David had made enemies of everyone here in our park. Basically because he was so shitfaced all of the time, he ran his mouth too much. He had an incredibly big mouth. For about a year and a half, David had been stealing cases of product from his employer, Billy, and his vendors. He then sold the product to everyone who would buy it, from the party store at the corner, to the people on our block. This made him popular with some; he was always giving away free booze. But others were jealous of David's obvious success- which was stupid. He'd probably end up in prison, if there’s any justice. Then David wrecked the company vehicle driving drunk.
"Mom dad's home. Mom wake up. Something's wrong with dad!" Taylor was shaking me and I started to come around slowly. I was sleeping a lot then. I just had the breast surgery one week prior.
"What? What is going on?" I said groggily. I couldn't seem to get the peace of sleep out of my head and body. Taylor was standing in the kitchen by the back door. He was looking out of the little window on it.
"Dad's been sitting in the car sleeping with the door open for like forty-five minutes!" He said to me with big eyes and his voice barely above a whisper.
"Well did you try to wake him? It's cold out there." I asked. I got up from bed and started to put on my shoes.
"No! I'm not going out there! What if he yells at me? What if- he is dead?? I don't wanna go anywhere near him honey." Taylor said to me joking, trying to add levity. Tanya had just come from her room, and she was sitting by the living room window looking outside at her father in the car.
I trudged outside, thankful I was feeling well enough to do this, but shocked a grown man could act this way. David was sprawled in the driver's seat with the car door open, and one leg hanging out of the car. His head back, he was snoring loudly, not hearing the radio blaring. I shook him, and his eyes opened. He straightened up and looked at me.
"Hey," I said, "do you wanna come inside and go to bed?"
He shook his head, looked at me again and said, "Where the fuck am I?"
"You're at home. You fell asleep in the car, do you want to come in?" I asked again trying to get him to move.
"I'm home? Kick ass!" David said, he then started puking all inside of the car, when I went to move him, he puked all over me. Thank God it was just alcohol.
"I'm not coming in!" he said after he stopped heaving. "Get out of here bitch. I wanna stay here."
I shut the car door, lock it, set the alarm, and went in the house to take a shower.
While he was still passed out, I went back to get the keys out.
When David woke the next morning he didn't remember any of it. After waking him I explained what happened the night before.
“You can take a cab in to work from now on. I won’t have you wrecking my car the same as you did to mine and the work van. Didn’t Billy say it was over eight thousand dollars in damage?” Standing over him laid out there, he hardly moved. Just a flinch, and small facial movements let me know he was awake.
“I guess I’m not going in to work then, we don’t have the money for a cab.” He rolled back over into his pillows.
“You know we have enough money for you to call a cab. You bring home cash everyday- I never know where it comes from. I have a drawer full of twenties that you kept bringing home besides your pay. Call a cab, and get dressed.” Standing there, my stomach, hip and leg feeling too heavy for the rest of my body, I held on to the bedpost for support. David hardly moved.
“If I can’t take your car, then I’m not going. Goodnight.” David pulled the blanket over his face, turned over, and put his head under the pillow trying to escape the sunlight coming in the window right next to his bed.
“But you just called in last week- TJ will be so pissed if he has to do both routes again. I don’t think Billy appreciated it either when you called him right after the accident at three in the morning. You told him over and over you would be there, and then called in the next morning. He won’t put up with this too.” Images of being homeless and begging for food on a roadside in threadbare clothes filled my mind, but there was no way he was getting my car again. I had hidden both copies of the car key underneath my dresser. No response from David but snoring.
In my room, about forty-five minutes later and his phone is going off loud enough for the whole house to hear. David just lets it ring until voice mail picks up- two times in a row. When it started ringing a third time I heard him pick up.
“Hello… Hey Chris... Yeah, I lost my car keys. Can you come and get me?....Okay, call me back.” David is snoring again in minutes. The phone rings again five minutes later. “Hey Chris….Yeah, I’ll be ready,….Okay, see you in a few.” David promptly falls asleep again. The phone rings a third time, but the ringtone is different. It was a mock alarm, making it sound like there was a nuclear reactor melting down in our living room. Your boss is calling…This is an urgent call…Your boss is calling…
“Hello….Yeah, okay if that’s what you think…Whatever Billy.” The call ended. The next thing I hear is David calling down the hall to me. “Well I’m fired.” He yells. “Chris was trying to get me a ride, but Billy just called and fired me. Should’ve let me use your car.” David goes back to sleep for good this time.
In David’s mind this was my fault apparently. The first couple weeks he didn’t even look for a job. I got through a successful Hysterectomy and was in bed recovering a few days later when David’s Father called him. I don’t know exactly how the conversation went, I was so in and out of it during that time. The radiation treatments along with the surgery left me exhausted, and violently ill for a few weeks. The kids filled me in when I was finally good enough to talk with them. Taylor was the one to go to for any kind of information. All of the kids called him The Inspector. Fortunately, he always came to me first with any new report he had.
“Hey guys! How was your day?” Oliver, Taylor and Tanya had just come in, I was finally able to sit up in bed and eat a bit. I had been reading when they walked in. Lady faithfully guarding me, stood at attention as usual.
“Hey ma.” Oliver sat down at my desk and pulled out a few books, starting his homework. Tanya went into the bathroom to use my tweezers after repeating Oliver’s greeting. Taylor sat next to me on the little black cube stool.
“Hey mom, hello Lady GaGa. You gonna give me my smuckers today?” Taylor dissolves into giggles as Lady licks his neck and ear.
“So tell me, how are you guys? What have I missed this time?” Due to the radiation I had been getting for the last six months, there was always catching up to do when I was coherent again.
“Papaw came over yesterday, he was really mad at dad.” Taylor imparted, with raised eyebrows and a lowered voice- as if this is the juiciest story he had at the moment. “I guess he was friends with dad’s boss.” Taylor looks around suspiciously, even though his dad is up at the party store.
“Yes I know, your papaw was the one who arranged the job a couple years ago when I was getting too sick to work. What happened?”
“Papaw took me bowling on Saturday like he always does, and he asked me if dad was looking for a job. I told him no, dad was just drinking a lot more cos he’s home all the time. He said His boss called him about the wrecked van, and him not coming into work.” Taylor takes a bite of the apple he saved from lunch.
“So did he talk to your father?” I asked knowing this was not going to bode well for the kids and I if David was still pissed at his dad.
“Oh man, it was great! Papaw yelled at him as soon as they got back from bowling! When dad went out to talk to papaw- all you could hear was them yelling at each other! I saw the whole thing in the front yard from my bathroom window.” Tanya tells me excitedly as she joins us.
“Yeah, but papaw knows this lady who can get him a job at a temp agency. He starts tomorrow.” Taylor tells me in-between his munching.
“Anyone can get a job with a temp agency. He didn’t need his dad to call in a favor for it.” Oliver says not looking up from his work.
“Yeah, but dad wasn’t even looking for work! Papaw had to do something, ma was too sick.” Taylor says slurping apple juice as it runs down his arm. I handed him a tissue.
“Yeah papaw did the right thing. I’m worried about being homeless. What will happen to Lady and Hammy if we have no house?” Tanya said sitting down on the pink cube stool.
“Well, ma could come live with me, and bring Hammy and you guys- but I know GaGa and Moose won’t get along. GaGa will just keep fighting with her until Moose kills her.” Oliver says. The younger two children both look at Lady and then back up at me.
“Don’t worry you guys. Even if we do end up at Steven’s house, He already told me I could have the upstairs with Tanya and Gaga. We’ll just have to keep them separate until we find our own place. My settlement should be coming any time now. I can’t imagine them denying me now that I have Cancer.” I felt like a broken record saying this same thing all over again. Oliver looked up from his work.
“Mom, you’ve been saying this since you got diagnosed, and we have been waiting on your disability for the last couple years.” Oliver says in an impatient voice, puts his pen in his mouth and looks back in his book.
“I know right? We’ve been waiting forever for that money, I don’t think they care how sick mom is. Or how poor we get. We’re gonna end up at Steven’s. I just know it.” Tanya says and then props her chin up on both hands, with her elbows on her knees.
“The government is broke, they’re not going to help anyone unless they are absolutely sure they have to. These things take a long time for everyone, not just us.” Trying to remain hopeful, but it’s hard looking at their glum faces. Tanya’s phone vibrates.
“Mom, Brit wants to know if I can meet her at the store. I just got ungrounded, but dad won’t let me go hang out with her. I don’t know what to do.” Tanya is standing now rising up and down on the balls of her feet.
“Do you have any homework?” I asked her.
“No, but I still have to do my chores.” Tanya says, her face perking up.
“Brit didn’t get in trouble, you did. If your work is done and you’re not grounded you can go play. Just check in every half hour like usual.” I said, glad to deal with a minor issue, instead of the huge ones mulling around in my skull. It was a lot to process right after the ordeal I had just been through with the radiation and the surgery.
“Yay! Thanks mom!” Tanya almost bowled me over with a huge hug. I gasped and winced. The burning cramping was so strong I lost my breath for a second. Tanya jumped away from me. “Oh God I’m so sorry mom! Are you okay?” GaGa rushed toward us licking my face to comfort me. Trying to find my breath again I nodded.
“No big deal.” I smiled. “I missed your hugs.” Tanya relaxed a little.
“Okay mom, I’ll let you know when I’m going to meet Brit. I wanna meet her half-way from the apartments.” Tanya picked up her coat and bag and rushed out of the room. Taylor threw his apple core in the garbage, and stood up.
“I have to get my stuff done too. I wanna play Zombies with Oliver and Brad later after they finish their homework.” Taylor looks down at me on the bed and speaks barely above a whisper again. “I will fill you in on all the good stuff later.” I laughed a bit more genuinely than my last smile, and Taylor picked up his things and left too. I could hear them out in the kitchen getting started with their work.
“You gonna say anything to him when he comes home?” Oliver asked me after a few minutes. I had eased down into a laying position again. The pain was awful.
“Honey, even if I thought he would listen, I don’t have the energy to deal with it. Let’s just hope he goes into work tomorrow.” I shut my eyes breathing through the tearing feeling in my eyes, head and stomach.
“I’m sorry you’re so sick ma. You deserve a way better life than this.” Oliver says in such a sympathetic tone my heart aches.
“Ah baby we all do.” Oliver is already looking back down at his Algebra. I shut my eyes and tried to get some rest.
“Vicki, we don’t have it this week! I’ll take care of it next week. I got you some pizza though.” David stuffed a little over a hundred dollars in my underwear drawer.
“This is the third week of June. So next week you can pay double on the lot rent? How does that work when you can’t put anything on the lot rent this week? I had just finished cleaning the bathroom. I took my gloves off and came into the bed room. “You know I can’t eat pizza, you know I want to eat it and yet you still buy it!” I was incredulous that the rent still hadn’t been paid. Did he really think the whole world was going to keep making exceptions for him?
“Don’t start with me Vick- I had to pay Phil something, my tab was huge cos I had to charge so much stuff that we needed.” David has his hands on his hips. “I can’t get you weed or cigarettes this week either- sorry.” He finishes and turns away from me to leave the room. My voice stops him.
“What about your smart phone, the seventy inch TV, the deep freezer,” I held my hand out, “this stereo. I know you are still paying on these things while you put off the rent. Why? Are we supposed to live in that freezer after they kick us out of here?” I was moving stacks of books off of my coffee table so I could dust it. “Is pizza one of the things you charge on your tab?”
“Don’t bitch at me about that. We need that freezer to keep all of the food I got from work. We may not be able to buy groceries. I still have to pay the cable and internet bill. It’s over three-hundred dollars now!” David stormed out of my room. I kept dusting all of the nooks and crannies in the table. He came back in with a pint of brandy in his hand. Seeing him with it my vision went red.
“You always manage to get your shit! You can’t spend twenty dollars a week on my medicine, but you always have booze. You can’t pay the lot rent where we live, because having a deep freezer and a big screen TV is more important.” I threw my dust rag in his face. “I think you’re full of shit. If you lose this place, don’t think I will ever come to any place to live with you again. There is no way I am living with one of your parents as sick as I am. Not while you get drunk every day and play games with our lives.” I put my shoes on and got my purse.
“Where are you going? I got you pizza baby. You know it’s so good, you have to have a slice.” David shambles behind me on my way to the car.
“I’m going to Steven’s house. I know he’ll have smoke. I’ll be back in an hour. Tanya’s playing in the front with Britney and Taylor’s up at Concord playing ball with Bradley.” I unlocked the car and got in. “If they ask just tell them I went to see the other kids and Moose.” I turned the key and started the ignition. “Please tell them I love ‘em and I’ll be right back.”
“Oh, so now you’re gonna leave just cos I didn’t buy you any weed. I wanted to watch a movie with you.” What he really meant is he wanted to start a movie, try to get close to me, and then pass out when I didn’t give him a piece of ass. I pulled out of the driveway and went to Steven’s house.