“Get in the damn car.” Neither the mother’s use of profanity nor the fact that the wagon’s front end had come to a rapid stop in the middle of the sidewalk peaked Alma’s curiosity about the proffered ride. Far from the case. However, just as she was mid pivot toward the back alley – back yard route, she saw April in the back seat painting her toenails.
“Where are we going? And if you get that stuff on me I will light you on fire, April.” Alma asked and threatened while opening the front passenger door.
“Shut the door. Shut your mouth. And count my money.” The mother tossed her purse in Alma’s lap taking some amusement in the slackness of her sweet smart alec’s jaw.
“I want to hear numbers! Big numbers!” April shouted as the wagon sped off toward their home. Ignoring April, Alma stayed quiet and dug through the mother’s wallet looking behind every picture for hidden twenty dollar bills. She’d found four by the time they pulled in the driveway.
“Get in the damn car, Alice.” The mother’s second use of the phrase had less of a trying-to-scare- the-pee-out-of-you tone to it, and Alma chuckled a little to see Alice’s terrified expression.
“Now! You tighter than tight, stingy piece of perfect princess prickly ass b…”
“Do not make me take off my shoe.” The mother stopped April’s tirade with the only threat she was ever known to make good on: The back seat shoe stinger. The mother’s near perfect aim and the unreasonable amount of speed she could get on a shoe toss at close range was legendary. April became silent and went back to painting her toes.
Alice quietly got into the back seat sitting as far away from her sisters as possible. “Doesn’t this wagon have a trundle seat thingy in the back? Can’t April sit back there? She has wet nail polish out!” Alice whined through the sound of the car kicking up gravel.
“Okay, we’re at two hundred bucks in hidden twenties.” Alma finally broke the monotony of the road noise on the westbound highway. “Look in the zipper pocket inside the purse and then look in the gold lipstick tubes that I know each of you has on you right now. And then check behind the dog’s picture.”
“Seriously, Max gets a c-note and we all get twenties. So bs.” Alma noted finding a hundred dollar bill behind the picture of their deceased family pet, and all three girls shifted around in their seats to find their lipstick funds. Alice passed her tube to Alma politely but April threw hers at the back of Alma’s head. “Fire. I will light you on fire, April.” Alma growled gathering the tubes in her lap.
“Do not test her further, infidel.” Alice chimed in and there came so pregnant a silence in response to Alice’s being the unlikely first to find a sense of humor that when April laughed, snot flew from her nose onto a drying toenail.
“We are going to the beach. We’re going to have a great time and when we get home you are going to tell the father how great the beach was and how much we all love each other. In detail.” The mother said this as she took the off ramp that did not lead to any beach access roads. The laughing became louder.
“I can completely understand why you only have ten dollars in your fund, April. Those whiles and all, but what I cannot understand is why you, Alice, would only have a fiver! You know better than that.” Alma shouted back to her sisters over the sound of the engine.
“And yours?” The mother asked.
“Oh she got seventy six in there. It’s tighter’n she is. There’s a few i.o.u’s too. And one’s from .” April stopped mid sentence realizing she’d given herself away.
“I HAD a full hundred in here, skank thief.” Alma sighed.
“Why would she steal a skank?” Alice asked.
“So she wouldn’t be lonely.” The mother added the punchline and April was too pleased at the mother’s change in demeanor to be upset that the low blow, strictly reserved for the inner circle, had been delivered by one she considered far too old to be cool.
“We have a little under four fifty in total. Now where are we going and should I remind you that I have memorized not only the police, fire and news tip lines for the two county area, but that I am also on a first name basis with the main secretary at children’s services?” Alma in a sudden fit of calm said to the wind shield, refusing to be intimidated by the new changed and revved-up mother.
“Frieda! I love Frieda! We were having a smoke at the foot ball game last week and … shit. Hey, can we call some kind of stand still on punishments on this beach trip cause if not, I can’t tell you like three quarters of the shit. Shit. Can we swear too? I need some negotiating room here.”
“I got six traffic laws and one giant lie to the father in my pocket. What about you Alice?” Alma began the negotiations with a full on three daughter press. “I have two empty bottles of Riunite Lambrusco shoved in the outside trash at 3 AM last weekend,” Alice sang forward into her mother’s ear.
“Yes, Alice, and the effects of that wine have not worn off, nor are they likely to in the event that this beach trip is outed.” The mother countered.
“What? Are you still drunk?!” Alice screamed and April punched her. “No. She’s saying that the father got his good’n plenty going due to her being all buzzy like a bee back then. Or is it a bird? Are girls the birds and guys the bees? Is that why I heard an England guy saying “bird” to a woman on the channel that shows boobs?”
“I have no idea what you are talking about. Who the hell is this Frieda?” The mother asked all of her daughters.
Road noise being the only reply, mother made out her accord carefully. “Fine. You will all be given immunity from prosecution for the duration of this trip except in instances where life or limb could be at stake.”
“Aw shit then. I still can’t talk and I know for a fact Alma can’t.” April said.
“That is most certainly true. Alma is classified as a potential event crises by police in town.” Alice added.
“And your Bill’s violent protection has not escaped their interest either, Alice. He can get pretty raw if someone messes with you.” Alma noted.
“Yeah, we’re all pretty set on the trigger, so you going to have to come up with better than some life and or limb bullshit.” April concluded displaying both palms punctuate their collective bottom line.
“So I am to assume that the only way we will be able to have a discussion is to wholly abdicate my role as your mother?” The mother asked.
Alice, primly, Alma gruffly and April full on head waggy nodded the affirmative.
“Hot damn. Buckle in bitches. We’re going to Disneyland!” The mother hollered as she pressed the accelerator.
April leaned over to ask Alice, “Isn’t Disneyland like a gabillion miles away?” Alice rolled up her window and patted her hair into place, “I’m going to go with metaphor on this one.” Both girls looked to Alma who, though there was no possibility she could have heard the conversation over the revving engine, shouted, “Yep! Metaphor!”