Chapter Eleven: To Provide

Why the fuck did he agree to this? It was like he’d forgotten how irritating this woman could be. Sitting on the other side of the diner booth, flapping her gums around a mouthful of soggy eggs, she hadn’t shut-up since they sat down. Off on another lecture about signing up for college courses.

“Even a certificate would be better than nothing,” she monologued, ketchup smeared fork in her left hand, bobbing up and down with each word. Adam grimaced as a fleck of ketchup hit his cheek.

“I don’t understand what’s holding you back,” she droned on. “You’re going to work at Wal-Mart forever?”

He grit his teeth and struggled to tamp down the irritation rising in his chest. “No,” he spat.

“Oh, don’t go gettin’ all worked up,” Mom sighed. “You always get like this. Nobody can tell you anything. You always know best.”

“I don’t think I know anything,” Adam muttered.

“If you know so much then why are you still living in my basement?”

Adam shut his eyes. He clenched his fists beneath the table and dug them into the tops of his thighs. “Mom, can you shut your-”

“Can I get you two anything else?” a bright, cheery voice interrupted. “How are those eggs, hun?”

“They’re great,” Mom answered. “Can we get the check when you have the chance?”

Adam opened his eyes. Their waitress, a pretty blonde with nice tits but carrying a few extra pounds, smiled at his mother. And then, just as she’d done when she’d seated them, she marched off without even looking Adam’s way. He narrowed his eyes at her retreating back. Her blonde curls, a yellow-blonde color curling in soft tendrils about two inches below her shoulders, disappeared through the crowded 1950s style restaurant, her pink poodle-skirt swinging around her plump hips all the way.

With a heaviness churning in his innermost self, Adam turned back to his mom. “Did you see that?” he snapped.

Mom raised her thick gray eyebrows. “See what?”

“That waitress hasn’t looked at me once since we got here. That. That’s my life. I’m invisible. Invisible because I’m ugly.”

She clucked her tongue. “Is that why you want to buy new clothes? Give yourself this whole new make-over? You trying to get a girlfriend?”

Adam stared at the far wall. Gleaming chrome distorted his reflection. Photos of Elvis Presley hung around a vintage Coke machine. Elvis wore a cocky smile and stared back at him with sleepy eyes. The king. Adam bet that guy never had any trouble getting girls. He remembered his nana talking about Elvis’ first live show. How girls had swooned and screamed themselves into a hysterical frenzy.

“Yeah, maybe I do. What’s wrong with that?”

“Nothing,” Mom replied. “Got to admit. I was starting to think you were gay.”

His eyes darted back over to her. He swam through the red flashes of heated, muddled anger. “You did, huh?” His voice was strained.

Her mouth twitched at the corner. The old cunt wanted to smirk. She had enough self-awareness to fight it back. “You never bring any girls around. You stay out so late sometimes. I assumed you had a boyfriend, but just didn’t bring him around ‘cuz you didn’t want to disappoint us.”

“I’m straight. Unfortunately. I might have better luck if I was gay.”

“Don’t go saying all that. We’ll get you squared away with a new look.”

“Great.”

“But if you really want to impress a girl, you’ve got to have a good job. A woman wants a man to provide for her.”

He bit the inside of his cheek. He couldn’t form words. His emotions were a wild beast and trying to put them into words was like trying to box up a wolverine in tiny hamster cages. Words were hamster cages that couldn’t box up all of the truth. Only little chopped-up pieces of the truth.

“But if we head over to NCC, we might be able to look into one of their programs…”

Adam glowered and shoved his last bite of pancake into his mouth. He chewed slowly so that he had an excuse not to talk. What did he want to talk about? How a girl would only like him if he had money? How if he ever lost his job, she’d hate him and nag at him like she did to Dad all the damn time? What words were there to say? It was all so pointless.

“I really did think you were gay, Adam,” Mom prattled on. “And you know, I don’t support all of that stuff, but with you I think I was just glad that you had somebody. I thought whoever he was, he might be good for you. Kick you in the ass and get you moving. You need to get moving.”

Adam took a long chug of orange juice and swallowed the last of his pancake. He set the green crystal glass down with a bang. “I’m not gay.”

“I know, Adam. But it is sad to think that all this time, you’ve been alone. Really, what are you waiting for?”She smiled at him and he almost believed the shine in her eyes.

He didn’t know what he was waiting for. Maybe he wasn’t waiting for anything. Maybe there was nothing to wait for, because he was meant for nothing and for no one.

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