I’m serializing the first 10% of State of Love & Trust here on my blog. It’s a story about Pearl Jam fans in Detroit’s oldest neighborhood, Corktown.
Begin with the first installment. This post is #3 in the series.
Chapter 2 – Corduroy “Cabbage” (part 2)
Reece’s folks lived in an aluminum-sided one-story in Hazel Park, which we called Hazeltucky.
Today their house smelled like green apple ReNuzIt, corned beef and cabbage.
“I made it especially for you,” Marjorie LeFanch said. “There’s plenty of veggies.” After four years, she’d finally quit putting meat on my plate and lecturing me about iron. Tonight she’d serve me limp cabbage with overcooked potatoes in meat juice, with a side dish of boiled celery. Like being a vegetarian made me the rabbit in Fatal Attraction. I should have eaten a pretzel.
Reece and his dad sat down to watch the Tigers game. I counted Marjorie’s thirty-nine doilies, seven crucifixes, and three parakeets. I started in on the framed photos encrusting the walls. Twenty-two of Reece and his four older sisters who’d fled to New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Seattle. My favorite was blond baby Reece laughing with one tooth. He was the youngest, the only boy, and their prize. I tried to count the pictures of all of the LeFanch grandkids but lost track around thirty-seven.
A wedding photo of Reece and his ex-wife leered at me from a fussy pie table. What had possessed Marjorie to move it from the guest bedroom? I used to hate the ex because she got their brick ranch in Warren in the divorce, plus a ridiculous settlement that I still didn’t understand. She was the reason he’d ended up moving into his last piece of income property in Detroit, at the edge of Corktown where the houses were crammed together so close you could stand between any two and touch them both without stretching.
But I couldn’t hold a grudge against someone I hadn’t met, and I respected that Reece never trash-talked her. Whatever had happened, they’d moved on. Everyone had moved on except Marjorie, apparently. And the divorce lawyer Reece was still paying off on an installment plan.
All of that, by the way, was why we invited Saint to rent our spare bedroom. We’d run into him again at the Pearl Jam show at The Palace of Auburn Hills, and it all just kind of fell together from there. He had a steady job as a busboy at a fancy restaurant at the Ren Cen and was out a lot of nights playing gigs at the local bars. At least he kept most of his guitar stuff in his room where we didn’t have to trip over it. But his dog was no puppy, and that was sort of getting to be an issue.
Reece spotted me looking at his old wedding picture. He got up, walked over to the little table and set the photo face down.
“It doesn’t bug me,” I said. Partly true. His previous marriage didn’t bother me, but the photo’s new location did.
Reece leaned over me and whispered, “You are exactly nine-point-two times hotter than she’ll ever be.” As a junior accountant at Tax Break, Reece could be precise like that.
He grabbed an armload of beers from the kitchen fridge, one for himself, one for me and two for his dad. Marjorie didn’t touch anything but mixed drinks with cute names. Already she was sipping a fuzzy navel and baby-talking to her parakeet.
“There’s what’s wrong with this country,” Mr. LeFanch said, pointing one of his beer bottles at the Volvo commercial on TV.
Reece nodded, but I knew it was only because he didn’t want to argue. Whatever was wrong with our country, I was pretty sure it wasn’t on Volvo. Besides, I liked the idea of a safe car that would last. Lasting safety was something I’d never had. I didn’t even own a car, just the Yield bus. It was impractical, but it justified its existence every time we loaded it up and took it to a Pearl Jam show. Otherwise, it quaffed gasoline and was a post-apocalyptic nightmare to park, so I walked, rode my 10-speed, took the SMART bus or got rides from Reece. Earlier today, Saint had given me a lift to work in his rusted purple Geo Tracker with fresh whitewalls that must have been on special at Belle Tire. He’d been pretty excited about them, but Reece had laughed his ass off at how ridiculous they looked on the Tracker.
At the dinner table, Marjorie pestered Reece about going to Mass with her. “It’s the family thing to do. Even if you are living in sin.”
“Don’t push it, Ma. I’m still paying off that last piece of paper.”
“Things didn’t have to turn out that way. Counseling. If you two had gotten counseling. She was a smart girl from a nice
My cheeks burned. I didn’t go to Michigan State like Reece and his ex. Or any college. But I wasn’t stupid, either. I had my GED. Maybe Clive and I didn’t come from the best family. To be honest, we pretty much came from no family at all. But we stuck together and we were good people, nice as anyone Reece had ever divorced, for sure.
Reece squeezed my thigh under the table. That meant a lot.
His mother said, “Prayer. A couples’ retreat. You should have tried harder to work it out with her. I still believe that.”
I pushed a limp chunk of cabbage around my plate and changed the subject. “Dinner was special. You know how I adore vegetables.”
“Especially cabbage,” Reece said. “Cabbage rocks, Ma. We’d love it if you’d package up some of the leftovers.”
Later, I elbowed him as Marjorie spooned the leftovers into a plastic container for us. I was already planning to forget them on the pie table, right atop the face-down wedding photo.
We backed the Roadbastard onto the street, pretending not to see her rushing after us, Tupperware in hand.
Stay tuned for the next installment of State of Love & Trust!
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State of Love & Trust. Copyright 2016 © Grace Ombry. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever without the written permission of the author.