June 14, 2017
Fredo entered the the tight, parquet-floored kitchen in all his southern California glory donning white surf shorts and a Fresca t-shirt, his long-ish black hair porcupining in all directions and framing what can only be referred to as a Chershire cat perm-grin dotted with piercing black/ blue eyes.. “Looks like you made it in one piece’, but before I could respond he'd already pivoted in one crisp, balletic move and buried his head inside the worn, vault-like fridge. “We need eggs, baby.” I did not like Fredo, not his tacky, cheaply tiled floor, not his Fort Knox fridge, not his single pump handshake or his oversized, gleaming teeth. But maybe the thing I hated the most was his sneering Swiss/German accent that he punctuated with a wistful laugh at the end of each sentence. I did not come three thousand miles to meet a boyfriend. Funny how the dice come up sometimes.
Nikki told me Fredo was a gifted harmonica player and they would frequent blues clubs along the beach so she could watch him blow. They’d hit a place, jump back on his Harley and blast off to the next jam. I placed my guitar case on the floor and asked where the bathroom was. Nikki pointed with a knowing smile. She must have sense my dissapointment and granted me escape. I passed into the small living room where a handsome woman in her forties was asleep on a recliner, her head tilted slightly back right and an easy smile spread across her full lips.
A minute later I overheard Fredo asking his mother if she needed cigarettes in English yet the rest of their exchange was fifty percent Swiss, fifty percent German and one hundred percent undecipherable to me. She sounded like she looked - handsome with an easy smile that almost sounded like music. I immediately thought her singer. Her command, even when asleep, was palpable.
Years later that smile would fade one August afternoon when the police arrived to awaken her from nap and tell her that Fredo had been killed. A drunk driver crossed into oncoming traffic the previous night and struck Fredo head on at eighty five miles miles per hour. He was thrown a twenty feet into the air. His Harley practically disintegrated on impact. She let out a wail and clutched the officer in a tight hug that lasted ten minutes. She didn’t stop shaking even when the paramedics arrived to check on her.
As Nikki circled the dairy section she threw me a quizzical look “He likes the brown ones. Go figure.” I retorted “Eggs are eggs.” She smiled “Eggs are eggs”. I could not take my eyes off her. She was like a magnet. Every man in that store cruised on by for a glimpse of her, feigning egg needs. They’d lean in, sneak a look then bolt in the other direction. She’d shake her head. “Thank god I’m a girl.” Thank god you’re a girl. Thank god you’re a girl…..