CHAPTER 2

Blood of the Gods

Image of what Julia Jane might look like.

The Jane Household

After forever, the little clock in the Coffee Hut finally got its hour hand to three.

Quitin’ time. 

I coax my old Chevy the ten blocks to my house and hustle my butt up to my room to start southern belleafying myself for my performance at the Pristine Panorama Dinner Theater. I have been crushing on my co-worker, Sawyer, for months now and with the summer almost over and still no date, I am making special effort to look my best.

Unfortunately, images of Sawyer’s hotness are interrupt by an unwelcome sound from directly below me. My father’s office. Even though my mom, my sister and I are all at home, the slinky melodies of my father’s favorite porno begin to rise through the floor boards.

               I stamp loudly as I run the curling iron up the length of a small strip of dark brown hair.

Nothing.

So, three curls later I stamp again. This time the nasty crap gets louder. I put my iron down and take several deep, flared nostril breaths before turning toward the door.

               As I move, it opens and my little sister Emma marches into my room. Her hair, cut in a severe a-line, gyrates as she tenses up her whole body. Through clinch teeth she begins, “Jules I am going to…” her hands make a violent strangling motion which is perfectly communicative. Then she stomps quite fiercely to my bed and plops down.

               “I know,” I say and exhale deeply. “I’ll go take care of it.” My hand brushes hers as I pass her, and my foot kicks my empty laundry basket as I pass it.

I jog down the stairs, although my vision is still annoyingly blurry. I wonder if I had a stroke while at work today? Weren’t they supposed to impair vision? I decide to research signs and symptoms as soon as I can.  I hope I can find an explanation for the blurred vision and extreme headache.

However, I have another type of headache to deal with right now.

As I reach for the door handle of my father’s office—the groaning from inside reaching the scary point—I see my mom move to the head of the hall.

               I glance over at her. Her long brown hair is in a braid that curls attractively on the end. Her apron is dusty with flour and her hands ring the bottom of it apprehensively. Her thick eyebrows are in knots, weighing down her eyes. 

               My jaw tightens, and I settle my feet to push through the door, but my mother’s alto voice stops me.

“Don’t, Julia. You know what will happen if you stop him right now.”

               My teeth clench, “I don’t care!”

               “Just leave it,” she sighs and leans against the wall.

               My body shrinks an inch away from the door. Relief tingles my limbs as my breath relaxes. Fight mode is crowd out by another familiar feeling; disgust. What I feel for my father cakes me with a sickness that seems like an all-encompassing layer of dry mud. Such emotional filth, I can’t help feeling I will never be clean of. But my mother…I look back over at her and the mud is suddenly ribbon with inky fingerlets of tar, or contempt. 

               I see her defeated expression, her worry lines, and am mad again. “Tell him to stop mom.” But knowing she won’t, I turn to the door and yell at it. “We are right here; we can hear the swanky porno music and you wacking off to it. Have some dignity, save it for the middle of the night… save us all the…” My yelling has petered out knowing that its fruitless, I hear it in the middle of the night too, and…he’s cranked the TV up again.

 I place my head against the door, squeeze my eyes tight and really push my forehead into that door, wishing I could just press all the sounds and all the slime that is my father, out. But I can’t, this is how it has been since he lost his job. This is what he does.

 “You are so pathetic.” I whisper to the door. Then I turn angry eyes towards my mother, “You both are so pathetic.” I shake my head at her. “Why? Why do you put up with this?” I see the way her face crumples as she turns her eyes away from mine. “Just… never mind.” I spit, and I kick the door before spinning away from both of them.

My mother knows what she is. In similar situations as this one, I’ve used every possible descriptor to tell her my opinion and I’m exhausted.

               As I run upstairs, I hear my mother say, “You’re the strong one, Jules. Stay strong.”

               Oh, I will.

But now how am I going to distract Emma? That girl has the potential to take a shotgun to both my parents if I don’t calm her down.

I step into my room and Emma has a pillow held to each ear. She looks up at me and I shake my head. She rolls her eyes and sits up.

“You know I have ear plugs, in my nightstand.”

“No, I didn’t know that.” Pulling open the drawer she yanks two neon pink plugs out.

“He’s almost done.”

“I know, I have this song memorized.”

“Me too.”

“Can you believe this is our life?”

I narrow my eyes and flare my nostrils, choosing not to engage my rage. I also notice the time on the nightstand.

“I need to finish getting ready.”

“I wish I could come with you.”

“Me too. Can you go to Kenzies?”

“Nope they are having family night.”

“What would that be like?”

“I don’t think I’d like it. Unless dad wasn’t…”

“And mom wasn’t…”

She nods and rolls her eyes. “Do you think other kids have screw-up parents too?”

“Absolutely.”

“Really?”

“Ask around. That’s what I did when I was your age, and yep, everyone is eefed up.” I walk to her and slide my hand down her hair and pull her head to my side, hugging her.  We wait there, hugging until the music stops.

Then I clear my throat and ask, “Help me get ready? I wanna look awesome tonight.”

She smiles up at me and nods. “Are you going to get Sawyer to finally ask you out?”

“I’m going to give it my best.” As I head back to my dressing table I think of Sawyer. “Isn’t he fantastic.”

“Fantastically hot.”

“His buttery tenor voice…”

“And those super soft brown eyes.”

“His lips…”

“They are a little out of control…”

“And by that, you mean, should be illegal; deem too dangerous for normal human consumption.” I flip my hair.

“No, I mean they are too big, full, large.” Emma complains with scrunched nose.

“I disagree. They are like perfect pillows. I love kissing him.”

“So, have the kisses been getting longer.”

I smile. “Yes, last week the pianist had to do a little variation so that the singing wasn’t off.”

“Oh. My. heck Jules. Seriously? Doesn’t that embarrass you?”

I chit at her, “No way. You think I’m thinking about the audience’s comfort level when I have the two most perfect lips god ever made pressing against mine? Not a chance.”

She laughs and I am happy that the subject is back to normal stuff. Real stuff.

She picks up my eyeshadow brush and says, “Close ‘em.  I’m gonna make those velvety browns pop.”

I smile and close my eyes.       

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