George told several stories in a row. Mary had heard some of them before. But others, like how he'd met his wife Betty—"may her soul rest in peace"—when he accidentally crashed into her at a roller skating rink, were new. Julia argued with George when he exaggerated certain details too much.
Carter listened with acute fascination. He was so wrapped up in George's tales that he hardly ate his dinner.
Afterwards, they played a few rounds of Gin. Julia won most of the time. When bedtime neared, Mary kissed Ba goodnight and left Agape with Carter.
"Your grandmother is a wonderful person. So are her friends," he said as they walked to the bus stop.
"Yeah," she said.
"You look a little different from her," he added. "Your hair is lighter and has some red in it. Your eyes are rounder, too."
"My grandfather was French. I don't know what my father was," she said. "Some combination, huh?"
"Yes. But a good one."
She shrugged. "Depends on who you're talking to. By the way, where did you say you learned Viet?"
"I didn't say."
"Oh, right. So where did you learn?"
He hesitated for a moment before answering. "I…picked it up."
"From…the ladies at the salon who do my mother's hair."
"You mean your stepmother?"
"Yes," he said. "My stepmother."
"You go with her when she gets her hair done?"
"They cut my hair there, too."
"And you were able to pick up on conversational Viet from just getting your hair cut?"
"Yes. They talk a lot."
She narrowed her eyes. "I see."
When they got to the bus stop, he asked, "Mary? Where are you going now?"
"Home," she said. Thankfully, Mom had brought the leftovers for her night shift. If Mary went to get dinner for her, he might've wanted to tag along and meet her as well.
Ba was one thing. Mom was another story.
"And you?" she asked.
"Home, too," he said.
The bus rolled up then, and the driver opened the door.
"Have a good evening, Mary." Carter said.
"Aren't you getting on?" she asked.
He shook his head. "I'll walk."
Mary was sure he lived pretty far away in one of the nicer neighborhoods. But if he wanted to walk, that was his business.
"Um, okay. Well, see ya."
He smiled. "Good night."
She climbed aboard and took a seat next to the window. Outside, Carter was still smiling. He waved when the bus pulled away.
Mary watched him. Even when the bus was a block away, he remained in the same spot. She finally lost sight of him when the bus turned the corner.
Mary sat back in her seat, thinking about everything from that afternoon.
Carter's reaction to the painting.
His talk with Ba.
His behavior at dinner.
He was polite, decent, and friendly.
She was positive now.
Carter Maxwell was possessed!