Devil Cares: Chapter Fourteen

May 30, 2008 at 4:01 pm (Devil Cares) ()

Having a bit of an internet glitch, so I’m trying to get this up as soon as possible. Probably littered with errors as well.
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Kimber woke at seven, was showered and dressed by eight, and went downstairs to watch the news for awhile. If the past few days were anything to go by, his brothers wouldn’t even be considering consciousness until around ten so he felt no guilt as he turned the volume up to be heard in the kitchen.
The local channel was as noxious as he remembered, most of the anchors had nothing to express other than their astonishment at the weather. As he munched on his cereal he hit the channel-changer and went to one of the nationwide news casts instead. This was much better, so as he tidied up the kitchen he listened with one ear.
When this bored him he headed upstairs to the computer room to check his email and his favorite websites. Rather quickly, this ate up his time until it was ten o’clock. He didn’t hear his brothers stirring, so he left a note on the counter and headed to the car.
Today, the rain seemed to have let up a bit. It was an annoying drizzle, but not full on rain. For this, Kimber was grateful.
Knowing how the town loved to talk, Kimber had eschewed his usual wardrobe for a bold green polo shit with tan stripes, and some fitted jeans. He looked nice, but it was definitely casual. Charlie’s office number was the only one he had for Melissa so that was the one he called as he was coming in.
“Fuller and Fuller, this is Melissa speaking. How may I help you?” came her cheery voice.
Kimber laughed. “My, wasn’t that professional?”
“Oh, hey Kimber. Yeah, I do my best.” There was a hint of a smile in her voice. “You rescheduling or something?”
“No, not at all,” he replied, “I just thought I’d call to see what you wanted and order when I get in so it’ll be ready when you get here.”
“Good thinking,” she said thoughtfully. “I like most anything but anchovies and pineapples, how about you?”
“All the meats are fine, olives and mushrooms I can handle, nothing too outrageous though,” Kimber said.
“How about the meat lovers?” Melissa suggested.
“Perfect,” he agreed. “What size?”
“Medium should more than do it,” she said, “Mrs. Benito cooks a pretty big pie.”
Arriving at Benitos Pizza at ten thirty-five, Kimber placed the order and waited for Melissa to arrive. He didn’t have to work too hard to occupy himself, various townspeople came over periodically to ask him how he and his brothers were doing, how Chicago was, and various other questions.
Melissa walked through the door just seconds after the pizza was placed on the table.
“Hey, good timing,” Kimber said as he rose to give her a quick embrace.
She was dressed in a smart pantsuit of a creamy blue color and simple blouse. Her oaken hair she let hang loose and free in a few lazy waves just past her shoulders. Her bright green eyes were full of the mirth that Kimber remembered.
As they slid back into the seats, she said, “I can’t believe you haven’t eaten here yet.”
“It does smell delicious,” Kimber said as he took a deep whiff.
Melissa wasn’t shy about taking the spatula and serving herself a piece. Kimber took it next.
“So,” Melissa asked after they’d had a few bites and Kimber had closed his eyes at the simple bliss of a Benitos pizza, “how’s Chicago? Because I’m sure you’d like to answer that question just one more time.”
He laughed. “It’s fine. I like it better than here, I must confess.”
“I can understand that,” she said. “What do you do?”
“I’m a graphic designer,” he replied after he’d swallowed his current bite. “Like for websites and stuff.”
She nodded. “I can see that. Bet you’re good at it, too.”
Modestly, Kimber replied, “I get by. What about you, how’d you end up working at your cousins’?”
“Well, I went to law school for a few years, did you know that?”
“I didn’t. Why’d you quit?”
“It just wasn’t what I though it’d be. So I came home.” She shrugged. “I moped around for a few months, all disappointed with myself, then Cousin Charlie came over one day and asked me if I’d like a job.”
She laughed. “It was more like he told me I’d like a job, but it’s not bad. You meet a lot of interesting people working at a lawyer’s shop.”
“Speaking of interesting people,” Kimber said slyly, “I hear you and my brother had a thing the summer after I left.”
“Yes,” Melissa responded wryly, “a ‘thing’ is a pretty accurate descriptor.”
“So, spill,” Kimber pressed.
“There’s not much to spill,” the other said. “We dated for awhile, but it was never really serious and we just…”
She shrugged, “…drifted.”
Sighing, she said, “it’s a shame too, he was great in bed.”
Kimber held up a hand. “That’s more info than I need to know.”
“Oh, come on,” she laughed, “that’s tame compared to some of the stuff we used to talk about.”
“It’s a bit different when the subject in question is your brother,” he said beneath an arched brow.
“Okay, I guess I can see that,” she said with a grin.
“I’m going to go see your grandma today,” Kimber said, “while I’m in town.”
“Oh, good,” Melissa smiled. “I’m sure she’ll be happy to see you. Even if she doesn’t act like it.”
They chatted and reminisced for the remainder of Melissa’s lunch hour. Then Kimber piled the extra pizza in a to-go box to take with him. The two embraced again as Melissa left, both promising to stay in touch better. She headed to her snappy little jeep, and Kimber climbed into his comfortable rental.
Bright View nursing home was up on a hill overlooking the town, so he’d have to hurry there and back if he waned to make his appointment with the bank. As his jaunty little car went on its way, he thought back to the times he’d spent with Melissa’s grandmother. A faint smile played over his face.
The nurses at Bright View seemed surprised that Priscella Jones had a visitor that wasn’t family, and was happy to show him the way down to her room. She looked much the same as he remembered, but then she’d been old for all of his twenty-odd years of living. No matter how much her physical body became bowed with age, the air around her was charged with strength and purpose. Her very manner proclaimed that she had been beautiful once, and it still showed in places. Eyes of the most vivid green, which she had passed on to Melissa, were set perfectly into the most expressive face Kimber had ever seen. There were wrinkles on her face, but not enough to indicate her vast age in full. Though her hair was now silver, it still hung in thick, luscious waves down her back.
As always she was dressed in bright, shocking red. This had become something of her signature, and it was the color she’d worn to her own husband’s funeral if the stories told it true. Melissa had told him once she’d tried to get Priscella to change to something more suitable for the socials at the church, and in response she’d worn black. Melissa had not revived the subject after that.
Her door was open so Kimber rapped lightly on the frame. “Hello, Prissy. Miss me?”
She turned her eyes up from the book she had been reading. For a moment her eyes widened in surprise, then they narrowed as she gave him a withering glare.
“Don’t you stand there and ‘Hello, Prissy’ me, boy,” she spat. “If you think you can just waltz back in here after four years without so much as a peep, you’ve got another think coming.”
In response, Kimber’s own smile brightened. He started forward confidently, if a bit contritely, into the room. “Now, Prissy, you know you can’t stay mad at me. You’re much too fond of me.”
Drawing herself up tall in her chair, she responded, “You think so? I didn’t even rate so much as a goodbye, how’s that for nerve?”
His smile slid away then, the contrition genuine this time. “I do apologize for that. I didn’t say goodbye to anyone that night. It was…a trying time.”
Her eyes swept him up and down, her hardness softening a tiny little bit. “Yes, I suppose it was at that. I can forgive you this once.”
An eyebrow raised dryly. “Most gracious of you.”
“Don’t get smart, now.” Her own arched brow was equal to Kimber’s own.
“But I was taught so well.”
“Too well,” Priscella admitted wryly. “Not that you needed my esteemed tutelage. Even then you were the only one who would throw down with Old Bones Jones.”
Her one-of-a-kind cackle filled the air. “The rest of them chickens in that church youth group couldn’t even look me in the face, but not you. You stood tall, tossed your head back and said, ‘Miss Jones, we are here to visit you, so you’re going to sit there and be visited.’ You had bite, even then.” She nodded sagely.
“Not to your level though, was it?” Kimber laughed. “You told me you’d do nothing of the kind, started hollering for a nurse to ‘get these devils out of here,’ and then you shot back it was ‘Mrs. Jones, thank you very much.’ Then I said that we devils were better than sitting all by yourself and festering.”
“I believe you said molding,” Priscella corrected.
Shrugging, Kimber continued, “Whatever it was I said that day, it was enough for me to be taken under your most honored wings.”
Prissy waved her hand dismissively. “Bah. I was more of a coach than a teacher, you were doing just fine on your own. I did give your acid tongue a sharper edge, that I must admit.”
“You certainly did,” Kimber agreed, grinning.
“Much to your mother’s chagrin,” Prissy chuckled, “she was in here every week telling me off.”
“I can’t imagine you let it bother you one ounce,” Kimber drawled.
She winked. “Not one teaspoon.”
A comfortable silence settled for a moment then, each lost in his or her own musings. Finally Kimber spoke.
“I remember us talking about this.”
“How’s that?”
“Silence. You’d say that anyone could talk, but the real trick was finding someone you could just be silent with.”
Prissy’s brow rose once more. “And have you?”
“Yes,” Kimber said. “Yes, I have.”
Her eyes took on a knowing look. “Oooh, now I see. You spent four years getting your hanky panky on, that’s why you couldn’t call. Too busy making up for lost time.”
With mock scandal, Kimber gasped, “Priscella!”
“Don’t think I don’t know about it,” she said. She put her hands beneath her breasts, massive with age, and hefted them up. She gave them a jiggle for good measure. “I was a knockout once, you know. These may be heading knee-ward know, but you coulda bounced a nickel off ‘em once upon a time.”
She replaced her breasts and smoothed her hands over her dress. “Well, it’s about time.”
Laughing, Kimber said. “Some of us like to be a bit selective.”
Priscella snorted. “Bah humbug. I don’t know where these kids got the idea that sex was bad, but it certainly wasn’t from me.”
“I don’t think sex is bad,” Kimber replied, “I just think it’s something you should be smart about.”
“Sometimes you think too much, boy,” the old woman said, “every once in a while you just got to go out, kick up your heels, and get to it!”
She looked at him then, and reached out to pat his arm. “It’s a shame about your parents. They were good people.”
This sudden, sincere sympathy from a person who meant much to Kimber had him unexpectedly blinking his eyes rapidly.
“I didn’t expect it to feel like this,” he said softly.
Kindly, Priscella said, “They were your parents, Kim. Regardless. Everything that may or may not have happened between you, in the end it’s just details. They’re your parents, still.”
After a beat she added, “A little grieving is healthy, Kimber. You hold too much inside.”
“When I first heard about it, I was numb,” Kimber said, “it was like I literally could not process the information. Then I was busy getting the flight details worked out, and all of that. Even so, I could feel it inside me, the gulf between us. Now it’s even wider, and it’s too late.”
He sighed, “Now there’s nothing to be done about it.”
Priscella disagreed. “That’s not true at all, there’s still loads you need to do about it. You need to forgive them, you need to forgive your brother, and you need to forgive yourself. Then you need to take the time and let yourself feel it. The way you’re going now it’s going to sneak up on you and knock you on your ass.”
Without missing a beat, Prissy went on, “I’ve found that a little post-grief nookie usually does the trick.”
The unexpectedness of it made Kimber laugh aloud. “Oh, Prissy, never change.”
“Don’t plan on it, boy,” she said. “I’ll be the same ‘til I shuffle off this mortal coil.”
“No more talk of death, Prissy,” Kimber sighed, “let’s talk about something else.”
“Nice weather we’re having, don’t you think?” she cheekily said.
“I know, it’s crazy.” He glanced out the window where he could see the miserable drizzle still coming down. “And a week before Christmas, too. There’s never not been snow at this time of year.”
“Well, now,” Priscella said slowly, “that’s not exactly true.”
He looked sharply at her. “What do you mean?”
“We had crazy weather like this before,” Prissy said matter-of-factly. “Right after Elaine asked me how to conjure up devils.”


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6 Comments

  1. Zappaz said,

    Oooooh. Amusing, witty banter and a new character, (whom I love, I might add), followed by: BAM! Last lines like that are wonderful! *dances* Waiting for the next update is going to drive me crazy!

  2. Yahrlan said,

    Yes, he’s quite perfected the one-liner cliff-hanger, hasn’t he?

    Seth hasn’t perfected his proof-reading, yet, though. 😛
    ~Today, the rain seemed to have let up it a bit.~ no it
    ~Kimber wrapped lightly on the frame.~ rapped (I checked with dictionary.com)
    ~“Oh, Prissy, never change.”~ you never change? Though as I look at it, if he’s telling her not to change there’s the understood you. Hmm, I guess this one is all in how the reader read it.

    And I cannot for the life of me find anything good for this chapter’s track, (at least not yet; I’m searching,) so I won’t post the link until I get a good one or give-up and find some Cher. ~_^

  3. Seth Gray said,

    Thanks for the catches, the third one is correct. He’s telling her to never change.

  4. Yahrlan said,

    Kk, just wanted to make sure.

  5. jekloneo said,

    Teeny typo error:
    You spent FOR years getting your hanky panky on
    Is it supposed to be “four”? Or am I reading the sentence wrong?

    Nice cliffhanger. 🙂

  6. Seth Gray said,

    Nope, should be four. Thank ya.

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