Read How Hard Can It Be? Online

Authors: Robyn Peterman

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary

How Hard Can It Be? (5 page)

“Yes, doughnuts. And get your damn feet off the table. Do you live in a barn?” I grabbed a box of powdered sugar minis and tossed them to her.
“Rena!” Kristy screeched at decibels that could result in hearing loss. Her mortification made her eye twitch. Not a good look. “I’m so sorry, Professor Sue, for Rena’s horrific, disgusting, appalling behavior. Please, put your feet anywhere you like.” She shot me a look of death.
Shoshanna/Sue LeHump chuckled and dug into the doughnuts. “Oh Kristy, Rena’s right. I tend to fall on the side of uncouth. I could use a good handler to keep me in line.”
I made a face at Kristy and I literally felt her need to slap me. She wouldn’t dare, not in front of the legendary Professor Sue Whatever-her-last-name-was.
I decided to make nice with my roomie. Last time I pissed her off, she froze all my bras. Very high school, but very effective. “Kristy started a nonprofit literacy program at the battered women’s shelter,” I explained to LeHump proudly. “It has a daycare, and she’s helped hundreds of women get their GED and find jobs.”
“Goddamn it!” Shoshanna shouted, diving for Kristy and bear-hugging her for the second time in less than twenty minutes. “I am so fucking proud to call you my student! You are helping women help themselves. You are my hero!”
After a bunch of crying, pride on Shoshanna’s part, joy on Kristy’s, and, if I’m being totally honest, a little jealousy on mine, we all settled down and finished off the buffet of doughnuts, crackers, and cheese. Shoshanna finally decided to hit the road, but not before we filled Kristy in on our project with Evangeline.
She screamed in horror upon hearing my plot and laughed so hard she had to run to the bathroom to pee. Maybe I really should consider a career in stand-up comedy. I could pack a house with urine and all kinds of other liquids expelled through the nose. As I daydreamed about being a famous comedienne and hanging out with Stephen Colbert, I idly wondered if Shoshanna would carry the baseball bat into her sister’s house to get her money back. I didn’t for a moment believe she’d use it, but she did have a bizarre flair for inappropriate drama.
“Rena, don’t bother bringing your lunch on Monday. When I was on the crapper, Nancy called. She’s going to stop by and bring us something to eat. She wants to make sure that we’re alive.”
That didn’t sound good. The alive part and the Nancy lunch part. “Will it have cream of mushroom soup in it?”
“Definitely.” Shoshanna grinned evilly as she walked to the door. “Just bring a couple of snacks!” She winked and left.
We sat in silence for two minutes and forty-seven seconds. Kristy in heaven and me in shock.
“I can’t believe Professor Sue was in our house, and she’s proud of me.”
“I can’t believe she’s a professor.” I shook my head in disbelief and went scrounging for some chocolate. Nothing. I could find no chocolate. Damn.
I didn’t need it after the carb fest I’d just indulged in, but I wanted it. My voracious appetite was demanding it. “Don’t we have any candy around here?”
“You ate it all last night.”
Dang it, she was right. If it wasn’t so cold outside I’d walk to the corner and buy six candy bars. Occasionally the subzero temps were a blessing in disguise for my ass. I decided to go to bed before I ate something unforgivable. Plus, I couldn’t handle any more weird.
“Are you going to go for Casssssanova?” Kristy grinned.
“No, but I may bring him a cassssserole,” I giggled.
“I was thinking you might want to do some matrasssss wrasssssling with him and his fine tushy.”
“That sounds a little too sasssssy for me,” I laughed and punched her in the arm before we got so assed out, we couldn’t stop.
“Why don’t you ask him out?” she said, pulling her legs up underneath her on the couch.
“No, I’ve only seen his butt. That would make me shallow. Why don’t you ask him out?” I cringed at the thought of the ass I considered mine, on my couch watching bad reality TV with my roommate. What in the hell was wrong with me? I needed to get laid in the worst way. Soon.
“Nope,” Kristy said. “He’s not my type, too built and too bad boy. Looks like a lawbreaker. He’s totally your type. You are so going to drop your panties when you see his face.”
I rolled my eyes. Hell, I was ready to drop my panties for the butt... “Don’t think so. I don’t need anyone else with a rap sheet, no matter how fine his buns are.”
“I realize you’ve been traumatized by your questionable taste in men,” she giggled, “but this guy is sexy.”
“Whatever. Good night,” I muttered, determined to get Mr. Wonder-Butt out of my head. “Oh yeah, what’s Professor Sue’s last name?”
“Lumpshclicterschmidt.”
WTF? I almost choked on my own spit. Just when I thought the weird had left the building . . . That was by far worse than my last name; it was the worst last name I’d ever heard in my life. No wonder she went by Professor Sue. I grinned as I thought up ways to use my newfound info about LeHump to make our time together more fun. I truly hoped being armed with her last name would give me a little leverage in the “you have to shave her bunions” department, but with LeHump, who knew?
I crawled into my bed fully clothed and shut my eyes.
Are you there God? It’s me, Rena . . . please let tomorrow be a little less eventful than today.
 
After the most bizarre Saturday of my life, Sunday was a breeze. Even brunch with my parents, Aunt Phyllis, my newly pregnant younger sister—the doctor—and her boring lawyer husband didn’t faze me. Normally being within ten feet of my overachieving younger sibling made me want to slap her, but today she didn’t bother me. Even the questions about my love life didn’t make me want to chew glass and swallow it . . . because I lied.
Apparently I’m dating a really rockin’ guy I met at the library on Thursday. Named . . . um, Jack.
“So what does he do?” Mom asked excitedly, separating her eggs from her bacon and hash brown casserole. She can’t stand it when her food touches.
“He’s in, you know, like communications and stuff,” I muttered, quickly shoving pancake into my mouth to avoid speech.
Why did I lie? It was so much harder to keep track of all the bullshit I kept spouting instead of sticking to the truth. My sister Jenny grinned evilly, enjoying my sudden discomfort. I grinned back enjoying her big butt and dark roots. Now that she was pregnant, she couldn’t dye her hair. It pissed her off royally that I was a natural blonde and hers came from a bottle. I was sure I’d get karmically kicked in the ass for taking pleasure in my sister’s shortcomings, but aside from her wide ass, which she inherited from Aunt Phyllis and her skunk hair, she was perfect. I was the fuckup, but at least I had a good rear end.
“How old is Jack the communicator and stuff?” she smirked.
“Thirty-fiveish. When’s the baby due?” Maybe turning the tables back to her favorite subject—herself—would get her off my fictitious boyfriend Jack.
“October. Why didn’t you invite him to brunch, Rena?”
I chewed a new wad of pancake I’d shoved in my mouth and stared at her. She hated that.
“Is his last name Snuffleupagus?”
God, she was a bitch. “As a matter of fact, it is,” I bit out sarcastically, “and I didn’t invite him because he’s in Russia doing . . . um, work.” Shit, shit, shit. Well, if that didn’t sound like a big fat hairy lie, I didn’t know what would.
“How exciting!” Aunt Phyllis gushed. “Does he have a TV?”
“Oh, Jesus,” my dad mumbled. He had a fairly low tolerance for Aunt Phyllis’s eccentricities. Jenny’s husband, Dirk, ate and pretended he didn’t know us.
“I don’t know. I haven’t been to his place yet,” I murmured, praying this conversation would end.
“Well, if it turns out he owns one, have him come talk to me,” she said.
Mom’s brow furrowed with worry. “Phyllis, I don’t want you sharing your crazy ideas about people in your TV with Rena’s beaus. She has enough problems keeping a man without them knowing how crazy we are.”
My mother and Aunt Phyllis took my single status personally. I’d sworn off dating for a while. I didn’t understand why it was such a big deal. My Aunt Phyllis repeatedly told me she would still love me if I decided to be a lesbian. Sweet Baby Jesus, if it were only that easy. Hence the mythical boyfriend . . . Jack.
Being single in my family had gotten dangerous. I hadn’t had a date in two months, unless you counted the hostile takeover of three hours of my life last weekend. I thought I was going to poker night at the church with my mother and Aunt Phyllis. They’d lied. It was a singles mixer for Lutherans who couldn’t find dates without help from Jesus.
“Mom, don’t worry about it. Jack likes insane people,” I muttered, reassuringly patting my aunt’s hand.
My sister laughed, so I leaned forward, ran my fingers along my natural blond roots and started humming “I Like Big Butts.”
“Mom, do you hear her?” Jenny hissed, pointing her butter knife at me.
“Rena, don’t incite your sister. She’s hormonal and she can’t do anything about her hair stripe, so don’t be mean.”
Jenny turned a very unbecoming shade of purple. She gave me the finger, pulled her beret out of her purse, and plopped it on her head, effectively covering her stripe. I had to think her bedside manner sucked. Dirk kept his head down and ate faster than I thought humanly possible.
“What about the aliens in my toaster?” Phyllis inquired as if she were speaking of something as mundane as the weather.
“For God’s sake Phyllis, do you have Martians living in your toilet, too?” Dad snapped.
“Yes, sometimes,” she replied.
That was new. I wondered if the sock gremlins in her dryer would come up. Crazy didn’t just run in my family . . . it stopped and strolled and hung out. And I was fairly sure it had taken up permanent residence at Aunt Phyllis’s. I listened while everyone shot down all my poor aunt’s hypotheses and quietly made my escape before anyone remembered to interrogate me about my new love, Jack the Communicator, any further.
Chapter 4
T
he Lake of the Isles was one of the ritziest areas in Minneapolis, so of course Evangeline O’Hara resided there.
At exactly seven fifty-one a.m., I pulled up to a gorgeous turn-of-the-century Georgian Revival. I’d had to borrow my Aunt Phyllis’s butt-ugly car. God love her, she had explained at length about the little green men living in her gas tank. After swearing on a stack of Lutheran Bibles that I wouldn’t let any harm come to them, she loaned me her automobile. My own cute little car was permanently dead. Dad had pronounced her death after looking under the hood at the parking garage yesterday after brunch. Apparently changing your oil is an important aspect of keeping a car running. Lack of oil, for those of us who didn’t know (mainly me), can burn out your engine. All of a sudden the thirty thousand Evangeline was going to pay me was necessary. I needed a car . . . fast.
The portico at the entrance of her mansion was stone, flanked by two enormous statues that bore a disturbing resemblance to Evangeline. . . right down to their enormous racks. The house was grand and the lines were graceful, but the entire effect was destroyed by the sheer number of naked statues blanketing the front lawn. It was obscene. And quite honestly, I wondered if it was legal. This was Minnesota, for God’s sake . . . Land of the hot dish, mosquitoes, and hard-core Lutherans.
Minutes later, Shoshanna arrived in her minivan and parked behind me. The glare of the morning sun made her lime-green coat glow, causing me to squint in pain, but her shit-eating grin calmed my jangled nerves.
“You ready?” she grunted, trotting over to my car.
“No.”
“Great,” she laughed. “Let’s go.”
As we made our way through the naked wonderland, Shoshanna whispered, “You think these are bad? The ones inside are fornicating.”
“I can’t wait.”
Cecil-Jeeves let us in, wearing his requisite black suit and frown. He eyed us skeptically and then abandoned us in the foyer. And what a foyer it was. The tackiest, most expensive, nouveau riche disaster I’d ever seen. Pink marble floors with deep rose velvet covering the walls. The windows had to be twenty feet high, with mounds of baby pink silk raining down to the floor. Not only was it baby pink . . . it was bejeweled baby pink. Someone had spent months putting tens of thousands of rhinestones all over the curtains, and the effect was stupefying. I felt like I was in a Vegas bordello.
But the statues . . .
Shoshanna was correct. They were definitely fornicating, and it wasn’t pretty. I saw some things I didn’t know were possible. I did catalog a few positions away for future research with my imaginary boyfriend Jack Snuffleupagus.
“Is this for real?” I whispered.
“The whole fucking house is pink and if it’s not a statue of people screwing, it’s a painting or a hand towel or a lamp depicting some weird sex act. Or someone getting spanked.”
I tried unsuccessfully to hold back my laughter. I had stepped into another dimension and was so grateful I wasn’t alone. No one would ever believe this without seeing it.
“It’s foul.” Shoshanna wrinkled her nose in disgust.
“I thought you wrote about stuff like this,” I said, referring to one of the statues I couldn’t quite figure out. The man was holding a whip in one hand and his member in the other. The buck naked woman standing next to him did not look pleased. I wasn’t sure if it was because of the whip or the fact his wiener was extremely unimpressive.
“Hell no! I write about consenting adults who enjoy bondage, domination, and sadomasochism. My erotica is all about the empowerment of women. All of my dominants are women. Of course they like butt plugs, cock rings, furry handcuffs, and the occasional pair of ass-less leather chaps, but it’s all in the name of the big O. The women call all the shots in my novels, but they are concerned and attentive to the pleasure of their submissive men. Big difference. Plus,” LeHump added wickedly, pointing to Mr. I-Carry-a-Whip-to-Make-Up-for-My-Small-Penis, “I’d never write a guy into my book with a pecker the size of a miniature sweet pickle.”
“I truly wish I didn’t know any of that.” I shook my head and pondered how long it would take to forget about this particular conversation. I’d put my money on years . . . like, ten.
“Hello ladies.” Evangeline stood at the top of the ornate curved staircase. What on earth was she wearing? It looked like a turquoise lace peignoir set . . . heavy on the lace. Her bosom was tremendous; it looked far bigger than it had on Saturday. Was that possible?
“How do I look?” Evangeline purred. It was creepy.
“Like a hooker well past her prime,” Shoshanna grinned, leaning on Tiny Package Whip Guy.
“Shut up, Shopoopie, and get off my masterpiece. That Italian sculpture cost more than twenty years of your salary,” she hissed as she wobbled her way down the stairs.
Where in the hell was Cecil-Jeeves? I had horrific visions of Evangeline tumbling down the stairs and landing dead at our feet. Orange was not a good color for me, and I was not going to prison for a death I hadn’t caused. It was bad enough that I’d spent six hours in the pokey for trying to follow my dream of being the new Sunshine Weather Girl. If someone had let me in on the fact meteorologists actually went to school for that crap, I wouldn’t have been so persistent. I had thought all I would need was a great smile and a cute wardrobe. Live and learn.
“Did Belvedere give you the list?” Evangeline inquired, thankfully making it down the stairs in one piece.
I was not mistaken; her bosom was larger. As in, look at my boobs . . . they are almost level with my collarbone. The visual was so shocking, I couldn’t look away.
“Impressive, aren’t they?” she asked seductively.
“Good God, they’re bigger,” I gasped. Shit, had I said that aloud?
“Thank you for noticing, Rhoda. It’s a new procedure from Bulgaria. No surgery, just some Silly Putty and a pump. It’s not legal in our country, but I have my sources,” she informed us slyly, running her hands lovingly over her obscene boobies.
“You pumped Silly Putty into your chest?” I felt a little woozy. She was deranged and probably going to die. Silly Putty was meant for stretching and putting into your sister’s hair so she screamed bloody murder and had to get it cut out . . . not to make your boobs bigger. Shoshanna stood beside me . . . stunned to silence. Probably a first for her.
“Of course it’s not Silly Putty from the toy store, you imbecile,” she sneered. Her bulbous lips made a sneer—one of the most frightening things I’d ever seen. “It’s a highly secret compound discovered in Newark, New Jersey, and manufactured in Bulgaria. Only those with means can afford such quality.”
“I think she meant those that are mean,” Shoshanna muttered under her breath.
“I heard that, Sholumpy. Since Alfred can’t seem to do anything right, I’ll just explain to you what I need done today,” she said sweetly.
My gut dropped and a chill skittered up my spine. Evangeline was anything but sweet.
“The babies need their teeth brushed and their anal glands expressed, I need someone to run a package to the news station, and my breasts need to be massaged. If they’re not manipulated every half hour today, they’ll harden. And that’s out of the question. I paid fifty thousand dollars for my bosom and it shall remain supple and beautiful.”
My stomach roiled and I almost threw up a little bit in my mouth. She wasn’t joking. My gag reflex precluded me from squeezing anal glands, so touching her breasts was . . . was, um . . . probably the most repulsive thing I could imagine. And I had a very well-honed imagination. The news station thing didn’t sound bad, unless it was WMNS. I wasn’t allowed within five hundred feet of that one. But if I went to the news station Shoshanna might have to touch those horrible soccer balls protruding from Evangeline’s chest.
“Rena will go to the news station,” LeHump informed the hag, trying to save me yet again. “I’ll brush the skank dogs’ teeth. Cecil can express their glands unless you’d like me to puke all over your house, and you can play with your own tits. It’s not my bag.”
The witch narrowed her eyes and much to my and LeHump’s great surprise, accepted the terms. “Fine, Shobooboo, we’ll do it your way. Rollo, you will take a package to WMNS. You will take it to the production offices on the main floor and get written confirmation of receipt. Do you understand me, Rula?”
I said nothing, I had no idea what to say. Sharp tingles of panic began dancing in my chest. I couldn’t go there . . . I had a restraining order against me. If I stepped within five hundred feet of the WMNS building, I would be breaking the court order and could end up in jail. I started to sweat, little droplets of fear and shame dotting my upper lip and forehead. Should I just come clean and explain why I couldn’t do it? No, I’d just offer to massage her boobs . . . fuck, I couldn’t massage her boobs. I could barely look at them. Touching them would scar me for life. Maybe if I got a nose plug and a blindfold I could squeeze her dogs’ anal glands. I didn’t even know exactly what that meant, but with the term
anal
involved, I assumed it would smell bad. My gag reflex was real, and I knew anything that had to do with butt smells would set it off with a vengeance, causing me to hurl repeatedly. Of course vomiting gave me migraines, and migraines led to me lying in darkened rooms for days on end. I didn’t have time for any of this shit, but I needed the thirty thousand bad. Cars didn’t buy themselves. Butts, boobs, or the pokey. How in the hell did I get into these messes?
I knew what I had to do.
“I’ll massage your hooters,” I whispered, horror and fear clinging to each word.
“Oh Sweet Baby Jesus, no,” Shoshanna shouted, grasping Tiny Penis Man’s whip for balance. My volunteering for the heinous chore clearly made LeHump’s knees buckle.
I quickly whispered to Shoshanna, “I can’t deliver the package. I’ll explain later.”
LeHump stared at me as if I’d lost my mind. I’m fairly sure I had, but when it boiled down to going to jail or touching the scariest boobs I’d ever seen . . . the answer was clear. Boobs.
“I don’t think so.” Evangeline smiled, and something odd colored her tone. “Shodunky has a point—I do believe I’ll enjoy playing with myself all day. It’s clear to me, Ruby, you harbor lesbianic tendencies and want to caress my bosom, but I’ve decided to deny you that pleasure. If you’d like to keep this job and earn the obscene amount of money I’ve offered you, you will leave this room immediately, change your clothes, and go.” She held the package out and watched me closely.
Lesbianic tendencies? WTF? She should be so lucky. Something didn’t feel quite right, but with everyone staring at me, I had no time to figure it out. I supposed if I kept my head down and moved quickly through the lobby of WMNS I could get away with it. I’d keep my hat pulled low and tuck all my hair into it. My dressy clothes included an awesome cashmere turtleneck sweater. If I pulled it up over my mouth, between the hat and the sweater, my face would basically be covered . . . I could do this!
“Fine,” I said, throwing my shoulders back, ready to dive into the Fourth Circle of Dante’s Inferno. That would be the Circle of Greed. I had turned into a whore. I was risking jail time to make thirty thousand dollars because I needed a car, and I was terrified of a woman sporting bowling balls on her chest.
I grabbed the package out of her hands, picked up my bag, and turned to leave, only to find Cecil-Jeeves blocking my way.
“I’ll take it, Rena,” he squeaked out in his prepubescent voice. “You stay here.”
I knew this game. I had a sister. He was so not going to get out of butt gland land by pretending to be concerned about my mysterious stress at going to the news station.
“Absolutely not,” Evangeline spat, giving Cecil a hostile glare. He immediately shrank back and lowered his eyes. “Ruthie is going and I will hear no more about it.” Her face was a glowering mask of rage. I had never seen anything so frighteningly unattractive in my life. This was the weirdest place ever . . . and I knew weird.
“Take her to the powder room to change,” she seethed, “and do not speak to her. Do you understand me, Kato?”
“Yes,” he whispered, appearing scared out of his gourd.
I was completely confused about their relationship. I’d thought he was her bodyguard and possible lover, but he now seemed more like a servant. A horribly treated houseboy with a plethora of butler names. I found myself feeling sorry for him, but that didn’t mean I trusted him. He gently took my arm and led me away. I went into the powder room to change and when I came out he was gone. Everyone was gone. I checked myself in one of the many full-length mirrors placed around the foyer and was pleased with what I saw. My super cute plaid woolen miniskirt looked hot with my tight black turtleneck. My knee-high black boots made the outfit kick-ass, not that anybody would see it . . . I planned on staying very covered up the entire trip.
Glancing around the pink hellhole, I wondered again what I’d gotten myself into. No time for thinking . . . I grabbed my purse and the package and headed out to do one of the stupidest and most illegal things I’d knowingly ever done.

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