Chapter 9 - The Ex-Wife
My mother and I had a complicated relationship. Matter of fact, she had a complicated relationship with everyone. Things between her and my father had never been great and ever since they got divorced when I was five they never really saw each other. It was better this way. Whenever they were in the same room, it felt like they were throwing imaginary knives at each other.
However, I did admire them for allowing each other to circulate in each other’s lives. With this I mean that my dad let my mum come to his house whenever I was around if she wanted to see me and vice versa. It was their best attempt to try and deal with raising me, not that I needed much raising now.
As I slowly went up the stairs to the living room, all I wanted to do was run back down. For as much as I respected my mother, she was intolerable. She married my father for money (she made that very obvious even when I was a young boy), she acted as if she was better than everybody else, her friendships were nothing more than façades, and to top if off, I always had the feeling like she had used me to keep her marriage together until there was nothing left to hold it together.
For all those reasons, I knew what brought her here was no good.
As I reached the top of the stairs I immediately saw her figure. She was a tall slender woman, her white suit striking against the floor-to-ceiling living room windows. She had her back turned to me and was on her phone when I approached her.
“Cecilia, I understand the constraints but you have to solve it. It’s not my problem that you don’t know how to organise yourself... Alright, I’ll call you later, I have to talk to my son now.” She hung up, rolling her eyes. Then she opened her arms widely and hugged me, swaying me left and right.
“Oh darling, I’m having the week from hell... It’s so nice to see you!” I could smell the potent perfume on her hair.
“Nice to see you too,” I said, breaking the hug. I just wanted to get over with that interaction so I could go straight back to the garage. “So, what brings you here?”
She plopped on the couch, crossing her legs “Can’t a mother come visit her son now?”
“Unannounced and in her ex-husband’s house... I don’t think so.”
“Sure, it’s a bit unorthodox, but I knew for a fact that your father wouldn’t be here so I thought I’d come and see you.” She said, matter-of-factually.
“And how did you know that?” I challenged her.
She gave me a smile, her upper-lip mole prominent “If I told you my secrets they wouldn’t be secrets anymore, would they now?”
As I grew older it became clear to me why my parent’s marriage had not worked. They were exactly the same person. Too much of the same energy doesn’t work.
“Look, I am extremely busy at the moment, so if you just came here to see me, I’ll go now.” I turned on my heels when she got up from the sofa.
“Let me guess, you’re too busy with the races. Is that it? Is Dave downstairs circling your car, drinking beers until the sun sets?” I knew she said it in a humorous tone, but she lacked the sensitivity to know when comments like that affected me.
“What if he is? What’s it to you?”
“Oh darling, you know what I’m gonna say, don’t you?”
I did know, so I didn’t answer.
“Whenever you’re ready to leave this life, this miserable dangerous life, call me. I’m your biggest supporter in this family, you know that right? I’m not saying you’ll have to go to college or find a job right away, but I’ll take you under my wing the moment you decide to quit.”
I huffed in frustration.
“You sound just like Dad.” I said, rolling my eyes.
“No I don’t, I’m nothing like him.” She said. I found that comment amusing but didn’t comment. “You father wants you to be like him. He wants legacy, greatness. I just want you to be truly happy and safe.”
Suddenly I felt anger rise in me. Why did she disappear for months at a time and then come back to lecture me?
“You know what mum, you’re just like him. You married him for legacy and status and money. Once you got it, you divorced him, taking even more money from him, like a leech. You pretend to work when all you do is live off rents and shares. Stop pretending that you’re a saint. If that is all you came here to say to me, I think we’re finished.” Her face fell and her eyes turned icy cold.
I turned around and walked away, smoke coming out of my ears. As I started going down the stairs, my mum shouted “You’re becoming just like him! Cruel.” I kept walking.
I heard Sam stomping down the stairs. He was gone for less than five minutes, and in the meantime I was left to mull at the fact that he has a butler. That was pretty extraordinary in itself, but the fact that the butler called Sam Master Samuel was beyond belief. I was starting to connect the dots about Sam, and one thing became clear: he clearly had no idea how the real world worked. Heck, just the fact that a 25 year old was paying someone 100,000 dollars to fix some car to compete in illegal races said it all, but this explained it further.
I started to imagine how many people lived in that house. What was said around town was that he was an only child, so a house that big made no sense... Maybe he had half-siblings living there? A stepmum maybe?
When Sam entered the garage, I took no time to blurt out my prepared comment.
“Master Samuel, would you be so kind as to inspect my work?
The response I wanted didn’t come. Instead, I was greeted with silence. I lifted my head and wiped the sweat off my brow. Sam had a serious expression on his face. I knew I had gone too far.
“It was only a joke.”
“I know you’re just teasing me,” he said, taking a seat on his leather stool “But I’m not really in the mood to joke around.”
I clicked my tongue as if to say “oh well” and got back to my work. After a few minutes, Sam continued.
“He’s not my butler, he’s more of a housekeeper.”
“Does he stay overnight?” I asked.
“Then he is a butler.”
He crossed his arms, but didn’t seem too disappointed by his defeat, so I pressured on.
“Would you care to explain why you have a butler anyway? It’s not everyday that you meet someone who one.”
Sam got up and walked closer to the car. He leaned against the door while I worked under the hood.
“Well, someone needs to take care of the house. George cooks and cleans and keeps us safe. He also welcomes people when they arrive and reminds us of important dates and appointments... You know, just the usual stuff a butler does.”
“And who is us specifically? I assume you don’t live here with your mum.”
“Good deduction,” he said “My dad and I live here, and George of course.”
I was so surprised by his answer. That house only had three inhabitants when it could comfortably take in a whole family of 10.
“Oh, that’s not nice, is it?”
“What do you mean?” He asked, genuinely surprised by my comment.
“Well, I imagine it must be lonely to live in a huge empty house.”
Sam didn’t comment. Because I had only met his, his silence was hard to interpret, but I sensed he didn’t take it to heart.
He looked at his watch. “Hey, it’s almost lunchtime. Want me to grab something for you from the kitchen?”
Once again, I was surprised. In the morning he was much more closed off (understandably so) and now he was offering me lunch. Lickety had never even given me a glass of water, I had always to ask.
“Actually, I think it’s better if I go. I have some stuff I got to get done before lunch. After that I was thinking of going to the scrap yard. I’ll need to scavenge for some parts or buy them to repair the motor. If you want you can come with me. I’ll probably need help anyway.”
“You’re gonna put scrap pieces on my car?” He asked, stunned.
“Oh don’t worry, I know a guy.” I said with a smile. “What do you say? Can I meet you here at around three?”
“Sure.” He replied, shrugging his shoulders.
“Alright then.” I started gathering up my stuff and making my way out through the garage door. “Oh and Sam, when I get back I’ll expect at least half of the payment upfront.”
He didn’t comment and just nodded his head. He was probably expecting me to say that. With that I walked towards the gate. Sam clicked on the remote control and the doors opened up. As I turned around to wave, Sam was leaning against his hard, his strong arms crossed over his chest, his legs crossed at the bottom.
Mia was right, he was indeed handsome.