In an unexpected revelation, Ma admits she pampered Gabe and pushed Michael. She felt that Gabe needed the extra boost because he was nowhere near as intelligent and talented as his brother. She remarks on the fact that Mike has flourished and Gabe hasn’t.
“No, Ma. It’s this place. If I lived back home, I’d be miserable too. Out here, I can breathe easy. I can live my life without the crazy pace of the City. There are some things I miss, but it not so many. Maybe if Gabe moved? He could look for another job, less stressful.”
She nodded, then shook her head. “Livia would never. . . .”
“Maybe she’s miserable too? I mean, four kids in five years? I’d be outta my mind. And she’s not working, so maybe she’s bored?”
“How did you get to be so insightful?”
“It’s the beer,” I said, saluting her with a wink. “I wax philosophical when I drink.” It occurred to me I hadn’t seen Chester for awhile, so I asked. Not so much to change the subject, as to satisfy my curiosity.
“He went to lie down for awhile. He’s pretty tired from the drive.” She blushed a deep, dark red.
“Yeah. . . . That’s it.”
“Don’t start with me, Mikey.”
“Never, Ma. So, are you happy?”
Her dark eyes glittered and she smiled so big. I never saw such a big smile on her face.
“I never was so happy. I loved your father, Mikey, don’t ever think I didn’t. But there’s something about Chester. . . .”
“He’s a good man, for sure.”
“Do you really like him?”
She sounded so hopeful, I had to smile.
Her smile got even bigger. “I’m so glad! I was so scared you wouldn’t like him!”
“Why wouldn’t I like him?”
Her eyes teared up and I felt my heart fall somewhere near my feet.
“I know you think what happened between your father and me was my fault. We grew apart, and I regret that so much. But it wasn’t just me, Mikey. He was having an affair.”
She held up her hand to stop me from talking. I couldn’t have said a word at that point. I was too stunned.
“He had women for years. Maybe it was my fault, going along, closing my eyes. I don’t know. But when he left us, it nearly killed me. Then when he died. . . . I felt responsible. But it wasn’t my fault. I always suspected his girlfriend killed him, but I couldn’t prove it.”
I was too shocked to continue. “Oh, my God! Did the police. . .? Didn’t anyone ever. . .?”
“They couldn’t find a thing. They said it was his heart. He never had a bad heart, Mikey. So when I heard you had all those women. . . .”
“That was a fluke, believe me. Usually, I’m a one woman man, totally.”
“Anyway,” she would not be dissuaded, no matter what. “When I heard that, I got concerned. Then the paint—I panicked.”
“I’m not my father,” I told her flatly. “I’m fine.”
“Not every woman takes sex lightly,” she said calmly. “Some take it real serious. You have to know that, Michael. Sometimes we get in over our heads without meaning to, without realizing. I don’t want you hurt. I don’t want you killed by some crazy woman. I saw what that word was. I know this wasn’t a something random and not kids.”
“Are you psychic too?”
That took some explaining, which I did. I told her about my conversation with Sally.
“I knew I liked that girl. She’s right. You be careful.”
“I will, Ma. I promise.”
“Good. That’s good. Now, it’s time to call Chester and get Sarena up. Dinner will be ready by the time Steve gets back. Then we’ll get Jesse and Angie and eat!”
From that point on, the day grew fast paced. I did my best to keep out of the way, but Ma kept dragging me into the kitchen to open jars or find cooking utensils she couldn’t locate. Sarena kept feeding me bites of food and I thought I was in heaven. I’ve never had a woman make a fuss over me like she did. Her ex-husband was a lowlife prick if he couldn’t see what an amazing woman she was.
© Dellani Oakes 2014