American Girls

American Girls by Alison Umminger Read Free Book Online

Book: American Girls by Alison Umminger Read Free Book Online
Authors: Alison Umminger
cough up money on demand. He sat around this abandoned film set, baking in the sun, like some psychopathic film director yelling “Do this!” and “Go there!” to dozens of hippies who seemed to think that they were making the world a better place by slicing off ears, gutting women, or just sleeping with the latest hitchhiker who stumbled by. Susan Atkins, the woman who helped kill Tate, said that it took “a whole lot of love to kill someone.” Bat. Shit. Crazy. They left forks in the stomachs of the LaBiancas and on the walls of both crime scenes they wrote in their victims’ blood.
    Healter Skelter.
    Death to Pigs.
    And carved in the stomach of the last of the victims: War.
    Healter Skelter, misspelled, made me think of the chicken scratch in my sister’s purse: Whore.
    When Delia put a hand on my shoulder, I jumped. The book was making me more nervous than I’d expected. Then when I looked at her face, I almost had a full-on freak-out. When I’d last seen her she’d had on her pre-zombie-apocalypse makeup, but now blood was trickling down her cheek and her left eye was completely black. A bruise that looked like a handprint wrapped purple-blue around her neck.
    â€œI know,” she said. “The makeup artist is a genius, right?”
    That was one word for it. Fingernail marks dotted her collarbone, and when she smiled two of her teeth had been painted gray. Another three had been blacked out entirely.
    â€œDare me to drive home with this on?”
    I thought about the Manson family, driving around with blood on their hands, and how in Hollywood, you couldn’t tell the killers from the actors. If there was a stranger place on earth, I didn’t know where.
    â€œSure,” I said. “Why not?”
    *   *   *
    When we came home from the set a miracle had taken place—my phone, which I had almost given up for dead, was plugged in and ringing.
    â€œYou going to answer that?” Delia asked.
    I picked the phone up and looked at the number. Atlanta. My mom.
    â€œI don’t want to,” I said.
    â€œWell, if you want to keep the phone, I suggest you answer.”
    â€œDo you know something I don’t know?”
    â€œOf course I do. Now pick it up before it goes to voice mail.”
    It’s terrible having an actress for a sister: traitor. Mental note made and filed.
    When I answered the phone, it wasn’t my mother’s voice that I heard, but Lynette’s. I hadn’t talked to Lynette since I landed in LA, but it was her credit card that I used. I was guessing she took that personally. I would have.
    â€œHi, Anna,” she said. Awkward.
    â€œHey, Lynette.”
    â€œI’ve gotta get the zombie off,” my sister said, popping a black cap off her front tooth, and before I could figure out a way to make her stay, she was in the other room.
    â€œWell,” she said, “I can tell by talking to your mother that you have no idea what you’ve put us through on this end.” Then she stopped, inhaled (long and loud), exhaled (longer and louder), and started again. “Sorry, that’s not how I wanted to start this conversation. I’m glad that nothing happened to you. We both are. I want to say first, before we get into anything else, that I don’t think the way your mother handled things, changing your school and all, was the best idea.” She paused again, and I put the phone on speaker.
    â€œWhen all of this happened,” she said, “I tried to put myself in your shoes. Your mother said that it didn’t go well when she and your father talked to you, and I realized that I never got to say anything myself, and most of the time, we’re so busy with Birch or work that we don’t hear what you have to say. I think you know what questions I might have, so I won’t patronize you.”
    Then she stopped. It was my turn, but I didn’t want to

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