Harlan Doyle, our wayward sperm donor, cleared his throat. “Keir.” His accent made it sound odd. I didn’t look up. “I’m talking to you, son.”
A tight lipped glare was all I gave him. He didn’t have the right to call me that. I had only one parent who had any business calling me son, and she was in the living room. Can’t say I was very pleased with her, either.
“You can’t ignore me forever.”
I picked up my food and went out by the pool. Wanna bet?
“Leave him alone,” Chica said. “You come back, all this time later, only because one of us is dead. If Dionne was alive, would you be here? Have you been here for any milestones? Weddings? Births?”
“No. You don’t get to call me honey!” She followed me out to the pool deck.
Randy joined us, as did Rowena. My mother and sisters stayed in the house. Suzette wasn’t here, but I figured it was only a matter of time before she appeared. Chica and I sat on one of the lounge chairs, finishing our coffee and rolls. Randy and Rowena sat on another, facing us.
“When did Mom make the call?”
“After you left last night,” Randy replied. “I told her not to….”
“She doesn’t listen to you any better than me, I guess.”
“He got here about half an hour ago. I was the lucky one to answer the door,” Chica snarled. “I shut it in his face, but Mom opened it, and let him in.”
“I hope you caught the bastard’s nose.”
“Not quite. He was far enough back, I missed.”
“He offered to pay for the funeral,” Rowena said gently.
“Fat lot of good that does Dionne now.”
We sat in silence. Let him pay for it. I’d find the most expensive things I could, to run up the bill. But I knew I wouldn’t. Dionne wouldn’t want fancy. She wasn’t an ostentatious person. A lavish display would have mortified her.
A shuddering breath shook me, and I choked back a sob. Chica put her arms around me and we clung together, weeping. I sensed Rowena and Randy leaving, and that was okay. All this grief, it must be horrible for them to endure. I had the shocking revelation that this was the first family death I’d ever experienced. All our grandparents were still alive and well. Aunts, uncles, cousins were thriving. Now my sister, my beautiful Dionne, the nosy one, who was always in my business. She was dead and there was no bringing her back. We had been eight, we were now seven, and my life would never be the same. And her son, a precious little boy with laughing blue eyes and blond curls, would grow up without his mother.
“You didn’t tell us what Steve said,” Chica reminded me.
“Dionne went nuts when she got home. She accused him of cheating on her, and went after him with the twelve inch butcher’s knife. Took a swing, missed and fell. She cut herself. He was trying to drive her to the hospital, and she was fighting with him. He lost control of the car.”
“You believe him?” her tone was questioning, not accusatory.
“And he wasn’t cheating?”
“He says not.”
“Do you believe that?”
Sniffling, she patted me on the hand and stood. “Then that’s good enough for me. I need a drink.”
“It’s nine thirty in the morning.”
“Your point being?”
Sighing, I stood. If I had to face this day, with my father in it, I wanted to be as drunk as possible. “Scotch, rum, bourbon, vodka?”
The scotch was in the front of the cabinet. I poured us each a healthy measure. Hers on the rocks, mine neat. After we knocked those back, we felt able to face the parental units.
Randy met us in the foyer. He and Rowena were sitting, talking, on the stairs.
“You okay, babe?” Randy asked, standing.
“Better.” Chica gave him a kiss.
He licked his lips. “Is that Glenlivet?”
“Bold choice,” Rowena said. Smiling, she hooked her arm through mine. “You okay?”
“Also better. Guess it’s time.” I nodded toward the living room.
We’d just taken our seats when someone knocked. I got up to answer, and found Jake on the steps.
“I came to see if I can help. I know I’m not family….”
“Please, come in. Thank you.”
He gave me a hard hug. I knew how difficult it was for him to breach his own personal boundaries, so I gave him a short hug back.
“Thank you for coming by. This means more to me than I can even tell you.”
©2021 Dellani Oakes