I awoke the next morning, a Saturday, to the sound of a baby crying and the strong smell of bacon cooking in the underworld. There really is nothing more distinct than the smell of bacon cooking. It has a strength to it, a powerfulness, it’s almost pushy about it. It has a hypnotic purpose that draws people to the table like zombies. But I had other things on my mind.
I got up and dressed and went out into the hallway. Maine’s cries were louder, and I went into the guest room where they had decided to keep him. I pushed in on the slightly ajar door. My sister Emily was holding him, rocking him, trying to soothe him. She turned when she sensed me standing there.
“Good morning, Everett,” she said, and she looked down at Maine in her arms. “I’m afraid I’m not very good at this. Would you like to try?”
I moved closer and took the baby from her. I awkwardly held him.
“Make sure to support his head,” Emily instructed. “That’s very important.”
“Or his neck will break?”
She shook her head at me. “I don’t think his neck would break… It just isn’t good for them.”
I did as she said and soon Maine settled in my arms. I looked at my sister who was oddly watching me. “What is it?” I asked her.
“Nothing really. It’s just I never expected to see such a moment such as this in my lifetime — my baby brother Everett holding a baby. It just doesn’t seem real, that’s all.”
“You don’t think I’d make a good father?”
“Well, for that, you must first have a girlfriend… A real girlfriend. Not a fly-by in the night,” and she nodded toward Maine. “Don’t get too far ahead of yourself.”
I paused for a moment as I looked at her, suddenly remembering the taste of her mouth for some odd reason. “I need to talk to you about something. Would you go for a walk with me?”
“What is it you want to talk about?” she asked with a scrunched face of curiosity.
“It’s important. Please?”
“Okay. Take him down to Eliza and let me get dressed. I will meet you out in the front of the house.”
I smoked a cigarette as I waited in the cold and wondered what I would say to her and how I would say it. I tried to predict her reaction, but the only outcome I saw was her being mad. Very mad. At me.
The front door opened. She was wearing a puffy green winter jacket, a scarf, and she had a raspberry beret atop her head. I was reminded of that Prince song. “Okay,” she halfheartedly smiled. “Let’s go for that walk.”
We moved side-by-side along a snowy sidewalk lined with tall trees, iron and stone fences, and big fancy houses beyond them. There was the dead crispness of winter in the air. The dark branches above us were leafless and crooked like old fingers. I looked over at one of the opulent homes through a vapor of my own chilled breath, and I saw people in a big window, and they were just living their lives in a seemingly perfect way and then I wondered why mine always seemed so damn broken, the pieces of it scattered in a fit of rage.
“So…” she began. “What’s this important thing you need to talk to me about? The kiss? Because I haven’t forgotten about it… And I don’t mean that as a compliment.”
“No. It has nothing to do with that.”
“Well, then what is it?”
“I don’t know how to tell you this and I really don’t want to. But I think it’s something you need to know.”
She stopped walking and we looked at each other for a cold moment. “You’re scaring me. What’s going on? Is it dad? I know he’s been slipping a bit…”
“Emily. It’s about Frost.”
“Frost? What about him?”
I just let it out. “He’s cheating on you.”
“And not only that… I saw him with mother.”
“What do you mean you saw him with her?”
“He’s having an affair with our mother. They are being intimate with each other. Physically. I saw them last night. At the house.”
She stared at me for a long while, a tear fell out of one eye and slowly slid down her cold face. She sniffled, and then she scoffed in disbelief. “You are a sick son of a bitch,” she sneered, and then she slapped me hard across the face. It stung. “I know you don’t care for the man I love and am devoted to, but you don’t need to make up some horrible lie about him in an attempt to sabotage our happiness together. That’s unforgiveable, even for you, and you should be terribly ashamed of yourself. And to include our mother in your disturbed fairy tale. I can’t even stand the sight of you right now.”
She gave me a hateful look and then stormed off back toward the house.
“Emily!” I cried out. “It’s not a lie! I can prove it!”
She ignored me and just kept on going.
When I got back to the house, it was very quiet, as if everyone scurried off to hide in their own personal little holes of hell in the walls. I went into the kitchen to get a drink from the refrigerator. I investigated the sunroom and tipped back a plastic bottle of cranberry juice. Eliza was sitting in there, and she was in the very same chair that played host to reckless adultery the night before. She was holding Maine and feeding him a bottle. I stepped inside. She was somewhat startled when she saw me.
“Hello, master Everett,” she said, and then she looked down at the baby vacuuming the formula from its bottle. “He was a hungry little man.”
“Thank you for helping with him. I know it’s not really part of your job.”
She looked up and smiled at me. It seemed to be the first genuine smile I had seen in a very long time. She was pretty in a foreign way. I never had noticed that before. “But this is much better than polishing silver all day long — silver that doesn’t even need polishing,” she said with a frustrated little laugh. “I don’t mind at all. In fact, I will miss him very much when it is decided that he must go. I almost wish I could keep him.”
“He would have a good life with you… I’m sure much better than the one that’s going to be decided for him.” I looked around the room and I was suddenly struck with a wicked idea on how to convince Emily that I wasn’t making up some terrible lie. I bent down to Eliza, and I lovingly kissed her on top of her head. Her dark hair smelled like a flower garden.
She seemed a little shocked. “Everett? Is everything okay with you?”
“Yes. I’ll be alone in my room if anyone needs me.”
That night, once I knew Emily and my father had drifted off into whatever terrible dreams they were destined to dream, I buried myself in a corner of the four-season porch and waited in the cover of half-darkness. I knew that eventually my mother and Frost would stir, their bellies tingling with sexual excitement, and they would come together at their rendezvous point to connect the plug to the socket.
It was Frost who came first. He was wearing what looked like nothing but boxer shorts and a T-shirt. He stood near the windows and looked out. He tilted some sort of a drink toward his mouth. Then he turned when he heard my mother enter. She quickly went to him, and they embraced each other with a kiss. Then she took a step back from him and whispered, “I think Emily knows something.”
“Evelyn. Darling. She couldn’t,” Frost whispered back. “We’ve been very discreet.”
I carefully pushed the buttons that would make my old tape recorder, the one from my high school days, start recording. I stuck a corded microphone out into the darkness to better pick up their voices, their animal noises.
Frost pulled my mother closer to him and started kissing her again. He worked to undress her. She started breathing hard. Then she stopped him. “Wait. I’m serious. She was acting strangely today. She was very moody. Very quiet. Something is on her mind.”
“And you need to stop convincing yourself that this thing on her mind is us. Emily has a lot on her plate right now. It could be a million other thoughts.” And Frost pulled her close again to kiss her some more.
“But I don’t feel right about this,” my mother asserted as she pulled away once more. “Not here. Not now. Let’s wait until we can meet up in the city again. This is too risky. We’re playing with our very lives.”
“But I can’t wait,” Frost groaned. “I just can’t wait. I must have you.” And that’s when he forced her to the couch and laid down on top of her. He quickly spread her legs and worked himself inside her and that is the point my mother completely surrendered, and from there they went full throttle, and the noises they made were devastatingly perfect.
FINAL CHAPTER STILL TO COME
Read the previous part of this story HERE.