Sunday, November 20, 2011

Episode 9

Nick Kallias was half-asleep on the couch in the family room. The football game was on television, but he couldn't care less who won. He didn't even really like football, but figured he had to have it on just to assert his masculinity in a house full of women.
Helen and their younger daughter, Tiana, were in the kitchen preparing a traditional Thanksgiving meal, in which he also had no interest. On a rare day off from the restauarant, he'd have preferred a burger and fries. When he'd said as much this morning, Tiana had accused him, good-naturedly, of being un-American.
"You behave like a middle-aged, old-maid school-teacher," He'd fired back. "Are you 16 or 60?"
That brought Helen into the argument, "Nikolas! Leave her alone."
And the shouting match was on. Helen won. She always did. Nick grabbed a beer from the fridge and escaped to the family room.
He had to admit the scents wafting from the kitchen were enticing. And if Tiana was a little too much of a mama's girl, at least she was a good girl. Nick was increasingly worried that he couldn't say the same for his older daughter. Selena was twenty-two, but by God, if she lived under his roof--which for reasons he couldn't fathom, she still did--she had to obey his rules. Last night, she hadn't come home until three in the morning, and now she was out again, probably with that damn Monroe kid. Nick was going to have to put a stop to that.


Blake Adams nodded to the maid to remove his plate. Juanita? Rosa? Every week it was a new girl from Fish Town working in their kitchen. Genevra was demanding and the help usually didn't last more than a couple of weeks. Fortunately, there seemed to be an endless supply of new workers.
It had been a rough couple of weeks for the whole family, what with cops and reporters crawling all over the place trying to figure out what had happened. All Blake knew was that a nineteen-year-old drifter by the name of Frank Lassiter did a nosedive from the balcony outside of Billy's room and splattered himself all over the terrace. Nasty business. The cops had been grilling Billy mercilessly; the poor kid was a wreck.

From his place at the head of the table, Blake surveyed his family. Billy was staring off into space, the food on his plate untouched. He looked like crap. Blake wondered if maybe Genevra ought to take him to the doctor. Then again, Billy was in his senior year of high school; he couldn't afford to miss classes and get worse grades than he had already. Getting him into college was going to be tough enough.
His other two children, Whitney and David, both had their heads bowed, the telltale glow from their phones reflected in their faces. The hours Whitney spent bartending at Taverna meant Blake seldom saw her, but they didn't have much to talk about anyway. He was more or less resigned to his disappointment with her, recognizing that she'd only taken that ridiculous "job" to annoy and embarrass him. He really ought to kick her out of the house, make her understand that she needed to do something more with her life, but Genevra would never allow it.
Blake employed his eldest child, David, at Adams' Investment Services. The guy was at the office every day, but that made him no less of an enigma. David had his own small house on the south end of Pine Lake, and rarely came home. Blake had driven past the house once or twice. He'd never been invited in, and he had no idea what David did with his time when he wasn't at work.

Genevra, as usual, was making notes in the spiral she always had at her side. Her phone sat next to her plate, too. She had not uttered more than a dozen words during the meal.

"May I be excused?" Billy asked. His plate was still untouched.
"Yes, of course, dear," Genvera answered without looking up from her notes.
"You haven't eaten your dinner," Blake said.
"I'm not hungry." Billy stood. He looked shaky and pale.
"This is a family meal. Sit down until the rest of us are finished," Blake demanded.
Whitney and David looked up from their electronic distraction devices.
"Does anyone want some pumpkin pie?" Genevra asked, finally raising her eyes from the spiral. "Billy, it's your favorite kind, the one with pecans and coconut."
"I said, I'm not hungry." Billy turned and slouched from the room.
"Damn kid," Blake muttered.
It was the longest conversation of the day.

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