Flying to Los Angeles
I was off to Los Angeles to see my sister and also some gal that drinks too much and sleeps around. I'm going to see that one first, rather than my sister who doesn't even know I'm coming. The girl, my love interest, met me at the airport and due to my fear of flying I was already intoxicated and dangerously close to an overdose of airsickness pills. Too much of these both and I knew I was going to be of no use to her. She'd wanted to go out, already had a babysitter, but I'd just rather pass out at her place in Burbank. "You're useless," she verified. "And I can't even hang tomorrow, have to work. Emergency. Do you think you can just hang out until I get back without getting in any trouble?"
"I need to get a babysitter also. The one I have tonight can't help me out tomorrow morning. She can come back at night though. We'll go do something"
"I can watch the kids during the day," I offered.
"Yeah. Had two of my own. I'm a pro."
She had two kids ages five and six months, but was only in her early twenties. She had a really good job and was doing well providing as a single mom. My own children were much older so I've pretty much handled anything these two could dish out. I've done it all before, knew schedules, understood naps and could whip up some fish sticks and Cherrios with the best of them. Mya would leave at seven AM, by back by five or six then we could get going, go out and do something fun. It was all OK with me, but as soon as I got back to her place, I passed out and the alarm rang.
"Kids should be up soon."
"Uhhhh," I groaned.
"You're going to be fine today, aren't' you?"
"Yeah, " I said.
"You're not doing to beat or kill them?"
"Haven't met them yet. No guarantees," I managed a phony laugh so that she wouldn't think I was being serious.
"OK," she said.
"OK," I added and she was gone to the office.
It always happens early in the morning that the second you shut your eyes to go back to sleep, either the snooze alarm goes off, some woman kicks you, or some other asshole rings the phone. It's just what life is, unless you have a gold pass from God, you aren't allowed you to sleep well. Today it was Mya's oldest, running into the bed to see his mom, seeing me instead and screaming.
"Don't worry, I'm a friend of your mom. Don't cry, I'll get you breakfast."
"Waffles," he sniffed.
"Yeah, I promise." The baby was still asleep until the time I found the house to be waffle-less and now I had two pissed off kids. One crying because I'd broken a promise and the other awake but still tired, with of a sack of shit for a diaper. "Yeah, babygirl, I'll change you, " I said to her. She looked like Mya. "Hey you!" I called to the brother, "What's your sister's name and as long as I'm at it, what's yours?"
"I'm Colin and that's Caitlin. We call her Kate." Strange, I thought. Two Irish names for the Asian mother. She must not have named them, I concluded.
"She's hungry," Colin said. At least he wasn't crying anymore, he was in helper mode. I could tell that he cared for his sister and the waffle tragedy was all but put aside. A good kid. My own would have throttled the sister silly when I wasn't looking. 7:19, so far, so good and everything was easy. Her next nap would be around lunch and I was confident I could make it to that milestone, even if there was nothing to eat in the house. I had opened some cabinets and found vodka, gin, rum and a case of red wine. There was some cereal there, Cocoa Sweeties, but not much else. Maybe we could all go to the store and stock the house. Maybe I could be the responsible one for once. Maybe, I'll hit the vodka during Kate's nap. Regardless of the plans in my head, they both had Cocoa Sweeties without milk and I fixed Kate a bottle of water for TV time. It felt all so familiar, watching these kids, relying on my past experiences. Even in the past, no matter how bad it got my wife and I would have had food available. When we divorced I would go with minimal supplies similar to what was at Mya's place. It was a time that my own kids were in their teens and didn't need or want anything from me. They would grow up and be fine without much effort from me. At least they still knew their Daddy, unlike Mya's children whose own father had little involvement. Or so I thought. Based on her children's reactions I assumed they had met some similar men to myself whether they realized the pattern or not. They may have been similar but not as good as me, the about to be anointed hero, ready to order a Dominos Pizza for lunch. I figured this to be my best option, since I had no idea where a store might be located in Mya's neighborhood. Colin started jumping around when I told him of the lunch plans and then turned to his sister who was perched on my shoulder and said in his tiniest baby voice, "We're having pizza for lunch." Kate, excited by the attention, kicked her legs into my balls. "She likes pizza," Colin said to me still in his Kate-talk. "When's it going to get here?" It took me a few seconds to catch my breath.
"Maybe thirty minutes. I have to cook it."
"Is that fast?"
"Yeah about as long as…" I looked at the TV. "Spongebob. When Spongebob is finished the pizza should be here."
The show ended and the pizza was late. "I'm hungry," Colin said. I reassured him that it would be here very soon. The phone rang. It was Mya. "How's it going?"
"Good. The kids love me. I ordered a pizza."
"You are good. I may have to fire the baby-sitter."
"No problem. I'll just hang here, perhaps drink some of your booze." Kate was tired, starting to get fussy.
"Kate's tired," Mya added. "I got plenty of…"
"Yeah, I noticed. That's about all that you got here."
"I meant to shop. Thanks for picking up the pizza, Matt."
"And by the way, Kevin may be…oh shit the boss is here. Got to run sweetie."
"Kevin? What time are you…?" It was too late. She had hung up, but Colin standing right next to me. He was crawling up my ass waiting for me to finish on the telephone. "When's the pizza coming?" There was a knock on the door and as a turned to get it I almost tripped on Colin.
"Jesus, it's here!" I snapped, regaining my footing. I opened the door and saw a larger version of Colin, covered in tattoos standing at the door. I focused on his left arm, covered in spider-web ink, an octopus, dark veined plants, a tower with the word Mya engraved inside and something else with the word "Mom".
"Who are you?" he asked gruffly. Normally I'd answer that with my pat, "Who the hell are you?" but because I was in a strange environment and the pure size of this guy, having my ass kicked was not on the lunch schedule. Colin sprinted by, yelling, "Daaaad!" I turned to the big man, placed Kate in his arms and said, "I'm Matt. The baby-sitter."
"He's a friend of Mom," Colin stated.
"Yeah, right," he snarled. "Kevin." I stuck out my hand to shake his, but he just looked at it. "I don't like shaking hands. I think it's stupid."
"I don't know why people do it at all with all the germs and shit. Anyway don't sweat the fact I'm here. I'm done with that bitch. Found her with someone else and that was it." His statement got me thinking of why relationships don't work and why Mya could have cheated. Perhaps there was not enough anti-bacterial soap in the house for him to scrub himself off after sex.
"You want some pizza, Dad?" Colin asked, changing the subject.
"Sure squirt. I'll take a slab."
"It's not here yet," I cut into their conversation and was met with an immediate look of contempt.
"Not here yet? It's right around the corner. Best pizza in Los Angeles."
The door was still open and the pizza boy was looking in. "Dominos," he shouted. "Shitty pizza," Kevin stated directly to the teen that was not expecting to be treated in this manner. "$13.47," the teen added quietly. I reached into my wallet and pulled out a twenty. "I'll pay for my own kids," Kevin snapped. "Just give me a ten." Somehow the math seemed a little off unless his kids were worth only $3.47, not including the tip. Funny that Kevin was providing for his kids, yet I was still paying for the pie. He handed the delivery boy my ten and another five. "Got an extra buck for the tip?" Kevin asked. I gave pizza boy another single, while Kevin brought the pizza to the table. "Mya should have told you about Jefe's around the corner."
"I didn't know about Jefe's. I just got in last night...I mean early this morning. We hardly…"
"Last night? This morning? Save it for someone who gives a shit," Kevin interrupted. The phone rang and Kevin snapped it up. "Hello. Oh hi honey," he said sarcastically. "Yeah I'm still here. Still here!" he loudly laughed. "You want to speak with Matt? He's still here too. Yeah, well that fine with me and I DO have to be such an asshole, darling!" He flipped me the phone and said to me in the same sarcastic tone of voice, "Honey, it's for you."
"He'll leave soon," was the first thing out of Mya's mouth.
"It's fine, whatever," I said, not really convincing her.
"Sorry. This must be a crappy way to start a vacation. I'll try to make it up to you."
"Sounds good. What time are you coming home?" I asked. Kevin looked over, "What time are you coming home" he mimicked, almost in Colin's baby talk voice.
"Maybe five, maybe six. Depends on what time I got out of here as well as the traffic. I'll try to get there as soon as I can."
I hung up and Kevin was standing right next to me. Like father like son I thought. "I'm not planning on leaving anytime soon," he said to me. "I don't trust strangers around my kids. You understand, don't you?" While I was on the phone he had put Kate down for a nap. "Want a beer?" he asked. Looked like an afternoon of drinking beer with Kevin was set if I could tolerate it. We would all sit on the stained sofa and watch TV for a few hours. Perhaps after a few drinks, I'd think of him as a decent guy. Beer drinking often will do that. "Most guys take off after getting a look at me," Kevin said. "Not that I care, but it's kind of amusing chasing some of them off. Thing is that I really don't care, about her, but I do about my kids. I think Mya's a train wreck."
"She said that you hardly came by," I stated, almost regretting the words as they fell out of my mouth.
"Of course she said that. Would you have come by if you knew I was going to be here?" I didn't answer. "I thought that to be the case," he laughed. He was a real charmer.
I was starting to feel a slight buzz from the beer, and Kevin just kept talking. It was easy just to listen at this point. He talked about the tightness of his family and how Mya hated hers. He talked about how he couldn't work all the time and how difficult it was for him to afford his rent on what he made. He talked about his drinking and the fights he and Mya used to have. He talked a lot about the children, Colin and Kate. Kate was now awake, lying on a blanket and batting at a toy. He talked and drank until it was close to five PM. The kids were good, they seemed to handle it all in stride, Colin with his cartoons and Kate being carried around by Kevin most of the time. At this time a young woman came in. It was Kelly, the babysitter. She got as far as the doorway as Kevin took out his wallet, put money in her hand, and gave her a long full-lipped kiss. "See you in a bit," he said. I sat, stoned, still on the sofa as she turned, and was gone. I had become the unwilling participant of a Jerry Springer show. It had been an odd day.
Mya was the next to enter the Springer studio. She took one look at Kevin and me on the sofa, beer in my hand and stopped dead in her tracks. I was glad she didn't attack either of us, which is what would have happened if we lived in TV Land. "God. Fucking men!" she exclaimed, looking at me. "This is great. Maybe it would have been better if he had chased you out." Kevin was equally cold, but responded to her. "Hell, he wouldn't go, but I will right now. Got some plans, perhaps dinner and dancing with Kelly. She's free tonight, I heard."
"Yeah, I heard it directly from her. She was here. Don't worry she said she'd be back in the morning," he smiled. "Remember, I always win. Later dude."
Mya began chanting an angry "Ah" sound over and over.
"Are you ok?" I asked.
"Ahhhhhh. Ahhhhh, just get out. Get your things and leave! God, this is so fucked!" Colin watched us now rather than the TV, his eyes totally blank, as I walked past and grabbed my bag. "Nice knowing you," I said to the silent Mya, as I walked out of her apartment and into the dark hall. It wasn't the best day I'd ever had and certainly not what I'd expected. Descending into a sun that was strong and in my eyes, I looked left, then right and then left and right once again. I looked for a pay phone, to call my sister. She needed to know that I was in town and that she could expect a visitor.
timothy gager ©2003