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The Scumbag
by Katerina Charisi
2016-03-20 11:32:51
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We went back upstairs and Marianne continued for the hallway and to the kitchen. “You want me to come?” I asked her. She puffed and said no. When I returned to our room, Michael wasn’t there. I went downstairs and found him in the kitchen eating breakfast. I sat next to him, while Frances was washing a large pan in the sink. I felt somehow jealous. I should had done this job, I mean the breakfast... We should have breakfast together upstairs, I thought, not coming to his mother, like he was still living as the child in the parent’s house. But then, this was his parent’s house, the house he grew up in, and I remembered Marianne and the mess upstairs. There are a lot of things that we both have to change or get used to, I thought.

farma01Hey beautiful, come here”, he said and gave me a kiss. “Is everything okay up there?” he giggled. I opened my mouth but Frances spoke without turning her head. “Ah, that girl. Good girl indeed, but sometimes can be a real pain. Put yourself some coffee sweetheart, it is warm. I would be grateful if you would put some for me too, the mug’s on the table.”

“Of course”, I said and looked around to find the coffee pot. She wiped her hands on her apron and sat on a chair. “Do you know how long we are going to be dealing with that invisible mouse?”

“I know ma, we all know Marianne, don’t we?”

I poured coffee in France’s mug, had a cup for me too and Michael pushed his to put some for him as well. I sat back with them. “She doesn’t like mice”, I defended her. “Who likes them anyway?”

“No one says we like them, darling”, Frances replied. “But she knew where she came in the first place, this is an old house in the countryside. And again, she is the only one who sees mice in here”.

I said nothing. Michael took a last sip and stood up.

“Where are you going?”

“Oh, I’m going to give Bradford a hand back there, with the cars”.

Again, Frances spoke first. “Get him something to eat, okay?”

“He is a big boy, ma. He can come to eat when he gets hungry”. But he put a few cake pieces on paper anyway.

I had no idea about what they were talking about. I felt so left out, but pushed the feeling away.

“Where is the “back there?””, I asked, trying to sound indifferent. It was Sunday, we had agreed that Sundays were for us only. One day in the week would always be ours.

“Take the girl with you”, Frances said. “Show her around. Bradford has set a garage - well, kind of- at one of the sheds. He won’t stay at this scumbag forever, soon he is going to have his own garage and it will be the best in town and surrounding villages”.

“What would a woman want to do with greases and oils and hubcaps? You can come if you want, but you would get bored right away. It won’t take me too long, he just needs a hand to put an engine back to the car. Then, we can go everywhere you want. It’s Sunday”, he said and blinked. I smiled. He didn’t forget!

“No, it’s okay, do your job and I’ll wait here.”

“Great! Let us women talk”, said Frances. “Go on”, she added and waved him to leave.

Michael lifted his shoulders laughing and left. I felt my cheer coming back. All of my worry was about living with all these people, while I was always by my own. How they would accept me? How it would feel to be the stranger in an already tight family? Would I get used to their rhythms? Maybe things would be just easier than I thought.

Oh, I was so blind. But how could I see it back then? No one would see it, I think. This is what I keep telling to myself, just to give some excuse for my mistakes. It was all a mistake. Everything.

farma02_400“Who’s the scumbag?” I asked Frances. I knew she was obviously talking about Bradford’s boss, but I asked her anyway, just to have something to talk about and show her my interest in the family’s stuff. I really wanted to try my best. I didn’t want her to think that I only cared about Michael and no one, or nothing else. I was really interested in to know as many things as possible, for everyone. Somehow back then, I felt that was the right thing to do.

“Oh, Ed? Bradford’s boss. But he is no one’s boss. He can’t even control himself. My son does all the work in there while Ed’s sleeping or drinking all day. He doesn’t even hire someone to help. He couldn’t afford someone, anyway. My son’s back started bent already, lifting all this weight. Such a loser”, she said.

“I’m sorry to hear that. I guess bosses are the same everywhere”. That wasn’t exactly true, but not a lie either. My boss wasn’t that bad. Still, he was a boss and no one was irreplaceable. If I wanted holidays or having kids, I would just have to quit. Someone would take my place the next day. Those weren’t jobs that employees were so important. Everyone could learn to do everything if were a little smart. I was at my last job for few years, and still, when I told him I quit, he just nodded and shook my hand goodbye.

“Not everyone. Not everywhere. When we had workers here, I was working harder than them, all day in this kitchen, preparing meals, drinks, then out there, showing them what to do, helping them, letting them stop to rest and of course, paying them always on time.”

She paused. “But that’s another story”, she added and smiled bitterly. I didn’t understand then why was this bitterness always in her smiles. It took me a while to find out.

“Ed used to have the best garage in New Orleans. He was a great looking young man, hard working and diligent, a brilliant young man! He had three people working for him and he worked the hardest from all.”

“What happened?”

She nodded scornfully. “What happened was what always happens to good men, sweetheart. The wrong woman. And what a woman! Some hussy who showed up from nowhere on a motorcycle -a motorcycle! Can you imagine? A young woman on a motorcycle, what kind of woman would ride a man’s motorcycle wearing a dress?”

She was so angry now. I didn’t know what to say. She seemed so seriously offended, that I didn’t dare to say anything. But... God! A woman on a bike? I was impressed!

“...Yes, she showed up just to mess with good people’s lives”.

“You mean they fell in love and...”

Frances strongly shook her head. “No! Josh brought her there. He was the one who fell for her. What a stupid boy that, too. He felt so proud for himself, having a girlfriend with a bike, and he wanted to show her everywhere.”

“Who’s Josh?”

Frances took a deep breath. She realized she was upset, so she gave herself a few seconds to calm down.

“Josh was one of the kids working at Ed’s. He met her... Somewhere. Since then, he was lost to himself. Emily stole his heart and then disappeared. She would come back only when she needed him. Oh, she was just a slut, working at bars and gambling rat holes. Somehow, Ed fell for her too. They all said he started going to “her” places, to see her. He started drinking and gambling. Soon, he couldn’t pay his employees. They all left. Josh was the one who left him last, and couple of months later, Ed was broke and full of depts. He came back to his hometown and turned his house’s ground floor into a garage and named it “Sonny’s”. That’s it.”

We didn’t say anything else. After a while, Frances stood up and I did the same.

“I should better go and check on Sam. He said there are a few holes on the fence and a hen got out last night. If you see him now... - I mean Edward- he had a bald head and a belly to the knees. Stupid men.”

And she went out.  

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