It’s been almost two years since your dad died in that tragic though entirely foreseeable hang-gliding accident, and your mom is ready to get back out there. You’ve been supportive of this. She’s too young and vibrant to spend the rest of her life alone. And god knows you don’t want to be the only person she can call when she needs someone to show her which input the TV needs to be on in order to watch a movie.
But when she told you she was going to start dating again, you pictured some nice old fella with a straw hat and golfer’s tan. You did not realize her dating pool would include so many fighters from Saturday’s UFC 273 fight card. But hey, she’s your mom and she really wants you to at least meet them and give her your honest opinion. Seems like the least you could do for the woman who birthed you and wiped your ass and mourned alongside you when your dad’s hang-glider flew directly into that wind turbine.
So, who’s it gonna be…?
He shows up with a bouquet of flowers, which he later explains he not only picked but also grew himself. “Just messing about in the greenhouse, mate,” he tells you with a smile. “I guess you could say it’s one of my hobbies.” He also brought you a book of poetry that he thought you might enjoy, and when you open it up you see that he also got it signed by the poet, who made out the inscription specifically to you. When you ask how he pulled this off he explains that the poet is an old friend from when they attended the same ceramics workshop back in the day. This fucking guy, you think. He’s so accomplished and well-rounded that you kind of want to hate him, but there’s also a warmth and genuine kindness about the man that is instantly endearing. As he guides your mom into the passenger seat of his environmentally responsible yet legitimately dope electric car, you get the sense that everything here is going to be just fine. Then he turns to you after he shuts the door for her and, with a mischievous wink, says, “Don’t wait up, mate.” This slick bastard. Still, you can’t hate it.
All your mom said was that she met this “nice young woman” at the gym, so you’re shocked to show up at her house and see someone with biceps that could crack a walnut already hard at work in the kitchen, preparing a delicious and healthy dinner for the two of them to enjoy out on the back deck. “All organic stuff too,” Tecia adds with a shrug. “None of that processed stuff for my lady.” Whoa, wait a minute. Didn’t they just meet? Aren’t things moving a little fast? Your mom and Tecia share a furtive glance before Tecia mutters something about how this is “Venice all over again.” They both fall out laughing while you’re just standing there, utterly confused. “Sorry,” your mom says, “inside joke.” What the fuck. You’re about to leave when your mom reminds you that you were going to help her fix that loose shingle on the roof. “Oh, I can handle that,” Tecia says. You watch in dumbfounded amazement as she jumps up, grabs the edge of roof, and does a pull-up to easily haul herself up there. What kind of Spiderman-ass shit is going on here? You aren’t sure, but you do know you’re no longer needed.
“I suggested we go to the movies,” your mom says before he arrives. “But he just kept saying that ‘too much movie make your heart weak.’ Isn’t it nice he’s so concerned about cardiac health?” You’re about to say that she might be misinterpreting that, but you’re interrupted by the loud rumble of a Trans Am pulling into the driveway blaring Mötley Crüe. Instead of coming to the door, he just honks the horn to signal his arrival. Only when you look closer do you realize that he’s not alone. Is that goddamn Darren Till in the passenger seat?!? “Mom,” you say, “this doesn’t seem weird to you?” She rolls her eyes and tells you that they’re just really good friends who can’t stand to be apart. “Don’t be such a Cormier!” she says as she floats out the front door with a smile and a wave. The last thing you see before she disappears in a cloud of black smoke and Crüe is Till motioning for her to get in the backseat. When she makes a face, you see him mouth the words, “I bloody well called shotgun.”
Where did your mom say she met this guy again? “I was introduced to him by a nice man named Ray at my water aerobics class,” she says. Wait … not Ray fucking Longo? “You know, I never got his last name,” she tells you. “I just know that he has piercing blue eyes, a gravelly timber in his voice, and he always gives great advice on technique and breath control.” Well, this ought to be interesting. You stand in the kitchen, waiting for this dude – your mom refers to exclusively as “Aljo” – to arrive. An hour goes by. Then two hours. Son of a bitch stood up your mom. You can’t believe it. “Something must have happened,” she says. “I’m going to call Ray.” Yeah, something happened all right, you think. Ray introduced your mom to a real cad. When she comes back into the room her face is ashen and stricken. “Aljo is in the hospital,” she says. “He was ambushed on his way here, and police are trying to figure out who did it…”
“Mom, there’s something about this guy that concerns me,” you say once he excuses himself to the bathroom to wash the unexplained bloodstains off his hands. She shakes her head and laughs, saying you’re just being melodramatic. Oh yeah? Then how come this guy’s first question when he came through the door was whether anyone here “talk to police?” And what about his car, did she happen to notice that? She did, she tells you. It’s a Tesla, and those are nice, aren’t they? “Mom, the license plate says ‘ALJO.’ You don’t think that’s a little suspicious?” But you have to cut it short when he emerges from the bathroom explaining that they’d better leave now if they don’t want to be late for the cockfight down at the abandoned warehouse. The … what? He stops and fixes you with a stare that makes your blood run cold. “Rooster have much heart for fight,” he says. “You understand?” Yeah, you understand. But that doesn’t mean you like it.
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