Eugene’s Genetics – Chapter FIVE
Geenie is back in her car, tooling around the streets in an aimless fashion with her own car: contemplating in general and having no particular train of thought at the same time. Some sort of a bandwidth between complete fuzz and a radio program with all of the creepy sounds in the background. Her real radio station was classical at the moment, playing low and coming in remarkably clear.
As promised, Geenie gathered the items in an almost autonomous fashion. Grabbing what looked best out of his closet. It all went into a brown paper bag and got locked away in Gertrine’s trunk. The woman admitted a loss of time and had to get back, which freed Geenie up for doing absolutely nothing. She knew there wouldn’t be any peace in her mind from traveling around the old neighborhood she once lived in with Colin but she decided to do it anyway – ‘for old time’s sake’ as they say. The car ambled aimlessly to idle the hours of a misspent day. Then she veered away to finally head somewhere. Many long miles away.
She finally headed into more recent of stomping grounds, and drove up towards the same establishment she usually frequents after work. This time she parked well outside the parking lot due to what looked like an explosion of the traffic she usually sees. She pulled to a nearby curb and decided the walk could help her push back some of her nagging thoughts.
Inside was rather noisy and just as bustling as the outside’s full lot indicated. Service staff were navigating back and forth without paying notice to Geenie, which was all the same, since she decided to take her own walk through of the place. In an unassuming nature, she moved past the tables; silently observing as an outsider.
Each table having their own little play of life (or boredom) as Geenie looked on, just as a person who pops in late during a play. She made it to the back of the room and turned around to see all the tables in full view. Out of the corner of her eye, a female caught her eye though. She must have felt that instinctual pull of someone’s eye on her, and turned around to lock eye.
“Geenie,” she smiled and walked over while holding an empty tray. It was Coleen. She added, “I guess you might not have seen me at first huh?” Before adding, “Nobody recognized me at first.” She did seem to have an uncharacteristic smile on her face for reasons unknown. “Did you see it?” She wondered before turning around. She turned around to show of her hair. “It’s just like you were talking about…” She used her pen to swoosh back and forth while explaining, “They’re criss-cross braids. See?” With a step forward to look, Geenie laughed and agreed. Her hair was braided in a sort of French twist and the hair on her left side was braided into the right direction; and the right side was similarly done to the left side. Then end result was not just the braids but an “X” of hair made in the back of her hair due to the braids pulled in opposite directions. “I was hoping you got to see it before it all started to get pulled out,” she said with her head tilted – then turned around to face Geenie again.
“It looks great on you.”
“Really?” She asks while her glasses reflect off the overhead lights. “It felt a little silly when I first did it. And I thought I looked like that Indian girl from the Peter Pan cartoon but I just kept it to see what you’d say.”
“I like it. Maybe it’s one of those occasional looks, you know?”
Coleen takes her first good look and Geenie, and remarks. “What’s wrong? Did something happen?”
“It’s ok. You’re already having a good day.”
“Are you sure?” Coleen furrows. “Did you want to talk about something.”
“I only came here because. I wanted to get something to eat.” Before half smiling, “You know?”
“Are you sure?”
Geenie doesn’t say anything back.
“Come on. We are supposed to be pals now, right?”
“Or something,” Geenie is embarrassed to remark.
“It’s busy but a couple of our trainees are supposed to be on the way anyway. It’s covered. Come on,” as she grabs Geenie’s hand the same way if a kid was lost from the way to the restroom. “Just sit here, ok?” She adds, “I’ll be back to clean the table but just wait here.”
Geenie didn’t feel the chance to agree or break free, but she did seem to like the attention. The thought alone of Coleen straying from her normal life and having a new honorarium sort of hairdo was an interesting enough surprise of the day. She watched as Coleen disappeared back amongst the crowd. Geenie looked at the table which looked to be freshly exited by a group of people. Ordinarily the thought alone of being at a table which is now a culinary version of a graveyard is enough to make a valley girl of the eighties say ‘Grody to the max’. The last day or two have given Geenie a different effect; a more pensive one.
She counted the plates and tried to figure out who might have been at the table. She asked herself and pondered on what was the gender of the four on the table. Judging by the food at what was on the table. Geenie wondered if any of them might have lost someone recently as well. Maybe at least one of them have. At the same rate, Geenie wondered how well either of them were able to cope with it, if at all. Looking at the food also made her admit to herself she wasn’t hungry at all; so it probably really wasn’t the food which is why she decided to come inside in the first place.
She was staring and taking notice upon the refracting light of a discarded peppermint wrapper when it was snatched away. Geenie looked up to see a male who practically looked like a kid.
“Hey,” is all he could muster. Then, “Sorry,” in a tone which had no sympathy. It was obvious he was in training since it was questionable if he could even be legal to smoke. The light at the table wasn’t as bright from her vantage point, but she cared just enough to take notice of his hair. It was another variation of what teens seem to overwhelmingly wear. It was of the ‘skater’ style. It looked uncut but puffed up. It took her back to a time where Colin joked about himself wishing he lived in the younger generation, “when bed head was a respectable hairstyle.” Her mental twinge of a smile must have been enough to make the guy bussing the table a shade of self conscious.
“He smiled out an, “Excuse me,” as he reached in front of Geenie. It revealed the fact he was wearing a variation of the traditional braces. Just enough to be noticed at close range but not across, say a football field. It made Geenie wonder why most people who wore braces made a strange smiling face when they spoke.
Maybe it was the most comfortable way to talk, or it was part of some pact or ‘braces accord’ made across high school campuses in secret in years of yore. Having nothing better to do, she looked on and wondered how long it would take for him to feel uncomfortable again before finally asking, “How is it working here?”
“Oh,” he sputters. “It’s ok. I guess…” He places more into the plastic trough before adding, “It’s kind of cool I guess. But it’s pretty hard a lot.” He punctuates by wiping his forehead unconsciously. “And my boss is cool? But, she makes me work a lot too.” He gets the last of the meal and dishes off the table and begins wiping it off when Coleen pops up behind; which causes him to wipe in a more furious style. “Come on,” she says towards Geenie with a lack of emotion. Once upright, Coleen gives a slightly icy stare towards the worker.
“Don’t worry. I just love doing that sometimes,” she grins to Geenie as they enter a break room not far from the kitchen. “That guy’s a slacker anyway so it’s good to give him a little fear now and then.” Then asking, “Want a drink?”
Once sitting down, Geenie declines the offer.
“I knew it,” Coleen quietly gloats while pulling a plastic milk crate up beside the table. “There’s nothing wrong with it. You can come and talk to me whenever. I mean, I have to talk to strangers all day long and all, so it would be better if it’s someone who likes me. Though I do get paid to do that but I prefer the sentiment behind it.”
“It’s ok. What’s wrong, Geenie?”
“Well… I don’t know how to say it but… My boyfriend died.”
“That is so terrible. I’m so sorry, Geenie.”
Before she can realize it, Coleen Reaches over and hugs Geenie; which quickly turns into acceptance. Geenie hugs back but pulls back a little quicker than what might be expected.
“I didn’t even know you had a boyfriend.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t but… We dated but stopped. That kind of things,” which Geenie tries to explain deeper by flipping her hands. “We broke up but it was just by getting away from each other. I guess the good side to divorce is it’s a way to prove you aren’t married anymore. A breakup is just. Relationships are complicated.”
Coleen listens politely to the odd train of thought.
“I probably sound crazy.”
“It’s alright. Is there going to be a funeral?”
“There is but… There’s some investigation going on since-”
She can’t help it, but Coleen breaks in. “Oh my gosh. Was.. Was he the guy across town where the guys broke into his house?”
“How did you know about that?”
“Sorry, but I caught it on that really early news show. I’m usually up really early or really late, so I just watch the news. They did a report on it, but they never got back to it since there ended up being some big wreck before rush hour.” She erases some of her words with, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be telling you all of that.”
“I didn’t even know anything except what I said. When I found out I didn’t feel like asking anyone.
Much less, I didn’t even think to. Maybe only afterwards.”
“Well… I hate to say this, but I only remembered it since some stuff about the story seemed really odd.”
“I mean… I don’t wear a trenchcoat and go solve crimes at night. But usually when you hear the news stuff all kind of sounds the same like what happens.”
The door to the room opens and a thin girl in her twenties tries to get into the room. Before any success, Coleen cuts her off verbally.
“Are you supposed to be in here?”
“I was just…” The blonde with the tight pulled back ponytail decides it’s best to listen rather than speak.
“This is my first, and probably only, break today. Everyone else had a break, so all of you are supposed to be working until the rush slows off.” Looking up over her glasses to ask, “Ok?”
“Yeah. That’s cool… I guess.” She slinks out and leaves the two alone.
“You know what,” Coleen tells Geenie. “Since I said that, I better smoke something now.”
The distinct sound of metal on flint battles against the wind while Coleen tries to get more than just a spark outside. “C’mmere a sec,” she gestures over towards Geenie. Drawing her in, they make a little windbreak between the blowing strands of flyaway hair. “Much better,” she congratulates to her cigarette while fostering a healthy glow at the end.
“His mom’s going to… Well I guess they’ve been doing something over there. I forget what she called it.”
“No, I kind of remember what those are. I mean I know what those are but I think they’re after a funeral. A visit before then a wake after I think.”
“Was it a shiva?”
“Yeah. That’s the name. I always get it confused with another word for whatever reason.”
“You were with her mom today you said?”
“Yeah?” She wonders.
“That’s pretty big. Obviously she’s not Orthodox but most times the family stays home for the week. I’m guessing she must feel very highly about you to act like that.”
“We have always been close despite anything and she’s friends with my mom.”
“I’m guessing you’re going tonight then?”
“Well I was going to, at first, ask if I should. But as soon as you said that, I figured I really should.”
“I’m glad you decided to. Were you just nervous about it, or…”
Geena shrugs but admits, “I guess more of… I didn’t want to do the wrong thing or mess up.”
“Yeah. I get what you mean. But honestly, it’s always better to attend and do something wrong accidentally than not show up all.”
“Are you saying that to make me feel less worried, or do you just know a lot?”
“Well I kind of had to. I’m Jewish and my parents always drilled all of that incidental protocol and etiquette into me.”
“Really,” Geenie lets out with a sigh of relief.
“Ta da,” Coleen jokes back. She flitters her head for a moment to make her braids flail with playful emphasis. Why don’t I cut out of here without working to the bitter end, then we can meet up and attend together?”
“Do you think it will be ok? Or… You don’t have to take all your time off just to come along I mean-”
“It will be fine. Really. And a shiva was originally supposed to be for the whole community. It’s not like a wedding with a guest list.”
A door opens from out back and another girl joins in. She must be another trainee by the youthful looks, but she contrasts with the blonde earlier. The female is more on the plump side and doesn’t seem to be the type to back down so soon either. Her makeup was rather obvious and she wore shorts which made the apron around her seem like nothing was underneath the apron. Her face was maybe what people called cherubic; though round or even fat could have been more accurate descriptions. Her hair seemed rather short and was a glossy black. It was actually a series of haphazard waves which jutted out all around. Dealing with her on a daily basis would give one the impression she usually has to remove her tiara before coming to work. Each time she tries to speak, she draws in a breath; and fully exhales instead of punctuation. If she was in elementary school still, her classmates could describe her speaking as a tattletale voice.
“Are you still out here?”
Coleen takes the nub of a cigarette out of her mouth and tosses it aside casually.
“Not for much longer.”
With eyes darting between Geenie and Coleen, “We have all been working really hard in there.”
“I’ll be back in to finish my shift.”
The server in training wags her little black rectangle which looks like what many high end restaurants hide their bills inside. And tries to search for her next words. Upon taking another breath, Coleen breaks in.
“Let me see your pen.”
She hands it over.
“Do you have a card in there?”
The trainee opens the black item which is actually to help the servers stay organized. She pull out a telltale-sized business card and hands it to Coleen, who tries adding something to the back of the card by cupping her hand to cradle the card.
“Why not hand me your book a moment since you’re there,” Coleen asks in a droning monotone.
The trainee hands the black item and inhales deeply through her nose; grinding an axe for no particular reason than some of the usual cattyness between some females. Coleen jots something down and hands everything back to the plump girl with wiry hair, who also happens to remain unmoving.
“I’ll follow you back in,” Coleen lets the female know. The rumored former teen princess quietly gallumps back inside in retreat. Coleen puts her attention back towards Geenie and hands her the card.
“I have my cell phone on here. You can give me a call in a little bit and leave an address.”
Geenie takes it into her pocket and thanks Coleen.
“Just think about wearing something between casual and church. Nothing really fancy but also not funeral clothes you see in a movie.” She adds, “Ok?” With an odd smile on her face. Maybe it was trying to comfort Geenie, or it was only odd since it was a break from her norm.