Gone baby gone

By the time Cathy returned home, nine million people had joined the largest general strike in French history, spontaneously generated, an act of mass transformation, and Stuart Jeb Warden — named for the fabled Confederate cavalry commander who arrived too late at Gettysburg, wandered about, and accomplished nothing — was released from jail on his own recognizance.

Cathy found Jennifer gone, along with her teddy bear, clothes, suitcase, most of the food in the fridge, the small stash in the freezer (she knew where to look) and fuckshitpiss! passing a foot under the bed and feeling a too-light cigar box, gone also the .45.

She fell on the bed, hyperventilated on the pure witlessness of Stew and Jennifer Warden. What were they thinking? She entered Stew’s mind as viewed through jail-room glass, all she found was brain fever. Jennifer was easier: Me and Stew are now street people, Jimmy and Cathy are middleclass, they fucked with us, they deserve it, they got what they wanted, my testimony, now I get what I want, their gun. And two ounces of weed, what’re they gonna do, call the cops? Ha ha.

At least they didn’t scrawl Death to the Pigs on the wall.

After all I’ve done for you.

— After all WHAT? said Jenny-in-her-mind. —Use Stew to find me, get me beat up and kicked out, and blackmail me into testifying for your faggot boyfriend?

She rocked over, put her hand on the phone, rocked back, dialed the number of the Hotel George on Howard Street, hourly rates available, told the man behind the desk she was Mr. Warden’s parole officer, watched a spider crawl across the molding.

“Yuh.” Stuart drunk or stoned.

“Stuart, you are one phone call away from being busted.”

“Who is this?”

“Cathy Cohen, asshole.”

“Oh hi, yeah, I was gonna call you.”

“Sure you were. I want the gun.”

“What gun? I need that gun.”

“You and Jen and the gun at Bernal Park at seven tonight. Seven tonight. You know where Bernal Park is, don’t you?”


“On Folsom south of Army. That’s Folsom as in Folsom Prison where you’re going if you don’t show up. Seven. Bernal Park. Folsom. Are you listening?”

“Hey man don’t get uptight. I’ll send Jen.”

“No. You AND Jen AND the gun. Keep the dope, bring the gun or I’ll drop a dime on you before you can swallow. Do you hear me?”

“Yeah. Listen, you sound great, Cath. You’re an ace chick, you know. I owe you a lot.”

“Seven o’clock. Tonight. Bernal Park. If you’re not there, jail. Jail. What we just got you out of.”

She hung up, inert. How many agencies of the state had listened in on that? Me and a nutcase with a gun and his freaked out sister in a park. Love me for this, Jimmy.

— Call DC, said the fear in her mind.

— No, said the cells of her body. He’ll rescue you and you'll end up in bed.

— Call Hank.

She saw Hank taking Stew aside, arm around his shoulders, man to man, while the women watched and Hank calmed him down and got the gun and everything worked out fine. That did it: no men.

“We’re going to do WHAT?” said Lynn on the phone.