Killer Comfort Food - Lynn Cahoon Page 0,1

few doors down from the restaurant, was a woman of few words. She was in her fifties, but she looked like she could toss out any errant cowboy who decided to cause trouble in her establishment. And when Barb spoke, you listened. If you knew what was good for you.

Knowing the woman wouldn’t give up, Angie stood and headed back across the street. Her pity party had been cancelled. She needed to let the attorney she’d hired worry about the fate of her home. But, like Barb, Angie wasn’t good at handing problems over to others. She knew she needed to find a way out of this mess that didn’t turn her home into a parking lot for the plant, or worse, leave her as the sole house hemmed in by industrial development.

She pushed open the heavy wooden doors and stepped into the darkness of the bar. After being outside in the sunny, snow-bright day, it took a few minutes for Angie’s eyes to adjust to the bar lit with strands and strands of white Christmas lights. The tree that had been at the back of the bandstand was gone, but Barb had kept the additional lights up all around the room. She spotted the woman sitting on a bar stool, watching her.

“Every time you come in here, it’s like you’re walking into a strange country. Don’t tell me you didn’t frequent your share of dive bars when you were in college.” Barb’s rasp turned into a chuckle, then a cough, which went on a little too long for Angie’s mind.

“I’m just not used to the dark anymore. Especially, today, after being outside. The sun sparkles on all that snow, now that it’s had time to ice over.” Angie moved toward the bar, taking off her gloves and hat and stuffing them into her coat pocket. She didn’t look at Barb when she sat down next to her, just asked the one question Angie didn’t think she’d answer. At least not truthfully. “How are you?”

“I’m fine. You worry too much.” Barb stuffed the tissue she’d used to wipe her mouth into a pocket. “Anyway, I need a favor.”

“Anything.” Angie smiled and shrugged out of the parka. The bar’s heat was on high, and the large room was warming up fast.

“You’ll take that back when you hear what I’m asking.” Barb pulled out a picture and pushed it across the bar toward Angie.

She glanced down at it. The picture showed a woman with a small girl by her side. They were standing near a sixties Mustang, and both the woman and the girl had on matching dresses and knee-high white boots. The round wire rimmed glasses framed the woman’s face, and she had dark hair, long and wavy . She stared at the picture, then glanced at Barb. “Is this you?”

“Guilty as charged. That was taken Easter 1987. My daughter, Sunny, was two.”

Angie glanced up sharply. “I didn’t know you had kids.”

“Just the one. Sunny. She graduated from law school, and then decided her mom’s occupation was a little too common for her new friends.”

Now Angie didn’t like the grown-up Sunny. Not at all. “That reminds me of Felicia’s new friends from her yoga group. Several of them have attitude problems. Seriously, people are all the same, no matter what they do for a living.”

“You don’t have to tell me that. You’d be surprised at who comes into this place for a little drink now and then.” Barb took back the picture. “She was a good girl. My sister raised her from the time she started school. I was wild back then, and Sunny was unplanned. Karen couldn’t have kids. It just made sense. At least on paper. In Sunny’s eyes, I became more like an aunt than her mother. Karen’s husband was a big shot lawyer in Boise and handled the adoption quietly. I should never have signed those papers. It was easier that way. I’m not sure she even remembered our time together. Don’t think badly of her. Or of me.”

“Sorry, I’m partial to the underdog in a fight. I would do anything to be able to talk to my mother, or my Nona, just one more time. Surely your sister has told her the truth by now.”

“I don’t think Sunny remembers she had a life before Karen was her mom. My sister died a few years after Sunny graduated from high school. Her husband remarried, and they didn’t want me confusing the issue. I didn’t even get an