Kat had once given Dec a bloody nose over Red Hots. Dec assumed that he had been a genious the day he discovered how to create his own brand of candy. He had combined a handful of those little Red Hot candies with cinnamon oil and tamale juice. The stuff was so hot, Dec had to use rubber gloves to mix the three ingredients together. He’d even cried during the process, with real tears running down his cheeks as he fiddled with the pot, the spoons, and the strainer he used to produce his creation.
As it turned out, Dec’s first guinea pig was his last.
He’d made a fifty-cent bet with little Bobby Brazer that he could not keep a mouthful of his new candy in his mouth for more than two minutes. Bobby and Dec shook on it, and out came the candy stored in one of those metal cigar holders. Dec had Bobby pour those little babies into his mouth, so that neither of them got the scalding juices on their hands. Be as it may, Kat happened to be riding over to Bobby’s house to babysit him while his mom worked second shift at the five and dime. She took one look at Bobby retching, bawling, and going into cat-fight crazy mode, as those little pellets of extreme fire exploded in his mouth. Kat turned on the garden hose. She practically shoved that sucker down little Bobby’s throat as she crammed it into his mouth. A second later, a strange gurgling sound came burbling up from the depths of his stomach. Dec sniggered at little Bobby thrashing around like a mad loon, and Kat launched herself directly at him.
Dec took up a boxer’s stance, like a pro fighter all set to take Kat out with a one-two punch. But his one-two was trumped by her first, second, and third fast and furious punch to Dec’s left eye, his chin, and a blow to his nose. A bright red explosion of blood burst from his nose as he sailed backwards and landed hard on his butt. Kat had been brutal, and delivered those punches with all the swiftness of a tiger attack. After that tromping he took from the Gypsy girl, Dec asked her older brother to teach him how to box so that no girl ever tromped him again. After a four-month training session, Chris made him square off with Kat in their ring in their old barn. I laughed at the horrified look on Dec’s face. However, had nothing to fear. Kat took it easy on him. It was because both the Catlins had a sense of honor about them. Chris would not allow his sister to show-off in front of us, and Kat was too kind-hearted to beat Dec a second time.
“Keys?” Kat said, quite suddenly. “Keys in the trunk of that Chevy!”
Dec and I followed her over to the Kennedy car, now determined to find out what Ty had discovered in there when he took a peek back in town. Kat let out an angry hiss when she saw the dark-haired girl crumpled in the trunk. She looked to be asleep as she lay sprawled there, her head propped up by the spare tire taking up the rest of the space in the trunk. The three of us were in shock that Mary Kay Sebastian’s life had ended so tragically. Someone had killed her and dumped her in that trunk. I felt the loss more than those two, for Mary Kay was Lakota like me, and had always seemed to be more like family than friend, Mary Sebastian, the sweet and personable girl who worked the concession stand at the Holly Theater. One time, during a movie, I got up to get me some candy corn. I did not have an extra nickel to cover the cost, and Mary simply slid that box of candy corn across the counter, and kindly said, “I got you covered, Hawk. Go and enjoy the show.”
That’s just the kind of person she was, good-hearted and beautiful, with her long, black hair and her amazingly green eyes. She was always smiling, too, and when she did that I just had to smile back at her, like maybe it had inspired me. Dec liked her, too, and he didn’t much care for most people, claiming he had a Second Sense about most. He had a gut-level detector to alert him to the BS most people were full of. Dec was a good people reader. He claimed it was a gift from his dad, a special trait Mac had as the town sheriff.
And Dec’s meter never sounded a peep around Mary Kay Sebastian.
“My brother,” Kat whispered, “loved her. Christian and Mary were getting married . . .”
She stopped, her words trailing off. And although her eyes were filled with tears, a crease appeared on her brow. Dec and I took a step back away from her. At that moment in time, Kat looked like that a fierce Celtic battle-maiden my dad once told me about: The Morrigan, for with her raven hair flowing over her shoulders and the angry glare in her eyes, Kat looked like some Irish spirit had spiraled down through her Gypsy blood-line and taken over her.
“Mary Kay,” she said in a harsh whisper, “did not deserve this!”
And that’s when Mary Kay opened her eyes and hoarsely whispered, “Where am I?”
Kat reached down into the trunk and grabbed onto Mary Kay’s wrist. It took all three of us to help her climb out of the trunk, for she was really woozy. “Someone drugged her!” Kat snapped, angrily.
At the sound of gravel crunching beneath car tires, we looked out to the road some distance away from the junkyard.
“A patrol car!” Dec said. “We best hide!”
Kat closed the trunk lid, then helped us lead Mary Kay to the row of junked cars at the edge of the junkyard. As we settled Mary Kay down on the far side of a red Ford station wagon, we watched Big Ty drive through the gates of Catlin’s. He parked behind the Kennedy car, killed his engine and climbed out. Ty looked in our direction, but we hunkered down behind the junked Ford, our eyes in line with its windows which allowed us to see all the way across the junkyard without being seen.