It was a drink-on-the-job job. Gordo’s. My Uncle C’s hamburger stand down on Shilshole Bay. Summer 1989. Everything smelling like Coppertone and grease. Everything retreating across the wide bell of sky.
This was a few months after Mom and I moved in with Uncle C, the year Dad left.
Billy was the one who’d come by Gordo’s afternoons with bourbon and lemonade.
It was the summer I turned nineteen, and Billy was my older sister’s boyfriend. Or, I guess he was both our boyfriends. He’d see her up at Western on weekends, and me the rest of the time.
Billy was handsome in a gangly way–long and sharp, sweet despite what he did with my sister and me. And really, it was us who let him do it.
Uncle C was handsome, too, but he was a creep, even if he did pay me okay and drink with Billy and me while I sold housewives and marina dads and kids I’d gone to school with peanut-butter milkshakes and double Fat-Boys.
When Billy’d come around and hand off tall cups, Uncle C would sit on the reach-in and look at him like nice work fucking both my nieces. Then he’d look me up and down, nodding.
After Dad, Mom had pretty well lost herself, and maybe so had I. Uncle C, she said, was just trying to help us, in his own way. Mostly by letting Mom sleep in his bed. Mostly by saying sorry about his piece of shit a little brother. Mostly by cornering Billy and getting stories off him.
Mom came around some days. Sat out front in the sun, wearing cutoffs and her red bikini top.
Billy’d give her a nice tall drink. Uncle C would sit beside her and she’d lift her feet onto his lap where he’d rub her arches.
This always made her smile, which was one thing to take from all that time.
Front page image by blhphotography.