FAMILY SECRETS - LINDA K. SIENKIEWICZ
I’m frozen, unable to utter a note, my fingers wrapped tighter around the cordless mike than if it were Jim Morrison’s dick. Razor yanks the cord on his bass from the amp while shaking his head, but Dougie keeps banging away on his guitar, oblivious to the bad vibes, his head down, long black hair tangling in the strings. It isn’t that I forgot the words to our new song, Use Once and Destroy, it’s the image that materializes in front of me, as if conjured by the hand-waving audience, of Mother climbing into the back of a Mercedes with tinted windows with that idiot gigolo, Sylvester.
When I delivered the cake for the retirement party Mother was catering (in addition to being a vocalist and a con, I happen to be an award-winning cake decorator) earlier today, Sylvester the Snake was fawning over Mother, who was twisting the curls at her nape and innocently batting her cow eyes at him. Not yet fifty, she’s a sharp-looking widow (for the second time), but too naïve to see what’s going on right in front of her face. I’m the first to admit I’d said good riddance to my stepdad when the fat guy croaked a few months ago, but Sylvester wasn’t who I had in mind as a replacement. The idea of that viper-tongued thug jumping Mother’s bones makes my toenails waffle.
Razor stomps offstage. Since I still can’t seem to summon my voice, Dougie finishes the song: “She disappears like smoke from a cherry bomb,” and the Mercedes in my vision speeds off as smooth as a stealth into a starless sky. Disgruntled fans in the front row boo and someone pelts me with a crushed cigarette pack. Dougie gets in my face, his eyes wild. “Hey, Jodie, what the fuck?” he whines, but I shove the cordless mike into his chest and run home, afraid for Mother.
I’m certain Sylvester is only after what (or who) my beer-barrel-gut stepdad cemented under the new patio a month before he was gunned down in a supposed carjacking; I say supposed because the crooks left the car behind. The only good thing about my stepdad being popped is at least he made Mother a very rich widow. In fact, she’s astonished at how rich she is. It was clear to me that he was crotch deep in some shady deals because I'd been watching him for the Palizzi Brothers for years. What Mother doesn’t know won’t hurt her—let her think stepdad was a saint—but I can’t bear to see Sylvester charm his way under her skirt, or under that patio. I have to save her. I know who’s there, and she would be in a mighty tight spot indeed if she knew.
My heart starts jackhammering the moment I realize Sylvester’s Mercedes is parked in her driveway. Hoping to catch him in a compromising position, I go around to the back of the house. As I near the sliding glass door, I hear a loud pop-pop that makes my stomach lurch halfway up my throat. I’m too late, I think, as I force myself to look inside. I can't believe what I see: Mother is shaking her head as she stands over Sylvester, who’s bleeding into the living room Berber. I bang on the glass, and she hurries to let me in.
“Where the hell did you get a gun?” I ask her. It looks like mine. In fact, it is mine. “Hey, why are you pointing it at me?”
“Get in. I don’t know how to tell you this, sweetie, but it’s time to enlarge the patio,” she says.
BIO: Linda's short stories appear in the Cleis Press anthology "Frenzy: 60 Stories of Sudden Sex," and other print and online magazines, and her poetry has been published in numerous journals including Prairie Schooner, Rattle, Permafrost, Slipstream and others. An excerpt from her unpublished crime novel about a biker club won second place in the Springfed Arts-Metro Detroit Writers competition. She has an MFA from the University of Southern Maine. Her website is Linda K Sienkiewicz.
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