the one-eyed man is better off keeping his fucking mouth shut."
"So, yeah, I'm the guy that's banging your little sister."
"Hmmm... I guess I'm ok with that."
"Well, thanks. I'm really ok. Really. I'm not like that..."
"And just what is that?"
Luckily, Karen came back into the kitchen before I had to answer that one. She pulled back one of the chairs from the table, spun it around, sat down and rested her folded arms on the back and her chin on her arms.
"So," she said, "are we all getting to know each other better?"
"I'm getting the third degree", I replied.
Della looked at her sideways and said, "Only the second".
She turned her eyes back to me and smiled the smile that I'm sure was behind the mask of the executioner who really enjoyed his job too much.
"Della was asking about my character, I think this is a job interview."
They both laughed in that sister laugh, then it got awfully quiet. I think it was my turn to speak again, but I didn't know what to say.
"Della thinks my choice of men leaves a bit to be desired, but I told her you were ok."
"Yeah, I said the same thing. About me being ok, I mean. I think your choice in the area of male companions is excellent..."
That was humor there, girls.
"So, Del, do you think he's ok?"
I was beginning to think there was more in that question than the usual girl to girl banter. I sucked down the last of the tepid coffee in my mug, pushed back my chair and stood up.
"Anyone want some more coffee?", I asked with a bit of waver in my voice.
Karen shook her head no and said, "No, I have to get up really early tomorrow. There's an art festival on the beach and I told Jake I'd come down at five to help him open up to catch the coffee and breakfast crowd. I'm going to go to bed. You two can hang out and chat."
Great. I walked around the table to behind her chair as she stood up. She turned and put her arms around my waist and squeezed me hard. I rested my chin on the top of her head and squeezed back as best as I could with a coffee cup in one hand. She tilted her head back, looked up at me and drilled me with those deep, dark eyes.
"Give me a kiss good night", she half whispered, and I did. She let me go and side stepped over to big sister, wrapped her arms around her neck and said,
"I'm so happy you're here. I'm happy we're all here".
Then she leaned even closer and whispered something in her sister's ear, which was answered with a silent nod. She let go, then danced off to the bedroom, shut the door and that was that. Ok, let the awkwardness begin...
I sort of half shuffled over to the other side of the kitchen, re-lit the fire under the coffee pot and just stood there staring at the flame for a minute. Just damn. I guessed I should say something, but wasn't sure what, when I heard Della's chair being slid back and I turned around to watch her stand up. She turned around to face me, smoothed out her sun dress, folded her arms and leaned against the back of the chair.
"Here it comes", I thought.
I looked down at the floor. When I looked up, she was still there, staring at me.
She began the conversation.
"Well, Buster Brown, I guess it's just you and me".
She cocked her head a bit and looked me up and down.
"Do you smoke?", she asked.
"Yeah, I've got a pack in my bag. You want one?"
"I mean grass. Do you smoke grass?"
"Occasionally. Not a real big fan of it, but it suffices in times of no coffee..."
"I have some in my suitcase. Can you roll? Mine always turn out looking like a cat turd."
She started to walk into the living room, stopped in front of me and put a finger in my chest. She looked at me with the same big, dark brown eyes and said,
"Good. We're going to talk."
She removed her finger, smiled at me, this time with a genuine sort of smile and went on her way.
"Don't be a fucker", that's what Jake said. I wasn't going to be a fucker, even if I had the capacity to be one, but, damn, I sure wasn't liking where I thought this was going. Karen was an open book. She said what was on her mind, always. Della, on the other hand, was a bit too cryptic for my liking. This was going to be an interesting night.
I turned around and turned off the stove, poured what was left of the coffee into my mug and stood there in the kitchen, seriously thinking I might just call it a night and wander back home and hang with Oliver, although, by now, if he was home, he was in the company of some lewd, loud and drunken barfly he picked up in town and coaxed into coming home with him for a night of who knows what drugs and noisy, annoying sex. He was into that whole scene. One night stands, punctuated with promises, chemicals, booze and one day, massive doses of penicillin... More power to him, I guess. And here am I, about to be drilled about the why, what and how about my relationship with someones little sister, even if only by seven minutes.
"There's going to be a story in this, one day", I thought.
Della eventually came back into the kitchen, she had changed her clothes. She was wearing a pair of ratty, patch laden jeans, cowboy boots and the pinkest, tightest t-shirt I'd ever seen. It was hard not to stare at her breasts. She was definitely the better endowed of the two. She'd removed her makeup, too and let her hair down from it's pony tail, into the same wild, black tangle of her sleeping sister. It was amazing how much alike they looked. She reached out to hand me a baggie of grass and a pack of papers.
"Sit. Roll. At least three. Maybe four, ok?"
"Geez, you planning on having a party?"
"No, it's just crappy Mexican. Ten bucks an ounce. But it does the job, after a fashion."
So, I sat at the kitchen table and rolled four nice, round solid joints, while she stood looking out the back door.
"Ok, locked and loaded", I said.
"Good. Let's go. I want to sit on the beach. I really love the water. Do you like the water?"
"Yeah. I like the water".
"I'm getting a jacket. Grab your cigarettes. And some beers. I bought some, it's in the fridge. I'll be right back."
She vanished into the living room again and came back with the ratty denim jacket that matched her jeans as I was fishing around in my bag for my smokes and some matches.
"Let's go", she said, opening the back door and heading out onto the back porch. I stopped at the fridge, fished out two bottles of beer, put one in each back pocket of my pants and followed her outside, locking and closing the door behind me.
"I hope you have a key, Buster Brown."
"Yeah, I have a key."
She headed down the back outside stairs. I followed. I had my smokes and our joints in the pocket of my t-shirt. I was holding two books of matches in my left hand and realized I was squeezing them hard enough to crush them.
"Calm down", I said to myself, I thought, but I actually said it out loud.
"Oh, I'm calm", she said over her shoulder.
Down into the back parking lot we went, then up the side driveway and out onto the front sidewalk.
"Where's a nice, dark, private place to go?", she asked.
"Oh, up North a few blocks, past the SafeWay market. That's no-man's land around here. Usually just the hard core stoner surfers and the sex in the sand crowd"
"Good", she answered. Nothing else.
So North we headed, side by side, in obscene silence, on the sea side of the street, plodding on the rumpled concrete sidewalk, into the circle of light of one street light, then back into the dark, then a circle of light, then dark, then light, then into that dark stretch of the ocean front, just South of the Navy beach, favored by those who wanted to be left alone, to sit in the sand, to smoke their smoke, play poke and hope in the dark, fall back and just listen to the soft little waves of the vast Pacific...
She groped in the dark for my hand, grabbed it firmly and peeled off the walkway into the sand and headed for the sound of the ocean. We scuffed through the sand for about thirty feet or so and she stopped, dropped my hand and sat down.
"Come on, have a seat", she whispered in the dark.
It was still pretty hot out, but she put her jacket on over her shoulders, pulled up her knees, wrapped her arms around her legs and commanded,
"Ok, light one of those fuckers up and let's chat."
And I did. And we did...