Don’t Bother Roger

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by Kathleen

Aunt Clara and Uncle Richard’s son Roger had lived at home like a saint for three months. In January, he could return to college, providing he agreed to daily counseling. Providing he never set foot in a fraternity, let alone a sorority. The entire college would know about Roger’s status and the need for extreme vigilance.

Roger had spent two years in a minimum-security facility. “Over and done,” Roger told his parents, his lawyer, and his ex-girlfriend’s lawyer. “Past tense.”

His mother agreed. Nobody should blame Roger anymore. So why not throw the annual summer party?

Her dearest sister Jane, however, invented countless excuses. Because, honestly, her daughters were only six- and four-years old.

“Nonsense,” Clara said. Best if the family not over-react.

“Just bring the girls.” Their own father said this, and he had never especially liked Jane’s extended family.

Whenever she remembered the party, Jane warned her girls, “Don’t bother Roger.” And, when the day came, she dressed them in fancy frocks with stiff satin sashes and hems to their ankles. During the car ride, she outright pleaded, “Don’t bother Roger.”

The backyard party was crowded but boring. While her parents drank martinis and her sister sat on her father’s lap, six-year old Sadie sneaked inside and upstairs. All the doors were closed except for the last one. Peering into the room farthest from the stairs, Sadie stared at a man lying down, his laptop open.

“Are you Roger?”

“Yes I am.” Bright-eyed and smiling, he sat up, planting bare feet on the rug.

Sadie squirmed backwards, fooling with her dress’s tied sash. “Are you the same Roger my parents warned me against bothering?”

“Undoubtedly, yes. But you’re not bothering me. Come here and I’ll show you something.”

Sadie frowned but stepped inside.

“Come and sit down.” He patted the bed. “Come on.”

Sadie bounced on the bed, eyeing the laptop.

“It’s not there,” Roger said. “And it’s kinda scary.”

Sadie tapped her Sunday shoes.

Roger lifted the leg of his baggy jeans. “It’s an electronic anklet that sets off an alarm if I leave the house. Sometimes movie stars have to wear them. And, Martha Stewart had one, too, for insider trading.”

“Who’s Martha Stewart?”

“Someone rich and famous for decorating wreaths and flowers and stuff.”

“And the movie stars?”

“Not positive who. Paris Hilton, maybe? Lindsey Lohan—that type.”

Sadie hadn’t heard of them either. “Does it come off?”

“Not yet. But soon. I’ll be free.”

“That’s good, Roger. Uhm, good-bye.”

“Hey, wait. This might sound weird. But don’t tell anyone you saw me, okay?”

“I won’t. My mom would scream her head off.”


Mike French said...

Nice piece - don't you hate that word! I mean great stuff.

Roger over and out.

kathleenmaher said...

Thanks, Mike. Nice is perfectly nice as far as I'm concerned. In the US it's typically an understatement; maybe that's why.
But even if it weren't, even if it meant "okay, then," a compliment's always nice.

Paul said...

Great build-up, Kathleen. Had me wondering where you were going with this. Again that powerful tension.

Rufus said...

I love your sense of humor. Refreshingly improper.

Stella said...

I almost missed this one...

Your usual quality installment :)