Chapter 9, Part C
Now you know
"psssssst" Estrelica whispered.
"Are you asleep?"
"Too asleep for coffee?"
Vic suddenly leapt out of bed and Estrelica followed as they both ventured back into the front room and bent down like gleaners picking up each others clothes.
"Whoa, look what I found." Vic said holding up Estrelicas skirt.
"Yeah, look what I got." Estrelica replied holding up Vics pants. They dressed each other in each others clothes and were quite happy with how it all fit: Not perfectly, but perfect enough. Estrelica walked into the kitchen to make some coffee as Vic found a tape to play.
"So, dont you work or anything?" Vic asked.
"Not today, this is my Saturday. Ive been working at Garfield High School in the Independent Studies Department. The program is for kids who dont go to class, either because they fuck around too much or because they work full time or because they are just too freaked out by school. So they do their work at home. I get to tutor them and grade papers and deal with the teachers and stuff like that. Unfortunately it may be ending because we dont know if well get any funding for next year. But, its been good experience anyway. Four days a week, which is enough, and Ive been trading shifts this week for one of the other girls who is in court all week."
The buzzer rang as Estrelica went to answer it finding Nicholino and Marcel with a heap of basil.
"Yea! You got some." Estrelica huzzahed.
"My mom didnt have any so we had to get some from the co-op. Is this enough?" Nicholino asked, handing it to Estrelica.
"Yeah, thats heaps." Estrelica said as they all went into the kitchen.
Marcel walked up behind Vic and said "Hey, gangster, do you have an SKS? One of those cool Chinese assault rifles?"
"Well, yeah, I think I do. Do you want me to knock a fig out of your teeth with it?" Vic smiled devilishly.
"Nah, not a fig. Maybe a pomegranate." Marcel answered.
"I dont think we have any pomegranates, but if you go find one, Ill show you what I can do."
"Nah, I dont want to go get one."
Nicholino and Marcel whispered to each other, then disappeared into Estrelicas bathroom for a few minutes before coming back into the kitchen with each others clothes on. Neither of them said a word and quietly waited for Estrelica and Vic to see their new attire. Estrelica noticed first out of the corner of her eye and leaned over to Vic.
"I think we have some twins."
Vic turned around and let out a bizarre cackle that made Marcel blush and made Nicholino cackle along with him.
"You guys are WEIRD." Vic told them.
"Yeah, maybe...what of it?" Nicholino said.
Vic took over making the coffee as Estrelica set to work on the pesto. Marcel helped her as Nicholino washed out some mugs, got some plates ready and sat down at the kitchen table.
"Oh, Nicholino, tell your mother that Im finished with her photograph but Im not going to be able to get it to her for a few days because its in the back of Caseys truck. And the grand total is going to be something like two dollars or something." Estrelica said.
"Does it look good?" Nicholino asked.
"Yeah, it didnt turn out that bad. I had my doubts, but it turned out pretty well."
"What photograph is this? Vic asked.
"Their mother wanted a family portrait done and she wanted me to do it, so we all went over to the beach one night really close to dusk, and I thought that it was going to be way too dark for it to show up, but there are these really cool shadows just behind them, and Marcel is holding up his arms like a monster, and youd swear that there actually is a monster behind him."
"I AM THE MONSTER OF THE BEACH," Marcel growled as Vic cowered and shivered in fright.
"No, youre not. Youre just a stupid brother." Nicholino sneered.
"Nuh-uh. Im your sister now." Marcel said as he tried his best to curtsy in his sisters dress.
"Hey, Strel, do you remember whatever happened to my silk scarf?"
"Oh, yeah, I have that still. I love that scarf."
"Well, you can keep it a little while longer, but were going to grandmas next week and Mom wants to wear it."
"I thought she gave it to you."
"Yeah, she did. But, I never get to wear it."
Estrelica turned to Vic, "Its this kind of silk that looks red and black but when you hold it up to the sun it changes color."
"Wow." Vic replied.
"So, gangster, whats your name?" Marcel asked.
"Vic." Estrelica said.
"Have you ever been up to the North Cascades?" Marcel asked Vic.
"Yeah," Vic replied. "Thats my favorite place in the whole state. There was this one time when a friend of mine and I went up there with his Geology field trip. Everyone else had to do it for class, and I just got to go along with them, and we camped in this park near the Diablo Dam, and somehow I managed to be the driver of one of the big vans they had, so we got to drive all around the area. We made friends with some of the girls, then we drove up to this one summit late at night and laid out on top of the van watching all of the satellites and the shooting stars. Then we drove down across the dam. It was about one in the morning with nobody around. Not even any dam caretakers. And if you hop this one gate, then go down the first ladder, then hop another gate and go down a longer ladder, THERE YOU ARE right inside of the dam itself, and we were running around right where the water comes shooting out, but it was all closed up, so we got to look over the sides to the rocks below which is a good two or three hundred feet. Scary."
"Yeah, we went up there a couple of days ago and got to drive over the dam. I think thats a cool dam. A damn cool dam." Marcel confirmed.
"Yeah, its a damn cool dam." Vic echoed.
"Are you guys going to do anything today?" Estrelica asked Nicholino and Marcel.
"I dont know. My mom has to get things ready for the garage sale next week, so I think were going to be helping her." Nicholino said.
"Is she home right now?" Estrelica asked.
"I might go over and see if I could put some of my stuff in with all of yours. Ive got some stuff Ive been meaning to get rid of. But your garage isnt really big enough for a sale is it?"
"Oh, its not going to be at our house. The support group my mom helps with is putting it on at some church." Nicholino answered.
"Oh, okay." Estrelica replied.
"Can you let Helen out?" Marcel asked.
"Youre big enough to do it yourself, just dont fall over. Use the chair." Estrelica said, referring to the impending release of her budgie.
"Oh, hey, Vic, do you know anything about bikes?" Marcel asked.
"Yeah, I do. Whats up?"
"Do you know how to adjust the brakes?"
Estrelica laughed under her breath, as Vic looked over at her.
"Well, its not exactly my specialty, but I think I remember what not to do."
"Good, because my brakes are way too loose."
"Well, bring it over and Ill see what I can do."
"Not yet, though. This stuff is almost ready." Estrelica said.
Estrelica and Marcel finished making the pesto and Estrelica got some pasta shells ready as Vic filled up a huge green happy face pitcher with feet on the bottom with coffee and set it on the table. Vic fished around in his pockets that Estrelica wore for his cigarettes and sat down at the table to light one. Nicholino came back into the kitchen with the top hat on her head that Estrelica had tried to find the night before.
"Howdy," Nicholino piped up.
"Howdy backatcha," Estrelica replied. "Where did you find that? I was having a hell of a time trying to find it last night."
"It was behind the post office window on the floor. It was kind of covered up by the trunk." Nicholino answered.
"This is the one that only has a few pops left in it," Estrelica reminded Vic.
"Ive seen a pop." Nicholino said.
"Yeah, me too." Marcel said.
"Wow. Do I get to see a pop?" Vic implored of Estrelica.
"Do you want to show him a pop, Nicholino? Do you remember how to do it?"
"Yeah, I think I do."
Nicholino took the hat gingerly in her hands and made it pop as Vic bent down so that she could perch it on top of his head. Vic beamed as he sat straight up in his chair and stretched the muscles in his face and neck to look like a debutante. He slowly turned to Marcel.
"Thats not a gangsters hat." Marcel said.
"Damn straight. This is a magicians hat." Vic said.
"Do a trick for us." Marcel said.
"Okay." Vic put his cigarette in the center of his lips, made it do a cartwheel so that the burning end was in his mouth as he made smoke puff out of the other end a few times, then made it do another cartwheel back the right way around.
"Uh, yeah thats a trick all right." Estrelica said.
All throughout breakfast, as the four of them played games and ate and talked, Estrelica kept looking over at Vic as her gears started to turn. As she listened to the stories he told Nicholino and Marcel and all of the tricks he did for them, she felt as if she were merely a member of his audience. She didnt exactly mind that he had the limelight, but she wondered, realistically, if they would ever see each other again.
She ran through the events of the day before in her mind and could see only Vics strengths. No matter how hard hed try to be self-deprecating or humble, he had the whole world by the short and curlies and he knew it, she thought. She also knew it, which left a hollow echo in her heart. What would he need her for? She was sure he had a lover in every town, or if he didnt it would only be a matter of time before hed flash his eyes and theyd all come running. She wondered why she was so hard on her own heart, falling for such wandering rogues who always say "Come with me" and yes, they do write, some of them, sometimes, but....She thought of J. Dove and imagined where the three of them could all travel together.
She thought how she could stick around with him until he left to travel; she could travel with him; she could even marry him as he had suggested and have all of the benefits of being able to travel and live in Europe without having to live with him or even see him, or so he said. The only thing that frightened her was that it might in fact be real. It just might work.
The four of them had finished eating, Estrelica and Vic having mug after mug of coffee until most of it was drained from the green happy pitcher, and Nicholino and Marcel went back to their mothers house to see what she was up to. Vic got up to start doing the dishes as Estrelica remembered the phone was still unplugged from the night before and went into the front room to reconnect it, imploring on the way for Vic to sit down and not do the dishes. Vic obeyed and began to read the newspaper on the kitchen table in front of him. Estrelica walked back into the kitchen.
"Hey, listen to this. Over in the Sudan, where they just had that coup, these two people were married, but the man was in a higher caste in their system and the woman was lower, so they had the guy shoot the girl with his own guy."
"Vic..." Estrelica whispered.
"Yes." Vic said, lifting his eyes from the newspaper.
"...I cant see you anymore..."
Vic didnt respond.
"Ive been thinking about the past day and, I mean, I like you and everything, and I want us to be friends, but thats it, okay?"
Vic listened to Estrelica, knowing full well that she didnt have a reason for the way she felt, except perhaps that she knew when something was too good to be true.
"So...I should take my eyes somewhere else." Vic said.
"This probably sounds really strange, huh?"
"Well, you know how these things go. Anything could happen."
"Are you hurt?"
"I dont know you well enough for you to hurt me. We havent even known each other a day. Im not hurt."
Vic stood up to do the dishes.
"You dont have to do that." she said.
"Thats okay." he said as he started to wash them.
"I said you dont have to do that."
Vic stepped away from the dishes and looked down at his attire.
"I guess we should change clothes then, huh?"
Estrelica nodded as they both went into the front room, started to disrobe and put their own clothes on. A pall of silence fell over them as Estrelica still couldnt believe what she had just said or why she had said it. Vic couldnt abide the silence and said the first thing that came to mind.
"Do you have a lot of stuff to do today?"
"Yeah. I have to see my landlord, I have to go and get my car...this, that and the other thing."
"And you? What are you going to do?"
"Vanish, I guess. Rhymes with Vic...or at least the V part."
"How long are you going to stay in town?"
"Until someone needs me."
Estrelica brushed his comment off as just another riddle by just another joker.
"Well, you know where I live and heres my phone number," she said as she quickly wrote it down on a scrap of paper.
"And...I want you to have this." Estrelica reached in her pocket and gave Vic her St. Christopher.
"But, you might need this soon." Vic said.
"Youre going to need it sooner than I will."
"Its okay." she said, shrugging it off.
"I guess I didnt try hard enough."
"Try hard enough? Youve got more persuasion in one glance than most people have in every word theyve ever said. and all morning long, and all night long Ive...."
"....Yeah....I just try to get into peoples hair and stay out of their way."
"Please dont ever stay out of my way. I dont want to lose you...but, I just cant deal with this right now. Do you understand?"
"Yeah, fine, sure."
She opened her arms to give him a hug, and the two of them embraced for a minute with their heads on each others shoulders. Vic held her as he looked into the front room and tried memorizing as much of it as he could before leaving. He opened his mouth to say something.
"Dont say it." Estrelica stopped him as she shut her eyes as tightly as she could. Vic pulled away.
"I better be going. Ill see you around." Vic said quietly.
"Yeah, take care." Estrelica said going over to the door to open it for him, then making sure it locked behind him.
Estrelica & Vic, Chapter 10
Glass & Flames