Enduring on the Lake

Friday, August 1, 2014

Chapter 5

Sydney Marguerite Zitterbarth.” 

“Daddy, please don’t growl over the phone.  You know it makes too much static for me to understand half of what you are saying.” 

He snorted and I realized he was being gruff because he thought it appropriate rather than because he was truly upset with me.  “I remember the Slowthower boys.  You telling me there’s another one?” 

“Yes Sir.  Young, ten … maybe twelve at the most as it is hard to tell with boys that age.  He’s bird chested and big mouthed.” 

“Yep, sounds like a Slowthower at that age.  Zane was the only one built different.  He took after his mother where the others took after their father.  I’ll have to ask your mother if she knows that Mrs. Slowthower owned that whatchamacallit place … Trash to Treasure.  Junk shop is all I remember it being.” 

“Me too but it doesn’t look like that now.” 

“And you say Junior is the one running it?  The boy always was looking for ways to make a buck.  To be honest of them all I would have thought he’d been the one to get out and go to college.” 

“He might yet.  I couldn’t tell if it was finances or inclination keeping him around.  I’ll try and find out if you want me to.” 

“Maybe but it’s not a priority at the moment.  Right now I’m more interested why you got so comfortable with Zane so quick.” 

I thought for a moment then had to say in all honesty, “He … he reminds me a little of Sam.  I don’t know why.  It’s not the limp or the fact he did a good job of turning the conversation away from his military service.  Daddy, he was honestly shocked to have heard … about Sam I mean … and to find out it had happened so long ago seemed to upset him even more.” 

“PTSD?” 

“I don’t think so.  Mostly I think … well … I think he might … oh it’s just too weird.” 

“Honey, if you have thoughts on this I need to hear them.” 

“OK, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.  It kinda sounds silly even to me.  It’s just one of those stupid feelings I get about people.  You know?” 

“Oh.  One of ‘those’ feelings huh?  Well, better spit it out.  My grandmother was the same way and she was right every time I heard about it.” 

“Yeah, just too bad we can never read our own future isn’t it.  I’d known Dan was …” 

“Sydney,” he said in a voice that broke me from going down the road of feeling sorry for myself. 

“Yeah.  Anyway.  About Zane.  It was after he’d pulled up the nerve to ask me for work.  I guess things are pretty bad if he’d hit someone like me up for work.” 

“Not necessarily.  Zane and Josh did some work for me every once in a while; just usually when you and your momma weren’t around.” 

“Uh huh,” I said knowingly. 

“Hush up and get to your ‘feeling’ already.” 

I grinned even though he couldn’t see it.  Even being aggravatingly over protective Dad had the ability to make me smile when I didn’t want to.  “Daddy, I think whatever happened to Zane drove him back home.  I think somehow or other he has enshrined his boyhood and it’s … it’s like … a safety net or a good luck stone.  He gets to feeling bad he just pays attention to the memories all around him and poof bad feelings and bad thoughts diverted.  I think him finding out about Sam … shook … shook those memories up.  I’m not sure he’ll even show up on Friday.” 

“But he’s the one you think will be good.” 

“Well, I don’t know for sure.  We still need to know what he can and can’t do as far as repairs and stuff.” 

“If he’s anything like his father’s people he’ll have more than enough skill to pull it off.  Just let me size him up before I make that decision.” 

“Yes sir.” 

“Good.  Now about what you haven’t said happen.” 

“Huh?” 

“Belinda drove home lickety split I guess.  Ken was waiting for me out in the plant parking lot.” 

“Oh,” I said.  “How upset was he that I told Belinda to leave.” 

“None.  He told me what Jaycee is saying and wanted to know how much of what you said was the truth.  I told him since I didn’t’ know what was said I couldn’t say with absolute certainty but I was sure that you wouldn’t lie to upset Belinda or hurt Jaycee.  And I told him why didn’t he just ask himself and we’d hash it out.”  Dad gave a deeply troubled sigh.  “Jaycee is definitely lying but I don’t know for what purpose.  Seems their lawyer for their civil case pretty much told him the same thing up to and including that if they tried to attach what was so obviously a lie to the case that he’d drop them as clients and in fact is still deliberating whether to continue as it is.  Apparently there are a lot of things that will come out in any civil trial that would not put their family in general and Jaycee in particular in a good light.” 

“Jaycee is messed up Daddy.  I don’t think it was her fault in the beginning but the choices she has made the last few years … those I think she is accountable for.” 

“Honey, I tend to agree with you though your momma leans towards Jaycee being so mentally ill at this point that self-control might be impossible for the girl.” 

“She obviously still knows right from wrong or she wouldn’t get the jollies out of hurting people the way she does.”  I took in a deep breath and let it out.  “Daddy, if Mr. Ken isn’t mad and you aren’t mad …” 

“No Honey, we’re not mad.  I am concerned that this has brought all that nonsense back up for you.” 

“It is what it is.  I’ll miss Belinda as a friend – I’ve known her like forever – but we’re going in different directions and right now I can’t be the kind of friend she needs.  I know I can’t make things better for her and I’m afraid if we don’t take a break I might wind up saying something that makes things worse for us both.” 

“You want to hear something Baby Girl?  One of the reasons I want you to spend some time away from things is because you need the break.  You’ve done nothing but face this head on since it started and taken a lot of abuse you didn’t need to and been misunderstood.  I want you out of target range if things start to turn nasty as they have the potential to get again.” 

“Oh Daddy.” 

“Don’t oh Daddy me.  Now let’s hear about what you managed to get done on that list today.”   

Knowing that the subject was closed for now I reported my successes … and my failures.  “Hit three different big box stores, something I wouldn’t have been able to do with Belinda along.  She would have asked why too much and drawn the curious.  But I want you to know we are stocked for toilet paper and biodegradable diaper wipes until Gabriel blows his trumpet.” 

“Sydney.” 

“Oh honestly Daddy, it was a joke.” 

“Some things are not to be joked about.” 

“Yes Sir.  I’m sorry.”  Daddy can be sensitive if he feels somehow someone in the family was blaspheming.  “Seriously though I was able to get all the paper products on the list back up to Mom’s original figures though if I can squeeze the budget I’m going to add even more.  A roll of toilet paper just ain’t what it used to be.  No wonder Mom goes on a tear every time she goes to the store.” 

“And what else?” 

“I got all the lawn care stuff too.  You were right, some of it is starting to go on end of season clearance.  What I wasn’t able to do was get all the propane tanks filled.  The Bait ‘n Tackle is rationing – claims it is some new state regulation – and it felt like maybe that really what was going on.  I wasn’t the only one asking what new regulation.  I was only able to get half the kerosene for the same reason and what I did get cost more than what I had thought it would.” 

“Hmph.  Not good Sister.  I’ll see what I can pick up and bring with me Friday and you don’t let a tank get below three-quarters before you fill it back up.  When I come I’m also going to bring stuff your mother wants stored and all your stuff you haven’t already moved.  This will give us more room to get Rhonda’s stuff out of storage and drop that bill.  I was gonna bring some good news too but I guess I’ll deliver it now.  Your Uncle Herschel stopped by last night.  Brought Rhonda flowers and some of those medicated lozenges that helped during her first round of chemo.” 

“Wow.” 

“You betcha that’s worth a wow.  And so’s the rest of it.  Seems he feels that even if Rhonda can’t handle him being around all the time; that he still has a responsibility to her and Patrice.  Even if Rhonda divorced him apparently he didn’t divorce her, or so he says.  Gotta admit, the difference in Patrice while he was here was night and day.” 

“Well a girl needs her daddy.” 

He chuckled, “You trying to snow your ol’ man Baby Girl?” 

“Nope.  Stating a fact.  What I’m wondering though is how is this going to affect our plans.” 

He sighed and could hear how tired he was.  “Not going to yet, at least not on your end.  On my end however it looks like the basement pull out is gonna be in use with or without Rhonda’s full approval.  She’s your momma’s sister but Herschel is my brother and he’s had his hours cut in half just about like I have.  He picked up a security job at the mall that replaces his regular pay from the restaurant but not the over time he’d get a couple times a month.” 

“Ohhhh … moldy cheese on stale crackers.  Did they lose the house on top of everything else?” 

“No.  Hershel is slick.  He refinanced it and then completed a sale that week you left for the cabin.  He’s just been renting it back from the new owners until they were ready to move in.  Those vultures at the insurance company found out about it and they tried to attach the money from the sale but the judge took one look at their previous agreement for payment concerning Patrice’s deductible and made the insurance pay all the court costs and told them if they tried something that slick again he’d forfeit the remainder of what they were due as a penalty.” 

“Score one for the team.” 

“You got that right Baby Girl.  But here’s the thing, your aunt and uncle had intended on setting most of that money into a trust for Patrice to keep it out of the hands of the parents of those kids.  Only good thing I can say is that Kevin had been living on his own and paying his own bills for a while which would make it highly unlikely some judge will agree to include his family in a lawsuit settlement.  But Herschel’s legal and financial consultant is now recommending something different so things are in flux.” 

“Those ‘kids’ in the other care were older than me and drunk too.  Kevin acted criminally stupid but he wasn’t the only one at fault.  No one wants to talk about that though.  It could have easily been the other way around from how it ended up.  It almost was.” 

“You know it.  I know it.  The cops know it.  All the insurance companies involved know it.  Even the parents’ of the others involved in the accident know it.  But when you are grieving, knowing something isn’t always enough, and that’s where those parents are.” 

He fell silent and it made me wonder if I knew everything there was to know about the months following my brother’s death. 

“Baby Girl?  Daddy’s tired.  Mind if we catch up on them lists another time?” 

“Of course not.  I’ll send them in an email for you to look over.” 

“No.  Don’t do that.  And don’t send ‘em by text either.  Let’s just keep this between us for now and away from potentially prying eyes.” 

I got the unspoken message and said, “Yes Sir.” 

After that he handed the phone off to Mom and I spoke of generic things and asked how she was doing with both Aunt Rhonda and Patrice to take care of. 

“They’re no more work than the in-home patients I use to have and less work than when I was pulling shifts at the hospital.  Now I want to hear how you’re doing and did I hear your dad mention the Slowthowers?” 

So I went over it again, leaving out my “feelings” since Mom has always been uncomfortably cynical about such things.  She did seem interested in my consignment idea and said she’d send some boxes of notions and stuff she’d recently picked up yard saling.  “And Sydney, you might want to check out the auction house.  They’re getting a few good ones going around here.  Just don’t get silly during the bidding process.  Go early, look around, use your phone to check current prices, and set a limit on what you’re willing to bid.” 

“Yes ma’am,” I responded.  Mom’s practical side was a good foil for Daddy’s emotional side. 

I said my good byes and looked at the mess I still had to put away.  Oh well, I was feeling another stretch of insomnia coming on anyway.  Might as well do something constructive instead of lying in bed cussing the sheep that wouldn’t give me a hand going to sleep.

3 comments:

  1. I can't wait to see where this one is going to go... lot's of new possibilities! :) with that 'knowing' bit. hahaha! thanks!

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  2. As you see I just had to start another one while the grand girl was asleep lol.

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  3. How do you keep so many plates spinning?

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