Sweet Thyme Baby – 35

 

Copyright © 2012 by Drusilla Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

35

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By midmorning Hamish had recovered from his fright of the night before. Ten a.m. and he was restless for activity. Sharon had decided to get him the haircut he needed and afterwards she would look in on Sam at Greens.

 

“Don’t take much off, Lovey. I don’t want him to look like a skinhead.”

 

Lovey glared over Hamish’s head. “You think I’d do that to a sweet potato?”

 

“I’m not a sweet potato. I’m a boy.”

 

“You a boy for real?” Lovey gasped and rolled her dark eyes heavenward. “Praise God, I’m glad you told me that before I started gettin’ hungry.”

 

Sharon thought of her brother with a heavy heart.

 

“He’s this huge strong guy who looks like he could handle anything, but he’s not that way really.” She wasn’t sure how true this was, but it sounded right. And she wanted to enlist Lovey’s agreement that Sam should stay away from Dee Larue. They were alone in the shop and the sign on the door said CLOSED FOR THE GOOD OF MY SOUL. “My brother’s had a hard time.”

 

She heard the words come out of her mouth and she almost believed them. Once she would have sworn they were the truth but during this visit, with all the tension in the house, his easy going nature had been a striking contrast to Lance’s and her own; and she had begun to wonder: how hard could it have been growing up with Billie Green if Sam emerged so happy and well-adjusted?

 

Lovey wet Hamish’s hair and combed it down straight over his eyes and ears. “If you think you didn’t have hard times, then you’ve forgotten.”

 

“But he’s a man and men…you know.” She was not sure why she could not let the subject go, why it was important to have Billie Green’s failure as a mother confirmed.

 

“Bad times turn us into fire-tempered steel.” Lovey lifted a hank of Hamish’s hair and began to cut. “I never understood that part of the Lord’s Prayer where it says lead us not into temptation. Always seemed like to me, temptation’s a good thing on account of we either learn our lessons from falling into it, or get stronger by resisting it.”

 

“Tell that to a cat on its ninth life.”

 

“God’s will, Sharon. You can’t figure it out and me neither, don’t mean it’s bad.”

 

Wrapped in one of Lovey’s multicolor Caribbean wraps, hair half cut, eyes half shut, Hamish looked like an ad for the elixir of all things innocent. And it was Sharon’s role to protect that innocence. Maybe not as obsessively as Helen had Lance or her father had her, but she was meant to guard Hamish from the world. That was what a mother did. If Lance heard Lovey’s opinion of the Lord’s Prayer, he would say protection meant keeping Hamish away from a pagan blasphemer.

 

“So how come we got to protect your great big, good looking brother?” Hamish was almost asleep in the salon chair. Lovey turned his head gently and clipped around his ears.  “Don’t you want Sam to find a woman, settle down and have a family? Aren’t you the one’s always talking family this and family that?”

 

“I don’t want him to get mixed up in something he’ll regret.”

 

“If he eats a meal with Dee Larue you think he’s mixed up?”

 

“Potentially.”

 

“Sounds like to me you might be a bit jealous.”

 

“This is not a good time to talk, Lovey.” Sharon shot a glance toward Hamish. “Just let me say that if you knew what he went through with our maternal parent, you would know what I’m talking about. She broke his heart, Lovey.”

 

“Men and their moms. It happens sometimes.”

 

Sharon said softly, “Daddy kept me because he was afraid what would happen, how I’d grow up if I went with my mother. He should have kept Sam too, but she played on his good nature and his kindness so he didn’t turn it into a custody battle. But Sam never should have been with her. She wasn’t fit to be anyone’s mother.”

 

“Listen to you. Judge, jury and executioner, all rolled up in one.”

 

“You don’t know.”

 

Lovey flicked Hamish’s neckline with a soft brush and used a clean wrap to make a pillow in the corner of the chair. Without opening his eyes he nestled in.

 

Sharon and Lovey walked to the back of the salon.

 

“She kept telling him she was going to change. That she had changed –.”

 

“Changed from what?”

 

“Well, for starters,” Sharon had never told this to anyone. She wasn’t sure her lips and tongue would even make the word, not in connection with her own mother. “She was a prostitute.”

 

Lovey looked incredulous, then laughed.

 

Tears sprang into Sharon’s eyes.

 

Lovey said, “I’m sorry, I truly am, but it just doesn’t seem possible. Lance’s mother-in-law–”

 

“I can’t believe you’d laugh. I can’t believe you’d be so insensitive, Lovey.”

 

“Me neither.” Lovey hugged Sharon fast and hard. “I apologize. JesusMaryandJoseph, do I apologize. But you just got to think about how you come across. Mrs. Good Housekeeping married to Saint Lance. It was a shock, that’s why I laughed.” Lovey dropped her sheers and comb into the sterilizer. “Full time?”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Did she whore full time?”

 

“Lovey!”

 

“You upset with me for using a Bible word? Honey, I knew girls put themselves through USC that way. Time was, cash ran out, I thought of doing it myself.” She patted her hips. “Trimmer times.”

 

“She was a cocktail waitress –.”

 

“Nothing wrong with that, Sharon. Don’t make her a hooker.”

 

“Do you want to hear this story or not?”

 

Lovey bowed low.

 

“She’d get in trouble smoking marijuana or shooting cocaine or whatever you do with that stuff and she’d lose her job and then there wouldn’t be any money for rent so she’d –.”

 

“You know that for sure?”

 

“Daddy told me –.”

 

“Your daddy send her support? What about alimony?”

 

Sharon flung herself into a chair. “I don’t want to go into this.”

 

“Confession’s good for the soul. Haven’t you heard?”

 

“We’re not talking about my soul here. I’m trying to make you understand why I want Dee to leave Sam alone.”

 

“Whoa, now, wait a minute here.” Lovey squirted hand cream onto her palm, shared half with Sharon.  “From what I hear, Sam’s the one hittin’ on Dee.”

 

“That’s not the point.”

 

“Uh-huh. Lance know about your mom?”

 

“Are you kidding? He’d never understand. He’d try, but he wouldn’t be able to let it go and then he and Sam, well, they’d never be friends. Lance would feel like it was his business to bring Sam into the fold, heal him.”

 

“Yeah, well, it’s good you’re talking about it. The best way I know to heal a wound is to let the air on it.” Lovey opened the refrigerator. She held up a can of Coke. “I only got full strength. We’ll share, okay? Half the calories.”

 

Sharon nodded.

 

“I think Daddy sent her money sometimes. I don’t know why he didn’t do it regularly. He just wanted to wash his hands of her, I think.”

 

And if the price of getting rid of Billie was losing Sam too, Daddy had been willing. There was always that possibility with Daddy. If Sharon wasn’t a good girl, if she didn’t please by sitting up straight and minding her manners, if she didn’t study and get good grades and keep a curfew and join the church youth group, Daddy might decide to walk away from her too.

 

“Where’s she now?”

 

“She died about five years ago.”

 

Lung cancer. Sharon’s father said she probably suffered and that maybe if she suffered here on earth, God wouldn’t be so hard on her in the Hereafter.

 

“Once she was in jail and Sam came to stay with us. He was eight or nine and so grown up. He could fix his own breakfast and fold his laundry. She was no kind of mother.”

 

Lovey finished her half of the cola and handed the can to Sharon.

 

“These rootless women, women without families, there’s just something unnatural about them. I mean, who is Dee anyway?”

 

“Human being. Female.”

 

“You know what I mean.”

 

“Con and Carlotta Ryan trusted her enough to leave that garden to her in their will.”

 

“Yeah, right. Have you ever thought about that? This stranger appears out of nowhere and they give her acres and acres of priceless coastal property. Does that make sense?”

 

Lovey cocked her head. “What’re you saying, Sharon?”

 

“Well…nothing. Except. It’s suspicious, that’s all.”

 

“Generosity and helpin’ each other, those sure are suspicious ideas.”

 

“I’m going over to talk to her.”

 

“Sam that whipped, he won’t mind?”

 

“I want to tell her Hamish says there’s homeless in the garden again.”

 

“I run through there two, three times a week. I never see ‘em.”

 

“They’re hippies, I guess. He says the women wear long skirts. I don’t think it’s imagination. He’s very convinced.”

 

“He ever talk to one of ’em?”

 

“He said they don’t pay any attention to him.” Sharon lobbed the cola can to the waste basket six feet away. It bounced off the wall into the basket. “Probably stoned.”

 

Sharon went on, she heard herself elaborating, explaining why homeless in the garden were a danger to everyone. Hygiene, property values, petty crime, child molesting: she had the arguments lined up like a bullets in a clip. She was convincing herself, building courage to confront Dee. Directly about the homeless person and indirectly about Sam. She was not going to let Dee Larue hurt her brother. But she needed Lovey’s support. All her rationalization and sisterly protection and logical arguments did not quite equal the courage to confront Dee alone.

 

Lovey brushed Hamish’s hair off her pant legs. “You got it in for Dee Larue, but not me. I like her, I like her plenty.”

 

“I won’t embarrass you.”

 

“You promise.”

 

“Lordsake, I have manners, Lovey. Don’t I know how to behave? I’ll be perfectly polite.”

 

Copyright © 2012 by Drusilla Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

 

Click here to read Part 36 of Sweet Thyme Baby

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