Bleeding Kansas

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Book: Bleeding Kansas by Sara Paretsky Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sara Paretsky
Tags: Fiction, Mystery
was asked to keep an eye on this place, and not only did you take advantage of my responsibility here, you lied to me.”
    When neither of his children spoke, Jim said, “And what ‘things’ did you leave here? Dope? Don’t tell me you’ve been letting Lulu smoke.”
    “No, of course not. Me and Curly, we come over here sometimes.”
    “After what you said Friday night? When I—”
    “I told you Curly wasn’t buying drugs for me. That’s the truth.”
    Jim breathed hard through his nose, then he turned to look at Lara. “And what were you coming here to get?”
    Chip said, “She just tagged along for the adventure. She was going to watch from the upstairs window to see if you were coming, but you beat us to it.”
    Jim’s hard eyes stayed on his daughter for a second. Lara didn’t know why Chip had lied for her, but she was too upset to say anything. Jim made Chip get his stash, which he’d stored inside a beat-up piano in the house’s front parlor. When Chip and Curly got high, they’d play the piano. They thought it was excruciatingly funny to play songs where you could only get half the notes to come out.
    “This is real,” Jim announced, smelling it. “I thought maybe you were harvesting the local weed. Where did you buy this?”
    “From a guy in town, okay, Dad? Now you have it, does it matter?”
    “Of course it matters, because even if I throw this out you’ll just get more. Is that the life you think I want for you, breaking into other people’s houses, getting stoned there?”
    “What are you going to do? Tell Arnie Schapen to search me every time I drive past his place?” Chip spoke with a kind of fake jocularity that always got his father’s goat.
    Jim and Chip both knew Arnie would think he was in hog heaven if he caught one of the Grelliers breaking any law, but Jim was too angry to think clearly, so he said, “If that’s what it takes to keep you from doing dope or breaking into empty houses, maybe it’s not such a bad idea.”
    At that, Chip lost his own temper. He flung open the back door and took off down the Fremantle drive toward the road.
    Jim knew he’d overreacted, but he was still angry with both children. He glared at his daughter. “Were you in on this? Were you joining those drug parties?”
    She shook her head. “I smoked some once, but I didn’t like it. Anyway, Chip didn’t want me to, he only let me because I begged him. I wanted to see what it was like. And we never hurt this house, so don’t act like we’re robbers or something.”
    “Not robbers, housebreakers, and too ignorant to cover your tracks. Come on. It’s past midnight, and you have school in the morning, so let’s get home.”
    Once they were outside, Jim closed the coal chute. He found a screwdriver in the pickup and rebolted the two-by-four to the cellar cover. When they were heading back home, Jim emptied the bag of marijuana out the window. Tijuana gold mixing with wild Kansas hemp—maybe they’d breed a wonderful hybrid that would bring a new generation of hippies to the area.
    The truck passed Chip, trudging down the road. Jim was seldom angry, and never for long. The sight of his son walking through the snow in his sneakers made him feel ashamed. He swung down from the cab and apologized to Chip for losing his temper, but he couldn’t apologize for throwing out the dope or caring about his kids breaking into the house. Chip climbed into the truck, but he stayed angry with Jim for a number of days.
    Later, Jim wondered if his anger that night had been a catalyst for disaster. If I had kept my temper, if I had seen it from Chip’s point of view, he would think over and uselessly over.

Seven
BEING NEIGHBORLY
    S USAN AND LARA’S BREATH made white puffs in the cold air, barely visible against the gray sky and peeling paint of the porch. Lara stomped her feet, which were freezing in her running shoes, but Susan stood still, not wanting to jar the pie she was carrying.
    “Maybe we should

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