Tag Archives: chapter three part three

Duck, Duck, Dead Duck; chapter three, part three

“Nice costume,” she said admiringly, looking me up and down.  “Where’s Rafe?”

“He’s coming,” I said, grinning to myself.  If she liked my getup, wait until she saw Rafe.  I yanked off my wig and fluffed out my hair.  I tossed the wig onto a coffee table, knowing my mother would pick it up later.  I slipped out of my shoes as well as was the custom in an Asian household.  I never understood the reason for wearing shoes in a house, but I did it when I visited an American friend’s place if she or he insisted.  In my home, however, they were asked to remove their shoes.  My house, my rules.

“Your father is worried sick about you,” my mother scolded, leading me into the living room.  Of course, the television was on, and she was looking for more news on Lydia’s murder.  “Bob, say hello to your daughter.”  Dad looked up from the television and silently gave me the once-over.

“You all right?”  He asked, not commenting on my costume.  When I nodded, he returned to the television.  He wasn’t much of a talker unless you got him drunk and talking about the Vietnam war, but he always managed to convey that he cared without saying it in actual words.

“Ramona, Howie, and Henry called,” my mother reported, sinking into the couch next to dad.  “They wanted to know that you were ok.  I told them to call later so they could talk to you themselves.”

I sighed, trying not to feel put upon.  I loved my siblings, but I always felt more like their mother than their sister.  My mom is great, but she’s short on practicality.  I was the one who made sure my siblings were clothed and fed on a daily basis.  They were probably rattled about this murder thing which meant that I would have to spend a great deal of time placating them—the last thing I wanted to do.  I was tempted to tell my mother that she could talk to them, damn it, but I knew that that wouldn’t go over well with her.  Family was family.  Just as Beezus always had to take care of Ramona, I was responsible for my younger siblings.  I usually didn’t resent it, but I did tonight.  I excused myself for a minute and went to the bathroom so I could unbind my breasts.  I heaved a relieved sigh before returning to the living room.

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Plaster of Paris; chapter three, part three

Per agreement, they didn’t try to find the teenager or even speculate about whom she might be.  Mrs. Frantz was too tense to relax, but Mr. Frantz managed to enjoy much of the local flavor, especially the spirits of the land.  He was fond of rum, which was plentiful in supply.  Mrs. Frantz sat in their hotel room and waited, dreaming of her baby boy.  By then, she knew she was getting a son, but she was cautious about investing too much emotion in him until she actually held him in her arms.  She just sat with the lights out, gazing outside her window, not really seeing anything.  Her husband would try to coax her to join him in his revelry, but she rebuffed him firmly.  When the first day melted into the second day, she began to get jittery.  Their lawyer had said the baby was born already, so she didn’t see the problem.  She was afraid to voice the fear niggling the back of her mind—the birthmother had changed her mind.  The second fear—the birthmother wanted more money.  There was none to be had.  The Frantzes had to borrow heavily to come up with the ten thousand, not to mention the trip to Tijuana.

Mrs. Frantz thought she would lose her mind as she waited for something that might never happen.  She rocked slightly back and forth to keep her mind off the tedium.  She watched as kids romped outside her window, happily oblivious to the woman gaping at them from inside her hotel room.  The maid knocked on the door for maid service, but Mrs. Frantz impatiently shouted at her to go away.  Mrs. Frantz didn’t want to be interrupted while she was obsessively worrying about acquiring her baby boy.  What would he look like?  Would he be a total stranger, or would she know him when she saw him?  Would they instantly connect, or would they have to work towards something?  She was afraid that she would look at her son and not feel anything other than panic and remorse.  What if she thought he was ugly?  What if he cried when she held him?  So many questions buzzed through her mind, she was unhappy that her husband wasn’t there to share her angst.

The knock on her door startled her.  She asked who it was and was relieved to hear her lawyer’s voice in reply.  She hurried to open the door, not remembering that she was wearing only a tank top and a pair of shorts.  Her lawyer didn’t seem to care, even though he himself was wearing a lightweight suit in charcoal gray.  He looked professional, but cool at the same time.  In his arms was an infant, cooing and batting his eyelashes as if he had something in his eyes.  Her lawyer was talking, but she couldn’t hear what he was saying.  Her mind blocked out everything but the sight of her son smiling at her.  Her week-old son who turned up the wattage when he sensed her eyes on him.  She didn’t touch him, but simply stared—memorizing every feature.  His large green eyes.  The few soft blond curls decorating his head.  The way his chubby fist waved in the air.  The little dimple poking into his right cheek.  He was her son, no doubt about it.

Mrs. Frantz gathered him to her chest, cradling him as if her life depended on it.  Everything else in the world ceased to exist—the lawyer, the bed, the television, the tacky wallpaper, even her husband who had straggled back to the room at some point.  She could only focus on the tiny bundle squirming in her arms, beaming up at her.  She felt a benevolent force smiling down at her as if to say, ‘This is your due; this is why you’ve struggled so hard.  Now, you are rewarded.’  She knew God’s voice when she heard it and renewed her lagging vows to the church.  From now on, she would tithe religiously.  From now on, she would attend every Sunday.  From now on, she would try to bring God into every portion of her life.  She felt it only fair in return for the miracle that was her son.  Her son.  It didn’t matter that she didn’t carry him or give birth to him because he was hers as surely as if he had been taken from her gut.  He even resembled her in coloring, though not in temperament.

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Parental Deception; chapter three, part three

We sit down at the table, which is loaded with food. A twenty-five pound turkey sits proudly in the middle, and it looks as if it’s done to perfection. There are huge bowls of mashed potatoes with garlic, yams, cranberry salad, stuffing (bread), steamed vegetables, and a fruit salad surrounding it. There’s also a platter of spare ribs, and another platter of assorted breads. Finally, there are three gravy boats placed strategically around the table so everybody can reach one. My pants will be in serious danger of bursting, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. I’m seated beside Rembrandt and Jacqueline, and the kids are on the other side of Jacqueline.

“I’d like to say a few words,” Stephanie says. No one replies, but I catch the guys rolling their eyes. That tells me they’re used to Stephanie speechifying, and they’ve realized it’s useless to protest. “In my life, I’ve been blessed with a loving husband, three terrific sons, Antonio, Jacqueline, Nicholas, and Beth. Now, Megan has been added to our happy family, and I feel even more blessed than ever. I don’t care for the traditional meaning of Thanksgiving, but I consider it a time to bring my family close to my bosom. I’m grateful you all live in Minnesota as well, so we can have these family gatherings with minimal fuss and/or muss. That’s it. Dig in!” Stephanie smiles at everyone, and I smile back. That was sweet and fairly short, so I don’t see the problem. Stephanie starts plating generous portions of food, then handing them out around the table. I get mine after Rembrandt, and my mouth is watering as the tantalizing smell of spare ribs greets my nose. I glance at Rembrandt and see that he’s waiting for the others to be served first, so I don’t pick up my fork just yet. As soon as Stephanie makes a plate for herself—I notice that she gives herself far less than she has doled out to the rest of us—I pick up my fork and eat as fast as I can without breaking social dicta. Everything is fantastic, and I can tell where Rembrandt gets his cooking chops from.

“You are a terrific chef, Stephanie,” I say when I’ve taken the edge off my hunger.

“Thank you,” Stephanie beams at me. “Francisco’s mom was a sous-chef in Italy, and he taught me everything he knew when we first got married. I couldn’t even boil water back then.”

Conversation peters out as we all concentrate on our food. I notice that the guys are putting a serious dent in the reserves, yet, there’s still more left than what they’ve consumed. Jacqueline alternates eating a few bites of her food with helping Beth eat. Stephanie is more interested in making sure everyone’s plate is full than in eating. Me, I’m doing my best to clean my plate, but I’m slowing down. As tasty as everything is, there is only so much food I can eat at one time. Normally, I eat small amounts several times a day, so it’s a challenge for me to eat this much food in one sitting. I have to do it a second time later tonight, but I don’t want to think about that right now. I finish the stuffing because it’s my favorite, and Stephanie quickly adds another scoop to my plate. I nod my head in thanks, but inside, I’m groaning. I still have more than half my plate to eat, and she keeps adding to it as soon as I finish one kind of food. I realize that’s the key—I have to eat some of everything and not let one particular kind of food get down to nothing. I put that to the test, and it works like a charm.

“Mom, can I have more mashed potatoes?” Gaugin asks, his mouth full of yams.

“Yes, you may,” Stephanie says pointedly. “And don’t talk with your mouth full.”

“Sorry,” Gaugin says after he swallows. He holds out his plate, and Stephanie fills a quarter of it with mashed potatoes. Gaugin happily digs in, unaware that Jacqueline is shooting him a dirty look.

“Honey, remember your cholesterol,” Jacqueline says, her voice stern. “You know Dr. Ellis wants you to be more careful with your diet.”

“It’s Thanksgiving,” Gaugin protests, barely taking a break in his eating. “No one watches their diet on Thanksgiving.”

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Trip on This: Chapter Three (Part Three)

Chapter Three (Part Three)

“Ready to go?”  Mowgli looks disgustingly fresh for someone who hasn’t had his eight hours of sleep.  He is wearing dark brown slacks, a black button-down, and a charcoal-gray tie.  In other words, he’s dashing.  I refrain from rolling my eyes as he’s doing me a favor and doing it willingly.  I nod, slipping my backpack-like carrying bag containing my laptop on my back, throwing my duffle bag over my shoulder then point at the garbage bag.  Mowgli picks it up gracefully, and we’re out the door.

“Delilah!”  Mrs. Sanderson, an old lady from across the hall, totters towards me, a smile wreathed on her wrinkled face.  “I made you some chocolate éclairs!”  She holds up a bag that is moist with grease.  She knows that I love her éclairs even if I’m not crazy about chocolate, and she makes them for me at least once a week.  “I know how much you love them.”  She beams up at me—she’s five-foot nothing to my five-six.  “Who’s this handsome boy?  Is he your beau?”

“Mrs. Sanderson, this is Roberto.  You remember him—you’ve met him before.”  Mrs. Sanderson’s memory is failing as is most of the rest of her, but she remembers me and likes me for some unfathomable reason.

“Roberto?”  Mrs. Sanderson squints up at Mowgli, trying to look at his face.

“Nice to see you again, Mrs. Sanderson,” Mowgli says obligingly, bending forward so she can see him better.  He shifts the trash bag to his left hand and holds his right hand out.  When Mrs. Sanderson places her bird-like claw into his hand, he kisses it, making her blush.

“Oh, it’s you!  I remember you!  You gave me a carnation once.”  Mrs. Sanderson stares up at Mowgli with adoration.  He’s not only kind to animals, but to the elderly and the infirmed as well.

“A lovely lady such as yourself deserves some beauty in your life,” Mowgli says gallantly.  “It was the least I could do.”

“Oh, you,” Mrs. Sanderson blushes, a pleased smile on her face.  “What would Mr. Sanderson say if he heard you?”  As Mr. Sanderson is the same height as Mrs. Sanderson and in a wheelchair, not to mention deaf, it’s safe to say he wouldn’t say or do much of anything.  “What’s your favorite pastry?”

“I love scones,” Mowgli says solemnly.  Like I said, the boy has a hard on for all things British.

“I hate to break up this chat-fest,” I say, an artificial smile on my face.  “But I have a plane to catch.  Remember, Roberto?”

“A plane?”  Mrs. Sanderson claps her hands, forgetting she’s still carrying the bag.  “Where are you going, Delilah?”

“To, ah, Connecticut.  My mom’s sick, and I thought I’d visit her.  I’m going to be gone at least a week.”

“Oh, your poor mother!”  Mrs. Sanderson says, her eyes moist.  “My own daughter, Ellie, is no longer with us, but there’s no use talking about that.”  She swipes her eyes with her hand.  “Here.”  She thrusts the bag into my hands and gives me a peck on the cheek.  “Your mother is lucky to have such a good daughter.”  Sure.  The mother I haven’t seen since she and my father gave up on me when I was seventeen.  Not that I blame them—I drove them to it.  “Have a nice trip, dear.  I’ll keep an eye on your place while you’re gone.  See you, Roberto.”  Waving to the both of us, she totters back to her apartment.

“Nice old lady,” Mowgli says cheerfully.  As we go down the elevator, I tell everyone we run into the fabricated story about going to visit my sick mother in Connecticut.  By the time we leave the apartment building, I’m beginning to believe it myself.  Mowgli dumps the garbage before we head to our cars.  “Shit, your face,” Mowgli says as he hops into his car.

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