bea jueb

Pretty As As Pretty Does
2002-03-17 11:30:15 (UTC)

The Fiction of Uncle Frank (2)

Back home, many hours later, I watched Detective Sol pace
in my livingroom. I was working a crossword puzzle at the
kitchen table with my legs propped up on a chair. As per
the doctors orders I had ice on my foot.

Detective Sol, sensing I was watching him, strode over to
stand in the door. “How is it?” He asked, nodded at my
foot.

I motioned him to sit at the other chair, still pulled up
to the table. Seeming nervous, he pulled it out and sat
down. “It’s bruised. Why are you here Sol?” I asked.

“I’m here to keep an eye on you.” Sol said.

“I understand that part. But why you?” I asked.

Sol shrugged, looked around. It was a nervous gesture and
told me he was taking in nothing of my kitchen
decorations. “They thought I’d be the best person here.
Monroe was on your case for the longest time as was a few
other people. They’re going over information now.” He
said.

I nodded at this. “Which explains nothing.” I
said. “Normally, I would assume, that if there was an
investigating team out there, they would want to be the
people next to the person being investigated. They’d want
to be intimately involved with everyday affairs…things like
that. What do you think?” I asked.

“I…uh…would agree with you. I think someone else should be
here.” He paused for a half moment, his gaze fading from
focused on my daisy print dishtowel wrapped around the
ziplock bag of ice. Then, suddenly, “What about your
family?” He asked.

“What family?” I asked back, taking a sip of water and
carefully looking at him. He was, I confirmed, wired to
record this information.

“Well…mother and father. What about brothers and sisters
and people like that?” He asked.

I leaned back in the chair. “I don’t usually think about
any of them. I barely remember the few people I do. I’m
not even sure if I have any brothers or sisters, to be
honest.”

He seemed startled. “Well…how can that be? You were with
them until you were fifteen or so, right?” He asked.

I stared. “Fifteen? No, I was in a Catholic bording
school when I was fifteen. Uncle Frank had dropped me off
the year before. I saw him only on holidays.”

“You were in a bording school?” He asked.

I nodded. “The last thing I remember about anybody in my
family was that I was wearing hand-downs from a cousin or
someone. But the day before I was given over to Uncle
Frank they had taken me out to get a new pair of shoes.
Uncle Frank, they said, had told them they would have to
buy my shoes. So on the day Uncle Frank came and got me I
was so happy. I had something new, something all mine.” I
smiled at this memory. “You see, it had been a long time
since I had had anything new. So I was very happy with the
shoes, and I was very happy about someone who would insist
that I have something new.”

“Oh.” Another long pause with a faded look. “Why do you
think that was, the new shoes I mean.” Detective Sol asked.

“Oh, I don’t know. I just remember standing there for
hours waiting for him to show up. They had me waiting by
the front door for him to come in. When he didn’t show up
first thing in the morning I was told I could sit on the
bench by the front door. I was there for lunch and dinner
too. He arrived one or two hours after dinner. There was
a huge fight – most of which I don’t remember over what. I
do remember he had me stand up on the bench, lifted my
skirt and pointed out my underwear.”

“He pulled up your skirt?” Detective Sol asked, he seemed
to be barely breathing.

“To point out my underwear.” I said. “That was also a
hand down. I guess they had only bought me shoes and not
everything he had told them I would need.” I said. “He
was offended and called a friend of a friend. Next thing I
knew child services had shown up.”

Detective Sol’s expression sharpened. He had become, in
one second, very attentive. “Child services was there?
Are you sure?”

“Oh, definitely.” I said. “In fact, Child Services was
constantly showing up to monitor Uncle Frank, and sometimes
mediating between Uncle Frank and my mom.” I said and
paused. “I think her name was Constance Caramine.”

Detective Sol pulled a notebook from his breast pocket and
jotted the name down. “How is it you can remember her name
after so long?” He asked.

“She and I became great friends. She didn’t have any
children of her own. I think that she saw a lot of me due
to the constant struggles between my mom and Uncle Frank.
And I remember she was a great comfort during all the court
cases each party had against the other.”

Detective Sol jotted down a few more notes. “Why is it,”
He asked slowly, “That you’re more attached to Uncle Frank
than your own mother? I thought girls were closer to their
mothers than anyone else.” He leaned back in his chair and
watched me.

“Have you ever met my mother?” I asked.

“Well, no. I’m just going by a generalization.” He said.
He reached up, scratched his ear. I noted he had dirt
underneath his nails.

“It was explained to my by my Uncle Jules that it could
very well be likely I should be calling Uncle Frank Daddy
Frank instead. At the time he said this I was about nine
or ten and I thought he meant because Uncle Frank had
guardianship, was taking care of me. A few years ago I ran
into a friend of the family. They told me my mother and
father had gotten back together. They also told me that my
father was having some trouble accepting that mother had
had children by other men and vice versa. My father’s
children and mother were not getting along all that well
either. I understand my father has a three year old!”

“What’s the age of a child of your father have to do with
your mother?” Detective Sol asked.

“Well, if I have my math right, mother would be almost in
her fifties. A three year old would not look so good on
her. She’s a person who is primarily focused on remaining
young and giving that impression. More than the average
vanity there. A three year old, too, would be too much for
her. She wasn’t real impressed with children after her
first two. Everyone else was more of a nuisence than
anything else.”

“That’s rather…callow.” Detective Sol said.

“Maybe just as callow as taking Uncle Frank to court to
regain custody for the welfare money.” I said.

“She’s your mother.” He said.

“Uncle Frank adopted me with her blessing.” I said.
Again, the unfocused pause. Finally, “I didn’t realize
that..”

I tilted my head, looked at him. “You’ve read Detective
M’s folder on me?” I asked.

He shifted uneasily. “Just a little bit. I didn’t see
anything that said he had adopted you. But…I have a
question. How did he buy you your clothing? I mean you
were a little girl. Did he take you into the stores and
stuff?”

“I think you want to know if he actually dressed and
undressed me. The answer to that question was no. Not
once.”

“Then how…how did he buy you clothing that fit?”

“That was simple. He worked for MacDonalds on Quebec and
Robinson street. The manager had a daughter who was known
for being good at babysitting. She was always looking for
an extra job. Uncle Frank thought he would curry favor
with the manager and ask for her to take me clothing
shopping. We went clothing shopping twice a month for five
years.

“And Ms. Caramine? Did she know about this arrangement?”
He asked.

I shrugged. “I was still a child when it happened. What
would I know?” I said.

He sighed. “Yeah. That’s the problem, isn’t it?”

“How so?”

“The Macdonalds on Quebec and Robinson was never built.
Your Uncle Frank never worked in a MacDonalds.”

“I’d like to say I care at this point. That was what he
told me, that is what I remember him telling me. I was in
a Macdonalds and I always saw him in a MacDonald’s outfit.”

“That’s it?” Detective Sol demanded after several minutes
of silence.

“Sure. Why?”

“You don’t care that I just told you there is no MacDonalds
on Quebec and Robinson?”

“Look, I don’t KNOW there isn’t a MacDonalds there. I’ve
never been to it. That was where I was told he worked.”

“But…I don’t get it.” He said

I slapped my hand on the table – the good hand. “And you
were so close. If I had to go back and unravel all the
lies my family told me…I’d die of old age before I’d get
through half of them. There’s conspiracies from left to
right and up and down. I swear to you that I’m sure all of
them were either in the warehouse or at the grassy knoll
when Kennedy was shot! Trust me on this one, don’t go
there.”

I took a sip of my water.

He looked off into space again, staring unfocused now at my
daisy embelleshed tea pot.

“Well, time to go.” He said abruptly, standing.

“Nice save.” I muttered under my breath.
He paused, looked at me.

I smiled.


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