It Can’t Be
When the kid came to my door 4 Saturdays ago to offer his services as a lawn boy I almost told him ‘thanks anyway’. I already had a landscaping company taking care of my yard, but who was I to ignore that the boy had somehow ignored the rest of his generation to show some motivation? Since Paolo’s crew did their jobs on Monday’s, paying the boy’s asking price of $50 so that he could mow the lawn and pull weeds on Saturday mornings wouldn’t hurt.
His mother told him she’d match him dollar for dollar to help buy a car when he gets his driver’s license next December. He joked that he had every intention of ‘making it hurt’.
I had to respect the ‘little’ captain of industry for showing some initiative… He was working through his summer off even though he was only in town visiting his uncle. He said that he would’ve gotten a job in fast food if he wasn’t worried about getting fat. He told me, ‘bitches love the V.’ I couldn’t argue with that.
And I had to respect his mother for not giving him whatever he wanted on a silver platter. My neighbor could’ve taken a cue from her. Bill’s 24 year old daughter fancied herself quite the party girl. Lorena had wrecked 4 cars and never had a job that I’d known of. She spent her days texting by their pool and her nights clubbing. Except for Saturdays… of late, Lorena had been amusing herself bright and early.
Specifically, that bitch loved the V of a 15 year old boy. The most amusing part of the scenario was that said boy didn’t spare a look in her direction even though she made sure to wear the most scandalous ‘clothing’ imaginable to flaunt her over tanned wares.
As though waking up to the deafening noise of a lawnmower was my idea of a fabulous Saturday morning, there was an added bonus of my doorbell being rung. It was probably one of my neighbors wanting to complain.
When I sat up, hoping the persistent fuck at my door would give up before I left my room, I noticed a note on my nightstand.
‘Thanks for last night. BTW, my name is Yvetta. Call me.’ Notes like that were why there were trash cans.
The note went into the circular file along with ‘completely, innocently forgotten panties’ that had been left in the middle of my bedroom floor.
I turned on my TV and switched to the input for my security cameras. The back yard: My lawn boy being watched by his stalker. The front stoop: Lucky me. Bill Compton.
I found a pair of jeans and a T-shirt and dressed on my way to answer the doorbell.
“What took you so long to answer the door?”
“I was hoping you’d leave.”
His laugh was bogus. It was the laugh he usually dropped when he didn’t know if I was insulting him or joking around. I was usually insulting him.
“What do you want?”
“To invite you to a garden party. I have business associates who mentioned some projects they were entertaining. I thought introductions would be advantageous.” Somewhere along the road he’d traveled, he became certain that people actually spoke like they were trapped in a civil war reenactment.
“A networking cookout?”
“No. There will be a distinct lack of flip-flops and processed meat.”
“Bill, you are aware that most people don’t consider those things poisons, right?”
“We’ll be serving cocktails and tapas.”
“Booze and finger food. An ounce of pretention is worth a pound of bullshit, you know.”
He rolled his eyes dismissively like he was dealing with the help. It only proved my point. “I’m wholly envious that you have extra assistance with your grounds. Do you think he’d like to earn some additional money this weekend? With the torrential rain last week, my Kentucky bluegrass has run amuck.” Why he couldn’t just say, ‘do you mind if I offer your lawn jockey some side work to clean up for my party?’ was beyond me.
“Why ask me? Go ask him.”
“Are you sure you don’t mind?”
“He isn’t a slave.”
“Perhaps a skeleton…” Here we go. Another ‘joke’. “…Seriously Eric, I wouldn’t think any less of you if you admit it. He’s here on weekends, tall for his age, blond… he looks like he could be your clone. If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, it must be visitation.”
“Bill. He’s not my kid. I’ve never even been to Jackson.”
He started laughing again, but this time he was actually amused. “You asked where he hailed from?”
“Because you’re an asshole… yes.”
“Did you ask how he ended up with the moniker of Eric too?”
I growled at him. “His mother just liked the name… When is your cookout?”
“He’s even built like you.”
“Your party, Compton. When?”
“I’m only joking, Eric… What’s his last name?”
“I don’t know. I pay him in ca… Goddammit…” I closed the door in his face. I didn’t want to go to his damn snob parade anyway. I sure as hell wasn’t going to stand there and let Compton accuse me of fathering every blond in the fucking area code.
Since the universe was working against me and my plans to sleep in after a long night of debauchery, I went to my office to make some calls.
I’d been working for a while before I got to my email. Business. Business. Business. Family reunion, thanks anyway cousin Pam. Business. Spam. Spam. Classmates.com… 3 new classmates…
Just like always, I was baited to click the link.
Just like always, I was disappointed.
There was only one ‘classmate’ I was interested in ‘reconnecting’ with. Just the one. I had one hell of a list of questions for her if she ever did let me find her. Every time I typed ‘Sookie’ or ‘Sookie Belle’ into a search engine I was given hillbilly porn links. ‘Sookie Stackhouse’ always, without fail, unwaveringly returned ‘0 results’.
And as usual, I lost an hour looking for her with no luck.
I made myself easily found in the hopes that she might look for me. Entering ‘Eric Northman’ gave Google a run for its money.
I was actually grateful for the doorbell when it rang again. If it hadn’t been for the interruption, I wouldn’t have realized that I was being pathetic again.
I’d be able to get back to work once I was done with FedEx or the paperboy or whoever was at the door.
When I opened the door, the tiny blond gave me a puzzling look. I found myself trying to place her face, figure out if she was another ‘Yvetta’, maybe a neighbor.
“Can I help you?”
She blinked a few times like she was confused. “Um… Yeah… I uh…”
“Ma’am, actual words would be helpful.”
“I’m… My nephew… He… I…” If she couldn’t do any better than that, I was surprised she could drive the truck parked on my curb.
“You’re Eric’s Aunt?”
“Yeah and you’re…”
She was interrupted when Eric came from the back yard. “Aunt Crystal, I left you a voicemail. I’m staying late.”
“I… I didn’t…” She reached into the pocket of her shorts and pulled out her phone. “I didn’t get a message. I’m sorry, Eric…” I couldn’t help but wonder if she always looked surprised. She stood there staring at Eric like he’d sprouted another head.
“I’ll call you when I’m done. Alright?”
“I’m not sure… I… I think we need to… Eric, we should go.”
“Don’t be like that. His neighbor offered me bank to get his yard ready for a cookout…”
I jokingly corrected, “Garden party.”
He smirked. “Tell me about it… Anyway, I have a couple hours of work to do.”
Something about the way he smirked made Crystal’s eyes ping pong back and forth between us. Her name wasn’t helping me figure out how I might know her… so maybe a teller at my bank, a secretarial temp, crockery store, waitress… “No. We should go…”
I offered, “I can give him a ride home when he’s done. It’s not a problem.” The few exchanges we’d shared hadn’t annoyed me. The kid wasn’t as mouthy as most teens I’d been around. Giving him a ride to the other end of the neighborhood wouldn’t be a big deal.
She shook her head. “No, I think he’s going to need to talk to…”
He interrupted. “It’s fine…”
“No. It’s. Not. She’s going to kill us. And no one will find our bodies.”
“Aunt Crystal. Go home. I’ll call you when I’m done.” He was clearly getting agitated.
She gave him an angry look. “If I leave here without you, I’m sending Jason to pick you up. How about that?”
While the two of them argued about whatever the subtext was, I stood witness and felt my air conditioning spill out of my house into the late June humidity.
I decided to break into the awkward silence just because I could. It was my yard they’d turned into their battlegrounds. “Crystal?”
“Mind if I ask how I know you? You look familiar, but I’m not sure why.”
Eric groaned from his spot in my yard.
She shot daggers at the boy. “Eric, it could be because you were at my wedding.”
I stared at her for a minute. Picturing her in white wasn’t helping. I went to too many weddings out of obligation. “Could you be more specific? When was it?”
“17 years ago.”
17 years… 17 years ago I was 20. When I was 20, I was majoring in Architecture, bouncing at Rafters… I probably went to 30 weddings between sophomore and senior year. It was all a fucking blur. “Who did you marry? Maybe that’ll help.”
“I married Jason Stackhouse.”
“You married Jason Stackhouse.”
“Uncle Jason and Aunt Crystal Stackhouse.”
“Eric’s last name is…”
“His mother is…”
“In big fucking trouble.”