God AAAAGH! Sorry :(
...Gosh, I hope this works, lol.
Maribeth is talking to Marvin :)
Marvin heard all this, vaguely. “Ghost” especially. His eyes were open, his head ever so slowly beginning to clear. He wanted to reach up and touch Amy’s cheek, to see if his hand would pass through it, but his muscles failed the command. Where he was had yet to crystallize fully. What was clear to him, though, was that she was here…leaning over his body right at this moment, illuminated by some trick of light, smelling faintly of lilac. Her deep auburn hair shone golden. Her eyes appeared sparkling blue, now. Even so, she was beautiful, his Amy transformed by the light and the fog in his brain.
He was a homeless man, that much was apparent to Maribeth Harris, and he was ill. She had spotted Marvin through the kitchen window, lying just off the drive, arms outstretched as if he were waiting for the cross to be dragged into place. His bare feet registered first; the grime on the soles picked up after the shower out on the streets. How the left pointed straight up, the right leaned to three o’clock. The impulse to grab the phone and call 911 was checked as quickly as it rose—she would wonder just why in the weeks ahead—and she ran quickly to the rear door at the end of the connecting hall. Robert had seen her peering out the window from his place in the main hall, and was close on her heels when she darted away, trying to explain the bum's earlier presence in chopped sentences. “Please just be quiet, Robert,” she’d replied when they arrived at his side.
“What happened to you? Can you hear me,” she asked looking into Marvin's glazed eyes. Her soft voice drew the curtain aside. He struggled to sit up.
“No, no. Just lie still. You’re hurt,” Maribeth said, placing her hands on his paper shoulders and gently forcing him back. The wrinkled texture of his coat, the condition of his entire bleak wardrobe seemed not to affect her at all. She kept her hands on his shoulders until she was certain he wouldn’t start, maybe burst a blood vessel in his weary-looking head.
“What on earth happened to you? How did you get here?” she followed.
Marvin lay still, thinking back into the cloud of the morning. “I…I’m not sure. I was told to come here. That I’d find you here.” He peered at her face, and a sort of confusion began to surface in his eyes. She was very pretty, he thought. Yes, very pretty, but no matter how he tried to change the color of her hair and the shape and color of her eyes…this girl was not Amy. His heart sank.
Robert returned with the water. He stopped and knelt beside his mistress Maribeth, handing it to her.
“Thank you.” She turned to Marvin, holding the plastic tumbler wide to her right. “Can you sit up?”
Marvin rolled onto his side and then pushed himself into a sitting position. His head spun momentarily, the trees and shrubbery at his right wheeling to his front, back to the right, and then again to the front, over and over until his blood settled. Maribeth steadied him with a hand on his shoulder while Robert surveyed the wreck of a man silently, a feeling of disgust rising like a blister. The head servant of the governor’s household hailed from common stock; a man, who by chance and providence entered into a trusted position. He viewed the tramp at his feet with a certain loathing, a giant step below him on life’s ladder. Robert’s education had come to an end after his eleventh year, a matter of necessity, not laziness. He drank little, possessed a few belongings of some value, and attended Mass with the First Family every Sunday at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Marvin’s education, he rightly guessed, had ended much earlier, and most likely this was connected at the hip to his character, identified by his rough speech, manners, and filthy clothes.
“There. That’s better. Drink this. You look dehydrated,” she said.
Marvin took the glass and sipped the icy water slowly. After a moment he said.
“Thank you, that was very refreshing. But I’m not dehydrated. Actually the opposite. I took a shower earlier…well, that’s why my clothes are still wet. I mean, that’s how I dried off…with the clothes. I don’t really need any more water. But thanks.”
Robert shifted to an upright position, rolling his narrow eyes. “Yuh might have cunsiduhed showerin’ with them on,” he said with a patronizing laugh.
“Shame on you, Robert. That will be all. Bring me my cell phone, and then continue with whatever you were doing.”
“Excuse me,” Marvin interrupted, “who are you?” He was staring intently at this young woman whose fingers rested on him, trying to make tails out of heads.
Maribeth hesitated before answering, looking at the hollow eyes. They spoke not so much of sadness, as perhaps they should have, but of incomprehension, confusion, the child whose mother has lost him in a crowd. He looked like Mad Max and Rothschild the day Maribeth had rescued them from the kennel’s merciless needle.
“My name is Maribeth. I live here. Do you know where you are?”
“Yeah. The Governor’s Mansion. 400 East 8th Avenue. He sent me here, said I’d find her…but you aren’t her. You…are you married to the governor?”
Maribeth laughed. “No. I’m his daughter. What’s your name, anyway, and who is it that sent you?”
Marvin eyed her, wondering. Was it go for broke and tell her the truth, or act the sane man and simply leave? Maribeth raised her eyebrows slightly, smiling with her lips held tightly shut.
“I’m Marvin Quenton Fuster, miss. Lately an indigent, of no account to anyone, especially myself. And, he told me…Do I look crazy to you. Be truthful.”
“Yes.” Maribeth nodded her head. “But no crazier, I suppose, than any other man in your, er, situation. Are you homeless?”
“At the moment? Yes. No. That depends on what you define as being without a permanent residence. Mine is the underside of a loading dock not far from here. Quite comfortable, actually, though it lacks the amenities of…” He gazed behind her to the wall of the mansion, and then back into her pretty face. “The amenities of someplace like this. How many toilets do you have here?”
Maribeth sat back onto her haunches and clapped her hands. “Wonderful! I don’t know. There are too many to count. You’re funny, Mr. Fuster—that’s an odd last name. Is it English?”
Marvin relaxed, now, seeing she was probably not “foe”, and that the police were most likely not on the way. “I have no fuckin’…AAAAGH! No idea. Sorry. Something’s inside my brain. I think it’s him. Somehow. Every time I say something that isn’t straight out of Emily Post he zaps me!” Marvin leaned forward and grabbed her arms. “I tell you, Maribeth Harris, daughter of the governor, I know every line of The Grapes of Wrath suddenly! It’s frightening! A Farewell To Arms, too! This morning I couldn’t have recited Mary had a little lamb…couldn’t even have read it! Christ Almigh…WHOOA-AAGH!”
(c) Patrick Sean Lee, 2010