CHAPTER FIVE That night, for the first time in the whole entire year of living at Jinx's house, Bud slept on my bed. I was lying awake, watching the car lights slide across the ceiling boards when Bud climbed on my chest and stared me down with those glow-in-the-dark eyes of his. Star'd always said cats were psychic, and with the sight of Bud spooking me good, I wasn't doubting it one bit. It was plenty clear. Bud was sending me a message. I threw a shirt on over my nightgown, crept downstairs, and slipped out the back door. The grass was damp on my bare feet. The moon hung like a cereal bowl tipped sideways over the black trees. I moved my hand along the chain link fence, feeling my way to the shed. The shovel leaned on the wall, just inside the door. The handle was rough. Jinx didn't oil it like Pa used to. Its wide, dry cracks pressed on my hands, and my heel ached, straining against the cold metal. I jabbed the hard ground. A sliver shot into my palm. I licked the wet off my upper lip. Again, I plunged. Hit rock. Another sliver. A hot pain raged the length of my thumb. I dug and dug till the hole was deep enough. Miller was cool in my warm arms. He didn't lop over anymore. I lowered him into the hole. The moon glimmered on his short gray fur, making it look silver. "You'll be okay here," I told him, covering him up with the shirt I'd grabbed. "I'll keep an eye on Bud. Don't you worry about that." I filled his grave with dirt, patting it flat, leaving my hand there while I finished what I had to say. "And don't pay any mind to what Jinx said, either--about crazy animals coming after you. He would say that, wouldn't he? Takes one to know one." I put the shovel back and closed the shed. I made a little cross out of sticks, shoved it into the loose earth, and went back inside. Bud was still on my bed, waiting for a report. "It's taken care of," I whispered. "Your brother's in his resting place. A decent resting place." Bud settled down next to me, just like he understood. I scratched his head till a thick purr rattled deep in his throat, and we both fell back to sleep. *** The phone woke me up. I could hear Jinx answer it in his and Mama's room. "Yeah? Who's this?" I checked the clock. Twenty after five. It was just getting light out. "Goddamnit, who is this?" Jinx yelled, losing what little patience he had. He slammed the phone down hard--right after he got done telling whoever it was to go straight to hell and stay there. It happened again around six. Ring, ring. Go to hell. Slam. I couldn't go back to sleep. Bud followed close while I went down to pee, then he trailed me into the kitchen. Mama was sitting in the dim morning light. She had Jinx's robe on. It brought his smell into the room along with her. "Morning, Blue." "Morning, Mama." I poured myself a tall glass of apple juice and sat across from her. "Couldn't sleep?" I caught a look at my feet, plastered with dried mud, and curled them behind the cold metal chair rungs. "No. Neither could Lyle. He's just now dozing some. He kept dreaming about that dead cat. He'd go to sleep, have a nightmare, go to sleep, have a nightmare. . . ." She sipped her coffee. "Poor Lyle." "Poor Miller," I added, not wanting her to forget it was him, after all, who got his brains smashed out. "And poor Bud, too, getting left all alone like that." Bud rubbed against my shin like he'd heard me. I reached under the table, digging his small, hard head with my stubby nails. I felt a bump near his ear. I hoped it wasn't a tick. The sun squeezed in through the blinds over the sink, spilling long, dark stripes across the plastic tablecloth. Mama'd propped a fancy, peach-colored envelope against the bowl of fake fruit. LYLE, it said, in big black letKwasney, Michelle D. is the author of 'Baby Blue', published 2004 under ISBN 9780805070507 and ISBN 0805070508.