“Hey, Mom, has Buddha come by with the hat yet?” Spider yelled to his Mom who was in the bathroom.
“No sign of him. I called Janet. She’s at work. She said he was supposed to meet you at Tex’s.”
Spider came out of his bedroom door carrying a tux over his shoulder wrapped in plastic from the cleaners and a new set of Chuck Taylor’s. Max was sitting at the dining table writing. “Your Dad still hasn’t come back?” Spider asked him.
“He probably didn’t get done ‘til late and slept at the office. He does that sometimes when he doesn’t have to bring me to school.” Max replied without looking up.
“What’s with all the paperwork? School’s out.” Spider focused on the lists noticing one that said ‘captured DNA evidence’ and another that read ‘eye witness testimony’.
“Hey, why are you eye-hustling my papers?”
“Chill, Fish. Pardon me.”
Mrs. Cara yelled, “Spider, did ya’ll get your suits?”
“Yes, Mom.” He called back.
“Taz better not have given you any stolen suits!”
“I don’t know where he got ‘em but he lost a bet so I don’t care. He said he bought ‘em. You know he’s making bank with that ugly ice cream truck.”
“I mean it, they better not be stolen!”
Max asked, “What did he bet you?”
“Why are you ear-hustling my conversation?” Spider teased. “Got you, didn’t I? We bet at the beginning of the year that I would be the first freshmen ever crowned King Bacchus for the summer dance.”
“How do they decide who is King Bacchus?”
“Well, since Bacchus is the God of the Dance, they have three dance contests and whoever wins them is the King.”
“Dancing is gay.” Max snapped.
George had just walked into the door carrying a hat box with designs painted on it by Buddha and said, “How can writhing yourself in rhythm on a hot young girl be gay?”
“GEORGE NORBERT ROTHERING! I better not catch you writhing on anything!” Mrs. Cara yelled from the bathroom. “And Max, what did I tell you about calling stuff gay?”
They both answered in unison, “Sorry, Mrs. Cara.”
Spider continued, “Anyway, Julian and Taz said if I won they’d pay for the suits.”
“So you won?”
“Did I win? No one else was even close!”
“MAX! I heard that!” Mrs. Cara called.
Spider gestured to Buddha, “Let me see the hat.”
“Wait. Put the suit on first.”
“Mom, are you going to be long? We have to get dressed.”
“I’ll just be a second.” Then after a pause she said, “Okay. Are ya’ll ready?”
When she stepped out George dropped the hat box and all three boys stared in awe. Her blond hair was expertly tied up in a French twist that accented her sumptuous neck and bare shoulders. She wrapped in an extremely exposing red silk strapless dress that lewdly displayed her curvaceous, voluptuous body. But the most shocking part was the enormous spider tattoo on full display between her supple cleavage. “Well don’t just stand there, how do I look?”
“Are you gonna wear that?” Spider managed.
“Spider, this is the same dress I wore 17 years ago when I was named the Queen of Love and Beauty at the Bacchus summer dance. Janet had to let it out a little, but I doubt any of my friends look like this at my age.”
“Close your mouth,” Spider said while punching George in the shoulder. “Let’s get dressed.”
George fumbled with the hat box and was glad for the distraction. He felt her dress was designed to funnel his eyes to her breasts.
“Did you have to win a dance contest, too, when you were in school, Mrs. Cara?” Max asked.
“No, Max, I wish I could dance like Spider, but the way the ball works is, the King chooses the beautiful girl as the Queen of Love and Beauty. That’s how I started dating Guillermo, Spider’s dad.”
“He could dance, too?”
“Oh my God, could he! He wasn’t really my type, though.”
“What do you mean?”
She sat down at the table and lit a cigarette, leaving the butt covered in dark red lipstick. “I was a cheerleader, a real Debbie, and Guillermo was a bad boy. Don’t get me wrong, he played sports, too, but he was trouble. Tattoos, drinking, and fights. Even at our graduation, when Julian received an award for being named Citywide Offensive Player of the Year, some jock made a gay joke and Guillermo, Bobby, and Country Mike jumped him right there in the ceremony. Rambo, who had dropped out, even jumped in and beat the guy with a chair.”
“That doesn’t sound like someone you’d be in love with.”
“Oh, but I was. When he walked across that dance floor and put that tiara on my head, I felt like the only woman in the world. You know, I wasn’t even expecting it. I thought he was going to pick Hillary Fullilove. Everyone did. But he picked me. Speaking of that…” She walked over to the bathroom door where Spider was changing and said, “Spider, who IS gonna be Queen tonight?”
“Of course, the most beautiful girl, Mom.”
“Look, Spider, you’re not still mad at Teesha, are you?”
“I don’t know any girl named Teesha.”
Across town in the infirmary at Orleans Parish Prison, Chaz Bernos was nursing his wounds. “Hey, Guard? Can I get my phone call now?”
“Not ‘til tomorrow.”
“Sorry, but it takes a Lieutenant to take you to the phone and he won’t come in ‘til tomorrow.”
“Oh man, no one even knows I’m here.”