Monday, January 02, 2006

Side Dishes - Chapter 1

“Baby girl, I think our luck as finally changed. Not only is our landlord rich and single, he also has the hots for you. Did you see the way he kept staring at your cleavage during both visits?” Sivilla said as she closed the reddish brown front door to their new lodgings.

Sivilla Etheridge and her daughter Sage no longer lived in a luxury California condo in an exclusive neighborhood. Now they lived in a modest two-bedroom, one and a half bath apartment that was a part of a double unit duplex. The gray-brick duplex was located in a middleclass section of Protégé, Arizona, a thriving metropolis between the cities of Yuma and Parker, right on the eastern side of the Colorado River.

Sivilla moved to turn the round silver thermostat dial up higher on the egg-white painted living room wall. Although the Grand Canyon State – nicknamed from its most famous physical feature - had dry heat compared to the sweltering steam bath of Texas, it still got pretty uncomfortable in the summertime and this was just May. Fortunately, the state’s desert winters were warm and pleasant. In the meantime, Sivilla would do like other Arizonans did during the hot months – utilize air-conditioning everywhere she went.

Twenty-two-year-old Sage grimaced with displeasure as she stood near the oval-shaped living room window and watched their landlord pull away in his gray luxury vehicle after he’d dropped off an extra set of keys to them. Although she’d noticed how handsome Delane Ryder’s mocha-skinned face was both times she’d seen him – during the tour of the vacant unit and just now, his protruding belly and man-breasts had completely turned her off. She liked her men way more muscular than that.

“Mama, that man is definitely not my type,” Sage replied, self-consciously adjusting the top button of her lime-colored, V-neck t-shirt to hide the crests of her double D-sized cleavage as she moved away from the window. She’d inherited that generous bosom from her mother’s side of the family and still suspected that she wasn’t through growing in that area yet. Especially since her mother was a triple D cup.

Fortunately, Sage’s well-proportioned frame – with its strong back, narrow waist, and shapely, yet solidly built hips and thighs - could support all that extra cargo up top. Unlike Sivilla, who frequently had back problems and looked like she was going to tip over sometimes because her lower half was only a slender size five compared to her overly voluptuous top half. Interestingly, men in all colors and from every walk of life seemed to like that lollipop look on Sivilla, especially since it came with such a vibrant personality.

Sivilla turned and looked disapprovingly at her daughter. “Baby girl, any man with money is our type. And from what I heard from the lady next door, Delane Ryder is loaded. Not only was he the six-figured CFO (chief financial officer) of a well established and well respected international renewable energy organization before his parents died and left him with a nice home, a sizable inheritance and ownership of a successful chain of bakeries in the tri-city area, but the man owns properties all over the state.” Sivilla clapped her pink painted, manicured hands together with glee. “Baby girl, that man’s got money coming out of the whizoo!”

“Then you go after him.” Sage removed a stainless steel box cutter from the right pocket of her blue jean shorts and then bent down on the polished hardwood floor to unpack the box that contained their kitchenware since that box represented her most favorite room in any house. Unfortunately, Sage was the only one dressed appropriately for such a task since her mother looked like she was going to hit the nightclubs any minute now.

“You know I would if he’d only shown me the slightest bit of interest. But that man’s eyes had been all on you,” Sivilla stated, looking down at her figure in the hot pink jumpsuit she wore and wondering why the obese man hadn’t chosen her. At thirty-seven, she was still attractive and still had her shapely figure.

He must be into younger woman, Sivilla finally deduced, not willing to even entertain the thought that she was losing her edge with men. Nor that Delane had preferred the lingering traces of innocence in Sage’s ebony eyes to her mother’s calculating gray-eyed gleam. Incidentally, Sivilla’s eyes weren’t really that color. She wore colored contacts on a regular basis in an effort to stand out that much more. Only her daughter knew that her eyes were really deep chocolate in hue.

Yes, Delane had picked up on Sivilla’s calculating nature. But few people knew how she got that way and why. Few knew that Sivilla had borne a child at the age of fifteen while living at home with her three younger siblings and struggling single-parent mother. How that same weary mother told a haughty Sivilla to leave and go live with her twenty-year-old boyfriend like she’d threatened to do so many times when they argued, because the woman couldn’t handle the teenager’s bad attitude anymore or the added responsibility she’d brought into their home.

Nor did anyone know that that same boyfriend decided that he didn’t want Sivilla or the responsibility of parenthood after a year of playing house, and thus joined the military so that he could see more of the world and expand his horizons. How as a result of that double rejection, Sivilla became bitter and decided to use the only bargaining tool she thought she had - her looks - in order to take care of herself and her child.

But that’s just the point. Sivilla hadn’t really been taking care of herself or her child. She’d been using wealthy men to do that, and when her daughter was old enough, she taught her to do the same. In fact, Sage had already suckered two men out of a large portion of their wealth and without having to marry them. Unfortunately, she did have to sleep with them eventually, which left her feeling lower than low. On top of that, all the things Sage had obtained were soon gone due to her and her mother’s excessive spending habits. In fact, no matter who collected the money, the two women always ended back up in the same financial place – nearly broke with just enough cash to start over in a new city.

“Whether he has the hots for me or not, I need a break from the game, Mama. I think I’m gonna find me a job at one of those restaurants up the street,” Sage contended, perusing the expensive red and white trimmed china that she’d carefully packed at their last location to make sure that it had survived the trip. It was the same expensive china that she’d gotten her first rich benefactor to purchase for her.

Sivilla was incensed. “You will do no such thing! No daughter of mine will ever be caught working in a fast-food joint.” She moved to sit down with crossed legs on the eastward placed, hunter-green fabric couch that she’d sweet talked a few of their new males neighbors to help them unload from the rental van they’d used to transport their belongings from California to Arizona. Even though it would be great if she’d get up from that couch and help Sage unpack, Sivilla wasn’t about to do that. Especially since she considered manual labor to be beneath her, much like she deemed restaurant work to be too degrading for her daughter.

“It beats feeling like a prostitute, Mama.” Even now Sage felt dirty from the last man she’d dated in California. Couldn’t her mother see that she wasn’t cut from the same cloth as her? Didn’t Sivilla care that her daughter’s heart would always remain too tender and her conscious too forceful for the kind of scams they were pulling?

“Do you stand on street corners? No. Are you a call girl? No. So how can you call yourself a prostitute? If anything you’re a sexy gold-digger like your mama,” Sivilla said with pride and not a touch of remorse. As for her daughter’s tender heart and strong conscience, Sivilla believed that that would all change over time. After all, she wasn’t always so callus herself. But she’d learned the hard way that having certain moral standards didn’t put food on the table or clothes on their backs, at least not the kind of expensive food and clothing that Sivilla desired.

“All we do is date rich men who like to buy us nice things and put wads of cash in our purses at our requests. Besides, as fat as our new landlord is, you probably won’t even have to sleep with him to get his money. His self-esteem is probably already at rock bottom and any amount of attention you give fatso will be enough to get into his equally fat wallet,” the older Ms. Etheridge advocated.

“Still I don’t know. I mean, that last guy had the face of a pit-bull and he was as arrogant as they came. And if you recall, he outright refused to give me a dime more once I slept with him.” Sage paused from her unpacking and shivered at the memory of how awful that experience was. Even though the sex had been consensual, she’d worn bruises upon her body for a whole week after that rough encounter.

“It won’t happen this time, baby girl. I promise,” Sivilla insisted, recalling a rough man or two during her lifetime. She retrieved her pink purse from the edge of the sofa and pulled out two high-tech pieces of equipment.

“From now on, we use tasers for the rough ones,” Sivilla declared fervently, holding up the black and silver hand-held weapons that could deliver up to fifty thousand volts of electricity to a target from up to 6.5 meters away. “One shot can penetrate up to five centimeters of clothing and will render a man immobile, causing him to fall to the ground helpless which will allow us to make our escape.”

Sage couldn’t help but laugh at the menacing look in her mother’s eyes and her well-researched sales pitch. She was used to Sivilla’s thorough investigation of all things the older woman deemed important. Yet that look was the same look her mother had worn the night she found out how rough pit-bull face had been towards her daughter. Afterwards Sivilla went over to the man’s house with a fake, friendly smile and a delicious mincemeat pie that she’d picked up at a store and loaded with powerful laxatives.

It brought Sivilla great pleasure to see pit-bull face grabbing his stomach only a few minutes later. She even stayed around to listen to the telltale toilet flush while he was upstairs giving his bathroom a major workout. By the time the porcelain throne had flushed for the fourth time, Sivilla was wearing a wide grin and humming a happy tune as she let herself out of the man’s house. The two women left town and that state soon after that.

“Okay, Mama, you win. I’ll play this game one last time. But I am not sleeping with this guy,” Sage proclaimed, returning to her task. Although she was once again surrendering to her mother’s will as she’d done for years, she was steadfastly setting some limits to her obedience this time. After all, Sage wasn’t a little girl anymore, and thought it was time to start using her own mind for a change.

© 2006 Suprina Frazier

No comments: