“What were you thinking?”
Ysabel stands on the sidewalk arms akimboed, angry eyes half-hidden by narrow black sunglasses worn against fitful, threatened afternoon sunlight. Jo still in those black boots, that floppy white shirt, the black-and-gold vest, comes down the steps from the porch of the old green house. “I don’t know,” she says, shifting a big black bag hung from one shoulder. “That you couldn’t possibly fit all those shoes in this bag?”
“This is entirely your fault, Jo Maguire.”
“I had no idea she would kick you out,” says Jo, dropping the heavy bag at Ysabel’s feet.
“Us out,” says Ysabel. “Us. You now have the keeping of me. You can’t very well do that from halfway across town. And you can’t stay here.” She folds her arms, looking down the street. Mouth pinched. “So I go where you go,” she says.
“Lucky me,” snaps Jo.
“We told you how to get out of this, Jo.” Ysabel turns to look at Jo over lowered sunglasses. “You don’t belong here. We showed you the path out.” She pushes the sunglasses back into place. “And you refused to take it. What were you thinking?”
“Maybe that I didn’t want it all to go away,” says Jo. “As if it never was.”
“Lucky,” says Ysabel, “me.”
Jo jerks the heavy black bag up off the sidewalk and slings it from her shoulder. “It’s going to rain,” she says. She starts marching toward the corner. After a moment Ysabel starts after her. “Where are you going?” she says. “Jo?”
“Huh,” says Jo, at the corner. Across the intersection is Robin’s ramshackle house.
“Where are you going?” says Ysabel, catching up with her. The afternoon sunlight is changing, drowning in fits and starts. The trees down Everett Street begin to shiver their leaves.
“You go where I go, right? Well, I’m going to get you a hotel room. Get you situated, and we can maybe start trying to figure out a way to make this right.”
“A hotel room,” says Ysabel. “That’s generous of you. With your ten-dollar T-shirts and your bummed cigarettes.”
There’s a break in the traffic. Jo doesn’t start walking. “You,” she says, “have money. Right? She said. Hopefully.”
Ysabel says nothing.
“Shit,” says Jo. Then, “Your mother. She’s got to come up with something for you – ”
“Do you want to go back in there and ask her for it?”
The light one block up changes, and a wave of traffic starts down the street towards them. The first fat drops of rain are starting to fall.
“Her temper will pass,” says Ysabel, looking back toward the old green house. “They’ll come up with something. Have Roland challenge you, perhaps. And this time, you’ll make sure you lose. Pass the office back to him.”
“Great,” says Jo. “Until then, you can sleep on my futon.”
“What,” says Ysabel, “I don’t get the bed?”
Jo starts laughing.