Saturday, October 1, 2016

Duty Calls

I told myself that I would set a time for myself so that I would begin writing again. I love writing. Outside of family it is my favorite activity. But it is also the hardest work I've ever done. Although often the result of the effort is very negative on my health, yet I don't think I can live without writing. Back to the point, I told myself I'd write in October so I wouldn't feel guilty until then. Well, it's October. And my friend Bobby seemed disappointed when I told him he wasn't doing any serious writing. For whatever reason it helps me a great deal to write when I feel that I'm writing to please someone.

Actually, now that I think about it that makes sense. If I write it in my head, which is my normal procedure, that satisfies me. The point of writing it down on paper, an extremely difficult enterprise, is really only useful if someone's going to read it. So, here we are. I do not intend to post the entire story but I will post a little bit I have gotten down today. I remind everyone that this opening excerpt is protected by the copyright laws of the United States and is my intellectual property.

Whiskey on a Sunday
(...drinking buttermilk through the week, whiskey on a Sunday...)

Late night. Quiet night. The children were nestled all snug in their beds. Their parents were deep in REM rest.
When from the cell phone there rose such a clatter, the two dads woke up to see what was the matter.

"Damn friggin…" Still half asleep but recognizing the shrill steam whistle he used for his sister's number, Mark Carter was ready to kill.

His husband Sam, also still half asleep knew the drill. He grabbed the phone, tapped answer to shut it up before it rang a fourth time and then ignored it to regain some peace.

"OK, steady, remember what we said? I'll take care of it, you just get back to sleep." Almost instantly realizing he had just thrown gasoline on the fire, he immediately injected, "Cleansing breath! Cleansing breath! Come on, deep! Deep."

He was answered by a growl, which he carefully ignored. "No. Don't say anything. I'll take care of her. Please. You' ll wake up the boys." Sam struggled to keep his gaze calm and steady and watchd the anger begin to fade in Marcus' reddened eyes.

And that was enough for now. He gently backed out of bed still trying to get a grip on being awake in the real world and headed out the door while making soothing nonsense sounds. He was rewarded with a muted angry grumble which suggested Marcus was falling back to sleep; probably an angry sleep with angry dreams, but at least sleep.

After a quick check to see that the boys were still asleep, they were, he moved into the kitchen and finally paid attention to the cell phone. "Jenny, why do you hate me? Why do you hate your brother?"

The only answer he got was, "Sorry."

"That's nice. You're sorry. I'm awake. I think your brother is going back to sleep. No, I'm sure he is. Because he's not here yelling at the phone while I try to talk to you."

Then he was awake enough to ask a very pertinent question, "Why did you call on his phone? Why didn't you call on mine?"

"I did call on yours. You'd turned it off."   Astonishingly, she had chutzpa to sound like the aggrieved party.

"That's because we are trying to get some sleep. That's because it's Friday night. That's because the boys will be up at 7:30 tomorrow morning like they always are. That's because we'd like to get a little sleep before that happens." He glanced over the microwave, "Oh Lord! Are you aware, Jennifer, but it is 2:34 in the morning?"

Perhaps realizing the impact of her actions, she responded "Yes?"

"OK. You know I'm going to listen to you. I always listen to you. But first I would like to vent a little steam. That all right with you? Because if it isn't, then just hang up and I'll talk to you tomorrow. During the day. When people are awake."  He waited, then he took the silence as consent.  "You know what your brother said after the last time you called us in the middle of the night?  Of course you don't. But now I'm going to tell you.

First, he said that the next time you do this I should ask you to Google the lyrics to a song. The song is called Laura. By Billy Joel. Listen to it.

Then he told me that the next time you called either I would tell this to you or he would. So I am.  He said you should stop living in those sitcoms you  watch all the time. He said in the real world there are no cute adorable completely safe gay friends that a woman can always come to anytime of the day or night and talk to and is always so understanding that he always makes things right because he's so sweet and lovable and safe."  His word spliced together into one smooth and unpunctuated sentence.

He waited for an answer. After a bit, it came. "There's one. There's you.  And that Laura crack is unjustified. I'm not just anybody, I'm your sister in law.  I'm the little sister you always wanted but never had."

He let out a long plaintive sigh. "Maybe I was wrong to want a little sister."

"You're being really mean. Maybe I should just hang up. I guess I'm really sorry. I just needed somebody to talk to."  She sounded sad.

He knew her well enough to realize she really meant it. So now he found himself feeling guilty for being upset that she had destroyed the peace and serenity of an otherwise perfectly pleasant Friday.

"Cleansing breath. Deep cleansing breath."  He told himself. Then he took it in. Then he breathed it out, very slowly. "Jennifer, you know I love you. But tomorrow the boys will be up. And you'd think they had an alarm clock set the way they get up almost exactly at 7:30. It's been a long week and we're both very tired. So I've got a deal for you."

He waited, but when there was no answer he proceeded, "I will listen to you. For as long as you want. Then, tomorrow morning at 7 o'clock you will let yourself into the apartment, very, very quietly. Then you will sit in front of our closed bedroom door. When the boys wake up they will be delighted to see their Auntie Jenny waiting to get them dressed, get them fed, and take them out for the day."

"How long?" she asked is if she had room for bargaining.

"2 o'clock. Until 2 o'clock." He was very definite.

"Noon." She tried to be firm, but she knew she was not on stable ground.

"2 o'clock or good night. You choose." His tone left no room for negotiation.

"OK. You got me. I wouldn't have called if this wasn't important, so OK." She didn't let any of her exultation show. This way she got the attention she needed, and got to spend a day with her beloved nephews. Good deal. No, great deal.  Trump, I got you beat!

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