May 12, 2008

Excited Delirium Book: Chapter 14 (Mr. Kite’s Love Life)

By liam

Author’s Note: The following is Chapter 14 of the my online book “Excited Delirium”. Please post comments. Please tell your friends about this story. If you’ve missed a chapter, please click here for Chapter 1 (Prelude) or here for the full index.

Kite had an odd sense of humour. Once, when he was in a long love relationship – assuming you call three months ‘long’ – he and his girlfriend visited her parents for dinner.

Her parent’s house was Norman Rockwell meets John Hughes: a big old white Georgian home leaning back on the lawn the way a crocodile sits back from the Nile waiting for errant hippos to come in for the kill. The garage sat to the right and looked like a big white clown with three big glaring teeth wearing a coal black hat, already satisfied because it had eaten three SUVs earlier that afternoon.

As they went inside, the big sweeping set of stairs brought visitors to the separate bedrooms of the inhabitants, but Kite would never see what actually lay up there. For all he knew, there was an enormous lab with slabs of stone and partially mended bodies waiting for the next thunder storm.

Kite admired the old chocolate oak wanescotting that lined the entire main floor. He also noticed that every room had a fireplace, each hooked up to a natural gas line and sat burning because the owners had no better way to spend their money.

He was invited by his girlfriend’s father to sit in the library or study for a “pick me up”. He wasn’t feeling particularly blue, but felt obliged to kill a few minutes while his girlfriend obediently went into the kitchen with her mother. He made a mental note to tease her about how compliant she was with her parents.

As Kite settled into a high back leather chair, his girlfriend’s father mixed a couple of vodka and soda cocktails, without asking Kite if he actually had a preference.

“Tell me what you do,” her father asked bluntly as he turned around with two glasses in his hands. He’d experienced better screening tactics with desperate cougars at pick up bars.

Kite took one of the glasses, which was already chilled from the ice that was probably chipped off a glacier and flown here for this special occasion.

What he wanted to say: “I make child pornography in my spare time and make an enormous amount of money doing so. This gives me lots of time to follow my first love, which is hunting rare and nearly extinct birds with slingshots.”

“I work in the IT field,” was what came out.

“Don’t understand a damn thing about it. Nor do I want to,” was the terse response from his girlfriend’s father as he settled into his own chair.

At that moment, Kite decided to think of his girlfriend’s father as Mr. Thorne, which is the name he always used for someone that could only be second to Satan himself.

“Uh … well, sorry to hear that. Did a computer run over your cat or something?”

“Ha. Very funny. Back in my day, me and my buddies studied business. Accounting. Finance. Economics. Real topics. We didn’t waste any time sitting in front of TVs.”

“I’m sure you spent lots of time in preposterous homosexual initiation rituals as well,” thought Kite, but again, he bit his tongue.

“I understand, SIR,” he said, emphasizing the “sir”.

“So do you make a lot of money doing what you’re doing?” he was asked.

At least Mr. Thorne was past the higher and mightier than thou attitude and was showing a marginal interest in Kite’s activities. If this man ever knew that Kite knew that Thorne was a major crook, siphoning funds from his company like gas goes through an Escalade, Thorne would kick the crap out of him as opposed to asking awkward and personal questions about his financial affairs.

“I make a few bucks. I’ve recently started my own operation. I live by the expression that ‘you either make money for someone or you make it from someone’.”

“Who said that originally? Was it Ben Franklin? Or maybe Peter Drucker?”

“As far as I know SIR, it was me that said it.”

“Well, glad to hear that you’re an enterprising sort. But is your business stable?”

These were all probing questions, Kite realized, that would ultimately fashion Thorne’s opinion of Kite and create a verdict in his mind as to whether or not Kite was worthy enough to date his daughter.

“Absolutely,” he answered enthusiastically. “I make millions a year ripping off companies just like yours.” Internal voice again.

“IT issues are becoming more and more complicated and every company on the planet has them, so I don’t see the business evaporating any time soon.” External voice.

“Good. Good answer. Let’s go to the dining room and see what our women have whipped up for us.”

“Sure,” Kite said. “Let’s see what our wimyn made for us big bad men, shall we,” he mumbled in a pirate like voice.

“What’s that?” Thorne asked with his back to him, as he opened the swinging door between the two rooms.

“Nothing sir … just saying I can’t wait to see what’s for dinner.”

They all sat in the dining room, which was crowded with antique sideboards and hutches that matched the trim. Thorne sat at the head of the table, his wife at the other end, Kite on Thorne’s right (and furthest from the door, Kite noticed), with his daughter on Thorne’s left, and Kite observed again, closest to the kitchen door just in case she had to run to get something in a hurry. Like a refill for her daddy.

They all sat down and proceeded to dismantle the carefully arranged napkins and cutlery. In front of them lay a small feast: a beautifully glazed roasted chicken already partially cut open and organized so that no one had to pick it up and pull it apart, mashed potatoes cut into bite-sized bullet shapes, a deep well of gravy, a couple of bottles of wine (red and white), and a tray that had an assortment of other vegetables.

As Kite licked his lips – it was rare that he had much more than a mega-sub sandwich that was consumed over breakfast, lunch and dinner – Thorne interrupted and told him to say grace.

Kite paused. He was horrified that someone would ask him to say something personal about something that he had no interest in (religion) and enunciate it within such an intimate surrounding.

He did the best he could. He continued to wait, trying to think of the best words he could find and, after a few more painful moments, he remembered this short grace*:

God is gracious, God is good

Let us thank God for our fudd

The second he got to ‘fudd’, the awkward mispronunciation of ‘food’, he could feel the group around him was watching him. Closely. Wondering what the hell they had let into their home and who exactly it was that was dating their precious daughter. Of course, he didn’t have to look up. He could feel the change in atmosphere come over the room like a chinook wind blows through Calgary. A frigid winter day was dropped right into the middle of summer.

When he lifted his head, eyes from around the table burned into him like white-hot cinders melt through foam. He recoiled as far as his neatly tucked in chair would allow him, bouncing off a sideboard while he did so and slowly looked around at his audience.

“Don’t let the bastards get you down?” he said questioningly, hoping to recover from what was obviously an egregious error.

“Young man,” his girlfriend’s father started. He looked down, pressed the table and shoved his chair out with his bum. “That’s the worse grace I’ve heard in my lifetime. I find it hard to respect someone that could care less about the traditions and thanks for our Lord.” He continued, “I think it’s time we parted company.”

“You’ve got to be kidding! Right?” Kite said as the irate father marched towards him. “It was just a joke. I know lots of graces.”

His now-ex girlfriend wasn’t looking at Kite at all, but seemed to be counting the number of peas on her plate.

“In this family, we take the smallest ceremony very serious and when others don’t, it tells us that they don’t take other things seriously, like the affection of our daughter.”

“OK. Thanks for the cocktails, though. I love Grey Goose, but I’m also OK with the moonshine that you trickled into my glass.” Kite always had to have the parting shot. He didn’t have anything to collect, as it was the middle of summer and walked out the door thinking that he would take a cut of Thorne’s ill-gotten gains tomorrow as another parting shot. Of course, it would be too obvious and decided that he would be happiest being single for just a little while longer.

(Note: “Excited Delirium” is a work of fiction. Any person, place or thing depicted in this work of fiction is also a work of fiction. Any relation of these subjects or characters to real locations, people or things are an unintentional coincidence.)

Read more with Chapter 15

Did you miss a chapter? If so, click here to see all chapters or click here to go to Excited Delirium: Chapter 1 (Prelude)

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Excited Delirium by Liam Young is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Canada License.
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