Off With Her Head
Fingers crossed that they still had the face paint that Jack needed for his werewolf costume. Carm’s Donald Trump costume had been all set for weeks… How the fuck Ame forgot the makeup was beyond me.
I’d gotten lucky and found everything…
I was standing in line; makeup, mask and 20 pounds of mixed candy bags in hand when my phone rang.
“Mr. Herveaux, this is Miss Cooper, the school nurse. I have your boys here. They got sick during lunch. With all the bugs going around, I’m going to need someone to come get these little guys. I couldn’t reach the missus.” Who can?
Carm picks up nearly every bug that goes around the school, but Jack hasn’t been sick since he had a reaction to his Varicella vaccine… weird.
“I’ll be there in 10. Did you try her cell?”
“Yes sir. Straight to voicemail.” God forbid I not answer my phone… hypocrite.
“Tell ‘em I’m on my way.”
They both looked like they were about to heave again when I walked into the school clinic.
Carm did ‘do the dash’ while I was signing them out…
And again at the pharmacy…
Pepto… ginger ale… saltines…
Jack just leaned against things like he was drunk.
I must’ve tried to call Amelia a dozen times between Party City and walking into the house.
Straight to voicemail.
The bitch was really lucky that I wasn’t on the road to Bum Fuck with Eric. That poor bastard was on his way out to Deliverance country to follow a lead on his own so that I could stay behind and take my kids trick or treating. That mother fucker should get a medal for taking one for the team…
He never bitched or ragged on me for spending time with my kids, even tagged along to help me out from time to time…
He has pussy flying at him every time I look up and still doesn’t mind going out to movies with my maggots…
Best friend a guy could have. Hands down.
Jack followed me into the kitchen while Carm grabbed the first bath…
“Daddy, we aren’t sick.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. I guess he was still set on going out tonight. “Buddy, you try telling that to the guy who cleaned up Carm’s ‘miss’ at the pharmacy.”
“That’s not what I mean. My sandwich tasted funny. Mommy said if didn’t eat it we wouldn’t get any candy.”
He shrugged. “We don’t like that kind of turkey anyway, but… she said it was all we had.”
That bitch! I dug through the fridge and didn’t find anything… then the garbage… I found the deli bag for the ‘fried turkey’ and the expiration date had been last week! I opened the bag, hoping that it had been frozen for a while… rancid…
I went back to the fridge… the milk: expired… there was mold growing on a block of cheese… the Kraft singles might as well have been Kraft shingles… the only edible food in the house was in the damn freezer…
Brand new mini van. No job. Nothing to fucking do from 8 until 3:45 except harass me for breathing and she couldn’t even manage to go the grocery store. What the fuck!
“Jack, how about I order some won ton soup and we camp out in my room with a movie?”
The poor kid nodded and slid from his seat to run upstairs to get in line for the shower.
After ordering something that wouldn’t make them sicker, I dumped every last fucking scrap of food from the fridge into the trash…
Then stared at the yellow pages for the millionth time.
That’s all I’d need.
Well… an on-call nanny.
Eric would be fine with coming over here to work late and Pam would just have to get a straw to suck a fart out of my ass if she complains that I’m as late to crime scenes as her because I had to wait for the nanny to show up.
Once again, I was forced out of making my exit strategy…
The alarm started chirping when Amelia finally decided to grace us with her presence.
I headed her off in the foyer.
“What are you doing home?” She looked pissed just to see me.
I shoved the garbage bag at her. “I went to the school and picked up the boys. They got food poisoning from being force fed spoiled lunch meat, SUPER MOM! Get out and don’t come back until you have a car full of edible groceries to feed them.”
“Oh! Soooo sorrrry! I’m sure it must’ve been an inconvenience for you to leave your girlfriend to do something for your kids!”
“Don’t do that! It’s bullshit and you fucking know it! I was at Party City picking up another one of your dropped balls! Go to the grocery, NOW!”
“Don’t you tell me what to do, Alcide!”
It took everything I had to not punch her in the fucking face. “I will tell you what to do. My job: Make money to support my family. Your job: take care of the house and the boys. You suck at your fucking job and you have no idea how close you are to being fired. They deserve better than a mother who can’t be bothered to go to the grocery store!”
“Fuck you! I never wanted this job! I liked my old one!”
“You were just as bad at waitressing as you are at being a MOM!”
“Just because your mommy worked and took care of your sorry ass doesn’t mean everyone has to! Fucking momma’s boy! Why do you think she dropped dead? She had just as much help with you as I have with them!”
“If you were half the woman my mom was, you would be too fucking embarrassed about giving your kids food poisoning to be having this argument! GO! NOW!”
“Fuck you! I don’t go around telling you how to do your job…”
“That’s because my job gets done!”
She stepped back, folding her arms and rolling her eyes at me. “Jack gags every time someone gets sick on TV. He’s just being dramatic because he doesn’t like the kind of turkey I used.”
I set the bag down… opened it… rifled through it… pulled out the deli bag… and shoved it in her face. “Smell that! Would you eat that? Would you eat anything that smelled like that? How the fuck can you justify feeding that to them? We have plenty of fucking money for groceries! You’re just too busy shopping with Octavia for clothes you never wear to think about your kids!”
“That’s right! MY KIDS! Don’t you dare forget that! MY KIDS!”
“Mine too you hateful twat! I shouldn’t have to spend all of my free time thinking about getting a nanny so they’re taken care of! Not when their mom doesn’t work! I’m done! Get your baggy ass out of the house and earn your fucking keep!”
“That’s what you got from that?”
“You think I have a baggy ass!”
“I should have left you in the trailer park I found you in!… Yes! You have a baggy ass! You’re maternal instinct is for shit! You can’t keep house to save your fucking life! You’re a lousy fucking lay when you do bother and you’ve let yourself go enough that you aren’t even in the spank bank anymore! Congrats! You have made yourself useless! The only reason that you aren’t homeless isn’t worth fresh lunchmeat to you!”
She stared at me. She was trying to work up some crocodile tears even though she knows they don’t work anymore.
“I was serious, Amelia. Get out and don’t come back until you have something that can be fed to my kids.”
“Or I’ll put you on the curb where trash belongs after the locksmith leaves. The boys didn’t ask for this.”
“Amelia, how pissed would you be if I fed them rancid food?”
“I didn’t do it on purpose!”
“No. You did it because you don’t care. That’s worse. Get out.” I shoved the bag into her hand and slammed the door shut behind her…
I stood at the front window and watched the biggest mistake I’ve ever made drive away in a van worth twice what she made the year we met…
Nine years… 3 of it was happy…. 2 of it was too fucking crazy to try to put a finger on where we fell apart… and the last 4 had been hell.
Poor Carm would probably never use ‘happy’ to describe his life and Jack wasn’t old enough to be much better off.
The only fucking thing I was doing right was not beating their mother.
When the take-out got to the house, I took it straight upstairs.
The boys were waiting on my bed with a DVD case… they didn’t have to say they’d heard everything, it was written all over their faces.
“How are you boys feeling?”
They both shrugged while I handed their soups to them and they started sipping right away.
“I got other stuff too if you feel up to it… chicken fried rice?”
They both nodded so I handed it over to Carm and he shoveled a spoonful into his mouth.
I ended up getting a towel to cover the bed because they wanted to eat… a lot… egg rolls, orange crispy beef…
They sat at opposite ends of the towel and swapped containers back and forth, gorging like they hadn’t eaten in days. I would have added that to my list of worries if we hadn’t gone out together for dinner last night.
Waiting for the boys to get sick again was the only reason Herbie didn’t put me to sleep before them. We all ended up passing out from full stomachs in the pile of empty take-out cartons.
What woke me up again was the alarm chirping when Amelia came in.
“Is it too much to ask for some help bringing this shit in?” Yes.
I pretended to not hear her squawking…
I wasn’t about to move Carm so I could get up and help her do jackshit. Period. Fuck her.
Back to sleep.
It was almost dark out when Carm woke me up by leaving the bed…
I was so thankful that all he did was pee, I didn’t care that he didn’t lift the seat.
He even came back with a smile on his face.
He nodded. “Mommy’s mad though.”
“Eh… What else is new? I’m always doing something wrong.”
“We’re not going trick or treating?”
“Fraid not, buddy. We’ll do double next year though. K?”
“All the other tids will have lots of tandy tomorrow.”
“I think y’all are skipping school tomorrow. Pajamas and movies all day long…”
He managed to smile a little.
“…And you’ll still have plenty of candy I bought a bunch. Just in case the neighbors suck.”
He laughed. “Liar. Dey didn’t suck last year. You just wanted tandy for you too.” Damn right.
I winked at him.
Jack started to stir. “I wanted to go to Eric’s neighborhood. His street is all apartments. We got lots last year.” He was right about that. We needed to dump their buckets in the back of the truck to finish the street. And those yuppies in their expensive lofts gave out good shit too… full sized bars… and Eric slipped them each a 20 in ‘trade’ for their red tootsie pops… and a chick o stick for Tippy.
“I know. Eric isn’t home anyway. He’s working.”
“Why aren’t you with him?”
“He went alone so I could go trick or treating with y’all.”
Carm gave me a serious look. “You duys aren’t sposed to work alone. What happens if he dets in trouble?”
“He won’t. He was just asking some questions. I should call him though.” By now he must’ve made it to Bon Temps.
Straight to voicemail…
That’s never good. That fucking phone of his is the only one I know of that gets a signal in the parking garage at work.
“Miss me, Felix?”
“Sure. Have you heard from Eric? His phone went straight to voicemail.”
“I got a message that he was waiting for a tow. Something about mud.”
‘Something about mud’? Thanks for showing so much concern. “Have you called in his GPS to make sure he isn’t squealing like a pig for some hick?”
“He’s a big boy. I’ll sure he’s fine.” Bitch!”
One day I’ll find a woman that knows her ass from a hole in the ground and isn’t afraid to put her bon bons down to do something and my fucking head will explode.
When I hung up, I was obviously more worried about my partner than our supervisor and Carm gave me a look.
“You should doe after him. We’re fine now.”
“I don’t want to leave you guys. I won’t be back until tomorrow. It’s a long drive.”
“We’re dood. Just leave the tandy.”
I was half in the fridge, making sure that Amelia had bothered with real groceries or if she’d spent $500 on junk food again, when she came up behind me and hugged my ribs.
Oh, goody. Apology time.
“No you’re not. You just want me to dial it back because you know your meal ticket is just about spent.”
“Why do you have to be like that?”
“Because you poisoned my kids. You’re too busy living vicariously through your slutty friend to fake it at home.”
“This isn’t much of a home.”
“It’s closer to one when you’re not here.”
“Why do you have to be so mean?”
“If the truth hurts do something about it. A maid would cost me less and take better care of my sons. Keep that in mind… in the meantime, I told the boys they aren’t going to school tomorrow and left them some candy.”
“Where are you going?”
“We got some info out of a town named Bon Temps. Eric went alone so I could stay with the kids, but now he’s not answering his phone.”
“So you’re going to leave me here with two sick kids.”
I shook my head. “They’re better now. They’ve both eaten and held it down.” Funny how good food can make a stomach feel better.
“And you expect me to believe that you’re going to…”
“Amelia, I don’t expect you to believe anything. I’m up to my fucking eyeballs telling you that I’m not cheating… And finding a good fucking reason why I’m not.”
“Oh, you think you’re hot shit, don’t you! A six pack at your age! I bet you could find a slut to fuck on your way to the mailbox, huh?”
“Maybe. But why would I want another one?”
For four hours…
I called in Eric’s GPS… 200 Hummingbird Lane.
I called his cell… voicemail.
I called in his GPS again… 200 Hummingbird Lane.
I called Stackhouse Landscaping… answering machine…
GPS again… still unmoved…
Cell again… voicemail again…
Pam let her phone go to voicemail when I tried to call her again.
At 200 Hummingbird Lane… Eric’s Bel Air was sitting right out front.
No one answered the door when I knocked, so I went around back…
I tried the porch…
Stocked fridge… iced teas and stout…
Freezer was full of casserole dishes and bags full of weird ice cubes… chili and stew.
And the dryer was running…
Jeans. 4 pairs. One of them was Eric’s size… the others were… size 1?
The washer… large black t-shirt… green lace panties… matching bra… 32D?
What the fuck?
The back door was locked, but looking through the window into the kitchen… neat as a pin, steam pouring out of the dishwasher…
I figured I’d try calling him one more time before I’d waste my time with the local cops….