Saturday, April 17, 2010
Whenever Charlie’s here, I’m anxious to steal Emma upstairs so we can be by ourselves. But she’s obviously eager to please Charlie and enjoy the farewell dinner he’s made. When she moves, her dress shimmers and she seems like a mirage.
We sit and sip our drinks and pass around bowls of olives and crackers smeared with bright sauces. Charlie says, “Just a minute,” and returns with grilled mushrooms.
Emma squeezes my leg under the table. “Isn’t Charlie an amazing cook? Just for us?”
“Yeah. Charlie, you’re an amazing cook.”
Emma bites into a cracker smeared with orange stuff. “Mmm, yummy,” she says. “Let me guess. Baby carrot, coriander, cinnamon…salt and pepper, and, um, the littlest bit of mango juice.”
(click here to read the first episode and here for the previous one)
Charlie winks, “Right on,” and passes a plate with avocado, sweet onion, cilantro, and lime juice.
Emma reaches for a bread stick and her arm brushes mine. I stand up to get a bottle of water.
“How long did this take you?” Emma asks Charlie, waving her bread stick.
I hold up the bottled water. “Anyone else?”
But Emma and Charlie are laughing about something else, although Emma at least looks up and shakes her head. “No thanks.”
The god-damned feast lasts hours. Little salads, sauteed prawns, Spanish rice. Charlie opens a bottle of chardonnay he got from Trixie who owns the restaurant next to the airport. Talbot 2008. But I’m not interested in any more wine.
Charlie keeps talking about the band we’ll put together in Chicago, and I keep saying, “You gotta count me out.”
“He won’t play anything he didn’t write,” Charlie tells Emma. “It’s gotta be a hundred percent Scott’s genius or forget it.”
“I’m just sick the same old shit, that’s all.”
“Hey, we’ll play whatever you say, Scott.” Charlie’s chair scrapes back and he brings in ginger custard. “And you’ll be our singer, right, Emma?”
“Sure,” she says.
“What do you care if I’m your half-assed band or not, Charlie?”
He pours coffee. “Because we’re brothers and we make good music together.”
“But we’re not brothers, Charlie. And if we were, brothers grow up and live their own lives.”
“If you don’t want to perform, fine. But why not play with me in a studio and see what happens?”
“How many times do I have to say, no, Charlie?”
Emma carries her several bowls into the kitchen. “We’re celebrating. Why don’t you guys talk business later?”
Charlie’s sniffing some beige power off his hand. “Later? Honey, let me tell you about later.” He throws his head back and pinches his nostrils. “Later, Emma, you won’t exist. You’re Scott’s super-deluxe baby now but he’ll trade you in…’’
I pop up and slam my fist into his face. In fact, I hit many him times and Emma’s screaming. I turn to her, “Don’t listen to him. He’s rabid.”
“Well, he’s gone now,” she says. I look behind me and it’s true. She sinks into a chair. “You know, Scott, he didn’t say anything I haven’t heard before. Like, from everyone.”
It takes me awhile to calm down, but the truth is she’s not especially angry. So after I prove how wrong Charlie’s accusations are, after the sex I wanted so much, we lie in bed and count stars.
But after awhile, Emma says, “Promise me you’ll make up with him. ’Cause if you can’t forgive him, Scott, I’ll never forgive you.”
(click here for the next episode)