"Butt!" I called into the kitchen. "Butt get your ass downstairs!" I mentally awarded myself brownie points for my clever wording. The butler and I didn't speak the same language, but the he knew what I called him, and he knew what I wanted. I wanted the same thing every morning. Where the hell were my pancakes? My stilettos tapping loudly against the marble floor, I strutted into the spacious kitchen and looked around. He wasn't in the pantry, he wasn't in the pots room, he wasn't in the cooking area, and he wasn't in the dining room. Where else could he be? "Butt, get your ass over here! I want some pancakes before I go, plane food tastes like mold and shit!"
I knew it was pointless to make conversation, but I liked the sound of my own voice in the vast hallways. The echo suited me.
Groaning, I stomped back to the stairs, ready to knock down that stupid butler's door when I realized that he was standing at the bottom of the steps. He'd carried my luggage downstairs. So he was purposeful. Smiling, I slid over to him and threw my arm around his shoulders in a brief side hug.
"Morning Butt, dearest." Setting his shoulders free, I began on my way up the stairs, my hand latched onto the iron banister. I did a push-up against the bar, my heels slowly sliding backwards on the marble. "To celebrate my last few hours, make me some pancakes. PAN-CAKES." I repeated to insure I got the idea across.
It was depressing how this day would be the last time I'd see that awkward short nod. I'd miss Butt. It was depressing how I'd be leaving this pampered life for Brooklyn… or more commonly known as home. Oh, how I promised never to return. Even after college, going back to New York was awfully too close to my mother.
It didn't really hit me until I hit the airport. They sold croissants in the stores in Monaco. Croissants.
Why again was I going back home?
The Monaco air was better, and I was leaving, simply, because I didn't want to deal with that awful old man—Willem's father. I wasn't the type to back off just because someone didn't like me. But something else, some magnetic force was pulling me back home, and I was only slave to answer.
You could call it a curiosity, I had to go back home to figure it out.
I avoided home since the end of high school. I still talked to my mother on occasion, every few months, but only to tell her about ended marriages and dead princes. The longest conversation I'd had with her since leaving home was the argument about me paying a guy to send Marty to her house while I fled the country. Ma told me it was immoral to send her my dog without sending her money too. I told her that if I gave her money, she'd get fat because she'd buy up the entire inventory at Pino's Pizza. Ma loved Pino's.
I wasn't really a big fan of Pino's. The place smelled like grease and shit. I grew up in a house that always smelled like pizza toppings, so forgive me for trying to stay away.
As soon as stepped off of the nine hour flight, I knew I'd made a mistake. But I was here, I was tired, and I was much too lazy to find a plane back. The airport reeked of my regret and the public transport literally wasn't nearly as fragrant as it was in Monaco. The taxi driver smelled like an elephant used him as his toilet.
I'm not saying that all of the taxis at in Brooklyn smelled as bad as this one, but that wasn't saying much.
The ride home depressed me. It was like a ride from the land of sunshine into the dark, grimy hellhole where I grew up.
I got back at the house late that night, and upon lugging all four of my suitcases inside the front door with no help from the crappy taxi driver, I took an escapade to the bathroom, welcomed by an unclosed seat.
A man was in the house.
Ma had a natural attraction to three different types of guys. First there were the guys with guts. And no I'm not talking about the men who walk around killing animals and saving the day, I'm talking about beer bellies. It still surprises me how these guys are able to put on their pants with all of that skin and fat hanging over like drool on a baby's lip.
Her next type was the cutters. For some reason, she had an attraction to guys who liked sharp objects. Pens, pinecones, axes, you name it, she was there.
And the last type—and I'm not sure whether you would call this a type or not—were the guys that I brought home. Ma got her fill of good looking, sane guys from the few that I brought to meet her. I'd learned quickly in high school that guys really went for the bottle blonde, big-boobed moms. My mom had it all. She looked like Dolly Parton candy land dream galore, and I couldn't be any gladder that I looked nothing like her. We looked like we weren't even related.
Of the men who had found their way or—depending how you look at it—lost their way to my mother's bed, none of them had my almost black eyes or my black hair or my olive skin. I'd been told that I looked Middle Eastern—nothing like my mother's blond hair, blue eyes, Brooklyn assemble.
Ma swore that she pushed me out of her vagina, but I had some serious doubts.
But anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I also had doubts about her taste in men. All of them, including the few that I brought home, seemed to have a serious problem with putting down the toilet seats, and I wasn't one to touch the toilet seat with anything other than my butt.
This was such a great way to be welcomed home.
Pushing Mom's bedroom door open with the toe of my stiletto, I peeked my head inside of the room, relieved to see two sleeping bodies apart from each other. Ma was in her usual position, spread out in the middle. And the man, Randy I assumed, was barely hanging on, forced to sleep to on the edge of the far side of the bed.
Ma slept like a dead possum, so I didn't waste any energy on being quiet as I walked to the other side, tapping on the cheaply laid carpet floor in my heels.
Randy wasn't easy to wake. And he finally sprung to life when I dug my nails into his neck, falling over the side of the bed, dead weight. I wished he'd taken the sheet with him because he was as naked as sunshine, flashing me his late night woody, and then mooning me as he cursed and rolled over to stand up, muttering obscenities the whole way, his arms barely strong enough to support him.
"You can't just go and push a guy out of bed. I could've died." His voice was much too nasal sounding for his extra large size. The poor guy was a good foot shorter than me, the perfect height for Mom. But when he stood, his belly spilled down, covering his tiny, happy organs. "That's what happened to my second cousin, Lester. His girlfriend's roommate woke him up in the middle of the night; he fell out of bed, and fell on a plug. Stabbed him in the neck; dead the next day. Turns out the girl wanted sex. I love it, but I'm not gonna' die for it. So this better be important. You're walking around, wakin' up guys up in the middle of the night. I could've died."
This guy had too much to say for just waking up.
"Randy, is it?" I crossed my arms over my leather jacket, "You forgot to close the toilet seat."
"My name is Roger, and is that what you woke me up for? You can move it yourself. I once knew this chick who was too lazy to do shit. She died eating cheese on her couch and looking out the window."
What happened to Randy?
My god. I tapped my foot. I just wanted to go to the restroom. "I'm not touching your shit. Did you hear about that guy who got of the shower, stretched, and then got his dick cut off because he forgot to close the toilet seat and it fell on him?"
Roger the idiot was quiet for a second, probably picturing this, and then he toddled past me, muttering obscenities about lazy women.
Boy did Ma know how to pick 'em.
This one was a bit more long winded than the others, but just like all of the others, He could probably count his IQ on his fingers.
Slipping my leather jacket off my shoulders and over my arm I left her room and walked into mine directly across the hall. Everything was clean the way that I'd left it after graduation. The only difference was my dog, Marty, locked up in a cage, sleeping. I should've known when I shipped him down a few months back that Ma wouldn't want him in anything other than a cage, but he wasn't coming to Monaco with me.
Throwing my jacket over my rolling chair and pulling my heels and jeans off, I crawled into bed and dozed off, the urge to go to the restroom completely forgotten.
I was finally home, and I couldn't hate it more.
I wasn't a morning person or a light person. All through college and even on my excursion of a honeymoon, I kept my windows completely sealed and the nightlights out.
I couldn't sleep with sound, and the room always had to be exactly 68 degrees Fahrenheit, otherwise, sleep wouldn't come. Additionally, I slept as light as a feather. Touch me, and I might attack you.
"Emery, Em-star, Ember, get your sorry ass up." My mother's sickly sweet voice cut into my reveries.
A heavy pressure on my butt and cat claws on my shoulder greeted me the next morning, waking me up and successfully pissing me off. Geez, I really had to pee.
The weight on my backside was much too heavy for me to turn around, so I turned my stiff neck to see my mother, cleanly shaven legs peeking out of her pink exhibitionist robe crossed, sitting on me as if I was her favorite cushion.
"Ember, honey, your ass is too soft. I feel like I'm sitting on a pile of Lenny's hamburgers. You know how much fat he puts in those? It's like fat in fat in fat. Disgusting." She smirked at me, the only person who could pull off Dolly Parton and Cruella Devil with one expression.
I shook my butt 'til she 'whooped' and stood.
"Whaddaya want Ma? I just got home. The sun's not even up. I wanna sleep. I'm jetlagged. Do you know what time it is in Monaco? That's like six fucking hours away." I burrowed my head into my pillow that I now realized smelled nothing like me. Groaning, I flipped it around and pressed my face down. "Let me sleep."
"Em, you have stuff at the front door. Packages. I sent out a message about your marriage a few days ago, and then I sent out another message about the guy's death a two days later, so you've got wedding gifts coming in and all that condolence shit. You gotta give me half of what you get since it was my idea, and if somebody got you a futon, that's mine."
"Get over the futon. You're so damn greedy." I muttered. I squeezed my eyes shut with hope that maybe I'd be able to fall asleep again. But it wasn't coming. "Has anything good come for me?"
I peeked up at Ma as she walked in her house shoe heels to the taped up window in the corner of my room and pulled the duct tape on the side down, letting the fabric on the curtain show the sunlight, temporarily blinding me. I hated the sun.
"How would I know if something good came?" I heard the rings on the curtain slide as Ma opened the curtains completely. "You know it's illegal to look in other people's packages. I don't need any more jail time."
I expected her to start talking about her jail time and how horrible and jealous those women were—which is, by the way, a completely false story—but, the room was quiet.
After a mental debate of whether or not I should take my head out of my pillow to see the what had my mother so quiet, I turned my tight neck and realized that my mother was pointing her double D boobs up at the window. She'd let her robe fall to her shoulder and was eying something out of my window as if it was a dick-shaped lollypop.
She posed in front of the window like country star sex dream and wagged her little fingers at someone on the other side.
She couldn't hold it back for a minute. People called me horrible, but my mother put the 'hor' in horrible. The word was created for her.
"Ma." I shot up. This was my room, I didn't want people to get the wrong idea. I jumped to her, waking up Marty in his cage. "What the hell—"
And then I saw what she was looking at. In the house across from ours stood a black haired man. Jet-black, dark eyes, menacing mouth, set into a frown. He'd been eyeing what Ma had been showing him, but his focus changed to me when I appeared, bed-head glory and all.
He didn't smile and if it wasn't for the movement of his eyes, I would've been halfway convinced that he was made of stone.
Frowning, I reached up and pulled my curtains together, pressing the tape along the curtain fabric onto the wall once more. I walked over to Marty's cage and let him out. He bounded on me and then ran past Ma and out the door. He didn't like her, he never did.
Right now, I didn't like her too much. "Mom, don't be a whore, you can't just walk around showing your goods to everything with a dick and two legs. Plus, you've got Randy. Roger. Whatever."
"If you took any interest in your mother's life, you would know his name was Roger. And he left last night." She put her hands on her wide hips and eyed up at me, accusingly, raising her un-dyed, brown eyebrows as if she expected me to confess to something I did wrong. I didn't do anything wrong. "Somebody woke him up. This is why I didn't want you to come back. You take over everything like it's yours. I feed you for what, eighteen years? You repay me by scaring all of my men away and by eating all my futons."
"Marty did that."
"He's your dog. And why couldn't you put the toilet seat down yourself? You just flip it down, it's not that hard. You're just so lazy. I don't know why you get all the luck. You're not even giving me any money."
Money. Money. Money. That's all it was with her. Money and hair.
"Let me get dressed, I'll open the packages when I get there." I told her, pushing back my short, black hair with my hand. It desperately needed a wash.
She slowly folded her robe back over herself, smiling sweet at me, quick to change. "Take your time Em-star."
I took my time, two hours later, after a bathroom break, a nap, and a hot steamy shower, I trudged to the front of the house where Ma was laying chest down on the couch, watching her reality TV show. Only her lips moved when she saw me walk in.
"People have been dropping stuff off all morning, and none of them have been that hottie next door, so I haven't answered. You'll have to bring all of the stuff inside yourself."
The couch was less than ten meters away from the front door, and she had a clear view into the window by the door. They all probably saw her there, being lazy. I mean, this didn't affect me directly, but I didn't want people to get the wrong idea and think I was lazy too. The neighbors probably had a bad idea about us upon looking in that three-paned window. The window was clear and inside you could see all of the mismatched furniture.
The couch was plaid and orange, ugly and tacky. Ma bought it, as well as the other furniture in the kitchen at some garage sale from these colorblind people. We didn't own anything that coordinated in color. Even the dishes were all different.
I sat down in the cheap, tie-dye beanie bag chair facing the front door as well. "Yea I'll pick up all the stuff when the day is over."
A growl sounded the room, at first quiet, but soon much louder than the woman on TV's life story. Marty never really growled, nor did he ever bark, but I wasn't really watching the TV anyway, my eyes were slowly closing. I wasn't sure why I was so tired. In my final years of college, I'd gone through an insomniac stage, I was rarely ever really tired.
Marty began to bark and his paws tapped against the wood in an unsteady rhythm. The sound was there, but I barely heard it. It mixed into the background noise like rain. Ma woke me up much too early. And for what? Nothing.
"Ember. What's wrong. With your dog." Her cheek was pressed against the couch so her speech was mumbling.
Too much noise. I squeezed my eyes shut.
This hour in the morning was unnatural. . I was tempted to go back upstairs, but I was too lazy. Too tired. The sun was up, but my hours were all crapped up.
"Ember. He's running around. If he jumps on me, I swear."
Something hard hit me in the shoulder and fell into my lap. Ma wasted no time throwing the remote at me. Marty wasn't even directly running at her. I launched the remote back at her and managed to clip her shoulder.
I tried again to stare at the dull pattern on the ceiling and fall asleep, but it was hopeless. I was awake now. Marty yelped. Groaning, I stretched my neck around to see where my dog had run now. I spotted him in the kitchen behind us. The black Airedale Terrier panted loudly, his breath still sounding through the room as he ran back into the carpeted area by the rooms and back. He bounded back and forth in front of the TV between the front door and to the kitchen, and then he did it again, panting heavily.
"Marty!" I whistled. He always answered to me.
But this time something was different. He slid across floor, the uncut nails on his paws acting as skates against the polished wood.
And then Marty finally came to a stop at the front door, sitting, his tail completely still.
The doorbell rang. But from where I was sitting I couldn't see his face in either of the three glass panes.
Ma looked at me and flipped one of her long, over-pampered, blonde curls, "I'm not gettin' it. With the way that dog was screamin', it's probably an axe murderer or something. If we just wait, Marty'll probably eat the door, and then he'll eat the murderer, and then he'll eat the murderer's futon." Her feet were crouched onto the ugly couch as if she was scared. And I couldn't blame her.
I'd thought Marty had rabies for a second there, but he wasn't foaming at the mouth. Now he was calm though, sitting patiently at the door, eying the doorknob as if he knew what was behind it.
After a little bit of a struggle, I picked myself up from the beanie bag and trudged to the door, getting a quick glimpse at the man behind it and the mountains of gifts and boxes that hadn't been taken in yet. There were a lot of boxes.
"Ma, it's the guy from next door."
That had her up in a second, and she somehow beat me to opening the door, putting a hand on her hip and striking a pose, "Oh, hello."
Marty moved so he too could get a look at our guest.
The man's hair was the closest thing to black and his eyes outlined black as well, cerulean blue in the center of the iris. He was very tall, much too tall for my child-heighted, woman-boobed mother.
"Hello." His voice was deep and naturally loud, but gentle, somehow managing to pull of stern, intimidating, and trustworthy all in the same one-worded sentence.
He wore all black as if he were trying to blend in, though in the blinding sunlight of the day—something I hadn't really seen till the door opened—he stood out like some type of immortal in a sea of average Joes.
In his left hand, the hand opposite from the windows, he held something long like a pole, wrapped in thick brown paper with huge letters in black labeling on the side.
HEPH'S PLACE BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
Ma was as hospitable as she could possibly be, holding the door open and even letting her robe fall open a little bit as well. "Would you like to come in? We have drinks." She held out her long fingers as she went through the short list, "Beer, Wine, Champagne, Sparkling juice, liquor, whiskey."
"Do you have water?"
I realized now that he had a slight accent, something I couldn't place. It wasn't American.
Ma leaned on the door and thought about his question as if he just asked for a complicated order. "Hmm, water. Ember, honey, do you want to check to see if we have any of that?"
No not really. But I'd rather let Mom entertain him for a while than have this gorgeous man, built like a rock of pure sex appeal see me in all of my just-got-out-of-bed glory.
The corners of my lips turned up, but my eyes didn't move. I didn't want to meet his stare that I felt pressing against the side of my face, sizing me up, "Sure."
I nodded goodbye to the guest without looking at him directly and walked back to the kitchen, happy to turn the corner and be out of the line of his sight. Who was he and what was that thing in his hand? The best idea I could come up with was a curtain rod, though I wasn't sure why anyone would give a curtain for a wedding present or as a funeral gift.
It didn't matter though, I'd take whatever I got, and I could move it all back to Monaco when I go back since I'd have to live there for six months anyway.
After I got a cup of tap water from the kitchen sink I walked back to the front, ready to give it to the man and make my escape when I realized that my mother had disappeared and it was only him standing inside of the house.
Handing him the water I also noticed that every single one of the boxes and the presents were lined up right inside of the door, everything had been moved in a matter of sixty seconds. I craned my neck to the three windows to see that yes, every single box had now been moved inside of the house.
"Did you bring this all in?" I asked, blinking my eyes again to make sure I wasn't seeing things wrong. But no, tons of boxes, all addressed to me lined the off white walls. I ran my hand through my hair to try to comb the black strands out a bit.
"I hope you don't mind." He answered as if it would actually bother me that he moved all of my stuff. "It doesn't look good for the neighborhood if you don't keep your miscellaneous items inside."
O-kay. Of course he wanted to move my stuff so he didn't look bad. I was thinking about this all wrong.
God. Could he just go?
"Where did Mom go?" And how did he manage to shake her?
"She went to get changed."
Why would she change if she was already wooing this guy with her looks? I turned around and eyed the empty hallway. No Ma trying to lure this guy into her trap, no Marty running around as if he suddenly had rabies. The house was quiet.
When I turned back around the mysterious next door neighbor held his gift out in his right hand, and though the bar was unevenly placed in his grasp, the pole balanced equally in his hands and it didn't fall to the floor. It was almost as if his callused fingers had the ability to… levitate the pole.
"I just wanted to express my condolences with this gift. I'm incredibly sorry for your loss."
Dumbstruck, I didn't know anything else to do but to take the strange gift from HEPH'S PLACE from his hands. Cold at first touch, it suddenly grew warm and then hot and then burning and it dropped to the floor, heavy, but made a sound against the ground as if it was hollow.
And then nothing.
The pole just sat there as if nothing ever happened, and when I looked up, I realized that the mysterious sexpot of a man had disappeared and the front door was closed again, the top lock latched pulled shut.
"Hey, where'd he go?" Ma emerged from her room in the strangest hot-maid getup.
I wasn't just hallucinating. That man. Had definitely just been standing in front of me.
"Oh, Emmy! You brought in all of the gifts, let's open them! I call dibs on all the sex toys and money donations."
Speechless and confused, I nodded my head and began lugging the boxes to my room.
I really have no time to write... but here I am! Let's pray I don't forget to do my college apps...