Damn, she was going to be late. Parking her car, Sam plugged the meter then sprinted off. She’d never hear the end of it from her brother if she was late. Stopping in front of the restaurant, Sam took a deep breath, smoothed out her hair then stepped through the doors. Arriving just after noon, she found Andrew sitting alone at the table, facing the window. At least she wasn’t the only late person.
He looked a great deal like their father, complete with the blond hair and deep brown eyes, but what he hated people telling him was that he had their mothers more delicate features.
“Sorry I’m late. I had to pick up my dry cleaning and you know them, they never have your stuff ready. Then they informed me they lost my dress. I was livid.” She took a seat, blowing out a breath
Andrew looked up, his lips pursed. “You’re always late, Sam. Did they eventually find your dress?”
It was a sad fact, but true, Sam couldn’t be on time if her life depended on it. “Yeah, after I shouted enough. It was under another name. Stupid people.” She shook her head, lifting her menu. “I need that black dress for the art show tomorrow. If they’d lost it, I would have gone medieval on them.”
“Which piece are you trying to convince them to sell this time?”
“The Mother. I finished polishing it last night. It looks fabulous, if I must say so myself.” She patted her back proudly. “Speaking of mothers, where is ours?” Sam didn’t feel so bad now for being late.
“She called me. Said she had to finish up a meeting and would be here as soon as she could.”
“You gonna rag on her for being late too?” Sam looked up at the waitress as she approached the table. “I’ll have a club sandwich; hold the mayo and a glass of lemonade.”
“What are you babbling about, and to whom?” Andrew inquired with a lifted brow.
“The waitress, silly.” But as Sam looked up again, she realized the woman was no longer living “Oh man, I hate when you do that to me.” She wished the dead had the decency to look like the dead when they came to her. Unfortunately, that wasn't always the case. It was often hard for her to tell the living from the dead. As was the case now. And why wouldn’t she think the woman was their waitress given the fact that she wore a pale blue uniform, white apron and carried a pad and pen.
“I didn’t do anything to you.” Baffled, Andrew looked in the direction Sam was staring at.
“Not you. Her.” Sam jabbed a finger at the tall wispy brunette with hollow eyes then felt absolutely ridiculous knowing that Andrew wouldn’t be able to see her.
“A ghost?” Andrew leaned across the table, whispering. “Here? Now?” He glanced around the room, eyes wide.
“Suck your eyes back into their sockets, bro. I’ll take care of it. What do you want from me?” Sam asked, returning her attention to the entity.
“I’ve been poisoned,” the woman gurgled, her mouth frothing, her hand clenching her gut.
Oh, she really didn’t need to see that before lunch, but she knew her duty. “Who poisoned you?”
“Keep your voice down. Everyone’s looking at us.” Andrew scooted all the way to the far side of the table, shielding his face.
“I don’t know,” the woman gurgled.
“Hello, darlings.” Her mother strolled up to the table looking regal and beautiful in her fitted cream suit-jacket and skirt. “How are the two of you doing today?”
“Crazy as usual, at least she is.” Andrew thumbed in Sam’s direction. “She’s having a discussion with some dead person,” Andrew snorted, lifting his glass of water.
“She’s an innocent victim, Andy. God! Hey, Mom, you look nice.” Her mother wore her hair short, just below her ears, in a bob of deep red, much like Sam’s hair color. Her face was still relatively young, though crow’s feet adorned her shimmering green eyes.
“Thank you, sweetheart. What’s going on?” she asked, sitting beside Sam.
“I’ve got a young woman here, waitress, who thinks she’s been poisoned. Give me a second to deal with this.” Sam left the table and motioned for the entity to follow her to the ladies room.. She spoke to her, got some more details, and convinced the young woman she would be better off releasing her pain and anguish and cross over. It was about all she could do.
“Have you guys ordered yet?” Sam asked as she took her seat.
“Not yet. Did you solve your problem?” Her mother asked.
“She’s gone to her peace,” Sam explained then lifted her menu.
“Was she killed here?” Andy inquired, shoving his menu aside.
“Yeah, but it was years ago and with a different owner. You’re safe,” Sam teased, ruffling her brother’s hair, which only infuriated him and made Sam smile.
“How are classes going, Andy?”
“Andrew, Mom. Andy was when I was ten. They suck, what else is new? But I’m going, not to worry, despite the fact that with my job and school, I have no social life to speak of.” Andrew shifted in his seat, picked at the napkin rolled around the utensils on the table.
“Ooh, its Andrew now, like the big boys,” Sam teased, warranting a nasty snarl from her brother.
“You drank and did drugs while you were pregnant with her, didn’t you?”
“It was the strawberry’s, I just couldn’t get enough of them,” her mother confessed teasingly.
“Pesticides, gotcha.” Andrew shot a toothy snarl his sister’s way.
“Ha ha, very funny.” Dipping her fingers in her glass of water, Sam flicked them at her brother. “Brat.”
“Explains your weirdness,” he retaliated by flicking water at her.
“Children…” Their mother halted the impending water fight by clapping her hands. “Let’s try and be somewhat civilized in public.”
“Too late for that.” Andrew sneered at Sam,
“You said you needed to ask me a favor when you called, Andrew. What favor?” she interjected before another argument erupted.
Turning to his mother, Andrew’s demeanor suddenly changed as he beamed a wide smile at her. “The transmission went on my car and I need a couple hundred to fix it.”
“Interesting,” she turned to the window beside them. “Isn’t that your car parked near the corner?”
“Now, I’m not a mechanic, but I do know a bit about what makes a vehicle run, and one doesn’t run when the transmission is gone.” She turned back to her son, eyes narrowed. “Now the truth.”
“Busted,” Sam chimed.
He shot her a nasty glare before turning sappy eyes to his mother. “Okay, fine, there’s this kick-ass stereo system and it’s only—”
“No,” she cut him off sharply.
“But, Mom —”
“No buts, Andrew. Save your money and buy it yourself.” She lifted her menu.
“But I don’t get paid for another two weeks. This stereo’s on sale now,” he said with desperation.
“Sorry, baby, no can do. And how about you, Sam. What’s new with you?”
“Well, I don’t need money, for one.” She shot another toothy grin her brother’s way.
“Behave now, both of you,” her mother stated more firmly.
“Yes, Mother,” Sam relented.
“I meant in your life, dear.”
“There’s this little girl that’s been coming to me at night, but I don’t want to discuss that while we’re eating. I’ll have a club sandwich, no mayo and a glass of lemonade,” she told the waitress when she approached the table. This time Sam was sure she was with the living.
“I’ll have the chicken salad and coffee.”
“I’ll just have water.” Andrew lifted his half-full glass. “It’s all I can afford anyway,” he mumbled in self-pity.
“He’ll have a cheese burger, loaded, with fries, and better bring him a coke,” she ordered for her son. “My treat,” she added after the waitress left.
“I went to see dad yesterday.”
“He mentioned you’d been by.” When the waitress approached with the steaming pot of coffee, her mother lifted her cup and waited while the hot liquid was poured.
“Has he gotten the patch yet?”
“Not yet.” Her mother frowned.
“He promised me he would.”
“Yeah, well, he lied. He’s been known to do that from time to time. He’s determined to do this himself.”
“Well he can’t do it himself and he’s driving us all nuts. Maybe if we gang up on him, tell him to get the patch. You with me, Andy.”
“Not if you keep calling me that,” he snarled at her.
He really was touchy today. More so than usual. “Fine, sorry. Andrew. You in?”
“What is your problem? You sound like dad with the grumpy attitude.” Something was up with her brother. Sure, he had his moods, but he was unusually moody today.
“Do they make a patch for bad moods?” Sam asked her mother and received a balled up napkin to the head from her brother.
“You know, I thought that when my children grew up they would grow out of the name calling and teasing. But no…you all had to inherit your fathers sardonic sense of humor,” her mother sighed as she lifted her cup to her lips.
“I’ll behave.” But she couldn’t resist tossing the napkin back at her brother.With a heavy sigh, her mother drank her coffee