Sample of “Bodacious Ursula and the Phone Call from Hell”
Bodacious Ursula and the Phone Call from Hell
The caller ID on my desk phone read Unavailable, but the number was from a local area code and I needed a client so I picked up.
And heard the voice of a ghost.
“Ursula,” he said in his voice too high for his straight-backed body, “are you still as bodacious as you used to be?”
I sagged back in my pivoting chair, suddenly thankful for the black mesh letting cool air touch my back. The view outside showed blue skies, gleaming office midrises, trees, the fountain in the roundabout, all in all a gorgeous summer day. But the cold sweat gluing my blouse to my spine was like the dead of winter.
“Who is this?”
“Who else ever called you bodacious?”
Ranger. Not his real name. As a kid, years before I met him in high school, he’d told everyone he was going to join the elite army unit when he grew up and the nickname stuck long after his army aspirations petered out in the juvenile court system.
A shiver ran down my back. But how?
“Hey, I thought you were dead,” I said, trying to make a joke of it.
“Get the hell out of town.” My voice came quickly and lively while a black pit grew in my stomach.
“That’s where I am, turns out.”
“In town? When did you get back—”
Black spots swam in my vision. I leaned forward so that my brow was inches from the empty yellow pads stacked on the glass top. “I don’t do immigration law and I didn’t even know they have phones there.”
“It’s like the joint. You can get privileges.”
“You’re learning big words in the prison library?” I said.
What the hell is happening? Your first boyfriend who you know is dead calls you up and you banter with him?
“You get time to think, down here.” His voice shifted into a thoughtful register. Maybe it wasn’t him after all, Ranger and thougthful were two words that never went together. “Time to think about everything you did wrong. Time to think about how to make amends.”
“What’s that got to do with me?” Lightly, but a hollow feeling that always lurked near my awareness leaked through.
“You were a good girl and you deserved a lot better than me. I want you to have the loot from my last job.”
My reeling mind found a lifeline. “I’m a member of the state bar. Makes me an officer of the court. I can’t take stolen property.”
“Twenty years, bodacious U. The statute of limitations expired. Says a lawyer I ran into down here. And I stole it from a meth dealer and he’s down here too. No one else deserves it. You ought to have it.”
I angled my head to pinch the handset between my shoulder and ear. A pivot to my desk. I pulled a pen out of the cup and clicked it, slid a yellow pad off the stack. First thing, I copied over his phone number from the caller ID. “And where is the loot?”
“You remember the place we called Heiny’s farm, off state road QQ?”
The black pit in my stomach grew into a chasm. The lurking feeling oozed out. For once, I was at a loss for words. “Tough to forget.” Tough to forget parking in the woods, miles past the last subdivision. Tough to forget fumbling in the back seat of his dad’s extended cab pickup, him working his hips for ten seconds and me thinking what’s in this for me?
A missed period, that’s what. And a trip to the clinic to take care of it. Ranger drove me there and back, and he paid for the abortion, I’ll give him that.
The hollow where the baby had been got worse when Ranger got arrested. Turned out he’d paid for the abortion with money from a convenience store robbery.
He kept talking. “….halfway between the tallest sycamore and the fence line. Got it?”
I scratched notes. “Sycamore. Fence.”
“Weren’t you listening? In the back field, away from the creek.”