“Carrie Louise, you need to listen to me.” Liz Vernier parked the red Caddy SRX on a side street behind a high-end shopping center, turned toward her front seat passenger. “It’s Thanksgiving. I need you to put on a happy face and stop pouting. You’re on the way to your future, I need you out of your past. Understood?”
“Yes ma’am.” Carrie Louise watched her Aunt Liz walk into the bakery that was so swank it didn’t have a sign, turned to the back seat. “I’m not pouting, Momma. It doesn’t feel right, that’s all.”
“It’s not right. Your Aunt Liz’s book isn’t the cover. Never has been. There’re things bubbling around inside her would make one of those vampire cannibals in an old swamp house movie a trip to Disneyland. The fact that Bobby is nowhere to be seen at Thanksgiving for the first time since either of you could sit up by yourselves is testament to that.”
“If Bobby gave a damn he’d call or text or email. His Face Book isn’t him, it’s all set up and run by some company for SwampVue, and he never sees it. He’s jealous about college and me on my way to being somebody and he can’t get past it. That’s what Aunt Liz says.”
“Bullshit, little girl. You and that boy have each other’s blood running through the both of you. What Liz wants is you. Why is between her and God. And I think if she doesn’t drop either of those $70 pies before she gets back to the car we’re going to see the plan unfold eating Thanksgiving dinner with the circus act that’s Francis Guillon and family. If he can keep his zipper up and un-medicate his wife out of her Stepford daze long enough for either of them to lift a fork.”
“Momma, you shouldn’t say things like that. He’s a state senator and Aunt Liz says he’ll be governor and that there’s room for me at her law firm when I get out and maybe on his staff and —”
“Little girl, you’re just like she was. All big talk and big ideas. The problem with where you think you belong is that you get there over the graves of other people’s dreams. You believe anything she says about you, or Bobby or do-gooder slime-ball politicians or me or anybody else you need to add ‘blind and stupid’ to your resume.”
“Damn, Momma, I’m your daughter. She’s your sister.”
“Don’t I know it. Get out, be ready to open the door for her. She makes all that money and can’t remember to take her remote to open the hatch.” She caught her daughter’s shoulder from the back seat. “Carrie Louise, you’re near full grown and out of my house and plenty old enough to hear me say this. Watch your back. Mark my words, Bobby being gone and wherever this road we’re on today is headed is all about Elizabeth Roche Vernier. One of these days, when you step in something that looks like gold and smells like shit, don’t say your momma didn’t warn you.”
Liz Vernier stood in the Guillon guest house kitchen, her arms folded. “I’ll take care of the televison, Frank, forget it. Get to the issue.”
Frank Guillon stepped gingerly around the guest house living room where what had been a 40 inch flat screen TV was just a frame over the fireplace and black glass covered the couch, coffee table and floor.
“Well, it won’t hurt you. They’re cheaper than lobbyists these days.” He crunched his way to the kitchen island, set his beer down, leaned on the island towards his son. “What I want is the story. How did you fuck up with the girl right out of the gate?”
“Dad, I didn’t fuck…” He threw his hands up, started to walk off. “Shit. My fault. I fucked up whatever it was, like always.”
Liz caught his arm, turned him back. “I want the story. Then we’ll decide if you get to do self pity.”
Sean knew he could walk his dad. He checked Liz Vernier and survival instinct kicked in.
“Look, I just said, ‘Let’s take a walk, let the oldies beat it by themselves’. We came out here, got a couple of beers, I turned on football and she went bitch about not watching football with me because there was only one way to watch football and I wasn’t in that universe. I said fuck it, hit the guide looking for Monterrey Mick’s Mad Mods Thanksgiving Marathon and maybe catch the new season kickoff. So I click on it and she’s calling the chicks stupid bimbos and shit and she screams ‘BOBBY’, like she saw somebody she knew. She said, ‘I know him! That’s Bobby!’ And I laughed and said ‘You don’t know shit about anybody on Monterrey Mick’s’ and then the smokin’ babe that delivers parts, right? She’s like doing the walk and this guy makes hot chick eyes and she drops the box on his tool cart with a fuck me wink and KABOOM. Carrie threw her beer at the TV and was screaming about how this Bobby dude was a fucking slut. I told her that was way wrong, dudes can’t be sluts. She ran out the door, and surprise, surprise, surprise. Here you are.”
Liz waited a few beats, looked Sean over, let a small sigh escape.
“Get over yourself, Sean.” She leaned way into his space, lowered and leveled her voice. “Your father is a rich, demanding asshole politician. They go hand in hand, rich and demanding asshole politician. Know that and live your life around it until it’s your turn. Go tell Carrie Louise you’re sorry about whoever Bobby the slut is. Make her a bowl of ice cream and keep your mouth shut. Be invisible, but be there.” Liz watched him slump back to the house, picked up Frank’s beer, decided against it.
“This is why he needs her, Frank. She brings the passion he doesn’t have, but he intuitively knew which completely stupid redirect call to make after she’d pissed him off, and has the Teflon skin of a lifelong victim. Those two traits make him genetically perfect for politics. If she could stick her hand far enough up his ass to move his mouth we’d have ourselves the youngest Southern president in history.”
“If you say so.” Frank finished his beer and clanked it in the kitchen trash. “Are you still going to buy me a television?”
She glanced over her shoulder at the narrow guest house living room covered in glass.
“We have forty grand in the old one. I hope new ones are as cheap as you say they are.”