Drew let himself into his childhood home at four a.m. He maintained a house key on his keychain more out of habit than use. Speaking of habits, his mother was a creature of habits, and thank goodness for that, or getting into her house might’ve produced a few unforeseen obstacles such as a new alarm or a dog. Even a shifted sofa might’ve cause a stubbed toe.
“Brodie, quiet,” he ordered his ugly mutt of a dog whom he’d rescued two years ago. He’d left OCXA to run home, grab his dog, a change of clothes, and hit the road to Titusville.
Inside the house everything was exactly as he’d left it ten years ago when he’d left for the University of Florida. For some people, this sameness might’ve been comforting. Knowing you could return home and it’d always be the same elicited a continuity some people liked. Not Drew. The sameness made him cringe.
He guessed he was like his father, needing change and seeking new adventures, even if it was as simple as moving the couch from wall to another.
His mother didn’t wake at his arrival, and he didn’t want to wake her, especially given her health. He slung his backpack over his shoulder and headed for his childhood bedroom. With a snick he flipped on the light, and, yep, everything was as he remembered down to the blue and orange Gator comforter on the bed. Even the tissue box is turned at a 90 degree angle in the same spot. He wouldn’t be surprised if his mother counted tissues and replaced them at night to ensure the same number remained consistent.
It wasn’t the finances that stopped his mother from turning his unused room into a craft room or office for herself. It was fear of change. She liked everything to be as it always was. Him moving to Miami after college had thrown her for a loop. She’d thought he’d return home and use his engineering degree to work at NASA down the road.
Not him. He’d known the minute he drove away to Gainesville he wasn’t coming back to Titusville to live. Drew and his dad were cut from a different cloth than his mother. At least that’s what his dad told him on his holiday custody stints.
“We’re a different breed, Drew. Cut from a different cloth. We Weaver men like to change it up. Spontaneity. That’s why marriage doesn’t work for us and never will. Too much routine. Same woman in our bed, same tits…”
Drew never got to hear the rest of that fascinating statement, because as unconventional as his father was, he did realize he was talking to a seven year old with very interested ears.
He released a long yawn. The drive from Miami to Titusville had gone smoothly, but it was still a long night. He toed off his shoes, took off his shorts and climbed into the bed, realizing that if his mother hadn’t called, he’d be in a queen-sized bed with Radha instead of a twin bed all alone.
He didn’t sleep well in the ancient, too-small mattress, especially with Brodie snuffling at the foot of the bed, which meant he was grumpy and tired when his mom woke him up at eight in the morning by opening the bedroom door wide and flicking on the light.
He sat up in bed, blinking at her. “Jesus, Mom. What the hell?”
“Andrew? What are you doing here? I thought you were a burglar.”
“Who climbed into my bed to sleep?” He tried not to let his mother’s use of his full name annoy him. He was technically, Andrew Weaver Junior, named after his father, but as a kid, everyone called him Drew so as not to be confused with his father. The nickname stuck even when his father moved out of town when Drew was five. If someone called him Andrew, it barely registered as his name, but his mother, creature of habit, always called him Andrew, because as she said, it was his given name.
Or, Drew suspected, she missed her husband, and calling her son Drew, meant Andrew was really gone. “I told you I was coming,” he said.
“Yes, but I thought that meant you’d wake up early and drive to be here by lunchtime. That’s would’ve been the more rational plan, as opposed to taking off like a bat out of hell and driving through the night.”
Jesus, he couldn’t win with his mother. “You told me it was an emergency, Mom. I reacted. I promise I drove the speed limit the whole way.” The speed limit, give or take ten miles.
“Well you’re here now, and you may as well get up and come have breakfast.” She looked down at his dog and deigned to pat Brodie’s head who acted as if she’d given him a fully belly rub.
No, he may as well go back to sleep for a few hours, but the sooner he took care of his mother, the sooner he could be on the road back to Miami and back to Radha, who was pissed but promised him a second chance when she heard he’d ditched her for his sick mother.
He stretched and climbed out of bed the moment his mother left the room and shuffled to the kitchen, pulling his dirty t-shirt over his head as he walked. He let Brodie out to the fenced back yard to quickly relieve himself then called him back in.
When he got to the kitchen, his mother was boiling a pot of water to make tea. He glanced around hoping there’d been some miracle and his mother had invested in an espresso maker or Keurig one-cup. No luck.
He straddled on of the old metal and laminate chairs. “You know you could microwave the water. It’d be faster.”
Mom shrugged. “I’m used to doing it this way.”
He didn’t respond, because he’d never convince his mother to change. As they waited for the water to boil, his mom puttered around the kitchen grabbing a bowl and a box of plain Cheerios for him. She set it down, and pulled out a jug of milk that was seconds away from its expiration day.
“I’m not hungry, Mom.”
“Eat anyway. Breakfast is important.”
“Agreed, but breakfast time isn’t at the crack of dawn. It starts at ten when you can pick up a bagel.”
She made a face. “Maybe for people in your line of work, breakfast is at lunchtime, but for the rest of us working class people, breakfast is at seven.” She made it sound as if his line of work was pole dancing or male prostitution.
To avoid further arguments, he poured a few Cheerios in the bowl and splashed some milk over them. The first bite had him gagging. “Mom, has this cereal been here since I left for college?” He set the spoon down with a clatter and pushed the bowl away.
His mother’s cheeks flushed. “Getting to the store these days isn’t always easy, you know.”
No, he didn’t know. Was his mother so sick, she couldn’t drive a mile down the road to the Publix? “What’s going on, Mom? Why isn’t it easy to get to the market?”
The kettle started whistling at that point, so he had to wait for her to pour the water and fiddle with her tea bag. Finally, she was sitting at the table facing him. “The Lupus is advancing, Andrew. I’m on a donor list for a new kidney, but if one comes up, I can’t be in Titusville. I need to be near a major hospital where surgeons have more experience.”
“What are you saying?” He knew what she was saying, but he asked anyway, because he wanted it spelled out for him.
“I need dialysis frequently, and I’ll need someone to drive me. My doctor has put me in touch with a top rheumatologist in Miami. He recommended New York, but when I told him my son lives in Miami, we thought that best.
“Hm.” He made a noncommittal sound, not sure what he was supposed to be saying or offering at this point. “How long until a kidney comes available?”
She sipped her tea then shrugged. “It varies. Could be tomorrow. Could be a year from tomorrow.”
“And if you don’t get one?”
“Then I keep doing dialysis, but eventually…”
“Eventually?” He discovered his heart was pounding and he was crushing the Cheerios one by one with the back of the spoon.
“My kidney’s fail and…” Another shrug, and he pushed a Cheerio at the wrong angle, upturning the bowl, spilling milk onto the counter and the floor. Brodie jumped into action licking the floor.
They both rose up to grab a towel, but he got to the paper towels first. “Sit, Mom. I’ve got this.”
He wiped up the milk and was returning the wet paper towels to the trash, when she said. “Use a sponge or it’ll get sticky.”
“I know how to clean shit.”
“Don’t curse in this house, Andrew Weaver.”
He grabbed the damp sponge from the sink and prayed for patience as he wiped until his mom was satisfied. Because what kind of asshole was he that he’d pick a fight with his mother seconds after she’d told him she was potentially dying?
“What do you need from me?” he asked, then winced as he heard how it sounded. “I mean, I’m here for you Mom. Anyway you need me, but I need to know what you want.” Was she asking him for a kidney? He’d offer to be tested, but the idea of giving up a major organ freaked him out. He owned a bar, it seemed like a good idea to have both kidneys intact and functioning.
She smiled and reached across the table to squeeze his fist. “Such a good boy. And so successful. Suzanne Denning brought over that New Times magazine with your picture. She was very impressed you were in the paper.”
He inwardly winced wondering which photo of him they’d seen. The New Times was a Miami rag that covered the nightlife along with other interesting social issues, but many people read it simply to find themselves in a photo in the Night Out section. As owner of the hottest club in Miami, Drew’s face was in the pages frequently.
“I’d like to come stay with you in Miami,” his mom said.
Startled, he looked up at her. “In my apartment?”
She’d never even come to visit him. Not once in the eight years of him living in Miami. Now she wanted to move in without having seen the place.
“It’s a two-bedroom, right?” she asked.
“Well, yeah, but the second bedroom is my office.” His mother’s expression shuttered at his words, and he hurried to relieve her of the fear that his son was an asshole who wouldn’t rearrange a room in his house for her if she needed it. “Sorry. Thinking out loud here. It’s my office, but it has a comfortable pull-out sofa. I’ll take that and you take my room. It’s only temporary, right? You’ll get your kidney and we’ll resettle things back to normal soon enough.”
She didn’t respond.
He mentally shuffled things in his mind, not excited at the prospect of his mother moving in with him, but willing to do it for a time.
“And I’ll be needing rides to dialysis,” she said. “I’m certainly not comfortable driving around a city as big as Miami. I heard the drivers there are crazy.”
“Well, that’s true,” he muttered. “But, Mom, I work. How am I going to drive you around town?” Her statement about not driving in Miami worried him. He was visualizing his mother moving in with him and being home bound because she was too frightened of perceived dangers.
“You work at night. Dialysis is during the day.”
“I sleep during the day to be able to do my job at night,” he countered. Not to mention, most nights he either brought a woman home with him or went to their place. Did his mother expect him to be celibate for the duration of her stay with him? Because that wasn’t happening. He’d lose his shot with Radha, and he suspected it was two strikes and you were out with her.
“Well, maybe I could take a taxi,” she said, though her tone made it sound as if he’d asked her to take an open jeep ride through the desert full of pit vipers. “Or one of those Bubers.”
“Uber,” he corrected, automatically. “And no. We’ll figure something out.” And then he figured it out. He’d hire that woman, Olivia, that friend of Cat and Amy. She was a nurse and could care for his mother without disrupting his life. .
He’d met her a year ago and driven her home. She’d been gorgeous but not his type. She was the type who’d expect to be picked up at her house, shake hands with her dad first then taken to a nice dinner, ending with a kiss on the cheek. Maybe after four dates, he’d be allowed to neck and cop a feel. Sex wouldn’t happen until his ring was on her finger and they’d said their I Do’s. So no, definitely not his type.