Mike is enjoying his after birthday messages when the power goes out. His neighbor from the unit behind, taps on his back door.
“You lost power too? How about the ladies?”
“They’re fine. Anyone else in the complex without power?”
“I dunno, you’re the first one I’ve asked. Did you call it in?”
“Yeah. They’ll get on it. . . .”
“As long as the freezer doesn’t thaw, we’re good.”
“Hell, if it’s off too long, put it all on the back porch and it’ll keep. Lock it in the cabinet so the animals don’t get at it, and it’ll be fine.”
“Not a bad idea. See you later, bro. I’m going to bed.”
It sounded like a good idea to me too. I kind of wished that Simone was there, but I knew I was gonna have to ride this one out by myself. Me and my pal Dick were gonna be lonely. I pulled my battery operated socks out of the drawer and fired them up. My electric blanket is useless at this point, of course, but I had extra quilts in case I got cold. I snuggled up with a hot water bottle and fell asleep. The lights coming on woke me up about midnight. The weather outside was less windy, but the snow was still coming down. I made another cup of hot tea and drank it in front of the TV. Not like there was much on, but I was thrilled there was something to do. I checked my Facebook page and my picture had been posted on a couple dozen websites by then. One of them said, “Who is this man and where does he live? Cause he’s smokin’ hot and sexy!”
I had to reply to that one. “Thanks, baby. I’m nowhere and everywhere. Love ya, Big Mike.”
All it would take was one smart assed friend of mine to cough up my location. However, since most of these women did not live locally, I figured I was okay. I had over 600 more new friend requests, so I spent a little while accepting those before crawling back in bed.
My alarm went off at the normal time, but I could see just from looking out the window, that there was no school today. The snow was piled up to my windowsills and heaped over the porches. It had stopped snowing, so I got my blower and went to work on the sidewalks and driveways of the folks in the complex. After that, I checked on Molly and Jesse. They were fine, their power had stayed on all night.
“Maybe I should give Chester a call and have them postpone their trip,” I said to Molly.
“The weather service assures us that the snow will be clear by Friday.”
“That’s cutting it fine. I’m a little worried.”
“If it gets that bad, they’ll close the roads and stop traffic coming in. You don’t need to worry about them getting stuck outside town.”
“No, Molly, I’m worried about them getting stuck here! I can handle Ma in small doses, like over the phone and all, but I’m not prepared to have her living here—maybe stuck at my place! That I could not handle well.”
“I never heard a grown man so terrified of his own mama before,” Jesse contributed after my last cowardly display. “How can one woman strike such fear?”
“You haven’t met her, you don’t know. She is indescribable. I love Ma, really I do, but she has this way of getting under my skin, sniffing out anything I did wrong the last 100 years or so of my life. She can work the guilt so I’m wishing I’d become a priest, or maybe a rabbi. Or that I was Saint Michael instead of who I am. I am never the perfect son. I can’t be. As I am, I’m a constant source of disappointment to my mother. Live with that twenty-seven years and see how it makes you feel.”
“And your baby brother is the golden child who can do no wrong?” This from Jesse.
“Yeah.” I nodded, shuddering slightly. She patted my hand, looking solemn.
“I’m so sorry, sweetie. Some folks just ought not have babies.”
“Now my dad. . . .” I got a warm feeling talking about him. “He was great. When he was alive, I felt like I never did a thing wrong. I could fly if he told me I could. Ma never took him seriously. He was a good man, hard working, creative. He had all kinds of crazy inventions he did in his spare time. We worked together on a few products that would set the world on its ear. But he died before he got any of them patented.”
“How old were you when he passed?”
“I was twelve. He didn’t even make it to my bar mitzvah. He died a few months before my big day.”
“Oh, honey.” Both women spoke in chorus, hugging me.
After a group hug, I made my excuses and left. A less chilling wind blew across the wide open spaces. I could tell a warming trend was coming. Already I could see places where the snow melted. By evening, it would probably be almost gone. At least the roads would be clear enough to take a bus down. I figured I’d be working tomorrow for sure.
© Dellani Oakes 2014
Mike has a phone conversation with his mother that throws him into a panic. She mentions vising again, meaning she plans to return. He’s sure that she’s coming to visit with the intention of dropping some sort of horrendous bomb on him, like she’s dying. Or she’s planning to move closer to him. Slightly hysterical, he explains the situation to Molly.
“If you don’t stop babbling, I’m going to slap you.” Molly’s face was hard. She meant it.
“Sorry. Years of anticipating the worst.”
“Normally, I’d tell you that you needed to get laid.”
I laughed harshly. It was an ugly sound.
“Been there, done that. What am I going to do?”
“Suck it up and be a man.”
I sighed, putting the glass against my forehead. “Yeah. You’re right. I got the balls, I need to put them to an alternative use.”
She giggled, tapping my knuckles. “Now you’re talking. She isn’t that bad, surely?”
I gave one of her skeptical looks from under the glass on my forehead. “Is the Pope Catholic? You wait. You’ll see. Maybe God could bury us in snow before she arrives.”
“Should be school tomorrow and most of it melted off by Thursday. You’re outta luck, sweetie.”
“Damn.” But a man can pray and wish and hope, right? I did all three.
Molly and Jesse fixed me dinner and neither of them fussed when I drank. I stumbled home about 10:00 and crawled into bed after brushing my teeth. If I had to get up early, I needed more sleep than I’d been getting. The last two nights had really taken their toll on me. My nerves were totally shot. Thanks to the alcohol, I slept soundly and woke to the radio insisting that today would be bright and clear, with a warming trend. Already, I knew the man was lying. A look out the window made me skeptical. But I got up, made coffee and shaved. I finished getting ready only to have the radio announcer come back on five minutes later with the school cancellation order. School children, and bus drivers, all over town cheered in unison.
I was up, dressed, raring to go. Well, not raring exactly, but there was no way I was going back to sleep. I drank the rest of my coffee and used the time to clean house and do laundry. I made sure the guest room was clean in case Ma insisted on staying after all. Once I’d put clean towels out, I felt better and sat down to watch some TV. Boring, crap and stupid. God, morning TV sucks. If it’s not ridiculous kids programs, it’s news and talk shows. I checked my e-mail instead.
Seventy-five messages later, I got down to the e-cards wishing me happy birthday. I sent thank you replies and dumped the cards without looking at them. I went on my Facebook page, that I visit once in awhile to keep up with my Mafia Wars account, and did a big thank you for the birthday greetings. It was nice, and all, but 2,476 people I don’t know all that well wishing me happy birthday is kind of ridiculous. Some of the women sent some sweet photos of themselves to my Inbox. Those ladies got a special thank you message.
I have some shots an old girlfriend of mine took of me. She was in college getting her degree in art. She couldn’t convince me to model naked at the studio, but took some shots at her apartment. Most of them I don’t share, but a few with my shirt off, in jeans, that sort of thing, I send out from time to time.
I sent a picture of me without my shirt, in jeans and tool belt, a hardhat partially covering my face, and a bandana around my neck. After the joyful eyecandy those ladies sent me, I thought it was the right response. A few minutes later, I saw myself posted on a woman’s page with the title “Home Grown Hottie”. Oh, God, she was from here in Cheyenne!
There was no picture of her, she had a cat instead. Pretty cat, white Persian with big blue eyes. The same city is a little close for comfort. At least I don’t have my name up there. I have my page as “Big Mike”. But I do have Cheyenne listed as my network. Five minutes later, the picture was circulating and one of the Mafia Wars pimping groups picked me up and sent me around to be added. I suddenly had a 127 new friend requests—all from women. My Inbox was packed with more photos, some very explicit, even the occasional marriage proposal. I got a beer to better enjoy this.
Laughing, I sat there clicking and adding until the power went out. I hadn’t noticed how bad the weather was. I called over to Molly’s. She and Jesse were fine, their power was still on, so that meant that something had happened to me. My next call was to the power company. I got the recording that they would send out a repair truck when the weather cleared, etc. Glad I had gas heat and stove, I made myself a cup of fruit and herb tea and a grilled cheese sandwich. A slab of leftover cake later, I felt like a new man.
I was cleaning up my dishes, grateful that the water heater was also gas, when there was a knock at my back door. It had to be one of the guys from the apartment behind me. They are the only ones who come to the back. Tim was standing there in his shirt sleeves, his breath a halo of steam around him. He didn’t look the least bit cold. I nearly froze just opening the door.
© Dellani Oakes 2014
Undiscovered – A Romantic Suspense by Dellani Oakes. Someone wants movie mogul, Kent Griswald dead, only they shot his brother instead. Was it the mysterious, dark haired man seen running away from the scene, or someone else who pulled the trigger?
“Or maybe I made some assumptions that you didn’t deserve. I’m sorry. I never led that kind of life, fast and loose, taking something just for fun. Mine was a very strict, religious upbringing.”
“Mine was too,” I said quietly. “Only two religions led to some confusion. Ma is Catholic, Pop was Jewish. Everything was fairly stable until he died. Then things kinda went to shit.”
“I’m so sorry, Michael. That must have been hard on you.”
“Yeah, well death ain’t never easy, my granddad would say. I fully believe Ma nagged that man to the grave.”
“Oh, Mike! What a thing to say.”
“When you meet her, you’ll maybe understand.”
It took some time to unload the Jeep. I grabbed my wheelbarrow, I don’t own a dolly, and unloaded the refrigerators. Molly marked them meat and dairy and started to unload the groceries as I brought them in. With that accomplished, I fixed us coffee and we sat around drinking that until my phone rang.
“Mikey!” My mother.
“Yeah, Ma. Hi.”
“Did Chester call you?”
“Yeah, Ma. He sure did. I got you all squared away with a nice place to stay.”
“I thought we’d stay with you.” She sounded disappointed.
“Ma, we’d be tripping over each other. My place is great for one, two people tops. Four, we’ll be crowded. Chester seemed to think staying someplace else was a good plan.”
“Well, if you think so.”
She sounded wounded. Oy, could that woman milk the guilt! Catholic with a side order of Jew, she was a lethal opponent. I was almost starting to renege when Molly patted my hand, nodding at me. Her encouragement made me strong.
“Ma, seriously. Staying here would be a bad plan. Me and Chester discussed it and made a decision. You want to argue, take it up with him cause he was all over the idea.”
“Like flies on sh. . . sugar.”
Her sigh was designed to make me feel guilty, but I refused to. I knew I was right and she was way wrong.
“When you see my place, you’ll understand.”
“So, leaving Tuesday? Great! Oh, I got two refrig so I can separate the food. I figure maybe breakfast you can eat here. I can’t cook worth crap, but breakfast is good.”
“Sarena and I were planning to cook.” That must be the daughter.
“You’ll need cooking utensils. I got maybe a pot, a skillet and a pancake turner. I’m not Chef Ramsey, Ma.”
She loves the foul mouthed chef. I can’t stand him. Anybody talked to me like that would get my fist in his face.
“We’ll buy some when we get there. Then we can leave it with you for next time.”
Next time? Next time?? Those words froze my soul.
“How soon you planning to come back?” I worked hard to keep the panic out of my voice.
“That’s something to talk about when we get there. I’ve got another call coming in. It must be Chester. Bye, Mikey.” She hung up. My own mother hung up on me.
“Next time? She’s coming a next time? What the hell is going on, Molly? My life has taken on a whole, new darker aspect. I knew things were too good. I’ve had sex two nights running with two different women. What’s going to go horribly wrong now? God is punishing me.”
Molly made me slow down and explain. Which I did, but not well. I think she finally got the picture after the screaming, hysterical fit I had.
“I need a drink. I’m thinking JD straight. Want one?”
“It’s not even four o’clock.”
I got out my bottle of JD that was a Christmas present from Tim and Jaqwan last year. I poured a couple fingers full and knocked back about half of it. Gasping, eyes watering, I sipped the other half.
“What’s she got planned, Molly? And why now? Is she gonna get here and tell me she’s dying? It’s got to be some kind of huge announcement, something that she thinks I won’t react well to. Something she can’t tell me on the phone.”
© Dellani Oakes 2014