Jack and Jill
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A/N - contains offensive language.
Jack and Jill or Jill and Jack as my mother used to say. They made an odd sort of couple he and she, inseparable. Mum would always tell us the story of when she met Jack in a bar after a 'Crowded House' concert. She said it was love at first site. He was just sitting there keeping himself to himself and she just walked on over there cool as you like, sat down next to him and in less than a minute had her mouth against his "and that's where he stayed," she would cackle.
Well at first we thought old Mum had lost it but we decided to humor her anyway.
"What would Dad say if he knew you and Jack were doin' the 'dirty mumba' all though his house."
"To hell with him," she replied. "Stupid bastard went and got himself blown up didn't he?" She clapped her hand on the side of her thigh, it looked like she was going to tell herself to 'giddy-up'.
"Don't matter now though do it?" She was laughing hard but I couldn't tell if they were shrieks of remorse or glee.
"He's dancin' with the daisies." She'd wipe some tears from her eyes, clamor for her old false teeth and put them in, gumming them until they stuck to the ridges of her mouth. She would get up from the old wicker chair she used to sleep in and walk out the door muttering to herself about how 'the old man' had left her with nothing and how the only one who really understood her was Jack. Often we wouldn't see her for hours and sometimes we wouldn't see her for days, but she'd come back, she always did eventually.
She wasn't a pretty lady my old Mum. Her looks went before they peaked, the lines on her face began to separate the jowls, a small bald patch opened up on the top of her head and stray hairs started to jut out from her chin. She was always a heavy smoker and with the smoking came a ruthless cough that in her final years became more of a hack. Towards the end she found a weird preference for oversized tee-shirts about the same time she decided to stop wearing pants. The whole thing would have been comical had it not been for the fact that when it came down to it, she was still my mother.
That's when Jack decided to move in and we began to see him every day instead of every other day. Mum soon decided that going outside was too much of an effort and then decided that leaving the comfort of her old chair was too much of an effort except when she had to use the 'shiteater'.
And through it all Jack stayed with her, he never said a word when the weight she had been gaining began to pass her and he was there to steady her when she had to start using a walking stick. Come to think of it, I never really knew what Jack saw in my old Mum. She didn't have a job, Jack wouldn't allow her to have one and even if he did I seriously doubt whether she had the skills to do anything else apart from Motherhood 101, remedial Motherhood 101.
"Nappies and breastmilk, nappies and breastmilk," she used to prattle to herself as if that was the secret to raising sprogs.
"Nothin' more then a machine for making babies."
She was never one to be particularly upbeat preferring a pessimistic 'that's the way it is 'cause that's the way it is type of tone, you play the twos' if that's all you've got. She never made us feel like we weren't wanted exactly but she never made us feel like we were miracles from God either. A chore rather than a blessing, an eternity rather than an interlude. If it was one thing my Mum was good at it was displaying her own self pity, like a hippopotamus she wallowed, covering herself in it. It would take a crowbar and a forklift to pry her out emotionally. We had neither but she had Jack. He had no intention of ever helping her out, he just went and jumped on in there with her and that was good enough for her. With no desire to get herself out and every intention of staying in, she continued to sink deeper and deeper into the black hole of emptiness and depression with Jack glued to her side.
Some day's she would just immerse herself with herself refusing to talk to anyone except Jack and on her worse days she wouldn't even talk, just sit there in that old wicker chair with him beside her.
When Dad was killed it almost seemed as if part of her died as well, part of her became lost. and I guess I never really knew which part it was, the part that we saw every day or the part that disappeared with Dad. Hours created days, days created years and eventually the years created a life so unremarkable that it barely made mention in our local rag.
I guess I partly blame myself for her death. Like my brothers and sisters, we never really took her relationship with Jack seriously until it was too late.
We certainly made attempts to rescue her in the closing stages of her life when the days of seclusion became really bad. We called in a couple of doctors and a couple of priests to try to coax and shock her out of what was becoming more then just a 'stage' but she refused each of them without taking in a word.
"Fuck off you righteous quacks," she'd bark, by this stage she was developing quite a foul mouth on her.
"You take your fucken pills and your fucken crosses and shove them fair up your shitters. Bunch of fucken Hollywood homos."
Anybody who seemed remotely rich to her was always from Hollywood and anyone who wore a suit was a homo. Maybe it was too much 'E.R.', maybe it was small town homophobia, perhaps it was just plain old senility. Either way they all ended up leaving without any success.
Some people live a life filled with hope and meaning. My old Mum never found any of that.
I looked down at the fat dead body with the squinty piggish eyes and small open mouth that even in its last gasping breaths still seemed to be calling for Jack. I looked at him and I suddenly felt disgusted at them both her for being what she was and him for making her that way.
I picked the bottle up and threw it at her.
I may be stupid but at least I'm not handsome.