Maia looked at him like he had just eaten something off of the bathroom floor. She’d been doing that a lot lately, he thought., and he didn’t think he deserved that.
“So what did you do with it?” she asked, peering over her sunglasses.
“I put it in the fridge. What should I have done with it?”
“You should have left it there.”
“They gave it to me.”
“They didn’t mean it.”
“Bullshit, they practically forced me to take it.”
“You didn’t need to take the whole thing, you could have taken a piece and left the rest.”
“What are they going to do with it?”
“A whole cake?”
“Yes a whole cake!” she forgot to add the “dumbass”. But he saw her lips move. Time to escalate. “You know they’re both diabetic, and she wouldn’t eat a piece of cake if you paid her.” He felt pretty confident that he was winning at this point, Maia had removed her sunglasses and taken a couple of steps into the kitchen. If she puts down the handbag, he thought, I win.
“What,” she began, pulling a chair out from the far end of the table, “about grandkids? They have tons of grandkids. What are they going to give the grandkids when they come over?”
Damn. He’d have to go right to the big guns. “If they have so many grandkids, why the hell am I mowing their lawn?” This wasn’t good. He knew it. He couldn’t move. Backed your ass into a corner Tom, he thought. You’re done here, figure out an exit, quick, before she starts talking….”You don’t have to mow their lawn, you know. You don’t want to do it, just stop. I’m sure they can find someone else to do it. Besides there’s a lot of stuff you could be doing around here. . .” Oh God. “Have you looked at the washing machine yet? What about the driveway?”
“The DRIVEWAY?!”, Oh shit. He fell for it! “ What’s the matter with the DRIVEWAY?”
“You said there was something wrong with the driveway. I just would assume you would want to get it fixed. Or do you want to wait for it to get so bad we’ll need to pay someone to fix it.”
“Well I have a cake I could give them.” Defeat.
“Funny. I’m glad you think we have all this money to fix things with. I’m sure we’ll just have it lying around…Oh look, here’s some. What’s an IRA? What’s a 401k? Doesn’t matter, the driveway’s broken, we HAVE TO FIX THE DRIVEWAY! Maybe you could take some of your precious time and fix the driveway instead of sitting around eating cake you swindled off of some poor old people who probably can’t afford the eggs it took to bake it. Maybe? Maybe before it’s in such bad shape that we have to hire someone to do the work? Maybe? Maybe you can look at the washer that I told you a month ago was making noise? …”
“What noise?” Duck and cover, handbag’s still on the shoulder. Will she bite?
“Oh my God. I told you. . .”
“I didn’t hear anything. I’ve done laundry…what noise?” Slowly…carefully. She’s got her hip cocked, eyes are wide, she’s looking uncertain. Things are looking up, Tom!
“It squeaks,” BAM! Handbag on the chair! Victory!, “During the spin cycle. I’ve got a load in there now, come listen, it’s really loud, something is wrong, really wrong.”
“Sure, just give me a second.”
“Hurry up, I’ll be in the laundry room.” She walked past him to the basement stairs in the hall.
The cake was chocolate. And delicious.