book stuff

  • Chapter 2

    Debbie and Budweiser made their way down through the neighborhood toward the bridge behind it.  The water treatment plant wasn’t far from that which meant there was only traffic going that way ever so often, she had it down to a science.  She hid her pack so she could go meet her connection, the police were more likely to stop her if she had her pack on.  “Come on Budweiser, we have business to attend to.”

    They went back to the neighborhood and Debbie thought how nice it must be to live there in a bona fide way like these people did.  It had been quite some time since she’d slept in her own bed but it had also been quite some time since she’d paid for the amenities that came with that luxury.  Most of her money was free and clear.

    The bank was at the end of the street and she walked in and took out enough for the week plus some for the entertainment then it was off to Smokey’s house.  Smokey lived in a small trailer that no one ever paid any attention to and he delivered to most of his people so that it kept the visitors to a minimum at his house.  She knocked on the door and he took a few to answer.

    “Smokey, you look like hell,” she told him.

    “Debbie I feel like hell, it was a rough weekend.  Come on in.”

    He had a week’s worth of dishes piled up and Debbie gathered any scraps she could find and put them on a plate for Budweiser as she stacked the rest of the dishes to wash them.  “You ever gonna get you a woman to do all this?” she asked.

    “As long as you do it, why should I bother?  Besides, women never brought me nothing but trouble.  Now if you would let Budweiser live here with me……”

    “No!” she said firmly, “You get your own friends, I have few enough as it is.”

    “You speak your mind too much Deb, people don’t like that.”

    “What on earth did you cook in this pan?  I’m gonna have to let it soak.” She complained.

    “I don’t remember,” he told her.  “Matter of fact, I don’t think I’m the one who used that pan but what came out of it was good, I do remember that.”

    “Smells like it was,” she said.

    “Did your runner make it in?” Debbie asked.

    “Indeed they did.  You need the usual?”

    “The usual will be fine, the price didn’t go up did it?”  Debbie asked.

    “Not yet,” he said as he fished out a large sack of weed and some scales.  “When you gonna tell Rose she can come here herself?”

    “When I get tired of pinching the till,” she laughed, “besides, Rose is married and you know that.”

    “That don’t mean she can’t have friends.”

    “Smokey, you know her old man don’t let her have friends.  He views me as a charity case or he wouldn’t let me come around much.  Fact of the matter is, he puts off the vibe that he don’t want me around much.”

    “You gonna take a shower before you leave?” He asked, “It’s included with the dishes.”

    Debbie looked over and gave him a gentle smile, “Thank you, Smokey, I think I will.”

    “Them clothes you left last time are washed and folded if you want to change.”

    When Debbie finished the dishes she went and took her shower and put on some deodorant and fresh clothes leaving the dirty ones in with his laundry.  It was a way to keep his family from asking why she came by his house.  It didn’t win him any brownie points but it kept the talk to common dirt instead of the truth.  Smokey was like a brother to Debbie and he felt the same, it had never occurred to them for this to be anything more than it was.

    She emerged from the hallway feeling refreshed and he was cooking eggs while her stash laid on the coffee table waiting to be apprehended.  She put it into her bra with her ample bosom and reached into her pocket to seal the trade.  “You want some eggs?” Smokey asked.

    “I’ll pass this time, thank you.  Rose fed me a ham sandwich.”  Debbie walked out again into the sunshine, took a look around and decided to go to the store for something to drink tonight by the fire, she figured she might get something to snack on too.  Budweiser didn’t care where they were going so long as he was with Debbie.

    They arrived at the grocery store and Budweiser sat outside close to the door in his usual place.  Debbie walked in through the automated door thinking about what she might want to snack on.  She walked through the aisles and found her favorite customer, he said, “You having a good day today?”

    “Sure am,” she winked, “and you?”

    “About the usual,” he said.

    She went to the back through the other door and to the restroom, she went in and locked the door and then examined the bottom of the trash can below the bags.  She took out the money and fixed enough of her stash to cover it and placed it inside under the bag.  She used the facilities while she was there then washed her hands and left.  “Three customers,” she thought, “That leaves one for me and one for Rose.”

    She bought a fresh box of glad bags since she was running low, some Vienna’s, a box of crackers and some tomato juice.  Debbie drank things like that instead of cokes for the same reason she was partial to soup.  Some people took vitamins but she tried to get hers naturally.  She splurged on a package of bologna to share with Budweiser.  She doubted he’d like it better than ham but those were the breaks of living with someone who lived on the street.  She’d put the bologna in her small cooler when she got to camp.


    Rose was in the kitchen listening to a radio station from the computer instead of her own song list.  She liked that she could listen to any station anywhere with her computer.  She cut the ribeye’s into small strips; this recipe stretched them further and made them easier to eat since Roger refused to wear his teeth.  She’d already cut up some sweet bell peppers, onion and mushrooms and had tommy toes on the side for those who liked tomatoes.  She’d put them in last and cook them slightly so they would be easy to pick out if you didn’t like tomatoes.  With a family of five you never knew.  

    She put the steak into the non-stick pan she’d sprayed with canola oil and doused them without drowning them in Worcestershire sauce.  Just as they browned, she added the rest of the veggies minus the tomatoes.  The proper amount of oyster sauce instead of salt and let it cook till the veggies were almost done.  Then she added the honey mustard so that the honey would thicken the sauce and just a tad bit later, the tomatoes.

    Some women found cooking therapeutic; others considered it a badge of accomplishment, and some considered it a chore, to Roseanne it was a necessary evil because eating out was so expensive.  She’d been taught how to cook full meals when she was twelve.  Most of the time the instructions came from her mother over the phone while she was at work.  Her first two husbands had not hesitated to cook, but Roger seemed to think it was women’s work. 

    At least when you cook at home, you know what’s in the food, she thought.  Her biological father had advised her to always eat where there was a buffet because the food was usually more nutritious and you’d be less likely to have had it tampered with in the kitchen.  She didn’t know him very well and his advice made her wonder about his reputation.

    Roger glanced up from his computer, “Is supper almost ready?”

    “Almost,” Rose replied.

    It seemed he had to set an appointment for things like that with the family and since he’d taken up the table with his computer, the family no longer had somewhere to eat together.  Rose hadn’t mentioned it to him because she wasn’t sure he would care.  They would eat at their separate stations around the house and then return their dishes to the cabinet.  If there were leftovers, Rose would divide them into three parts, or four if the neighbor’s dog was visiting, and then give them to the dogs.  The dogs loved pizza night, which always fell on Friday.

    “What’s for supper?” Asked her son.  He had autism but he was high functioning so unless you knew him well it went unnoticed.

    “Peppered steak,” she said. 

    “I’ll heat up a sausage crescent,” He told her.  Rose wasn’t surprised; he didn’t like casseroles’ or anything with too many ingredients and never anything with a sauce on it, not even ketchup.

    Everyone else ate what she cooked that night and there was nothing left over for the dogs so she gave them each a hot dog.  If she didn’t give them one of those, they’d keep begging for what was on the stove.

    She did the dishes and drained the sink, poured a glass of wine and went to the living room where the girls had their computer stations.  She’d get some smoke from Debbie hopefully, but she liked her wine too.

    When the children were small she had learned to watch either preaching or the news.  She could pretty much predict what a preacher was going to say and the news repeated itself so she never missed anything. When her children were small, they’d often interrupted the last twenty minutes of a movie.  “What’s going on, why did they do that, what are you watching…….”  By the time she explained the movie to the point where they walked in on it, the credits would be rolling.  When they were smaller it was impossible going to the Cinema.  She’d missed seeing all of the new Star Wars movies because a baby was crying or a two year old was restless so she’d taken them out to the foyer so as not to irritate the other patrons.  A mother spanking a child was sometimes more disruptive than a child who is bored and irritable.

    Sure, she had family with plenty of advice about how to force a child to behave, but she also had been armed with a course in child psychology back in high school.  It explained why so many people thought spankings were “necessary” for a child in a rigid environment rather than excepting the limitations of a two year old. 

    Franklin had autism and when she had to take him to the store with the new baby, she’d put him in a harness so he wouldn’t run off to look at everything in the store.  The women would give her a knowing nod, but the men…….

    One day a man told her, “You put a dog on a leash, if you’d spank him right he’d behave.”

    She mumbled something and restrained herself from reminding him of how he’d raised his own kids, she knew the family well enough to know.  “Leash the dog and beat your child.  Makes perfect sense,” she thought sarcastically.

    Rose’s children had only received spankings for direct defiance, hurting themselves or someone else, or putting themselves in the position to be injured, never for spilled milk, crying, or voicing their opinion, or running in the house. 

    She remembered when Franklin was four he used to tell her he hated her every time he didn’t get his way.  “I’m gonna spank him,” Roger would say.  “No you aren’t,” Rose would tell him, “he doesn’t mean it and he doesn’t even know what hate is, he’ll grow out of it.”  And he did.

    The news was more stuff about the president; she sipped her wine and tuned it out.  The president was a big boy; she knew he could handle whatever they threw at him.  Dorathy was on her computer doing her artwork and so was Paula, both of them had talent.  Franklin spent most of his time in his room talking to his online friends as they played games.  She’d gotten him Xbox live for that very reason; she wanted him to know that even though there are bullies in the world, there were also nice people as well. 

    She had always wanted children but she hadn’t had her first one until she was thirty one.  Her aunts had told her she was too lenient and was over compensating for her own raising.  Her sisters had turned out just fine so she didn’t think it would make a big difference.  If you’ve scrubbed a toilet once you’d done it a thousand times.  One only needed to know how.

    Now that her children were almost grown, Rose didn’t know how to identify herself any longer.  She’d been so absorbed in them that she’d neglected to make outside friends and with Roger on his computer all of the time she felt that she had no real support system.  But she did have a glass of wine.  She had several glasses of wine and she had them often. 

    Dorathy had expressed her disapproval of Rose’s drinking, and all of the children had expressed their disapproval when Rose and Roger had cross words for one another, she had, after all, raised her children to feel free to speak their minds which they absolutely did at home, but not at school, or work.

    They didn’t approve of Roger’s detachment from his family either but didn’t voice it to him.  When Rose had addressed that with Dorathy, she’d said, “Mom, I don’t KNOW him.”  It occurred to Rose that it was true, she didn’t know him either.  He’d been docile most of the time all through their marriage and seldom expressed an opinion or asserted himself over decisions unless it pertained to how Rose spent her time or where she spent her time or who she spent it with. Once the house was paid for that had changed.

    She’d been trying to talk to him one morning and he’d said with contempt, “I’m sick of your shit and hearing about the fantasy world you live in.”

    As the older people said, it’s not always what you say, but how you say it.  She saw now what he really thought of her and it hurt.

    Now that the children were almost grown and Rose was able to focus on herself. She began going to a couple of addiction recovery meetings.  They each had a different crowd but neither crowd was new to her, she’d been in the party crowd during her first marriage so she knew some of these people and strangely enough, those she didn’t know seemed to know her. She’d also begun going to church occasionally as well.  She felt more at ease with the party crowd because they’d always accepted her.  The church crowd seemed more superficial somehow, not all of them, but most of them. 

    She believed church presented the perfect opportunity to be defined by class because of the tithing system.  The only thing she could bring to the table most of the time was her love for the Lord and her love for other people.

    Roger didn’t tell her not to go to these places, he’d found other ways to trigger her but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it.  “Why?” She wondered, “Why does he care where I spend my time when he doesn’t spend his time with me.  He has friends online to talk to, why can’t I find new friends?”

    Roger had used her mental illness against her, or so she felt.  “But I was having an episode” She thought.  “The episode didn’t last as long as the control issues,” said the beast.  Control issues were something she’d been accustomed to throughout her life.  She found out in her second marriage that without them, she felt a bit devalued.

    Rose knew her earning potential, though small, was mostly what made her valuable, what made anyone valuable, that was how society measured you.  She’d dreamed that one day she’d be able to support herself on her income alone, not that she wanted to be alone, she just wished it was an option.

    She remembered the day she’d received her official diagnosis as schizoaffective.  It was the same day her doctor had told her she’d always have to be medicated for the rest of her life.  She went home and pulled the diagnosis up on the computer and read the symptoms.  The only one she didn’t have was hearing voices. 

    “I’ve never been pretty, wealthy, lucky, or favored, but at least I was smart and had a good head on my shoulders.  Now I don’t even have that,” She thought, “It is one thing to be betrayed by others, but when your own brain lies to you that is the ultimate betrayal.  And it causes people who routinely say they love you to betray you as well.”  She cried for an hour that day.

    She remembered working at the airport the first time.  Early mornings were special to her because she and her father would get ready for work together and make small talk over coffee.  She detected he was proud of what she was doing and it made her feel wonderful.  After the sun went down while she was still at work, a slight breeze would blow across the runway which was all lit up in azure lights and it was quiet time for the team as they waited in their positions for the plane to come in.  She did a lot of thinking then. 

    She loved the sound of the planes coming in and going out, the activity on the ramp, the camaraderie of the ground team and sometimes the chatter on the radio.