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Chapter Twelve

See, the thing about deals and me is that you gotta watch me close. I am a strong believer in the crossed finger rule. Saying "deal" means nothing if your fingers are crossed. Similarly so with promises. Only pinkie swears are the exception.

Luckily for me, Howie is not aware of this (though he should be by now, I pull this on him frequently enough... even Nick, the crowned king of easy to fool, doesn't get suckered in on this).

Later that day, I snuck out saying I had to go to the store. I'd snuck my ATM card out of my wallet - which D left on the dresser in the bedroom - and was in line at the Bank of America downtown with my card. I stared at the slip of paper I'd just gotten out of the ATM with my balance.

"Next," called a bored looking woman with short brown hair and a scarf tied around her neck. I was instantly reminded of that old 'ghost story' The Yellow Ribbon that we used to tell around the fire at a summer camp I went to as a kid. I wondered if I yanked it off her neck if her head would fall off. Nick probably would've done it.

I stepped up to the counter, "Yo," I said, "I'd like to make a withdrawal from my -- my friend's account," I said. I beamed. I didn't think until after I'd done it that Howie looks like a freak when he cheeses.

She stared at me. "And is your friend with you?" she asked.

I paused. "No. But he gave me his ATM card."

She continued staring. "I'm sorry, sir, but I can't do that unless your friend is present."

"I know his PIN," I argued.

"I'm sorry sir, but I can't do that unless your friend is present."

I looked at ner name tag, which was positioned nicely on her right boob. "Look, Chelsea," I said, "I really need to do this without my friend..." I said, "Can't you just bendy-bendy the rules?"

"If you know his PIN why don't you take it out of the ATM?" she asked, voice flat.

"The ATM has a $500 limit, and --"

Her eyes widened. "How much are you withdrawing?"

"Five hundred -" I coughed, "Thousand."

She held out her hand. "May I see your friend's debit card?"

Good, the bitch is gonna listen to me, I thought, and forked over the card. To my absolute horror, though, once she got her perfectly manicured bitch fingers on the plastic, she pulled it to her and quickly folded it, snapping the card in half.

"What the fuck are you doing?!?" I blanched.

She blinked. She raised her hand and waved over a buff looking security-type. "What the hell are you doing?" I demanded as the guy came over.

"Come with me, sir," the guy whispered in a husky voice.

Now, I'm not known for having the best temper level in the world. Unfortunately, you mix my mental inability to bite my tongue and Howie's hotheaded Latin-ness, and... well...

"GET YOUR FILTHY PIG HANDS OFFA ME OR I'LL KEEL YOU!" Howie's Puerto Rican was shining through. I flailed my arms as the security guy grabbed me. "DON'T TOUCH ME!" I flailed more.

"Sir you're resisting an off--"


Fist hit nose.

I froze.

The worst part?

Well, I hadn't gotten myself arrested...

"Howard Dorough," the cop said, "You're under arrest. Come with me."


I loved Leigh. I knew I didn't tell her near enough. Ten times a day wasn't enough.

And why did I love her so much, you may ask?

Because she got Ro out of the house. And away from me. She spewed some total b.s. about a therapeutic shopping session and away they went, leaving me with James.

I had lied to AJ about taking the anti-depressant. I didn't need no 'stinkin' anti- depressants. James was an anti-depressant in and of himself. While the girls were gone and AJ was grocery shopping, I took the opportunity to be lazy. I sprawled on the couch, letting James climb all over me.

"You know who your real dad is, don't you?" I asked. James look up, a big smile lighting up his face.

"Dada," he jabbered. I laughed and, to his delight, hoisted him up in the air.

I loved kids. I wanted a whole litter of kids. I just needed my body back.

And a little help. But I was never going to admit that. Better to razz J.


James and I were playing pat-a-cake when the phone rang. I wasn't going to answer it, but the display indicated the call was coming from the county jail.

And I had a bad feeling.


There was a loud crackle. "...ean?"


"Alexander McLean?"

"No---I mean yes."

"This is Sargeant Lowe from the county jail. Are you aware that your ATM card was stolen?"

"Stolen?" I asked blankly. "No."

"We have a suspect in custody right now. He tried to withdraw five hundred thousand dollars from your account this morning."

I'm sure my eyes (well, J's eyes) almost bugged out of my head. "What?!"

"Do you know a Howard Dwayne Dorough?"

Son of a --

"Yes," I hissed through clenched teeth.

As far as I was concerned, AJ was dead. Deader than dead. It didn't taken the sargeant's continuing conversation for me to figure out what happened.

AJ had made a promise, broken that promise, and gotten my ass arrested.

Now I was broke and a felon.

This wasn't going to be pretty.

An hour later, a sympathetic lady working the booking desk was watching James, and I was being lead down a dingy hallway that smelled like urine. The officer stopped and pointed at the cell directly in front of me.

I could already see my arm hanging outside the cage. My face was pressed up to the bars.

"You came!" J said happily. My eyes narrowed. He pulled away from the cell just as I lunged at it.

"Hijo de puta! El burro sabe mas que tu!"

"I don't know what you said, but I'm sorry!"

The officer, who moments before hadn't been hesitant to let me in to talk to J, now paused with the big metal ring of keys in hand. I made vicious swipes through the bars at the dipshit that had gotten me booked.

"No me jodas! You broke your promise!"

"No, I didn't," J said. "I crossed my fingers. You know that's my thing."

I whirled around. "Let me in there."

"I dunno. I think you need to calm down--"


"Hey, that's just what I said earlier!"

"Vete a la verga culero," I spat.

It turns out that you shouldn't threaten to kill a boy in blue. I ended up in the cell next to AJ.

"You can't do this," I kept saying. "My son's with the booking lady. I have to go home. This isn't my fault! This isn't--"

The slam of the cell cut my rant off. I heard AJ sigh.

"Why did you have to go and get me arrested?"

"You? You!? I've now got a record! Damnit AJ, I've never done anything wrong. You've fucked me over!"

"No, I think you did that to yourself," J said. "Remember the money?"

I uttered another long string of Spanish curses. I paused only long enough to catch my breath.

During the pause, all I heard was the sound of AJ peeing. And humming.

"Will you shut up?" I snapped.

"I was only trying to help," J said calmly. "If you wouldn't have blown your top, you could have not pressed charges and we would both be free of here. Then we could have gone to the bank and taken care of business."

"You're not taking care of this. We made a deal."

"Oh, you mean like you promising to take the pills again? 'Cause I counted this morning. You didn't do it. You lie just as bad as I do!"

I groaned. He had a point. I sat down on the rough wooden bench and covered my face.

As bad as the day had been thus far, it was only going to get worse. Someone was going to call Leigh and Ro. Leigh was going to find out I left James with a strange women in a gross jail. Add in getting arrested and, well...

Hell hath no fury like a hot-blooded women scorned.

Unknown McLean Fact #12: When Leigh was first hired during the Black and Blue era as webmaster, AJ thought she was going to end up with Nick. He even tried to play Cupid. It's amazing how oblivious he was about Leigh and I as we snuck around. Those were the gold ol' days.