March 14, 2008


At ten o’clock Sunday morning, Andre had breakfast with his Aunt Marissa. She had made oatmeal and added pecans and cinnamon just before serving. Andre told her it was “pretty good,” which was high praise, coming from him. He had two bowls, and sneaked a few more spoonfuls when his aunt had gone back to the guest bedroom.

At eleven o’clock Sunday morning, they were still at the breakfast table, looking at the Sunday New York Times and the Times-Picayune. Aunt Marissa would read him a headline and Andre would roll his eyes and make a sarcastic comment. Eventually his father could be heard moving around in his bedroom, so Andre made him a bowl of oatmeal and left it in front of his door.

At twelve o’clock Sunday afternoon, they had moved into the family room. Andre had finished everything he wanted to see in the paper, and he’d fetched his laptop from downstairs. Aunt Marissa was audibly making a shopping list of all the cleaning supplies she needed to get. Two weeks of non-stop cleaning and Andre still hadn’t done a decent enough job. His father hadn’t emerged yet, though he apparently had grabbed the oatmeal at one point, leaving the tray in front of the door. Andre didn’t blame him...if he could, he’d be hiding in his room as well.

At one o’clock Sunday afternoon, Aunt Marissa went off to take her shower and get ready for the shopping trip. Andre stayed on the couch. He was looking at the blogs of some friends, ones who went to other schools, when he got a new email. The sender was named “Robert,“ but that was just coincidence; it was really just spam, promising “hot teen action.” Andre stared at it for a while, the hints of a This Toilet City entry forming in his mind. Something about how adults wanted to be with imaginary teens but teens only wanted to be with adults. No, that wasn’t quite it, it was more about the fantasy of teenage girls versus the reality. That wasn’t exactly it, either. Andre deleted the message.

At two o’clock Sunday afternoon, heavy snores could be heard coming from his father’s room, and Aunt Marissa showed up in the family room with a terrycloth turban around her head. She carried her tennis shoes in one hand. “I swear, it’s like you’re hypnotized.”

“What do you mean?”

“I leave the room an hour ago, and I come back…you’re in the same place. Same position. Maybe sunk down a bit more, that’s all.”

“I’m just looking at a website.”

“I know. That’s what I’m saying.” Aunt Marissa dried her hair. “Are you coming?”

“Coming where?”

“I didn’t just spend an hour making a shopping list? To the Schwegmann’s or Sav-A-Center or whatever they’re calling it these days.”

“On a Sunday afternoon? It’ll be like 9/11 in there.”

Aunt Marissa sighed and glared at Andre until he eventually closed his laptop. It occurred to him that maybe her question was rhetorical and he didn’t really have a say in the matter, but just when he was about to get up and change clothes, Marissa turned towards his father’s bedroom. “Let’s see if I can get your father up.”

At three o’clock Sunday afternoon, after what seemed like an hour of Andre’s father begging and moaning and at one point sobbing, Aunt Marissa emerged from his room with a scowl and came back into the family room. “That man, I swear to Christ.”

“He’s sick.” Andre closed his laptop again.

“Yeah, what’s your excuse? Have you even moved since breakfast?” She pulled the towel off her head again and ran her hands through her curly black hair. It seemed damp still. “What’s your shoe size?”

“My shoe size?”

“Yeah, is it a hard question? What size shoe do you wear?”

“Eleven. Why?”

But his aunt was already in her guest room. She came out with her purse and the shopping list. “I’ll be back by five, I hope.”

“Do you want me to do anything while you’re gone?”

“Yeah, see if you can sit on your ass the entire time without getting up. That would be a big help.”

With that, she was out the door. Andre heard the Volvo start up—he hoped he’d turned down the radio the last time he drove it—and then his aunt was gone. He sat on the sofa and listened to the house. He could hear his father shuffling around in his room. The door opened a crack. “Marissa…I got, I got my pants on. I’ll be ready in a minute.”

“Aunt Marissa’s gone, Dad. Go back to bed.”

His dad didn’t answer, just shut the door softly. Soon no more noise could be heard coming from the hallway. Andre sat on the couch, wondering what he should do while his aunt was away. His computer beeped softly, the sound of a new email. He opened his laptop to see who it was.

Twenty-Five >>>