A Reluctant Corruption

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This story is long. It’s also the first time I’ve written anything of this nature. So I’ll be very curious what people think. Hope you enjoy it.

“Brrzzzzzzz…… Brrrzzzzzzz…… Brrrrzzzzz….”

I yawn.

‘You’ve got to be fucking kidding, first day out of high school and someone’s calling at 8 in the morning?’

My hand falls to the floor and fumbles around for my phone.

My eyes adjust to the screen as I read the caller ID.

‘ugh’

I answer it.

“What?” I say groggily, skipping formalities.

There’s a pause.

“I need to ask you a favor.”

I wince and jerk the phone away from my ear.

‘How shitfaced did I get at Cady’s party last night?’

“Jake? Did you hear me?”

“Can it wait till later in the day, Dad?” I ask.

He ignores the question.

“You know that tomorrow is your mothers’ and my anniversary. Well, I’m stuck at work, so I need you to pick up her present for me.”

“I don’t wa-” I begin to argue, but a sudden surge of stomach pain shuts me up.

My dad continues, “Listen, I know things haven’t been great at home, but if you do this for me I’ll talk to your mother about letting you stay a few more weeks.”

‘… or you could just let me stay till the end of summer like most college parents do. Asshole.’

I begin to feel nauseous.

“Fine… whatever.” I respond.

He sighs in relief.

‘Probably expected more of a fight.’

“Great. Thanks Champ. The gift is at a jewelry store. I think it closes at one. I’ll text you the address. Just give them your name because everything’s been paid for.”

I end the call.

‘So much for sleeping in.’

My shirt smells of spilled beer and sweat. Usually I just sleep in my boxers but, from what I can remember, I basically collapsed after getting a ride home last night.

I groan, knowing that I should take a shower but craving more sleep. My head throbs as I sit up and rub my hands over my face. ‘That was one hell of a graduation.’

I take a minute, but eventually force myself to stand and begin the search for a clean set of clothes.

It’s not easy. My room is a mess. The last few weeks’ distractions; finals, parties, and graduation, really didn’t leave me with time to stay organized. Papers clutter the floor, clothes are scattered here and there, I can’t even see my computer under all the junk on my desk.

‘Well, at least I don’t need to pack today.’

My phone buzzes. It’s the address to the jewelry place.

‘Better not be far.’

I manage to collect some passably fresh looking clothes from the floor of my closet.

I have to shield my eyes from the bright windows when I emerge from my room and enter the hall. The tile feels cold against my bare feet. I trudge slowly to my parent’s door and walk in without knocking. It’s Friday, so both my mother and father should be at work, and that leaves their giant shower open for use. Entering their room, it smells lightly of one of my mother’s perfumes, a scent I’ve learned to avoid. I head straight into the master bathroom.

While waiting for the shower to heat up I start to strip. I smirk when I catch myself in the reflection of the mirror. I’m 6 feet tall with an athletic build thanks to two years of varsity baseball. I look exhausted though. Disheveled dark brown hair hangs above my half-shut eyes, it’s a look I’ve gotten used to waking to.

Last night’s party was supposed to be the last big blow out. I’d say it met expectations. Cady’s parents were out of town and there were enough people with fake ID’s that we ended up with more booze than chasers.

I watch my image blur as the humid air fogs up the mirror.

It would have been an awesome night if it hadn’t fallen on the same day that I broke up with my girlfriend Rachel. I ended things right before the party.

She didn’t take it well, but I don’t really regret it. I just couldn’t handle any more lengthy conversations about “our future” together. Not when I have no interest in starting college tied down in a committed relationship. I want to be able to play the field and meet new people. Rachel is hot, but against all the girls I’m bound to see next year, she won’t hold a candle. I know I’m biased against the good of High School relationships. I resent them. My parents were high school sweethearts and they ended up as pricks.

I step in the shower.

They weren’t always so bad. When I was a kid, I had a decent rapport with them. We would go on vacations and do the things classic families do. That changed early in my teenage years.

My social life transformed when I hit High School. Suddenly, I was always busy and that meant I had less time for family. When I am at home though, I usually just hang in my room.

I close my eyes; the splashing water mellows the aching pain in my head. It wasn’t really my absence that caused the family relationship to sour. After my father lost illegal bahis his job a few years ago, he decided to invest everything in a startup travel agency, that’s when my mother snapped. I mean her entire personality changed. I think she just stopped respecting everyone, especially my father. It was clear he couldn’t carry the business on his own, so she was forced into work to help him run the new company. I’d feel bad for her had she not turned into a complete bitch.

Saying she’s controlling and manipulative is putting it lightly. Most people would never realize it though. Outwardly, she looks happy and says all the right things. All she has to do is flash my father or any stranger a smile and they become too distracted by her looks to realize that she is just using them.

Obviously, that doesn’t work on me, and I think that’s why she’s persuaded my father to kick me out.

It didn’t take a lot to convince my father. She’s been trash talking me for a while. Blaming me for every problem. Subliminally influencing him by repeatedly referring to me as “arrogant” or “spoiled”. I avoid her as much as I can but if she’s around any time I step out of line, she doesn’t hesitate to use it against me.

I use a towel to dry my hair. I feel better and it shows. I put on my clothes and grab the dirty ones off the ground.

‘And yet my job today is to pick up her gift.’

I shake my head and walk out of the bathroom, throwing last nights’ clothes into the washer as I pass the laundry room.

Back in my room, I surf the internet until I get bored.

‘I should get a few more hours of sleep.’

I set the alarm on my phone to 11:30 AM and drift off.

************

Some time later

‘Fuck…. fuck fuck fuck… fucking stupid alarm.’

Lesson 1. Never fall asleep on your phone.

By the time I set the jewelers address into my car’s GPS it’s already 12:40pm.

“You will arrive at your destination in 30 minutes,” comes an automated chipper voice from the speakers.

‘Seriously!?’

I shift into drive.

My fingers strum the steering wheel while I try not to panic.

‘Ugh, let them be open, please let them be open.’

I turn on the radio. It doesn’t help. My headache is starting to come back.

‘How long is this light??’

By 1:00pm, I’m still a few minutes out.

I try searching the store number on my phone. I don’t know the name though; I just have the address.

As I finally pull up to the front of the store I can tell by the dimmed lights that I’m too late. Sure enough, when I get out and walk to the window I see the “CLOSED” sign next to their posted hours.

‘Maybe I will need to pack today.’

There’s no doubt this will come back and bite me.

‘Just another thing my mother can use against me. She’ll probably convince him I intentionally screwed up their anniversary out of spite.’

I pace for a minute.

‘Whatever the case, I still need to let him know.’

I take out my phone and dial his cell. It’s off.

I try again. Same thing.

I’m driving home.

‘I should have never agreed to pick that stupid gift up.’

After a few minutes of driving, I park at the side of some road to think.

‘I can’t go home empty handed.’

My hand goes through my hair.

‘I need a good placeholder gift. Dad would probably understand and I’d get credit for trying at least. Plus, that way he can eventually take credit for two gifts and my mother would never know.’

I smile to myself, ‘that could actually work.’

I scroll down my phone, searching for good last-minute gifts. Everything in my price range is tacky and my mother would hate it.

I do a new search. “Cheap authentic looking jewelry.” I chuckle, thinking about my mother’s reaction if she found out one of her jewelry pieces was fake.

The only result that sounds promising is a place called Zygri’s (trinkets, tokens, and baubles).

I start the car.

************

It takes me a while to find Zygri’s. It’s located in a secluded corner of an old deserted shopping complex. I park right in front, since there are no other cars in the entire lot. All the surrounding shops appear to have gone out of business a long time ago. The emptiness is unnerving.

‘Cue the tumbleweed.’

A bell chimes as I enter the shop. I’m greeted by a musty scent. One reminiscent of an old bookstore. The lights are dimmed and it takes my eyes a second to adjust.

When they do I’m surprised at how cramped it is.

I make my way through many racks and shelves. Each seems to be stacked or overflowing with trinkets and souvenirs from touristy places.

‘Looks like a dollar store that just gave up.’

I pick up a post card from a rack standing next to me. It looks old, even the picture is faded. I turn it over. It’s been filled out with a postage mark dated 1978. “Ok then.”

I put it down.

Most illegal bahis siteleri the items seem pretty weathered. Some of the higher shelf knickknacks have a healthy coat of dust on them.

‘Maybe they keep the good stuff in the back?’

Moving slowly through the maze of aisles, I eventually see an older lady sitting behind a counter in the back. The register on the counter looks antique.

‘I hope they take debit.’

Her glasses face down at the newspaper she’s holding and, I assume, reading. As I make my way to her, the products become less and less traditional. On one shelf sits a rusty wrench. I look down to examine it.

‘The fuck?’

It has a price tag of $1,500.

‘Ha, must be a gag.’

A little further down the aisle is a shelf holding unmarked vases of colored liquids.

‘Who buys this stuff?’

I’m about to reach the register lady when my attention is drawn to a case a few feet to my left.

‘Wow..’

Bracelets, earrings, necklaces, rings, of all shapes and sizes glitter alluringly.

‘Now we’re talking.’

My eyes settle on a set of small silver earrings. Each one looks to have a tiny pearl engraving.

They look nice, attractive enough for an anniversary gift, small enough to evade suspicion of being fake. I don’t know if they could trick my mother, but possibly.

“Find something you like?”

I look toward the register where the question came from. She looks to be in her 60s, gray hair held back by a turquoise headband. She’s wearing a tie dye robe. She removes her reading glasses and waits for my reply.

“Umm, yeah, I’m actually looking for a gift for my mother.” I say truthfully.

“Oh how sweet… is it her birthday?” she asks politely, studying me with her eyes.

She reminds me of those grandmas in movies. Kind and helpful.

“Uh huh,” I answer, not wanting to delve into a long conversation.

“Well those would look good on anyone.” She smiles genuinely and stands up, pulling some keys out of her pocket and walking toward the case.

“That’s good, since she’s pretty picky.” I reply.

The year my dad lost his job and money was tight, he still got my mother a nice pair of shoes. She took one look at them and bought herself a higher end pair the next day.

The old lady laughs.

“Mothers are allowed to be picky when it comes to jewelry, they are the ones who are going to have to wear it after all.”

I want to roll my eyes.

She opens the case and I point to the earrings I was looking at.

“Does your mother have a lot of jewelry?” She asks.

“She has some….” I trail off, not knowing what else to say.

She smiles again and hands the earrings over for me to inspect.

I turn them in my hand.

‘No blemishes or scuffs.

They look real enough to me.’

I look at the older lady. She’s patiently waiting.

I think about how to ask my next question.

‘Screw it.’

“It’s kind of important that she doesn’t realize these are fake. Is there anything I’m not seeing that would give it away?”

The lady’s smile disappears.

Her expression changes to one of a quizzical nature.

Her gray eyes peer at me and then back at the earrings.

“Ah, I’m sorry it wasn’t more clear,” she finally says apprehensively, “all these pieces you see are, in fact, real.”

‘Bullshit. Why would anyone be selling this stuff in a second hand store?’

“I see.” I respond, unable to hide the skepticism from my voice. “And how much are you selling these particular earrings for?”

Her eyes travel back to the case. “They cost 1,600 dollars,” she states.

I laugh.

“Are you serious?” I ask bewildered.

“Completely.” She responds, untroubled by my disbelief.

“Well, do you have anything inexpensive that I can get her?” I retort, pointing to the case.

She cocks her head and furrows her brow. Her gray eyes look at me in a stern fashion as if she’s coming to some realization.

“Am I to understand that you are trying to trick your own mother on her birthday with fake jewelry?”

‘??’

“No.” I reply, perturbed at the judgment in her tone.

She dismisses my denial. “Do you not care about her enough to get her a legitimate gift? After all she’s done for you, raising you… taking care of you?”

I start to speak. “She doesn’t really deserve… I don’t think you understand…”

She interrupts.

“I can understand a boy trying to pull a fast one on a loved one. Trying to cheat his way into good graces. I just hope you can live with yourself.”

That hit a nerve.

‘Who does this lady think she is?’

“Look lady, you don’t know anything about my life, so why don’t you just get back to your little trinkets and mind your own business.” I turn to leave.

“She gave you your life, and now your plan is to disrespect her.” She spats at me.

canlı bahis siteleri I turn back around, dumbfounded. I want to leave, but something is holding me back. Maybe it’s just pent-up anger.

‘Why is this woman getting so upset? Is she this desperate for company? That she would rather yell at some stranger than read her newspaper?’

She stares me down with her gray eyes.

“You want the truth?” I say loudly. “My mom’s a bitch alright? She blames me for things I never do, convinces my father I’m a freeloading brat, and the only thing she really cares about is herself. Hell, she and I can’t even stand to be in the same room together, I don’t know what you want to hear but if you think I’m horrible you should get a load of her!”

I immediately feel embarrassed at how escalated and personal this conversation has become. I think about apologizing for yelling.

My words seem to have impacted her though. Her face has softened and she gives me a look of pity.

“Your relationship is fractured; it’s imperative that you both mend it.”

Her voice is back to the kind tone from before.

‘Yeah, I’ll get right on that…’

I begin to turn back toward the door, hoping to escape this awkward exchange.

“Wait,” she says quickly and holds up a finger. I reluctantly stop moving.

She rushes back behind the register counter.

“I know just the thing… it must be here…” She frantically searches for something hidden from my sight.

‘Just walk out.’

“Wait.” She repeats with uncanny timing. A few seconds later she pulls out an object and a satisfied expression spreads over her face.

She walks up to me and smiles. A different smile. This one is almost mischievous.

“Here,” She says, taking my hand and pressing a miniature box into my palm.

I look at her curiously and then open the small fancy container.

Inside is a necklace. A brilliantly shiny necklace with 3 diamonds surrounding one black diamond in the middle. It looks insanely expensive.

“I can’t af-” I begin.

“No charge.” She says bluntly.

‘Now I get it… this lady is insane. The real store owners are probably chopped up in bags somewhere.’

I give her an inquisitive look. The strange smile is gone but, still something about her eyes makes me edgy.

‘It is a beautiful necklace though.’

“Thank you.” I ultimately say to the woman.

She pats me on the back and leans in as if to kiss me on the cheek. Instead, she just whispers in my ear, “every boy should love his mother.”

‘Yep… she’s crazy.’

I step away from her and stick the box in my pocket, making my way outside.

I don’t stop moving till I’m back in my car.

‘This day is turning out to be way too weird.’

I take the necklace box and open it up again.

‘It is certainly flashier than the earrings were.’

I try to imagine how it would look on someone. Not overly cumbersome to the wearer but still very appealing to anyone who likes that sort of thing. I put it back in it’s case.

‘After all I’ve gone through to get this, dad better not be mad I overslept.’

************

At 5:15 PM my father knocks on my door. I still haven’t told him about the gift.

“Hey, were you able to pick up what I asked?” He said, kicking off a long conversation.

I told him I had car trouble (white lie) and by the time I got to the jewelers, they were closed. He was disappointed but when I showed him the necklace he looked at me incredulously.

“How could you afford this?” he finally asked.

Playing it cool, I just said that I found a good deal for it, I promised it wasn’t stolen, and I told him that it was the last time I’d be doing something for my mother. You could tell he was excited about the necklace and how happy it would make her.

“This is great, the gift you couldn’t pick up was also a necklace, but now I can just save that for the next holiday. Seems your car trouble worked out for everyone!” He nodded at the necklace while holding it up. “I’m going to give it to her after dinner.”

“Why not just give it to her now?” I say, hardly caring about the answer.

“When it comes to women son, it doesn’t matter how they feel during the day, as long as they are in a good mood at night” his eyes are still transfixed on the necklace.

It takes me a second to get his meaning.

“Jesus dad, I don’t want to hear that from you.”

“Oh, sorry kiddo,” he apologizes while putting the necklace back in its box.

“Don’t think I forgot about our deal, I’ll convince your mother to let you stay for a few more weeks.”

His hand reaches for the doorknob.

“Actually,” his hand stops and he looks back at me. “When your mother and I get back from dinner why don’t you come out to the family room when she opens her gift? I know you two don’t get along all the time but hey, she’s your mother and she’ll appreciate that you helped me out. We don’t have to tell her the specifics of course, but I’ll let her know you did not let me down.”

‘Really pops? You’ll let her know? HA! You could tell her I discovered the cure to cancer and she’d still want me out yesterday.’

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