Jeremiah’s robotics team was fun but tonight was the night before the mid-semester exam, and the week before Thanksgiving. People never really thought Jay credible for his intellect because of how he and Gen are inseparable of their bond. He slams the locker door with a clinking of the hanging lock, haphazardly throwing his books into his knapsack having them somehow magically reorganize themselves into an orderly manner, and then readjusting the knitted beanie on his head to cover his ears. “Dan,” he tells his friend approaching him, “tell Daynes that I won’t be attending this week’s meeting. I have homework plus my parents are going into helicopter mode because I need to pass the Quarter Exam.”
“No problem, brutha,” Daniel says with a grin. “Daynes will understand.”
“Actually, I have the instructions on how to calibrate the controller in my backpack.” He digs through the bag to find a crisp green folder filled with papers of multiple colors. “It should be titled ‘Controller Calibration’.”
“Gotcha. Thanks. So,” he goes on, popping a bubble of gum, “what’s the real story? I know you’re lying.”
“Breaves went easy and gave me community service detention. I have to spend an hour cleaning his car and mowing his lawn.”
“I’ll cover for you.” They fist bombed and then parted ways.
Breaves’ house was a palatial mansion with beautiful shadow box windows, a slightly overgrown lawn about twenty acres big, a white stone sidewalk, and a fountain in the front yard in the center of a circular driveway. “And you work as a school principal? You sick bastard. Why don’t you retire already, you old fart?”
“Hush it! You’re lucky you had your sister bail you out.”
“Whatever, judgmental old man. Where’s your car?”
“Over there.” Jeremiah drops his things onto the front porch and heads for the two floor garage. “Don’t scratch it! I want it good as new!”
“Don’t push your power. I live in a democracy.” He angrily picks up the bucket and sponge.
He finished the car in about four hours. His phone rings and it’s Gen. “Hey, sis.”
“Where are you? I thought detention only lasted an hour,” she says calmly. “You need me to pick you up?”
“Please. Breaves is performing cruel and unusual punishment.”
“I suspected he would. I’m on my way.”
Maroon5 plays over the stereo connected to the Pandora station on Ginnifer’s iPod as she dances around the house; her tomboy hair, brown and purple shamelessly, frames her face just right to make her look older. Jeremiah smiles as he watches his goofball sister be who she is: she’s dyed her bangs a vibrant purple (they fall in front of her face like loose grasses), her skin is tanner than his, and it’s brought out by the by the dark clothes she typically wears (ripped jeans, blue high tops, a tank top and a cropped sweater). “Hey Gen,” he calls teasingly, “you might want to stop before what Mom blessed you with starts showing itself.” He laughs.
“Ha, ha, very funny, Jay. I’d like to see you dance. Oh wait, you can’t!” She says over the music, falling into one of the bean bag chairs laughing hard enough to turn her cheeks into a flushing red. “Oh man, I pity the fool that has to watch that.”
He throws a graphic novel at her. “Shut up.”
“Oh! Mum and Dad are coming home today. They’re bringing Uncle Ben and Auntie Nora. I hope they have souvenirs,” she says fast as a race car.
“Great.” Jay’s voice drips with sarcasm. “Lemme know when they leave. I’ll hide out in my room ‘til they’re gone.”
“Yeah. Ben and Nora are a nightmare. But I meant souvenirs from Mum and Dad. They’re coming home from Italy.”
Jeremiah shuts his book and stands. “You wanna know what?” He pauses for dramatic emphasis. “Why don’t I mop the floor with you in Virtua Fighter 2?”
“You’re on game boy!” she says, loud as thunder. “Grab the controllers.”
The parents, Benjamin, and Nora come in to find them in a heated match of Chun Lau and Pai in the video game. Nora instantly gives a displeased grunt at their childish behavior. “Is this really acceptable of a grown woman and a developing young man?”
“Nora, you just ruined the match! She beat me!”
“And it must be hard getting defeated on a device you didn’t grow up on. And I, on the other hand? The Playstation 2 is my life!”
“Touché, you play well dear sister. Truly discussions are your strong suit.”
They high five at the matches played then finally welcome the aunt and uncle, who have already been greeted by Mother and Father in the most highly respectable way possible for the self-imposed heiress. Nora grew up in Flushing and has the accent to match its high society, stuffy dress, and impossible expectations; she met Ben on a trip to Washington, D.C when she went to examine the city life of “Southern folk”, always talking like her societal mannerisms are the only ones considered normal. She kisses the air around Ginnifer, never making fun of how she spells her name, only how she dresses and “disrupts her womanly appearance.” Gen just rolls her eyes at the high horse remark.
“Jeremiah, it’s a, um, memorable time seeing you again. You’ve grown since last visit?”
“It’s been twelve years since you’ve visited when I’ve been home. You usually leave before I can get home,” he remarks humbly, trying to keep his cool. “You haven’t stayed long enough to notice me.”
“You’re such a shadow it’s hard not to notice you. Maybe if you were more imposing like Gen or Matthew then you wouldn’t be such a ghost.”
He pulls his hands back with the greatest restraint. They’ll only be here for a little while… Just grin and bear it, Jerry. “Sorry, Aunt Nora,” he says with a painful smile. “I’ll try harder.”
“Nora, Ben, why don’t we go to the kitchen and discuss things? Ginnifer, will you take Jeremiah out to the town and have some fun? Go to an arcade or something.” Dad shakily slaps a major credit card into her gloved hand. “Go on now.” The quivering of his voice created a veil of uncertainty for Jay; he’s never seen Dad so upset in his life. Aggravated, irritated, frustrated, frantic, panicking, and tired as hell he’s seen Dad emote, but never nervous or fear.
“C’mon, Jay. Let’s get going.” She throws him his coat and heads for the door with a soft smile on her face. “I’ll help ya with your Christmas shopping. And you can get a new decal for your board in return.”
“Works for me,” he says, smiling like a kid in the candy shop.
Matthew Connelly’s fist smacked the table. “Nora, you cannot act so arbitrary! The children need to stay here, where they belong.” He and Nora, his dear high society bred sister, were face to face locked on to the other’s intense glare. “You don’t understand.”
“What don’t I understand, Matthew? Your son is a social outcast, and Ben and I plan on moving to Virginia. We are getting much too old for the hustle and bustle of the city life in New York. D.C. is a fascinating Southern city, and we are moving to a small village like town near it. Less suppressed, less crowded. We think it would be a good change of pace for Jeremiah.”
“It isn’t like that, Nora! If you separate those two, then you will only bring chaos to the places around you. They need to stay together, like a package deal!”
“Poppycock! Now, you shall tell Jeremiah that he is to be leaving by the end of the month. The movers will be by to pick up the little things he has and will ship them to the new address in Berryville, Virginia.”
Matt’s head dropped as his beloved sister walked out with her darling husband. “Jay isn’t going to like this, Mara.”