Thursday, April 14, 2011


Eunice met Jerrica at the back door, and the sisters hugged in the kitchen.  Washing dishes and doing laundry for a house full of unmedicated crazy teenagers wasn't the best job in the world, but it helped pay the bills that Jerrica and Duncan shared, and it came with a little locker, not accessible to Duncan, where Jerrica kept her uniform, spare tampons, a hair brush, and the small, but growing stash of cash that Eunice gave her every now and then for emergencies.

Eunice liked Duncan well enough, although she didn't much like knowing that they were all over each other every free minute of the night and day, but you couldn't be too careful.  She'd heard enough stories from her father's tenants about boyfriends using money for drugs or prostitutes or gambling or man-toys to be a least a little concerned that Duncan might do the same.

Even though Jerrica was staff, rather than a resident (the Anderson family could never afford it), and was a performer rather than a visual artist, her wild zest and age helped her to blend in with everyone else.  The uniform was different every week, as part of the regular duties of the residents with an interest in fashion.  Jerrica spent a few hours a week modeling for them in addition to her more mundane duties, and she loved it.  Nothing could make her happier than to have a room full of people admiring her beauty, even if they were artists whose technical skills weren't always superior.  Today's outfit looked like a flapper dress that had experienced an unfortunate run in with a lawn mower.  It was full of long slits in places you wouldn't expect them to be.  On her head she wore a matching Fez.  Her makeup, as usual, was dramatic.

Jerrica popped one tray of buffalo streaks, cooked very rare, after the other, alternating them with peppers, onions andd mushrooms to roast.  Clearly, her cooking had improved from what she'd made at home.  Last visit, she'd said that she made a sit down dinner every night for Duncan and her, complete with tablecloths, napkins, and candles.  At home, it had been hard to convince her to cook up some ramen for herself.

The improved cooking had not shown up in her figure.  Jerrica still had a lithe dancer's figure, and she had made Eunice swear she would never tell their parents, worked every other afternoon as pole dancer at a cocaine club favored by African immigrants that somebody had set up in an old speakeasy, although she claimed she never used the stuff herself.  To them, she was exotic.  Eunice wasn't convinced that Jerrica was telling the truth about not using, but she made a point of trying not to pry, even though it was her job to pry into everyone else's lives.  Eunice had asked about getting a job bussing there once or twice a week, even though she didn't need the money, so that she could listen to people talk when their guard was down.

"How's dad?", Jerrica asked.

"He finally got a ladder to take down your pictures from under the Cathedral ceiling shelf this week.  Saying your name aloud, even to mom, provokes a top of his lungs roar.  He's been drinking more lately.  And, half the time he pretends that even I don't exist, maybe because I remind him of you.", Eunice answered.

"That bad, huh?"

"He's talking about converting your old bedroom into a kennel for pets left behind when tenants are on vacation."

Jerrica turned her back to Eunice and made a sound that was some sort of mix between a sob and a snort.

"How's it going in the love shack?"

"Duncan's getting more and more shifted by himself now, and I sit behind the counter while he's working on client's machines in the garage when I can.  Lots of the customers and all the vendors know me now.  The boy is really good with his hands, you know . . . ."

Eunice's hands shot up in a stopping motion before too much information was imparted.

"We part of a softball team made up of motorcycle repairers and their girlfriends and office girls that competes against other work related teams around the city.  We're up against the dentists and dental hygenists this Saturday at Lowry if you want to come and watch."

Eunice nodded, despite knowing that there was almost no chance that she would actually come.

"Gotta go," Eunice said, as they hugged and she stuffed a thin roll of hundred dollar bills into her sister's cleveage, and out she walked into the sultry night air for the long trip home to Highland's Ranch.

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