Friday, July 6, 2012

Up to No Good

Once Charlie started riding his mountain bike to the warehouse, we took turns giving him a lift home.
            The first afternoon Van didn’t pick him up, Charlie’d addressed us. “Now that we have Jeremiah and Hannah,” he said, “Vandalia needs the car more than I do.”
            “She’s always had the car, Charlie,” Mark pointed out as he shook his hand violently to get the key out of the office door lock. “Did it get repo’d?”
            Charlie's weight fell against Mark's for a moment, then he straightened. Nodded.
            “Tell you what,” he said. He seemed to be trying to laugh. “Vandalia’s not at all happy being confined to the house.”
            Mark laid his arm across Charlie’s shoulders. “I’ll keep an eye out for a decent used vehicle for you guys. Make some calls in the morning.”
            “Where all’d she used to go during the day?” Jason said.
            Charlie shrugged. “I have no idea. Grocery store maybe? Toys R Us?”
            Truth be told, we’d heard tales about how Van spent her days, how sometimes a car or two might be seen outside their place ‘round about the little ones’ naptime. We brought it up in the office one day before Charlie returned from his route.
            “Don’t say anything,” Mark said. “It’s a small town. Sooner or later, he’ll find out.”
            Mom O. had nodded approvingly, her lips forming a definitive, though nearly colorless, line. In an instance of rare tenderness she slapped her blood pressure monitor out of the way to reach across the desk toward Mark. Wiggled her fingers when he didn’t stretch his hand out to meet hers.
            “I taught him good,” she told us. “That if you can’t say anything nice about a person, you shouldn’t say anything at all.”
            We’d exchanged a glance in that moment, as if we were all remembering the strumpet-trollop-hussy day, but we stayed silent. None of us cared to engage Mom O. in a verbal skirmish. Her tongue was far too sharp. Not to mention, her signature was required on our paychecks.


One morning Mark’s sister came and fetched Mom O. to take her to the heart doctor.
            “I’m fairly certain I’ll be fine to drive afterward,” Mom O. said as she slipped her arms into her windbreaker sleeves.
            “Just go, Mom,” Mark said. “Try to relax a little while you’re out. Have lunch maybe.” He tucked a twenty into his sister’s palm as they turned to go. “I mean it,” he mouthed.
            As Mom O. headed toward the door she paused. "Oh, and if Vandalia’s friend Lucy drops by for Charlie’s paycheck, it’s there in my desk drawer.” She’d taken to using Van’s full name ever since she learned Van had lost her mother early on.
            After the door clicked shut, we all faced Mark. Waited for him to glance up. When he did, his mouth fell open.
            “What?” he said.
            “She’s up to no good, boss,” Jason said.
            Mark shook his head. “Who is?”
            “Van,” Adam said. “She’s been ragging on Charlie twenty four seven. Trying to get him to quit here."
           Jason stood on his tiptoes. Peered out the window to check if anyone was coming.
          "She wants him to get a job driving one of those water trucks," he said, "for a fracking outfit. These days there's tons of ads in the paper looking for folks with a Class A license.
            Mark removed his reading glasses. Sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose.
            "I don't need this," he said. "Not right now, I don't. Our busy season is right around the corner." 
            “You gotta do something, boss,” Jason said. “Besides making a fool of him, now she’s gonna force him to leave a good job with decent pay and—”
            Mark signed the letters Mom O. had left in a neat stack on the edge of his desk.
            “The way I see it,” he said without looking up, “it’s not really our business.”
            Adam cracked his knuckles and we all cringed at the sound of it. “We just thought you should know,” he said. “In case you . . .”
            Mark rolled his chair back from the desk until it struck the wall. Rotated it around to face the coffeemaker. He reached for a mug then seemed to freeze.
            “Actually,” he said over his shoulder, “there's no telling how it'll go with those two. Keep your eyes peeled. Let me know if you run across someone who might fit in good down here. Just in case.”

Want to start at the beginning? Click here.
Need the second part of the story? Click here.  


writingdianet said...

Greetings all!

It's been ages since I beseeched folks to please, pretty please, follow my blog. So, in July, if you become a new follower, you will be entered in a drawing to win butterfly booty. Cole, you got a jump on everyone, friend. Thanks so much for your vote of confidence.

Existing followers, stop by and say 'hi' and I'll throw your name in the running too:)


Ivy said...

I just love your writing!! It's been a while since I've stopped by!! My goal for July is to check in weekly with all my favorite bloggers!

Keep up the GREAT work!!!

-- Ivy

writingdianet said...

Howdy Ivy! Thanks for stopping by. Is this Ivy G. from Motown? Either way, I'll add your name to Cole's in the drawing to win cash and butterfly booty prizes.


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