“Who’s here?” A short woman with black-and-gray curly hair walked out of the back room. She wore leopard-print framed glasses and a top that matched. “Jim, everything okay?”
“Yeah. This is Manny. He’s in here a lot.” Jim motioned toward me. “This is Olivia, Delia’s friend. And my babysitter.”
Olivia swatted his arm. “I told you to knock it off. You know damn well Delia and I don’t think this is necessary. We’re only doing it because we have to. No one thinks you need a babysitter except the legal system, and they aren’t always reasonable.”
“It’s better for me anyway. No one can accuse me of anything if someone’s watching my every move.” Jim pulled a spiral notebook out from under the counter. “Which reminds me. I have to write down what that girl said yesterday so I can let my probation officer know about it.”
“What who said?” I asked. No one else had been in the shop the day before when I showed up, so whatever had happened must have been after I left.
“Some girl who looked around Jae’s age.” He opened the notebook and took a pen out of the cup beside the register. “She asked me for help reaching one of the watercolor sets, then said I touched her when I was getting it. Which was crap. I didn’t even accidentally bump into her. I made sure of it.”
“And Delia and I both saw you weren’t anywhere near her, so make sure you write that down too.” Olivia frowned. “Can’t believe people are being so… actually, no. I can believe it all too well. I know how assholistic some people can be.”
I snorted. “New word.”
“We learn stuff in Detroit.” She studied me. “Korean? Sorry. Sometimes I’m a little rude.”
“It’s okay. My grandparents were all from Korea. My parents were both born here.” I was used to questions about my background. There weren’t a whole lot of people from any Asian country around Ludington. I was pretty surprised she’d guessed my family was from Korea, though. Most assumed we were Chinese or Japanese.
“I have neighbors from Korea,” she said. “Moved to Detroit about five years ago. They got me hooked on TV shows they used to watch over there. I’ve actually figured out some of the language.”
“Cool.” I spoke Korean because my mother insisted Jae and I be fluent in it. Even though Mom was born in the US, her parents wanted her to keep at least some things in our lives as Korean as possible. Right down to our names, Man-Shik and Jae-Shik. Dad had gone along with pretty much all of it because he wanted to impress my grandparents.
“So you must be the artist Delia mentioned,” Olivia said. “She told me you’re very good at drawing.”
“I guess. Thanks.” I glanced at Jim, who was scribbling in the notebook. “Is your probation officer going to be able to read that?”
“Are you hassling me? Seriously?” He looked up. “I write like chickens, okay?”
“Hen scratch. Isn’t that what people call writing like this?” He looked confused.