Shelly crawled out of bed after ten. The nights she closed up the restaurant with Robbie she didn't get back to John's apartment until after three by the time he dropped her off. Still she felt lazy on these mornings. Part of Leo's conditioning she was sure. Sleeping in hadn't been something she was allowed to do even when he was on the road. Somehow he always knew.
There was a note on the fridge in John's pretty sloppy handwriting.
Chris Standish left a message for you. It's still on the machine. Help yourself to the leftover pizza that's in the fridge.
Her stomach growled at the thought of food. She had better than pizza, though. One of their last customers had sent a steak back claiming it was too well done. They hadn't even eaten any of it, just cut into it. Robbie had let her take it home with her. She didn't have much to go with it, but she was going to be savor that piece of steak.
She played the message back from Chris, smiling a bit that he'd called her. They'd gone out Monday night and she thought for sure once he found out she was only nineteen she'd never hear from him again. Okay, it wasn't just the fact that she was nineteen, but that she was a widow on top of it. Chris didn't act surprised, which made Shelly wonder who had told him. And why.
It didn't really matter. She had nothing to hide. She wasn't here to lie about what she'd done to get here. She just wanted out of Twin Peaks where memories of Leo were everywhere.
Three weeks she'd been working and she knew it was probably about time she started at least thinking about finding a place of her own to live. Except she had no idea where she'd want to live. She would be getting some life insurance money from Leo which she could use to put down a safety deposit. John hadn't asked her about her plans to move out so she took it to mean he was okay with her being here for now.
Shelly knew John had seen Claire more than a couple of times since she started working at the restaurant. The nights he didn't have to pick her up because Robbie gave her a ride home John ended up seeing her. Shelly would love to warn him from doing anything stupid, but she was in no position to judge anyone else.
Last night, too. Well, she'd seen something that made her wonder. She'd stepped outside to have a cigarette during a brief lull and saw Robbie touching someone. None of her business really and not her place to judge. She hadn't been faithful to Leo.
It hadn't been another woman he was touching, though.
Couple that with the knowledge that Robbie and Claire didn't share a bedroom, Shelly was beginning to think there was less to their relationship than John believed. Had Claire actually told him they were involved? Or had John assumed? She wasn't sure. She could ask Claire she supposed. She'd seen her more than a few times over the past couple of weeks, too. She knew they didn't share a bedroom because Claire picked her up sometimes on her way home from work and Shelly waited for her while she changed.
She was nice.
Shelly knew why Claire was being nice to her. She wasn't an idiot. There was nothing saying she had to spend quite this much time with her, though. So, Shelly took that to mean that Claire actually liked her.
Interesting, to her anyway, was that Claire never asked her questions about John. That wasn't true in reverse. John asked a lot of questions that went beyond just what they'd done a particular day or evening.
She threw a few things away from his night last night. Funny thing, John wasn't really a slob. His friends, though, were pretty awful. He cleaned up, too, and didn't ask her to. She wasn't paying rent or anything, though, so the least she could do was throw away some beer bottles and empty some ashtrays.
She found some rice to heat up with the steak. It wasn't perfect, but it was better than steak and nothing else. She grabbed his phone while she was waiting for that and entered his phone number in to his pager.
The phone rang a few minutes later, which she was counting on.
"Hello," she said in the event it wasn't him.
'Good morning. You just waking up?'
He chuckled softly. 'What's up?'
"Well, I have a question for you."
"Do you actually like Claire or is she just the one who got away so you're pissed about that?"
'I'm sorry?' he asked, sounding very confused.
"You've been seeing her the nights I work and you know Robbie's working."
'Yeah. People can be friends. You know.'
"Except you don't want to be her friend."
'Well, no,' he said.
"So answer my question."
'Why?' he asked with a sigh.
"I need to know the answer."
'Yes, I fucking like her. You think I'd haul my ass to Shermer to see someone I didn't really like?'
"I thought so."
'Your point, Shelly? I'm working, you know.'
"I think the next time you see her you should make an excuse to need to use her bathroom."
"Because I think you might be surprised by what you see."
That's how she'd discovered Robbie had his own room. Claire was in her bedroom getting dressed so Shelly had a little extra time to look around and notice that the second spare bedroom obviously wasn't very spare.
"I work tonight. So does Robbie."
'Are you on drugs?'
She laughed softly at that. "No."
'Just making sure. You're making no sense.'
"I think it'll make sense if you actually do what I say."
'Yeah, all right. I'll think about it.'
He was confused, she could tell. He probably didn't totally believe her about the drugs either. She smoked a joint once in a while, but that was as hard as she got. She hadn't since coming here, though, not knowing if she'd need to pass a drug test. She hadn't at the current job, but there was no saying how long she'd stay there. She liked it, she made good money in tips, but she knew she was just a broken dish away from being out of a job. She wasn't working for Norma anymore. From what she'd learned it was a very good restaurant that didn't hire just anyone.
"Okay. See you tomorrow then."
'I guess so.'
He usually slept through her coming in because she tried to be as quiet as she could.
What he did with this conversation was up to him. She didn't think Claire would intentionally, flat-out lie to him about Robbie. She knew she'd been hurt by John and probably didn't go out of her way to correct him when he'd assumed she and Robbie were together. She'd observed them together more than a couple of times now and they clearly cared for each other.
After hanging up with John she made her lunch and then got ready for her day. He didn't live in a great neighborhood, but there was a small strip mall with a 7-Eleven in it that she could walk to. It got her out of the apartment for a while, so she sort of looked forward to the walk there every day. Now that she had a job and was earning tips she had money to spend, too, without feeling guilty about John giving her money as he had her first month or so here.
She was paying him back for that, too. He'd told her she didn't have to, but she hadn't come here to take advantage of him.
She was sure he was still trying to figure out why she'd come to him at all.
She wouldn't be able to answer him if he'd asked so she was glad that up until this point he hadn't really asked. Outright. He'd hinted at the question.
She hadn't really had anywhere else to go. As a girl she'd always wanted to come visit Chicago and her family here. That hadn't happened, but she supposed that was where the idea of heading this way had come from. She knew John was older than she was and she knew he wasn't married or anything. Her parents would have mentioned that to her even if they didn't talk to her much since she'd married Leo.
She'd wanted to go somewhere she'd feel at least remotely safe and useful. John wouldn't expect sex or anything like it from her. That was safe to her right now. She'd been useful since living with him. He didn't ask her to do things like clean his apartment, but she did it. Before she was working she had nothing else to do. Now she just kept up on everything. He helped, a little, but the nights he had friends over were usually pretty bad. He had them over more now that she was working, too, she noticed.
Her second or third night here one of his friends had come onto her. John hadn't seen what happened. He wasn't Leo so she hadn't been too scared to knee him between the legs when he didn't seem willing to take no for an answer.
Mousy Shelly was gone. She was never going to live like that again.
The first time Chris had taken her out she'd been as blunt and brutally honest as she could be. Maybe not the way to get a guy's attention, especially someone like him. She wasn't looking to settle down again, though, and wanted it abundantly clear where she was. She wasn't even sure she was going to stay in Chicago. She left Twin Peaks with the need to get away. It was home when it got down to it so there was no saying she wouldn't find her way back.
Chris had surprised her by calling a few days after that first date. She'd assumed when a day or two had gone by that he'd realized maybe he was biting off more than he could chew with someone like her. He was older, but she'd gone through things that he couldn't even imagine.
How did she know that?
The look on his face as she talked told her that was true.
He'd asked questions about John that night, too. Shelly hadn't answered them because it wasn't her place to. She didn't really know all of the answers either. She got the feeling that he was thinking about whether he'd misjudged her cousin. John had told her that Christopher never liked him.
She couldn't deny despite not wanting to get involved with anyone that she liked when he left messages for her. He knew she'd be working last night, but called anyway to say hi knowing she wouldn't be home and wouldn't be able to call him back for a couple of days. It was kind of sweet. She wasn't used to sweet, even with Bobby most of the time. He had his moments, but her relationship with him hadn't been any better or healthier when it got down to it. She knew that.
She also knew that the fact they'd both cheated would forever be there between them, casting doubt on things. He'd cheated on Laura, but they weren't married. So, maybe it wasn't as bad. She wasn't sure. She just knew that she didn't want to live like that.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com