Mike’s day hasn’t started very well. A phone call from his mother, wishing him an almost 30 birthday and the shock of a surprise visit, hasn’t made him the happiest man in Wyoming. Far from it. She has to get her digs in, telling him how successful his younger brother is.
“Your brother has three children—almost four.”
“His wife is pregnant again? Good grief! They never heard of birth control?”
“And you don’t have any.”
“Well, that’s not a for sure. There was that time in Atlantic City I hooked up with that chick at the roulette table and we fooled around most of the night. I could of got her pregnant. . . .”
“Michael! Such a thing to say to me!”
“You’re always wanting to discuss my fruit, Ma. I could have fruit. I could have lots of fruit. I’m a pretty fertile guy, love to sow my seed. In fact, I bet even if Gabe’s been married five years, I’ve sown more seed than he has. Maybe not here lately. . . .”
“We’re bringing someone to meet you,” Ma continued, ignoring my comments.
“Oh? I thought you and Chet were coming alone.”
“Chester. He doesn’t approve of nicknames.”
“Whatever. Who is it?”
“His daughter. She’s about your age. She’s not married. Divorced—very well. . . .”
“Then she’s not gonna want a bus driver for a husband.”
“The point is, he treated her lousy. She needs a good man. You may be a loser, but you wouldn’t treat her bad.”
“I’m not a loser, Ma. This is a career choice.”
“Some career! You drive a bus full of noisy, rotten kids! What kind of job is that for a man your age?”
I sighed, having had this conversation more than once. “Ma, I gotta go. Big day today with the field trip.”
Her only reply was a sniffle. I was supposed to pick up on this and get all tender and sympathetic, but I didn’t care. My life had been laid out in front of me in black and white. Perhaps I’m not too happy with what I’m seeing. Perhaps the worst thing in the world is to turn twenty-seven and be a bus driver in Cheyenne, Wyoming—but I doubt it.
“I gotta go, Ma. I’ll see you next week.”
“Chester keeps kosher.”
I hung up before I said something really grotesque to my mother. If her Chester keeps kosher, why’s he hooked up with a shiksa like my ma? Then again, he may not know she’s shiksa. Then again, he may not care. As long as you don’t eat the pork, you can still give it to the attractive, forty-eight year old shiksa.
“I’m going to hell. . . .” I was convinced of this because of the thoughts I was having about my mother and her kosher keeping boyfriend. “I am going straight to hell. . . .”
Even though I didn’t have to go to work, I was effectively awake. I debated whether I wanted to shave, but as cold as it is outside, I’m thinking of growing a beard. It was still snowing like crazy. I had snow covering my sidewalk about three inches. It occurred to me that the two disabled ladies down the way might need some help. We’re supposed to keep the sidewalks clear, but they can’t get out when the weather is bad. The first major investment I made after getting a car, was a snow blower. I’m not insane. I’m not schlepping a snow shovel.
Our complex is set up like a series of duplexes. Two apartments, side by side, two buildings next to one another, with two more buildings a few yards behind, facing the other way. All of us are grouped around a central courtyard and the lucky folks inside overlook the pool. Those apartments cost a little more, so the ladies and I forgo the view and pay less per month.
Bundling myself up, I walked down to Molly Harper’s apartment. She’s a lady my mother’s age to whom life has not been as kind. Disabled after an accident where a car hit her in a parking lot, she doesn’t get around too well. I take her to the grocery store on Saturdays and do odd jobs around her place. In return, she pays me a little, when I can’t talk her out of it, and fixes amazing meals to stock my freezer. Next to her is Jessamine Williams. She had cancer as a teenager and they had to take her eyes. She’s been blind longer than I’ve been alive.
I tapped on Molly’s door. I heard the couch creak when she got up. Molly is a heavy lady.
“Who is it?”
“It’s Mike, Molly.”
“Michael! How lovely of you to stop by.” She flung the door open. “I must be psychic. I have cookies in the oven.” She grabbed my arm, dragging me in the apartment, slamming the door behind me. “Sit down! Not working today?”
“No, ma’am. It’s a snow day.”
“Oh, I didn’t realize. I’ve been watching my program.”© Dellani Oakes 2014