Sam and Dave were staking out Rick again, sitting in their car along some hedges at the side of a house. Nice neighborhood. Quiet. The subject was going to dinner at his mother’s house. They were curious to see who Rick tried to have killed.
Sam and Dave – Feds, posing as international mobsters, posing as strip club regulars – were starting to look like they lived in their car. It had been weeks since their suits were cleaned, and the garbage was starting to pile up in the back. The car smelled of fat man, black man, ex hamburgers and dried up fries. Sam and Dave had dark rings under their eyes, and white rings in their nostrils. Sam’s hands shook and Dave was always sniffling and rubbing his nose.
Sam and Dave saw Gordon and Laurie drive by. Dave made a note.
“What’re they doing here?”
“She’s probably the entertainment.”
“I wish I could watch thru the window.”
* * *
Gordon and Laurie drove to Mom’s in silence. Gordon savored the companionable vibe between two compatible souls. Laurie thought how bored she was with Gordon’s dullness. She could have mentioned the club and opened his floodgates, but she turned on the radio instead. Gordon’s obsession with politics bored her more than silence. She unscrewed her flask.
Gordon tried to steer the conversation to the thickening around Laurie’s waist. He’d noticed it a couple of weeks ago, when she was throwing up alot. Not that it was unusual for Laurie to throw up. But you couldn’t just ask her if she thought she might be pregnant. She was touchy about her figure.
Laurie waved off Gordon’s concern. She wasn’t gaining weight, she was just bloated. Gordon was such a worry wart. She was getting tired of it. One of her sugar daddies was a film director and he’d been talking about making her a star, so she thought about that and they lapsed into silence again.
Gordon parked in front of Mom’s house. He stood at the curb with Laurie in his arms and looked at the house, pretending not to notice Sam and Dave on the corner. He loved that house. He grew up there. He remembered how they used to play war as kids; all the neighborhood kids would choose up sides and shoot pretend guns and lob pretend grenades. Gordon skulked around the edges of the battle interfering with one side and then another, singling out his enemies one by one. Lobbing real sticks and real stones.
Allen opened the door and said a friendly hey to his old friends. He and Gordon did a gang sign.
Laurie shoved him aside with her hip. “What’s that little creep Allen doing here?”
Gordon winked at Allen. “He’s on assignment.”
Mom was in the formal living room, sitting in Dad’s wingback. There were new drapes and the ceiling was freshly painted. Gordon praised the work while Allen described the fire.
Gordon and Laurie sat side by side on the couch. He held her hand. It kept her from fidgeting.
“Mom, this is Laurie.” Mom looked her up and down and forced a smile. Laurie glared back at her and said nothing. Laurie and Mom took instant dislikes to each other. Mom thought evil of anyone who would go out in public dressed like that. Laurie hated Mom because of what she did to Gordon as a child.
“So, Laurie, how long have you been seeing each other?” Mom peered at Laurie, who wouldn’t return her gaze.
“Oh, a while.” No way was the bitch going to get anything from her.
Mom looked perplexed. “Gordon, how come I never heard anything about this, sweetie?”
Gordon rubbed Laurie’s shoulder. “Well, Mom, I didn’t want to jinx it.” He lowered his voice. “I’m kind of serious about this one.”
“Are you, now?” Mom mused. She turned back to Laurie. “And what do you do, my dear?” she asked, a fixed smile on her face.
“Oh, I work in a bar,” she said, waving vaguely. “Cocktail waitress.”
Gordon didn’t like Mom’s smile. “Don’t be modest,” he said, looking for something to impress her. “She’s been studying dance.” Laurie left marks on his ankle telling him to shut up.
Mom’s smile turned icy. “Ballet?”
Laurie grimaced politely. “Folk dance.” She’d taken up dancing for its healthy effect on tips, but after an affair with the teacher ended badly, she continued to let Gordon think she was going for lessons, and went to see a sugar daddy instead. “College,” she continued, not fond of the look on Mom’s face. “For my doctorate.”
“Oh.” Mom got a nasty look on her face. “At least you’re not an actress.”
Gordon stepped in to enquire about Mom’s health, and the focus was off of Laurie. For which she wasn’t the slightest bit grateful. Gordon’s pandering to his mother pissed her off. Mom’s probing questions upset her. Prosecuting attorneys weren’t as unpleasant. She felt queasy again. She excused herself to go to the bathroom. Once inside, she locked the door, sat down, unscrewed the pint flask, and rooted around her purse for some pharmaceuticals.
While Laurie was gone, Gordon whispered to Mom that he thought she might be carrying his child, and that he wanted to do the right thing. Mom was immediately torn. The thought – what an odious daughter-in-law – was equally balanced by the vision of more grandchildren. Unlike Rick, Gordon would let her see his children. On the whole, she was delighted by the prospect. Especially that he wanted to make it legal. Especially that there’d be new babies.
“You know,” he remarked wistfully, “I would propose on the spot if I only had a ring.” Mom thought for a moment, and then in a fit of generosity, offered to let him use her engagement ring. He was effusive in his thanks, and helped to wrench it from her finger.
* * *