"So you left him there on the back porch, in a pool of his own vomit? That's nasty, Daisy."
"It's not as though he's never done it before, Roxy. I think of it like... his second home."
"It's still nasty."
Reggie waited for the voices to vanish around the corner before digging the Tupperware tub out of the bottom of her backpack. It had been sitting out beside the house, right where the afternoon sun hit, for four days now; the eggs inside ought to be nice and ripe.
"Where'd you learn to pick a lock like that, girl?"
Reggie strained but couldn't hear the answer, then smirked when she realized the two women were breaking into Mr. Johnson's house. The jerk deserved it. She hoped they stole his DVD player. Actually, she hoped they stole his computer. And then found kiddie porn on it and turned him over to the cops. That would be sweet.
The first egg hit his rear side door, the second the driver's side windshield. The third almost missed as she backed away from the smell, but managed to catch the back tire.
She didn't get a fourth off before someone was shouting, "Hey, you! Put that god damn egg on the ground right now." Reggie just shrugged and did. "Don't move, put your hands over your head."
"What the fuck?" said Reggie. The two women who'd gone into the house earlier had come back out. And the one called Roxy looked like she might be armed. "Look, I didn't see anything, you guys can just take that TV and keep going, I won't tell anyone."
"Take what TV? What the hell are you talking about? I am a police officer and I believe I told you to put your damn hands over your damn head."
"You're going to arrest me for egging a car?"
"I could arrest you, you dumb punkass kid. What do you think you're doing, egging this poor man's car? I should bring your sorry ass in right now."
"He's not a poor man," said Reggie. "He's a jerk, and he deserved it. It's not like I broke anything."
"Well technically, you did break the eggs."
"Shut up, Daisy," snapped Roxy. "What you broke, is the law. And it don't matter if this guy's the biggest jerk in the state, you don't go around throwing rotten eggs at his car."
"He's always giving better grades to the boys in my class. And he felt up this girl in his eighth grade math class. Everybody knows."
"Well," said Roxy, giving Daisy a sideways look. "Still."
"What were you guys doing in his house, anyway, if you weren't stealing his shit?"
"You've got quite a mouth on you, don't you? That, little girl, ain't none of your business."
"I'm not little, I'm twelve, and I saw you break in. Are you investigating him? Is he in trouble with the police?" She tried to see past them into the house, but the blinds were closed.
"He's dead, honey," said Roxy after a moment. "You've been egging a dead man's car."
"He's dead?" said Reggie, rising onto her tiptoes, trying to see again. "What did you do to him?"
"We are police officers, child. We were investigating his death. Now what is your name?"
"Kate," said Reggie after a moment. "Kate... Moss. You aren't going to tell my mom about this, are you?"
"No, Kate." Reggie couldn't believe they actually believed her about the name. "We're not going to tell your mom about it." Daisy was the sort of person who always sounded kind, even if she was telling you she was about to beat you to death with a crowbar; the sort of person Reggie was always a little suspicious of.
"Or my dad," she added, for good measure.
"Are you okay?" Roxy asked her. "With your teacher being dead?"
Reggie shrugged. "Everybody dies," she said, but her voice shook a little anyway, and Roxy and Daisy looked at each other like that meant something. "Are you going to arrest me or not?"
"Nobody's getting arrested today," said Roxy. "How about we get you home, Kate?"
"No," said Reggie, finally leaning down to pick up her Tupperware container and her backpack. "I don't want to go home. It's early."
"It's dark and it's cold out," said Daisy. "And I'm sure your mom is getting worried."
"She's at a Christmas party," said Reggie, "and my curfew's not till nine. If you take me home I'll just leave again."
"Mouthy, mouthy," muttered Roxy.
"Hmm," said Daisy, and leaned down, bracing her hands on her knees. "Do you like ice cream, Kate?"
"How about waffles, then?"
Reggie considered that -- waffles with a couple of cops -- against going home to Joy. "With lots of whipped cream?" she asked. "And strawberries?"
"Sure, honey, whatever you like."
"Okay, I'm in," she said, looking around for their car. "Are you just going to leave the body here?"
"I already called for backup," said Roxy before Daisy could even open her mouth. "A couple of uniforms will be here in a few minutes to take over. Let's get you out of here. You don't need to be seeing any dead body in his nasty old underpants."
"Ew," said Reggie, and lost all taste for seeing her dead teacher on the floor of his home. No matter how cool it would have been to tell her class the next day. "Have you got a cop car? Can I ride in the back?"
"You might want to get used to that," said Roxy under her breath, but Reggie just smiled as she followed them away.
"My mom lets me have beer."
"Oh, I don't think that's true," said Daisy, stirring her water with a thin white straw.
"How would you know?"
"Because you're twelve years old," said Roxy. "Drink your lemonade or something. Jesus."
"Have you ever shot anyone?" Reggie asked her. The lemonade was warm and kind of sour. She shouldn't have asked for no ice.
"Now what do you want to know that for?"
"She has," said their waitress, a woman Reggie instinctively liked, if only because she actually answered her questions. "Here's your waffles, honey."
"Did I tell you that Mason tried to make waffles the other day?" said Daisy. "Can you imagine? Mason trying to make waffles right there in my kitchen."
"That's because he's banned from Der Waffle Haus again," said their waitress. "That boy really needs to learn some manners. Enjoy your meal!"
Reggie watched her go as Roxy and Daisy immediately started talking again. "And he roped poor Georgia in, too. Do you know she doesn't even like waffles?"
Reggie knew Georgia was a common enough name, but it still made her feel a little warm to imagine her sister in a big kitchen somewhere trying to make waffles. Even though it was the last thing in the world her sister would ever have done.
"Is Mason your boyfriend?" she asked, drawing devil horns in her whipped cream with the wrong end of her fork.
"Oh good heavens, no," said Daisy, with a breathless gasp that was kind of disturbing in its fakeness. "Mason's what's known as a freeloader, Kate. He sleeps on my couch." She sipped her water with delicately pursed lips, almost smiling. "Kate. That's a very lovely name. Very... dignified."
"Whatever," said Reggie. "How come the waitress knows who he is? Do you guys come here all the time or something?"
"Well, they do make wonderful breakfasts," said Daisy. "Do you think I should get a cleaning service in to take care of the kitchen? I think they might have scorched something."
"What, you can't just slap on a pair of rubber gloves?" said Roxy. "I know you're good at getting down on your knees."
"Hush, Roxy," said Daisy, as Reggie giggled into her waffles. "Little ears. Do you think I should call, Kate?"
"I think you should call and charge it to Mason," she said. "He made the mess."
"I like this girl," said Daisy.
"Mason doesn't have any money, honey. Hence, the freeloading. I think you should make that boy clean it up himself, Daisy. Enough of this shit."
"Now you know why I left him out on the back porch," said Daisy. "How are you making out with those waffles, Kate?"
"They're awesome," she said, and took another big bite. "So how come you let this guy Mason stay with you if he's such a deadbeat?"
Daisy sighed dramatically. "Because he's family," she said. "More or less. And he can be sweet. Sometimes. When he hasn't had enough to drink that he can't find his own... well, that's nothing you'll need to know about for another couple of years."
"Daisy, she's twelve."
"I know what a prick is," said Reggie, but neither of them looked shocked when she said it so she just shrugged. "And he's a guy, so obviously he's going to have one. I'm twelve, not eight."
"You still don't need to be knowing about that," said Roxy.
"So does Georgia live with you too, then? Like, all together?"
"We've got a little house," said Daisy breezily. "Georgia works, Mason drinks, I have late lunches and buy very pretty dresses."
"Sounds nice," said Reggie, around her last bite of waffle. She shaped the remnants of the whipped cream and strawberries into a little volcano in the middle of her plate. "I thought you were a cop."
"I'm the cop," interrupted Roxy. "Daisy just likes to tag along."
"I was hardly tagging along, Roxy," said Daisy. "I'm an actress. I was studying how you work. Immersing myself in the role."
"You're an actress?" said Reggie. "Like, on TV?"
"Not lately," muttered Roxy into her cup of coffee.
"I'm more of a... stage actress," said Daisy. "I'm sure I haven't been in anything you've seen."
Which meant that she'd probably never been in anything at all, Reggie figured. Anybody could call herself an actress, even that stupid blonde girl Tracey in her class who'd done one commercial, one time, and never let anybody forget it.
"Is Georgia an actress, too?"
"No, honey, Georgia is not an actress," said Daisy. "Georgia is an... actually, I'm not sure what Georgia does except that she works very hard and brings home money, unlike Mason, and she makes working for a living sound absolutely dreadful."
"And now it really is starting to get late," interrupted Roxy. "You finished those waffles, Kate?"
The name was funny the first few times they used it; now it was just kind of sad.
"Kate Moss is a cokehead," snorted Reggie. "Don't you guys watch TV? My name is Reggie. Reggie Lass."
Roxy and Daisy gave each other one of those looks again, then Roxy said, "Well, Reggie Lass, we still ought to be getting you home. Get your things and I'll give you a ride."
"No, thanks," said Reggie. "My mom would probably have a heart attack if I showed up in the back of a police cruiser. I don't live very far from here anyway."
"You sure? It's dark out there."
"I'm sure," said Reggie. "I like the dark. Thanks for the waffles. I'll see you around, I guess."
"Well, Merry Christmas, Reggie," said Roxy, giving her a little wave as she slid out of the booth and slung her backpack over her shoulders. "And no more egging cars."
"Right," said Reggie, grinning at her. "Merry Christmas."