Michael stood at the window deciding what to do. He’d been around long enough to recognize a fight brewing: the anger in the girl’s walk, the hatred and impatience on Liza’s face. Bruce disappeared into the alley a few seconds before Liza turned to look for him. Michael shook his head. Liza looked like she was either going to cry or breath fire.
He was out the door when he saw the girl get in Liza’s face. The girl poked Liza. Liza grabbed the girl’s finger and twisted it violently away from her. Bird Dog sloshed around in Michael’s stomach as he ran down the steps. By the time he reached them, the girl’s mouth was a bloody mess and Liza had two teeth dangling from her forehead. The girl wasn’t deterred. She flailed her free arm toward Liza, scratching Liza’s face and grabbing a fist full of her hair.
“What’s going on?” he demanded. He tried to sound authoritative, but he was queasy and winded from his sprint down to the sidewalk. The girls ignored him. They grappled for a minute. Liza still had the girl’s finger. The girl still had Liza’s hair. Liza’s eyes were wide, only partially seeing what was really there. It was a look that Michael knew well.
She clamped down on the arm that had her hair and dug her nails in. Michael saw drops of blood fall, then Liza threw her weight forward and knocked the girl to the ground. Liza went down on top of her. The girl lost her grip on Liza’s hair. Liza let go of the finger. It jutted out of the hand diagonally. Liza started punching the girl in the face over and over. With each hit, the girl’s head bounced off the sidewalk like a fleshy basketball.
Michael took a deep breath and came up behind Liza. He grabbed her fist as she was winding up for another swing. “That’s enough. You’re going to get yourself in trouble, Liza.” She pulled forward, trying to free her hand. Michael had to pick her up off of the girl. Oh Jesus, he was getting old.
Liza found her feet and wrenched herself free. Michael prepared to grab her again, but she got still. She looked off at nothing for a minute, stepped over the girl, and headed up to the house. The girl was cradling her injured finger against her chest and shielding her face with the other hand.
Michael followed Liza into the house. She shut the doors and threw all of the locks behind them. Bruce was standing in the living room. He looked embarrassed and concerned. He better be. Liza was heading toward the stairs. Michael would deal with Bruce later.
“Hey! What just happened?!” he asked Liza. “Who was that?”
She paused at the foot of the steps. “My sister, Laura”
“Sister?” asked Michael.
“A few years younger than me.”
“What does she want?”
Liza sighed. “I let her live here for a while because my niece was sick. But Laura’s a loser and I threw her out after Casey died. She thinks I stole some of her stuff. She said something about a blue shoebox. I’ll look tomorrow.”
Michael nodded. He couldn’t speak. He felt like someone had punched him. Liza went upstairs. Bruce stood there looking unsure of what to do.