I almost want to laugh. Almost. “Mom, I’m the one who gave Mitchell his first joint. Not the other way around.”
“You’re so funny, trying to make jokes during a time like this.” She sighs. “When are you coming home?”
“When do you want me to come home?”
“Tonight? Get on pudgy Mitchell Landers’s jet and come right home, Caden. Come to Miami. I’m tired of you living in the city. That place is awful. I need your help. I’m getting phone calls from the insurance company and I don’t know what to tell them. You’d know what to say.”
Hello, real life, you’ve just come pounding hard on my front door. “I can’t come home tonight. Mitchell’s not leaving London until early next week.” Thank Christ. We’ve both been in agreement about extending our stay here in England. But that leaves me only a few days with Rose before I have to return.
And that’s not enough time.
“Oh, poo. Come home now. Book a flight, then.”
“You can wait a few more days, right?”
“I suppose,” she says sullenly.
“Besides, a last minute flight costs big money and I don’t want to waste a dime. Not after your car accident. God knows what else you’re going to be billed for,” I say, exasperated with her, with my entire life. “I bet the city is going to make you pay for that busted hydrant.”
“I’ll fight it. That’s the most ridiculous thing ever. I can’t help it if they place their hydrants in ridiculous places where any car could come along and destroy one.”
I’m not even touching that statement. “Listen, I’ll come home in a few days, okay? In the meanwhile, direct all calls from the insurance company or anyone else to me, got it?”
“They won’t talk to you, Caden. They want to talk to me. I’m the one who caused the accident,” she points out.
“I’m trying to help you, Mom. Okay? So give them my number. At the very least, stop answering the damn phone unless it’s me.”
“And how am I supposed to know if it’s you calling?” she asks, sounding well and truly puzzled. She’s older than most of my friends’ moms, close to seventy, since she and my father had me late in life. I was one of those cherished babies after they tried so hard for so many years to become pregnant. The prized baby boy, the son they indulged and spoiled, turning me into an utter brat. Until I had to straighten up and become a man when I was only a teen after my father jumped off a building and ended it.
“You have caller ID, Mom. Remember?”
The conversation goes on like this for a few more minutes, me trying to calm her down, Mom trying to tell me story after story that I couldn’t give two shits about. I let her ramble on, the familiar guilt that washes over me expected. I’m all she has. She doesn’t have many friends, because all of her supposed dear friends ditched her after Dad jumped to his death and we lost most of our money. What the bank didn’t take, we sold, and I managed to somehow move Mom into a small condo in Miami once I graduated high school.
I finally end the call with Mom and immediately call Cash, tapping my foot against the floor as I wait for him to pick up. Cash isn’t his real name, because come on, life isn’t that funny, but he’s the man we all go to in order to turn our loot into cash, and so it’s a nickname he picked up ages ago. Way before my time. The old geezer is close to Mom’s age and as slick as anything you’ve ever seen. Smart, too. He’s been doing this for years and took me under his wing when I first came to him.
I owe him lots of things, but mostly my sanity.
“Caden Kingsley. Where the hell are you, son?” Cash greets me in his familiar gravelly voice.
“Still in London, old chap,” I say, making him laugh at my horrible attempt at an English accent. “Where are you?”
He travels around as much as we all do, though he’s based out of Miami most of the time. He’s checked in on Mom more than once and I appreciate that, and so does she, since she flirts with him every chance she can get. Plus, he looks like a typical lounge lizard. Slicked-back silver hair, overly tanned skin, shirt unbuttoned halfway down his chest to reveal the gold medallion as big as his fist hanging from a thick gold chain.
Yeah. Cheesy. But the man is worth a load of cash and has no problems flaunting it.
“I’m in New York, motherfucker,” he says in a tough-guy New York accent before he bursts into laughter that turns into wheezing. I let him ride it out. “I’ve missed you.”
“I saw you a month ago.”
“And it’s been three weeks too long. You’ve been coming to me so much these last few months it seems odd, not seeing your handsome mug,” Cash says.
“Yeah, well, you’ll see me soon. Gotta get home so I can take care of Mom. When are you headed back to Miami?” I tell him briefly what she did, which only makes him laugh harder. He’s always had a thing for my mom. Sometimes I wish I could hook the two of them up so they could fall madly in love and he’ll take care of her for the rest of her life, not me.
But that’ll never happen. She refuses to let anyone in after what Dad did to her. Not that I can blame her.
“You know what your mom needs?” Cash asks once I finish the story.
“To be institutionalized?” I wish. And then I immediately don’t wish, because what kind of shitty son am I? “Hell, I’m kidding. You know I am. I’m the one who should be institutionalized.”