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The next 2 weeks at my father’s home were typical for me. We stayed there for so long because my mother went on vacation to Cancun with some woman named Barbara. I think she just wanted to spend more time with Gary at her house and lied about leaving for vacation. Who knew these days though?
As usual, I went to school for six hours a day, my dad picked me up from school and then I watched TV at home until my bedtime. The only difference was that Fay, Thomas and Jojo were at my house 13 days out of the 14. The only reason they didn’t come over to the house on one day was because my father had an adult religion class to teach at night.
Summer began in 2 weeks. That meant exams would be approaching like forceful tornado.
My grades were okay. It’s not like I’d lose my financial aid for failing, my father was the freaking Pastor.
How the Hell would the skill of factoring polynomials ever benefit me?
“Mrs. Lombardo, when will we ever use this?” I asked in concern to the polynomials.
“I told you children to never ask me that question!” Mrs. Lombardo stammered.
“Because it’s tremendously rude.”
Yeah right, that ugly bitch knew for a fact we’d never use this crap.
I traveled into the kitchen to get a glass of water, my stomach was in knots already. Something on the stove was smoking. It smelled horrible and made me immediately and violently nauseous. Fay trotted in and stirred the deadly contents inside the pot. She turned around and saw my visibly disoriented face.
“It’s thick and hearty beef stew,” Fay offered.
“Oh God,” I blurted out and ran out of the kitchen.
After gagging and eventually throwing up, I wiped my mouth slowly with a tissue. I couldn’t believe Fay’s signature stew was so rank that it caused me to puke. I stood up and leaned over the sink. I looked pale. I splashed some cold water over my face and rubbed my eyes.
“Um, Lily, are you okay?” I heard Fay call to me.
“Uh huh,” I mumbled.
“Do you have a bug?”
Um no, your rancid stew made me physically sick.
“Yeah, probably,” I said.
“Do you need anything?”
“Okay, I’ll let you go.”
Yeah that would be helpful, you crazy stew maker.
My body was tired. I trudged into the garage to discover Bobbi sleeping hunched over with Titanic playing on the tube. I giggled out loud. Pamela and Bobbi Dykes were one in the same.
I sat down next to her and yawned. Throwing up was tiring. I leaned my head against her shoulder and closed my eyes.
I woke up to the sound of Bobbi stirring and snorting.
“Lily?” Bobbi squinted her eyes to see me better.
“Yeah, it’s me.” I pulled away from her.
“You look terrible.”
“Well thanks, gram.”
“Oh stop, you know what I mean.”
“Well I threw up, thanks to Fay’s stew.”
“You ate it?”
“Nope, the mere scent of the crap made me sick.”
“Hm,” Bobbi pondered, “that’s odd.”
“Odd? Have you smelled that shit? It’s bad.”
“Well I guess tonight at dinner I will have to pull a ‘Grandma’s hemorrhoids are acting up again’ stunt.”
“Oh Lord,” I laughed, “not again.”
Dinner was typical. Nadine skipped it, Francis made his impending crush on Thomas more obvious, Curtis ate fast, Betsy mumbled to herself and my father and Fay attempted to quiet down Jojo and get him to eat his food. Of course, dinner was the rancid stew. I purposely ate beforehand so that I could tell my father that I was full and didn’t realize dinner was going to be ready so soon.
Afterwards, I could hear Jojo talking loudly upstairs.
I would have eavesdropped on the conversation, but I’m sure it was useless banter involving Jojo and a stuffed animal. Unless Betsy and him were fighting again, which was always a treat, like their last fight.
“Go away you weakling!” Betsy cried.
“No!” Jojo’s squeaky 4-year-old voice held out.
“Hey, that’s mine!”
“No, it’s mine.”
“You mangy bastard, give Lucy back.”
“Like Hell I will!” Betsy stomped back into her bedroom.
“Get away from me!” Jojo screamed as Betsy emerged from her bedroom with a needle.
“What’s that Jojo?” Betsy asked, evilly.
“Ahh Mommy!” Jojo cried and ran away.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” Betsy spoke to herself, after seeing Jojo’s reaction.
I had watched the whole fight. I was pleased with Betsy for scaring that gremlin of a boy, Jojo.
“Nice Job.” I crossed my arms.
“Thanks,” she smiled, proudly.
“Hey,” I said looking down at the needle, “where’d you get that?”
“Oh, why would she have a random needle in her room?”
“Tyrone brought it over.”
“Oh,” I said realizing it was indeed a needle for drug usage. “Can I see it?”
“No.” Betsy backed up.
“Lucy needs it; she’s been a bad girl.”
After reminiscing with myself, i continued to walk upstairs and still heard Jojo talking. It sounded like it was coming from Francis’s room. What a fucking idiot, how dare he go into our rooms?
I turned my head to look into Francis’s room and was surprised to discover, not Jojo, but Francis clad in Fay’s heels, purse, hat and bright red lipstick, talking to his Jake Gyllenhaal poster in a high-pitched feminine voice. He didn’t notice me.
“Oh Jakey, you make my body all hot and bothered.” Francis squealed.
“Um, what’s going on here?” I asked him.
Francis turned his head towards me in utter astonishment. His eyes told me ‘It’s not what it looks like’ But sadly, his outfit told me it was exactly what it looked like.
“Are you in Fay’s clothes?” I ended the silence.
He stood silently, resembling a deer caught in the headlights.
“You want to take them off?” I asked.
Still no answer.
“Yo,” I snapped my fingers in front of his face, “you want to take them off?”
“Uh, yeah,” Francis managed to spit out.
I turned around and walked towards my bedroom.
“Um Lily?” Francis called out to me.
“Yeah.” I turned around.
“No one hears about this, okay?” His eyes widened.
“Frankly Francis, I don’t think anyone would want to hear about this.”
“Ok.” He smiled slightly and returned to his room.
I closed my eyes and shook my head. What a day. No actually, what a life.
Amen I say to Jake.
This year of school was basically over.
Only one more week and that was just for exams. After exams I would be just as free as Bobbi. Free to sit on my ass, eat and sleep.
In the past weeks, I had grown used to the ringing sound of Jojo and Thomas’ voices, I didn’t like them, I had just learned to tolerate them. They made everything different. They decorated the house with poorly made finger paintings, they smelled of baby powder mixed with dirt and they didn’t hesitate to leave their belongings at my house for weeks on end. Little bastards.
“Lily?” my dad called to me
“Ugh, what?” I mumbled, loudly
“Where are you?”
“In the basement.”
I liked to sit in the basement by myself, sometimes, it calmed me.
“Oh, well can you come up here?”
“You’ve just been cooped up all day.”
“Well, me and Fay are going to take Jojo on a walk around the neighborhood and we want you to join us?”
Oh, there is no way in Hell I am going on some gay walk with my dad and his new fake child.
The sidewalk had just been re-done, it was white and scratch-free. My neighborhood was relatively new; it was just barely 10 years old. Once my dad became a Pastor in this town, the church supplied us with this house. Everything was supplied by the church, my dad probably only became a Pastor for the benefits.
“Shit!” I cursed
I had just stubbed my toe and it stung. Damn flip-flops.
“What was that?” My dad gave me a sideways glare
“That’s what I thought.”
Well good, you wrinkly old shit head. I didn’t want to be on this fucking walk. I just trailed along behind my father and Fay while Jojo rode his new bike ahead of them. I wonder who bought him that bike? Not my Dad, he’s never ever bought Fay’s children anything at all. SIKE.
I’m sure to Fay, Pastor Randy was one big daddy and cash cow for her children. Psh, he works for the church, how much money could he possibly have? Well I’m sure he didn’t hesitate to mooch off Nadine’s college fund, like she’d ever use it anyways.
I listened to my Dad and Fay chat.
“So, Mrs. Smith told me that Thomas is basically the smartest one in the 1st grade,” Fay bragged.
That was one of my pet peeves; parents thinking their kids are always geniuses.
NEWSFLASH! THEY’RE NOT.
“Well Thomas certainly is a very bright kid,” my dad agreed.
“Well,” Fay giggled “This one time we were in the grocery store and I told Thomas to grab me a generic brand orange juice and you know what he said? ‘Mommy get Tropicana because it’s fortified in vitamins and minerals’ Sometimes I wonder if he’s 7 or 27.” Fay laughed.
Okay, Fay, I’m sure Thomas heard that on a Tropicana commercial, you stupid slut.
“Ha, wow, he sure is our little prodigy isn’t he?”
No dad, he’s not your anything.
“Jojo,” Fay called “slow down on the bike, honey.”
We would have to head back soon, the sidewalk was ending up ahead for a road.
“I wonder where he gets his smarts from, certainly not me.” Fay smiled.
Who then? Your trashy alcoholic blind date, who impregnated you and then got roped into supporting this kid? Of course I really didn’t know who Thomas’s father was; I just made an educated guess.
“Jojo, slow down, I said!” Fay yelled.
Jojo obviously was ignoring her. He kept speeding along with no intent to stop for the road ahead.
“Brake! Jojo, Brake!” My father started to jog, slightly.
A car was zooming by and Jojo didn’t look like he was going to stop. Fay and my father ran up to try and stop him. I, on the other hand, stood still with my arms crossed, smiling. The thought of Jojo smashing into a vehicle, kind of delighted me.
“JOJO STOP!” Fay screamed.
Right as the car ran by, Jojo pushed on the brakes and slid into the rain gutter. He avoided the car and was safe, sitting casually on his bicycle.
Back at the house I took some aspirin for the headache I was nursing. I was angry with my dad for dragging me along that useless little walk. It was just him trying to force a relationship between Fay and me, once again.
I traveled upstairs to escape Jojo and his mother.
I heard a ripping noise coming from Curtis’s room. I peaked my head around the doorframe. Sure enough Curtis was sitting on his bed ripping a tee shirt. I walked in.
“Curtis, what are you doing?” I asked.
“Ripping this shirt.” He didn’t look up at me.
“Whose shirt is that?”
“Jojo’s,” he looked up at me, his eyes were red and puffy.
I sat down next to him.
“You hate them too?” I asked, softly.
“They never leave, I just want dad to be our dad again.”
I stared at Curtis. He was so innocent and genuinely sad. My heart ached for him.
“Don’t worry Curtis, dad still loves us, he’s just, oh I don’t know, preoccupied.”
“When will he not be pocipied?” Curtis butchered the word preoccupied.
“I don’t know, Curtis, I’m sorry.” I patted him on the back.
“I found this in my room.” Curtis lifted up Jojo’s shirt.
“Maybe if I rip his shirt, Jojo won’t come back and either will Thomas or Fay.”
“Maybe.” I smiled, weakly.
“Betsy said that dad got bored with us, so he’s replacing us.”
“Oh don’t listen to Betsy, you know she’s crazy.”
“I’m gonna take a nap, Curt, so I will check up on you later, okay?” I said.
“Okay, Lily.” He seemed happier. He had dropped the putrid shirt from his tan clenched hands.
In my room, I heard my father talking to Jojo. I looked out my window to discover my father tossing a baseball to Jojo in the backyard. Jojo would swing aimlessly at the air, not even looking at the ball.
“You have to keep your eyes on the ball,” my father instructed.
“Okay.” Jojo grinned,
My dad once again tossed the ball for Jojo to miss completely.
“Did I do good?” Jojo ran over to my dad and attached to his thigh.
“Aw just fine, Bub.” My father rubbed Jojo’s head.
My heart sank. Bub. I was Bub. Not that little father stealer, Jojo. I remembered a time when I was young and my father would play with me in the backyard. Short and uncoordinated, I would trip over myself and scrape my knees. My father would lift me up and tickle my stomach. I would laugh and tell him to stop, but when he did I would ask him to do it again.
“Grab the soccer ball, Bub.”
“Lillian, come over here, Bub.”
“Go on and wash your hands, Bub.”
“You know I love you, right Bub?”
All loving phrases my dad would use when I was young. Bub. What a stupid word. Why did I care so much? It was just a word, not even a word, just a useless nickname. But yet, it ripped at my heart and soul when he addressed Jojo with it. It was mine. It symbolized my childhood. Happy memories that I didn’t get to experience these days. Bub meant so much to me and my dad just threw it at Jojo like he didn’t even remember me. Curtis was right, dad had forgotten us. Warm tears streamed down my cheek. My lips trembled. The word had never meant so much, until now. When I watched Bub get carelessly passed down to someone other than me. I wanted my dad to call me Bub again; I wanted everything to go back to before the annulment. It wasn’t just about Bub; it was about losing my father to these foreign children and woman.
I wiped my tears and sealed shut my bedroom window, if I heard that word again, I might throw up. Not to mention the sight of Jojo’s face also made me sick these days.
God, help me adjust to not having a father.