Chapter Thirty Eight
With the lantern in his hands Gun placed the lantern further than an arm’s length away from his cousin before he shouted in Can’s ears, “FIRE! FIRE!”
Can opened his eyes to fire in front of his eyes and shot up to see his cousin with his arms crossed and just looking at him, “Why are you just standing there? The house is on fire?” Gun watched as his cousin searched for his clothes in lantern glow-light. It took Can a few distorted seconds to realize nothing was on fire but the lantern around the cabin. “Why?”
Gun waved his towards the bedroom, “you and your boxers just ruined a moment for me. Get up and go to bed.”
“What moment?” Can asked as he gathered their backpack.
“It’s too late now.” Gun said kicking his cousin into the room, “you’re making breakfast tomorrow.”
“What moment?” Can asked again as Gun ignored him.
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“Eggs?” Ploy said as she watched Gun walk into a hen house. “Fishing?” She wanted to poke her eyes out. “Don’t tell me we have to garden our own vegetables?”
Through the chicken wires Gun smiled, “yep.” He laughed as Charlie ran into the henhouse to chase the chicken. “There’s a local villager nearby that helps to take care of the garden for me. There’s another town just a drive down that I contact to let the villager know I’m coming into town.” Pream held onto the basket as Gun extended his hands with the eggs he’d collected. “We’re not that far out from civilization. There’s a campground that takes about a day to reach that Can and I used to go to.”
Ploy squinted her eyes at Gun, “what are you wearing?” She shook her head and laughed, “you look like a local farmer.”
Tightening the fabric around his waist, Gun waggled his eyebrows “it’s how one hides from rich people or gold diggers.”
Pream laughed at his antics as Charlie picked up a chick. “Please remember to wash your hands before we eat breakfast.”
“Are we ever going to get breakfast?” Ploy whined as her stomach growled. “How do we even know if he can fish?”
“Quit whining and start the rice.” Can said from behind one of the bushes. “For lunch, I’m going to teach you how to pluck chicken.”
Ploy blinked rapidly, “these chicken?” She pointed into the hen house.
“There’s the meatier chicken on the other side of the cabin.” Can said as he came into view with fish tied to the ends of a rod.
Gun leaned against the hen house as Ploy counted the fish Can brought. “Whoa…”
“We’re going to salt some to dry a bit for tomorrow.” Can said as he held a fish to try and make Ploy kiss it.
Pream looked down at the eggs and asked, “is that all you guys eat here?”
“The vegetables are behind the house.” Can said pulling Ploy with him to salt the fish. “It’s possible Charlie can do it without messing up.”
Pream glanced over at Gun as he led the way behind the house, “this feels weird--” Charlie said as she hopped over some rocks. “It sounds funny too.”
“How so?” Pream asked as she breathed in the fresh air. “This is nice.”
“I don’t hear cars.” Charlie said as she leaped over another rock. “I don’t hear people yelling at each other.”
Pream laughed, “isn’t that a good thing?”
Charlie shrugged, “but what if we want to someone else? There’s no one else to talk to.” All three turned to look towards the sound of Ploy yelling at Can somewhere to the side of the cabin.
“Well…” Pream grimaced, “you will always have someone yelling at someone else over there.”
“Let’s just pick the veggies.” Gun said waving them over to where he was looming over some carrot tops and onions. “We could make soup with these.”
“I didn’t see what seasonings you had.” Pream said as she followed right behind Charlie. She squatted to look down at some cabbages. “I can’t believe you have people coming to take care of all this for you.” She looked around at the small garden in amazement, “you can live out here for some time.”
Gun shrugged, “I did, for a time.”
“What?” Pream asked as she watched Charlie pull up some carrots and handed to her to place in the basket. “Why did you do that?”
“Horrible time in my life.” Gun side and plopped himself down in the dirt row between the vegetables. “I didn’t know what to do. I was still young. Charlie was coming soon.”
“Charlie wasn’t born yet?” Pream frowned. Thinking about it again, they were young… She glanced up at Gun as he watched Charlie some distance away try to bribe a passing bunny with one of the carrots. “It was a rocky marriage?”
Sighing, Gun explained, “it was probably going into Charlie’s third trimester. We both weren’t ready. My dad had just died. I was already taking on the family business. I never had a mom, I had relatives here and there… but to find out that Charlie was a girl.” He let out a scary laugh, “I didn’t know anything about raising a daughter. I mean, look at her mother, if she took anything after her.” SHaking his head he sighed again.
What was wrong with her? Pream thought as she frowned. Was she that horrible of a person? “How bad were you fearing this?”
He picked a leaf to fiddle around with, “I was about to call defeat. Charlie shouldn’t have been brought into the world-- but a stupid night…”
“A stupid night?” Pream repeated.
He laughed again, “you’d think I’d stop drinking by now right?”
Pream followed his stare to Charlie again, “was it that bad of a mistake?”
“No, once Charlie was born, I realized the past mistake was what gave her to me.” Gun flicked his wrist and tossed the leaf into the wind. “I figured I’d work hard to get Charlie everything she deserves.”
“By spoiling her?” Prean chided, “by letting her run wild?” She watched as Charlie broke off a piece of carrot to toss towards the rabbit, “it’s not too late to still be a father to Charlie.” She looked around the garden. “this is nice, in the middle of nowhere-- she can’t get into trouble.” She smiled at Gun, “every once in awhile, take her away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The glare of an iPad or computer screen. This can do her some good.” She looked behind her as she heard Ploy screaming again, “or Charlie is going to be like Ploy one day.”
“An unemployed waitress?” Gun joked.
“Someone who don’t know what it’s like to be away from the convenience of technology.”
Pream smiled then he noticed her confused look. “What?”
“You don’t eat fish though.”
Gun smiled. “We’ve got eggs, vegetables, chicken-- canned food.”
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Gun yawned again as he pulled up to his house. Blinking multiple times he slapped his face again to stay awake. He glared at Can who was snoring in the passenger seat behind him. Everyone in the car was asleep. He stretched his neck this way and that before Jim ran up to the car to help open the door. He got out to stretch his back then opened the back door to scoop Charlie out of the car. Gun stifled another yawn as Can came to.
“We’re home?” He asked drowsily.
Gun didn’t spare him a glance. “The house was closer to get home than the condo. Maybe you could spare the time to drive your car to take them home.”
Can looked over his shoulders in the car and noticed Pream and Ploy still sleeping. He grimaced, “yea.” Sheepishly he grinned, “sorry for not staying awake to keep you company.”
“I’m going to take Charlie upstairs so Mai could wipe her down and catch a shower.” Gun began walking up the steps.
Yawning loudly Can got out of the car and opened the door on Ploy’s side. He smacked her shoulders and she came to swinging. Pream opened her eyes to see Can at the side of the car, doubled over and holding his stomach. “What happened?”
Can grunted and pointed a finger at Ploy who was still rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
Pream got out the car from the other side and looked up at the house as Noun came out with Jim to carry the bags, “Charlie is upstairs already?” They nodded and grabbed the bags from the trunk. She left the bickering pair at the side of the car as Noun watched open mouth to see Pream waltzing into the house. Jim looked worriedly at Noun as he continued to grab the bags from the car.
Gun craned his neck to stretch the long drive out of his bones and went to his room to shower before he passed out. He was thankful now that it a cabin and not hiking to a campsite this time, he wouldn’t have been able to drive back by himself. When he sees Can next time, he’s going to kick his ass. It was his plan to go. He huffed and walked down the hallway to his room.
Pream turned the hallway corner to see Gun entering his room and closing his door. He looked awfully tired. She bit her lips debating on checking on him or not. She decided to go to check on Charlie instead. She got into the room to see Mai walking out of the bathroom with a bowl of water and a towel. “I got it Mai, why don’t you go grab the bags from Noun and throw Charlie’s clothes in the hamper? I don’t want the backpack to smell like dead fish.”
Mai smiled and walked out slowly checking the hallway for signs of her boss. She heard the water running so she knew he was in the showers and quickly ran downstairs to see Noun running towards the stairs before running back up with the bag to run interference.
Gun looked around his room wondering where most of his items had went. Jai probably got around to donating his clothes. He kind of wish she ran it by him first though just in case he wanted to hold on to something she deemed old. He stretched out in bed and pulled the covers over him to rest his eyes, he was hungry, this weekend didn’t really satisfy him. He sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. He didn’t get a chance to talk to Pream one on one after that first morning. Regrets. He smiled to himself thinking how close he was to kissing her. Almost.
Pream finished changing Charlie into her pajamas, kissed her goodnight and went into her own room to wash. She came out to see Noun dusting the vase in the hallway. “Why are you dusting the vase at this time over the hour, Noun?” Pream laughed. “It’s okay, you can do it tomorrow.” She walked passed Noun and headed towards Gun’s room.
The maid covered her mouth with her hands as Pream peeked into Gun’s room then disappeared.
She knocked lightly at his door, but he didn’t answer. Pream frowned and poked her head in to check on him. She found him asleep already and sighed. She ran her hands through his hair as they were in his eyes and removed the stray strands away from his face. Daringly, she gave him a kiss on his cheek. His window was open widely and the breeze was frisky. She reached the window sill and breathed in the air. It felt and smelled differently than the fresh air at the cabin. Pream heard a grunt and a squeal that made her look down from the window to see Can and Ploy bickering again, he was pointing at her and she pulled that finger to bite down on it. He screamed making Pream jump. She turned to look behind her, but Gun was still sleeping and unaware. Closing the window quietly, she then made her way out the room, down the stairs and out to the driveway.
Jim brought the car around as Can held on to his hands. Pream had her arms crossed to warm herself from the air that was getting oddly cold that night.
“WIll you make it home safely?” Pream asked as Can stayed a few steps away from Ploy.
Ploy was still spitting mad at Can and Pream wasn’t sure why or what Can could have done to cause this reaction from her friend. They had noticed her in her pajamas and stopped their bickering immediately asking when she’d gone to shower. “When Can was doubled over next to you.” She’d replied rolling her eyes. “I was able to wash and change Charlie, shower and was checking on Gun when you bit Can.”
“Checking on Gun?” Can and Ploy repeated in unison.
“He was already asleep and you two were heard from his window.”
“You were in Gun’s room?” Ploy asked.
Pream nodded her head.
“He was already asleep?” Can repeated. He looked down at his watch. “It’s not that late.”
Pream shrugged, “he did most of the driving. He’s probably tired.” She yawned, “I am too. I’d stand here and chat with you all but a bed to myself sounds amazing after being kicked by Charlie and Ploy for two nights in a row.”
“I know not to share a bed with her then.” Can said walking around the car to the driver’s side.
Ploy scrunched her face, “please, like I’d share one with you, ever.”
Pream blinked multiple times as they continued to bicker going into the car. If she didn’t know better, she really would think they’re a couple. She covered her mouth for another yawn and went to bed too. Dinner was not an option for this household tonight.
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Pream was walking back into the house the next morning after dropping Charlie off at school and grocery shopping. She handed the grocery bags over to Sonny and saw Jai slowly descending the stairs. The older woman seemed dazed and called for Sonny. “I just sent her to put away the groceries, was there something I could help you with?”
“I was going to have her make some porridge for Mister Gun….” She held onto the banister on her last step.
That caught Pream’s attention, “Porridge? Did Gun come home?” She turned around when Jim ran back into the house announcing Gun’s car was still in the parking spot. He’d assumed he would wake up late, but this was too late.
“I tried to wake him up and felt his skin.” The housekeeper found Noun instead who was walking by and they hurried to the kitchen.
“I got it Jim.” Pream said running up the stairs.
Jim stared up the stairs and scratched his head. He didn’t know what to make of the situation anymore.