibility that her sister and her partner had been replaced by aliens.
Liz looked furious. "Oh. My. God. I can't believe that you just said that. That is the most horrifically stupid and – and – and offensive thing I've ever heard you say!"
"Offensive?" Kid still looked bewildered.
"Yes, offensive. I am offended over here! Seriously offended."
Patti realized that offended was one of those words that, if you said it over and over again, started to sound very, very silly. But for some reason she still wasn't laughing. She squinted at Liz, wondering what signs she should be looking for in case of an actual alien replacement. Maybe a zipper down the back of her sister's neck?
"I don't understand," Kid said.
"You just told me that me sleeping with Charlene doesn't count as real sex, or whatever, and do I really have to explain why that is a horribly, horribly offensive thing to say?" Liz still looked completely horrified. And completely furious.
"I said specifically that it does not count as cheating," Kid clarified. "Please stop trying to read additional layers of meaning behind my words, Liz. I mean what I say and nothing more. Also, I am quite correct about this matter."
"Oh, Lord." Liz groaned and clutched at the sides of her head. "I am far too hungover to deal with Kid-logic right now. But okay, fine, I'll ask anyway. What the hell are you talking about?!"
"I think the logic should be quite obvious, actually," Kid said. "When the three of us are together, and you and Patti touch each other, you certainly wouldn't count that as cheating on me, would you?"
Liz stared at him, still horrified. "Good. God."
"Would you please stop taking Father's name in vain?" Kid requested, a bit snappishly.
"I just… Wow. Wow. Okay, um. Let me spell this out for you," Liz said, slowly. "I did things with Charlene last night. I did things with Charlene that I would never do with my own sister. Got it?"
Patti nearly fell off the bed. She wanted to fall off the bed, just fling her arms out and crash to the floor. At least that would have been funny. This? This should have been funny, Patti felt. Maybe it was supposed to be funny. But she still couldn't laugh, for some reason.
Kid's brow wrinkled with confusion. "Things… like what?"
Okay, Patti thought, that was definitely funny. But she still wasn't laughing.
"Like the things that you and I do together," Liz said.
"But that's impossible. Charlene is a woman. I'm not." Then he threw up his hands in frustration. "You know what? Never mind. I don't have time for this. I need to start checking the picture frames downstairs. And your waffle is getting cold."
"Never mind?!" Liz spluttered. "Never mind?!"
"Oh, wait. I did that wrong." Kid squared his shoulders and then declared, "I forgive you."
Liz looked taken aback. "No you don't."
"Yes I do."
"No, you don't. You don't forgive me because you don't actually care. I cheated on you, seven times actually, and with another woman. And you… don't… care."
"I do care," Kid insisted. "I'm quite upset about this. As I've already indicated. Liz, I'm very upset about the fact that you did not inform me of your relationship with Charlene earlier."
"Arrrrrrgh!" Liz tore at her hair melodramatically. "No, no, no, no, no! You're supposed to be upset about the fact that I cheated on you in the first place, not upset about the fact that I just didn't tell you about it!"
"But you should have told me," Kid insisted, stubbornly. "You completely concealed this affair from me. So of course I couldn't have known about it, unless you had had the consideration to tell me about it. You did a quite excellent job of hiding it, by the way."
"No, I didn't!" Liz wailed.
And as soon as her sister spoke those words, Patti understood. Patti understood that those three words were quite possibly the funniest things that her sister could possibly have said in that moment. Because Patti understood what those three words meant, even though Kid (judging by the shocked look on his face) clearly didn't.
Boy, but this was getting funny.
And yet Patti still wasn't laughing.
Patti remembered, then. She remembered all the times that Liz's "tutoring sessions" at Charlene's house had extended long into the night. She remembered the boxes of French chocolates and gaufrette cookies that Liz had shared with Patti, boxes that she'd said were all gifts from Charlene. At the time, Patti had thought that Charlene kept giving them yummies because she'd simply liked Patti and her sister. Patti hadn't made the connection, not at the time, that chocolates and cookies were the types of things that you gave a person when you like-liked them. And there had been other things, too: all of the times that Liz had come home wearing Charlene's clothing; the times that Liz had up and disappeared in the middle of a school day, only to reappear sometime later claiming that she had been in the library and smelling of Charlene's perfume; and the week that Liz had taken to wearing a silk scarf around her neck, to cover up the hickey on her throat, and at the time Patti had just assumed that Kid had been responsible for that. But looking back, Patti now realized that that was impossible. Liz had only had one mark on one side of her neck to cover up, and when Kid left a mark, he made sure to leave one on both sides.
Looking back, Patti suddenly felt incredibly, incredibly stupid.
Patti thought of cartoons. She liked to watch the cartoons where the poor hungry coyote would try to drop anvils on the speedy little roadrunner. And the roadrunner managed to dodge the anvils every single time, not because the roadrunner was particularly wily or clever, but because the roadrunner was somehow saved by the grace of its own stupidity. Every. Single. Time.
Patti thought those cartoons were hilarious.
It was less funny in real life, however. Patti realized now that her sister had been dropping those anvils for weeks, and somehow Kid had been dodging them and dodging them, over and over again. No, wait. Maybe that was the wrong way to think about it. The anvils had been hitting Kid in the head, over and over again, but the thickness of his skull had saved him every time. The sheer power of his stupidity had protected him to the point where he hadn't even felt the anvils striking him. And the way that he always kept his eyes focused straight ahead, his stunning inability to see past his own nose, meant that he hadn't even seen the anvils as they were falling through the air all around him.
Then Patti realized that her brain was going to a stupid place. An embarrassing place. Because if Kid was the silly roadrunner, then that made Patti the silly roadrunner too, because they had both managed to completely miss the anvils, hadn't they?
Patti bit back a groan. She should be laughing, she supposed. The thought of both her and Kid running around cluelessly like that funny cartoon bird should have been funny. Really funny. But instead, that thought just kind of hurt.
Patti didn't like feeling stupid. She never felt stupid. She knew that other people thought that she was stupid, and that was fine by her, she didn't care. But she wasn't supposed to actually be stupid. Not like Kid.
Being as stupid as Kid. That was a new low.
Patti finally giggled. Not much, but a little bit. Now there was a funny thought.
Kid was glaring at Liz, now. "What do you mean, you didn't?" he demanded.
"I just… I just…" Liz momentarily flushed with shame and embarrassment. Then she found her anger again. "I cannot freakin' believe you, Kid! You seriously didn't notice? You didn't notice anything?!"
He still glowered at her. "What was I supposed to have noticed?"
"How about the way that Charlene flirted with me at Gustav's party? She was throwing herself all over me."
"Gustav's party? Are you kidding?" He stared at her, aghast. "Of course I didn't notice. I was distracted when Black Star got drunk and then got his dick stuck in the margarita mixer. Everybody was distracted by that. Nobody was paying attention to you and Charlene!"
"Okay. How about when Charlene and I came down with mono at the same time?"
"Why would I even know about Charlene getting mono? She's not even in our class!"
"Oh, for the love of--!" Liz threw her hands up in the air. "You're a complete idiot. A complete idiot! I don't even know why I bother."
His eyes narrowed. "You're the one who claims to have cheated on me. So why are you getting angry at me now?"
"Because you're being a complete douchebag about this!" She returned his glower. "Don't you even care enough to ask why I did it?"
"Oh," Kid said. Clearly he hadn't at all pondered the question of why Liz would have cheated on him, at least not until the moment that Liz herself had brought up the issue. But suddenly, immediately, he seemed to be instantly consumed by the question. "Tell me," he said. No, practically ordered. "Please explain to me as clearly as possible why exactly you initiated this affair." Then his mind apparently leapt to the obvious conclusion. "Is it because of me?" he asked. "Is it something that I did? Have I not been satisfying you sexually? Is it because I can't make symmetrical pancakes? It's because I can't make symmetrical pancakes, isn't it. It's because you'd rather have pancakes than waffles, isn't it. Can Charlene make symmetrical pancakes?!"
"This has nothing to do with breakfast foods," Liz snapped.
"It's very complicated, actually," Liz said, in a suddenly much quieter voice. Then she added, somewhat more loudly, "For the record, though, Charlene made all the first moves. She seduced me."
"How? How did she seduce you?!"
"What, you wanna hear explicit details? That's-- Oh, great. Kid, now what are you doing?"
Kid reached over, carefully picked up Liz's breakfast tray, and handed it over to Patti. Patti took the tray, momentarily confused. Then Kid crawled onto the bed, solemnly and business-like, and positioned himself on top of Liz, legs straddling her lap and hands placed on her shoulders. "How did Charlene do it?" Kid demanded to know, again. "Did she kiss you like this?" He leaned forward and kissed a very, very startled Liz right in the center of her lips. Then he drew back and asked again, still deadly serious, "Or did she do it like this?" He pushed Liz's shoulders down and leaned in for a much, much longer kiss.
Patti, still holding the breakfast tray, took that as her cue to get off the bed.
Liz reached up and pushed at the center of Kid's chest, pushing him right off her. "Charlene doesn't kiss the way that you kiss," Liz explained. "That was kind of the point. One of many points."
"Then show me how she kissed you!" Kid demanded.
"Wow, this is getting weird," Liz said.
Kid glared down at Liz, his hands still on her shoulders. "I only desire to please you," he said, somehow – incredibly – managing to actually sound haughty about it. "Liz, if you find that my performance is unsatisfactory in any way, the please inform me directly. Likewise, if you ever, under any circumstances, experience something with someone else that you find pleasurable, then--"
"Stop it, Kid. I don't want you to kiss me the exact same way that Charlene kissed me."
"Then tell me how you want to be kissed."
She smiled up at him, apparently amused by his brusque request. "Fair enough," she said. She reached up, encircled his shoulders with her long arms, and pulled him down into another long, slow kiss.
Patti stared at them both.
Finally, Liz broke the kiss long enough to mutter, "Patti, go away."
"But your waffle--"
"It's your waffle now."
Patti left the two of them alone, being sure to close the bedroom door behind her.
Back downstairs in the kitchen, Patti decided that she didn't want to eat the waffle anymore, because it was cold, and that made it icky. So she made herself another waffle. She considered making two more waffles, one for her sister and one for Kid. Then she decided not to, because she didn't know how long it would be before she saw either of them again, and Patti didn't want their waffles to get cold, either.
Patti cut up a banana to put on top of her waffle. Nanner. Banana. Whatever. She sat at the kitchen table and at her waffle alone, listening to the sound of furniture breaking upstairs.
Patti finished half of her waffle. Then she thought, Charlene?! And then she nearly faceplanted in the middle of her breakfast.
And Liz had been dropping the anvils and Kid had been dodging the anvils (or rather letting them bounce right off his head) and Patti hadn't even noticed that the anvils were falling, and they all would have gone on like that forever if Liz hadn't finally managed to hit Kid directly, not so much over the head with an anvil, but more like in the center of his face with a balled-up fist.
Patti, for her part, felt as though she'd been punched in the stomach.
This was all so complicated. And stupid! Stupid and complicated. Patti's sister had been playing stupid headgames with Kid, and doing stupid sexy things with some other girl, and Patti hadn't even had the first clue that any of this was massively stupid stupidity had even been going on in the first place.
Punched in the gut, indeed.
Kid was supposed to be the blind one. Not Patti.
It was much later in the morning by the time that Patti heard Kid's frantic footsteps pounding back down the stairs. "Patti, did I forget to turn off the waffle iron?!" he asked, panicked. His hair was a mess and his shirt was still unbuttoned. So was his fly.
"Yep. But Patti did that."
"Oh… All right. Excellent." Kid ran his fingers through his hair, frowned, then declared, "I have to straighten the picture frames now. Somehow I completely forgot about that."
Patti left Kid to his urgent task, then went upstairs to find her sister.
Liz was in her room. She was sitting in front of a mirror, and brushing the tangles out of her hair, when Patti barged in. "Hey," Patti said.
Liz put down her hairbrush. "Hey Patti."
Patti didn't say anything for a long moment. She just scowled at her sister, sticking out her lower lip in a truly spectacular pout, and watched Liz squirm.
Finally Liz looked away from Patti and said, "I know, I know. I'm a whore."
"No," Patti said. "You're a bitch."
Liz stared up at Patti, shocked.
"Don't get mad at Patti," Patti said. "But. Um. Ummmm. Kid was kinda-sorta right. Patti is sad that you kept a big secret from your sister, too." Patti teared up. "It's okay if you like Charlene! It's okay if you really really really like Charlene! But you're not supposed to keep secrets from your sister," Patti sniffled. "Don't you trust Patti?"
"I do, Patti. I really do. I just… Aw, come on now. Please don't cry." Liz stood up, and wrapped Patti in her arms, pulling her into a tight embrace. "I trust you to keep secrets, Patti. I was just too cowardly to tell you about this one."
"Because you knew you were doing something icky?" Patti asked. "But… But… But you wanted Kid to find out…" Patti corrected herself. "You wanted him to notice."
"I did and I didn't."
"Do you really really like Charlene?"
"I really really do. Did. No, do."
"But you dumped her."
"So Charlene isn't going to give us any more cookies?"
Liz laughed. "You're awful, Patti."
"What? What?" Patti blinked up at her sister, confused. Then she scowled. "Grown-ups are complicated," she huffed.
"You're a grown-up, too, Patti," Liz said, pointedly.
Patti stuck her tongue out at her sister. "Never." Then she paused, reconsidered her words, and finally amended her statement: "Not like you, anyway."
Patti pulled away from her sister's embrace, and went back downstairs. She cleaned up the kitchen, because apparently she was the only one left in the house who was grownup enough to remember to do so.