Sweet Thyme Baby – 9

 

Copyright © 2012 by Drusilla Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

9

(Start at the Beginning of Sweet Thyme Baby)

(Click here to read Section 8 first)

 

At about the same time that Lance was having his dream, Pinkus stood on the stretch of lawn beside a plum tree from which hung the baby’s basket. George sat nearby on a glider with a blue awning. A newspaper lay on the ground near his bare feet.

“You were supposed to be watching him,” Pinkus said, hands on hips. “When I say watch him, I mean watch him. I don’t mean fall asleep over The National Inquirer.” He cooed into the basket, and the baby, Sweet Thyme, burped and smiled up at him. “God Almighty, did you ever see anything so precious? I’m mad for this baby, George.”

 

George said nothing.

 

“Well? That’s your cue. You’re supposed to say ‘I’m mad for him too’ or ‘and I’m crazy about you’.”

 

George picked up the newspaper and folded it in half.  “He isn’t yours, Pinky. You can’t undo the past.”

 

“Don’t talk to me about the past,” Pinkus said, tearing up. “I may not have been much of a husband, but I was a good father. That judge had no right to tell me I couldn’t see my son.”

 

“Pinky, it was years ago.”

 

“Time has nothing to do with it. I’ve never forgotten. It still hurts. That woman turned my son against me. She had no call to do that. I was a good father.”

 

“I know you were, honey.”

 

“And an excellent physician.”

 

“Why are you telling me what I already know?”
“So don’t you see? This baby boy? He’s my second chance.”

 

“You’re going to get hurt bad. I feel it.”

 

“And what are you, suddenly? A fortune teller?”
“Pinky, this baby –.”

 

“Call him by his name.”

 

“We don’t know his name.”

 

“It’s Sweet Thyme.”

 

George sighed. “Sweet Thyme belongs to someone.”

 

“Someone who burns him with cigarettes.”

 

“But maybe that person isn’t his real family. Maybe he got stolen by someone and that’s who hurt him.”

 

“Yes and maybe there are faeries in the garden like Carlotta said.”

 

George laughed. “We’re the only fairies around here. You and me and if we show up at the police station with a baby we claim we found in an herb garden, for godsake, the cops won’t believe a word. Two old queens.” He sighed and swiped the back of his hand across his moist forehead. “We gotta persuade Dee to go for us.”

 

“When was the last time you ever saw her leave Cabrillo Point? I can’t remember and neither can you.” Pinky picked a plum blossom and wagged it before Sweet Thyme. “I suppose we could ask Winston.”
“He’s a cop,” George said.

 

“Well, yes, but he’s one of us.” Pinkus tossed the blossom in George’s direction and walked away. At the porch stairs he turned around, grinned and preened. “And watch who you’re calling an old queen.”

 

George dug his toes into the grass and the glider moved back and forth.

 

With his big, bagged eyes and his mouth turned down, George looked like a frog in a beer commercial. Pinkus loved him very much. He walked back to the glider and sat beside him.

 

“George, honey, we’ve talked a million times about how good it would be if we could adopt a baby, what good parents we’d make. Well, see, this is the way the universe has for granting wishes. Nothing bad’s going to happen if you’ll just think positive! It’s like the loaves and the fishes. The more good thoughts you send out, the more you get back.” Pinkus rested his head on George’s shoulder.  “We’re a family now.”

 

“I thought we were a family before.”

 

“Two’s a couple. Three’s a family.”

 

“I thought you were happy, the way things were.”

 

“Leave off, George. You know how easy I get upset.”

 

George looked like something had dragged his face along the ground. “All I know is, Sweet Thyme means trouble. Bad. With the law.”

 

*

 

When Lance called Sharon at the market she had three customers waiting in line at the deli counter. She was making a chopped chicken salad sandwich and her neck ached, holding the phone tucked up under her chin.

 

“I can’t come home. I’ve got people waiting for sandwiches. I haven’t stopped going since I got here.” She wrapped the chicken sandwich like a gift in waxed paper, put it in a green and white striped paper bag along with potato chips, a red and gold Gala apple and a chocolate chip cookie. The customer handed her ten dollars and dropped the change into the “Tips Welcome” jar. Sharon shifted the phone to the other side. “And I can’t abandon my brother at the airport. I’ll take Hamish with me, we’ll get him, bring him home and then you can tell me your plan. I’ll give you a bowl of chocolate pudding with coconut on it the way you like.”

 

“Sharon, I don’t want pudding. I want you home. Damn-it-to-hell, if this is going to work, I need you with me one hundred percent.”

 

“Why are you cursing?”

 

“Don’t argue with me. Do as I tell you.”

 

“No.”

 

*

 

She left early for the airport, ripe with resentment. She had once wanted a perfect marriage and thought she could make it happen by being a perfect wife. A good wife does not bring shame on her husband. She is tolerant of her spouse’s moods, patient and long suffering. She remembered her mother-in-law quoting Scripture at her. A good wife opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Her children rise up and call her happy; her husband too, and he praises her.

 

People who had known Helen Whitby remembered her as a saint. Lately Sharon had wondered if saintliness and Scripture quoting, piano playing and sewing for everyone might have been her ways to keep the peace and avoid her husband.

 

Sharon didn’t want to avoid Lance. She wanted them to be friends again, pals like they used to be. But did that mean she had to agree with everything he said? Did she have to worship at the shrine of Joel Jackson when she loathed the man and thought him the worst kind of self-aggrandizing Christian phony?  She tried to imagine the rest of her life with Lance and instead imagined herself locked in a car with him, speeding south toward the inevitable border. And this was it then? Her life? When had the dread begun?

 

At the airport the curb guards were in gestapo mode; she stopped at the pickup area, and they waved her on. Third time around she saw Sam standing by the curb with his duffel at his feet. She honked the horn and Hamish woke up. Sam’s face cracked into a wide grin when he opened the door. She put her arms around him and she started crying.

 

“No big deal.” She wiped her eyes. “It’s been a hard day.”

 

Sam looked skeptical but it was not his way to probe without encouragement. Instead, as she maneuvered the Honda through the lines of waiting cars and taxis and hospitality vans, he talked about the job interviews he had scheduled and told her the latest political jokes circulating on the Austin campus.

 

He asked, “How’s His Holiness?”

 

“Don’t be mean.”

 

Lance and Sam did not like each other, but they had in common their love of Sharon and Hamish; and over time this had created an illusion of family feeling. Lance said Sam was godless and a bad influence, a professional student, an intellectual bum. Sam said Lance was sanctimonious and self-righteous and ignorant as cat dirt. Lance was jealous of Sharon’s affection for her brother so when they were all together, she behaved toward Sam as if his company were something she could take or leave. But when she got him alone, then she felt like a kid on vacation. In Hawaii. With room service.

 

She braked for the light on Rosecrans. “He’s got some new plan. He called this afternoon, wanted me to close the market, go home and hear all about it.”

 

“And?”

 

“I hung up on him.”

 

Sam smiled and shook his head. “You are your mother’s daughter, Sharon, whether you want to be or not.”

 

Copyright © 2012 by Drusilla Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

 

Click here to read Part 10 of Sweet Thyme Baby

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