Authors: Annie Jocoby
Books by Annie Jocoby
End of Illusions
is a spinoff of the above novels, which are all available on Amazon at the links above.
Copyright © 2014 Annie Jocoby
Published by Annie Jocoby
All rights reserved
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the above author of this book. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.
“Scotty Marie!” the woman cried in the bar where I worked. She was dressed in a slovenly fashion, her tie-dyed A-Shirt barely covering her 280 lb girth. She was evidently on her 800
vodka tonic of the evening, for her words were slurred and she was swaying. She leaned on the bar, apparently trying to stop herself from falling. “Scotty Marie, I’m talking to you! Don’t ignore me!!!”
Lane, the other bartender on duty that night, gave me a sympathetic look, and motioned to the irate woman. “You better tend to her. You know that she won’t leave on her own.”
I sighed. It was happening more and more frequently these days.
“Mom,” I said to the woman. “You have to leave. I’m working here.”
“You have to come home. I can’t handle Aaron on my own.”
I rolled my eyes. Aaron was my 2-year-old brother. I was 23-years-old and my mother was 38, and had gotten knocked up by yet another of her one-night stands. She probably never even got this particular trick’s name.
“Mother, I have to work.” I wanted to tell her that she made her bed, she better lie in it, but there was not going to be any reasoning with her right this very minute. Her eyes were blood-shot, and she reeked, absolutely reeked, of Popov Vodka. Since she drank so much of the stuff, she had to buy the very cheapest there was. Personally, I felt that this particular brand was how I always imagined rubbing alcohol to taste, but it was like water to her by now.
Lane leaned over to me. “Scotty, uh, your mother is here. Where is your brother right now?”
I felt immediately embarrassed. I couldn’t very well tell him that Aaron was probably unattended, right that very minute. Because that would certainly make me look bad for not calling the authorities and getting Aaron taken away from mom. How could I tell him that I was terrified that I would get custody of the kid? Not that I didn’t love him, but I was busy all the time, between going to school and working here, and if I got custody of Aaron, that would be the very end of my dreams for myself. And god knew, I didn’t have the resources to care for him.
Of course, Aaron probably would be better off in foster care, then with my mother. Theoretically. However, having been in foster
homes, periodically, throughout my childhood, I knew that it was pretty much hit or miss. Sometimes literally hit or miss, because some of those homes involved me missing getting hit only because I ducked. If that makes any sense at all. Other times, I didn’t duck fast enough, and, sure enough, I got hit.
Not to mention the home where I wasn’t hit, but was hit on, despite the fact that I was only 13 at the time. And that pervert was a well-respected Wall Street trader.
So, Aaron was pretty much stuck between Scylla and Charybdis right at that moment.
Lane was looking at me. “You gotta go home,” he said, having surmised from my silence the situation. “Your two-year-old brother can’t be home alone.”
I looked at my bleary-eyed mother desperately. No way could I afford to leave. I needed this shift. My checking account was on the verge of becoming overdrawn as it was. I had written some checks that were going to bounce unless I put the money from my shift into my account ASAP. And, unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the first time. Three checks bouncing, $35 over-draft charges apiece, and, suddenly, I wouldn’t be able to make rent.
Living on the edge meant that any minor blip meant that I would become homeless again. And going home to watch Aaron, instead of working the bar on a busy Saturday night, would be one of those blips. I didn’t work at the most popular bar in New York City, but I could still count on at least $400 in tips on a Saturday night, and, without that $400, the little rock would become an avalanche. I had a roommate, Jack, but he was pretty much in the same boat as me, and wouldn’t be able to spot me when I’m short.
Then I heard a familiar voice. “Ms. James,” the voice addressed me. I turned around, startled, then saw who was calling to me. It was Professor O’Hara, the adjunct instructor in two of my architectural design courses at Columbia. He wasn’t a full-time professor – I think he just taught a couple of courses. His full-time job was as the newest senior partner of the largest architectural firm in town. I understood that he was new to the city, having come from a large firm in the Midwest somewhere. St. Louis maybe? At any rate, I think that he lived in Missouri somewhere prior to coming to New York.
My heart quickened. I had a mad, mad, mad crush on this guy, as did virtually everybody else I knew. He was, for lack of a better word, beautiful. And it helped that he was young and hip. Not for
him a suit and tie – he taught our classes in casual jeans and button-downs, and he always looked just a little bit like an English rocker. Or a male model. Certainly not a stuffy professor type. And I knew his work, and admired his cutting-edge sensibilities with the buildings that he designs. They were very signature, and his name was associated with many major projects around the world. Plus, from what I understood, he got his Bachelor’s at Harvard, and his PhD at Oxford, so his educational credentials were more than intimidating in and of itself.
“Uh, hi, Professor O’Hara,” I said. “What can I get you?” I peeked with a side-eye to my mother, who was still leaning on the bar, looking like she was about to hurl or hit me. I had no idea which was going to happen, as each of these events had always been so frequent in my life. She narrowed her eyes, and looked to launch into another tirade. I felt like sinking into the floor in embarrassment and shame that my gorgeous professor was going to be privy to my dysfunctional life.
He motioned me closer, and whispered in my ear. “You need some help?”
I felt myself blushing. “What do you mean?”
“I couldn’t help but overhear. It sounds like there is a bit of a quandary you’re in tonight.”
“Oh, that,” I said, waving my hand towards my mother in a dismissive way. “That’s uh-“
“A big deal. You have a two-year-old that’s unattended in your mother’s house?”
I felt a bit stunned. I didn’t even realize that he was in the bar, let alone that he heard all of what was going on. “Well, yes, uh-“
At that, he was on his phone. “What’s your mother’s address?””
I hesitantly gave him the address.
He nodded. “Charisse,” he said. “I’ve got a situation. You free to sit tonight?” He paused for a bit, then looked at me and nodded his head. Then he gave her the address. Then, addressing me, after he got off the phone he said “I’ve got it covered.”
I shook my head. “How is she going to get in the place? I’m pretty sure it’s locked up tight.”
“You got keys?” he asked.
At that, I dug in my purse, which was beneath the bar. I handed him the keys to my mother’s house. “Here,” I said. “Uh, I’ll pay you-“
He shook his head, and took the keys. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll be back with these keys within the hour.”
And, just like that, he was gone.
I was shaking now, with humiliation and rage at my mother. More people were streaming in the door, and crowds of people were starting to form around the bar. In the middle of it all, stood my incoherent mother. She now had her head on the bar, and looked close to passing out. What was I going to do with her?
As if in answer, a man came into the bar, and put his arm around her. “You need to come with me,” he said.
I looked at him. “Who are you?”
“I’m Mr. O’Hara’s driver,” he said. “He asked me to come in here and give your mother a ride home.”
I looked at my mom, hoping against hope that she wasn’t going to make a scene and protest. But she was past that by then. She had gone past her loud and screaming stage and into her incoherent stage, so she docilely let him lead her out of the bar.
I shook my head, but didn’t have a second to contemplate what just happened, because the bar was now full of people, and I had to start rolling. People were already shouting, and waving their glasses in the air. I felt shaken, but I trudged on, then addressed Lane while the two of us were passing one another to get various glasses and liquors.
“Sorry about that, Lane,” I said. “That won’t happen again,” I said, as I opened up a carton of cream and poured it into a glass with some vodka and Kahlua for a customer’s White Russian.
“Sure,” he said, scooping some ice into a glass and pouring rum and coke into it. “Let’s hope not. Your mother is a piece of work.”
“Ya think?” Then I turned to another customer and pointed to him. He shouted “Tanqueray and tonic,” and pointed to his glass. I grabbed the Tanqueray and poured it with some tonic, and shot it over to him.
This continued as more and more people rushed in. In the back of my mind, I was really looking forward to seeing Professor O’Hara again, then shook my head.
Hot for the teacher? Aren’t you just a little bit old for that?
Actually, I never liked that particular song. A better song for the situation would be The Police’s
Don’t Stand So Close to Me.
I started singing softly to myself while I poured another drink - “young teacher, the subject of schoolgirl fantasies…” - then smiled.
I caught my breath about an hour later, when I spotted him again. Then I felt my spirits fall upon seeing that he wasn’t alone. He had on his arm a runway model that I recognized from Fashion Week last year, and her face was also plastered on advertisements all over the city and in every magazine you could think of. The woman was at least six feet tall, so only a couple inches shorter than Professor O’Hara, yet she couldn’t weigh more than 130 lbs. With a short blonde bob, cheekbones that could cut glass, enormous blue eyes, legs that a colt would admire, and an impressive rack, she had the kind of physical perfection that was truly wondrous to behold in real life. I bit my lip, knowing that this would be the kind of woman that a guy like Professor O’Hara would date.
I immediately felt embarrassed for fantasizing about him.
He finally was able to make his way to the bar, his arm still around his supermodel. “Your mother and brother are okay,” he said. “Your mother is passed out on her couch, and I called a nanny I know to watch your little brother.”
I nodded. “Thanks,” I said, then shot a look over to a guy who was frantically waving his glass in the air. “I owe you.”
Professor O’Hara just shook his head, then disappeared back into the crowd.
I took a deep breath, and continued my work.
I didn’t see Professor O’Hara for the rest of the night, much as I wanted to. I scanned the crowd several times, but it seemed that he had completely left.
It’s just as well. Like he would ever look at somebody like you. Drunk-ass mother, and you’re a broke student. To say that he is out of your league is way overstating the matter.
Of course, I was working on my master’s in architecture, so that was something. I was proud of myself for this, as I never got even a modicum support from anybody in my life, with the exception of Jack, my roommate. At one point, I was living in an abandoned car, having sneaked away from the Wall Street trader. Nobody could find me for a year, which meant that I had dropped out of school as well. Still, I was able to make up my missed classes and graduate on time, and at the top of my class at that.
Finally, the 3 AM last call arrived. I leaned against the bar, feeling exhausted and happy. I knew that I had made enough money to cover my floating checks, so there was a keen sense of relief there. After cleaning up my areas and doing my side work, I headed home, grabbing my ratty winter coat and hat, and headed to the subway station that was three blocks away from the bar.
I finally got home at around 4:30. My roommate, Jack, was still awake. He had one of his boyfriends over, and they were sprawled on the couch and watching a slasher pic.
“Scotch,” he said, calling me by his own special nickname for me. “Would you like a cocktail, love?”
“Oh, god, yes,” I said, even though it was 4:30, and I really needed to be getting to bed. I was too wound, however, to sleep. “What you watching?” I asked, as Jack paused the movie to get up to make me a rum and seven. I sat on the floor, and Jack’s sometime boyfriend, Rob, affectionately tousled my hair.
“One of the
movies. Not sure which. They all look the same after a little while,” Rob said in his way-gay voice. Jack didn’t usually like the twinks, because Jack wasn’t exactly a man’s man himself, and he always said that he wanted his men to balance him out, but apparently he made an exception for this one.
“That they do,” I said, accepting my cocktail from Jack. “So, I guess I get the couch tonight, huh?” Jack got the bed whenever he had somebody over, which was often, really. Since I never had anybody over, I ended up sleeping on the hide-a-bed more often than not.
“Do you mind?” Jack asked. “I hate to ask that. You’ll get the real bed tomorrow night, I promise.”
I shrugged my shoulders. I lived in a car for a year. Anything beat that.
“Thanks, love. You’re adorbs as ever,” he said.
Then the three of us finished the movie around 6 AM, at which point Jack and Rob finally retired to the bedroom. I pulled out the bed, and fell asleep still fully clothed.
I was able to sleep in a little, because Jack and Rob, thankfully, did not emerge from the bedroom until around noon. Over breakfast, I told them about my night.