Kelsey parked her Cherokee against the sidewalk half a block from her house. They lived in a nicely sized, spacious house right on the corner of the street on the upper end of town. The décor had been a bit dated and the yard had been dead; she and her son had fixed the decor first, with a new paint job and new rain gutters that matched the fireplace. Beyond that she had done much of the other house renovations herself. Planted a row of hedges along one side of the tall wooden fence, a flower bed near the shed, and replaced all the bark beds with river rock to help prevent weeds from sprouting up.
The house had been dirt cheap in a crashing market. She bought it out of a "Short Sell" and never looked back. One of the few downfalls however was that there was no garage or even driveway. The front of the house was on a busy street and it had been made clear to her the alleyway between the blocks was a no parking zone, "for fire access only". So she had to park half a block away on the street, and walk up to her home.
That made her think of the neighbors living in the grimy house south of her. They parked both of their trucks half in the alleyway and half in their unfenced backyard that was adjacent to her own. More than once she had had to stay up and listen to their drunken parties. They never seemed to get a ticket or have their trucks towed. And the compost pit in their back yard where they threw all of their decomposing crap into a heap had been the main reason she had surrounded her backyard with flowers and hedges.
‘Maybe those neighbors had been a hidden catch,’ Kelsey wondered to herself. She pressed her palm against her forehead leaning against the steering wheel for a moment, took a deep weary breath, then got out and made her way to the house. As she walked into the alley way she stole a glance at their backyard. They had been out hunting again judging from the dried blood in the back beds of the trucks. She briefly wondered if there was a big game season in the spring. She didn't think so. Trying to not let it bother her she said out-loud it wasn’t a big deal. Not the blood or the neighbors themselves, whom were the only odd ducks in an otherwise nice section of their small town.
She closed and locked the fence behind her and entered through the back of the house. As she made her way for her bedroom to change out of her work clothes she saw Dwayn's lamp on through the crack in his door. “Genie was pretty funny today,” she said nudging his door open a little, standing in the doorframe.
“Who?” he asked as he slowly set the papers down on his desk and looked up at her. Dwayne did work so hard, even when he didn’t have to. She felt rather proud of him all of the sudden. Not that she wasn’t proud of him all of the time. Sometimes it came in odd bursts.
“The trouble maker, I told you about the hot chocolate episode, didn't I?”
He grinned, “Yeah,” and looked back down at his material.
She explained the events of her afternoon; up to Kevin getting the old crow a wheel chair. “Anyway, so she’s sitting now in her wheel chair, after us trying to explain that it’s for her benefit, for her legs right? So she doesn’t have to walk around on that roller. She was okay with it at first, all smiles and ‘thank-you’s’. Then we set the shelf, which she can use to set cups or other things down on.”
Dwayne nodded much like Kelsey had when Shantell was explaining it to her. “So she sits in the kitchen," Kelsey continued, "her shelf simultaneously restraining her as it holds her cup of whatever, and she calls out all of the sudden, ‘Damn it!’.” Dwayne smirked, “then again, ‘Damn…it.” He laughed out right this time. His mother never cursed in her own speech but seemed to have no problem quoting the profanities of others.
“She realize it wasn’t all that great?”
“Well she’s sitting there cursing and I walked in and asked, very concerned,mind you, ‘Genie, what’s wrong? Why are you yelling?’ and she wouldn’t even look at me. So I asked her again and she says off to no one, ‘They’ve locked me up!’ and she has this wickedest, old woman snap,” Kelsey said imitating Genie, “‘Damn it! I’ve been locked up in here. Tricked me! Damn them!’ Then she looks at me and points one finger at my face and says, ‘you can get me out of this’.” Both mother and son laughed at that.
“What did you say?” Dwayne asked.
“I told her that I couldn’t. Then said that she needed it so she wouldn’t out of her chair,” she switched back to her imitation of genie, “‘I would gladly pay any one’s way for helping me out of this just, just, let me out damn…it!’.” they both laughed together moment, and Kelsey added somberly, “The poor woman, we just can’t have her hurting other residents.” After a pause Dwayne set one hand back on the papers and pulled them back into his lap, “How was your final?” she asked.
“I think I did fine, but, you know, I thought the same thing on the midterm. Or I might have done terribly”
“Well you can just hope for the best. What’s that you're working on?” she asked walking into his room and looking over his shoulder at the papers.
“It’s a show that the college is putting on. Miss Fairbanks, the director of the fall show I was in at the high school, you know?” his mom nodded. It had been a show that took four months to rehearse and another month to perform. Yes, she ought to remember quite well.
“Well, I guess she really liked how I did, gave me a call for the college show that takes place over the summer, wants me to play a role in it,” He smiled feeling proud, trying to be humble about it, “It's an actual role with lines and everything.”
“Right on, baby!” Kelsey exclaimed holding out one hand, Dwayne slapped it and his grin widened. “Tell you what, your finals are done, what day is today? Thursday,” she said answering herself. “Saturday, next week, the summer fair will open downtown where the rodeo is held. We should go; there’s going to be an air show going on, rides, the whole thing. The Blue Angels will be here from the air force base. They do air tricks and things like that." she said waving her hand around as if it were a plane."We wouldn't have to drive three hundred miles over to see them at the base."
“That’d be a lot of fun, mum,” he said with a nod and smile.
“Maybe I can convince you to go on the Zipper ride with me?”
“Only if you want to watch me puke afterwards.” he replied uneasily. “Or worse, I could puke on the ride with both of us on it.”
“Yeah well, eww gross, sound like fun anyway?”
“Of course. Yeah,” he said.
“Okay then, bring that girl friend of yours too. I never get to see her enough.”
“I’m not sure what Allie thinks about the Zipper.” He said, now smiling to himself.
“Well get to know your girl friend better! Find out!” his mom joked at him as she walked out of his door frame towards her own room.
“Okay well, hey,” he called.
“Yeah?” came her response from behind the door.
“Miss Fairbanks, the director of the new show, wanted to work with me a little, one on one, that’s why I have these lines. One of these days coming up we're going to work one on one, maybe here at the house if that's okay.”
“Okay that’s fine. What ever gets you up in the morning." she said walking out of room now in a pair of loose jeans and a t-shirt. She was taking out her ear-rings as she said, "You sleep till noon while- I wake up at six-thirty so I can toil and work to feed us.” She said acting exasperated, and then finished it with an over the top exhale of disgust. Dwayne never had to wonder why he enjoyed theatre.
“When is Allie coming in again for her job shadow at the Meridian?”
“Tomorrow, the next day, I’m not sure,” he replied falling back onto his bed closing his eyes.
“Well, find out for me at school will ya? Really, get in sync with that girl friend kid or you'll lose her” She said, poking her head in through his door.
He didn’t look up at her, or even open his eyes, “Will do. Don’t ya fret none, mum.”