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Dead Profession: Chapter 2
I arrived at around six and parked my sedan out front of my gray row home. Rain clouds started to form above, and suddenly a lone raindrop struck my forehead. I wiped it away and quickly began to enter my gray abode, the door was unlocked before my key was inserted.
Inside was the same flavor of monotone as was outside, the smell of air freshener was thick in the air. Mixed with this scent was a burning sensation, I then noticed a thin layer of smoke hovering below the ceiling. I continued slowly inside, paranoid of an intruder. I turned left into the kitchen to see scattered pots and pans, one, was sitting on the stove. I moved to it to investigate, inside was a large amount of water and orange powder which encircled the rim of the pot.
A box of macaroni and cheese laid next to it, a few noodles still inside it.
“Uncle Lou?” Asked a soft voice, unmistakably female. Startled, I turned to see a young woman in her teens, dressed in a pair of Capri styled jeans and a orange blouse, her brown hair was in a ponytail. Her name is Maria, her dad was my brother which, in turn, means she is my niece.
“Jesus Maria, you could’ve called ahead and told me you were comin’ over.” She looked to me, then down to her feet, shuffling from side to side as she spoke.
“I did call ahead! You just didn’t answer.” She defended. I then realized that she was here in my home, this was not good for me.
“Does your mother know you’re here?” I asked, rubbing my temple. She looked to me angry.
“She is not my mother.”
“Fine, does your legal guardian know you’re here?”
“No, and I don’t plan on telling her either.” She stated crossing her arms, then continued. “And I hope you won’t as well.”
“Well you’re about to learn how to lose hope cause I’m calling her know.”
“Lou, please don’t. I don’t want to go back there.”
“Oh please, you make it sound like you’re little orphan Annie going back to the orphanage.” I then realized what I said and tried retracting it, but to no avail.
“Oh god, listen I didn-” Maria then burst into tears onto the small gray couch in the living room. I quickly moved to her and tried pulling her close, she smacked me a few times softly on the shoulder as she was thrown into a nonsensical rage. Tears still running down her face she dug her head into my chest and all I could do is say I was sorry.
“Maria,” I tried shushing her unsuccessfully. “Maria, please. It’s ok, I’m Here. I didn‘t mean it Ok? You know me, you know I would not say anything so callous intentionally. I‘m Sorry.”
“Wha-Wh- What?” She said trying to form the words through broken tears.
“What?” I asked.
“What do-does callous m-me-mean?” She said in between breaths.
“Oh it means, like, uncaring, mean, coldhearted, etc; etc.” within a few minutes she was back to normal, she hugged me tightly then pushed herself away to wipe the tears from her eyes, her nose sniffled occasionally.
“Oh god, I’m sorry, I got make-up all over your nice shirt.” She stated sadly.
“It’s just a shirt, don’t worry about it.” I tried changing the topic to something more important.
“So what happened with you and Miranda that made you run away again?”
“Huh? Oh, I-uh, brought home a C in science, so she wanted to ground me.”
“Cause she’s a Bi-”
“No, No.” I interrupted. “Why did you get a C?”
“Oh Jesus here we go.” She put her hand on her forehead and reeled back against the couch, moaning.
“Mary, shut up and just tell me.” She looked up at the sudden use of authority, something she was not used to with me.
“I just don’t like Science okay?” She said defensively, “That and Math, I can’t stand the two.”
“Cause math is so damn boring and pointless, and science is just too hard.”
“What do you mean math is pointless?”
“Cause it is. They say you need up to fifth grade math level for, I think they said around eighty percent of all jobs. I‘m learning algebra which is like a philosophers type of math.” I chuckled a bit, understanding what she meant but decided to ask anyway, smiling as I did so.
“And what do you mean by that?”
“There’s problems like ‘what is X if it doesn’t actually exist?’ or like ‘I’ is like not real or anything and its just there to define that its like. Oh jeez, like, say its 5i then that means 5 times nothing, or 5 times a fake number. I don’t know its stupid as s*** though.”
I was still smiling now and got up to get the phone, Maria just looked at me, knowing what I was doing. I picked up the wireless phone off it’s charger and picked Miranda out of the recent call list and pressed ‘call’. I waited silently, the low ringing inside the phone’s receiver buzzed in my ear. A young woman, still noticeably older sounding than Maria however, answered. Maria just watched the conversation from the couch.
“Miranda? Hey its Louis. Yeah I’m fin-no, no I’m good. Look I called to tell you Maria’s over here so you wouldn’t worry. I see, okay, well just calling t- okay. Okay,
o-okay bye.” I placed the phone onto the charger again and walked toward Maria, sighing.
“You can stay, but only for a couple days. Got It?” Her face brightened, she jumped up from the couch and threw herself at me, squeezing my midsection with lanky arms.
“Thanks Lou,” Giving me a peck on the cheek. “Let me go unpack my stuff!” As she walked away, I watched her for a moment, smiling lightly. I followed her into the spare bedroom as she pulled a bag from under the bed as if to hide it from me.
“Good to know you were waiting for an answer before packing.” I said dryly to her back as she ignored me. She unzipped the large bag, inside were many of her essentials. Clothes, magazines, hairdryer and curler to name a few. After she’d made me help unpack, I noticed her phone buzz without her knowledge. I unlocked the phone and saw she had a message, unaware of the boundary I crossed I happily exclaimed that she had a message.
To which she jumped, turned and snatched the small phone from my hand, flipped the screen upward to reveal the hidden keyboard and started typing at what seemed like lightning speed.
“Who was that?” I said confused by the sudden tension created by the phones message.
“Huh? Oh, no one, no one important, I mean, not that he- or they aren’t important, just that it’s a friend is all.” She spoke quickly and the nervous laugh keyed me in instantly.
“Who is he? If its okay if I ask that is.” She put her face into her hands, she spoke through the palms of her hands loudly.
“I really don’t want to talk about it, Okay?” I understood and rested a hand on her shoulder, adding.
“It’s fine, C’mon lets go clean up that kitchen.”
“Oh right, that.” She said with a nervous laugh again. We fell back into the kitchen, the smoke that layered below the ceiling was gone now, the smell however, was not. I started grabbing the pots and pans off the floor as Maria went for the sink and started to clean the cuisine abomination she tried cooking, trying to hide the green complexion she got from the pot.
We were done sooner than I had expected, I moved to the kitchen table while drying my hands on a grey dishtowel. I noticed some bills and letters piling there and was not until Maria ran over and started reading out loud before I realized.
“Hey Lou? Says you got a letter from- the New York Times?” She started opening and reading the letter silently, then aloud.
“Dear Mr. Watts,” Her face lit up “Hey that’s you Lou!” She continued reading.
“We are happy to announce that your short story
has been accepted into our print magazine for
the month of February. Please enjoy the free
copy of the New Yorker in the mail on the next
Shipping date, as well as publicity for other works
In the near future.
Sincerely, Peter Read
Chief Editor of the New Yorker Print edition.”
“Lou! You didn’t tell me you wrote for the New Yorker!” She said through white teeth.
“No, I don’t suppose I did have I? Probably for the best though.” I said looking bored, staring at a dove sitting outside on an olive branch near my back window, pecking at an orange that fell from the tree outside before flying away peacefully.
“Why is it better that way?”
“Nothing, nothing. Hey, where did you put the large orange pot?” I asked again, or I believe I asked it though, still staring at where the dove was. Maria looked to me puzzled.
“I didn’t know you had an orange pot. Why?”
“No reason, was going to make stew.” Still looking out the window. I reached down and picked up the acceptance letter, rolled it up into a small tube, then, for no discernable reason. Snapped it in half, as if it were a twig or pencil, the tubular design made a hollow crunching noise like a birds bone when it breaks.
“I was thinking of putting some steamed carrots in it. Yes, a good amount of carrots will do.”