9: Mom, The Impostor
You know you have the potential for stalking when you wake up and the first thing you do is peek out your bedroom window to spy on the house next door. I don’t know what I was expecting to see: trash littering the lawn from their all-night party, drunken guests crashed out under the trees, I suppose. What I didn’t expect to see was my mom sitting in a lawn chair on their porch engaged in conversation with some guy in an expensive business suit. It wasn’t the vampire boy or the puzzle freak. No, this guy was different. The way he was dressed screamed success. Gray and white pinstripe suit, black framed glasses, hair combed neat. He could have been a lawyer, doctor, or maybe a college professor. And there was mother, animated in the moment. She didn’t have a drink in her hand either. It made me wonder if perhaps an alien spaceship had come down last night and stolen my mom, leaving a strange doppelgänger in her place.
Stepping away from the window I retrieved my cell phone from the dresser and woke it up from sleep mode. I checked the photo gallery to see if someone had snuck in and used the camera again. No, it was still showing the photo of the boy’s chest emblazoned with the tattoo that read “loveless.” It was easy to tell the person was young, his skin smooth and flawless. No blemishes or moles, no acne or skin tags. This boy had been the perfect canvas for the tattoo artist. On a good day I would have stared at the photo awhile and fantasized about what the boy’s face looked like, but not today. “Prick,” I muttered, and put my phone back to sleep.
I dressed in my usual school attire of blue jeans and t-shirt. The knees of the jeans had holes in them. Not the precut ones you can buy now. No, I had these pants for years and am happy to say they were faded and worn from actual use. The t-shirt was a novelty thing I had picked up online. It was white and pink and had a hello kitty type character on the front. I wouldn’t usually be caught dead in a girly shirt but the fact the Hello Kitty type character was carrying a chain saw and the severed head of an Angry Bird made it a lot cooler. I put on my glitter converse shoes and began to look around for my book bag. It was nowhere to be found. Then I remembered. I had left it sitting on the front porch when I had come home from school yesterday.
I bounced down the steps and was about to open the front door when it began to open from the outside. I jumped back startled. It was my mom coming in from next door and in her hands she was holding the book bag. She was also holding a stern look.
“What was this doing outside?”
“Sorry, I forgot,“ I replied. “I was just coming to get it.”
She nodded to let me know it was okay, which was totally unlike mom. She should have been lighting into me about the money it costs to replace lost school books or to remind me that dad would want his backpack returned when he got out. I wondered what he would need it for other than packing up and getting the hell out of this crazy house.
“I’m going to need a ride to school,” I said throwing the bag over my shoulder. Normally I wouldn’t have asked her, but then again I never found her sober this time of the morning.
“Okay, dear. Let me get the keys. I have to go in to work before you get off school. You don’t need a ride home do you?”
“No, mom. I’ll walk. Or take the bus with Angela. Her mom will give me a ride home if I want.”
She didn’t seem to be bothered by the dig, and soon with her keys in hand we were heading out the door. Down the steps I followed her, both of us daring to look over at the house next door. To our equal dismay, everything looked quiet and calm. No one was outside, not even the puzzle man.
The ride to school started off quiet, both of us lost in our own worlds, but it got to the point I couldn’t take it anymore. The suspense was killing me. “So, who were you talking to over there?”
“Oh, that was Mr. Tomoko. He’s our new neighbor. He was apologizing for an apparent loud party he had over there last night. Did you hear anything?”
“Yeah, I heard a little. Did he say what the party was about or who the guests were?”
She gave me a weird look. I had been blessed with my father’s lack of tact and overabundance of curiosity. She smiled. “He said it was a business party for associates and different interests he had dealings with.”
“Oh hell Nora, I don’t know. Investments I imagine. Why all the questions?”
“I just like to know who’s moving in next to us. They could be serial killers for all we know.”
She shook her head in exasperation. “The apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree, does it?”
“At least it falls.”
After that we drove the rest of the way in silence. At school, I got out of the car without so much as an ‘I love you’ or ‘see you later.’ I was turning to close the door when mom leaned across the seat.
“Nora,“ she said, “look, I’m sorry I haven’t been there for you lately. I know this has to be a difficult time for you.”
I froze. “Difficult? Why?”
“Well, you know, being sixteen and all. Trying to find your way and place among your peers. I remember it was an awkward time for me too. I didn’t know what I wanted either.”
Suddenly it dawned on me. She had heard the rumors. It had taken awhile but things do travel across Facebook and eventually land in front of your parents. “Mom, it’s not true…”
“What’s not true?”
I didn’t know if she was feigning ignorance or whether I was just reaching, so I shut up about it. “Nothing. Never mind, I’ve got to go to class.”
“I’m here for you if you are having problems.”
“I’m not having problems. I’ve got to go. Bye.”
I closed the door and was up the front steps of the school before she could say another word. Her car was still sitting out there when I disappeared into the cold confines of the school building.
“Vampire Boys Of Summer” 2018 Paul D Aronson. All Rights Reserved.