Fifty-eight

When I turned the knob of Lexi’s door, I was surprised to find that it opened easily.  It wasn’t locked or barricaded at all.  I opened it, and looked back at Eddie.

He looked incredulous.  “How did you do that?  That thing was blocked solid.  I figured she shoved her armoire in front of it or something.”

“I don’t know.  It must have been a ghost,” I said sarcastically.  Eddie frowned at me, but didn’t debate the issue.  The mess in Lexi’s room remained from the night before, a riot of scattered clothes and furniture.

Lexi was sprawled chaotically on the bed, shirtless.  The blankets had been kicked off, and she suddenly arched her back as if reaching for something.  “Haven’ got much time,” she murmured.  The window was open; it was about forty degrees in the room.

“Dammit,” I said, my breath clouding.  I wasn’t going to be able to navigate the cluttered floor to get to the window.  “Eddie, help me.”  He stuck his head in; I pointed to the window.  He nodded and crossed the room.  I made my way to the bed and sat next to Lexi, who woke up when the mattress gave way.

“G’morning,” Lexi said, gazing up at me.  “Did I miss breakfast?”  She rolled over and pushed herself up.  Much of the blood that had come from the cut where she’d been hit with the toaster was still there, smeared about, and there was flour and dust in her matted hair.  Eddie bent and tossed a shirt from the floor toward us.  I caught it and handed it to Lexi.

“Molly is here,” I said, resisting the urge to wipe Lexi’s face clean.

“Good.  There’s a lot to do.  I’ve been having nightmares about it all night.”

“It’s mostly cleaned up,” Eddie said.

“I’m not talking about that.  I’m talking about more important things.”

“Such as?” Eddie asked.

“None of your business,” Lexi shot back, then pulled the shirt over her head.  When she was more or less dressed, she scratched her tangled hair and dug into one of the piles on the floor as if she knew exactly what was in each one.  After a moment she pulled out a pair of socks.

His eyes went to Lexi’s face.  She gave him a kind, gentle version of one of her explosive sunshine smiles, and I could see how worn both of them looked.  Eddie’s exhaustion was physical; Lexi’s sprang from somewhere else.  The smile had pushed whatever button inside Eddie that it needed to, though.  “What do we need?”

“Nikki needs to go to the hospital,” Lexi said, “so they can look at her leg.”

“I’m okay,” I said.

“I know you are.  Molly can take you, because I’ll bet Mister Doctor Edward doesn’t like her much.”

“You got that right.”

“I know the type,” Lexi said, sharing a conspiratorial look with me.  “While you’re all gone I’ll call Sir William and Glen, and maybe they can bring us some food, too.  I have to go get the rest of Ren’s car.”

“Where’s that?” Eddie asked.

“Down south, Mister Doctor Edward Sharp.  Down south.”  Lexi’s voice was grimly businesslike, with only the slightest hint of her usual loopy cheerfulness.

Eddie responded to it.  “What can I do to help?” he asked as Molly came back upstairs.

“I have a powertrain, suspension, and interior in one place and a body in the other.  I need to get them together.”

Molly caught the last of this as she entered the room, but the sight of Lexi preempted any question she might have had.  “Jesus wept, Lex, what happened to you?” she gasped.

“Ooh, I had a rough couple of nights,” Lexi said lightly. 

The calmness in her voice had a similar effect on Molly to the one it had on Eddie.  She sat on the bed on the other side of Lexi.  “You’ve got blood all over your face.  It’s dried in your hair.  Can I run you a bath?”

“Later, honey, we’ll talk business later.”

“Are you hurt?”

“Not anywhere that you can reach right now.”

Molly closed her eyes for a long moment.  “Okay.”  When she opened them, her eyes were bright with unshed tears.  “Okay, how do I help?”

Lexi smiled wryly.  “That’s what he just said.  Can you run Nikki to the hospital?  I have to find a way to get Ren’s car finished.”

“Don’t you want to clean up first?” I asked.  Excluding the blood in the foyer, nothing had changed from the night before.

“She’s got a point,” Molly said.  “I have seen the aftermath of many a frat party.  I have seen what second-graders can do with finger-paint and far too little supervision.  I even saw a Spartan Foods semi truck after it was hit by a train.  And I’m still staggered by the magnitude of what I’ve seen this morning.  Judging by the mess, you made enough noise to chase any ghosts away forever.  I’m going to be pissed if I came all the way out here and you’ve scared the ghosts off.”

“I’m sure they’ll be back,” I said.  “It’s not as though there’s anyplace else for them to go.”

She smiled at me.  “True true.  I’ll run you to the hospital, and let Lex and Eddie lift heavy things while we’re gone.  Lex, if you stand the fridge back up, we can make breakfast, assuming there’s any usable food left in it.  On second thought, never mind.  I’ll bring something back, okay?”

“Okay,” Lexi said.  She stood up and rotated her head, cracking her neck audibly.  “We have work to do, Mister Doctor Edward.  Big fish to fry.  Sacred cows to tip.”