So we leave the mall with nothing for my clients, but I am more educated regarding human nature.
In an effort to force the earlier episode out of my mind, I concentrate on my customers, thinking, maybe I can make one final stop before heading in, though my joy for the hunt vanished with Vie’s behavior. And do I want to even take her with me? to my favorite Hit or Miss shop for anything inexpensive and unusual—outfits for the karaoke singer.
I have no choice. And since she did bulldog her way into my schedule, I’m not turning around to take her home. She’ll just be my hostage while I drive downtown. Although, I know all suffering will only be mine.
Too involved with the traffic headed towards the Loop, I let Vie control the radio, heavy metal blasting out of our windows.
Yes, all suffering is mine.
Cramped for time and to save gas from constant circling for a spot, I pay for parking. After leaving the car we head over to State Street, the store located right across the street from Madame’s real estate agency. While crossing, I glance at the agency, when my body suddenly locks up on me.
Vie’s shouts, “Diamond. Watch out!” grabbing my arm, yanking me out of the way of a messenger’s speeding bicycle—bells ringing—whizzing by; pulling me to the sidewalk. Yet, I turn quickly to see if there actually was movement inside the agency.
But the blinds are now shut and Vie’s body instantly blocks out the view with her intense face in mine, yelling, “Girl! What’s the matter with you? Who taught you to cross the street?”
“I’m sorry. I thought I saw Madame at the agency;” though why shouldn’t she be there?
I want to see. So headed back towards the office, it dawns on me, Wow. The anger in Vie’s voice sounded real. It actually feels good, but confusing. One minute scaring me down a set of stairs, the next saving me? . . . What gives?
Still holding onto my arm, Vie swings me around, dragging me towards the clothing store. “So what? She can stop in her shop if she wants to. Call her later. And anyway, aren’t things going well for you in New York? Do you really still need her? Get a grip!”
Oh, that’s right. That’s the real reason. Vie wants me in New York for her benefit. With that understanding my thoughts return to Madame.
Regardless of what Vie says I can’t still the shakes. I haven’t heard from Madame; yet she’s this close. The only thing stopping me from marching right over to that glass door is the thought: She doesn’t know that I’m in town. And . . . I’ve been here over a month. That looks bad on my part. If she’d known, wouldn’t she have given me a call? . . . Though I am at Mom’s. . . Maybe she wouldn’t.
Determined, I stand, debating, when the front door of the real estate agency opens to a happy laughing Madame—someone I’ve never seen. The source of her joy, a medium tall man with silver hair, and a jaw-line with two deep creases down the sides of his mouth. He looked well preserved in a dark suit, crisp white shirt and gray overcoat—long and flowing. With the way he took Madame’s arm walking her to the passenger side of a teal metallic Cadillac, I knew this wasn’t a casual acquaintance.
My heart drops with the onslaught of so many questions raised regarding my place in her life. Was Vie actually right in her insinuations about my being bumped around like a foster child? Did she actually know more about me that even I knew?
The desire to see Madame dies as their car pulls quickly away leaving me wondering what to do next; amazed, she didn’t even notice me standing here so close. My last futile attempt to shop totally fizzles.
“Vie, I’m tired. Let’s go home.”
“But you paid for parking, and didn’t you come for something?”
“I’ll get it later.”
After staring at me a few seconds, she says, “Fine,” her voice filled with disgust.
Driving back, Vie remained silent, though when I try to drop her off home, she says, “I’m going in with you. Let’s see what Crystal’s doing.”
If I didn’t feel that Mom could use some company—even Vie’s—I would have insisted on driving her to her door. But I admit, maybe her visit will do Mom good.
So after unlocking the front door, Vie tries to burst through before me shouting, “Hey Crystal! We’re home. What’s cooking? . . . Come out, come out, wherever you are,” obviously trying to wake the dead, which at this point is probably what she’s doing with Mom stone cold on the sofa—not even shifting despite Vie’s loudness.
I bet today its gin and tonic.
Trying to inch Vie back to the door, I say, “Vie, Mom’s asleep. Why don’t you visit another time,” I suggest.
Why didn’t I expect this? Since lately this isn’t unusual.
“What? . . . Sleep?” she asks staring over my shoulder at Mom. “You think I don’t know drunk? . . . Leave her alone and let’s go see what’s there to eat,” she says, ducking by me, headed straight back towards the kitchen.
It’s amazing, Vie’s attitude about everything. So blasé. But I don’t want to stand here either; so I follow her. There are plenty of leftovers in the refrigerator this time; I’ve done a bit of cooking. So Vie plops down at the kitchen table, upsetting the salt-shaker; but talking incessantly about the office—as if she’s a part of it, while she sweeps the grains onto the floor. She tells me of Jackie’s plan to become the future Ms. Riley, all the while I keep an ear out for the living room, wondering what’s bothering Mom.
“Diamond. You’re not listening to me. . . Look. Why are you watching her? She’s okay. You think this is something new?”
“What do you mean? . . . Mom? . . . The drinking? . . . I don’t know.”
Why should I discuss it with her? . . . And why did Vie think she knew so much about my family and my life?
“Diamond, remember. I told you before I see your mother a lot. This isn’t unusual. I don’t understand you. Look at her. Why do you want to please her? She’s doing what she wants. Do what you want.”
Vie may or may not have a valid point; but the fact that it comes from her disturbs me. Matter-of-fact, who is Vie to talk? Her behavior earlier squashes her freedom of speech. Who is she to notice what Mom’s doing?
It doesn’t take Vie long to wolf down cold chicken and chips, so she gets up to leave and I walk her past Mom to the front door. But before she leaves she says, “Here. I got these for you at the mall,” tossing me a little decorative paper sack she’d pulled from her bag. “You’re gonna need those with the pants you bought today.”
Something in my expression causes her to laugh.
With that scary comment, she takes off down the block towards a single-level small brick house, while Mom continues to sleep.
How long has she been out? I wonder heading back to the kitchen to clean up.
After washing and putting away the dishes I leave Mom to the sofa, headed upstairs to draw up various outfits so that I’ll have a plan of attack tomorrow at the stores. I’ll know what items I need to finish my designs.
I’ve got to get busy. No more swatting at the wind. Then I’ll deliver the items Friday to Nanette personally. I can use the break.