Valley of the Sun
Chapter Eight: Sunday Night
I'd spent most of the weekend in my room. Renee and Phil had been married for all of one week, and back from their honeymoon for three days, and they were already getting on my nerves.
I mean, hey, Grace and I are not stupid. When your mom gets remarried, there's going to be birds and bees. Hopefully, no little brothers or sisters, at our age - considering that we were a week short of seventeen - but definitely some attempts. And Renee has always been a physically affectionate person, so I'd seen her instigating things around the house a little more than most people might.
At least they'd been considerate (and private) enough to retreat to her - their - room before any clothes came off, other than Phil's shirt. And lots of guys do that, and we were old enough that seeing our mother's new husband - we'd both decided to avoid the word "stepfather" - like that didn't squick us out, he wasn't a parental figure.
No, the annoying part was that Renee was trying to be. Saturday morning she'd woken us up by setting off the smoke alarms. She was trying to make breakfast, got (ahem) distracted, and there were some very definitely overcooked fried potatoes. Then she'd apologized profusely, and insisted on taking us out for breakfast. A similar pattern had taken place at dinnertime (this time, though, it was grilled cheese sandwiches). Sunday morning, she'd suddenly had an inspiration and tried to pack Grace and I off to church.... until she realized that the Swans have never been churchgoing folk and none of us had a particular church in mind. Grace and I figured out that she was trying to get us out of the house, and we ended up taking in a late Sunday morning at the "Church of Barnes and Noble", as we'd ironically dubbed it.
Sunday afternoon, back at the house with my new purchases, I'd lounged around my room for a few hours reading. Grace had popped in every forty minutes or so, trying on different colors of nail polish, then stripping them off. I wondered what all that acetone was doing to her nails - or her brain - but she just wanted my opinion on the colors. Like I couldn't have done that from the bottles?
But it was getting close to dinnertime, and we'd offered to cook - mainly to keep Phil from needing to reset the smoke alarms again. So I set down my book and rounded up Grace, and we headed for the kitchen.
Renee and Phil were on the couch. He was watching TV - I vaguely recognized the ESPN network logo in the corner of the screen - and Renee was laying sideways on the couch, her bare feet in his lap, and a book in her hand. I raised an eyebrow at noticing the title - "Eight Men Out". Renee didn't usually read about gay men, I thought, she usually read classics. "Lord of the Rings", "Pride and Prejudice", "Treasure Island", that sort of thing.
Grace was already rummaging through the fridge and freezer before I reached the kitchen, so I stood back in the doorway, listening to Renee and Phil and the beginnings of Sunday Night Baseball. Renee must have looked over from her book, because I heard her say, "Who are those guys? I recognize those colors."
"In the red and white? The Anaheim Angels. They were in a Disney movie."
"No, the black and teal."
"Oh." Phil paused, and I wondered why, until he said, "That's the Mariners. Seattle."
"Oh, that's why." Renee let the TV take over, and must have gone back to her book. I had a feeling that Seattle might be a little bit of a sore subject between the two of them.
Grace spoke up, "Hey Bells, could you grate some cheese? I'm thinking our trick-the-meat-eater enchiladas."
I turned around, smiling a little. "Sure." It was a recipe I'd developed a few years ago - it was just the two-cheese enchiladas off the La Victoria enchilada sauce label, with half a pound of chopped black olive added to the two pounds of cheese filling for the dozen enchiladas. It sort of looked like ground beef, and it had fooled Maria-Elena, Miss Patissier, and a few of Renee's other friends over the years, who knew that we were mostly vegetarian and didn't realize it was olive instead of beef.
I could kind of hear the conversation in the living room, while I was sitting at the table grating cheese. Phil was trying - apparently successfully - to get Renee to actually watch the game. I knew she'd gone to a few of his Sidewinders games during the summer, and they'd had long phone calls while watching the same game on TV a couple dozen times. I heard the game go to commercials, and Phil said, "I'm thinking about the spring. How are we going to handle the season when I'm playing?"
"You'll have to get on a team again, first." Renee pointed out.
"True." Phil paused, and I faintly heard Renee giggle. "At my age though..."
True. That was one of the reasons we were avoiding "stepfather". Phil was only twenty-five. And twenty-five-year-old triple-A shortstops, I had the feeling, didn't just quit.
"What's your agent say?" Renee asked.
"He's trying to get me an invite to Spring Training. Possibly with one of the Eastern teams; he's going to New York and Boston this week."
"Spring in Boston?" Renee scoffed.
"They have Spring Training in Florida." Then the game came back on, and the conversation died down.
Florida? I wasn't sure what I thought about it, other than the fact that it was in the middle of the school year. I filled Grace in as we assembled the enchiladas and put the tray in the oven, and she was horrified. "New school, new state... and don't they get hurricanes in Florida?"
"Wrong time of year. We'd only be there for the spring. He said something about Boston and New York."
Grace shook her head. "I checked the sports section. They have two teams in Florida year-round. Major league teams. And I bet some minor ones like the Sidewinders, too."
I cringed. "I wonder if there's a website. Where we could find out where all the teams are."
"I'm sure there is."