Randall had the best luck. I liked to tell him God was watching over him even if he didn’t believe it. He could get out of more trouble than anyone I knew. The amount of times he burned his credit with careless mistakes like not paying for a phone bill and yet he still found loopholes. In another life he would have been one of those psychopathic CEO’s with a lot of money.
Randall could rob your house and within a day or two you still might find yourself inviting him over for a nice meal.
He filled rooms with laughter like Robin Williams, charmed others like Antonio Banderas in Zorro, and rose deep empathy for his problems when he shared. He was meant to be an actor.
My mom saw him smoking once in the kitchen from down the hallway, he was probably around fourteen years old. Did he say he was sorry? Of course not, he swore he didn’t do it even as the remaining smoke lingered on the floor next to the ashed cigarette. It was an exceptional performance despite the evidence clearly rising beside him. I sometimes called him the boy who cried wolf.
After weeks without a word, my still sister-n-law reported that Randall lost their house. He now stayed with his new allegedly nineteen year old gang member girlfriend. A random call from him on a Friday morning and I wish I could say I was in bright spirits. His demeanor was happy enough, “Grace I got an interview, Can you take me to the airport?”
I was so sick of his charm. “Randall do you have gas money? It is last minute, I do have time but I need gas money.”
“Here’s the thing. I don’t have money, yet. They normally give the reimbursement check for travel by Monday, I have a feeling its coming today. If its comes today, I got you and I can go to the airport.”
My teeth clinched. “If it comes give me a call.”
Randall responded excitedly, “I’ve checked every day this week. Its coming today, I know it. The mailman comes at twelve I’ll give you a call. My flight leaves at four.
No part of me wanted to spend my morning in wait for a possible check to come in the mail so Randall could fly to Indiana to take a possible job to possibly leave his children behind with gang girl.
“I don’t want to do it! I don’t want to do it.”
Sigh. I can’t believe he would leave his kids like this. Maybe he did need a fresh start, perhaps none of this was my business.
I circled my living room. He might not get the check. I spent the next hour in a half-cleaning the house. Of course he would get the check, this was Randall. He always has the luck but this time?
Randall texted, “It should be coming soon are you on your way?”
“Not until you have the check,” I responded. I felt nervous. There wasn’t a lot of time left.
I cleaned for another thirty minutes before Randall texted again. It was two o clock in the afternoon.
“I got the check, see you soon!”
I ran to my car now worried Randall might miss his flight. I can’t choose his future, I don’t have to take him but I do.
It took me about forty minutes to get to the trailer park Randall was living in. It hurt to see him there not because I have a stigma against trailer parks but because he did. When he came to live with me for a few months after he lost another job years back, I was living in a trailer park with my then husband. Randall cornered me one day in my tiny kitchen,”You would let your kids grow up here. I mean come on Grace, It’s a trailer park, a trailer park for Christ’s sake.”
There was such a disdain in his voice. I thought for a moment about my hypothetical currently non-existent children, “Yes,” I responded.
The trailer park was an eight minute bike ride from the university. Rent was less than four hundred dollars a month. Of course I would stay. And now he was in a trailer park living with a girl he didn’t even speak the same language as. Surely it was love.
He threw his luggage in my backseat and jumped into the car, It wasn’t long before we were at it.
The beginning started off fine. Randall’s presence felt warm. Skies were blue, the air felt light. He trailed off into a series of extravagant stories of blame over his soon to be ex-wife. “Grace you don’t know her, you don’t know what she’s really like. And the clothes thing, I don’t get any clothes from them for the kids. I’m told if I miss even a single sock they won’t let the kids come over with any extra clothes, then they call and call and call. I can’t get away.”
“All I’m saying is it takes two!”
I preached and preached at him until it was time for him to get out of the car.
“Why can’t you just be my sister?” He asked.
I can’t remember now if I told him I loved him or not or if I told him good luck. I was so filled with anger, self-righteousness; I was frustrated beyond what words could articulate. I couldn’t see him, his heart, anything. I couldn’t see at all. A few weeks later I got a text from Randall, “Got the job.”
Randall was moving..