Loss of Control
by Cindy O’Quinn
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3
On the local nightly news at eleven, the reporter spoke briefly about a wreck that had occurred earlier that night, one in which two people were killed. “The wreck, involving two vehicles, happened around 9:00 pm just outside of Haney’s Point. Early reports indicate that there appeared to be a loss of control by one or both of the drivers. Road conditions may have been a contributing factor in the wreck. The investigation is ongoing.”
1. Becky’s Christmas Bonus
Becky Trumble’s not so glamorous job as a house cleaner allowed her to work the four hours each morning that her three-year old twins were at the Wee Tots Daycare. She didn’t mind it too much, because the rich folks she cleaned for weren’t the messy type, not really, not if you took into consideration the flea-bag motel just off I-64 where she used to work. When you compared the two jobs, the Millers were a piece of cake to clean up after.
Becky was thankful for the income. Her twins’ baby daddy worked at Byrd’s Mailbox Haven. His job was to attach the red flag to the metal boxes as they came down the line. Truly a job that a monkey could do but, somehow, Owen Baker could find a way to mess it up on a weekly basis.
The little bit of cash Becky brought in was used to buy things for herself that Owen did not consider necessities, like brand-name tampons. She also bought clothing and school supplies for her seven-year old son, Lenny Jr., because Owen would rather throw money to the wind than spend it on some other man’s offspring. Lenny Sr. had split the scene when Lenny Jr. was just two.
December 18th started out to be a good day. Becky arrived at the Miller’s house and was greeted by both Mr. and Mrs. Miller. They had smiles on their faces as they handed Becky an envelope and a fruit basket. All Becky could think at that moment was, I hope this isn’t my severance package. It was not her goodbye papers, but instead it was a Christmas card with two hundred bucks in it.
Becky had never received a Christmas bonus before and was taken aback. Tears welled up in her eyes as Mr. and Mrs. Miller told her they appreciated her hard work and hoped the money would help with presents for her two children. Becky didn’t bother to correct them about the number of children she had. She was just grateful for the generous bonus and told them so.
Once the Millers were off to their fancy lawyer jobs, Becky got to work giving their home an extra-thorough cleaning. Her mind kept drifting to the Christmas bonus and what she would be able to buy the children this year. She knew Lenny Jr. wanted a Nintendo game and the twins would be happy with any toys they got, but all three kids really needed good snow boots. Maybe she would get lucky and find boots at the local Goodwill and still have money for new presents to put under the white tabletop Christmas tree.
Up to this point it had looked pretty dreary. Owen was putting up a fight when it came to wasting money on presents. Becky had known she was making a mistake when she had invited Owen into her apartment after their first date. It had been two years since Lenny Sr. walked out, and she had not dated anyone until Owen.
Becky got knocked up on that first date and he moved in two months later. She had given great consideration to having an abortion, but at the last minute she changed her mind. She loved Lenny Jr. and knew she would love the twins as much. The babies came six weeks early. The girl, Lakin, weighed just over five pounds and the boy, Lance, weighed in just under five. Both were healthy, and Becky was glad she had kept them.
Three years later she wasn’t so sure she had made the right decision. She loved them sure enough, but sometimes she wanted to pull her hair out. Lance had one ear infection after the next, the doctor thought it was time to consider tubes, and Lakin refused to let go of the bottle.
And then there was Lenny Jr., who was in special education due to his attention deficit disorder. Becky refused to put him on meds for it and, so far, the school wasn’t forcing the issue.
Owen did little to nothing to help out at home; she had to look after the children the best she could. The only time she felt she got a break from it all was when she was cleaning for the Millers. Becky was beginning to suspect that Owen was having an affair and worried he would soon hit the door running.
Another good thing about working for the Millers was the fact that the bus stop was only three blocks from their house. Becky knew she needed more exercise; she hadn’t dropped that last twenty pounds from the weight she gained while pregnant with the twins, but she was glad she didn’t have to walk farther after cleaning for over three hours straight.
She had an idea. As soon as she picked the twins up and took the bus that dropped her and the twins off a block from her apartment, she called her only friend, Martha.
Martha worked part-time at Byrd’s Mailbox Haven and usually kept Becky informed on the latest scandals. She told Martha about the unexpected Christmas bonus and asked if she wanted to do a little Christmas shopping at the mall. Martha gave a big whoopee and said, “Hell yes! Girl, you know it!”
Becky was relieved. Martha had the wheels to drive them to the mall. Within the hour they were on their way. They made a quick stop at Goodwill, but the snow boots were a no-go. Becky decided to wait until after Christmas in hopes that Magic Mart would run a special. Maybe there would be enough of her bonus left to buy the boots then.
Once at the mall it took ten minutes to find an empty parking spot. It was near the end of the lot, which meant more walking, and the used tandem stroller she had bought at a yard sale had fallen all to pieces last week when Lenny Jr. decided to climb on it.
Becky carried the whining Lance and Martha toted the bottle-sucking Lakin. Just beyond the main entrance, they went straight to Mommy’s Corner to rent a stroller. Lance cried for her to get the one that looked like a race car, and Lakin cried for the stroller that looked like a teddy bear. In the end, Becky opted for the tandem stroller that was plain and saved the extra five bucks.
Gary’s Game Shop was their next stop. Becky was able to purchase two like-new games for Lenny Jr. for the price of one new game. Martha was a good friend and she didn’t seem to mind Becky’s whiney children. It may have had to do with the fact she didn’t have children of her own.
It wasn’t for lack of interest in having children on her part but more the lack of interest that men had in Martha. On a good day she weighed in just under two hundred. If it bothered her, she never let on. Her younger brother kept her supplied with weed, and she remained fairly mellow most of the time.
Becky wished Martha would have fired up a joint on the way to the mall. “I guess our next store should be Toys for Less, even if it may turn out to be a nightmare taking the twins in there.”
Martha laughed heartily and joked, “We could always park them in front of Santa Land while we run in to Toys for Less. They are bound to stay mesmerized for at least twenty minutes or so.”
The idea was very tempting even if Martha was just joking. “Maybe you could take over the stroller long enough for me to make a mad dash down the Fisher-Price aisle. I think Lance would like the Thomas & Friends Rattling Railsss and for Lakin, maybe the Loving Family Kitchen.”
“Hell yes, I’ll watch the little rug rats. Take your time,” Martha insisted.
It didn’t take long for Becky to find the toys, but that wasn’t the case for checking out. She stood in line for at least half an hour. Becky rushed out of the toy store with her black bags. The stores provide black bags at Christmas so the little ones won’t see in advance what Santa is bringing. “Sorry it took so long, the long lines were just crazy.”
Martha said, “Don’t sweat it girl. We chilled and took in Santa Land.”
As though on cue, one of Santa’s helper elves popped up next to Becky. “Can I interest you in a Christmas photo with Santa for only $9.95?” The red-cheeked elf handed Lance and Lakin candy canes.
Becky looked over at the mall Santa. He had chewing tobacco juice running out of the corner of his mouth, and it was leaving a brown trail in his fake white beard. She knew that under those piss stained white gloves were greasy hands eager to have small children up on his lap. Becky’s stomach turned as she imagined it. She said, “No thanks, we already had one taken.” It was a lie, but she couldn’t bring herself to say what she really thought.
She hurried them away from the elf and Santa Land before one of the kids had a chance to tell the elf that they had not already had a picture taken with Santa Claus. The twins tore into their candy canes.
“Is there any other store you want to hit before we head back?” Martha asked.
She was probably wondering why Becky hadn’t bought anything for Owen. Why would she? He had yet to buy her the first present in the almost four years they have been together. “No, I think that will do it for me. Is there anywhere else you want to go?”
“No, I’m set,” Martha assured her.
They turned the stroller back in to the little old woman at Mommy’s Corner. The woman rolled her puffy eyes and immediately started wiping the stroller down with Lysol wipes before they were out of sight. Becky thought, Bitch, if you don’t want the strollers to get sticky, then tell the elves not to pass out those messy candy canes.
It took longer to hike back to Martha’s Ford Escort with twins and bags in tow. Becky felt her legs had turned to lead weights and her back ached. She sighed as she sat down in the small car and laid her head back against the head rest and closed her eyes.
Martha asked, “You all right, girl? You’re looking a little peaked.”
“I feel like I’m losing it,” Becky answered.
“Losing what?” Martha needed more details.
Becky sighed again and stared down at her hands that were red and cracked from the bleach she had used while cleaning this morning at the Millers’. “I don’t know. Losing control maybe. I don’t know how to explain. The kids are a handful. Owen has been acting weird. I think he is cheating. Have you heard anything?”
Martha hesitated before answering, and that in itself told Becky her suspicions were right.
“Girl, I hate to be the one to tell you, but he has been spending a lot of time in the stock room lately. Everybody says him and Wanda, the stock clerk, have got it going on.”
“Don’t feel bad for telling me. I had a feeling that’s what it was. I just didn’t know who. Now I do. Maybe he’ll keep his paws off of me. Wanda’s doing me a favor, really. I can’t stand it anymore when he touches me. It’s not often, and he’s usually two sheets to the wind when he does.” Becky was as honest as she could be.
“What will you do?” Martha wondered out loud.
Becky threw up her hands. “Nothing I guess. Not until after Christmas anyway.”
Martha made her an offer. “You and the rug rats could always move in with me. I wouldn’t mind having y’all around. It would liven the ole place up. Hell, Robbie is up in the mountain most of the time. He’s more dedicated to tending his marijuana plants than looking for a real job.”
Becky thought the idea sounded pretty tempting. An added perk would be the weed that the brother was so apt at growing. She knew Martha would eventually grow tired of her kids underfoot all the time, and she might even get tired of Becky. They had been best friends since high school, but they hadn’t lived under the same roof, and that can be a strain on any relationship.
Nevertheless, Becky would give it serious consideration if Owen left. Becky answered, “Martha, you don’t know what you are offering. We would turn your life upside down. You can’t imagine how much trouble my children can be.”
“No, I don’t, because I don’t have children. That doesn’t mean I don’t want children. Having y’all move in would give me a good idea of what it would be like. Maybe helping out with your kids would be all I want in the end,” Martha told her.
They arrived back to the apartment complex just in time to get Lenny Jr. off the school bus. Martha and Lenny Jr. helped the twins up the stairs while Becky went ahead so she could put the black bags in her closet. Martha left before Owen got home from work. She didn’t want to be there when he arrived.
Copyright © 2017 by Cindy O’Quinn