Chapter Seventeen

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Michelle stepped into the waiting area of the station to find Dolores and her parents. All three leapt up from their seats.

"There you are!" Her mother hurried forward. "I've been worried sick. They wouldn't tell us how long you'd be."

"How'd you—what—"

"I phoned them." Dolores shuffled forward, awkwardly waiting her turn for a hug as well. "I thought that you would want them to know."

"Yeah, for sure." Michelle agreed, in the midst of parental hugs, although internally she preferred they never know. Or at least not until after she had more details and the worst had blown over. "Where's Bryan?"

"Outside having a cigarette." Her mother clutched her face. "I didn't even know he smoked! Honestly! What a day!"

"I didn't know either."

The front door slid open and Bryan, haggard and green-faced, returned. "There you are! Jesus, what a day." He gave her a hug, which she returned, squeezing hard.

"You weren't arrested either? Just questions?"

"Yeah. They took me straight into a little room and asked all these crazy questions about Leo, and Uncle Gary, and the gym."

"Me too, but I had to wait for, like, three thousand years first. I am starving."

"Did you tell them about Uncle Gary?"

Michelle felt the weight of her brother and her parents staring, waiting for an answer. She was tempted to lie and shift the focus off her, but what would that serve? "Yes," she admitted, finally, adding: "But I didn't know much."

Bryan relaxed. "I did too. I thought you'd be angry at me."

Meanwhile the relief on their father's craggy features was rearranging into anger. "You mean to say that's who your "backer" was? I wish you'd told me! I'd have put a stop to that—"

"Not now," their mother hushed, casting glances around the station.

"Later," he promised.

Michelle poked Bryan in the ribs. "I didn't know you smoked."

"Haven't since high school," Bryan replied, making a queasy face. "I thought it might help my nerves."

"Did it?"


"Will pizza?"

"Fuck yes."

"Me too."

Crammed into Michelle's living room (her parents on the couch, Bryan on the floor, Dolores in the armchair and Michelle on her kitchen table chair) they silently put pieces of pizza into themselves wood-chipper-style. Once sated, Michelle supplied most of the conversation she'd had with Gupta, practically verbatim. Bryan's memory wasn't as precise but he'd been privy to overheard conversations that Michelle had not.

Then were was the fact that neither sibling had been formally arrested.

"That seems significant," their father said, picking the olives off his third slice. "It's your gym, after all. Why not arrest you and charge you with the same thing as this Leo person?"

"Because Leo was the one dealing." Michelle wiped her mouth with a napkin, while Dolores muttered about 'poor Marietta'. "We didn't do anything."

"They don't know that, surely."

"Presumably they do, otherwise we'd have been arrested."

"I accepted packages for Leo several times," Bryan admitted. Mrs. Haley gasped, her hand flying to her chest. "What? We were doing renovations. I thought they were construction materials."

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