Kimberly sat silent as she fidgeted with the smooth, grey polyester seat belt. Her best friend drove a white Malibu forward into the parking lot of Mr. Pickles which sat at the far end of Willow Street. “Oh, shit – looks like we hit the jackpot Sis!” Samantha became excited seeing the parking lot littered with empty beer bottles and cigarette butts from the previous night.
“One of these days we won’t have to rummage through trash like this…” Kim responded.
“Pffft! Get yer head out of the clouds Kimmy ain’t nothin’ ever gonna change in Texas – that’s just the way most folks like it!”
Kim sighed as both women exited the car, each pulling their aviator sunglasses down over their eyes so they could better survey the scene through the early morning sunlight. The air was dry and crisp, slightly chilled for the end of May and the sky was glowing a classic blue. Kimberly scanned the surroundings; her gaze narrowed and afforded a detailed view from where she was standing. On that day she was dressed in a long sleeve button up purple shirt with a deep neckline, it was tucked into red ankle split pants which met with gleaming black pumps. Her elegant brunette hair was draped across narrow shoulders, a charming bronze deco necklace afforded a unique pizzazz. When she felt like it, Kimberly could dress to the nines.
“You look sultry, Kim!”
Kim turned her head and peered over the rim of her sunglasses before delivering to Sam a big Texas grin. Samantha was wearing a white, blue checkered dress met with red heels that closely matched her wavy red hair. Her blue eyeshadow and heavy mascara made her appear either glamorous or dangerous depending on how she was smiling. “Thanks, Sis! You look rather stunning yourself” Kim told her. The two girls chuckled for the ego fanning before sneering at the corniness.
“Whatcha taking at school Kim?” Samantha asked.
“Ah yeah! How about ‘Veterinary Technician’?”
“…ACC Kim? You wanna be a”–
“DON’T SAY IT! SAM – DON’T S”–
“A RiverBat?” Sam asked to which Kim dropped her head in resignation. “Come on Kim, you know yer smarter than that. How much do they even make? Is it at least a hundred thousand dollars? That’s what my Dad says you gotta make every year to make it in Texas, Sis.”
“I want the job stability, Sam. Hey – what’s this?” Kim asked as she picked up the charred remains of a burned down hand-rolled cigarette. She held it up to her nose, then sneered before dropping it back on the parking lot. “Nah – it’s tobacco. Keep looking. So, how’s Marvin doing?”
“Marvin’s an asshole – hey, found one!” Sam held up a tiny rolled up piece of paper that was brown and even a little sticky at the end. It didn’t look like it had much left which could be smoked.
“What the hell is that Sam? What, are we supposed to snort this?” Kim said causing both girls to erupt in laughter as they headed back towards the Malibu before setting down on the trunk. Using a pair of forceps, the pair managed a couple of hits off the roach before the tiny fragment completely expired.
“Well, that was about pointless,” Sam said.
“Hey, did you check that cigarette pack over there?” Kim asked.
“What cigarette pack? Where?” Sam questioned.
Kim pushed herself up off the trunk of the Malibu and walked over to the east side of the building where underneath a bench sat a square red and silver box which featured the Marlboro branding. She stooped down, picked the pack up from under the bench and then looked back at her friend. Sam hunched her shoulders and held her palms up to the sky. After taking a deep breath, Kim opened the pack. “OH MY GOD – OH MY GOD SAM LOOK!” Sam ran over to her friend who then pulled an intact, unburnt, professionally pre-rolled marijuana cigarette from the otherwise empty pack.
“Holy shit – I can smell it from all the way over here! Put that back in the pack and let’s go get some lunch… here, I’ll put it in my purse.” Sam exclaimed.
Kim could almost feel the heat of the smoke and the relief it would provide from her aching joints. She wanted to light it up right there but reluctantly replaced it and handed the pack over to Sam. “That’s gotta last us all week!”
“Celebrate with lunch? I’m buying!” Samantha offered with a toothy grin.
“Well if you’re buying – then for certain I’m in!” Kimberly was hungry.
Both girls returned to the car, and after starting it back up left the parking lot of Mr. Pickles. Willow street was highlighted in every direction with distant, glassy high rises. After driving only two blocks down the road Kim and Sam arrived at one of their favorite lunch destinations, “Senior Burger Impala”.
Inside, the pair greet their hostess and are led to a booth towards the center of the back of the restaurant looking out towards Austin Community College.
“UGH! Come on Kim – the purple river bat?”
“What’s up Marvin’s ass today?”
Sam grinned at the tactic of changing subjects and indulged her best friend. “Marvin wants me to stay at his house this weekend but I want to go party at Nelly Cs.”
“Nelly Cs is an intense scene Sis.”
“That’s why you’re going with me Sis!” Samantha stated with an indulgent bright grin and accompanying eyelash flutter.
“Don’t be a poser Sam,” Kim said allowing Sam’s grin to fade, “maybe, I dunno what mom is going to be doing this weekend and I don’t want to be on the short end of her gigantic shit list.”
“Oh, your mom IS the queen of shit lists, Sis.” Sam looked around the restaurant before asking, “How’s your skin? Hey – why don’t you go to that Morgellons group? They just had a conference last week across the river…”
The girl’s food finally arrived; Kim received the All American Burger with Patriot Fries while Sam opted instead for the German Kaiser Sautéed Onion Burger Bomb with Super Onion Rings. Kimberly started eating a few fries before finally responding to her friends’ question, “Hell no Sam – those people think they got chemtrails coming out their skin!”
Sam about choked on an onion ring before taking a big gulp of her Dr. Pepper. After regaining her composure, she said, “I don’t know which is weirder, chemtrails or RiverBats Sis.”
In the back of the restaurant a very aged senior wearing a beige, Members Only jacket perked up, his voice was faint as he strained to exclaim to the pair, “it’s true!” The old man pointed up towards the sky “Chemical death dumps!” he continued pointing at the sky and tried to stand up.
“Barry, sit down – Barry – you need to relax, Barry!” his friend was telling him.
“Death dumps…” The old man trailed off as he ran out of energy.
“That’s right just sit down and enjoy your eggs… sweetie” The man’s lady companion had a tall head of silver hair which matched silver rings with black inlaid stones that wrapped around her gnarled fingers, deformed with arthritis. She patted the old man’s hand as he made a gradual descent back into his seat, his eyes seemed to harbor fear as he regarded her. Her black sequin blouse glimmered when she spun around to cut a cold stare across the restaurant at Kimberly and Samantha.
After a moment of staring between the three Kimberly finally spoke up, “Let’s get this to go, Sam.”
“Yeah… yeah – hey WAITRESS! Check please?”
After they collected their food and Sam paid the cashier, the pair returned to the car and turned out of the parking lot. Before they could make the getaway, however, Kimberly and Samantha were stopped at a traffic light beside the restaurant. “What time is your registration event Sis?” Sam asked.
“It’s not an event darlin’, I just gotta show up and convince them I can pay for what they’re going to teach me. I figure if I get in now for the summer, I won’t have to wait three years to get my degree… Hey – do you feel that?”
Samantha had a concerned, almost painful look on her face as she stared out the passenger side window past her friend. Kim felt a chill run up her spine when she realized Sam was fixated. She turned to see herself and there, still seated at the back of the restaurant was the old lady intently watching the pair through the window. She never blinked or trained her eyes away from them. The old man was nowhere to be seen. Kim turned back to Sam before saying in a faint tone, “You got a green light, Sis.” Samantha snapped out of it before hitting the gas and propelling the white Malibu through the intersection. “You know what Sam, maybe I will go with you to Nelly C’s…”
After a silent ride, the pair arrive at Kim’s house in the pleasant suburb of Windsor Park. “Thanks for lunch Sis, what time are you getting out of work tonight?” Kim asked.
“Oh hell – that bitch new girl quit yesterday so Bill’s got me working until midnight. Hey, you ought to stop by early next week and put in an application. I mean, Bill’s a serious creep… but shit – he pays on time!” Samantha responded.
“Ha ha ha ha! I’ll have to think about it. Thanks, darlin’!” Kim said before shutting the door.
“Think about it – you know school is cool but living with your parents, not so much!” Sam blew Kim a kiss as she circled out of the cul-de-sac and continued down the road out of the neighborhood. Kimberly sighed as she watched her best friend drive off into the distance.
After she entered the garage through the side door Kimberly froze and dropped her keys when she noticed her mothers’ white Mercedes was nowhere to be seen. She backed up against the wall, her stomach dropped like a brick into her gut, she became cold and clammy and sweat appeared above her brow. After thinking about it for several moments, Kimberly pulled her cell phone out of her pocket, scrolled through the contact list and paused before tapping the screen. She brought her cellphone close to her ear, closed her eyes, and sighed before the person on the other end answered.
“It’s me, Dad,” Kimberly said.
“Well, what is her fu – fuhreaking problem, Kim? For the love of – SIGH. Alright… alright, pumpkin I know it ain’t your fault… No, I’m glad you called me because I’m proud to be able to take you to do this. I just… wish it was earlier in the day but that’s your mother… I know angel, hang on I’m on my way.” Dennis hung up the thin black receiver at his desk before turning his attention back to work. “Jeff, Barb is pulling some shit again and I gotta go take my kid up to ACC for registration.”
“Ah – the RiverBats! Congratulations, Mr. B!” Jeff replied.
“Yeah – thanks, Jeff. Jeffery, can YOU present our proposal to the study group? Get that funding for our department so we can crunch out some higher quality materials?”
“Uhh Mr. B., the only thing I’m not clear on is the DH-2 paperwork.” Jeffery, a thin Latino man with thick glasses, stringy hair and a slight mustache responded while shuffling through four stacks of papers on his desk. “How do we get Floor 3 to sign off on this without a DH-2?”
“Listen, that’s simple – GARY HERNANDEZ, over in R and T sends our DH -IR up to Floor 3 which typically signs it back over to us. INSTEAD, YOU are going to get the DH -IR, WALK it over to Gary’s desk and he’s going to sign a DH-2 BO or bypass override. Got that?”
“Wait… yeah, DH -IR, Gary’s Desk then a… a DH-3?”
“BO JEFF, BO!!” Dennis shouted, then three random employees from the vast cube farm each stood up, turned to face his desk, and looked to see what all the hubbub about this very important BO was all about.
After clocking out Dennis left the building, jumped into his car, sped over to where Kim was at before slamming on the breaks at the end of the cul-de-sac which terminated in contrast of black pavement against the white concrete of Barbara’s driveway leading up to the garage in front of the house he used to pay the mortgage on. He thought about pumping the horn a couple of times to let Kim know he was there before deciding that would probably just jostle her nerves.
He spent the next few moments looking through his contacts for Kim’s number before realizing he’d never entered it into his cellphone. He gave a deep sigh, opened his email app and searched through the messages until he found one from Kim with the subject “I got my new phone!!!!” After saving Kimberly into his contacts list Dennis started keying “Sitting outside” in a text message before being startled as the passenger side door opened and Kimberly stepped into the clean, greyish blue Chrysler 300.
“Hey Dad, THANK YOU for taking me to registration today!” Kimberly said before giving her pop a kiss on his thick black and white frosted beard.
“What the hell happened to your mother?” Dennis asked as he pulled out of the neighborhood.
“I don’t know dad, mom’s got diabetes…”
“Yeah well if diabetes makes you crazy then yes, your mother is a raging diabetic.”
“Dad!” Kimberley protested.
At a stoplight, Dennis looked over at her before saying, “Well you look sharp, I like that outfit and that’s a rad necklace… Good job, kiddo!” he exclaimed, extending his fist out for a bump like they’d done over and over through the past twenty years. Kimberly took her cue and didn’t leave the old man hanging. “How is your skin doing?” he continued.
Kimberly went from being proud to almost feeling devastated, yet she was still comfortable talking with her dad about it. “…I have a couple of spots on my arm…” she replied. “Dad, how did your sores heal up?”
As the light turned green and Dennis pressed through the intersection, he started trying to make sense of the events from the past decade. After several blocks, he eventually responded, “I got away from your mother… I dunno darlin’, maybe it was that cigarette smoke?”
Kimberly chuckled a little at the notion that her mother’s cigarette habit could have anything to do with the waxing and waning of her painful skin ulcerations.
“Well, at least you have a place to stay pumpkin,” Dennis concluded.
“Yeah… Well, after I get through school I can afford to move out on my own – AND I’ll have health insurance!” Kimberly was proud of her prospects and wanted her dad to feel that way as well.
“Don’t forget dental insurance sweetie. Thinking about it… my arms seemed to clear up the most after I got my teeth cleaned.” Dennis stated.
“Yeah, yeah Dad I… I need to get my teeth cleaned.”
A moment later the pair arrived in front of the college. Dennis pulled up to the curb and put the car in park. He sat silent for a moment then reached back into his navy dress pants and produced his black leather wallet before saying, “Alright sweetie, look… here’s… fifty dollars. I don’t know if you can… Uber a ride?”
Kimberly giggled, but at the same time was relieved. “A taxi Dad, Uber doesn’t do cash.”
“Alright then, whatever – look… Kimberly, I’m proud of you. You’re doing the right thing and no matter what happens, this is something that once you get it – they can’t take it away from you. Remember that.”
“Aww, Dad!” Kimberly smiled from ear to ear as she hugged Dennis, the old man’s eyes raining tears onto her shoulder. She avoided looking at him before letting herself out of his car because she didn’t want him to feel embarrassed about tearing up. Dennis looked away as he used the back of his wrist to wipe away his tears of joy.
As Kimberly made her way up the steps and through the double doors into the admissions office, Dennis took a deep breath and reflected on the sunshine. He became restless and sad. He bit his lower lip and gripped the steering wheel, his brow curled down tight as his mind pondered the events over the past twenty years. For a moment he wondered what it would take to get his master’s degree before a loud honk from behind shook him out of it. “…BO!” he remembered, and then floored the gas towards his destiny.
Inside the admission office, there was a serpentine line of young adults winding around the hallway and moving at a turtle’s pace. “Hi, I’m Amy Jung…” the dark-haired, short Asian girl with a long sleeve white blouse and Wrangler blue jeans stated as she held out her thirty-five-dollar French tip.
“Kimberly – pleased to meet you!” Kim stated, extending her hand and showcasing black nail polish highlighted with a plethora of multicolored sparkles.
“Ooh! Nice nail polish – what is that?” Amy asked.
“Last Call – it’s pretty cheap, my sister bought it for my birthday this year…”
“It’s premium! Hey, I and a couple of other girls are staying in an off-campus rental house. We have two of the five rooms filled but can’t hack rent without one additional person. It’s only three hundred dollars a month if you’re interested. We have a pool too!”
“Oh wow! The pool sounds very nice, but to be honest I’m staying with my mom through school. I don’t actually have a job…” Kimberly fumbled to find the words which she felt wouldn’t make her sound lazy, or unmotivated. She looked at Amy’s smooth, creamy skin void of any blemishes and wished her skin could cooperate just as well.
“Here,” Amy reached into her black backpack with a silver F-14 keychain hanging off one of the zippers and produced a single matte lettered, eggshell colored, and sturdy rectangular business card, “this is my information. Call me… even if you aren’t interested in the room!” she finished with a smile.
Kimberly started to move the card up towards her face, and right before she was able to read the name on it a giant purple bat jumped out in front of her and yelled, “WELCOME TO AUSTIN COMMUNI”–
“EEEEEEK!” Kimberly screamed, startled and then making a fist with Amy’s business card still in hand she reared back about two feet before releasing full force square in the middle of the purple RiverBats’ cartoon-like face. The bat flew back about two feet and the punch even knocked its head off! Everyone in the room watched as the fuzzy purple bat head flew out the propped open double doors, then they all down at the blonde kid with a buzzcut passed out inside the rest of the costume. Three muscular-looking dudes appeared from the crowd and rushed over to the bat. “Bobby, Bobby wake up man!” a redheaded guy with a mullet was on his knees hollering as Bobby the bat laid there, moaning in pain.
“Get him to the nurses’ office!” a tank-top wearing brown-headed guy with a clean haircut commanded.
“Wait – ain’t we supposed to leave him still to avoid neck trauma?” the third weightlifter asked. This one had medium length thick wavy black hair and a White Zombie t-shirt that covered the pockets on his loose blue jeans with holes in the knees.
“Look – Bobby owes me money for weed, if he dies here on the floor, he’s gonna have more problems than a dang ole traumatized neck!” the brown-headed kid assured the others. After all the dudes agree, they picked Bobby up from the floor and hauled him out through the double doors. From the back of the room, a uniformed police officer sighed before holding down the button on the radio clipped to his shoulder. The speaker squelched before he announced, “Dispatch this is 37, come in.” As he released the button the radio produced a short double beep.
“Copy 37, read ya loud and clear.”
“10-31 in progress, requesting backup to rendezvous at ACC nurses’ station. Copy?”
… “Copy 37, units en route.”
As the officer left outside through the double doors, Kimberly felt half a dozen hands on her back all at once pushing her to the front of the line and into the admittance office. Inside, the fluorescent light bulbs hummed above a cozy work environment decorated with cliché motivational posters and conservative office flora. An older lady with tall red hair and far too much makeup stared at Kimberly as she was shoved towards the empty chair in front of her desk. Still trembling, Kim looked down at her fist and noticed Amy’s business card sticking out the bottom.
“A – HEM…?” The lady queried as Kim stood mouth gaping.
Kimberly snapped out of it before trying to leave thoughts of the RiverBat, and any potential repercussions from assaulting it, behind… but the sunk feeling in her gut left her ill. “I – I’m interested in the vet” –
“Please sit down, Miss…?” The lady interrupted.
“K – Kimberly! I’m Kim! Sorry…” she said sitting down in the orange plastic and brown metal chair. “My name is Kimberly Brown and” –
The lady rolled her eyes almost back into her brain before interrupting again, “Did you bring your photo ID?”
Kimberly began fumbling through her purse and pondered if college was such a good idea after all, keeping in mind that getting an education was the only sure-fire way to move out of mother’s house. Her hands were shaking, in the hallway behind her, she could hear people mumbling about extra police showing up at the nurse’s office. She pressed on, however. “My name is Kimberly Angela Brown, here is my driver’s license and I am interested in the Veterinary Technician program… What is your name?”
“We accept Visa, Mastercard and American Express, Miss Brown. My name is Mrs. Perkins.” The lady said handing Kimberly back her driver’s license.
“Oh… N – nice to meet you, Mrs. Perkins!” Kimberly took back her ID and at the same time unclenched her fist, straightened out Amy’s business card and then pocketed the pair inside her purse. A short man with curly hair and an impressive and stylish navy suit came out from the back of the office and motioned to the line in the hallway, “Next! Come on guys we ain’t got all day!”
“Can you start payments today Kimberly?” Mrs. Perkins asked.
“Well, that’s the thing… I was going to use my financial assistance, but I don’t know how to get it.”
“Hey, just wanted to say good luck!” Amy said, appearing from the hallway. She patted Kim on the shoulder and smiled as she followed the well-dressed man back to his office.
Mrs. Perkins looked up to peer at Kimberly from over her glasses and paused for a moment before she asked, “Have you filled out the FASFA? Kimberly, most students that come here have help from home, are working – or both. With only a Pell grant you’re going to need to”–
“Well, what about my Indian heritage?” Kimberly interrupted.
Mrs. Perkins looked down at the form, then up at Kim’s pale skin. She sat silent for a second before responding, “You have to be 25% Indian. Do ”–
“My Grandpa is 100% Comanche!” Kimberly interrupted this time. Mrs. Perkins is stunned, and the entire line behind Kim erupts in noise as people get on their phones to text their friends about the Comanche Indian that just knocked out the ACC RiverBat.
“Ok Mrs. Brown… Uhm… if… if you are… of GENUINE… Comanche heritage… please understand that you have to be 25% for the kind of financial assistance that… that I think you’re thinking about.” The more Mrs. Perkins looked at Kimberly however the more she COULD see some Native American through the Western European. “Fill out the FASFA online, and our application form this weekend and be sure to report to class Monday morning. Come by here and see me on your way after and we can look at your financing options. Welcome to ACC Kim! You know, maybe you should consider our Aikido program?”
Kim shook Mrs. Perkins hand before leaving the admissions office and heading out into the hallway where the crowd backed up in unison providing her with a wide birth. She looked down at the floor and proceeded over to the back of the hallway where she stopped, pulled her phone out her purse and dialed the number for Austin Yellow Cab. “Hey, can you send me a ride to ACC? That’s right, Austin Community College. I’m in front of the main building. Thanks!” She hung up the phone before exiting the building through the same double doors they’d taken the RiverBat through. As she entered the sunlight, she noticed two uniformed police officers standing at the bottom of the steps. The one who had followed the RiverBat to the nurses’ station earlier was there and pointed to Kim saying, “That’s the woman.”
“Miss, can you come down here for a moment? We need to ask you a few questions.”
Kimberly took her time, it felt like she was going to throw up. She noticed the two men weren’t of equal size, the shorter man who’d been inside earlier had a grey buzzcut and was jostling down a few things in his white notepad while the taller man with dark hair scratched his chin and trained his gaze on her. Both men, however, appeared to be the same age, perhaps the taller man was dying his hair?
“You’re not in any trouble miss.” The shorter officer stated; his badge read “Jones”.
“We don’t have any reason to think you weren’t just acting in self-defense.” Jones’s partner added, his badge revealed the name “Baxter”.
“Now the guy slinging dope on campus…” Jones continued.
“Yeah, yeah that guy is in trouble. Miss – can you tell us your name?” Baxter questioned.
“M – my name is Kimberly Brown.” She replied. “Why do you need my name?”
“We have to write a report about the incident that details the facts. Who punched Bobby Taylor, where they punched him and our next question…” Jones continued, “did you feel threatened, Miss Brown?”
“HELL, YES I FELT THREATENED!” Kimberly clearly asserted as an ambulance arrived about 100 feet from the trio, backing into the parking space in front of the sidewalk. Two emergency medical technicians walked from around the back of the building with a giant fuzzy purple bat strapped atop a tall metal stretcher. As the EMT’s turned the corner to move towards the waiting ambulance, two other EMTs exited the ambulance and opened the rear doors. The boy in the bat suit wore a neck brace and was moaning. When he looked over Bobby saw Kimberly standing with the police officers and started freaking out. “NO – NO SHE’S GONNA KILL ME – HELP!!” Kimberly stared wide-eyed as the Bobby disappeared into the ambulance, his cries became muffled as the doors closed and shut him in. As the ambulance drove off two more police officers came up behind Kimberly with the tall brown-headed boy from earlier. As they walked past Kimberly could see the boy was restrained with handcuffs. She started feeling bad for him when he turned back to cut a cold stare right through her.
“Hey, you – keep your head forward!” The short female officer with dark hair tied up in a knot jerked at the boys’ elbow, motioning for him to look ahead. The boy exhausted the breath he was holding out through his nostrils before turning his attention to the navy Crown Victoria the trio were headed towards.
“Ok Miss,” officer Baxter continued, “unless you got any dope on you, you’re free to go.”
“Yes – marijuana is illegal in Texas – any amount. Even a crumb.” Office Jones never looked up from his notepad to deliver the message.
Kimberly knew well enough to agree, and as soon as she did the two police officers thanked her for her cooperation and went back to their car. The ambulance left, the car with the brown-headed boy left, her taxi arrived and then finally officers Baxter and Jones backed out of their spot, each waving and smiling at Kimberly as they passed. Officer Baxter even gave Kimberly a thumbs up. Thank God Samantha held on to that joint she thought as she waved back at the two police.
Kimberly headed then to the yellow Crown Vic with black checkers. She was proud and only meditated on the martial arts briefly during the ride home before she began to fantasize about what kind of home she could afford with a steady job and meager expenses. The sun was just starting to set behind the mountains and the sky began to turn a deep orange as the light gradually started to fade. “Hey, Miss – this is your house?” the driver asked.
Kimberly broke free from the fantasy to review the scene. Yes, this was where she lived… however, she was surprised to find two short and stocky Guatemalans drinking beers in the driveway. “Yyyyyeah, yeah this is me… What the hell?”
“Are you alright Miss? Do you want me to take you somewhere else?” the driver asked.
“Oh no, no… thank you. My mom sometimes has contractors over to work on the house. Thanks for the ride guy.” She said with a smile at the younger, dark-skinned middle eastern transplant before exiting his car.
As Kimberly walked up the driveway one of the men in a filthy, worn Hanes tank-top t-shirt whispered something to his friend under his breath which caused the pair to snicker like a couple of school children.
When Kimberly was in front of them, the man with a red Texas Rangers t-shirt asked in strained English “So you ready to go college?”
“…What?” Kimberly played dumb.
The man in the tank-top then said to her, “We went to college.” He motioned between him and his friend, “MBA, both of us. You know what we do?”
Kimberley was wide-eyed, and motionless for a moment before she shrugged her shoulders. “What do you do?” she was afraid of what their answer was going to be.
The man with the Rangers t-shirt took a swig off his beer and then after a moment of silence said, “We pack up rooms in a day!”
“In-A-Day Moving!” his friend exclaimed before the pair held up their index fingers in unison and said, “In-A-Day is number one!” The pair erupted in laughter and high fived each other before going back to giving Kim concerned stares and sipping on their beers.
Thoroughly creeped out, Kimberly made her way past the pair and headed into her house. “Mom? Mom, are you here?” It was starting to get dark.
“Back heeeere sweetie!! Come look at what we did todaaaay!” Barbara sang.
Making her through the house Kimberly counted about two dozen moving boxes. She proceeded to her bedroom where her mother, Barbara was standing in a now very empty space. Barbara had a beehive of silver hair, wore a white blouse with red flowers, and thick white pearls. She was humming happy tunes while taking measurements, the lit cigarette between her fingers trailed grey smoke upward towards the ceiling. The air was stale, Barb’s humming echoed in the emptiness. The thick brown carpet was speckled with tiny pieces of multicolored paper, broken bits of rubber bands, empty straw wrappers, and bent paperclips.
“Mom – what the hell are you doing?”
“Kimberly! I am helping you go to college! Aren’t you happy? You always have something to complain about – it’s never good enough is it?”
“Mom – I…”
“You see darling, now that you don’t have to worry about all that fussy packing you can concentrate on finding somewhere else to live!” Barbara stated with excitement.
“Mom! The only way I can afford to go to school is on my grants!” Kimberly became increasingly anxious, she felt flush and the uneasiness in her gut returned. “I don’t have a”–
“YES dear, but now that you don’t have to worry about packing you can concentrate on finding a job! And when you do find your future home, we will have Sergio and Modesto back over for DRINKS and a moving out PARTY! They did a MARVELOUS job packing your things, wouldn’t you agree?” Barbara said with a smile as she pinched Kim’s cheek, hummed a happy tune, and made her way out the spare bedroom door, a trail of cigarette smoke following her all the way.
When Kimberly left this morning, this was where she slept. She started wondering how she would ever pay for both rent and school. She wondered if the Vet Tech program was the best choice for major… and she imagined how creepy Samantha’s boss could likely be. Kimberly backed herself into a corner, slid down to the floor and then sat there in silence while she put her mind to work figuring out how she was going to make it all happen.
Then Kimberly remembered the one thing her Grandpa always told her growing up, “Comanche never quit.” And neither would she.