Descent: Part 4

from Nick Suss

July 5, 2013, 12:32 p.m.

Part 4: The Argument

St. Louis was nothing like Chicago. In Chicago, Jill could walk up and down the streets of the city and the dirt roads of the country and recognize every face she saw. In St. Louis, Genevieve made it her purpose to remain an outsider. In Chicago, Jackie was licensed to run free and be a kid. In St. Louis, Andy was forced to stay inside. Every day Genevieve would walk outside to get the paper, she would walk inside, and Jill would begin to read it. She would flip straight to the national news section and try to find something about Chicago. And every day, Genevieve would have to try and hide Jill’s disappointment when all she found was the weather and the scores to the Cubs games.

To the people of St. Louis, it was odd that an outsider had tried so hard to remain an outsider. It was also odd that such a young, beautiful woman was all alone with a child and no husband. Genevieve didn’t wear a wedding ring; Jill did. It was a trick that Detective Davis had clued her in on. Spade had told her that children of single mothers are treated worse when the mother refuses to remarry. So Genevieve emotionlessly went through the motions Jill refused to. Suitors would knock on Genevieve’s door and she would answer happily, batting Jill’s eyelashes flirtatiously and showcasing Jill’s body in a scantily-clad manner all for the benefit of Jackie. Jill hated Genevieve and missed Jacob. Genevieve knew not of Jacob and refused to acknowledge Jill’s resentment.

Genevieve had become out of control. Sometimes Jill found it hard to remember who she actually was. But Spade’s advice had made Genevieve popular to say the least. The suitors became more frequent and eventually they came bearing gifts. St. Louis’ men loved Genevieve. St. Louis’ women loathed Genevieve, Jill above all the others. Only one thing could put Jill back in control.

One day Genevieve received a letter from Chicago. For the first time since she had moved to the new city, Jill, not Genevieve, retrieved the mail. Everyone else outside noticed something different about the pep in the new girl’s step. The letter was from Detective Davis. Jill read the letter once in her head and then a second time aloud.

“Dear Jill,

I can only imagine the burden this new world has put upon you. I know not why I felt the impulse to send you this, and know that this letter must remain a secret or else I will be terminated, but nevertheless I thought you would appreciate it. Jacob is doing well. I visit him at least twice a week for your sake. He is reacting well to the treatment and the doctors have upgraded his chances of waking up greatly. There is a date set for the hearing and I, as well as a large portion of the Chicago PD, need you to remain safe so you can testify in it.

I Miss You,

Spade.”

Jill was breathless. Genevieve walked outside with a cigarette while Jill pondered what that meant. Detective Davis knew she was married. Detective Davis knew how much Jacob meant to her. Detective Davis knew that Jill would never do anything that Jacob wouldn’t approve of. But Detective Davis didn’t know about Genevieve. And Genevieve loved the idea of shacking up with a police officer to keep her little Andy safe.

“You can’t do this,” Jill screamed as Genevieve packed their things. “Think about Jacob!”

“Jacob is a dead man,” Genevieve responded. “Spade is our only hope of safety.”

“But you heard what Detective Davis said,” Jill pleaded. “We need to stay safe so we can keep Jacob safe. If we go back to Chicago we’ll be putting the whole family in danger.”

“What family? Honestly, do you think your husband is going to wake up? Do you think you can go back to the great life you were living before? You were broke. Your parents lost everything. Jacob’s parents lost everything. You were living in a shack. I’m the best thing that ever happened to you! I grew a backbone! I earned all the money you have!”

“By whoring yourself out!” Jill yelled. “Do you believe that you can fix everything yourself? All the money you earned is filth. I may be weak, but at least I’m moral. Have you forgotten why we are here?”

“I know why you’re here. Because you are weak. If you want Jacob back, you have to go fight for him. And our fight is in Chicago.”

“You can’t do this you harlot!”

Genevieve smiled and took a long drag of her cigarette. She flung her hair back behind her neck to the right side and taunted Jill with her eyes.

“But I can, Jill. This harlot is in charge.”


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