Prez approached the door to the dance school at a jogging pace. "Girlie?" She looked around. No, the child she was looking for was nowhere to be found. "Girlie?"
She peered in the window, attempting to see. "Girlie...?"
Realization hit her. "Oh no . . ."
She took off running towards home. "You'd better be home." She grumbled.
Suddenly, a car almost barreled straight into her taking a turn. "HEY!" She shouted as it braked just in time. "Watch where you're going!" She kicked it, making a satisfying dent, before running again, yelling "Shitface!" over her shoulder.
She reached the house she shared with her younger sister in no time. The familiar sound of blues music wafted out from inside. She climbed up the tall green deck and struggled with the handle for a second, grunting in frustration.
"Girlie! Open the door, Girlie."
"Go away." Came the reply.
Prez poked her head in the doggie door and was greeted by a record playing unnecessarily loud and her sister laying on the ground, lipsyncing along.
"Girlie, we don't have time for this."
Her sister turned her head towards her. "Leave me alone to die."
"Come on, Girlie, the social worker's gonna be here any minute."
The child mutely turned the volume on the record player even higher.
Prez growled and reached up, unlocking the door. When she brought her hand down, she noticed the large amount of nails the kid had hammered into the doorframe. "Ugggh!"
She grabbed the hammer and began working the nails out, unaware of the car that had just pulled up in the driveway.
"You are so finished when I get in there."
Girlie ignored her.
"Oooh, I'm gonna stuff you in the blender, press 'puree,' then bake you into a pie and feed it to the social worker. And when he says 'Mmm, this is great, what's your secret,' and I'm gonna say -"
She was cut off when a tall man dragged her out by the foot.
"Love . . . and . . . nurturing?" She rose, the hammer still in her hand. "Hi." She quickly hid the hammer behind her back. "You must be the, uh . . ."
The old man glared at her. "The shitface."
"Oh." Realization hit her. "Oh. You know, I am really sorry about that, and if I'd known who you were, of course I never would've . . ." She sighed. "I can pay for that."
"It's a rental. Are you the guardian in question?"
"Yes. I'm Prez. Nice to meet you, Mr. . ."
"Mr . . . Pines. That's a stra -"
"Yes, I know. Are you going to invite me in, Prez?"
Crap. Gotta think of something fast. "Uh . . . I thought we could sit out here and talk."
"I don't think so."
"Right . . ." She couldn't tell him she was hammered out. "This way." She jumped the porch into the foliage, making her way to the back door with Mr. Pines right behind. She tried the handle. Locked. "Wait here."
She sprinted to the side of the house and jumped in a window, muting the record player much to her sister's annoyance. Finally, she made her way to the back door and opened it, out of breath.
"So . . . lemonade?"
Mr. Pines walked past her. "Do you often leave your sister home alone?"
She followed. "No! Never." She spotted a picture on the fridge of a crudely drawn Girlie in the corner, the caption reading 'ME ALONE.' "Ack!" She ran to it, crumpling the drawing in her hand and blocking it from sight. "Well, except for just now, I had to run to the store to get some . . ." She noticed a burning pot on the stove and let out a shout, turning down the heat.
"You left the stove on while you were out?" He eyed the large amount of dishes piled around the stove.
"J-Just a simmer." She smelled the burn. "Mmmm, it's coming along great." Prez removed the lid and almost screamed at the mess within.
"She did that this morning."
Prez turned and glared at the little girl. "Girlie." She quickly faked a soft voice. "There you are, honeyface. This is Mr . . . Pines."
He extended a hand to her. "Nice to meet you."
Girlie examined it. "Your knuckles say 'Mabel.'" The old man closed his fist and kneeled to her level. "Mabel Pines. That's a women's name."
"Mother was drunk when she named me."
"Did you ever rape anyone . . .?"
"We're getting off the subject. Let's talk about you. Are you happy?"
Girlie faked a large smile and spoke along with her sister's gestures. "I'm adjusted, I eat four food groups, and look both ways before crossing the street. I take long naps . . . and get molested?"
"Molested?" Mabel Pines asked.
"Yeah. She molests me real often. Sometimes five times a day."
"Dicks . . .?"
"Uh-huh. And a pillowcase."
Prez finally intervened. "Ooookay, that's enough sugar for you. Why don't you run along . . ." With extra venom she added, "You little cutie." She faced Mabel Pines and chuckled nervously. "The other social workers just thought she was a scream. One second." She ran to the fridge.
He stopped her. "Allow me to illuminate for you the precarious situation in which you have found yourself." He closed the fridge door. "I am the one they call when things go wrong. And things have, indeed, gone wrong."
Girlie put one of the finishing touches on a hula spoon-doll, her Practical Voodoo book sitting next to her. She put them in a jar of what looked like blood and shook it up before noticing that the social worker had walked up to her. She looked to him. "My friends need to be punished."
Mabel Pines handed her a piece of paper with a number written on it. "Call me next time you're left here alone."
"Yep." She took it wordlessly.
He approached the door, grabbing the handle. "In case you're wondering," he yanked it open, sending nails flying everywhere, "this did not go well." He lumbered out of the house.