Tuesday night. Ms Brasil reports unwell, remnants to hear it of some disagreeing grub. So, I cab over from Boones, much to disgust of the ‘rents who didn’t like her before Sunday and don’t like her more since Sunday night when they met. <>
Thinking I don’t want to get there empty-handed
We’d been talking bikes anyways, Ben Spies, Valentino Rossi, Max Biaggi and the enduro bikes he raced growing up father-exiled from Central African Republic in Chad. So I run into Weis, hit the aisles, emerge w a box of frozen fruit pops, Vanity Fair, a toy stamp kit and some other garbage that adds up to $40 friggin’ dollars on my Amex, including the “Dirt Bike” rag I hand over to Brian the Ghanaian Mafia cabbie.
$60 bucks to the cabbie. I get out spewing lots o swearing-story-telling about Big-Boned-Bessie, my soon-to-be-ex motorised mount. I’m back in me riddim, I’ve hit my infantry-story-telling stride:
I walk in a little over-hyped at my haul. Show Ms Brasil the loot. Help Olivia open the stamp kit. Take a yoga breath. Overall, I notice Ms Brasil’s pretty non-plussed, eats about a quarter of a strawberry fruit pop. Hits the rack soon thereafter. I crash on the couch. Or, I try too. Place is about 80-some degrees. It’s 0230 and I still can’t sleep. A handful of hours later I’m due at PT. I wake up to a nasty-ass downward-pissing Veterans’ Day in a pussy-ass dock-sider-wearing mid-Atlantic state. We’re not in Texas anymore. Like the rest of the republic, Ms Brasil has the day off. Plan was for her to drop me there. Catatonia persists, I call Columbia Cab, fuck, another $40. PT doesn’t suck. I walk in the 40Ëš rain — laptop slung over one shoulder and man-purse over the other all bandolier, mexican bandito style — to Mayfair from physical therapy via the Starbucks and a brick-in-my-belly bowl of oatmeal in between. 1130 am, Ms Brasil calls me from her cell
“. . . a friend came over and I had a couple beers, so my car won’t work.” She cabs over to Mayfair. Knocks on the door animatedly. I descend the stairs open the door. She looks smokin’ hot in a black coat, red scarf, a clingy fuzzy dress-skirt and Ugg boots. Boots were made fer walkin’. Hot as Nancy Sinatra in go-go boots. Gave me a full, full kiss, that included biting my lip too hard.
Up the stairs and she seems to wobble. Up on the landing, she announces
“I’m in your house”
“I want something to drink, whiskey.”
So, sheltered-life-me, I pull out the bottle of real smokey brake-fluid that Joe bought. Pull out a tumbler, pour in a finger full. She downed the son-of-a-bitch in one swift swallow. Goes into Haley’s room.
“Your clothes up in the loft. I have curtains we can hang there. I thought of getting Haley a little Sac.”
“I’m in your house”
Into Haley’s room. Hug in which she puts her head on my shoulder and seems to relax into practically a doze. The hug now seems more a falling into. Inexplicably sensing friskiness, I aver
She went back into the kitchen. I somehow doggily followed. Over in the corner where I’d left the whiskey bottle and she’d set down the tumbler.
“I’d like another … I’m in your house”
Sheltered upbringing. Drunken Army days, but all a very long time ago, so I don’t recognise the signs. Still I haven’t grasped the situation. I pour her another. She shoots it down equally fast as the last, only finishes it off with a grimace this time. She looks suddenly unattractive, worn.
Back to the kitchen. She fell back to her unsteady feet when the go at lifting herself to a seat on the counter corner doesn’t end well.
I started up the kettle for strong tea. It whistles incessantly while we’re busy with something else. I pour the tea, set the mug on the counter. Sound of mug tipping over, tea down the counters, into the stove. She uprights the mug and tries to tear 6 packets of Splenda at one time into the dregs.
We hadn’t had a plan, but now I see the need. I’m going to have to drive. For the first time since my high-siding. Sabrina says I’m good for it now but I was supposed to test her theory in a parking lot with an automatic tranny car, not rain-smeared Route 1 with the 5-speed Toaster. Her daughter’s school closes at 6 pm. <>
I load up my Mac into my Minnie-Pearl Patagonia satchel fag-bag. I gather clothes for the gym and jam them into my blue/yellow man-purse, with the Costco coupons, my great-grandfather’s architecture degree, flexeril, seroquel, valium and xanax, lockback Winchester knife from Rene.
She points down at the rug that she’d inexplicably brought over a month ago, and on which we’d played backgammon; me losing 3 times straight.
By this time it seems like the first of the whiskey might have hit. She’s going from wobbly to swaying to staggering. Shit, I’m still in physical therapy. I can’t even lift a 5 pound weight. I don’t see descending the rain-slicked, new-varnished stairs ending well, Uggs or no Uggs. Dread approaches. I go out to start the car and warm it up to come to grips with likelihood of a damaging stair fall.
Now the stairs and the starlet. I should have followed her down, let her fall if she came to that. But, no, I didn’t. I lead her down the stairs. Bare knees buckle below her skirt and above her Uggs. Fuck she looks hot. Booted foot gingerly seeks out the next step. We make it down with less gravity than I expected.
It’s all coming back to me: the wife-beater “Stella!” husband doing a year in Jessup, the breathalyzer (just bad luck, not her fault)Into the car, she shivers in the cold wet. Reaching back with my left arm to get my seatbelt is an adventure in pain. I don’t even bother with hers. Shifting no problem. I head out the neighborhood, right on Route 103 to Smoky and Uncle Grubes. Sweet pork sandwich of my all-time favorite barbecue … and I figure the fries’ll soak up some of that accelerated smokey whiskey. She falls over the parking brake, her head half on the console and half on my non-plated shifting arm. I turn right into Smoky’s. She’s out for the count. Into Smoky’s I order up. Sheila brings around the bag, and later I learn that I’d left my debit card there. Out in the Toaster, I pull Ms Brasil into an upright position and tie her down with the seatbelt.
Down Route 1, left onto Guilford en route to Bob’s BMW. Gotta see a man about a horse. A they-still-shoot horse, my Big-Boned-Bessie. Into the back door for Service. Darryl’s right there. John G, too.
“You wanna have a look at Big-Boned-Bessie? Hard to know if something’s bent”
“You might fix her, but you don’t know how long the engine ran”
“Took me a while to get used to the inline 4. My Honda CBR”
Back to the service desk. Galivan asks what I’m gonna do. Tells me about his classics racing, Triumph. Raced for 8 years before he got fast. I’m getting uneasy how long I left Ms Brasil out in the car.
“Does that mean you’re releasing Bessie?”
Out the door, over to the Toaster. I look in the window. Status quo. Darryl comes out looking at the next bike to go up on the lift.
He comes over, looks in the window. Ms Brasil is still out, her rockstar legs crossed hot. He stumbles away, falling out, laughing.
Back in the Toaster, backing out, she rolls her head over to the window, string o drool coming down. Ah, things are looking up.
On to Stebbing Way, Apartment 1A. This is all out of control, so I must eat the french fries. I just shovel them in by the handful. Healthful PT, long walk and oatmeal-choosing seem days different, thinks
At the corner of Apartment 1A. Dread, prospect of more stairs, rain-slick with a wasted best-and-brightest south americana. Comforted by the thought that since this spring I am a succesful door-kicker-inner, I go up, sure enough, it’s wide open, kind of a sort of relief.
Took my fag-bags up. Set them down on the kitchen table. There’s one of those fine-tiny-print prescription drug warning 1″x1″ no-heavy-machinery, end-of-days, you-might-need-an-iron-lung origami-times-pi-folded packets on the table, for Seroquel. So there I am, CSI fucking chump-ass connecting all the dots.
Unclipped her seatbelt. She’s all half-lidded and tragedy-comedy droop-mouthed. I get her out of the passenger seat. Most of the seat seat is darker than the back. Thinks “towel” but I can’t even face that notion. Morale’s way too low. Fuck it.
Got her in the door. Close the door behind her. She slips on the tile, crashes first against the keychain and coat wall, then slides down the steel apartment standard-issue fire door, taking the magnetic letters with her. I sort of help her up, leery of my already-ache steel-plated L shoulder. Whole string of holes in the wall from which keys and caps used to hang. I pull off her boots, dark purple underwear visible. This is not sexy.
Stumbles into the bedroom. Instant fetal-pos sleep, still sexily-skirted. I turn the thermostat down from its 83Ëš. I sit at the table. Scarf down my sweet pork sandwich, last crumbs of fries inelegantly. I retire to the green couch, wary of the approaching 6pm witching hour at The Young School and how the fuck I’m going to rally my stoned latina for the pick-up of her 4 year old.
An hour later I wake up. I looked in her medicine cabinet. One empty bottle of Seroquel, filled 8 days ago with 10 pills to be taken 2 each night.
She gets to her feet. The bed under her is darker than the rest of it. Fuck it.
Staggers to her closet. Strips down to nothing, everything, her bare beautiful willow body, no underwear, no bra, just rented-tan lines on her sway body. She emerges in jeans. Staggers down the wet stairs, I clip her in.
Rights became lefts, lefts became rights. I’d been there once before not paying real attention. U-turned our way to the school. Up to the keypad from which Erica gets no satisfaction. Guy coming out with his daughter, we chase our way into the still-open door. Lady sitting there says
“I didn’t see you enter a number”
“I’m getting my daughter”
I don’t even make eye contact and La Brasilena charges right past. Around the corner, Olivia sitting there
Over to the file cabinet, Olivia pulls out the drawings she did today. I grab her pink and baby blue hoodie. Out to the car. 4-year old in her babyseat
“Your car smells”
^ << Yea? Piss >>
“Your car smells like pizza”
Slurry sur americana madre regains her damp up-front passenger seat. Occurs to me that there’s nothing for dinner. I gravitate to the sanctuary of the Weis grocery store. Maybe a stroll through the aisles might do her some good. Olivia hides under the red onions, then streaks through the fruit stands to the seafood counter.
Strawberries, chocolate candy bars, yogurt, no Lunchables, ice and peas but no Ibuprofen for my dented steel-plated shoulder. “I put mints in my pocket, uh, purse”
(all sotto voce) >>
I’m imagining mystery-shopper CSI-wanna-be mall cops on our tail. I keep my eye on my charge, hoping she doesn’t draw fire and get herself arrested for disorderly too. I see one of those self-checkout stands, thinks
Lady at the checkout gives us the hairy eyeball. I hurry up and pay, shoving the lot out the aisle.
Out in the cold rain to the car. Fire it up. Approaching the store I look over at Erica and Olivia. Look back and realise I’ve missed a parking sign bollard by a foot from the hood of the Toaster. Frozen pizza and the split-open bag of mints into the ass-end of the Toaster.
“What’s that sound?”
“Why do you have one?”
Around the loading dock side of Weis, we head to the apartment. First space is open
Fuck, I’m channeling the words of my latina-lashed grandfather.
I gather them up into the apartment. Ms Brasil’s taking leave of her parallel universe, coming back to the world. No falls this time. Back to the car, I get the bags. Downstairs once again, knowing I would otherwise drive off with the seat. Thinking Toaster-as-getaway-car, I put the baby seat into the Corolla, headed back up to the maelstrom.
Lights are on. I hear the clink of glass. I find Ms Brasil on her knees in the kitchen corner. Glass on the floor and a darkness that looks like coke. Olivia pipes up
“The coffee glass broke”
Olivia’s taking in french fry sticks from the bucket by the small handful.
“I’d rather fill up on these”
We all end up in the bedroom.
“Don’t lie on that side. It’s wet. You put peas on your shoulder?”
I’m on the far side of the bed. Erica sits on the other far side. Olivia is in the middle closest to the TV. Erica opens the drawer on her nightstand. I hear the click of pills. She’s got a bottle in her hand and jams one or some into her mouth.
Olivia brings a tray in and places it upon my legs. Empties a can of whipped cream onto the plate. “There’s more”
“No Mom, it’s empty”
“That’s bad, Olivia, you didn’t tell me”
Then 2 baskets, 1 with granola, 1 with. 1 yoga, a box of strawberries and some orange soda. Hands her mom a strawberry with melted whipped-cream. Ms Brasil finds her mouth with it and chomps it, green stem and all. Olivia makes a terrible concoction of juice, yogurt dregs and a strawberry. I take the failed science experiment and dump it on the kitchen counter. The place is a fucking disaster and I notice an empty Heineken bottle, an empty Dos Equis and one un-drunk glass of beer.
Back to the bedroom. Within minutes, she’s passed out, non-responsive. The same side of the bed that was dark after the last great awakening. I check for a pulse for the nth time today. This is just not getting sexier. I head for the still-open nightstand drawer. The bottle on top is
Bottle below this is another Seroquel. Filled 11/10 at Wal-Mart.
I go into the kitchen thinking this little girl needs some grub. So, naturally I’m thinking I’m prepared for this. I unwrap the frozen pizza, open the oven door. It’s as jam-packed with pans and tins as the laundry room is with shite such that you can’t get the door to swing more than a foot before hitting the mudslide of clothes, towels. <>
Pizza lands back on the counter next to the empty Negro Modelo. Back to the bedroom where Olivia has a bulletin for me.
“My mother drinks wine. It makes you fall asleep. That’s what wine does. I’ll tell you something”
From the bed, she mouths words to me, sitting on the floor, broken man, broken in spirit by bladder-hit-the-road pissed-on seats, failure to cook a pizza and now the fucking DVD player that worked until I tried to fast-forward the sonofabitch. Takes about 6 times in an elevating whisper, then
“When my mother drinks wine, she gets drunk”
^ << What the fuck? Uh, Olivia, what does that mean? >>
Olivia sprays Febreze in the general direction of the TV. Somehow this does not resuscitate the on-board tits-up DVD player. VHS side appears to have dodged the electromagnetic-pulse Febreze assault. I punt. A tape of Peter Pan sits on top of the non-flat-panel TV. I lay on the bed next to Olivia, with the 10# bag of ice on my left shoulder. Peter Pan says
“A mother? What’s a mother?”
Dandruff shower of pixie dust. Tinkerbell’s all fatal-attraction against Wendy. Smead shaving the Elegant Captain Hook, the finger-steepling crocodile. I’m irrationally upset that they didn’t take Nana to Neverland with them, even after the pixie dusting, then the stupid run-out rope that not one of these pixie-addled toddlers thinks to switchblade.
By this time I’m a sleep-deprived soul-broken man. << Oh, her phone, names of her friends, names she’s mentioned, Mona. No Mona.”
“Are you there?”
She sounds suspicious.
“Is she there?”
“Oh, so she’s passed out?”
“Uh, well, it happens, sometimes she takes the pills and drinks. I’d love to come and help but I’ve got my own kids here.”
So I turn to the 4-year-old for salvation. I just want to hand-off and get the fuck outta dodge.
Close to tears. Olivia, that is.
No internet, no cable, it’s like being Johnny-Got-His-Gun all over again. Thinks: “I’ll call Kevo, find out what the fuck this Ativan shit is.”
“Anxiety … highly addictive … ”
“I guess you’ve got a long night coming”
Back in the bedroom, Olivia is splayed everything akimbo like a dead bug. I go back to the peace of the green-slip-covered really-it’s-pink couch. I sleep off and on. At some dark point, Ms Brasil joins me there and I retreat to the loveseat before I end up heat-stricken. Another wake up, I escort her back to her bed. “Uhhhhh”
I lock the door behind me, drive the Toaster through the still-fucking-rain and jet over to my empty pretty place. Not wanting to kill the invalid-chauffer-mojo I’ve got w Pete, I, once again call Columbia Cab, then back to Boones to sit with this shit.
Knee-Walking . . Fear & Loathing in Laurel … It’s A Dirty Old Town