Blackout

Holding the phone lightly against his ear, Carl felt a small jolt of anticipation run through him.  Kayla was pissed off.

“Yeah, I had to have a repairman come out to look at the garage door.”

“Uh huh?”  He knew exactly where this conversation was going.  Thank goodness she hadn’t video called him.  Reaching for the remote he muted the television so he could hear her better.  Star Trek could survive without his attention for a few minutes.

“Remember that last power outage?”

A guilty grin fluttered at the corners of his mouth.  “Sure,” he said.  “You were stuck at home for that one, right?”

“Yes.”  She spat the acknowledgement through the phone like lemon juice looking for an eye to land in.  “And I asked you to come over and see if you could find a manual release?”

Carl nodded his agreement, knowing she couldn’t see him.  It was official, he was a terrible person.  “I remember.  I tried to get you to go and look and, you said you couldn’t see anything.”  Stretching his legs out along the worn cushions of his couch he reached for his cigarettes and shook one out of the pack.  The ashtray was on the floor beside him.  He reached for it, setting it on his stomach while he fired up.  “It was probably just a button or something on the main box.”  It was probably because the power was out and his sister couldn’t hold a flashlight still.  She constantly moved the beam around, never giving herself, or anyone a chance to actually see anything.

Kayla was silent on her end of the conversation for a just a few seconds.  Carl could visualize exactly what his she was doing, filling her lungs slowly with flame, preparing to spew lava all over her cell phone in the hope that some of it would reach him.

“As it turned out, it was just a lever.”  Her voice was cold and dangerous.

“Really?”  Carl exhaled smoke through his nostrils and gave in to the smile he had been trying to hold back.

“Yeah, really.”  Kayla inhaled harshly.  “Carl, you knew that lever was there!  You left me and my kids stranded here in the middle of a blackout without a car when you could have just come over and opened the damn door!”

Carl took another drag and tapped the ashes into the ashtray, careful to not spill them onto his stomach.  The shirt wasn’t his favorite but he didn’t like to ruin things unnecessarily.  “It was a blackout, Kayla, not a snow storm.  You were fine.”

“What the hell is wrong with you?  How can you think so little of your family that you just ignore them during times of crisis?”

“Crisis?”  Carl laughed at that.  Everything with his sister was a crisis.  The dictionary definition for drama queen had her picture next to it.  “Get over yourself, Kayla.  It was just a blackout.  If you had really needed to leave I would have come over and opened the door for you.”

“I JUST PAID SIXTY-FIVE DOLLARS TO FIND OUT I COULD HAVE FIXED IT MYSELF!”

Holding the phone away from his head Carl sat up and ground out the rest of his cigarette.  He was laughing too hard to finish it.

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