She gazed out the kitchen window and saw a light on at the geek’s house next door. The geek was Jodie’s private name for Dr. Jane Darlington, her parents’ neighbor. She was a Ph.D. doctor, not a medical one, and Jodie’s mom was always going on about what a wonderful person she was because she’d been helping the Pulanskis with mail and shit ever since they’d moved in a couple of years ago. Maybe she’d help Jodie out with some coffee.
She did a quick fix on her makeup and, without bothering to put on underwear, slipped into a pair of tight black jeans, Willie Jarrell’s jersey, and her Frye boots. After grabbing one of her mother’s Tupperware containers, she headed next door.
Despite the sleet, she hadn’t bothered with a jacket, and by the time Dr. Jane got around to answering the bell, she was shivering. “Hi.”
Dr. Jane stood on the other side of the storm door staring at her through geeky, oversize glasses with tortoiseshell frames.
“I’m the Pulanskis’ daughter Jodie. From next door.”
Dr. Jane made no move to invite her inside.
“Listen, it’s cold as hell out here. Can I come in?”
The geek finally pushed open the storm door and let her in. “I’m sorry. I didn’t recognize you.”
Jodie stepped inside, and it didn’t take her more than two seconds to figure out why Dr. Jane hadn’t been in any big hurry to admit her. The eyes behind the lenses were teary and her nose red. Unless Jodie was more hungover than she thought, Dr. Jane had been crying her nerdy little heart out.
The geek was tall, maybe five-eight, and Jodie had to look up as she extended the pink Tupperware container. “Can I bum a couple of scoops of coffee? There’s nothing but decaf in the house, and I need something stronger.”
Dr. Jane took the container, but she seemed to do it reluctantly. She didn’t strike Jodie as the stingy type, so her reaction probably meant she wasn’t in the mood for company. “Yes, I’ll—uh—get you some.” She turned away and headed for the kitchen, obviously expecting Jodie to wait where she was, but Jodie had a half hour to kill before the pregame show started, and she was curious enough to follow.
They passed through a living room that, at first glance, seemed pretty boring: off-white walls, comfortable furniture, boring-looking books everywhere. Jodie was getting ready to pass right through when the framed museum posters on the walls caught her attention. They all seemed to have been done by some lady named Georgia O’Keeffe, and Jodie knew she had a dirty mind, but she didn’t think that explained why every one of the flowers looked like female sex organs.
She saw flowers with deep, dark hearts. Flowers with petals flopping over moist, secret centers. She saw—jeez. It was a clamshell with this little wet pearl, and even somebody with the cleanest mind in the world would have to look twice at that one. She wondered if maybe the geek was a dike. Why else would she want to look at flower pussies every time she went into her living room?
Jodie wandered into the kitchen, which was pale lavender with pretty floral curtains hanging at the window, although these flowers were regular ones, not the X-rateds in the living-room paintings. Everything in the kitchen was cheery and cute except for the owner, who looked more dignified than God.
Dr. Jane was one of those neat, tweedy women. Her tailored slacks had small, tidy brown-and-black checks, and her soft, oatmeal-colored sweater looked like cashmere. Despite her height, she was small-boned, with well-proportioned legs and a slender waist. Jodie might have felt envious of her figure except for the fact that she had no boobs, or at least none to speak of.