Mom clenched her jaw whenever she was pondering, sucking her cheeks in, trying to keep her abrasive thoughts to herself. I could see it so clearly, as she stood by the window by the front door, holding her coffee mug in both hands. Her long hair was tied in a knot, worn with a cream-colored blouse and conservative, middle-of-the-road midi skirt. It didn't matter how to put together she looked, I wouldn't trust her as my psychiatrist.
She was the only evidence I had of man's new-age-style third eye, she could open and close hers however she liked, it came down to who she wanted to analyze. Mom never analyzed her children, we were safe of her speculations, she didn't want to know our innermost thoughts. But soon as that third eye had its morning coffee, it was ready to go off at anyone else.
Today's subject was obvious by the way she gazed out the window, fixed on the house across the street. From behind her back, I saw Charlie outside. He must have invested in a big, red shovel to replace his father's old broom. A broom didn't cut it in this winter. Charlie was shoveling snow from the driveway, implying he was moments away from getting in his mother's station wagon and driving off.
Mom noticed me standing still at the bottom of the stairs, promptly waving me over to the window. I had previously warned her I wasn't interested in her analytics, but now I was more than a little curious.
"Look at him," Mom ordered, pointing at Charlie and the third, new jacket I had seen him wearing in two weeks, this one in brown suede, "it's like a curse fell upon him at a full moon, and this is his were-form."
"Or he changed after losing his father and brother," I suggested. I considered myself done analyzing Charlie's behavior, now that I knew the existence of forces a lot worse than him.
"Doesn't look like he's been going easy with Johan's money," Mom pointed out, "the hair, the wardrobe... It's like he used to be Crispin Glover in Back To the Future, and..."
"And, now he's like... Crispin Glover at the end of Back To the Future."
"Are your association skills better at the office?" I snarled.
"Give me a break, it's early."
Admittedly, Mom presented an interesting point. Charlie had gone through a lot of changes since he became the master of the estate, and I say master as I hadn't seen Alma since the hospital visit. It was weird, I was so sure the doctor had told me was being released last week.
I followed Mom into the kitchen on her quest to get a refill on her coffee,
"I feel sorry for Alma," Mom admitted, "must be hard being stuck with such a nasty kid in her condition."
I wasn't yet at the right age for my parents to go into retrospect about our neighbors, it was weird, even when it came from my filter-lacking mother.
"Her condition?" I said, "what do you mean?"
"I really shouldn't say," Mom answered, realizing she may have overstepped.
"No, please. Do."
Mom sighed, she knew it would be unprofessional of her to talk smack about the Derricks. That's not to say she hadn't done it before, there was always the occasional, childish comment on Alma's hair, or parody of Johan pushing his business offers on us in random conversations. But there had never been a mention of Alma's "condition", and dubbing any child as nasty was excessive, even for her.
"Marcia, I don't think Alma liked her family, not one bit. She loved Johan, but that was the extent of it."
"What about her kids?"
YOU ARE READING
ShadrachMystery / Thriller
1987: teenaged stoner Marcia Hazan finds herself trapped in a mystery larger than life when she takes it upon herself to solve the mystery of her neighbor's disappearance one cold night in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon. WATTY'S WINNER AND EDITOR'...