wfff vvv (Chapter Eight of the Novella, “Ducky”)

{strong language; sexual situations}

wfff vvv

Maria was on the floor. She bled from her head. Joni ran up the stairs to the landing where she lay beside the still running vacuum cleaner. Her house cleaner uniform had blood on the collar. Joni quickly pulled her phone from her pocket and dialed 911.

She thought something was odd when she first came in from school. The floor had scuffs. Maria would never let that go. She shut off the vacuum cleaner. Soon, sirens wailed in the distance. She called her mother.

The EMT men stabilized Maria and she was awake and talking soon after they arrived. They immobilized her head and neck. Clarisse arrived at that time and Joni filled her in on what happened. Many items were missing from the house. Maria said someone hit her from behind and she did not see who it was. Clarisse called the police.

The police officers searched the grounds. Plain-clothed detectives arrived and put Joni and Clarisse in the squad car. They introduced themselves as Detectives Baker and Alverez. They found Robin in the basement and brought her out to the car and put her hands on the hood of the car. Detective Alverez interviewed her in Spanish.

She spoke Spanish very well. In fact, as they learned from Detective Alverez, she had many aliases, had been in police custody more than once but could not say more because of her age, and English was her second language.

She had told Clarisse many lies about her past.

Robin’s story was that they robbed her also and had a lump on her head to show for it. The medics looked at her head and concurred. Her head did have a lump. Her new stage piano that Joni bought her for her seventeenth birthday was gone. Detective Alverez told the Donalds that he could not disprove her story and had nothing to hold her on, and she was free to go. Brett arrived home now and they filled him in. He called Maria’s husband and found out he was already at the hospital. The crime scene techs were inside and they had to wait outside for a while longer.

Robin stood away from Joni and the Donalds, arms folded on her chest. She walked around the shady yard and never looked at them. She spat in their direction several times.

Joni dug in her jeans pocket and handed Clarisse her semester grade envelope. It was one of those mailers that had perforated edges to tear off before it’s opened. Clarisse gave Joni the stink-eye for crumpling it in her pocket. Clarisse opened the envelope and shot it in front of Brett’s nose without looking as if disgusted. Brett held her wrist steady so he could read the bold box in the corner. It read 3.1.

He threw his hands up in the air, “Goal!” he shouted.

They both hugged her and congratulated her. Robin glared at the scene.

The Detectives came out of the house. Clarisse introduced her husband.

“They are finishing up in there. We’ll need a complete list of everything that’s missing and any proof you have of that, serial numbers, and sales receipts would be great, if not, photos in front of the TV and the like. We will also canvas the neighborhood so prepare to receive phone calls from your neighbors. We’ll need to sit down and take statements from Joni and Robin Randall. I don’t think statements from either of you would be pertinent, but if we need them we will let you know.”

They worked it out that Joni could give a statement tomorrow after school.

“Here’s our cards. We’re from the robbery-homicide division. The dollar value puts this in the grand theft category. The injuries sustained during the commission could make kick this case up to Robbery in the first degree. Call us if you have any questions. If you need help, don’t hesitate to call 911.” The two Detectives left. The crime scene tech soon packed up and left also. Joni and Clarisse cleaned up the small amount of blood, and the medical residue left behind by the medics.

Joni’s phone was in her hand and the face lit bright. She had a text. It was Lia.

“Got grades. 3.8 Dad will be,” there was a smiley face with a Champaign bottle. “Mom will be,” there was the emoji of a turd pile. Joni giggled and looked at her mother.

She showed the text to her mother and she smiled but had to explain the emojis. She texted back. “I got 3.1 I’m IN!” That GPA would qualify her for a good school if she kept it up through her junior and senior year. She knew she would get a scholarship, but she wanted the choice of the best schools.

Lia texted back, “WONDERFUL! PROUD! BBALL LOOK OUT!” There was an emoji of a bouncing basketball.

“Relief” she texted back.

“Cry?” Lia texted. (Sad crying face with tears and a question mark.)

“Came home. There was a robbery.”

“OMG! RU OK?

“Yes. Maria hurt. I’ll call later w/details”

“Wish I was there to hold you.”

“Robin?”

“Acad. Ldr. Board. 4.85”

“Huh? Weird. Did not see that. Party girl, yes. Stephen Hawking, no.”

“LOL. Call you tonight.”

“Pissed if u don’t. Bye.”

***

A week passed. School ended and on the eve of the Pro-Am tour, Joni went to Lia’s to spend some time with her before she flew to Orlando.

A fresh style replaced Joni’s signature long blonde, frizzy, ponytail. She now wore her hair in a more mature-looking, short curly bob, shaved in the back and tapering longer toward her face, like her mother’s style. The look was striking. It complimented her cheeks and cheekbones. The teenager ponytail looked childish, this new cut looked like a mature young woman. She loved it. Lia loved it, too.

Joni walked out onto Lia’s back deck under the huge retractable deck awning. Lia and her mother had been waiting for her to change into the tennis outfit that Lia bought her and come model it for them. Joni timidly walked out the double French doors and to the table. Mrs. Adderley removed her sunglasses and gawked at Joni’s magnificently tall, lean, muscular body.

She wore a white halter top that revealed her washboard abs and a white pleated tennis skirt with shorts underneath that fit low on her hips and barely covered her butt. The outfit showed her well-defined lean legs, her flat, ripped, torso and her strong muscular arms and shoulders. Lia had taken loads of pictures of her on her cell phone.

“I told you she’s a Goddess, Mother,” Lia said.

“Oh, my word. I never dreamed…you are indeed a lioness just as Clarisse claims. And your posture is impeccable!”

“I look like a linebacker in drag,” Joni said. They chuckled. She embarrassed herself. She lowered her eyes and her cheeks flushed. She nervously tapped her tennis racket against her leg. Lia tried to change the subject. “I saw Brett and Clarisse’s home. It is a gorgeous chalet on the side of Leschi park hill overlooking the lake.”

“I hear you are a world class athlete. Can you play tennis?” Mother asked. the sound of someone playing basketball distracted Joni.

“It is not in my wheelhouse, Mrs. Adderley. Lia is going to teach me some things today.”

“I saw that hole-in-one, and the next one. Was that some sort of trick shot?”

“That was bold and amazing!” Lia said.

“I’ll be defending that shot for years, I guess. No, ma’am, it was no trick. I shot for the cup from the tee.” Joni said. She heard a basketball clang off the rim. Chain netting, she thought. She was too distracted so she stood and looked around for the goal. It was behind some trees masked from her view and down a small decline.

“That’s my younger brother James. He’s thirteen,” Lia said.

Joni trotted out toward the trees and danced sideways a few steps looking for the goal. She tuned and smiled at Lia. She trotted down some steps. A few seconds later she came trotting back up with the ball. She dribbled up to the table with Lia and her mother and stopped short of the awning.

“The golf shot went something like this,” she said. Joni picked up the dribble, spun around and leaped into the air firing a high arching jump shot over the tree tops. Two seconds later the chains jingled. James came running around the tree line and up the stairs with his hands on his head. He stopped and pointed back.

“It went in! It went it! It never even touched the rim! That was sick!”

Lia laughed and slapped the table top! “Isn’t she amazing. Mother?” she half exclaimed, half asked.

“You are everything they say you are!” Mrs. Adderley said. She licked her lips, practically drooling for Joni’s body.

“Joni, when you jumped, you went straight up and your feet went higher than the back of this chair! Have you ever measured how high you can jump?”

She shook her head, “I’m sure Coach Granger will do that when I start playing basketball next fall,” she said.

Mrs. Adderley choked on her drink, “Start playing! Are you telling me you have never played before?”

“Just pick up games, three on three, that kind of thing,” she said.

Later, they moved down to the estate’s tennis court. Lia and Joni were on the court. The house staff brought a table and some chairs to the court and served refreshments.

“The fundamentals are easy to pick up. Joni. But hey are hard to master. It takes training, practice, diligence, more practice, and a real love for the sport,” Lia said. “I’ve got a box of balls here and today we’re going to work on your serve. If we get that down, we’ll bring out the machine and work on your returns,” she said.

“I played once or twice when I was young. I was tall and gangly and couldn’t move laterally, I remember some of it,” she said. “If I watch you serve, I think I can pick it up.”

Lia walked her to the baseline. “Start with your feet,” she said. “You’re smiling. Why are you smiling.”

“You’re starting with the first thing. That’s how I learn. Once I get the first thing, I go to the next thing. I can’t skip steps. I won’t learn if we miss steps. I love it that you started with the first thing.”

Lia took two steps to her and put her palm on her strong chest. “Do you want to know a secret, Joni?”

“Okay.”

“The world’s best coaches and private trainers all say the same thing, that exact same thing. You must learn the first thing, get it down after that move on to the next. It’s called the ‘building blocks’ technique of training.” Lia went up on her toes and Joni kissed her gently.

“Ahem,” Mother cleared her throat, “Hit balls now, sex later,” she said making a musical note with the word ‘later.’ Two house staff arrived with another small table and three folding chairs. Lia looked up into her eyes and giggled.

“Start with my feet?” Joni asked in her sexiest voice, raising her blond eyebrows.

“Mmmmm,” Lia said still leaned into her. “This training is turning into foreplay.”

“Balls, dear,” Mother said, reminding them of why they were here.

Lia went through the two types of stances. Joni was more comfortable with the platform stance. She showed her the proper grip for the serve. Lia served the ball from the ‘ad’ side of the court to show Joni. The ball bounced perfectly in the left service court side.

“If I understand this correctly, the rolling on your feet, and twisting the trunk, is to gain power to hit the ball. The swing starts at an angle and twists toward the net.”

“Wow, that’s right. I haven’t talked about that yet, but yes. The rolling of the foot around is ‘pronation’ and it is the hardest thing for beginners to learn. You saw the swing change directions just by watching me swing!”

“Sometimes I can slow things down in my head.”

“What else did you observe?”

“You tossed the ball perfectly straight up, perpendicular with the ground. Your eyes never left the ball. You brought the racquet across and down your back to coil, or cock for the hit. Your feet left the ground on your strike. All your power came from your arms and shoulders. Your swing went out at an angle, twisted, turning straight into the ball toward the net. When you hit the ball, your arm extended fully and your upper body leaned forward putting all your power into your arm. As you struck the ball your head turned toward the target and you followed through the swing landing on your left foot with the racquet knee high and to your left. That’s all I got on the first one. If I watched you a couple more times, I could pick out a few more details…did I say something wrong?”

Lia had a very dumbfounded look on her face, her mother’s face matched. One of Lia’s eyes kept rolling up in her head. “My eye is acting up again, Mother.”

“Come, sit and have some tea, dear,” Mother said. She shouted at Joni over Lia’s shoulder, “You did nothing wrong, Joni, Lia has a nervous twitch.”

“Can I hit a couple?” Joni asked.

“God, yes. I mean, please do!” Mother said.

Lia sat next to her mother in the shade while Joni got a ball. She stepped to the baseline and went into her serve. The racquet went forward pointing toward the net, and back. She tossed the ball and wound up for the strike bringing her racquet far back down her back. As the ball reached its apex she came off the ground and swung into the ball, twisting with her powerful upper body, her strong arm hammered the racquet into the ball. It made a sound like a bullet whizzing as it flew! It bounced inside the left service court, ricocheted off the chain link back stop, and flew into pieces across the court.

She followed through on her left foot exactly as Lia showed her. Joni bounced to a stop. She paced the baseline for a minute breathing hard, and turned to Lia.

Lia stared unblinking at Joni. She sat with her elbows on her knees leaning forward and when Joni turned to her, she tossed her racquet on the ground.

“Serena Williams can’t hit it that hard!” she cried.

She walked over to them.

Mrs. Adderley applauded, “Brava, Joni! Your form was impeccable!”

“The ball went, zzzzzz.” Joni said grinning. Lia threw a napkin at her.

After dinner, Lia and Joni sat on the sofa in the den with a blanket over them watching an old movie. Lia sat close with Joni’s arm around her shoulder. She was very comfortable there.

“I have to fly out tomorrow.”

“I know, Joni. Of all the sports that you excel, I would never have believed that you could be the US Women’s Amateur Golf Champion, of all sports!”

“I’m not there yet, there’s three more matches. That’s a lot of putts!” Joni said looking down at Lia’s face, her eyelashes and nose. Lia looked up at her.

“Who are you, Joni? Are you truly a Goddess? Wonder Woman? A cyborg?”

Joni frowned, “I’m a teenage girl, like you. I’m still human.”

Lia drew breath, “Oh! NO! I did not mean to offend! Joni, my sweetheart. Hurting you would break my heart. I…” She stopped and took a deep breath.

Joni touched Lia’s face tenderly, “I get mocked and made fun of at school because of my muscular frame. They call me names like ‘amazon’ and ‘man hands.’ Mean girls give me shit about spending my free time in the gym, about never wearing make-up, and there’s the normal ‘queer’ and ‘lezzie’ and ‘dyke’ to deal with.”

Lia adjusted herself, tuning to face Joni. “I get the queer thing, too, but it’s different. While we are on this subject. I have a confession to make. I don’t know how to tell you, except to just lay it out. You are going to find out, so it is better that it comes from me.” Lia paused for a moment reading her eyes. “Joni, I’m bi. I go both ways. I’ve been with boys and girls.”

“I have a confession to make, too.”

“Oh?”

“I suspected you were bi all along,” Joni said.

“What made you think that? How did you know?”

“Because you look.”

“I look?”

“You look at boys.”

“I…well, yes, maybe a quick glance from time to time. But I promise you there is nothing behind it. I just glance. I can’t believe you catch small quick…wait!” Lia said. Her eyes shifted back and forth lost in thought. “Sometimes time slows down for you. You said that.”

Joni nodded, “I can’t help it. It happens. And once I noticed the looks, I can’t not see them. Lia, you can’t help it. You’re attracted to men. It’s who you are and it doesn’t bother me. I trust you. But at first, I thought, and you know how one thought leads to another, I asked myself ‘is she attracted to me because of my mannish figure?’ but I dismissed it as over-thinking.”

“Joni, your figure is not as mannish as you think it is! You were sexy in that outfit today. I thought Mother was going to start masturbating! You know she’s full blown lezzie, right?”

“I got that.”

“The way that skirt hugged your hips and the way you moved in it, all sleek like a big cat, had Mother and me both getting wet!”

“I rarely get told I’m sexy. Thank you.”

“Can I tell you what one mean girl did to me?” Joni asked.

“Sure,” Lia said.

“I’m used to getting things written on my lockers at school. I have four now. I had to change the combos since Robin and I split up. I went to my regular locker in the sophomore hall to get my books out and someone had written in permanent marker the word, ‘gynandromorph’.”

“That means from what I can gather from the parts, merging or morphing, into both a man and woman, I think,” Lia said, puzzled.

“I had to look it up, but you are right and it is impolite. The word used today is ‘non-binary’ or even ‘androgynous.’ The meanings of gynandromorph and hermaphrodite are so similar that they are almost interchangeable, except ‘hermaphrodite’ is normally used to describe animals.”

“Who would be so cruel? Do you know who did it?”

“I went around in a funk for a couple days, cried.”

“Of course, you did.”

“I was in my room going through things, looking for things that may have been stolen, and I ran across a note that Robin wrote me weeks back. The handwriting was similar. I can’t be sure it was her. Since she’s gone killer smart rogue, it could very well be her.”

“It happened just this week!”

She nodded, sniffed, and lifted her chin, “What hurt the most is that everyone at school knows that she had sex with me and she knows me down there, or they can safely assume so. If she claims I’m half man everyone at school will believe her.”

Lia shook her head, “You can’t think that. You can’t tell what everyone is thinking.”

“I’m saying that it had to be her. But how can I prove it? Tell everyone I shared that fear with her and her alone?”

“Look, Joni. Those fucktards can’t think and feel that deeply. They’ll think it’s just another prank on you and laugh it away.”

They sat in silence for a while, again. The light from the television made the dark room flicker. “How’s the investigation going?” Lia asked.

“They don’t have any solid leads yet. They said these things take time. We can’t recover the items lost through the insurance until the investigations are complete, I think. In dollars, it was a considerable amount, over ten thousand.” Joni yawned. “Sorry,” she said.

“I need to head to bed and let you get some sleep. When do we have to have you at Sea-Tac tomorrow?”

“The flight leaves at 10:00 AM, I’m meeting Dad there at 8:30. We’ll spend the night in Orlando tomorrow night and tee-off Saturday noon. The second round is Sunday, if I qualify, we’ll tee-off at noon again, and I will fly home Sunday night.”

“Are you sure you’ll be comfortable here?”

“This sofa is huge! It’s longer than your guest bed and it’s plushy,” she said as Lia cranked the back of the sofa flat.

“If you need another quilt, I showed you where to get one. There’s soda in the fridge, and stuff to make sandwiches if you get hungry. Is there anything else you need?”

Joni took her hand and pulled her down on top of her on the sofa. “I need some of you first,” she said.

“I was wondering when we would get around to this,” Lia said, “I knew it was inevitable.”

“Oh! Did you now!” Joni said a laughed. Lia dug her thumb into her rib cage and Joni squealed with laughter. They slap boxed and tickled for a minute and they stopped with Lia lying prone on top of Joni nose to nose.

Lia said “I,” and she put her hand over her mouth, “wfff vvv,” she removed her hand, “Joni Donald!”

“I” Joni said, the she put her hand over her mouth, “wfff vvv,” she removed her hand, “too, Apply Apperlaperly or whatever the hell your name is. What is your name, anyway?”

Lia collapsed on Joni’s chest laughing. She looked up at Joni red-faced, her chest still heaving from laughing. Joni picked up her head and looked her in the eye, “I would never forget your name, Aphelia.”

Lia wiggled up and planted her lips on hers, and suddenly backed off. “You said I,” she put her hand over her mouth, “wfff vvv,” she removed her hand, “do you mean it?”

“Lia, I would never tell someone that I loved them unless I meant it. You and I go deep, at least I feel we do. It’s a smooth deep, no barbs, love. I feel connected to you. When I’m alone, I look around for you. I think about what you would say about things. When I dress I think about what you would think about my clothes. When you…”

Lia put her finger over Joni’s lips, a tear dripped off her chin. “My precious Joni, I love you so much my teeth hurt. Shut up and kiss me before I explode!”

***

It was Monday morning, 8:00 AM, Brett had gotten up and left for work. Clarisse was moving in her bedroom on the first floor, dressing and preparing to go into the office. She heard the door to the kitchen open, and shut faintly. She continued affixing her earrings at her vanity.

Robin lazily staggered through the kitchen, swiping her fingertips over the top of the breakfast nook. Robin wore a wraparound skirt with a denim halter top and sandals. Her short bob haircut looked mussed and hung in her eyes and stuck straight up on top. It had grown out some and her bangs were longer. Robin had also redone her makeup. It was no longer the subtle colors that became her, but now thick and garish with heavy eyeliner and dark, almost black lipstick. When she got to the sink she paused. There were several wine and Champaign glasses dirty, piled in the sink. She opened the cabinet door under the sink and the recycle can was full of wine and Champaign bottles. She took a few steps toward the great room and she saw all she needed to.

The room was a mess. There were party favor streamers everywhere and standing in the middle of the big TV table was a huge trophy. The top of the trophy had a figure of a woman swinging a golf club. The gold plate at the base of the trophy read, “Orlando Invitational Pro-Am Women’s Amateur Champion Joni Donald.”

“Oooo, party. This was way too much happy,” she said. She turned and stumbled. Clarisse stood in front of her, arms folded across her chest.

“You’re drunk,” she said, “or still drunk from last night. What are you doing here?”

Robin pointed her finger at her and said, “You might make a good lawyer someday.” Robin hiccupped. “Woops.” She hiccupped again and laughed.

“Why did you do it?”

“Do what?”

“Why did you rob us, and throw away our good will toward you, after everything we’ve done for you?”

“My, aren’t we all judgey this morning!” {Hic} She stepped closer to Clarisse. “I did not rob you, Your Honor. I got robbed, too.”

“You lied to the police when you described what was stolen.”

Robin stopped, turned her head and stared at the wall. She slowly turned back to Clarisse. “Who told the police that I lied?”

“You told them you had a Yamaha piano. That was a lie.”

“Who told them I lied?” Robin was getting angrier. She shook her head. She shook it again. “You dumb bitch! For someone supposed to be so smart, you can’t think beyond your pretty nose! You claim I lied? Prove it.” Robin’s Spanish accent came through. She trilled her “r’s.”

“Wait here,” she said. Clarisse went to her bedroom and opened the locked file cabinet. She retrieved the accordion file folder and brought it into the great room. She sat, untied the folder while Robin stood, swaying, with her arms folded on her chest. Clarisse found the long form, the itemized sales receipt and handed it to Robin. Robin looked at it and handed it back.

“Tell me what it says,” Robin said.

Clarisse took the paper, read it and frowned. Robin smirked and scoffed. “White fucking Yamaha! Whose signature is that on the bottom, Your Honor?”

The description on the receipt read, “Yamaha, P-255, White, electric stage piano.” But the paper looked funny. Like something written over white-out and copied on a machine.

“Mine,” Clarisse mumbled.

“Excuse me? The jury didn’t hear that!”

“How did this happen? You’ve done something here.”

“Now, tell me, who told the police that I lied?”

The sound of sirens came from nearby and got louder. Robin looked up at the windows of the great room with her mouth open, thinking.

“Ask them yourself,” Joni said from behind her. “They’ll be here in a minute.”

Robin spun on her, “YOU!” Robin made a move to run past Joni but she put both hands on each side of the door frame and spread her feet. Police lights flickered bright outside. Robin turned, watched the lights for a minute. She was too intoxicated to think. She bolted for the front door, fiddled with the lock way to long, jerked it open, and there stood Baker and Alverez.

“¡Buenos días, Pajarito!” Detective Alverez said. (He said, “Good morning, Little Bird.) We’ve been looking for you.”

“You came here to hide thinking I would jump to your side, didn’t you!”

Robin looked at Clarisse. “I need a lawyer.”

Clarisse held up both hands, “Conflict of interest, Your Honor!”

“You people are going to pay!” Robin shouted. “Look at her, the golden girl” she said pointing at Joni. “She is gold in your eyes now, but soon you will all cry golden tears!”

Detective Alverez struggled with her and put her hands behind her back. He put handcuffs on her.

“You will all cry golden tears!” Robin screamed. Detective Alverez took her out the door. Detective Baker came in the living room.

“We found the red Nord piano. We got a copy of the bill of sale from the music store, the point of purchase, yesterday. We received a tip as to the whereabouts of the piano, and that lead us to Gutierrez. We believe Roberta and some of her bandmates pulled off this robbery here because she owed Gutierrez some money from a drug deal a year ago. He gave her drugs to sell but she stiffed him.”

“No honor among thieves,” Clarisse said. “But, they hurt Maria.” Clarisse looked up at Baker.

Baker nodded. “We’re questioning others involved. We’ll find who did what. Is that your copy?” He asked pointing toward the bill of sale with the white-out on it.

Clarisse handed it to him. “It’s been doctored.”

He nodded. “This is another log on the fire. We’ll need this.”

“Sure. I’ll get a copy later.”

Lia stepped into the doorway and put her arm around Joni’s waist. After the police left, Joni and Lia stood beside Clarisse.

“Are you okay?” She asked.

“Yes. I’m fine. Angry, though,” Clarisse said. The nerve and gall of her coming here and asking for my help!”

“After what happened to Maria.” Joni stood over her, arms folded.

Clarisse stood and shook her head as if to clear things. “And you, Miss Lia, need to go put some pants on. I know Ducky’s tee-shirt is long, but I’m catching glimpses of your panties and that is way too familiar for me.”

“Sorry, Mrs. Donald.” Joni and Lia turned and went to the stairs. Joni squeezed her ass and they laughed.

Clarisse watched them go. My Ducky is a bold young woman. She’s growing more comfortable with who she is. But watching her touch and fondle another girl seems…odd. She didn’t do that openly with Robin. I always pictured her growing up boy crazy. It turns out she’s girl crazy, and it is so much her true self that it would be odd seeing her touch a man. Isn’t it funny how things turn out?

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