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Trying His Luck

Listen to this piece on episode 10 of the podcast.

Camille sets her purse down in a seat not littered with her brother’s clean clothes that she washed four days ago. He still hasn’t gotten to folding them up and putting them neatly into the drawer she cleared out for him when he arrived at her doorstep nine days ago heartbroken and broke. Thinking of the baby shower invite from Rosa and the RSVP she needed to send in, Camile wonders whether she should have requested her own shower seeing that she had a big baby of her own to care for now.

She walks into the sitting room where Frank is slouched across her sectional with a Heinicke in his hand. A couple of red solo cups congregate on her oak and glass coffee table. A faint ring stains the corner closest to him.

“Which hospital?” Camille asks her brother without pleasantries. She reaches for the mail piled on the kitchen table littered with half open ketchup packets and discarded fast food hamburger wrappings.

“You talking ‘bout the one Aunt Genie’s in?” her brother asks.

In her fifty-seventh year of life, Camille’s twelve-hour shifts at the paper mill were tiresome enough without having to come home to her brother’s unhelpfulness. She snorts.

“Yup. That’s the one, Frank—you know anyone else in the hospital?”

“I sure hope not,” Frank spits out. “I hate hospitals. And them dang crooked doctors ain’t going to do anything but cut up old Auntie and send her home just to get sick again.” He adds, “I’d prefer to be home if I was her.”

Camille looks up from the mail to her brother in disbelief. He does not appear to see the irony in his words.

“Well, unlike Auntie, you can go home,” Camille shoots back with a measured tone. “If you get a job, Sheila will take you back, I’m sure.”

“Take me back?” Frank booms, sitting up in the recliner with a look of disgust. “She just wants me for my money. Her loss,” he retorts, folding his hand across his wide gray-haired chest and reclining once more.

Camille rolls her eyes, lacking the requisite time to hash this out as hospital visiting hours were ending very soon.

“Fine then. We’ll discuss this later, but the hospital—I just need the name of the hospital,” Camille says, straightening her tired, slumped posture and looking at him pointedly.

Frank takes a few seconds to think before he answers. “Pinnacle Point… yeah, that sounds about right,” he says finally. Camille pivots towards the front door, snatches up her purse then hesitates.

“Pinnacle Point?” Camille asks, eyebrows shooting into her forehead in realization as she turns back towards her brother. “Weren’t you supposed to start a job there a few weeks ago? My boss called for a favor with a friend to get you in.”

Her eyes are narrowed on her older brother who is now flipping through anime shows. He is heartbroken for sure. Scruffy facial hair lengthened from days without shaving. Eyes red and downcast, evidence of recent tears. Camille feels for Frank, but can see why Sheila dumped him. Layoff or no layoff, seven months was long enough time to find another job.

“Job? Well, you see how much they worked me on that last one. Eighteen years at the plant working my fingers to the bone and they let me go,” and he snaps his fingers, “just like that. Next job I take I’m going to do what I want to do!” he proclaims. “And that means no cleaning hospital bed pans, Camille. You know I’m better than that.”

Camille’s jaw drops. “So, what do you plan on doing?” she asks, anger flaring up like arthritis.

“I’m trying my luck at the numbers,” Frank says smugly. “I’m going to hit big soon, just watch. Sheila won’t know what she’s missing.”

This is the last straw. Camille starts for the guest bedroom, ready to pack her brother’s bags for him, but remembers Aunt Genie and the time. “You’re trying your luck alright,” Camille mumbles as turns back towards the front door.

“Huh?” Frank asks, looking up from the TV to catch a glimpse at his sister’s backside as she shuffles away.

“I’m going to see Auntie!” she hollers, fantasizing about all the reclaimed space she’ll have once she kicks him out.

“Alrighty then,” Frank calls out. “I’ll be here when you get back.”

“We’ll see about that!” she yells as she slams the front door.


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