Yoharie: Give and Take (part three)
Give and Take
Divorce…which was the issue…
Kate’s first thought was of Mat, the house. The living room gym stripped…no yard sale so neighbors could get a shot at the equipment. The garage semi-gutted. Semi-restored, maybe, to intended use, missing the sectional and flokati, still with the cabinets and track lighting; still a lot of Mahal left altogether…the skylight with auto-retracting cover, the underlying all-weather carpet. The theater sat intact, and staying, the covetable twin armoires (desk and storage) in Tristanne’s office, waiting auction.
“Do you talk to Mat? Let him know Kate says five hundred. And for your ears only, I’ll go to eight.” She had tipped this to Kelly Stomitz; Kelly, allowing Kate the pretext of house-hunting, was showing her the changes. The Busbys’ restless marriage had assembled a crazy boondoggle, too rich for the street.
And cash-strapped Mat would have to keep his price relevant. “He wants to advertise in DC for renters. Long commute.”
“Are you asking if the Yoharies would hate that?” She aimed her nod across the street. “Why wouldn’t they?”
He shrugged. “It’s something, rent money. This should be a four bedroom, and they knocked out a wall, so even if you turned the offices back, you don’t get the living space a family expects in eighteen-hundred-plus feet. Mat can’t be a chooser, though.”
Kate considered her own life plan…and that she’d never doubted the normalcy of having one. Of how, doing research, she had portfolioled everything, sectioned into the briefcase she carried to beauty school along with her toolkit. At no point had she not thought about clients, how to line up a stable of them; this before financing, before legalities, before location, before vendors and contracts. (But folders, of a growing database, for each.)
Five-dollar hair if you bring me someone. Samples—everyone wants free product—only if you bring me someone.
“Jeez, you’re focused! I don’t even have a clue. Will you hire me?” another student had asked, and she’d said: “If you bring me people.”
You could do anything, even what you loved, as long as you knew how you’d make money at it. A certain daughter, also, could be taught these things, and Kate stopped herself to rehearse another pep talk with Savannah.
She made a note: Columbus. Grandma pick up Rae? She shook her head. “No, you can’t drive Grandma’s car. She is not a bad driver, she’s cautious.”
From this, with her chip-off-the-block daughter, Kate returned to the first imagined conversation: “You can make films if you want. Just remember no one else wants you to.”
Hearts and minds, kiddo. Start planning. As to livings, it seemed odd to her…in just this area, just this map of knitted fingers that was their housing development, Tampico Way thrusting east, Old Glory Way west, she could name three people who had fake careers…
Mat and his Ponzi scheme. Todwillow, his…
His domestic terrorism, come on! Why, of course he would sell you motion sensors, fit you up with cameras, have you pay him by the month for protection. Her husband, meandering the neighborhood, ‘educating’ himself on websites…his time-killing yaks with his succubus…
Too much anger here. Kate took herself productively to Dr. Petersen, real in practice, fake in billing. Trevor Royce? Giarma Yoharie. Content creators, what a gig!
Five or six people, then, worse. Something going wrong with the whole country.
You could always lose with a start-up, but you had a pathway to legitimacy…you didn’t need to live on maxed credit and bullshit.
Maybe Mat had seen Tristanne’s affair with Bill as the straw. Tristanne reported him making bald excuses to call her, actual you’ll-be-sorry carryings on when she changed her email and phone. What kind of mind…?
View Mat as always fake, that made sense…fake to the bone. Fake in self-image, fake to the point he couldn’t bear…couldn’t, more literally, fit…being the loser into…
Analytical phrases came to mind, unsatisfactory and dry, like “constructed persona”, “arrested adolescence”. The only reason to think of Mat, who might be dangerous, was to think how little wounded love mattered in a breakup. She would never have divorced Jeremiah; without compunction she had never loved him. Kate saw nothing that struck her plausible, nothing lustful or giddy, that you could feel about a life partner. Just moments of pride, moments when he was the best person you knew to talk to.
The rest was a wealth of shared stuff. She thought of who, in anyone’s life, would be that much a friend. That was marriage…and of affection, she’d had a lot for Old Jer. She had expected to travel with him, do cruises. Rae’s leaving home to free them up. Even Savannah, having to sit down and listen now, make that portfolio of her own, shut up with her young person’s angst—
It was unforgiveable, what he’d done.
Her daughter miles and hours away from home…
The thought of Savannah brought Kate to it. Deep breathing would not dispel this. The other one, full of lies and not unobvious, had caved—a few days’ close and closing observation pressure enough.
“Why is all this a secret, Raelyn? Savannah knows she can talk to me.”
She said it, and Rae shrugged and countered: “What’s your offer?”
“Time off for good behavior, and I mean you. Can you call your sister right now?”
And Jer had nearly bumbled these cautious approaches. He agreed with her, they had no reason to involve the police; Todwillow had connections and he would find out…
“Do not even.”
“No! He’s already…”
“Already? Don’t tell me Todwillow has… No, tell me what.”
Todwillow had gone to the high school to ask the kids in Savannah’s class if she’d talked about dropping out, running away—if they knew anything.
“My God. You moron.”
Though Kate was the one not speaking to Jer. She hadn’t, or very little, for days. Yet this she regretted, and would take back. When they were driving to Columbus, only the two of them, having their talk.
Once, small Rae had spouted “dumbhead”, and Kate had told the girls: “Nobody’s dumb. That’s not a fair thing to say. And we don’t say things that are unfair.” She had a bachelor’s and Jer had a twelfth-grade diploma; early in their marriage she’d sworn it, never compare.
He was a moron. He believed Todwillow, taking his shit to schoolgirls. Jer could…try to make himself believe it. He could bypass his wife, seek advice, take advice—from that neighborhood sleaze, whose motives should be neon-bright to anyone.
For Savannah, her precious kid, she was frightened, and for the first time. The California adventure was a thing that had to be. Young adults flew or fell on their faces. But Todwillow…
That he might regard Jer as having the right to give permission.
Some crony or acquaintance of Todwillow’s going near Savannah, traumatizing her…
Be fair. A car in the driveway. Rae’s voice, and Makim’s. Kate sighed, but still she jotted it on her agenda.
See a lawyer.
Give and Take
(2021, Stephanie Foster)