Hot and Heavy 

Jimmy Brown got out of the shower and wrapped a large yellow bath towel around his fat waist.  He avoided looking at his image in the mirror. Once he had been young, handsome, slim and a “ladies’ man.” That was when he was in the army. He didn’t recall when he had stopped taking care of his health and body. It happened slowly, gradually, without warning. He believed it began sometime after his wife had divorced him and taken his only child out of the state. Cutting all ties, he had with them. He knew it was his fault that she left him and didn’t blame her one bit.

She caught him red handed with Gloria. He was drunk that night he took Gloria to his home and to his bed. He had forgotten that his wife, Mary, would be returning that night from a visit with her mother in California. He and Gloria were going at it hot and heavy when his wife opened their bedroom door. He was so into it that he didn’t realize at first that it was his wife beating him on his back with her tight fists. He thought it was Gloria hitting him in ecstasy until he heard Mary’s loud hysterical voice calling him a cheating bastard, then he realized what he was doing. He became sober instantly, jumping up from Gloria and trying to keep Mary from beating on him as Gloria jumped out of bed and began grabbing her clothing and putting them on as fast as she could.

Mary turned her attention towards Gloria and began calling her a slut and whore, as she tried to get to her so she could start beating on her too. Gloria was too fast for her and was running out of the room, down the stairs and out the front door as Jimmy held Mary in a tight grip, trying to calm her down. Their daughter, Marie, was watching this from their bedroom door with a shocked look on her face. Jimmy looked at her and began to feel shame at what he had done. He dropped his arms from Mary and sat down heavily on the bed, covering himself from his eight-year-old daughter’s eyes with the crumpled red satin bed sheet.

Jimmy shook his head to shake out those unpleasant memories from his thoughts. He had been sober since that time. He went to an alcohol and drug treatment program, joined AA meetings, got a sponsor, and tried to get his wife back. But it was too late. Mary had had enough. He sold the house, gave her the money, and moved into a motel. The only thing he kept from his past was his cab company. If he didn’t have his job, he wouldn’t have made it this far. He probably would have blown his brains out with the forty-five he kept in a locked box a long time ago. The job gave him a purpose, a reason to get up in the mornings.

When the motel he lived in shut down, he decided to move into a boarding house so he wouldn’t have to live alone. A friend at church told him about Shelia looking for a boarder and introduced him to her. He liked her direct approach from the beginning. She told him she had two teenage girls and that if she caught him looking at them cock-eyed that she would personally stab his eyes out. She didn’t blink an eye or crack a smile when she said it. She had that same determined look that Mary had when she told him she would no longer subject her daughter to his sinful, drunken ways. He told Shelia she didn’t have to worry about that, shook her hand and the deal was made. He moved in that weekend.

He enjoyed living with Shelia and the girls. It seemed to make up for the family that he had thrown away. He especially liked Sara who was kind and nice to him. Jean was more like her mother and was blunt and at times evasive with him. He could talk with Sara who often came to him with questions and to vent her feelings about her sister and mother when she felt they were being unfair or got on her nerves.

Jean often smirked at him, and he had heard her refer to him as the “fat smelly blob” once or twice when she didn’t know he was in hearing distance. He had to be careful with Sara though, in order not to make Shelia think he was trying to be inappropriate with her. Shelia would kick him out of the house, after first trying to cut his penis off, if she thought he was making any kind of sexual advance towards her girls. He often had to ask Sara to leave his bedroom and wait for him on the porch when she would rush into his room without knocking. He recalled the last talk they had last week. Sara had asked him to meet her on the back porch when Shelia and Jean were at the store.  She began to rant and rave about Jean.

“Mr. Jimmy, why does she have to be such a butthole all the time?”

“What did she do this time Sara?”

“The same old thing she always does. Try to make me look stupid in front of my friends. She embarrassed me at school today when I was with my friend Annie, talking about when I used to pee in bed. I was seven years old when I did that, I’m a teenager now, why does she have to do that?”

“Sometimes siblings get on each other’s nerves Sara, it’s their job, I guess. Don’t let her get to you so much. She does it because she can tell that it bothers you. Try to ignore her.”

“I try to ignore her, but I can’t.”

“If you don’t, she’s not going to stop it.”

“She’ll stop it if I punch her in the mouth!”

“Then she’ll tell Shelia and you’ll be in trouble. Try it Sara, it’s hard but it will work.”

Sara gave him a look that showed she didn’t believe him, but she agreed to try it.

Jimmy finished dressing and gathered his items for work. He thought that Sara must have taken his advice because she and Jean seemed to be getting along better these past few days. He hoped that he had been able to help her. Helping her was a way for him to feel he was a good person.  That he could have been a good father to his daughter if given the chance. This living arrangement was more than a place to call home, it was a means of replacing the family that he had lost. Shelia was the woman he needed to convince that he was a good man, like his ex-wife, and the girls were the daughter he hadn’t seen in years.

He wondered what she looked like. If she was getting good grades in school. Did she need anything. Did Marie have nightmares about seeing her Daddy naked with another woman. What about Mary? Did she remarry and give Marie a new father, a new daddy? Jimmy didn’t know and was afraid to find out. “A damn coward! That’s what I am!” Jimmy let out a loud sign and walked over to turn off the lamp sitting on the old end table next to his twin bed. He pulled back the white curtains from the only window in his room and saw Shelia getting out of a black and white. He quickly dropped the curtain when Shelia looked up towards the window because he didn’t want her to say he was spying on her. She was still kind of pissed after catching him jacking off in her kitchen.

He opened the curtain a crack so he could see her, and she not see him. Shelia was leaning into the window of the cop car. After about a minute or two she stood up and walked towards the front door as the police rode off. Jimmy decided he better wait a few minutes before he went down to leave, give her a chance to get to her bedroom so he wouldn’t have to see her when he left. But on the other hand, he wondered what she was doing with the pigs. Was she in trouble? The girls alright? Before he could decide, he heard Shelia’s bedroom door slam shut. He grabbed his stuff and quickly left the house.