Where You Go
Copyright© 2011 by Robert McKay
I have to admit that what I did for the next hour or two was mostly make-work. But sometimes make-work is a good thing; if nothing else, it takes your mind off of things you really don't want to think about at the time. And though I didn't realize it till later, I surely needed some distraction, and the make-work did a very good job of it.
After a time I heard the back door close, as Darlia and Cecelia came back in. Darlia's bedroom door closed, and ours; I heard, faintly, our shower start running, and then Darlia's door opened and her bathroom door closed. One of the advantages of having just the one child is that there's never a fight for the bathroom. The "master" bathroom is mine and Cecelia's, and the one in the hall is Darlia's, and I can't remember a single time all three of us have needed the bathroom at the same time.
I kept at the make-work, and did a little reading in Charnock, and played a little solitaire. I didn't hear our shower cut off, nor did I hear Darlia emerge from her bathroom, but I did hear the knock on the door. "Nuguseo?" I asked, a bit of Korean I've picked up from my sister-in-law.
"Miss Darlia Carpenter," came my daughter's husky voice from the other side of the door.
"C'mon in, 'Lia."
She did. In her hand she held the note I'd put on the door. "Mommy says to tell you that you're a sweet man." She regarded me solemnly. "Maybe she's right."
"Oh, she's right all right," I said, not minding the silliness of the sentence. "I'm so sweet that I can't go out in the rain lest I melt."
"Oh pish, Daddy! If you were that sweet you would be candy!"
"But I am, 'Lia."
"You are not!"
Darlia reverted from being emphatic to her imperial dignity. "I say so, Daddy."
"Oh, well, I guess that settles it, then."
"It does." And she handed me the note.
I looked at it, remembering what I'd written: Cecelia, if at any time I appear to be the north end of a southbound horse, it's because that's probably what I am. But I love you anyway. I tossed the note in the trash can and looked back at Darlia. "Would you like to take a message to Mommy?"
"Tell Mommy that no matter how sweet I am, she's 100% sweeter. You got that."
"Sure, Daddy." And she went to find Cecelia.
I looked at the clock on the wall and found that it was getting to be lunch time. I closed down everything that was open on the computer, and started up Webshots. I'd set it today for images of the California coast, and the first picture up was surf along the Pacific Coast Highway. I'm a desert rat, but California is California, and I like the whole state. Even LA is California, however much I detest the semi-solid air of that place.
I went on out to find something to eat.
There wasn't anyone in the living room, dining room, or kitchen when I got out there, so I stuck my head into the refrigerator. I saw lettuce and tomato and onion, and braunschweiger, and summer sausage. I grabbed 'em all. I pulled leaves off the head of lettuce, and then realized I needed something to put 'em on; I rummaged in the cabinets and found a platter. I got it out and put the lettuce on it, and pulled a few more leaves off, discarding a couple of outer ones which looked like they were starting to go bad. I grabbed a wooden cutting board and sliced up the tomato and onion. It was a Walla Walla onion, from Washington, a sweet onion which I love because it's not too strong. I like spice, but my mouth can't take too much heat – unlike Cecelia and Darlia, who laugh at my weakness and eat the hot stuff without a qualm. If I didn't know better I'd say they were Chicanas instead of black and black-and-white. I cut half a dozen slices of summer sausage, thought a second, and cut half a dozen more. I grabbed a table knife for the braunschweiger and pulled the rubber band and plastic wrap off the end. I pulled a loaf of Cecelia's bread out of the bread box – which is a custom job and considerably bigger than the standard bread box – and with a bread knife cut half a dozen thick slices. Unlike store bought bread, Cecelia's stuff is so good you want a lot of it when you're making a sandwich. I put the slices of bread on a plate and carried it and the platter of fixings to the dining room table. I went back into the kitchen and got another plate, and my bottle of La Victoria green taco sauce, and carried that to the table as well.
I still hadn't seen Darlia and Cecelia, so I sat down and began building a sandwich. I took a slice of bread and, using the table knife, spread braunschweiger on it. I then put down slices of onion and tomato, and a leaf of lettuce. I then put down four slices of summer sausage, poured on drops of taco sauce which I scattered around evenly, and put another piece of bread on top. I bit in, and it was delicious.
About that time my family came down that hall and saw what I was doing. "I had planned," Cecelia said, "to cook something, but if sandwiches suit you then I'll refrain."
I held up a finger to indicate that it would be a second. When I got enough out of my mouth to talk intelligibly, I said, "This is fine, C. But if you wanna whop up something for you and Darlia that's cool too."
Cecelia looked down at Darlia. "What would you prefer, honey?"
"Then sandwiches it is. And you'll want to remember that it's not SH, but CH in the word." And she pronounced it carefully for Darlia's benefit.
"Sand-wich-es," said Darlia.
"Very good, honey. Now what sort of sandwiches would you like?"
"I want baloney!"
I looked at her and made a face. "That's yucky, 'Lia!"
"I like baloney, Daddy, and I don't care what you say."
I looked up at Cecelia. "Have you been teaching our daughter to have independent opinions rather than slavishly following mine?"
Cecelia walked over and put her hand on my shoulder before answering. "Of course, Darvin. Surely you didn't think that I would permit her to grow up harboring erroneous notions, did you?"
I looked at Darlia. "I'm gonna lose this one, ain't I?"
"Okay, C, I surrender. Go get that food monster her baloney."
Cecelia squeezed my shoulder and went around the counter into the kitchen, with Darlia following. I took another bite of sandwich.
That afternoon Darlia and I took another walk. Cecelia had some sewing to do, and it was another warm-for-winter day, so I took her out and we went where we don't normally walk – outside of our own little neighborhood. The boundaries of Hoffmantown are Menaul on the north, Wyoming on the east, Indian School on the south, and Pennsylvania on the west, and within those boundaries it's almost like you're in a small town. I don't know of any place in Albuquerque that is quite like Hoffmantown; there are neighborhoods I like, but none that are so peaceful and quiet and relaxing.