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:iconphantom-inker: More from phantom-inker




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June 18, 2008
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There had been a bit of an argument as to what to do next, and in the end, Caitlyn won.  She needed a rest, she needed a bath, she needed to clean off at least a dozen layers of grime from her hooves, and she wasn’t taking “no” for an answer on any of those.  Kim-na had a plan as well, detailed on a piece of old wrinkled paper in her backpack, but the bath won.

The sleazy motel owner had looked at them very strangely when they rented the room, but he wasn’t one to argue:  Caitlyn’s Visa card was good, and that was all he really cared.  Both were girls?  And muddy?  With torn clothing?  — And horses?  He’d seen weirder.  Not a lot weirder, but weirder.  As long as they had the money and didn’t scare the other residents, he didn’t care what they did in that room.  But just to be on the safe side, he’d given them the last room on the second floor, as far from the rest of the guests as possible.  They might all be weirdos and losers, too, but he didn’t want any trouble he could avoid.

Caitlyn was soaking what parts she could squeeze into the tub while Kim-na lay on the floor in their room, propped against the bed, watching the Discovery Channel.  “So I was thinking,” said Caitlyn from the bath with the door cracked open, “that we should stay here tonight and get a good rest, and then follow your paper first thing tomorrow morning.”

“Yeah, sure, whatevah,” said Kim-na as the TV continued its narration.

“What does it say we do first?”

“Yo, quiet, I’m watchin’ this,” said Kim-na.  “You evah see how they build the St. Louis arch?  Awesome shizzle, yo.”

“You like documentaries?” asked Caitlyn.

“You don’t?”

“That’s not what — ”

“Yo, it’s all good.  Relax, girlfriend.  I ain’t meanin’ nothin’ ’bout it.  Nah, see, I ain’t some dumbass ho’.  I savin’ ma money.  Gonna go to night school next year and get a good degree.  Get me the hell outta that rat-hole.  Not that I’m dissin’ my aunt and unc, y’know?  They been good to me since my momma died.  But you gotta do more in life, see?  I was five years old, my daddy’s friend he took me up a skyscraper they’s buildin’, and that was the shiz, girl.  Closest to flyin’ I ever been.  You could see the whole damn city up there.  I said then and there I was gonna be an architect and build me a big-ass skyscraper o’ my own.  I gonna do it someday, too.  Gonna stand top ’o the world.”

Caitlyn smiled.  The girl might be crude, but Caitlyn had to respect her ambitions.  And with the kind of drive she’d shown already?  There was no doubt in Caitlyn’s mind that she’d eventually pull it off.

“So is it the skyscrapers you love, or is it just being high up?” asked Caitlyn, scrubbing at her left front hoof.

“Y’know, really, I ain’t sure,” said Kim-na.  “I save my money, an’ on my Daddy’s birthday each year I go up the top of a new skyscraper, see the city from a new place.  I like buildin’ stuff and I like makin’ stuff and I like bein’ up there and I like everythin’ about it, I think.

“So what prissy white-girl job you do, girl?” asked Kim-na, and Caitlyn smiled.  The question hadn’t been meant as an insult:  It was a heartfelt attempt by the ghetto girl to get to know Caitlyn — mildly insulting, but still heartfelt.

“I’m a...”  She paused.  What was she, really?  She wasn’t a professional artist, that was for sure.  She’d been just working for the rent for years now, her old dreams buried at the bottom of a never-ending stack of bills.  “Honestly, you want the truth, Kim?  I get coffee and carry papers around.  I spend all day getting coffee and carrying papers for a jackass of a boss, and when he doesn’t need me for anything, I sit crammed into my little cubicle and I draw little sketches on used copy paper that then goes right into the trash can.  I went to school for four years to learn to be an illustrator, and I ended up a gopher.”

There was a chuckle from the other room.  “I feel you there, girl.  Next life, we both come back as Queen o’ England, servants waitin’ on us hand and hoof, you hear me?”

Caitlyn smiled wider.  “I hear you, girl.”
*   *   *

The motel stay had been, at best, a frustrating night.  The bed was lumpy and far too small, and they’d taken turns trying to sleep on it while the other slept on the floor, but neither surface was terribly comfortable.  And there was a faint odor of mold coming from somewhere.  And the street light just outside their window glowed right through the windowblinds.  Still, they did their best, and some time around six in the morning, Kim-na disappeared into the bathroom, and reemerged about three hours later looking like a movie star.  Caitlyn wasn’t sure how the girl did it; after her own bath the night before, she’d felt cleaner, but far from perfect, while Kim-na’s hair was somehow wavering in the breeze just so and her tail shone like spun copper strands.

“It ain’t the size of yo’ products, girl,” said Kim-na.  “It’s how you use ’em.”

Caitlyn shrugged.  Best not to ask, at least not now:  They had bigger fish to fry.  Kim-na went into her backpack and retrieved the letter, and they spread it out on the small brown desk and pored over it on a breakfast of weak Mountain Dew and mushy Oreos from the vending machines outside.

“Yo, okay, so here what unca Ji say to do:  If he been found out, or yo’ daddy been caught, we head to Washington D.C, and then to...  Allytown?  Arrowtown?  Shit.  And then...  gotta meet with somebody...  Monique...  Martin...  Mandy...  and I think the end’s got sumpin’ about that Long Island Project thing he was goin’ on about...  damn, girl, this thing’s so smeared it ain’t worth the stink in a cat’s ass.”

Caitlyn slurped her soda and sighed.  “So what do we do now?”

“Hell if I know,” said Kim-na.  “This yo’ adventure, not mine.  I just along to pull yo’ ass outta the fire every once in a while.”

“Thanks,” said Caitlyn grumpily.  She slurped her soda a little longer.  “Well...  I guess...  Is there any way to contact Ji-chen?”

Kim-na shook her head.  “I followin’ his rules.  In three months on the dot somebody’ll post a mean comment about some ‘Tyler Rodriguez’ on this one sports website he know, and I gotta post back, ‘Tyler?  Tippecanoe yo’ ass,’ with my email.  Then he emails me and tells me where he is.”

Caitlyn sighed.  “So we’re on our own.  So...  I guess...  okay, we need a car.  Right?”

“Right.”

“I think we should try to follow the letter even if we don’t know what it says.  That looks like it’s probably Arlington.  My — my sister lives in Woodbridge; she’s an hour south of Arlington, but I guess that’s as good a place to begin as any.  She’ll probably let us stay at her house for one night.  Either way, we can’t go back to New York.”

“She trustworthy?”

“Actually,” said Caitlyn with a grin, “She doesn’t really like me.  Thinks I’m lazy and a loser.  I haven’t talked to her in ages, and I only met her husband once.  But — she’s family.  And she’s probably right about me, too.”

“Yo’ family’s as bad as mine,” said Kim-na, kneeling down.  “Daddy left when I’s eight, and Momma died o’ them cancer sticks two years ago.  Auntie Sang and Unca Ji — they didn’t want no kids, but they got me when Momma got sick.  Worked my brown ass to the bone when I wasn’t in school, but Auntie Sang still think I’m another lazy ho’.”

She reached into the backpack on the floor and hauled out a cell phone, which she tossed to Caitlyn.  “Okay, you call yo’ sis’.  I gonna go get us a car.”

“How — ”

“Trust me.”  Kim-na stood up with a mischievous smile, adjusted her dress, and headed toward the door.

“No stealing!”

“Aw, girl, you no fun,” said Kim-na, looking back over her shoulder darkly, and then suddenly she laughed.  “I was jokin’!  O’ course I ain’t gonna steal nothin’.  Auntie Sang’d kick my ass if I even thought ’bout it.  No, you trust me, girl, you get us the place to go, and I’ll get the car.”

“But how — ”

“Trust me,” said Kim-na, and with a swish of the tail, she disappeared out the motel door.
*   *   *

The phone call went surprisingly well.  Caitlyn had called her mother, first to tell her that she’d better take a trip somewhere, and second to get Ellen’s phone number.  Her mother hadn’t been too happy about it, but she’d finally agreed; Caitlyn’s aunt Phoebe lived in Connecticut, and she’d been trying to get Sharon to come visit for years, so now would be as good a time as any.  Then Caitlyn had sat for the better part of ten minutes trying to decide whether to call it, but in the end, she had called, and Ellen had answered.  Ellen had been graceful, caring, genteel, in ways that Caitlyn hadn’t remembered her being since childhood — but maybe times really had changed her, and maybe blood was thicker than water.  It had been years, so maybe Ellen had grown.  All Caitlyn had asked for was a place to stay for a few days, but Ellen had offered her as much time as she needed, and a little money too.

And thankfully, whoever was after Caitlyn wasn’t after Ellen.  Ellen was probably much easier to find, but they hadn’t gone after her, so she probably didn’t have whatever they wanted.  But Caitlyn didn’t want to stay long:  Whatever was going on, it was centered around her, and she didn’t want to bring it down on her sister.  Especially when her sister was actually being nice for the first time in — decades?

Caitlyn thought back to all the fights they’d had.  Ellen had been such a self-righteous jerk, so often.  Convinced beyond all argument that money and power could get her everything she’d ever want.  Convinced that a hotshot education and a hotshot job could land her the life of her dreams, with the hot husband and the two-point-three kids and the dog and the house with the picket fence.  Convinced that Caitlyn was throwing her life away, that all she needed was to open up a little military-grade whoop-ass on her teachers and later her boss and her life would suddenly be just as perfect as Ellen’s.  Convinced that with a little yoga and a modern wardrobe, Caitlyn could be just as perfect as her sister obviously was.  It hadn’t helped that Ellen had been skipped a year ahead in school not once but twice, that she’d finished college in three years and law school just as quickly, that Ellen was brilliant and self-righteous because she’d genuinely earned the right to be.  Which lead to lecture after lecture after lecture, every phone call, every time they met, and after a while, Caitlyn just stopped calling, stopped talking.  Weeks apart turned into months and then years, and then Caitlyn had Changed, and didn’t want to talk to anyone for a long time, least of all her sister.

But Ellen was willing to help now.  She’d offered money, food, a place to stay.  A chance at temporary normalcy, a glimmer of hope in this mess.  Ellen, for the first time in years, really sounded like family.

The door suddenly popped open, and Kim-na was standing there, grinning, jingling a set of car keys over her head.

“It’s a pickup truck,” she said.  “And a tarp.  I’m ridin’ in back.  I ain’t changin’ even if it does muss up my tail.”

“How — ”

“It’s older ’n dirt,” she continued, “an’ rusty as a sewer pipe, an’ smells like a buttcrack, but it’ll get us there.”

“How did — ”

Kim-na grimaced.  “When ya got it, flaunt it, baby.  Woman let a man touch ’er boobs for five minutes and he’ll buy ’er the moon.”

“You — but — you — ”

“Pride’s a rich girl’s luxury,” she said.  “Now get yo’ crap together and let’s get the hell outta here.”
The long-awaited return of Caity's World! This is part 16, and I'm far enough ahead in the writing now that I should be able to post these fairly regularly. I'm shooting for posting them on Tuesday (or maybe Wednesday) every week until the story is done.

Part 15 is here, part 17 is here, and the introduction and author's notes are here.

I was a little worried about how Kim-na would seem when I wrote this, and I rewrote her little speech about architecture in the middle several times to keep it from sounding too cliché. Hopefully, well, I guess only time will tell if she comes across too much as "ghetto girl trying to make good," because that's not really who she is.

So there ya have it. Caity's World is back, and it's here to stay, I hope :)

As always, please comment, whether you love the story or hate it!
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:iconcatgoyle:
Catgoyle Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2010
You know, I've never really tried using my "female wiles" on men to get my way, although some have given me gifts for which they only received platonic company for. And I did make certain first that they understood they wouldn't be getting any of the goods for their gifts before accepting them.
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:iconphantom-inker:
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm sorry to say as a member of the male half of the species that when it comes to this kind of thing, we match up to the stereotype pretty accurately. A cute girl can take a guy who's rational, cool, and logical, and butter him up, and if she's careful, she can turn him into a drooling gibbering slave in about ten minutes flat. It's wrong, very wrong, but it works. Kinda sad, really.
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:icondiemechon7:
diemechon7 Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2009
Wow, Kim-na is such a strong character. Love her for that!
Reply
:iconkramnhojpapermario:
Kramnhojpapermario Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2009
well played
Reply
:iconcalyptra:
Calyptra Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
Kim's comment in the end made me ROFL.
Dayum that girl's good!
But now I'm also worried for them :|
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:iconphantom-inker:
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yeah, seriously, you don't mess with Kim-na. I think I'd go nuts spending ten minutes with her, but some people really seem to love her. Guess it takes all types to make a world :)
Reply
:iconcalyptra:
Calyptra Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
I think even those people who'd go nuts in her company would love her XD! Yes I'm one of the weird categories in the world :B No, srsly. :lol:
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:iconuncle-ben:
Uncle-Ben Featured By Owner May 11, 2009
Caity, it was too easy for a reason ... IT'S A TRAP!

They got to her first ... She's informing on you!
And stop using your plastic! They can track you!


Aaaaarrrrrrggggg!
Reply
:iconchibi-fisch:
Chibi-Fisch Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2009  Professional General Artist
Caitlyn's World BETTER be here to stay! It's so good! :love:
Reply
:iconphantom-inker:
phantom-inker Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks! I'm glad you like the story so much! :)
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