Luther held his hand out for the keys patiently waiting for his mother to calm down, assess the moment and come to her senses. She insisted on driving from their city house to Nantucket and after the ride he’d endured on the way from the Logan Airport, there was no way; he’d rather walk, despite the nagging pains in his legs.
Editorial note: this is seventh in a series about the relationship between Claire and Luther. Please start here: www.mollyfielddotcom.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/friday-fiction-2-0-beyond-the-edge
“You can’t just come here for a weekend, mister, and tell me what to do. Everyone is trying to control me. We will get there when we get there. And we certainly won’t get there any sooner if I don’t have my Matisse scarf you bought me from the MoMA. And my sunglasses, where are my sunglasses? Have you seen them? Did you check the stove? The iron. Check the iron. Make sure it’s unplugged. Don’t look at me like that, Luther,” his mother said in a lather over nothing, shoveling through papers on her desk, picking them up and reading them, laughing, tossing them and looking through some more.
“Mother, the keys?”
“Why can’t you just relax?! I am trying to get everything done here and no one helps me.”
“Mother. The house looks fine; the timers are all set. I just want to open the windows on the car. It’s sitting in the sun and we have a long ride ahead of us if we don’t get going now. Google Maps is already showing back ups on the Sagamore, so we need to sort of… y’know get mov–”
“I don’t care about any traffic! I don’t care about the god damned Sagamore bridge. I want my sunglasses and my scarf. Here! Here are the keys! Open the windows, move the car, put it in the shade, drive it out of here, go to the Island, I don’t care. I can’t find my book, either. The one about Belushi… do you remember watching SNL with me when you were in high school? “The Samurai Delicatessen”?”
Luther’s mother Moira hurled the keys at him; they careened through the butler’s pantry and knocked his sunglasses off his face. They skidded across the floor and rested against the door jamb leading into the dining room.
Calmly, Luther took in a deep breath, like he was drawing on a water pipe, and bent over to retrieve his sunglasses. “Thank you for the keys. I had my hand out in case you didn’t notice. I don’t appreciate –”
“What I don’t appreciate, LUTHER, is your insistence that we get going. RIGHT NOW. We have time. If you weren’t such a nag, such a pain in the ass, I wouldn’t have had to throw the keys at you. Find the dog; he’s here somewhere. Your precious father wants him on the Island with us. Have you seen my letter from the attorneys?”
“Mother, I just walked in the door with you. Ten minutes ago. And no, I don’t remember watching “Samurai Delicatessen” with you; that was before my time. I’ll be right back; I’m going to go call Skipper. I have no idea what you’re talking about with the lawyer letters. I can’t ….”
“What can you do?” she hissed.
Luther left the kitchen of the cavernous Victorian brownstone house in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. He didn’t bother with the car, he didn’t take the keys with him. He slumped through the dining room and into the front hall where one of Skipper’s beds lay empty. Skipper, like any other sentient being in that household knew that when Moira started up, the best thing to do was to hide.
He called for Skipper as he walked around the house. It had been about a year since his last visit; piles of clutter were assembling in odd places in the house. The closet where leashes, gloves and winter items were stored was becoming modestly overtaken with magazines, old mail, and catalogs. Luther moved a few paper bags worth of mail out of the way and took out two leashes: the leather one for walks and the grosgrain one for swimming. As fantastic a dog as Skipper was, he often got distracted and disoriented when in the water and sometimes it was hard to get him to come back.
Skipper must have heard the rustling of the leashes; his nails clicking along the ceramic floor heralded his approach. His shiny black hair and glistening mauve nose instantly had a soothing effect on Luther.
“Heyyyy bud-dy, hiya Skipps! Were you hiding? Werrrre yooooou hiiiiding when mommmy went nuts agaaaaaaainnnn? Hmmmmm? Buuuuuddddyyyyy…” Luther kneaded his hands in Skipper’s ample neck fur and scruffy chest cavity. “Oof. You need a bath, buddy. You wanna go car soon?”
As soon as Skipper heard the phrase, “You wanna [anything],” he started to prance and bounce off the tiles, his nails clicking and his tail wagging and contorting his body into the shape of a C with every paw tap on the floor.
Their reunion was brief. Luther’s cell phone vibrated in his pocket. It was Claire calling from work. With both curiosity and dread he considered his phone. It was after three in the afternoon; a call at this time of the day on a Friday could mean a crisis at work. Or it could mean a casual conversation with his office mate. He decided to take his chances and answer the call.
With one hand stroking Skipper’s supple and warm neck and the other swiping the phone to activate the call, he cleared his voice and said, “Yyyesssss? Luther the invincible here. What can I do you for, Clarice?”
“Oh, hey. Luther. What’s up?”
“Uhhh, nothing. You called me…. were you hoping for the voicemail?”
“MMno. No. I wasn’t,” she said. “Hi.”
“Sooooo… are you missing me? Do you need me to talk dirty to you? Are you all alone this weekend, Clarice? Can you hear the lambs?” Luther’s insistence on calling her “Clarice” at times, in reference to the Jodie Foster character in “Silence of the Lambs” agitated her; to Luther it was a compliment because he thought Jodie was hot and the mystery of her sexuality was even more of a turn-on for him; another bonus to him was that the Clarice Starling character was strong, smart and courageous.
“Don’t call me that, Luther. Look, I’m just calling because I noticed your Dr. Dres are here and I wanted you to know. I am happy to overnight them to you if you would like them. I know how you need them to aggressively promote your disinterest in those around you,” she said, her voice lilting and sad at the same time. She was standing in his cubicle, holding his headphones over an open FedEx box. “All I need is the shipping address and I can have them to you by morning.”
“Using company funds for personal gain?? Clarice, the Bureau would never stand for this. Thanks for the offer, Peaches, but I’m good. I have my ear buds. As soon as I got on the plane I put them on; there was this girl from a college volleyball team and she started talking and talking to me… it was at that moment that I wish I had my Dres, but, naw, I’m good here. I could use something else here though, if you wanted to overnight that…. ”
Claire smiled, and squinted her eyes but said nothing.
“You there? Clarice? Hello?”
“I’m here. So you put on your headphones in front of that girl? How rude of you. She was probably just your type. Athletic, obtuse and narcissi–”
“Hay! I resent that. No, she’s not my type, besides she’s gone. And she had hers on before I even could find mine; sadly. I’m like 50 years old to her as far as she’s concerned. I eventually found mine in my breast pocket. Listen, this is starting to go in a not fun direction. is there anything else you want? I’ve got to put out a Moira fire and Skipper here needs to tinkle and stretch his legs. Me too.”
“Moira fire? You’re on a cell phone, you can talk while you walk the dog…”
“Yes, I can do that, but I don’t want to expose you to my mother’s … mood … at the moment. Do you want to come to the bathroom with me?”
“No! Eww. No… I don’t. Listen, I just wanted you to know I submitted my creative for the Congratulations and Revenge mocks and pilots. Your not being here was … helpful. Have a good weekend. Bye, Luther.”
Before Luther could reply with a snarky comeback, the phone call ended. He glanced at the phone, shrugged his shoulders and said to Skipper, “Dames. This one’s a tough nut to crack.” The pair walked out the front door into the sunshine. Luther turned on his music and listened to “Drive By” by Train. An irrepressible smile came across his face when he heard
This is not a drive by,
Just a shy guy looking for a two ply
Hefty bag to hold my love
When you move me, everything is groovy,
Luther used that smile to get him through the ride over the backed-up Sagamore as the backs of his thighs stuck to the leather seats in the family land yacht.
He was driving, his hands were on the steering wheel, and his eyes were on the road. Skipper was in the back seat panting with excitement for he could smell the water and that water meant freedom and Luther and swimming. Moira didn’t argue with Luther about driving to the house; she was uncharacteristically docile and agreeable when he returned from his walk with the dog. She was asleep in the passenger seat, her head leaning against her yellow microbead travel pillow and her mouth wide open in the fading early summer sunlight and music from “Porgy and Bess” was softly playing in the background.
(c) 2013 :: Molly Field
I wrote this in my car on my iPad (which I initially feared and hated when I got it for Christmas) on a trip to NYC for the weekend with the Things in the backseat and all manner of music from Pandora pouring from the speakers. If it stinks, that’s why. 🙂 I initially thought I wasn’t going to post at all, but I want to maintain my commitment to the my fiction friends.
Prompt: This week’s prompt (from the charming Clearly Kristal): If life gives you lemons, don’t settle for simply making lemonade – make a glorious scene at a lemonade stand.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
Your character was given lemons, now paint their amazing lemonade stand. Tell us the story of their darkness, their light. Write the story.
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