Sorry about editing. Ready steady…
Chapter Three – Minnie the Moocher
"…now here's the story 'bout Minnie the Moocher
She was a red-hot hootchie-cootcher
She was the roughest, toughest frail
But Minnie had a heart as big as a whale…"
– Cab Calloway
"Maybe I can climb stuff and do spider shit…" Nathan carried on in his practice of whining about his power, or lack thereof, 'this guy needs to be acquainted with the concept of… ad nauseam…' he rustled the rubbish bag was holding dramatically, '…or subtlety' she mused. Kelly chuckled next to her as they walked towards the tunnels they'd been assigned to pick up trash in this week.
The whole mind reading thing was a trip, Nora wasn't overly enthused at the thought of having her private mind so exposed to someone else, though Kelly did really seem to try to not listen in… and having the new ability couldn't have been a picnic for the blonde girl.
'… nor Alisha's for her' Nora casted a quick look back at the shorter girl, who actually made her grimy orange jumpsuit look less hideous. Nora had no idea how the others made their suits so unique, she was more of a jeans, jumper, t-shirt, maybe dress up or put on make-up if you're going out kind of person.
Doing it every day seemed like such a chore and she had to commend them for it. More commendable though was the fact that the animosity between Alisha and Kelly seemed to have dissipated, given everything that had happened in addition to how friendly Kelly was, it was not surprising.
"Yeah, that makes perfect sense…" Curtis said sarcasm in his tone as he questioned "Why would you be able to climb stuff?" his voice not hiding the notes of his distaste for Nathan.
"I don't know! How is it that you can turn back time, apparently, or that New Girl's like one of 'em shakable glow sticks…" Nora glanced back at that reference "And" he went on, clicking his rubbish picker at Simon, who only flinched in reaction "weird kid over here can turn invisible? It's not like this whole is situation backed up by a wank load of logic." Nora sniggered a little at that observation.
'Really?' Nora's face scrunched up at the large half rotted piece of rubbish she'd just picked up 'when there's a bin right over there…' shoving the grey thing into her garbage bag, she walked further into the tunnel ahead of the others. Something drew her light brown gaze up from the grey ground, like a tingling, she did a double take before asking the others "What is that?"
As they neared it became abundantly clear that 'it' was an unconscious naked man.
They all stopped a fair distance away, "Is 'e breathin'?" Kelly asked.
Alisha stepped closer and poked the man's bare bottom with the rubbish picker "Hey nude guy, you're naked" she jabbed amusedly.
The man rolled over, with a gasp Nora clutched Kelly's arm and could help but think 'Huge' just thinking of it made sore.
"Yea'" Kelly nodded, just as gob smacked and seemingly unable to tear away her gape as well.
"You!" Nathan's exclamation of recognition was filled with disgust, the nude man seemed to have caught his bearings, he jumped up and ran off stark naked. The scene was too comical not to laugh, Nathan was the only one who was not entertained.
"You wanna tell us who that was?" Curtis snorted out.
"He's my mum's... He lives with my mum…" to Nora that phrasing was almost as pained as the look on the Irish boy's face. The memory of him walking around with a rucksack on his back flitted through her mind.
Nonetheless she had to laugh along with the others when Alisha stated "You're stepdad has got a massive cock" nudging Kelly the shorter girl snickered "That thing was like monster big…"
"No, Jesus... and he's not my stepdad alright?" Nathan said annoyed and '...distressed?' Something about that made Nora want to stop laughing, it wasn't funny anymore.
"Your mum'll hurt." Alisha pressed on.
A shiver went up Nora's spine, picturing her mother, any mother with that thing in bed was stomach churning.
"Ah… Maybe a bit far?" Nora piped in, her tendency for being better at one on one conversation as opposed to large group exchanges made her voice shaky.
"Yeah, listen to her" Nathan agreed, having covered his ears at Alisha's earlier statement.
"Why's 'e nak'ed?" Kelly asked, bringing up a good change of subject.
However, Alisha was there to point the conversation in a useless direction… by the end of it the naked guy was some kind of perverted, gay, rapist, storm affected, wolf man. For the most part Nora kept out of the odd discussion, but of all of them she silently most agreed with something like Simon's werewolf theory. Considering the weird crap that had happened since the storm, it made more sense than the rapist – pervert scenario.
Arriving back at the community centre they were told to change into their normal clothes by Sally. And were made to keep a bunch of elderly people company. Most of them were nice enough, the way the needed looking after reminded Nora of the first couple of years of caring for Rosie. Nora scanned room, the others were doing what they had been asked to do a part from Alisha, who Sally was speaking to now. Seeing an elderly man in a wheelchair by the food table dribbling into his lap Nora took in a breath and moved across the room 'they must resent it more than children…' she smiled at the wheelchair bound man, 'after having lived whole lives…' he didn't seem to be able to talk, but his pale blue eyes held anger as he rolled them up to look at her.
She picked two green grapes off of the table "I'll have one if you do." Slowly he opened his mouth with some quivering effort and chewed gently, Nora did the same as well, making sure some of the grape dribbled down her chin. "Oops…" she grabbed a napkin to wipe it away. She looked down at the older man "Oh! You've got some too…" Nora wiped the dribble off the older man's chin. 'Hopefully I avoided embarrassing him too much…' as she straightened up she caught sight of Kelly smiling and nodding her head from a table behind the man in the wheelchair.
"Walter!" an older woman, Nora assumed it was his wife, came over briskly "There you went," with a curt nod a Nora she wheeled her husband away, bickering at him as she did.
Nora mutely shrugged her confusion at Kelly, who had her hands over mouth in laughter, wondering what the older pair could have thought to make her laugh so hard.
"They're so… so old…"Nathan's voice and form had suddenly popped up behind Nora. 'Why is he so close to me?'
"So what did you do?" A female addressing him spoke up. 'Ah! He's flirting…' Nora smiled to herself, moving away from him a little but lingering around the table, pretending to look for something to eat 'this should be interesting…'
"I sexually assaulted a 90 year old woman…" Nora barely held in a snort.
"That's funny…" the girl responded.
"She didn't seem to think so at the time… God rest her soul," this time Nora had more trouble, she tried as best as she could to hold back a laugh but ended spluttering one out anyway, she saw Nathan toss a quick irritated look over his shoulder at her.
The girl's reply hid some of the noise at least and pulled back his attention "Jesus!"
"No. No the truth is I was just done for eatin' some pick 'n' mix." Nora bit her lip '…well, points for creativity I suppose.'
The girl scoffed "Such a liar… Pass me those sausage rolls."
"Mind my arm" Nathan bit out as reached passed Nora to get to the plate "Bugger off…" annoyed he gritted out low enough just for her to hear.
"Pardon?" Nora asked pretending not to hear him, it might have been mean, but Nora found the amusement to be worth it. He made a sort of grunting sound as he went back to the girl, only to be met with an unwanted dance partner, he made another grumbling noise that caused Nora to guffaw again. It only took a few seconds for Nora to take pity on Nathan, or more the elderly woman that he was dancing with. He looked to be purposely trying to stomp on the woman's feet.
"Can I cut in?" Nora reached up to tap on Nathan's shoulder.
Nathan met her with a surprised, eyebrow raise "You wanna dance with me?"
Nora shook her head, "Prefer a more coordinated partner…" holding her hand out to the elderly woman "That sound all right?"
The older woman, thankfully, appeared to have a good sense of humour. "Let's give 'em somethin' to chat about" she laughed, accepting Nora's hand.
Nathan gripped his hips, watching with his mouth curled in confusion "Oi, I'm right here…"
"Sorry love, but you're a right 'orrible dancer…" the older woman commented, Nathan face went from confused to offended.
He pointed his finger in the older woman's face, as though he was about to tell her off "Listen here you ol…"
"Ahm, didn't you have somewhere to go…" Nora interrupted, nodding at the girl he had been flirting with across the dance floor. Keeping his finger pointed where it was, he turned to see who Nora had gestured at…
He turned, his expression still offended, leaning in close to the older woman so that she could hear him whisper "This isn't over…" with that he ran off as though the girl across the room would vanish into thin air.
"'e always such a prat?" Nora looked down at the shorter woman she was dancing with.
Feeling an odd irrational urge to defend the gobby twat, Nora stated "He not that bad, it would probably be a lot more bleak without his…" pausing she searched for the right word, she glanced at the Irish delinquent "... without his 'character'…" she shifted her focus back to the woman before her "um… community service would be different I mean…"
'not to mention all power and murder stuff…'
The older woman scoffed "Well, I'll say this for you… you're either very sweet or very infatuated…"
Nora furrowed her brow for a moment, before finding her footing "Yes well, how could I resist your flattering ways. You have me entranced." She joked pretending to be head over heels for her elderly partner.
With a laugh they danced, Nora found out that the woman's name was Anne, that there were never enough men at these gatherings and that the girl Nathan was flirting with was Anne's good friend, Ruth's, relative. 'Not such a bad get together…' Nora thought as she was having a reasonably enjoyable time.
Before heading to the locker room to grab her bag, Nora ran to the restroom. In her rush in she must have missed it, but in the calm after relieving herself Nora heard soft weeping from one of the stalls.
She hesitated, stalling at the sink as she washed her hands slowly 'if they stop before I finish I won't ask…'
"Ar- are you all right, in there?"
"Why don't mind your business…" a girl sniffed.
Nora recognized the voice "Alisha?"
There was a sigh and the sound shuffling, the door unlocked and the well-dressed girl stepped out. "Guess you don't get English." She wasn't crying anymore but Nora could see the red in her eyes as Alisha peered up at her, looking jarringly like Rosie.
"Are you al…?"
"Yeah, just my bullshit power…" Alisha sniffed, walking to the sinks to wash her hands, "gave an old man a stiffy…" she sniffed, scrubbing her hands roughly.
"Oh…" Nora didn't exactly know how to respond "Th… That's…"
"What?" Alisha snapped, suddenly shutting off the water, her hazel gaze focused on Nora's reflection in the mirror above the sink.
Nora's nervousness spiked, she shook her head "Nothing… just I suppose that's good news for his wife…"
Alisha's reflection was odd, as though she was figuring something out, eventually she smiled, shaking her head with a scoff "Yeah…" she turned, flicking the water off of her fingers, "… Let's get out of this shit hole…" she nodded for Nora to come along.
"Is this a wind up?" Nora could hear Kelly ask as she and Alisha walked into the locker room, the blonde girl was looking at Nathan "Wa' this yah'?" He held his hands up at her.
"If I was trying to wind you up, I think I would be a little more creative" He lowered his voice "I know what film you saw last summer" He shut his locker.
"What's going on?" Alisha asked, walking past Simon towards Curtis, who was holding a piece of paper. "I know what you did…" she read, worry filling her tone.
Nora had stopped by locker which was only a few passed Simon's, at Alisha's words she felt her heart suddenly beat against her ribs and her throat lump up. "It was taped up in my locker." Curtis stated.
"This isnt' funny" Alisha shot at Nathan.
The curly haired boy groaned thumping his locker shut, before turning "Look! If I wanted to freak you out I would've dug up the body and stuck that in your locker!"
"Then who?" Simon asked quietly, from behind Nora.
Nathan shrugged "They might not even be talking about the probation worker," he gestured to everyone in the change room "Well we've all done stuff, they could be talking about anything…"
"It was in your locker" Alisha said to Curtis handing back the piece of paper.
"This was meant for all of us! They're talking about the probation worker!" Curtis replied, reasonably offended by Alisha's specific accusation.
"Okay, okay, let's just say you're right... if they actually knew anything they wouldn't be dicking around sticking notes on lockers, they would've gone to the police and we'd all be banged up in prison getting gang raped in the showers..." Nathan said thrusting his hips, before stepping up to Curtis and getting in his face "...But this means that they have no evidence, no proof, nothing, and anyway I bet it's something to do with some totally unrelated shit that you've done…" Nathan grinned, "So if we're all done freaking out here about nothing," he brushed by Alisha and Curtis "there's somewhere I need to be…" he stopped in his stride his bluish green eyes landing on Nora, he gave her shoulder an oddly calming squeeze as he walked towards the door "… 'preciate the one up, Light Brite" He smirked leaving Nora with no doubt of what, or moreover exactly who, he was talking about as the change room door shut behind him.
"Please tell me you don't believe that prick! It's for all of us!" Curtis' voice broke the new-found peace had Nora felt at Nathan's gesture "They're talking about the probation worker" Nora heart began thudding all over again. Her light brown gaze refocused on the former athlete who was insistently defending himself.
"Look! The person who done it obviously wants 'os ta freak ou', so we jus' act normal" Kelly stated. Nora had to wholeheartedly agree with the blonde girl. Her suggestion was the one that meant she could return to the easy pretending of the days before.
Nora's mum had work again… 'soon' she sighed rubbing the skin under her ASBO ankle tag, looking around their empty sitting room, listening to the soft sounds of Elvis crooning away 'Soon she won't have to…'
"Oof!" she huffed as Rosie bowled into her stomach.
"Aunty Noni!" the little girl squealed.
"Did you wash your hands, little bug?"
"Mhmm…" she nodded her head against Nora's stomach.
"Can we paint now?" Rosie raised her hazel eyes to look up at Nora, "Pleaseee?" she pleaded.
"Of course…" Nora nodded, 'Not that I was going to, but who could resist that?' "You go grab your paints and some paper, I'll get the rest of…"
"YES!" Rosie clapped gleefully, running to the direction of her bedroom.
Nora chuckled, grabbing a bowl of warm water from the kitchen and the sheet that was typically used for Rosie's finger painting adventures from the shoe cupboard. Moving the wooden coffee table and laying the sheet on the floor of the sitting room Nora sat in her usual spot on the floor, leaning against the base of the couch. It was odd not having her mother with them, this had become a yearly tradition since Rosie had been one.
Every year at the same time Rosie would visit her Grandma Dia, from her father's side, in Brighton. Since the trip fell during school vacation, for the past three years Nora had taken Rosie by herself to visit. It meant that Nora's mum could keep working and in order to afford to time off to take Rosie to Brighton, Nora's mum did not have to work crappy shifts for extra pay. But since the scheduling of the ASBO tag had worked out this way, Nora's mum would have to take Rosie herself for the week of vacation.
"I think I'll make her a pooster!" Rosie's excited voice entered the room before she did, her arms overflowing with small paint pots and construction paper.
"A pooster?" Nora smiled, helping Rosie as the little girl knelt on the sheet, letting the supplies drop out of her arms.
"Yeah, like a bird and then a pig…" she stated as though it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"I think you mean a 'rooster', Rosie Posey." Nora giggled, poking at Rosie's belly.
"Hey!" the four year old swatted away Nora's tickling fingers, pulling a piece of red paper out of the pile that she had brought along "That's what I said…" Rosie bit her bottom lip between her teeth, something Nora recognized as family tick passed down from her mother to all of her children 'and grandchildren…' Nora felt the familiar bluish green warmth fill her as Rosie finally finished considering the blank piece of paper, opening a tub of green paint and dipping in her fingers to begin work on her rooster.
"Those are interesting animals to pick…" Nora reached for a lime green sheet of paper. "Any reason why you chose those?"
"Yeah-huh" Rosie nodded "Granny Dia said I was a born in the piggy year and she was in the poost… I mean rooster one…"
Nora raised a brown eyebrow, as she opened and dipped into the purple, it had become a part of the annual tradition that both she and her mother would give finger paintings to Dia as well. "You know your mummy and I are roosters too?"
Rosie lifted the head to look at Nora "Really?" Nora nodded, as the little girl posed her next question "But how come Granma Dia's so old then?"
Nora laughed, tracing a purple star on her green paper "She's not that old, just older than Granny Keira…" she explained "and the animal signs… they repeat every few years…"
"So is Granny Keira a rooster or piggy too?"
Returning her eyes to Rosie, Nora answered "No, Granny Keira is an Ox," at Rosie's puzzled expression Nora went on "like a cow with horns…"
"Oh…" Rosie stared down at the finger painting that she already started, "I'll make one for you all then…" she grabbed more pages, as she listed "Aunty Noni, Granny Keira… Mummy…" a heavy quiet fell.
Nora cleared her throat "Don't forget about your uncle and PopPop."
"Right… What are they?" Rosie became excited again reaching for two more pieces of paper.
"Actually, I'm not sure about PopPop but your uncle's a snake I think."
"Ew…" Rosie commented though she went back to painting anyway, humming along with the low music playing in the background.
As Nora watched her niece paint, she felt an odd mix of emotions… some that she knew were own, and others that she had to make believe were really hers at all.
Hope you're liking it so far.