My Brother's Keeper
I knew we'd have to go through the entire ritual again. It always had to be a long and involved process with her. For some reason, one that I'll never understand, Kaitlyn needed to put us both through all the failed deceptions.
"Jimmy, Danny's on the road, and I need to borrow some money from you. For food."
Danny was my older brother, and Kaitlyn was his wife. They had three young kids, two boys and a girl, aged three, five and seven.
I knew that Danny was on the road, since he worked for me, and I was the one who had sent him over to Arizona to pick up some furniture I'd purchased over the internet. That's what I did, bought and sold stuff. Whatever I could find to sell for a profit. I'd been at it for six years, ever since I finished high school. I was good at it too, and always made a comfortable living for myself.
Danny had once worked in a box factory, but the company went under and Danny hadn't been able to find anything else on his own. I started letting him do things for me, trying to help him out until he found some steady work on his own. That had been three years before, and I still don't understand why he hasn't tried harder to find himself a better job.
I knew Kaitlyn was lying about needing the money for food. I'd taken Danny over to the Ralph's and watched as he'd purchased $200.00 worth of groceries with the money I'd advanced him right before he left for Arizona. I knew there was plenty of food in the refrigerator and in the cupboards back at their rented house trailer.
I didn't doubt that Kaitlyn needed some money, but I knew it certainly wasn't to buy any food.
"I gave Danny money for food right before he headed off to pick some things up for me in Tucson, Kaitlyn. You couldn't be out of groceries already."
"I didn't want to say what is was really for, Jimmy. Danny's been gambling again. He owes money out at the reservation. I've been getting some threatening phone calls about that." Kaitlyn was a terrible liar. I really never understood why she bothered trying it with me. Her lies never worked with me.
"Rueben promised me he wouldn't ever let Danny back in the casino, Kaitlyn. You want me to give him a phone call and see if your story checks out or not?" Rueben Garcia was head of security out at the Indian Casino. He was a pal of mine, and he'd had my brother's name put on a list of problem gamblers that had voluntarily banned themselves from doing any further gambling at the casino.
Danny and Kaitlyn both had serious problems with their addiction to gambling. Danny mistakenly believed he could play poker, and Kaitlyn was addicted to the slot machines.
"I didn't say he gambled out at the reservation, Jimmy, just that he owes people money out there. He lost a lot in some home games. He told me he was going to get the money from you to pay those people off."
I knew Danny hadn't been gambling. I knew all the same people he did, and I'd already warned all of them to not let Danny play cards in any of their games. They knew I wouldn't make good for any of his losses, and they also knew I'd be pissed off if any of them took advantage of his weakness.
"Kaitlyn, I know Danny hasn't been playing. What do you really need the money for?"
I stared right into her eyes, waiting for her to face up to the fact that I wasn't buying any of her bullshit. If she wanted me to help her, she was going to have to tell me the real reason.
"I'm pregnant, Jimmy." The words slipped out of her mouth so softly that I almost couldn't understand what she'd just said.
"Pregnant? How could you be pregnant, Kaitlyn? Danny got himself fixed after you guys had Angela three years ago. You telling me that his vasectomy didn't work?"
"I'm not sure how it happened, Jimmy. I just know that they said I was pregnant last week when I had my appointment over at the clinic. They did some tests, so they're sure I am."
"Okay, you're pregnant. I guess I have to believe you if you've had those tests and all. I'm thinking Danny is probably going to kill you when he finds out you've been fucking other guys. When are you planning to tell him?"
I waited for her to quit her crying. She had to know that wasn't going to work with me either. It might work with Danny. It had certainly worked with him before. I couldn't even begin to count the number of times she'd screwed my brother over in the twelve years since they'd first met and had started hanging around with each other. Kaitlyn had always been trouble, ever since I'd first laid eyes on her. She'd cheated on him from the beginning, it was her way. Sure, she always came back to him, and he'd take her back, but everyone knew she'd keep on doing whatever she felt like doing.
"It could be yours, Jimmy. It's possible that it is. What do you think Danny'd do to you if I told him you had been at me behind his back?"
"It isn't mine, Bitch! I never got near you without having double protection condoms. No way I'd ever take a chance on knocking you up. Not to mention getting any diseases you might have picked up in your travels."
"I need three hundred to get it fixed over at the clinic. Let me have the money, and Danny doesn't ever have to know about what we did."
"Hell, go ahead and tell him if you want to. You think I'd care if you did? I think I'll just call him myself tonight and tell him before you get the chance to. Danny knows how you are, Kaitlyn. He'd be a little upset with me, but he'd mostly blame you for what we did."
"Wouldn't it be simpler to just give me the money and let me get it fixed, Jimmy?"
"No. If you are pregnant, and I doubt it, I'm positive the baby isn't either mine or Danny's. We'll just wait and have the baby tested to see who the daddy might be. It wouldn't surprise me if it was that neighbor of yours. I noticed he keeps a close eye on that trailer of yours the last time I was over visiting. You been letting that Kyle guy sample the goods too?" I could see it in her eyes that she had.
"Please, Jimmy, I'm begging you. Just let me have the money so I can get this taken care of. It would hurt Danny too much if he finds out about what we've been doing."
I stood up and reached down into my pants pocket, pulling out my money clip. I peeled off three hundreds and laid them on my dining table, walking away from her without saying anything. I heard my front door opening a few seconds later as she let herself out the door. When I took my empty glass back to my kitchen, I looked over to make sure she'd taken the money.
Thirty minutes after she left, I got a phone call from out at the Indian casino. Reuben told me that Kaitlyn had just come into the casino. He asked me if I wanted him to bar her from them taking any action from her at the casino like I'd had him do with Danny.
"No, let her have her fun. Danny's out of town for awhile, and she needed some time away from the kids to let off some steam. Make sure she gets out to her car all right after she blows her wad on those damned machines. Don't let her try to scam anyone for more money after she goes broke."
I let the phone back down in its cradle. For what had to be the ten thousandth time, I wished that my parents hadn't both died in that car crash back when I was only eleven years old. Danny and Kaitlyn had raised me after my folks died. I owed the two of them something for that. The problem with that was I knew I'd be taking care of both of them for the rest of their lives. I'd grown up eventually, but I knew they never would.
I'd known Kaitlyn wasn't pregnant. I can always tell when she gets that strong urge to go out and play those damn slots. I've done just about everything I can think of to try to wean her away from her addiction. So far, nothing seems to be working. I'll find a way to get her to quit gambling soon, I'm sure of it. Danny was even worse than Kaitlyn is before I figured out how to get him to quit.
He really hated it when I told him I was going to fuck her any time he fell off the wagon and started back up gambling. It took about ten times before he couldn't take me doing that with her anymore. I wish I knew what it was going to take to get Kaitlyn to quit.