Eugene’s Genetics – Chapter THREE
It was a long and miserable night. Restful was the furthest adjective to use. Despite the long night on the phone, Geenie still had hours to contend with in between the possible ten minutes of sleep she had here and there – which counted more as missing time. Her eyes would close and the clock somehow moved ever so slightly even though she felt in her head it was nothing more than a blink of her eyes. The sounds outside her nearest window were merely the instrumental backing up the vocals of her thoughts. Mostly disjointed questions about him. About the two of them even- though she never had any doubts. Somewhere she recalled a witty statement about ‘When in doubt, there is no doubt’. None of it was comforting. Geenie knew none of this was tangible and her inner voice told her it was nothing more than nonsense. Whatever happened to him wasn’t her fault, nor would anything change from whatever thoughts or feelings she had. In truth there was no literal feeling. Only numbness.
One good thing, if a silver lining in the situation, her look and demeanor would cater to the mother. Gertrine. It was an odd thing in Geenie’s eyes but they were originally to meet at Colin’s house itself. There wasn’t going to be a comfortable way to do that – not straight out at least.
Geenie suggested a buffer zone. It was just a place nearby the house; Colin’s house that is. Best to play things by ear and even see what her reaction would be. Geenie was not the best for planning things. More oft than not, amok was a part of her vocabulary when things fell to her in the way of devising a plan rallying the troops where she worked. The great thing for Geenie was the fact so many knew this inability, she wasn’t asked to join or plan things. It worked just fine due to the fact she hasn’t been an aficionado for things domestic.
The place she waited at was a little shop which was a bit better well kept but not much different from the eatery she was at the night before. They both might be glorified bakeries, but maybe one had a few more real menu items than the other. Geenie had a table near the great glass window and door to the place. She had been sitting there as long as she possibly could. In fact, Geenie was so restless she drove to the well before opening. It wasn’t such an odd thing for making an early morning call to Colin’s mother. She was the early to bed and so forth type of woman. One would be hard pressed to wake up naturally earlier than her. So that is what was done; Geenie called about daybreak. Probably just a bit before. As expected, Gertrine was ecstatic in her own way to meet up. It has been overdue in the catching up department. But Geenie decided to head out right away despite the fact it would take a while. Maybe the view of the neighborhood would be a double edged sword, but no matter. She was in the parking lot while everything was still dark. She saw the lights come up and surrounding begin to perk. When the sign turned around she was almost already through the entrance.
She sat and observed the outside while idle thought of Colin reverberated through her mind like a tuning fork. Nothing distinct but a constant pitch. She was close enough to read the menu backwards in the front window. She thought about why she even chose this place. Unlike almost everywhere else to be a choice, this was about the only one absent of any memories of togetherness; the same for Gertrine. Geenie and Colin always talked about popping into it sometime but somehow the cards were never in their favor due to whatever variety of reasons when deciding a place to eat.
After what felt like a dozen glasses of water, Geenie finally braced herself. A jet black matte New Yorker town car floated into a parking space and a woman got out. She takes her time to make it to the front, with Geenie watching all the while. She enters and immediately lights up at the vision of Geenie standing up.
“Hello Mrs. Rust,” as they hug.
“Please. Please… Such formalities,” as she looks around. “Call me Gertrine. I know you don’t like Gigi do you?” She asks in a disjointed way.
“I picked that up from speaking with your mother so often. Lovely woman, you know?” She takes off her perfectly round sunglasses and sits down. “It’s so good to see you. Especially now. Colin, well you know he still thought so much about you.”
“I know. We both cared about each other. Thanks Gertrine.”
“It was the strangest thing. You know?” As she glances at Geenie’s water, “May I?” It’s an approving nod.
“I was…” She drinks out of the side of glass, leaving enough lipstick to prove she was thirsty. “I wanted to speak with you really. Colin’s things and the like.”
“I don’t mind at all.”
“I was going to ask your mother to ask you, well in case you were busy and didn’t want to seem impolite. Thanks goodness you called and that way I could be direct. Right?”
“It’s fine. It really is.”
“And I don’t want to pry but…” She leans in as if it was for the sake of national security. “There were still some things I think still you left behind, or wanted him to keep safe. Whatever the situation, I’m sure he kept it all safe and sound, and now is the what? The time, right?”
“No time like today… I guess.”
“Is it hard?”
“Yeah. It really is,” she quietly says to the both of them.
“Look darling. You’ll get your chance. I still can’t believe it myself. And- I wanted you with me really. Some clothes and a picture. Maybe I’m his mother but you still- You’re. You were there. For a lot of it. And that always meant so much to me. Right?”
“I don’t think about it that way-”
“I know you don’t. And that’s what makes it what it is. Well, something like that.”
It took a while to cut to the heart of the matter; so far as beyond niceties.
The ordering, the observing of the environment, questioning the validity of the service, and then something… More.
“It’s very nice of you, Gigi. I was having a tough enough time even thinking about going in there. But with you there. It would be more of a visit. The atmosphere.”
Geenie isn’t sure which way to reply. Sometimes being social is more like navigating a minefield. In this case, nothing had to be said after all.
“I always thought it would have been nice. The two of you. I’m sure there was much more than what we could observe on the surface, but it’s between you two. Right?”
“There isn’t…” She hesitated. “There was never any hatred. Or whatever it is for most couples. Things for us- Things? We wanted different things really. We were always friends and sometimes I joked how maybe it would have worked out best for the both of us if we started out strangers. I don’t know.”
“It’s true, it really is. You two knew each other for. Well, what?”
“Forever. Well,” a downturn in her tone was suggestion enough to what she wanted to say.
“I know. It’s ok, Gertrine.
The woman looks down at her plate. “I don’t even know why I tried to eat something.”
“If you’re done I can get them to wrap it up. Even if you don’t want it later, Gertrine. It’s fine.” Tacking on, “We can go.”
Geenie helps the woman into her driver seat and took up beside her on the passenger side.
The car flipped to a lurching bump and the vents and radio started to make noise. “You know how it is. I asked the mechanics to fix that but they don’t know what that is. Not a clue.” The vents whir a bit louder and the air within begin to cool. The door to the front of the establishment opens up and the woman who waited on them brings a bag to the black car.
“It’s all wrapped up and should last a while,” she tells Geenie while handing it through the window.
“Well it looks like we’re off then…” The car pulls out with the greatest of hesitation.
The ride to Colin’s place was filled with general talk about the area – mostly how much has changed and what building is now called something new. Or what was even wiped from the face of the earth. Geenie remembered much of it, but the path wasn’t what she was accustomed to when she lived in the neighborhood. The roads came into focus; as well as her memory. Streets, sounds, and houses pulled the old memories of her routine drives. It was practically a lifetime ago, but for Colin’s mother it was probably as new as an open wound.
The car lurched another corner and Geenie grew a little more anxious. She knew it was the street, almost by the feeling before. When she was very young she always had a penchant for waking up at the very last turn towards the house. Neither of them spoke. Not until the car took a full stop from across the street. They both turned to their right and looked at the small house through the passenger side window – such as viewing at a photograph since the car door made it seem like a frame.
“I’m sorry. I just…” as the car cuts off. “I don’t know how to put it. I don’t suppose…” Gertrine looked at Geenie with those sunglasses of hers – just enough light passed through to make out her eyes. Your mother must not have told you what happened. To Colin”
“No. I didn’t know-”
“It’s ok,” she says to cut off Geenie. “Colin… Colin was killed.”
Geenie didn’t let her full scope of emotion take hold. Part of it was from the fact she was already numb to the news from last night, and also for being afraid of what Colin’s mother would react if she had full-out grief displayed in front of her. Instead, she shook her head slowly and listened on.
“It was some men. They might just have been kids, from what the neighbors might have saw. They broke into his home and went looking for valuables. Somehow he woke up or something…”
Her mouth and posture was enough to know her feelings.
“You don’t have to go into it.”
“I know, sweetheart. But I have to. You know?”
They both silently nodded to each other.
“He woke up and- The police said he tried to fight them back but it wasn’t enough. They said he was defending himself but they just didn’t stop.”
“I’m sorry Gertrine. He meant a lot to me too.”
“And I can’t even bury him. They said they have to examine an all of that. All of those science terms. I hope they catch whoever- I can’t believe it.”
Gertrine wants to interject but feels helpless.
“Well… It must be tough to explain but. Well you have always been accepting. We don’t practice like the Orthodox or so much but…” Gertrine searches for the words, and gives up. Don’t worry. Ok, Gigi? The police took everything they needed to investigate and all of that. And neighbors, more mine than his but both, they were able to tidy whatever up so it should just look like it might usually. Probably better, knowing Colin’s cleaning.”
They laugh at the nuggets of truth.
“So we’ll go in and what? Take a look. Get what I came for. And if there was something you wanted or yours, please. Anything. Ok, Gigi?”
Geenie musters a half smile.
“Oh you hate to be called that don’t you?”
“I don’t. It’s fine, Mrs. Rust.”
“I know. Just checking.”
Gertrine smiles with a, “Come on. Up up.” They exit the car and walk towards the house with a slight trepidation.