Chapter 40. One Last Hurrah

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I had a plan. As with many of my plans -alright, as with all my plans, I didn't spend too long crafting it. Though this time I thought it through.

It was black outside at 7am sharp, from outside the Derrick house I heard the faint - yet distinct sound of George Michael. Charlie sure wanted that as his trademark for whatever reason. When I opened the door, which, by the looks of the yellow Post-It above the knob, told me to 'come in, come in,' I smelled scrambled eggs and real-brand orange juice. I liked neither, and as if the feeling of the Derrick house was not enough to make me nauseated, the breakfast Charlie served was the nail in the coffin.

When I phoned in late-night, asking to meet him at his house the next evening, Charlie insisted on me coming for breakfast instead, saying he read in a prep life magazine somewhere that breakfast was the new dinner. I doubted the atmosphere would work but was quick to remember early morning could easily be mistaken for an elusive evening this time of the year.

Charlie had purchased a new housecoat, shedding the terry cloth bathrobe I was used to seeing him in. This one was deep red, I wanna say, satin. He was standing over the kitchen counter with a knife, preparing to slice up the Fred Meyer-fresh baguette on the heart-shaped wooden board beneath when he noticed me. He left the knife in hand as his newly shaved chin was directed at me.

"Marcia, Marcia Marcia. I was starting to think you had overslept," Charlie commented in a sing-songy pitch. He put the knife down and hurried to place two champagne glasses of orange juice on the carefully orchestrated breakfast table.

"I haven't slept," I mumbled.

I thought of Uncle Mal's bit about breakfast tables versus lunch tables, trying not to think those hands rearranging my cutlery had murdered his entire family.

I took a deep breath, I don't know how many of these I'd have to take before the technique started working. Drop the deep breaths, I said to myself, they make you look nervous.

"You look nervous," Charlie pointed out, moving back into the kitchen to turn down the tiny radio sitting atop of his mother's old cookbooks, "your face says you have bad news."

"This is just what my face looks like."

"Good," Charlie said, putting the remaining food on the breakfast table, carefully placed around two lit candlesticks on a Christmas green tablecloth, "we've been through a lot, Marcia, we deserve to have fun now."

Charlie called dibs on the master seat by the end of the table, I followed at the seat to his right. Under his robe, he wore a navy-blue turtleneck and dark gray slacks. I dropped my fork on the Persian rug to have a look under the table where, sure enough, he had already put on his boat shoes. In comparison, I must say I came out looking rather shabby. The only maintenance I did after last night was a warm bath to regain heat, before immediately jumping into the nearest pullover fleece and least eye-popping scrunchie for my hair.

"Dig in," Charlie ordered, catching a piece of the Fred Meyer baguette from a hand-woven basked with his fork, "I made too much food, I keep forgetting I'm the only one here."

"You always make yourself grandiose breakfast buffets?"

"Oh God, no!" he whinnied, "I usually veg out, but since you wanted to be my date for breakfast, I figured..."

"I get it," I answered, holding up my glass of pulpy orange juice, "you wanna be master of the house."

"Charles in Charge."

"Until, of course, your mom gets home."

Charlie put his butter knife down. While fetching a decent answer, he instead chewed on the single strawberry placed on the rim of his glass.

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