19: Agony and Ecstasy

Taylor showed up at Pandora’s (well, out back, actually, where Daniel wouldn’t see her) with a big red handprint on her face.  She’d been kicked out again, or maybe she’d stormed out.  She certainly hadn’t slapped herself.  “Can I sleep on your couch again?” she asked Dori.

She knew that letting Taylor come home with her again wasn’t the brightest of ideas, foolish even, but couldn’t think of a remotely nice way to tell her this. 

And really, it wasn’t that it was a bad idea, it wasn’t like they were fucking, it was just that the way Taylor idolized Dori made her uncomfortable.  In the end, she was feeling too good after her conversation with Charles, and if Dori was addicted to anything it was making people feel good.  Letting the kid come home with her again would obviously make Taylor’s day, and that was enough to convince Dori to do it.

“I can’t believe my mom slapped me,” Taylor said.  She threw her head back against the Oldsmobile’s headrest, looking out at the night as Dori drove home.  “Whose car is this?”

“Mine.”

“Whose was the Neon?”

“Mine, too.  I wrecked it yesterday.”  Her neck still hurt too, come to think of it, but not as much as the knot on her head where she’d gotten beaned by the bottle.

“Oh.”  One of the things that showed Taylor’s age (because her face did a good job of concealing it) was her complete lack of empathy for anyone else.  “My mom was really pissed when I told her where I stayed last time she kicked me out,” she said.

Dori sighed.  “You shouldn’t do stuff you know is going to piss her off,” she said.

“She can’t tell me what to do.  She doesn’t even give a shit,” Taylor said, rolling the swear word around in her mouth like a baby with a new toy.  “About me, or anything that I care about.  She can’t choose my friends.”

“I guess not.”  Dori wasn’t sure how you were supposed to talk to a fifteen year-old when they were being dumb.  And it wasn’t like she could put Taylor out on the street, either.  Well, she could, but if the kid got raped or killed or something it would be her fault.  She tried to distract Taylor.  “I forgot to tell you about what happened the first night you came over to stay with me.”  She shut the girl up for a while by telling her about Mr. Riesling, the singing veteran.

Taylor wasn’t particularly impressed by the story.  “How much money did he give you?” she asked.

“I dunno.  I didn’t look at it.”

“That’s crazy.  If I got a bunch of money from someone like that, I’d move out of my house.”

“Yeah, I’m working on that, too.”

“Seriously?”  Taylor looked at her, amazed.  “You’re going to move out of your aunt’s house?”

Dori nodded.  “She sort of wants me to, I guess.  And maybe it would be a good thing.  I don’t know exactly, but it’s something I have to do now.”

“Maybe we could move in together!”

Dori immediately regretted telling Taylor that she was getting her own place.  “I don’t think that’s legal,” she said. 

“You could sign the lease and stuff, and I could stay there.  I could get a job, and pay you for my room and stuff.”

Yeah, right, Dori thought.  How would you get to your job without a driver’s license, nimrod?  She didn’t want to say anything nasty to Taylor though, so she just shrugged.  “I have to find a place first.  I have no idea what an apartment even costs.”

“Well, it would be cool if we were roommates.”

Now she had to change the subject again.  Dori told Taylor about the accident, to get off of the apartment situation.  This was slightly more impressive to Taylor, mostly because of the breaking up with Smile angle.

“So, like, it’s over now?” she asked.  “You dumped him?”

“I dunno if ‘dumped’ is the right word.  It was already on the rocks anyway, so we’re taking some time off.”

“I would have sued him for wrecking my car.”

Dori didn’t think that was the proper response to an auto accident, but chose yet again not to correct Taylor.  “You sound like my other friends, some of them.  Everyone thinks I should be all vindictive about it.  You should have heard my friend Clover.”  Clover had heard about the crash through the grapevine, and had called Dori at Pandora’s to get the story.  “She was all ready to hunt Smile down and break his legs with a two-by-four.”

“She should.  What a dick.”

“It was an accident, Taylor.  It’s not like he was out driving around looking for me to ram my car.”

“Yeah, but still.  I think your friend is right.”

“Clover also said I should go into therapy, for all the shit Smile did to me.  You know Smile, right?  He’s one of the delivery drivers.  Well, he was.”

“Yeah, I know him,” Taylor said, nodding.

“Do you think he’s that bad?”

“He was a psycho,” she spat.  “He was always all intense and mad about everything.  I bet he transferred a lot of that onto you, and that’s why you don’t want to let him take the blame for it.  He made you feel like everything was your fault.”

Dori thought that Taylor had been watching way too much Lifetime, but held her tongue.  “Smile’s not that bad,” she said as the Olds chugged to a stop in front of Aunt Andrea’s house.  “We were friends before we started going out, and as far as I’m concerned, we’re still friends.  The main reason we split up is so we don’t say things while we’re both all wound up and mad that make it so we can’t ever be friends again.”

Taylor looked at Dori, frowning a little, and then shrugged, said, “Whatever,” and got out of the car.

She hadn’t been able to call ahead this time, so she had to get the blankets out herself.  Mary the cockapoo wandered out to sniff Taylor and Dori.  Dori was so used to Brian’s psychotic dog that she was always surprised Mary didn’t bark.  She didn’t like the little thing any better because of its silence, however.  She pulled her foot away from the cold, questing nose and laid out a blanket and pillow for Taylor.

“See you in the morning,” she told the girl, and escaped to her room.  She wasn’t tired, but wasn’t in the mood to deal with a melodramatic teenager.  Dori really wanted to watch some porn, but doing that with Taylor in the next room didn’t feel right at all.  Out of options, she lay in bed and stared at the ceiling.

The general good cheer that she’d gotten from talking to Charles had melted away, and she was beginning to feel paralyzed again.  Dori sat up, afraid that if she didn’t she’d be stuck to the bed in the morning.  After a bit of debate, she got up, got dressed again, and tiptoed through the living room, hoping to get to her car without waking Taylor.  She managed to kick the end table in the hall and almost knocked the pictures off of it, but the girl in the living room didn’t wake up.