by Randy Reynolds
....Sherry's mother entered the living room and perched on the edge of a wing-backed chair. Huey took the one
facing her. On the piano bench with their daughter, I felt surrounded.
.....Sherry hit them with it cold. "We want your permission to…"
.....Mary Louise leaned forward. "Absolutely NOT! You're too young."
....."Mo-THER, you didn't let me finish."
.....I squirmed to the edge of the bench, poised for flight. "We can come back later."
.....Sherry pulled me back. "We want to get MARRIED!"
.....Her daddy, stalling: "How will y'all make a living?"
....."Randy's going to be a famous writer!"
.... Huey smiled. "Oh, so we're talking about the distant future."
....."No. We're talking about now. Right away!" she blurted.
.....Huey: "What have you kids done?"
....."She's pregnant!" said Mary Louise.
.....Me, suddenly chicken-hearted, "Honest, ya'll, I never touched her."
.....Sherry held my hand and wrinkled her cute nose at me. "Yes, you did, you big liar!"
....."I'm going to throw up," said Mary Louise.
....."If y'all are through with your innuendos, I'll explain. Randy's going to write books and we'll be rich."
....."The boy's going to be rich," said Huey, third person, like I wasn't even there.
.....Sherry scrooched against me, hot, "We could have waited till later, but our future's already secure, so we just thought, why not?"
....."Secure?" asked Huey.
....."Randy's been accepted by the Famous Writer's School. And all we need is two thousand dollars…"
.....Mary swooped in. "So you want my daughter and we pay you two thousand dollars?"
....."You people! " said Sherry. Softening for her father, "Daddy, you're a businessman. How's this for a plan--you give us the two g's for Randy's tuition? We'll live right here till he graduates. I can help him study in my bedroom all day. And night, too, of course."
.....I thought about how I would write this scene. Coils of hatred radiated out from the midpoints of Mary's cheeks, like an electric stove warming up.
....."You're right about Randy eating like a horse, Daddy. But now we know the reason why. And don't worry we'll pay you for what he eats. Just keep a list, okay?"
....."So why, exactly, DOES he eat like a horse?"
....."Because of his creativity! Randy says it takes a lot of calories to run a brain as big as his."
.....My eyes were glued to the floor. "Is this new carpet, or did ya'll just have it cleaned?"
....."Randy says that the part of the brain that controls his creative urges also controls his sex drive. That's why he has such a large one."
.....Mary Louise's eyes traveled down my bony frame.
.....Sherry: "Mother! Honestly!"
.....Huey cleared his sinuses.
.....Sherry explained the options. "We may have to publish Randy's first book at our own expense, or yours, if you'll loan us the money. Or is it lend? Loan, lend, I never know the difference."
....."Lend," I said.
....."Oh, you're so good with words. You're good with everything," she said, kissing me on the cheek.
....."Y'all lend us ten thousand dollars for the first one and Randy will get discovered and we'll pay you back. It's simple, see? And when he writes his second book, we'll buy a house. I want a big one with a brick fence around it."
.....Huey narrowed one eye but not the other (a well-known symptom of a possible mini-stroke.)
....."We haven't even said yes and the boy's already asking for twelve thousand dollars?"
....."Only because you've never been able to say no to your daughter," said Mary Louise.
....."And I haven't even added in his food," he groaned.
.....Sherry's hand moved from my knee to my inner thigh, rubbing circles the way I liked.
....."Talk some sense to them, Huey!" beseeched Mary Louise.
....."Okay, here it is, kids. Take it or leave it. You forget about Famous Writer's School and publishing a novel, and I'll chip in fifty dollars to help with the honeymoon."
...... "Seventy five!" countered Sherry.
......"Deal!" he said. "Welcome to the family, son!"