Supercuts

Kate Maruyama

 

The rain was bucketing on Tuesday. Cat and dogging. Sloshing in puddles, dropping in sheets off the edge of the overhang: it promised to be a slow day at Supercuts.  Something about rain in Southern California makes everyone just curl up in a ball and die. No one wants to grab lunch, go to a movie, visit the supermarket. And nobody wants to visit the mini-mall.  Rainy Tuesdays at Supercuts are reserved for perky outdoorsy male types from back east who spend their whole haircut talking about how Angelenos suck in the rain.  Eventually even those guys go away. And then it's quiet.

I like these slow days because I can sit. We're not supposed to sit on the job, like, ever, but my manager, Jochi, makes an exception for me because of the hypertension.  Me walking around with my Bump, seven months pregnant, with my feet blown up like balloons didn't raise an eyebrow, but the minute that doctor's diagnosis of hypertension entered the mix, I got half days, extra breaks and the privilege of sitting in chairs whenever I felt like it. Jochi smelledlawsuit. And on a rainy day I could sit for a good long time…no haircuts. It's a bummer because we get paid on commission, but even though I have no idea how I'm going to pay for the Bump once it comes out, I was happy to take home just my hourly last week.

My back hurt like a bitch and my feet pushed against my shoes. Hardy back-East guy had just left and the front desk girl stepped out, so I took a minute to sit in one of the purple, customer-only swivel chairs. I settled in on my daily contemplation of how to get Bernardo, the Bump daddy to cough up a little cash for his baby's living expenses. Expensive life. Bump. Baby. Bump is easier to think about and doesn’t raise so many questions. Baby becomes a list of needs that cost money. Diapers. Doctor. Bottles. Stroller. Clothes. Crib. Quilt. If I think Baby, I start losing a handle on the day…on everything.

Then these ladies came in. I recognized Mari right off: she comes in for a cut and color every six weeks like clockwork and usually asks for me. Auburn all-over glaze with deep golden highlights. Used to get the Reagan haircut, the bob. But last time I talked her into the Haley, short, layered.  She's one of those sweet business girls. Nice suits, little bit of flair, perky, always smiling, cute as a button, sporting the Haley.  She seemed to live that effortless kind of life: steady office job, solid income, cute clothes, good will toward all. That kind of life would make dealing with the Bump easier: maternity leave, benefits, day care.

I couldn't figure the other two women at first. There was this skinny pinched-nose older lady--late forties--tons of makeup, whose over-dyed, yellow poodle-hair fluffed around her head like something that came off my cat's brush after I hadn't cleaned it in a month. Too many perms sometime in the Eighties. I see it all the time: these ladies go bald once they hit mid-life. Worse yet, she's a smoker, I could smell her the minute she stepped in the door. I've always hated smokers, but it's worse since my Bump.  I have a new super-smeller nose. Pinch-nose was talking on the phone and looked angry. Snarky.  

But harder to figure was the Hulk. This lady had to be six feet. Her hair looked like something died on her head, but kept growing, like the Cryptkeeper, only, like, with a lot more hair. Then she took off her yellow crossing-guard type raincoat.  Her hair went down to the back of her legs and, the grossest thing? It was brown at the ends, gray in the middle, white on top.  It was that long since she had her hair cut.  At least the back. Because on top, in front, it looked like she sawed off her bangs with lefty scissors. You know, the ones you pick up in first grade and can't make work? She had these curly little mouse-shaped things all over her forehead like gray pompoms tacked on with Velcro.

I was relieved at first, because this lady clearly didn't do haircuts.  But on the other hand, it was only two weeks since Mari's cut-and-color. And Mari loves me.


The Bump was doing some sort of drum routine on my ribs and I had just gotten into a position in the purple swivel chair where my back didn't kill me any more. My belly itched like crazy.

Mari saw me and started hollering, all excited, "Alana! Alana! Ohmygod, I'm so glad you're here!" She took the Hulk's coat with hers and tossed them both on the bench.

Great. But I gotta save up money. Beats doing nothing.

I said, "Hi, Mari, whu…" the word got hefty when I hoisted myself out of the chair, "…hut can I do for you today?"  Now that I looked at her, I thought maybe I could talk her into the Christina. More refined.  Her Haley was showing the effects of the rain and was poofing up.

I noticed with some worry that Mari was steering the Hulk away from the front door past the purple benches in the front, right by the front counter and toward me. Oh, lord, what can I do with that rat's nest?  The Melrose maybe. Some color. But nothing was gonna help this woman. I could see her face now and nothing was going to help her. She had one of those crazy-lady-homeless faces. Big, blobby nose, yellow rings under the eyes. Her skin looked like worn-out paper bag someone had left on the corner for years in the wind and the rain and mushed with their toe every so often. She got close and my super-smeller told me that not only was she a smoker, she was not a bather. Like he knew, the Bump started trying to roll over.
Therewentthebladder.

Mari had on her company voice. It's not a voice I know on her, but my Mom used to do it when I called her on the phone and company was over. A little louder than usual, and extra-friendly, Mari said, "This is Alice. Alice does the lunch cart in our building. I mean, she does our office, but everyone else, too. We're treating her…" she looked back to Pinch-nose, but saw she was still on the phone. "My boss, Tammy?" Mari threw her nose back to point at her. Her hands were too busy driving Alice. "She agreed, so we're gonna treat Alice here to the works. Wash, cut, color if she wants…"

Alice said, "Oh, no, I don't think I'm gonna color anything. Just a trim." She chuckled nervously. Her laugh was real deep, like a truck driver.  A guy truck driver. I noticed that Mari wasn't steering her so much as pushing her up the little ramp into the haircutting area.

"We're going to treat her to the works." Mari added with a cheerfulness that sounded more like a command, "Because she is so good to us, bringing us food every day with a smile and if anyone deserves a little luxury, it's this hard working lady right here."

The thing is, since the Bump came along? I'm not so much in the mood. For that stuff that I did before.  The chit-chat. The stroking of egos. The question, like I'm interested in what a client is actually thinking. I just want to do the damn haircut and get back to that chair. And I had to pee. Not right then. But, like, soon.

But it's Mari and she tips well.

I lay my hand on her shoulder, saying, "Okay, Alice." They told us in training that the hand on the shoulder is a good way to segue into that closeness of the client-cutter relationship.  It's the move you do before you seat the customer and put the purple cape around their neck.  My boss, not Jochi, but my first boss, Patrice, taught me how to do it with a flourish, snapping it first. She said that it was "magic time", the purple curtain goes up and the magic begins.  

I said, "If you'll have a seat." I had to give Alice a shove to get her big ass into the seat. She had on a black sweaterish thing that was a little sticky on the outside. I felt like I needed to wash my hands after touching it. Alice didn't even have to get up on her tiptoes like most customers. She went down with a plomp and a poof of b.o.

She really didn't want to be here, which meant the next twenty minutes were going to suck. I wouldn't really have to pee for ten of those minutes. I had to make it quick.

Unfortunately, Alice was a slow talker. "I've never had my hair really, done before, you know." She actually sounded more somewhere between a mule and truck driver man.

Mari chimed in to help out, "Well you're in good hands with Alana. She's done my hair for…ohmygod, how long is it now?"

I knew not to guess because I couldn't frickin' remember. I like the girl, but I cut a lot of heads.

Mari remembered for me, "Five years. Wow, has it been that long? Now we were thinking…" She looked at Alice's face in the mirror as if all thoughts had left her head and she couldn't remember why she was here. Alice looked excited.  She hadn't sounded excited, so the look in her eyes: like she was going to be given a big fat sundae, or an award, this made me a little more hopeful.

I did a little less flick for my "magic time" presentation, the stink of the woman was killing me. She had a clovey, twisted sweetness that comes of not bathing for a long time. At least the cape would cover it up a little.

 Mari screeched, "Tammy!" and I jumped. Got my heart beating way too fast to be healthy and I stepped back, clutching her arm.  I'd never heard that noise out of that little business girl. Mari must've seen the look on my face. "I'm sorry, Alana. Oh, I'm sorry.  She's just always on the stinkin' phone and I need her to take part you know? She's footing the bill."

Tammy had stepped outside under the two-foot awning at the front of the store and was smoking a cig. The sheet of rain next to her looked like it might swallow her up.  She squinted in the window and held her finger up one minute. She took one last huge drag and stubbed out the cigarette. Mari's life didn't look so sparkly once I knew this pinched woman was her boss.

The Hulk spoke. "I don't know why she's being so nice."

Mari laughed in a fake way and muttered in my ear, "I don't know why she's being so nice either. Let's do this quick before she changes her mind."

I've done this long enough to know what questions not to ask. And what questions get the person out the door faster. I said, "Alice, would you like a short cut? Or something longer, like perhaps the Melrose?" I handed her the book of styles, but I knew it was going to be hard for this giant of a woman to imagine herself in any of the tiny, pretty model's haircuts. The Melrose is the longest cut we have, so I figured she might go for it.

Alice seemed to like the process.  She looked through the books and started laughing that truck-driving mule laugh.  She said, "Oh, well, let's see here." I watched her face, grateful that the cape was doing its trick. There was a smell of freshly washed hair coming off her head; she had prepared a little for this event. I started wondering how she could wash her hair and not her pits.  

Mari looked at the cuts book over Alice's shoulder. "I was thinking of something short for her. Some sort of total makeover. Take years off her age. You know?" That girl watched too much Oprah. I remembered, now, a whole haircut spent discussing the latest Oprah.

That clean-hair-stinky-pits question was still nagging at me, especially when I thought that in order to wash your hair in the sink, you'd have to raise your arms, which would involve smelling your pits which would kinda make you want to take a shower. Then Tammy walked up with a whoosh of freshly smoked cigarette mixed with Herbal Essences and Dial Soap. I got that gaggy feeling I hadn't felt since my first trimester. I saw from Tammy's eyes that she'd been crying. Just then. Outside. There was a lump of damp mascara smeared sideways and patches of her foundation were streaked into it. She was all wound up tight, but slipping, like when you get too much hair looped up in a long-hair clip and it starts to go.  She saw that I saw her and flashed me a "Don't mess with me" look, so I looked back at Alice who had stopped on the Melrose. Thank God.

Mari didn't notice her boss's condition, she was just happy Alice had landed on a haircut. She said, "Alice that's perfect. You think you want it blonde?"

That chuckle turned into a mule-snort. "Blonde? You see me like a blonde?" The snort turned into a laughing jag and she was swishing around in her cape bent over releasing pent-up b.o. to mix with the Dial and cigarettes and the Bump was mushing his head into my bladder and I had to go.

I tried really hard to keep my voice from sounding grossed out, "If you ladies will excuse me." I went back to the bathroom. When you get to a point where urinal cake smells better than a person, it's pretty bad. I won't get into the specifics of peeing this pregnant, but lemme tell you, it is not easy or fast. It gave me time to think about the usual. The thing is, Bernardo has some legal obligation to the Bump, but that kind of thing needs a lawyer and that costs money. If he has to pay for a lawyer on his night-shift rent-a-cop salary, he's not going to have much left to give to the baby. If he hadn't caught the first train outta Dodge when I first told him about the baby, we could have probably made it.

We could have made it.

And the baby…the Bump needs a daddy. And diapers. And a crib. And food. And babysitting. What do I do with the baby when I'm at work? Baby.

Bump. Bump Daddy. He needs to help. That's just it. If Bernardo helps, we can make it. But how to get him to help without having to sue him?

I was ruminating this when I went back to my station.  So I didn't notice for a moment that something had happened. I don't know what exactly, but Alice was quiet and steamed, Mari looked afraid and Tammy didn't look quite as falling-to-pieces-right-now as when I left. She actually looked a little satisfied.

 Served me right for peeing. Or served the Bump right. Everything about the three of them told me I could kiss my tip goodbye.  I put on my best sorta cheerful-but-not-pushy business voice, "So, have we reached a decision?"

Alice's chin was set like she was holding a rock in her mouth.

Mari snapped at Tammy, "You can't just talk to us like we're shit you know."

Tammy didn't say anything. She was tapping her cell phone with her Lee Press-ons.  She rummaged in her purse for a minute, but then stopped. I knew she had only just remembered she couldn't light one up in here.

I couldn't let all of that angry quiet just sit there. Whatever it was. I said, "Um. Ladies?"

Mari didn't sound at all excited anymore. "Well, Alice would like the Melrose."

Alice wasn't having it. "I. Am. Not. Going. Blonde."

Mari sounded like every bit of cheerfulness she'd walked in with was gone. "You don't have to be blonde. It's just going to give a nice shape to your hair."

Tammy said, "You've gotta do something about that color." She was a barker with a strong Ohio accent. I know this, because this chick from Ohio worked here a year. I could recognize that twang anywhere.

Mari gritted her teeth, saying, "I think we'll start with the haircut, Tammy, if that's okay with you. We are still doing this, right? This is why we brought her in here, right?"

Tammy looked at her cell phone, trying really hard to seem like she didn't care. "Whatever."

Alice started looking around, like for the exit or something. She said, "You guys are really, really nice and all, but I don't need a haircut."

Mari matched Tammy's anger and they said in unison, "You need a haircut!"

Alice looked at them both in the mirror, like they were crazy. She looked at me and got a glimmer. Then she started to laugh. She wasn't so awful when she smiled, really. Her big brown cow eyes kinda lit up, even though you had to squint to see past that awful hair.

I did the only thing I knew how, I picked up the bottle and the comb and started spraying and combing, saying, "Here we go."  Everybody relaxed a little. Tammy's phone chimed in with "Hotel California" and, relieved for the excuse to leave, she headed out to her spot on the stoop reaching for her cigarettes with her other hand.

I pinned up Alice's hair…it took like five clips just to get the top of her head up.  I pushed her head forward and she started to relax a little. I like when a client relaxes. They're going to that happy haircut place. Maybe Alice didn't recognize that place after so many years, but the body knows what to do when its hair is being brushed.  I started clipping. Standard Melrose length. Eight inches below the nape of the neck.  But still, that first cut of hair was nasty. I held it up, still brown at the bottom, browny-gray at the top and dead and showed it to Mari.  It was a good foot and a half long.

She mouthed, Oh, My God.  We smiled and laughed a little. I was happy to see her lighten up. I don't know what that Tammy bitch said, but it had to be pretty bad to bring Mari down.

Alice's voice came out muffled, her chin scratching on her vinyl cape, "You really don't have to pay for this."

Mari shoved her shoulder. "Shut up. Of course we're paying."

The Bump had the hiccups. This was cute at six months. At seven months his head jerked and tickled my bladder with every hic.

Mari wiped her eyes. Did Tammy make her cry?  She took a deep breath, shaking back her cute, but poofy Haley tresses. She said, "How far along are you?"

We had this conversation last week.  

I tried not to sound irritated, but I couldn't help it. "Seven months." Two months 'til the baby. Two months. Eight weeks. Don't think about it.

She said, "So when's the baby due?" It was around here I realized from the glazed look in her eyes that she had no idea what was coming out of her mouth. She'd turned on the Chatting button and was letting it run.

Alice's slow-talking man-mule voice got even slower and now she sounded more like an enormous cat, "thhhis is nicccce…" Her heavy breathing echoed off her cape, but more cutting was making her look a little less like Sasquatch.  I don't usually get to do such big transformative cuts. It was kinda exciting.  I was going to talk her into a color. Nothing scary. Just brown. Chocolate brown. Red highlights maybe. Who knows what difference a haircut could make for this woman? Maybe it would make her want to bathe.

Tammy was kinda yelling into the phone outside. Not loud enough to understand over the sploshing rain, but loud enough to know she was upset. I went back to the cutting. It used to be easier to do, tune people out, focus on the cut. But the rain was coming down and the smoke was blowing in the door and the Bump was hiccupping and Alice's hair was starting to twist around my swollen ankles like some creature coming up from under the floor.

I finished the back, but the front was a real puzzle. I combed Alice's bangs down and they only reached her nose. Ordinarily, I'd try to layer them into the rest of her hair but that wasn't gonna work.

Tammy was back. Lee Press-ons clicking again, fresh smoke. She came in front of Alice with me and took a look. I hate when people do that.  Tammy ordered, "Straight bangs. Combed down."

She was in my space and she smelled bad and she was a bitch, but she was right. Damn it.  I shifted my hips to take the weight off the sciatica and got to work.

Mari was starting to tap her foot and breathe funny through her nose. Alice was staring at her reflection, stunned as I cut a good two inches off her bangs and kept combing and evening them out.

Mari sounded like she was using all of her energy to think of what to say, when she said to Tammy, "I don't even know why you came."

Tammy was quiet a minute. Surprised. I didn't figure her the type to surprise easily. She said, "I brought Alice here to get a nice haircut." This was her only defense and I could tell it was weak.

Mari scoffed. "And you're making sure she knows it every frickin' minute and why'd you even bother in the first place. You never even tip her."

Tammy's Ohio twang got stronger when she got upset. "For giving me a sandwich that's on the cart? For handing me a sandwich that's already made? Who tips for that?"  

Alice said, "I don't mind." It came out kinda loud and surprised. She wanted it to stop.

I wanted it to stop. I leaned into Alice, despite the odor, put my face down next to her and looked into her eyes in the mirror. I said, "Do you trust me?" I was giving her that just-us-girls secret smile. "Lemme take you in the back and work my magic."

Mari was on a roll. "I can't believe how rude you are. You know it's one thing at work, when you're raggin' about your job and trying to get things done, but we're out with people now. Regular people."

Alice looked at them nervously, but then looked at me and my smile and, eager to escape, she nodded.

I said, "Come with me." Alice and I headed back to the color and wash section and let the girls at it.

Alice said, "They're crazy, you know, both of them." I was surprised at anything like commentary coming out of her.

It made me feel defensive. I said, "I like Mari. She's a good girl."

She said, "Oh, she is. She is. I just don't know how she works for that…" I could tell Alice wasn't the swearing type, so the next word came hard for her, "witch. My job is easy, I move in and out of all of that office drama. They stay inside it all day long, hour after hour, getting all…worked up. I'm always relieved when I get to move on to the dentist's office downstairs.  They're so nice in there. No stress. They give out free lip balm. Vanilla."

Tammy was getting strident with Mari. "You better not talk to me that way, young lady."  

Mari said, "Young lady. How old are you? I happen to be thirty-two, you witch, you can't talk down to me that way." Mari wasn't the swearing type either.

I asked Alice, "Do you like your work?" I wondered if pushing a sandwich cart paid better than a rainy day at Supercuts.

I took Alice back behind the low wall that goes around the cubicle that the sink and wash-and-color chair was in. She got a real smug look on her face and said slowly, as she eased into the chair, "Glass. Bottom. Boat." Then with a wicked twinkle in her eye she grinned. "I see…everything."  
 
The haircut was going to be okay, I knew it and if I could do the right trick with the color, she'd look so much younger. Less like a total weirdo. If only we could do some makeup. But one thing at a time. The best part about coloring is that I could go pee while it set.   

Alice leaned back and closed her eyes, resting her neck in the sink while I picked my palette. Chocolate brown. Looking at her skin's pinkish undertones, red probably wasn't as good an idea as a lighter brown. Not streaks, just blended highlights. When I was really working… like, changing someone? Maybe making her life a little better? Then I wondered why I let myself get so wound up about Bernardo.

Alice, without opening her eyes, said, "Some people are going to learn pretty quick that what goes around comes around. But people like you and me?" She squinted one eye open to look at me, "We're gonna be okay." I don't know why, but I kind of believed her.

 

By the time I brought Alice out to blow her dry, the ladies were sitting on opposite purple benches out front of the cash register not talking to each other. Mari was flipping angrily through a magazine. Tammy was tapping her phone, looking out the window at the rain.

Alice sat down in the chair and saw herself. She smiled like she had a wonderful secret, her shoulders hunched up and then she laughed. Okay, maybe she needed makeup and a little dental work. But a girl can only do what she can.  

The magazine flipping stopped and Mari looked up. She squealed and ran over in her high-heeled Nine West boots as clippety as her teeny feet could take her.

I miss cute shoes.  

Mari said, "Alana, you've done it!  I knew you would!"

I just started blow-drying. Tammy looked up.  She didn't look pissed the way I thought she would. She just looked really, really tired. Alice squinched up her face because of the blowing.

Mari looked over at Tammy. "Come see!"

Tammy was reluctant.

Mari flapped her hand frantically, "Look I'm sorry and all, just come see."

Tammy thought about it a moment and then got up and walked over to look at my work. It was still only just taking shape but I had to say, I was feeling pretty proud.

Tammy didn't seem impressed.

Mari was too excited to mind, "Isn't it great?"

Alice was still squinting but smiling.

Mari was my own personal emcee. She said, "Doesn't she work magic?"

Tammy looked at Mari right in the mirror over Alice's head. Her eyes narrowed and she seemed to get a sick satisfaction out of saying, "Mari, you're fired."

Mari's grin dropped like it melted down her face. Her eyes were instant-tears and she looked like Tammy had punched her.

What a bitch.

I said, "Wow, you're a real bitch!" I had to holler over the blow-drier, which made it come out like I was yelling at her. I mean I shouldn't have said it anyway, but the Bump had a way of making me forget what was out loud and what was in my head. Alice didn't seem to hear and Tammy gave me a sideways look, but didn’t seem to mind much.

Mari just started crying, "Oh my God, was it what I said? I mean, I'm sorry I got so upset there. I just wanted this for Alice for so long and you were making it so hard…"

Tammy interrupted her. "I got fired, too. They're cleaning house."

That shut Mari up. She said, "Oh."

Tammy said, "I'm sorry. I shoulda said. I get." She slumped. "I don't know what I'm going to do."

Mari's face changed as she processed this. I don't know if Alice could hear them or not for the noise of the blow-dryer. But she looked like she was smiling bigger.

The blow-dry was done. A little zhusshing and we'd be all set. The cut was fabulous, there was this lightness to it, but the bangs made her look…well, almost professional. I turned off the dryer and put it in its holster on the side of the counter.

Alice yelled, "That's great!"  The hairdryer in her head hadn’t turned off yet.

Mari walked over to Tammy and put her arm around her shoulder, "I'm so sorry."

I got some mousse on my hands and started shaping Alice's hair.

Tammy didn't shake off Mari's arm, but she didn't accept it either. She stood there like a stepladder making it hard for Mari to continue the comforting motion without looking posed.

Mari gave up and let her arm fall by her side. "Any word why?"

"Cutbacks. You know. Usual. Came down from corporate."

Mari said, "I'm sorry."

Tammy said, "Yeah."  She didn't look the type when I first saw her, but the look on her face? She looked sorry about all of it. Goes to show, you can't always tell a person.

Somewhere along there, Alice tuned in.  "You don't have to pay for this you know."

"We're paying for it!" again with the unison.

Tammy reached into her pocket book and took out a crumpled envelope. It was filled, filled with fives and tens and singles.  She looked up at her fingers squinting at them and made a wedge about a quarter of an inch thick, reached into the envelope and pulled out a wad of cash, handing it to me.

I had to say something. "That's way too much."

She then took out a thicker wad and handed it to Mari, who said, "We can't just take petty cash."

Tammy shrugged. "They don't have the money for severance, so here you go." She took the last of the singles and one ten and handed them to Alice.  "Here, all the times I didn’t tip you."

Alice looked up at her, considering the gift.  She got up out of the chair, whipped off her cape and handed the scrunched bills back to Tammy. "Thanks, hon. But I still have a job." She looked at herself in the mirror, shook her hair out and smiled.  She gave me a very stinky hug, but it was nice. I tried to focus on the smell of the familiar hair products. She then gave Mari a huge bear hug and said, "Thank you.  Thank you so much." She pulled away from her and looked her in the eyes. "You're gonna be fine. You're a good girl."  

Tammy was getting all misty over the beauty of the moment and her own generosity and held out her arms to Alice waiting for her hug. Alice walked up to her and looked her up and down. This made Tammy very uncomfortable, I think she'd never been looked down on in her life.  She came in with a certain idea about Alice and Alice was stepping outside that.

Alice breathed really big, and I was worried she was going to yell, but she spoke so softly she didn't sound like a truck-driver any more. Or a mule. She sounded like she meant it. "You. Need to be nicer to people." She put her enormous hand on Tammy's wiry little shoulder and patted her a little too hard.  "Good luck, honey."

She grabbed her slicker off the bench in front and sashayed out the front door as she was putting it on.  I was worried about the cut and more worried about the color, but Alice pulled a sunshiny yellow umbrella out of nowhere, probably her pocket, and popped it open over her head before stepping out from under the awning into the rain.  The sheet of rain coming off the awning made a loud splattering on Alice's umbrella, causing it to glow for a moment and she was gone.

The Bump was resting now, I couldn't feel my feet anymore, which was good. The sciatica had subsided, which was also good.

Tammy got out a cigarette and put it into her mouth. Reflex, I guess. I wasn't going to stop her.  Mari looked at her, like she was trying to think of something nice to say. Then she got sort of a light in her eyes, pocketed her money and got her coat. "See you in a few, Alana."

"Yeah."

Tammy didn't even look at me. She and Mari walked out separately. I don't even know if they all came in one car.  They walked off in different directions out of range of the window.

I sank into Alice's chair to get the weight off my feet and my back cracked. It was gorgeous. The sciatica melted away. The baby, as if feeling my relief, woke up. His whole body seemed to stretch out languorously and a lump protruded from my left side. I reached down and grabbed the little foot. Or hand. Or whatever was reaching out. I laughed. I don't know if it was the cash or other people's drama, but it felt good to just sit and listen to the rain.

I love LA rain. It doesn’t mess around.

 

 

Kate Maruyama's novel HARROWGATE was published by 47North. Her short work has appeared in Arcadia, Stoneboat as well as on the Rumpus, Salon and the Manifest-Station among other journals. She is an instructor at Antioch University Los Angeles in their BA and MFA programs as well as with Writing Workshops Los Angeles. She writes, teaches, cooks, and eats in Los Angeles, where she lives with her family.