freezing man sits empty cup
wind blows windows above finely clothed sup
exchanges amok Chingaling Chingaling Chingaling
In a blink they had moved clear across the country with nothing but a handful of record albums and the clothes on their backs. Everything and everyone they had ever known was gone. Okay, it wasn’t a blink but it sure felt like a blink to Joey, the second born triplet, who would celebrate his 12th birthday with his brothers in a prairie restaurant eating cereal out of mini cardboard boxes lined with wax paper to keep the milk from soaking through. It was one of the best birthday memories ever for Joey.
Janine was the only other sibling the boys had. She was older, they’d left her and her husband behind in Vancouver when their parents decided to move from the west coast of Canada to the east coast in an attempt to save their ever failing marriage from wounds old, wounds fresh and many new wounds still to come.
When their father left a year after arriving for Prince Edward Island with a new wife and a baby already on the way, the triplets and their mother remained in the two bedroom cottage by the Atlantic Ocean. Janine came to visit them the second Christmas and Joey knew she was worried about the kids because their father had already left… moving had not saved the marriage. It had not saved anything at all.
At thirteen the three boys stood slightly different heights but looked the same, their fair hair and blue eyes the Martin hallmark inherited from their handsome daddy. Joey, Jimmy and Jack they were named at birth with no middle names. Jimmy was quiet and took his time doing things. Jack was loud but didn’t like doing much of anything. Joey felt like he had to do everything he could to help their mother, a petite woman with a fire in her that could fuel several women. Her brunette hair set her apart from the boys but their freckles joined them all together and even as Joey reached for the brand new extension cord his mom had just purchased, their hands warmly joined in the love that kept them, altogether.
“For fucksake, the son-of-a-bitchin’ thing won’t jam in there. Those money grubbing bastards down at the hardware store are gonna get a piece of my mind. Goddamn motherfuckers. I’ll take it back for you Mom. Who do those cocksuckers think they are? They are not gonna fuck up our Christmas tree lights!” Joey said as he grabbed the extension cord and started for the door, his coat half on when the chill wind blew in at them.
“Wait up, Joey, I want to go with you,” Janine said.
They trudged in silence for a few minutes while Janine thought about how to talk to Joey. She could see the differences between them already, his thin mittens, her leather gloves and her heart fairly lurched at the fact that her little brother’s lives had grown considerably tougher than hers had been.
“Where did you learn to swear like that?” Janine asked Joey as they walked the slippery coast line toward the hardware store in town, “You shouldn’t be swearing like that around Mom, you know.”
“Who the hell do you think I learned it from?” Joey asked.
Janine fell silent. She wished she could just rewind, replay and bring everyone back home with her to the Pacific Ocean. Sure a person could drown in the salt chuck just like any other drink. At least it was a sea the kids knew, an anchor from the storms that Janine knew she had no power to stay.
“It’s okay, Joey, I know how to swear, too, if I need to.”
Janine tucked her shoulder length hair inside her fake fur hat with the dangling pom pom ties that seemed so frivolous and useless to her now though she had so longed for this very hat before she bought it.
She put an arm around Joey’s shoulder before scooping up a snowball to toss his way but as usual, Joey was just too quick for her. They laughed and carried on, snow spray from their game freezing fastly to their hats and jackets.
“Do you ever miss being back home by the Pacific?” Janine asked.
Joey wasn’t long answering his sister. He tipped his cap up to look her right in the eyes.
“People might think I don’t know much because I’m only thirteen. But I do know some things for sure. One ocean’s as good as another.“
The bulky man inside the Sears store grabbed the two twelve year old girls by their elbows and began dragging them down the store aisle.
“Stop it, you big bastard! Who do you think you are, let go of my arm right now! Are you nuts?”
The girl with red hair and freckles protested so loudly that everyone in the store stopped to look. But nobody moved to help either girl. Not the red haired girl or her suddenly struck dumb friend with the dirty blonde hair.
“You little bitches think you can get away with anything!” The man yelled right back.
Nothing was making any sense to the red-haired girl and it never dawned on her to question her friend’s silence. Being the eldest of her father’s children, she had grown used to speaking out for others and knew when her younger siblings were afraid. Right now her friend was acting very afraid. Wriggling away the whole time the man’s grip grew tighter, the red-haired girl did not stop shouting until they were in the administration office. Even then, you could hear her all the way down the halls, perhaps even outside the mall.
“Let go of me, you fucking bastard. I am telling my dad on you! You can’t go around just grabbing girls – what are you, a pervert? Let go of me, you big pig!” Later it struck her that the man was likely as pissed off about her mouth going off at him as he was anything else. But when you believe you are wronged, you believe it and she did. At the time.
When the bulky man tipped out her friend’s purse, the red haired girl turned to her friend and cut loose in a different way.
“What the hell were you thinking? Why did you steal sunglasses for Chrissakes? If I were going to steal something, I’d make it worth my while. Why didn’t you tell me so I could leave the store? You are no friend of mine! What a rotten liar you are and now I am in trouble because of you! I would never do this to you! But I wouldn’t steal anything either! I never want to see your face again!” The red – haired girl said this without listening to a word the adults around the two girls were all saying.
Then she turned back to the store detective, “If you’d have said what was wrong and who you were, I could have told you I never did anything wrong!”
“You are an accomplice,” one of the adults said.
“I am NOT an accomplice! I didn’t even see her take them! I never even knew she was going to steal anything! Don’t you have to be in on it to be an accomplice? I was NOT in on anything, she never said a word until we got here.”
The blonde friend still hadn’t uttered a word and even after the police and their parents came to fetch them, the red-haired girl kept her word. She never called her blonde haired friend again. She doesn’t even know what happened to her friend. Herself, she got one year probation but she told them she never did anything wrong and wasn’t going to go see a Probation Officer for no reason. Even her mother said, “It’s probation, you have to go. You were with your friend when it happened.”
“Okay, I’ll go,” the red haired girl told her mother. And she did. Once.
Just long enough to tell the probation officer that she was not guilty, had not committed any crime and would not be coming back.
She never heard from her friend, Sears or the probation officer again.