(Last chance on the comment challenge to trigger an extra post this Saturday! The comment count stands at 25, which means… we need 25 on this post! Or 10 on this post and 3-4 more on each of the previous 4-5 posts… -ctan)
I ignored the keyboard the next morning and set about caffeinating myself enough to contemplate going up to the gas station to try to call Ziggy. I didn’t even have anything I was burning to say. I just wanted to hear his voice and reassure myself that he was all right.
I started a pot of coffee and while it was brewing I started getting the milk and sugar ready. I put the sugar into the milk in the mug and stirred it.
Claire appeared around the time the pot was almost done. “What are you doing?”
“Pre-dissolving the sugar in the milk so it doesn’t just end up sludge in the bottom of the mug.”
She frowned. “Can’t you do anything the normal way?”
“The normal way doesn’t work when you like as much sugar and milk as I do.”
She looked into my mug suspiciously. “Hm.”
“I can make you some, too. There’s plenty of coffee.” I assumed Flip would also want some when he got up. The pot finished and I filled the mug the rest of the way with coffee. “Here. Try it and see if you like it.”
She took a sip. “Oh, I suppose it is acceptable.” She then leaned back against the counter, took a long gulp, and let out a deep, guttural sigh. I hid my smile while I made myself some. “I learned to drink it black so long ago.”
“When I was still a teenager. Fifteen or sixteen. I thought it made me seem more grown up. And I was worried about my figure.”
“Or your agent was?” I asked, but she didn’t reply to that. “I found your old publicity shots.”
“Oh, goodness, do I look piggish in them?”
“No! Jeez, no. You’re thin as a rail. I meant you didn’t need to worry at all.”
“Silly boy. If I look thin in the photos it’s proof my efforts were paying off.” She took another gulp of sugary, lukewarm coffee. “The doctor really did say I should keep up my calorie intake, didn’t he?”
“He did. You won’t have the energy to fight the disease if you don’t.”
“Well, then.” She handed me her empty mug and I filled it again. “Maybe we should switch from half and half to heavy cream.”
“I’ll pick some up while I’m out,” I said with a nod.
“I’ve got to make some calls. I’ll head up to the gas station and the store isn’t that much farther.” I wanted to do it before I ended up too stoned to drive. Even if I didn’t partake directly, the contact high was still quite strong for me. “I should at least page Ziggy.”
“Have you… heard from him?”
“A couple of ‘I love you’ pages, but that’s it.”
“‘I love you pages?’”
So I explained our number code system. “911 if it’s an emergency. 411 if you need information. 777 for good luck. 747 for ‘I’m getting on a plane now.’ That kind of thing.”
“Clever boys. What’s he up to?”
“I don’t know. I need to find out.” I barreled ahead more blithely than I felt. “If he’s not too busy, I want him to come back down here for a visit. I miss him.”
“There’s really not much room here for him, though,” she said with a wrinkled nose. I’d known she would resist the idea, but I guess I’d wanted to be sure.
Flip knocked on the front door and I let him in. “I’m going out to get some milk,” I told him. “Want to come?”
“I’ve got to go out myself,” he said. “Gotta gas up Bessie.”
“Good a name as any for the RV.” He shrugged. “You go on, though. I’ve still gotta caffeinate.”
“The rest of the coffee’s for you.” I pointed out the half-full pot on my way out the door. I did the cream errand and paged Ziggy back like I had planned to. He wasn’t answering at his apartment. I didn’t bother trying to call Carynne since I knew she’d page me as soon as she had anything to tell me.
When I got back, Flip took off in the RV. He was gone about two hours and when he came back, he’d not only been to get gas, he had picked up another friend of his. The guy had a thin gray ponytail and a silent-type demeanor. He was a former roadie, now retired, whose actual name I never learned. Flip, and therefore the rest of us, just called him “Chief.” I suspected from his tattoos that “Chief” was meant in the Navy sense and not in the Native American sense but I didn’t have the guts to ask.
It may have been Chief’s arrival that prompted Claire to ask me about Flip’s plans. She seemed very high strung when she asked me. At the time Flip and Chief were in the RV and we were in the house. We were standing in the corner that was the kitchen, as far from the keyboard as possible. We’d just finished eating a little something. She spoke in halting phrases: “Do you know, by any chance, how long your friend–and his friend–are planning to stay?”
“I really don’t know,” I told her. “We didn’t really talk about it.”
“Oh…?” She pulled an oh-really sort of face at me, blinking like that idea was making her eyes water.
“Are you hoping they’re leaving or hoping they’re staying?” I asked.
“Oh, well, that’s not what I meant by asking at all. I was just curious.”
“Claire, it’s okay. Just tell me what you want.”
“Oh, like that’s so simple.” She set down her tea cup or threw her napkin or something. “Like I”m supposed to know how this works?”
“How what works?”
She clenched her fists. “Dying. Or not dying. Or, or… having your son’s helpers bring drugs to your mountain hideaway.” (I wouldn’t have called where we were mountainous.)
“No one knows how this is supposed to work,” I answered. “If you want me to tell them to get a move on, I will.”
“And then where will we get it? It’s a miracle, you know. An absolute miracle.” She put her hand on her chest. “If I had one more bout of it, I think I was going to acid-burn my esophagus.”
Presumably the first “it” in her statement was marijuana and the second one was vomiting. “I could ask that.”
“No! I don’t want them to think they’re unwelcome.” She folded her hands. “The more the merrier.”
I was about to call her on it–on the fact that a few hours earlier she had said the place was too crowded and so Ziggy shouldn’t come, and now she was saying the more the merrier. But I caught myself. What was the point in that? Did I need her to agree with me? Or change her mind? Or anything? Not really. Pointing out her hypocrisy or inconsistency had never made her change before and I didn’t think she was about to start. But her statements made it starkly clear she didn’t want Ziggy around. That, I thought, was worth digging into.
So I went right at it. “Why don’t you want Ziggy here, then?”
“Oh, you misinterpret everything I say. But look around. Ziggy wouldn’t want to be here.”
Instead of arguing that she didn’t know that or that she should let him be the judge, I took another tack. “Don’t you like him? I thought you liked him.”
“He’s a dear.” Agreeing and yet not agreeing. “But aren’t the two of you going through a little something right now?”
“But then maybe letting him cool off is the best plan.”
There might have been another couple of rounds like that, where no matter what I said she came back with some reason why Ziggy shouldn’t come. You get the gist. I gave up trying to argue with her, but maybe I’d gotten what I wanted out of the argument, which was definite clarity on the fact she did not want him here.
What I still didn’t know was why. Maybe she thought he and I would argue and that would be bad for her health? That was the most charitable form of selfishness I could come up with for her. More likely she just wanted my attention all to herself?
I thought about that. I thought about that most of the rest of that day. I thought about it while sober and I thought about it while stoned.
I didn’t really like the conclusions I came to, so I thought about it some more.
(I know more than 25 of you are reading this… 25 comments is all it’ll take! Top-level comments only count toward the challenge, no replies! -ctan)
I’ve come to the conclusion that idgaf what anyone else wants me to do or thinks about me. I’m going to do what makes me happy. That said, it really sucks when you invite someone to visit and the person you are living with makes them feel unwelcome. Ziggy may be up to the challenge, though. And I want to see Ziggy, so get his ass back there or get Court to babysit Claire so you can visit him!
We’ll see if I can get him to come back. Claire’s manipulations aside, I didn’t get the feeling he was thrilled with being here, even if it meant being with me.
There I did my part, even from Mexico, so come on, folks. Let’s get a free Saturday chapter!
Daron, honey, there is no result to that thinking that’s going to put Claire in a good light. You deserve to be happy with Ziggy.
I already think terribly of her, y’know, so it’d be hard to be worse. But yeah.
I caught absolute hell when I worked for a union and the guys figured out I made my coffee that way, additives in the cup first then the coffee. I mean, they already took issue with me being a woman, a femme, and a black femme woman at that, but not drinking the keep-you-up-for-a-month, tasted-like-diesel-fuel coffee straight black *and* making it weirdly was right up there with kicking puppies and crossing picket lines.
Whatever. It’s the only way to ensure proper ratios and I will fight anyone who tries to tell me differently.
Claire makes me tired. I think it’s the name that’s just a harbinger of exhaustion. It was true of Claire in The Breakfast Club, and it’s true of the Claires and Clares I’ve known in real life. It’s like Cecilias being steeped in music.
Claire is pretty exhausting, yeah, and that’s when I don’t even have to *do* anything, really.
OMG part of me can’t believe you got shit for making coffee that way but maybe it’s a secret queer tell and I just never knew? See, I knew I’d do something to give myself away no matter how careful I was. LOLLLLL
I have never had coffee. However, if I ever work up the nerve to taste it, I assume that it would be mostly milk and sugar. Sometimes I think I’m the only person who doesn’t “Starbucks”, such an outsider!
Daron, does the actual coffee matter?
Um, I’m sure there are coffee snobs who will tell you the coffee does matter. But for a person like me whose caffeine intake is mostly just a cheap brain-management system, the coffee itself doesn’t matter. If you are having it with enough other flavors it hardly matters. Honestly the reason I started with so much sugar and milk is that I didn’t like the taste of coffee to begin with so I can’t really recommend it. If you want to taste coffee without having to have actual coffee, just have coffee ice cream. Or just skip it and stick to chocolate.
You aren’t alone in bypassing Starbucks. Their coffee is gross because they intentionally over-roast their beans, or they used to. I’ve had exactly one mocha from there in the last three years, went past doctoring it with sugar and straight to adding honey and coffee powder, both purchased as THC-filled edibles. For legal purposes, I will say I was in the Seattle suburbs at the time and not driving so no laws were broken. The coffee still sucked but I cared a lot less.
The actual coffee absolutely matters if you want to enjoy it, and so does how it’s made. If you ever try it, go for a light roast made with a pour-over method, not anything done by drip and definitely not a dark roast. (I wear my coffee snobbery proudly.)
Daron. Maybe you don’t have to know the whys of your mother just the hows. The whys are not important. I am just glad that you have opened your eyes to her manipulation. Now it is up to you on how you deal with it. And not dealing with it is also a choice.
Yeah. I’m just starting to see how much maybe I didn’t see before. And that’s changing my perspective.
God, I hate it when people just keep coming up with excuses instead of giving you a straight answer. Transparent as fuck, but when you call them on it they get bent all out of shape.
That is pretty much how she’s always been. It shows me how much Ziggy’s changed, though, because he used to be like that and he’s not anymore. When I call him on shit he’s almost grateful in a way.
Music helps you to process your emotions and you seem disconnected without it. (It seems that the farther you and Ziggy get from each other, the less you connect to music.)
Claire has burnt too many bridges, focused on her own agenda. She will continue to use you up until you are ashes if you let her. If you insist on taking care of her, take her back to the city and set her up somewhere with Flip. You need to reconnect with your man and your get back to your life. Ziggy needs you to anchor him.
Yeah, I’m kind of on the run from music right now and I don’t know why. Am I disconnected from music bc i’m fucked up or am I fucked up bc I’m disconnected from music? Hmmmm
Daron, one of the quickest routes to insanity is via trying to understand why a manipulative mother does anything. You need to do what’s right for you.
That said, I do think it’s kind of sweet that the two of you are finding some peace or common ground for the time being.
On a completely different note I am visiting Boston at the end of March and looking for tips about where to eat (and where not to eat) among other things! My friend and I will have our late-teen daughters in tow (college visits) so no bars 😉
Oh hey but some of the best food is in bars. Actually maybe there’s great food outside of bars too, but seems like a lot of the places I eat are also bars so maybe I just don’t know…? ctan will know though. Drop her email for a list, I’m sure.
It’s kind of weird to have Claire treat me like I’m her favorite now, when we both know it’s that she wore out my sisters. Heck, even Courtney. Who I should call. Soon.
You have a choice every time you do or don’t get on her Merry-go-round. And each has a price.
Get help and a fucking phone!
(Said with love)…
Um, working on it. Both. i think. Or at least I’m thinking about getting there.
Did I … actually manage to catch up? This has been a ride and a half so far.
This arc is depressing as hell, I miss a lot of the usual characters dearly, too. Am I a bad person for thinking ‘I hope this is over soon so Daron can go back and get better’?
I agree 100% — depressing as hell is right
Important comment important comment important comment….um..okay, Darin feels more and more grown up and together and on target the longer he stands next to Claire. It’s like the opposite of a contact high…someone has to be the ‘for real’ one, and it’s never going to be her. Mama False Front.
And in addition to wanting all attention all the time, she is prob jealous of a real connection when she sees it…like Ziggy and Daron.