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131 24 ~ Pippa “Hot damn.” Marshall looked up from the newspaper as Pippa entered the kitchen. “We got lots of ink in the Sunday rag.” Pippa leaned over the table to look. “Ugly pictures. Where did they get those?” “Mug shots aren’t usually portfolio-quality prints, my sweet naïve Georgia lass.” Marshall reached out to goose her bottom. Pippa scooted out of his reach and selected a mug from the dish drainer. “What do they say about us?” “The usual crap.” Marshall ran his finger under the grimy turquoise bandana knotted around his neck. “About how those poor frozen babies will finally have their day in court. They neglect to mention that this is just a hearing, some sort of technical legal mumbo jumbo before the trial. But hey, it’s a good opportunity for the local press to rant and rave about the evil cultists living in the midst of the good Yankee citizenry of Springfield, right? Ranting and raving sells newspapers.” Pippa dawdled at the counter, her back to Marshall’s resentment and to the newspapers sprawled on the table. She warmed her hands around the belly of the teapot, then filled her mug. Bast rubbed against her legs, scratching her mouth on the edge of the ankle monitor, then meowed and sauntered to the back door. Pippa let her out, watching her sleek shadow run cross the yard. “Uttercrap.”Marshallshookhishead.“Theyinterviewedtheoldgeezernextdoor. He swears we dance naked in our back yard, every month under the full moon. His wifeclaimsthatwesacrificeinnocentbabylambstothedevil,hosetheirspilledblood down the basement drain. She can hear the poor dears baa-ing and crying at night.” Pippa laughed, but it wasn’t funny. “Look at this.” Marshall slid the newspaper across the table, his stubby finger pointing to a box outlined with a bold border: How to protect your family from cults. 132 ~ House Arrest Pippa pushed the paper back at Marshall and turned away. “Those lies have nothing to do with us.” She pulled the cast iron pot onto the front burner, measured six cups of water from the faucet, and lit the stove. “Go ahead. Make oatmeal. Stick your head in it if it will make you feel better.” Marshall tugged on his bandana as he stood up. “You haven’t been through this before .” He slammed his fist on the newspapers strewn across the table and trudged towards the dining room. In the doorway he turned back to face Pippa. “But we have. This crap is why we had to leave Newark.” Pippa added a generous pinch of salt and covered the pot. She sat down at the table , pushed the newspapers to the far corner. It was true that she hadn’t lived through any real harassment towards the cult. There was the constant minor irritation at the Tea Room from the health department. And the occasional letters stuffed into the mailbox, but their ignorant grammar and simple-minded messages made them almost laughable. Francie had once hinted at more serious troubles. But she didn’t elaborate and wouldn’t answer Pippa’s questions. Theydidn’tneedthisaggravationthreeweeksbeforethesolstice.Pippastirredthe oatmeal into the boiling water. Who would be on their side if people got nasty? The police? Her probation officer? She had no friends outside of the family. Except Emily. Sundays were quiet and the hours passed slowly. Everyone was sleeping late. Adele and Liz would bring the twins to the Tea Room at noon, where they would take turns washingmugsatthebigsink,andcreatinglopsidedteacupsatthepotters’wheel,bickeringhappily .Pippawishedshecouldbetheretoo,butthejudgeinsistedshestayhome and rest on the weekends. She reached down and scratched her ankle. She couldn’t stop thinking about the Tea Room. It must be the music. Someone was practicing the psaltery, like Murphy used to play before they hauled her off to jail. Dancing the bow over the strange triangle of the wooden psaltery, she would saturate the Tea Room with sad Celtic ballads and zippy Yiddish tunes. Concentrating so hard she wasn’t aware how the tip of her tongue tapped the rhythm against her top front teeth. But whoever was playing now was making more screech than music. Pippa stirred the thickening oatmeal, turned down the flame, and set the timer. She followed the barely recognizable notes of “The Ash Grove” to the living room. Francie sat on the yellow chair with the psaltery. “Pretty pathetic, huh?” Francie said, looking up. “I guess it takes practice. I didn’t know you played.” Pippa sat on the sofa next to Newark. Francie grimaced. “Obviously I don’t. But...


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MARC Record
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