Pussy No More
When morning made a feeble attempt at sending a few dull rays of sunlight across Nora’s glossy cherry top dining table, Dylan was stirring a single spoonful of honey into his cup of fresh black coffee. Setting the spoon aside he pulled the cup close so he could inhale the steam rising from the rich dark roast. He watched his wife glance towards the empty stairs then back at the window where her array of snake plants resided on the wide inner sill. “He slept in the back bedroom last night. Didn’t go out after the rest left, judging from his shoes.”
Nora turned in her chair a little and pointed with her cup towards the closet near the front door. “Coat dry? It snowed a little just before I got up”
“Very dry. Checked when I first saw his shoes still on the mat where he set them after helping Francis load up his brood.”
Nora made a face. “Dyl, do you think he’s, I dunno, maybe he’s like coming out of the closet?”
A ripple of quiet laughter flowed from the big man as he shook his head. “You mean like a gay fella? No, Nora, I certainly think not!”
“I could handle it if that’s what’s going on with him. Be a bit of an adjustment certainly. . . But I’d cope. I know could. There are worse things than having a gay son. Never mind what Father Joseph says. Don’t care much for half of what that sad excuse for a priest yaps about anyways. I think he hates anyone who enjoys sex judging from what comes out of his mouth.”
“No argument from me on that score, love.” Dylan sipped his coffee then rubbed his chin. “I’d have placed good money on Sarge stepping out with Blondie last night though. You see the legs on that girl? Sweet Mother of God. Can’t say Irene didn’t pull out all the stops with her.”
“No blaming Irene at all indeed. Nor the rest of them. Sure there’s been a few poor picks over the years, but that’s got to be expected considering human nature. You never know for sure what some people will turn into after a few glasses of wine.”
“Or bottles of beer.”
“Indeed.” Nora folded her hands around her cup. “Did I go too far with the razor yesterday, Dyl?”
“Naw. Don’t think so at all. It was a good move having you lead the charge. He’d have fought me tooth and nail soon as he figured the score. But not you. No way he’d ever lift even a finger against his Ma. You didn’t bleed him a bit. Even if you had, hell, the result is worth it. He’s a fine-looking man. Cleans up right well. He ought not to go round looking like same damned overgrown stray dog.” Dylan reached out and put a huge hand around Nora’s. “Might be that our Sarge is just one of those fellas who play the field their whole life, love. It’s not like we’re wanting for grandchildren either.”
Nora nodded then frowned. “Could be, Dyl, could be. But then shouldn’t he have gone off with Blondie?”
“Well, you got me there for sure. I Can’t figure that score at all, Nora.” At sound of the doorbell, Dylan went to the front door. “Well, well, if it ain’t Benj come bearing gifts.”
Dylan held the front door open wide for their youngest son, Benj, who entered holding a large bakery box. “Morning, Ma. Hey Dad. Went to Pearl’s first thing to get sweet rolls for Sharon and they had a fresh load of chocolate éclairs.”
“Oh they’ve not had those in months. You’re a dear, Benj. Thanks so much. Can you stay for one and some brew or are you on the move?” said Nora as she opened the box holding a baker’s dozen of her favorite pastry.
“I’ve got time for a hot cup and a taste. Sharon’s not even awake yet.” Benj hung his coat on the back of his chair then sat down as Dylan poured him a cup of coffee. Benj was as tall as his father and eldest brother but with his mother’s lean slender frame. “He up yet?” said Benj with a nod towards Sarge’s shoes on the mat by the front door.
“If so, he’s being deadly quiet about it,” said Nora.
Benj licked a smear of dark chocolate icing from his éclair. “Who did the dirty deed?”
“Your Ma can lay claim to the fine work.”
Benj held up a hand for a high-five with Nora. “Good job. Why did you stop? His mop needs major clipping.”
Nora swallowed before answering. “Wasn’t sure I could keep from just taking it all off.”
Benj snorted. “It wouldn’t have mattered if you had. Rogaine would make a fortune if they could figure out how his mop grows so fast and market it to baldies. You should have gone whole hog on him. You remember when we were kids and we would chop it off just to see how long it would take it to grow back.”
“Oh do I ever.” Nora laughed a little at the memory. “Speak of the devil. Here he comes now.”
The trio enjoying coffee and éclairs watched Sarge come down the stairs and warily approach the table. Benj turned sideways in his chair to make eye contact with his oldest brother who had come to the room’s arched entrance but no further. “So big bro, what’s the score? Hmm? You blow a major man fuse or what?”
“What the hell are you talking about, Benj?”
“You leaving that scorching hot dish to freeze last night is what I’m talking about, Sarge. What else did you think?”
“Is this some kind of intervention or what?” demanded Sarge as he looked at his parents and youngest brother in turn.
“Hey, good word, Sarge. Yeah, this is an in-ter-vent-ion. Humor me just a tad will you, Sarge. Considering how invisible you’ve been for the last month or so, can you at least satisfy my very healthy male curiosity as to why you left Debbie high and dry last night? Hmm?”
“Your healthy male curiosity can mind its own business, Benj. I’ll mind my mine.” Sarge eyed the empty cup, Dylan held up to see if he wanted coffee. “No thanks, Dad.”
“Frankly, all things considered, my curiosity would like a little satisfaction too, Sargent.” Nora pushed a chair towards Sarge with her foot indicating that he ought to take a seat. She stared at her son and waited for him to sit until he took a few steps backward instead. “What’s going on with you? Hmm? Tell me or you’re gonna get a visit when you least expect one. If you didn’t hit it off with Debbie, that’s fine. No problem. Just say so if that’s the case. Shed a little light on the subject is all we’re asking.”
Sensing that his son was suddenly planning a fast exit rather than answer Nora or Benj, Dylan quietly rose and made his way to the front door mat and picked up Sarge’s black loafers. Holding the shoes behind his back, he stood silently but effectively blocking access to the front door. This did not go unnoticed by Sarge who was also aware that Benj was already sitting directly in the path to the kitchen door rear entrance.
Wondering what sort of attack the trio was plotting, Sarge backed up against the nearest wall. “What do you want from me? Huh? What?”
“Jesus, Sarge, we just want to know what the hell is going on with you. And I don’t mean the last few weeks. Even before the lousy weather set in, you have been more AWOL than present. Right, Ma? I figure you been weirding out for at least the last eight months.”
Nora nodded. “Oh yeah, eight at the very least, Benj. Maybe eleven if I really start thinking about it.”
Sarge considered his options. “Nothing is going on with me. Just been working my ass off is all. Between regular shifts, overtime and helping Kozy with the wiring and plumbing I’ve just been busy.”
“Busy? Aha.” Benj’s disbelief was obvious. “You’ve been too overworked and busy for a single pussy run? Seriously, man for over eight f’n months? We’re not morons.”
“Benj, don’t be vulgar.” Nora glanced at Dylan who shrugged and remained silent. “Sargent, are you sick? You catch something along the way with all your flying about from girl to girl? Forget to use a condom in the heat of the moment?”
Stunned by his mother’s candidness, Sarge couldn’t do more than shake his head in denial.
“So? What then, Sarge? Hmm?” demanded Benj.
Feeling cornered and unsure of how to get out of the situation Sarge looked around the dining room in frustration. The Sunday morning paper caught his eye and he recalled the start of his conversation with the delectable, but never to be tasted, delight named Debbie. Grasping for any straw with even half a chance of ending the current standoff, Sarge said, “Okay, okay. No big mystery. I’m seeing someone.”
“What?! Who?!” demanded Benj. Rising out of his chair he faced off with his brother.
An exchange of incredulous surprised looks passed quickly between Nora and Dylan. Forcing herself to remain seated, Nora took a deep breath and held it for a count of twenty while waiting for Sarge to answer the questions Benj had spoken on everyone’s behalf.
“Just someone. A woman. Satisfied? Okay? Everyone happy now that Sarge’s big secret is out of the bag?”
Benj shook his head. “Bullshit. No way.”
“You calling me a liar, Benj?”
“Oh yeah. Big time. If you’ve been seeing someone steady why not bring her home for a meet? Hmm? Why not?”
“Bugger off, Benj.”
“Hey, just because I’m your only brother here at the moment doesn’t mean we all haven’t been wondering, Sarge. We all have been.”
Nora looked from son to son and wondered what her eldest was really lying about. “This someone have a name?”
Thinking that no one would ever be the wiser, Sarge decided to give them whatever it would take in order to make an escape from the brownstone as soon as possible. “Lily. Her name is Lily. Don’t believe me, Benj? Hm? Make a curtsey run to Big Bob’s on Fifth. Ask Stanley who I had breakfast with Friday morning. Go ahead. Remind him that Lily ordering poached eggs pissed him off.”
Without a single squeak from the hardwood floor, Dylan came up and dropped Sarge’s shoes next to his stocking feet. When Sarge looked him in the eye, Dylan arched his brows and returned to his seat at the table. Without another word, Sarge slipped on the loafers, grabbed his coat from the closet, walked to his mother, took her birthday present out of the inner pocket and laid it on the table next to her coffee cup. Seeing the dark look in her eyes, he decided against kissing her cheek. “Dad. Benj. Later.” Pulling his coat on, Sarge nearly ran out the front door in spite of his effort to maintain some semblance of calm.
As Sarge made haste down the street putting distance between himself and the family home as quickly as the slick soled loafers allowed, Nora, Benj and Dylan waited for someone else to speak first. Dylan filled everyone’s cups then sat down slowly. “Do it Benj. Have a word with Stan. See if he has any clue.”
“About this fake Lily? What for? We all know he’s lying through his teeth.”
Dylan shrugged, “Lily or no Lily makes no difference at this point, Benj. We need to find out what’s up and clearly Sarge ain’t talking. He’s been catching breakfast at Big Bob’s for a while now. Stan’s got good eyes and ears. So maybe he knows something we don’t.” Dylan and Benj turned their attention to Nora as she opened the small envelope like package Sarge had given her. “What’s it this time? How much did he blow?”
Nora shook her head as she laid out a pair of plane tickets and other travel information on the table for them to see. “Some resort in Jamaica for a full week. Plane, room, tour guide, meals, everything paid for. Maybe three grand?” She picked up a gift card with a note tapped to it and waved it. “For new swimsuits it says.”
“He’s nuts. If he was really seeing someone steady he’d be stashing whatever cash he wasn’t spending on snaring her. That’s more proof he just bullshit his way out of here,” declared Benj. “Furthermore, what guy in their right mind takes their steady squeeze to Big Bob’s for breakfast?”
Nora ran her hands through her hair then held her head in her hands. “Okay. Benj do like Dyl said. As soon as you can, make a delivery run out to Bob’s or nearby. Hit Stan up for anything he might have noticed. Dylan, get Irene on the phone. Tell her to get a hold of that Debbie and haul her back over here. We want to know everything she and Sargent talked about last night. Make sure she knows we’ll pay for a taxi if she needs one.”
“On it,” said Dylan as he went for the phone.
“I’ll call Sharon and get her started on finding baby sitters so we can have a decent family meet tonight,” said Benj.”Then I’ll call James and Patrick.”
Nora nodded. “That’s good, Benj. Do you think that Kozy will talk to me if I make a call or should I just show up in person?”
Benj listened to Dylan talking to Irene on the phone before answering. Tapping his fingers on the table top he thought hard. “Kozy’s kinda in his own world, Ma. I don’t think he’ll pay attention unless you’re right in front of him. Even then it’s dicey. Let’s face it; Kozy’s idea of normal is pretty far off from anyone else’s normal.”
“Well, that’s a given, Benj. I’d have to talk to him about Sargent without directly talking about Sargent. Maybe we can come up with something tonight. Need to out think Kozy or he might get the wrong idea.”
Benj laughed. “That’s rich, Ma. Really rich. Wrap our heads around Kozy’s? Better break out the hard liquor for that.” He looked up when Dylan returned to the table and immediately went to call Sharon.
“Irene is pretty sure she can get Debbie here with them. Seems she and Irene already had quite a little chat last night. So no problem there. And she’s gonna get Francis to call Mark so that’s all covered.” Dylan stared at the coffee pot. “What’s the name of that girl Patrick and Denise brought round? The last one we know Sarge stepped out with for a while.”
“The one with the gold streaks in her hair? That one?”
“Yeah her. You remember her name? Maybe we should have a chat with her too.”
“Mellie or maybe Millie. Denise will know for sure. I like that, Dyl,” said Nora.
“We’re gonna need some food for tonight. How about I go see if Pearl’s has a fresh turkey?”
“Yeah, that would do the trick, Dyl. If not, then just pick whatever’s not frozen that they got enough of on hand.” Nora helped her husband into his coat and kissed him hard before he set off for Pearl’s Market. Back at the table she stood looking over the plane tickets for herself and Dylan to the flashy resort in Jamaica. “Sargent, whatever is going on in your head? Jamaica? Me and Dyl? Swimsuits? Snorkeling? What the hell?”
Breakfast Special, sixth helping, ‘book-ends’ ~ In Pursuit of The Fox aka Volpone and Toe-ing Behind the Lines —>>https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/?s=Breakfast+special+sixth+helping++book+ends