UNITED STATES—”Oh, look! She signed the check!” Davy says.

“There’s hope,” Karen says. “Hope that she gets on the anti-anxiety meds and it dissolves her resistance to therapy, and getting out of bed.”

“She’s gotten out of bed already a lot. When you’re 90.”

“You’re such an apologist for her,” Karen speaks.

“You can’t touch me with your evil, logical yet hopeful eye, Karen.”

Davy crosses fingers in front of her as before a vampire. He continues:

“Now I can be a DJ with my emotions. A can be angry. I can be silent. Silence is so underrated. I can get up from my chair and hop.”

“Oh, why are you doing that,” the mom asks.

Davy shoots a glance at Betty, “I can do something you could do, but you won’t.”

“Mom is so stubborn and controlling. She never wanted to give durable power of attorney,” Karen repeats.

Davy says, “If worse comes to worst, we’re going to take her in an ambulance and get her to sign off the bank. So here we are lifting her feeble hand to sign on the side of a kleenex box.”

“I am superstitious about that amber glass between the rose bushes,” says Davy. “I notice that it got moved. It’s not there. And it had no sense, but there it was for like 20 years, one of the big amber jars from the pharmacy, and I could have thrown it out or put it in the garage. I knew when it was gone, something was going to happen. The amber jar was secretly holding things together.”

Karen says, “I think Tatiana was holding things together.”

“I think Tatiana has made her helpless. Always doing things for her like spooning her food. It’s slowly undermined the ability for her to do things for herself.”

“I’ll tell you one thing: it’s easy to do service for strange people. It’s all an act, but very polite. The nice facade and all, it’s an act for both strangers and family, but doing it for my own loved one and family, it galls me.”

“Those are my lines, Karen,” Davy sayd. “Mom deserves a rest. Heck, she’s ninety for gosh sakes.”

“There was that bank account she put your name on. Then I went to close it out. It was a shock.”

“I meant to pay it pack, every last cent. It was for my dentist. I’d written a check for him. And he was the fastest deposit in the West. It was about to go through, and I had to pay it back before it bounced.”

Karen glares at her younger brother.

“And you said I needed to grow up and stop asking Mom for money. That’s a sore point, Karen, don’t go there… I tried to be a big boy and I sold some good stock. It all paid for the rent.”

“Nobody says you have to be living in the most expensive city of the most expensive state in the Union.”

“Look, I made some decent money, but it really blew up afterward. It’s like Dad with his Starbucks. He sold way too soon. He sold it too soon– I thought I was smarter than that. And I had every intention of paying it back.”

“You had the best of intentions. Every embezzler I ever heard of has the best of intentions,” Karen says.

“You never wanted to be tall,” the mom croaks from her pillow.

“That’s right–the world has plenty of tall people to go around.”

“You didn’t want to be gangling like Dad.”

Karen and Davy are simmering. The night comes.

“Now I know what dad must have felt like to have sold too soon. To drive around and see Starbuck’s everywhere. Capitalism hurts, the emotions are beyond beyond.”

To be continued. . .

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Hollywood humorist Grady grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon) and its follow-up, Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood. (https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8) His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)