Chapter 9

By the end of the month, nearly all of the cousins were moved in and settled, with the notable exception of Gerald Jr., the oldest and most vicious of the brood. To Beatrice’s dismay, they seemed to have multiplied. Janelle had her husband and three boys. Henrietta had two teenage girls and a seven-year-old stepson with her husband Anthony. Isaac and his wife, Bertha, had the largest family with six boys, three girls, two dogs, and a cat. Kathleen, who Beatrice learned had been going through a bitter divorce when her soon to be ex-husband disappeared, only had one son, an eleven-year-old boy by the name of Joseph. And finally, Lauren, the youngest of all the cousins, had two-year-old twin girls. Beatrice had yet to run into any of her aunts or uncles, but she was certain they couldn’t be far off.

From what Beatrice could tell, the damage so far had been minimal. She and her mother had yet to be directly impacted by any CRIs (Cousin Related Incidents), but they knew it was only a matter of time. They were paying close attention to the newspaper, and were putting together a list of probable CRIs during their evening debriefings. Thus far, they’d heard of two car accidents, a robbery, a mysterious house fire, and an inexplicable event in which three athletes in the middle of a bicycle race had ended up stuck at the top of a very tall pine tree, bikes and all. Still, these incidents were tame compared to what Beatrice knew her cousins were capable of.

On the final Saturday of the month, at 11: 43 in the morning, Beatrice was about to leave her apartment to meet Arthur at the movie theater. Her mother was in the kitchen, concocting a “superfood smoothie,” which was light brown with green chunks and smelled like Pepe after he rolled around in something unidentifiable at the dog park. “Purse, keys, jacket,” said Beatrice, thinking out loud. She walked towards the front door and reached for the doorknob. She froze. Someone was outside her door; she could sense it. Surely enough, someone knocked. Pepe ran under the sofa, whimpering sheepishly, and Beatrice’s mother stood unmoving the kitchen, staring silently at the front door. Shaking, Beatrice slowly turned the doorknob.

Across town, in the lobby of the Fifth Street movie theater, stood an exceptionally unremarkable man holding a medium popcorn and two small sodas. He looked at the tickets in his hand- Theater C, 12:00 noon. Foot tapping impatiently, he glanced at his watch. Five minutes passed. Then ten minutes. In the lobby of Fifth Street Theater at 12:20 on the last Saturday of the month, the man stood with his bag of popcorn and two sodas, staring casually at his watch. At 12:21, a look of understanding and horror flashed across his face. By 12:23, there was a bag of popcorn, two small sodas, and two movie tickets laying carelessly abandoned on the floor where the man had been standing.

 

-M.A. Gavin

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