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Tuesday, June 12th, 2018, 1:00 pm
After Samuel had left Carmen, he shut off the water to the housing section. He then went from house to house alerting everybody that the water would be down for a few hours. He told them they could still use water in the command center and the school. Even though the school was west of the housing section, it had its own water and waste system. Samuel ate lunch after he spread the news.
Keith had quickly bandaged himself, cleaned himself up, changed and met Carmen at the Millers’ home. By the time he had arrived, she had changed into jeans and an old t-shirt that was already stained. For footwear, Carmen chose her beloved black boots. Michelle was at the playground with Spencer and Deidre, so they ate lunch alone. During lunch, she told Keith the plan to unclog the system. When they finished lunch, Keith went back to his home so he could change into something he did not mind ruining. Carmen cleaned up the mess from lunch before she left the house.
There was a knock at the door just as she was leaving the kitchen. She was surprised by the knock but guessed it was Samuel and he had decided to meet her there instead. She knew it was not Keith, because Keith did not need to knock. Moreover, it was too soon for Keith to be back. She imagined he was probably just getting to his room.
She grabbed a builder then opened the door to see not Samuel, but Samuel’s son Mike. As she was about to say hello, he said, “What’s the deal with you?”
Confused Carmen said politely, “What do you mean? Is something wrong?”
“Yes, everything’s wrong, and it’s all your fault. Look at you; you must be getting your kicks out of this.”
Carmen placed the builder on the step beside her. Still polite, Carmen said, “You’re not making sense.”
He held up his hands to mock her, “Oh, Mike, I’m Little Miss White-Bread Innocence, and I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Getting nowhere with the politeness she reached forward and grabbed his shirt at the neck with her right hand. She said to him in a deep controlled voice, “What are you talking about?”
He tried to step back to remove her hand, but she held him there. Growing up in orphanages had taught her how to be tough. Her intelligence made it a rare occasion she would need to resort to such primal methods.
She shook him a little then prompted him again, “What are you talking about?”
He looked into her eyes; his light brown eyes were looking darker than ever. Looking into them was like looking into fear, anger, but most of all hate. She met his stare with her soft blue eyes. In contrast to his, it was like looking at peace, like the white of her eyes was a dove.
Finally, he said, “Why did he go to you for help? Who are you to help him?”
She asked with the same inflection as before, “Who, your father?”
“No, Santa Claus,” he said spitefully, “of course, I mean my father.”
She let go of his shirt and let her hand fall back to her side. She was about to say ‘We went to him,’ but wanted to see his reaction to her saying with a softer tone, “I went to him. I hoped he could find the source of that smell.”
Now Mike was the one who looked confused. Mike let out, “So why are you helping him? It shouldn’t be you!”
There it was, just as she suspected. He was personally upset, no, jealous of her. Why, though, she needed to know why. “I’m helping him because I can. I’m helping him because it’s for the better of our community.”
“More like it’s for the better of you,” he said contemptuously pointing at her face for emphasis.
She said quickly with a planned shout, “Why shouldn’t I help him?”
“Because you’re just a girl.”
She startled him with a swift slap of his cheek. A red mark appeared on his cheek. It was so detailed that you could see where her fingers had landed.
“Mike Lyles, you should be ashamed of yourself. Saying a sexist thing like that. You dishonor your wife, you dishonor your parents, and you dishonor the years of oppression your ancestors suffered through to get your ungrateful sorry ass here.”
He seemed to stumble thinking of a reply. The best he could come up with was, “Screw you. My father dishonors himself.”
Just as the first mark began to lighten she added one to his other check. He looked up at her for an explanation.
“Your father has earned the respect of this community and is a model of honesty. You’d learn a lot from him if you stopped feeling sorry for yourself and listened to him.”
As he thought of a response, Carmen looked towards the Hunt home and yelled out, “Hi, Keith.”
Mike turned to see Keith walking towards them. When Keith arrived, Carmen picked up the builder and said, “We were just talking about the plumbing crisis. Mike offered to help, but we’re not going to have room in there for more people.”
Keith said to Mike, “You lucky bastard.”
Mike just grinned in reply.
Carmen said, “Well, we’d better get going. Those pipes won’t unclog themselves. Thanks again for stopping by, Mike.”
“Later, Mike,” said Keith.
Copyright (C) 1998-2001 East Coast Games, Inc. and 2001 - 2006 Forest J. Handford