“Let go of me! Didn’t you say you don’t do stage magic? Damn you! I have to get it changed now!” Steven yelled, after pushing Efren and his grinning face out of his way. Efren made no fuss, quickly drying him up and helping him into a new shirt. “Cancel my appointment! I need to get to hospital!” He shouted to the secretary.
Cedrick’s eyes flew up from the morning newspaper he was eying left on the table, then they focused on Efren. “Why?” His eyes stopped on top of Steven’s head and the glistening shine it carried. “Did he sleep in?” He asked from Efren, then his eyes followed the shoulder to his sleeve that had soaked with the water from the cast. His eyes widened and he opened his mouth, but thought better to keep the question to himself.
“The bastard put something in my cast!” Steven wheezed, grabbing the jacket from Efren and heading to the door.
“I did not!” Efren scoffed. “I merely played a mind trick on you!”
It would have seem comical hadn’t Cedrick’s eyes filled with gruesome horror.
“You shouldn’t irritate him so!” Cedrick said and pushed the chair back under the table.
Efren’s chuckles died. “Him? He told me I can’t meet with my friends, fall in love or meet up with anybody here!”
“It’s his home after all!” Cedrick hissed and went after Steven, who was already getting in the car parked in front of the house. The front door shut quietly.
Efren fell back on the chair nearest to him and sat there for a while in silence. His home… He felt like breaking something while he watched his world shatter. Cedrick was right – this wasn’t his home. Probably never would be. He’d always be a guest here and nothing more. An intruder, who was, politely put, invited to stay, but as far as anybody else were concerned – he had no rights even over what color the sofa would be. And he wanted it to be colorful patchwork that would make your heart go wild when you looked at it.
Shit. How the hell did he manage to get himself into this situation? To get yourself homeless like that – what in hell was he thinking?
Was he really going to let this happen? Sit tight and sacrifice himself to the dragon while the townsmen celebrated his death?
There was no way in hell he’d do that! He shook his head, got up, grabbed his jacket and headed to the door. “Not while I’m still alive!”
He planned to take his time and think things through properly, but even with paperwork mountain reaching the peaks of St.Helen, he couldn’t stop thinking about new places he’d go if he could. No, he corrected himself – he had to get out. And then perhaps disown the entire family while he was at it.
“Hey, are you busy?”
Efren looked up from his screen with a surprise. The voice had come from near by, but he hadn’t noticed him get in. He blinked back on the screen – he’d been looking at some cheap flats on the edge of town
“Oh, George, sorry!” he shrieked, quickly clicking the browser shut and returning on the spreadsheet with all the ingredients used in their kitchens. “You wanted vanilla, right? Are you completely out or can you manage another day?”
The older man stared at his quick babbling with crooked expression as if he’d scented something off. “Should I ask you the same?”
“You’re not working, are you?”
Efren huffed, but couldn’t convert the accusation. He shook his head, apology lingering on his lips.It had been long time since he was last caught slacking off on his work. Not that he did it often. Even with Pearl there, while she did her homework, he was still counting his lists together or doing financial reports.
“At least tell me it wasn’t Solitaire?”
He sat on the chair opposite to his table and eyed him curiously. George’s mouth opened and closed several times before his eyes softened and he smiled without saying anything. Efren was grateful for that. Although he would have loved to explain this to him, he doubted it would be a good idea. Most of all, it felt wrong. He trusted George and his judgment, for he had proven to have wisdom in relationships only thirty years of marriage could provide, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that should he ask his help, George would have to pay for it should Steven find out. So he kept his mouth shut, too.
“If it feels like you’re in the bottom,” he said with a smile, “then there is only one way left to go – up!”
“So, if I’m in the middle, I might still fall to the bottom?”
He thought for a moment over the possibility and Efren gasped, realizing what he’d just said.
“You might also climb back up, but buffer your fall then, boy.” He said gruffly and got up again, brushing off as if the chair had been dusty. “Vanilla, and also add extra oranges, 20 pounds or so. Maybe a chat with Marc will help?”
Efren nodded and he left.
He knew he’d have to deal with Marc eventually, but right now he needed a computer that wasn’t hooked in Custer family Internet and that extra time before the other cooks began bringing their ingredient lists. He had managed to cut down the amount of advertisements to twenty three that fit with his single man’s needs, and fifteen if he counted in the ones that would fit to his hopes and dreams he’d sprouted the day before.
“What are you doing?”
Efren jumped on the familiar face and smell of fresh bread filled his nose.
“Ah,” he nodded to Marc absentmindedly, “I was just looking through apartment adds.”
Marc sat on the chair. “Didn’t we agree – you don’t disappear before we get things sorted out?” he asked with fear edging his voice.