“Told you not to sin, Robin Lyn,” he quipped as they followed me out of the station.
“Don’t joke with her, Cory. She knows she’s in deep trouble with me. The whole Nashville world can find out I’m really her mother and not her sister,” she said, and I spun on her.
“That’s what bothers you the most?”
“No, what bothers me the most is your not keepin‘ your promise not to get into any trouble here. I told you this was a strange, new place. Luckily, Cory knows one of the policemen, and he helped arrange your release, but now we got to think about gettin’ you a lawyer and that costs money. How could you do this?”
I got into Mother darling’s Beetle and sat in the rear. Cory was driving.
?When that girl, Kathy Ann, came huffin‘ and puffin’ up the stairs to tell me you were arrested for shopliftin‘, I nearly fainted with disappointment. They said you paid for this,” she added, showing me the bag that contained the skirt. “Where’d you get the money for it, Robin, or did you somehow fool ’em?”
“I had some saved,” I lied.
“I don’t want you goin‘ anywhere until I say it’s okay, hear me? You stay right around the apartment complex. Hopefully, you can’t get into any more trouble doin’ that. You know they could send you to jail for this? They do send sixteen-year-olds to jail, Robin. You’re just lucky they don’t know about your record in Ohio.
“They keep the juvenile records secret,” she told Cory.
“How many times did she get in trouble like this?” he asked.
“Enough to have her called a kleptomaniac. I had her see a therapist, too.”
“That did a lot of good, I see,” he said.
“Now you see how hard it is to work on building a career and bring up a child,” she told him.
“I’m not a child.”
“You sure behave like you are,” Cory said.
“At least I don’t bust in on people when they’re taking a shower.”
“Oh, save me,” he said. “Next time I’ll do my business in a beer bottle. No, maybe I better not do that. Del might drink it by mistake,” he said, and laughed.
Mother darling laughed, too.
“Oh, Robin,” she said, shaking her head, “with me startin‘ work in a real club tonight, too. Don’t you realize how good our lives could be?”
I folded my arms under my breasts and stared out the window. It was always Mother darling who was disappointed, always Mother darling who had to be protected.
The moment we drove into the apartment complex, Kathy Ann, who was obviously sitting by her window waiting, came charging out of her apartment.
“What happened?” she asked.
“What happened? I’ll tell you what happened,” Mother darling replied. “She was booked, fingerprinted, and given a court date where she could be sentenced to jail. That’s what happened. Go on upstairs, Robin. You sit and contemplate what you’ve done.”
I hurried ahead and went into my bedroom, slamming the door closed behind me. Then I threw myself on the bed, became aware of the stench in the sheet and blanket again, and sat up quickly. I thought for a moment and went to the door. They were sitting in the living room, feeling sorry for themselves. Cory was saying how grateful he was that he never got married and had any children. The ones who should be grateful are the children, I thought, who never had him as a father.
“Can I go down to the laundry room and wash something at least?” I asked.
“What?” Mother darling wanted to know.
“The smelly old sheet on this bed and the blanket and the pillowcase. I can’t sleep on it! It all stinks from cigarette smoke,” I moaned.
“It’s better than what you’ll have in jail,” Cory called back.