The MCRT, Morlocks, MGH and Murder

Part 2: Chapter 27

“Well now, babycakes, what a pleasant surprise. Unless my mind’s gone south, it’s not my birthday, and well, you aren’t standing in front of me, so it can’t be Christmas day. Must be a blessed miracle, indeed.”

“Hey Mattie,” he said with a smile, already feeling the tension slide from his shoulders. “Can’t I just call my favorite gal for no good reason?” Mattie owned one of many tourist attractions in South Louisiana, a little store filled with trinkets and voodoo charms. She even read palms and tarot cards. It was a place he was very familiar with, as he spent much of his childhood there, in the little back room, doing his homework, or not, while she worked. He had also learned how to gamble, how to throw cards and that his empathetic ‘charm’ really did work.

“You most certainly can, chile, but you never do.” No one layered on the guilt quite like Mattie. But then she was good at everything in Remy’s very biased opinion. “Now stop layin’ it on thick and tell Mattie what’s really goin’ on. Besides you havin’ a cold, that is. You sound wretched.” Remy could also slip nothing by her.

“I’m all right, Mattie,” he said, quietly, but not at all convincingly. As if sitting on the bathroom floor, tear marks on his face, was anything close to all right. He didn’t have the strength necessary to wade through all the gunk there was, just for her benefit, but his simple weary lie would be enough.

He knew she shook her head and threw up a hand, dangling the many bracelets she always wore. “Oh, babycakes, you work too hard – you play too hard, too. Burning the candle at both ends – you always did. Placin’ all the world’s woes on those shoulders of yours. It’s good work you’re doin’ cher, but even Jesus stopped to have supper with his friends now, didn’t he?”

“Yes ma’am,” he responded automatically. He might have rolled his eyes, but didn’t because he was convinced she’d know. And also because her tone, concerned and present, grounded him. Told him what he needed to hear; that it was quite alright to take a break sometimes. And so, because avoiding truths and stepping around the point at hand had always been the LeBeau way, he said, “But speaking of burning candles, isn’t it early to be at the shop?”

Mattie understood better than even a LeBeau how to have a conversation with one. Just simply let them have their way for long enough for them to get used to the feeling. “I hope you weren’t insinuating something about my age, young man.”

“No ma’am,” Remy said, on his best behavior.

“Well, good. But what else have I to do? My babies are grown. And they never visit me.”

“I live twenty hours away, what’s Henri’s excuse?” His brother lived all but five minutes away from the house they had grown up in.

“Why I don’t know, honey. But at least he calls me.”

“Alright, alright,” Remy said, smiling. “I get it. I’ll call you more.”

See that you do,” Mattie replied, and her pride at getting her point across was evident. And, as if round two had started, she went on, “You should call your daddy too, you know.”

Neither stony silence nor complaints were appropriate, so Remy settled on another, “Yes ma’am.”

“Don’t you get frosty on me,” she said, but it was far from a lecture. She knew very well what the relationship was that existed between Remy and his father. She did not approve of it, but knew only time could make a difference.

“You don’t know what frost is, Mattie,” Remy said, changing the subject, again.

“I’ve seen New York once, chile. And once was enough.” She took a pregnant pause before asking, “You all right now?” It was what she had always silently referred to as the ‘sneaky reiteration’. He had started the whole thing with ‘I’m all right, Mattie’ and she would end it letting him know she hadn’t believed him from the get go. LeBeau’s usually got their way, but not forever. Not if Mattie could help it.

But more importantly, though she only pretended during the busy tourist season to be psychic, she did have the wherewithal to know her youngest son. And what brand of care he needed that was unique to him. Their back and forth was merely the necessary way to get him to feel better about, in this example, his job. There had been many other times – lost games and meets, broken hearts, two car accidents and of course, Etienne – conversations that perhaps he should have had with his father, but that would be asking Jesus for more than her fair share of miracles.

“Yeah,” he replied. “Thanks Mattie.”

“I’ll send your bill in the mail,” she said and he laughed. She smiled, loving the sound, and said before they hung up, “I love you, babycakes.”

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