If You Can’t Be Civil Be Silent ~ A Short Story by Allen Kopp
“You’re driving too fast, Dick, dear,” mother said.
He ignored her, lit a cigarette and blew the smoke out the corner of his mouth in her direction.
“Why Mr. Grumpy?” she asked. “Are you tired, darling?”
“No, I ain’t tired,” Dick said. “I just don’t like being asked questions while I’m driving.”
She moved over next to him and rested her head on his shoulder. “Aren’t you excited about our little trip?”
“Oh, sure, I’m excited as hell!” he said.
Dick Dubois was mother’s latest boyfriend. He was three years younger than she was and owned his own business. She was always trying to get signs from him that he loved her.
“I just don’t think you care about me at all,” she said.
“Ho-hum,” he said, putting his hand over his mouth to cover a yawn.
“We’re going to have such fun! As soon as we get checked in to our cabin, we’ll go for a little swim.”
“Oh, goody!” Coral Anne said from the back seat.
“I think I’ll just stay in the room,” Sully said. “I’m feeling a little car sick.”
“Oh, you’re such a big baby!” Coral Anne said. “You always have to spoil everything!”
“I have some Pepto-Bismol in my bag,” mother said, “but it’s in the trunk.”
“I don’t need any Pepto-Bismol.”
“Oh, mother!” Coral Anne said. “Don’t you know? He’s just pretending to be sick to get sympathy.”
“Shut up!” Sully said.
“You shut up!”
“You both shut up or I’m going to stop the car and put you out alongside the road,” Dick said.
“Don’t you tell my children to shut up!” mother said.
“Oh, I’ll do whatever I want, bitch face!”
She pouted for a minute and then nestled her cheek against his shoulder. “Let’s not have any unpleasantness,” she said. “Let’s just have fun and enjoy ourselves.”
“Is such a thing possible?” he asked.
“Mother, how deep is the lake?” Coral Anne asked.
“How would you expect me to know?”
“It goes down so far it doesn’t even have a bottom,” Dick said.
“There’s monsters that live at the bottom of the lake,” Sully said. “When they see your chubby ass in your red swimsuit bobbing up and down, they’ll grab you and take you down to the bottom and feed you to their young.”
“Mother, did you hear what he said to me?” Coral Anne said. “He’s making fun of me!”
“That’s enough of that kind of talk, Sully,” mother said. “Be civil to your sister. If you can’t be civil, be silent.”
“If I have to be civil to her, she has to be civil to me,” Sully said.
“Woman don’t think that way,” Dick said. “You have to be nice to them but they don’t have to be nice to you.”
“Oh, you!” mother said. “You’re the voice of experience when it comes to women, aren’t you?”
“I’ve been around the block a few times.”
“I still can’t figure out how you got to be thirty-eight years old without ever being married.”
“I’m not giving away any of my secrets.”
“Don’t you want to have some children of your own before it’s too late?”
“Mother, are you and Dick going to get married?” Coral Anne asked.
“You’d have to ask Dick that question,” mother said.
“I thought we were supposed to be having fun,” Sully said.
Copyright © 2015 by Allen Kopp