They go to the beach, they go shopping. One night, Victor cooks dinner. Wayne doesn’t want to ask where the kid got the money to buy the food because he looks so damn proud of himself standing there with his skinny chest puffed out, offering a chair.
Each plate is loaded with three separate piles: one white hamburger bun filled with red meat, a baked potato topped with a neat dollop of ranch dressing, and a wedge of iceberg lettuce with another neat dollop of ranch dressing and a sprinkle of bacon bits. At the center of the table there are two little bowls of catsup, a roll of paper towels and the scented candle from the bathroom.
“Wow,” says Wayne. “This is really something.”
“I’m touched. No one ever cooks me dinner.”
“Mrs. E helped me put it all together.”
Wayne opens a bottle of wine and brings out the fancy glasses.
With his glass held up for a toast, Victor has a visible lump in his throat. For the first time, the kid seems to be at a loss for words. He chugs some wine and pulls something from his pocket and hands it to Wayne. It’s a heavy fountain pen with panels of blue herringbone enamel and a gold nib. Victor mutters, “Someone left it at the ATM machine on Wilshire. Rich people are always leaving their shit everywhere. It’s a nice one, isn’t it?”
“It’s… spectacular. It’s the most spectacular thing anyone has ever given me. It’s too nice– you have to keep it for yourself.”
But Victor won’t take it back. “What the hell am I going to do with a fancy pen?”
“Don’t say that. You never know. Just look at yourself. You look like a new man in those clothes. ”
Victor holds up his glass. “With a pen like that you could write something really big and make a bunch of money.” Victor has real tears in his eyes. “Dude, it’s the least I could do to repay you.”
This is part of the 21st chapter of my novel, What Would Water Do. Click here to start at the beginning.