V meets Adam and decides that he's perfect, in many ways. She asks him to help her with getting back at her ex-employer, a Miss Poppy Smart who fired her from her preschool because V had criticized her too many times.
When Adam and V attempt to release a couple of rats into the preschool building on a warm Saturday evening, they discover the brutally murdered Poppy.
Chapter 1: Tired of Talking
V didn’t like the idea of having to lock her apartment door, so she entered 401 without any preamble. Adam walked past her. “This way, St. Mary’s.” She didn’t hold the door, so he squeezed himself tight to avoid touching it.
Inside, she asked him, “Are we pretending to do special ops?”
“It’s my elbow,” He cradled his right arm, which was in a sling.
V left her boots on. The beige carpet was already so far gone that she didn’t even try to keep it nice anymore. Her cat Mr. Mistletoe was standing regally on the kitchen table, silent as a vase. The cat didn’t acknowledge her, only followed her with his eyes. Adam followed V, and saw the cat only as he was about to pass by it. “Oh Jesus!”
“Sorry. This is my cat,” she said. “He’s not very friendly, really.”
“Oh. Ok. Yeah.”
They met at the parish league championship game between St. Andrew’s (hers) and St. Mary’s (his). Although meant to contain all the virtues of Catechism, namely kindness, goodness and fair play, it was a mean fight for the pennant. The rivalry between the parishes was legend in their town, each one claiming to be the toughest team in the league. The number of immigrant Poles compared to first generation Canadians (the “Cans”, as they were called, was double for St. Mary’s, whose team was comprised of hulking light-haired farm boys that made the bats look like sapling twigs. Adam was their star pitcher. He was 6’3 (she asked) and built like superhero. His team shirt was tight, the M on the front stayed perfectly formed when he arched his arm back, right foot angled before shooting forward so fast you missed where the ball went altogether.
“So, what did you say you’re majoring in?” V asked him. She sat in an old grey armchair, the side of which had been used for months by her cat as a scratching post. V didn’t have a sofa -- there wouldn’t have been room, in any case. Just a chair and some books was all she needed, anyhow.
Adam shrugged and sat at the table, the cat turned briefly to stare at him with wild eyes, the whites visible, then turned away to resume his pose.
In the 9th inning, Adam was flattened by a Jimmy Kostiuk from V’s team who had a habit of closing his eyes as he ran. Jimmy was a truly terrible baseball player, but his mother told everyone that he was interested in joining the priesthood so folks generally laid off him except when the priest from St. Mary’s yelled through cupped hands, “Watch out for that lummox!” just before the two of them collided. The ball rolled away casually while the two of them rolled on their backs holding their injured parts. Jimmy had his hand on his jaw, rocking and staring up to the heavens with a broken expression. Adam flopped gently while he tenderly gripped his right elbow. The names of the injured were called out by the announcer. The game was paused.
V sat back in her seat and sipped on her paper cup of beer, thinking that she’d like to meet this Adam. There was something the intrigued her, this big young man, rugged but handsome like the hero in a cowboy move. She watched him on the field, now sitting by home base like a toddler on his bum with his thick legs straight out. A nun she didn’t recognize sitting in the dirt beside him, gently rolling a tensor bandage over his elbow.
Adam told V that he was a first year political science major and so the inevitable segue began when he explained the different between macroeconomics and microeconomics. V already knows this information; she took a basic economics course in high school. After a few sentences in, when he began to struggle, “No, no what I mean is,” V leaned over and grabbed a book from the shelf, tipping it like it was falling top over bottom in slow motion. She smiled at him as she did this. Mr. Mistletoe jumped off the table and made eights around V’s calves.
Adam stared at the wall behind her, his index finger raised, “But so, actually, in fact most times inflation is not avoidable,”
She reached in and pulled out a small bag of weed and some rolling papers. She waved it in front of her face. He must’ve heard the crinkling of plastic. Finally, he stopped talking.
It didn’t take long, both of them on the carpet, dinginess be damned, to find themselves leafing through quickly to the next chapter. V, surprised by how easily a thing could happen, underneath Adam, his breath hefty with what she detected as a stifling sense of new beginnings. Their foreplay mainly involved her laying still and he trying several times to look at her face. To protect her shock and generally reject any additional intimacy, she eventually did the primordial thing and grabbed his head, pushing it into her clavicle.