Rafter Fiction is short stories based on songs by Rafter. I am starting the series with the songs from his newest album, “Terrestrial Extras”. This is the fifth song, “Stay Out of the Sun.” Buy the album here
I had to be creative to find something to eat for breakfast and had to settle for a heel from the last of the bread and the last scrapes of butter. The toaster had not been working for a while so it was not even toasted, but butter bread was the only choice. I sat in silence and slowly chewed each bite, trying to make it last. This was the last thing in the house to eat besides butter and mustard and milk that expired much too long ago for me to even do a whiff test. I thought about opening the blinds, to see if the sun was too bright. I was able to crack them just a little bit before I saw too much and shut them again.
I did the only thing to do. I called my mom. She did not answer on the first or second or third ring. I imagined her staring at the phone, my number lit up and her hesitating to answer. Finally her voice, a little soft, a little irritated. “Hello.”
“David. I was wondering when you were going to call.”
“Let me guess. You’re out of food, and you want me to bring you some.”
“I have money.”
“I know. Why don’t you get one of those delivery services to bring you groceries again?”
“We’ve been through this.”
“Yeah.” A few years ago, when I did trust the delivery services, my house was broken into the night after the groceries was delivered. It was not coincidence that the people who broke into my house were the same type of young white kids with hip haircuts and skinny jeans that deliver groceries. I was convinced one of the kids I chased out the back door with a baseball bat was the same kid that delivered my eggs and milk earlier that day. From then on, I really could not trust anybody, especially the delivery service who told me the person who delivered my groceries that day was female. I told them they were wrong, that it couldn’t have been a female that broke into my house, and they all but hung up on me. I was still convinced that it was a guy that delivered the food, but then again, the more that I think about it, the hazier it became. My mom says, “You can try to get a different service.”
“You know they all work together. I’m sure they would come back and see that I’m still here by myself, still a target. I can’t risk it. Besides. You know exactly what I like.”
“Yeah. But I have my book club meeting today at five. It will have to be after that.”
“I don’t have anything at all to eat. Can’t you come before the meeting?”
“David,” my mom said with a sigh, and that was the only answer she gave me.
After verifying the things I needed, we hung up, and I sat at my computer to do some programming work. My boss understood that I worked better at home and had no problem only communicating through email and Skype. I did tell her that I didn’t leave the house much, and she thought this was acceptable as long as I did good work. I did not tell her that after she agreed to let me strictly work from home, I had not left the house in three years.
I mean what was the point? Outside was horrific. There was not a day that went by without someone getting shot. There was not a single day when the news showed some garbage that happened that that reassures me to stay. Being away from people was the best prospect. I had everything that I needed here, and I was content.
I worked for a few hours, and I watched a movie. It was 3 o’clock before my mom called. My stomach was growling. “Hello.”
“I’m at the store now. Is there anything else you need?”
“I haven’t bought soap in while.”
I tried to remember the last time I showered two days in a row. “I guess I can use some.”
“I’ll be there in about a half hour.”
This time between her telling me she was coming and her actual arrival was the most anxious part of my life. This was why I always let all of my food run out before I called her. What if something happened to her between the grocery store and my house? What if she was in a wreck or was jumped by a gang of street urchins? What if she decided that this time she was not going to help me and was saying that she was coming but was actually was still at her house, reading a book and laughing at her helpless son? I pulled the blinds back in the living room and sat on the couch as much as I could. I tried to focus on the television, but this was not possible. I could not stop running scenarios through my head, ways that she was not going to be able to get me food. Finally by the time she pulled into the drive, I was a ball of anxiety, waiting for her at the window.
My mom came up the front walk with ten or eleven bags on her arms. I cracked open the door while she stepped on the front porch. I reached my hands out and she transferred the bags to me. “Want me to come in?” she asked.
I felt so much relief. “That’s okay.”
“You really need to get your yard mowed.”
“I know. I’ll call that guy.”
“Can I come in?”
“No,” I said. “Not right now.” She looked disappointed in me. “Thank you though.”
“Okay,” she said. She turned around and started walking down the front steps.
I said, “Be careful out there.” She said something in return, but I did not hear it because I was already closing the door.