1995

BBQ

“No Henry, I will NOT bring her back. She is OUR daughter, not just yours. It’s YOUR WEEKEND! You should come get her, as I have to pick her up when she’s done.”

Myra listened to her mother hiss angrily through the phone, her voice carrying up to the landing where she sat.

“EXCUSE ME?” The roar shook the walls. Her outburst was followed by the slam of the fridge door, a few things tipping over on the shelves inside. “I am perfectly capable of being her mother Henry. I don’t need a fucking lecture from you. I can handle it. I don’t see you doing anything to make matters better!”

Myra rolled her eyes, picking herself up from the top step. She headed back into her room, grabbing a loose shirt to throw on over her tank top before slipping on her flip-flops. She tossed her hair back into a messy bun, gave herself a once over, and then headed out down the steps and out the front door.

Her mother didn’t seem to notice. The argument she was having with her ex-husband continued to rage on. They were fighting over recent events. Myra’s new friends coming up in conversation, the rest spiraling away after that.

“Trouble just walked in.” Leon’s grin was infectious, his eyes finding her there on the edge of the house without any inclination. Myra stepped around the edge of the Toretto house and escaped into their backyard.

“Who is this?” A man she’d never met glanced over from the grill, a blue chef’s apron over his belly. He had a nicely set tan, no sleeves to his top, and a few tattoos covering his biceps. The spitting image of Dom if there was such a thing as clones, and she knew right away she was finally meeting Mr. T.

“That’s Myra pops.” Mia stepped down from the back steps of the house, a salad bowl in her hand, a smile on her face. Vince was just behind her, an arm of soda and another of chips keeping him occupied. “She moved in across the way.”

“Miss Clayton moved?”

“Yeah Dad.” Dom piped up from his seat at the table. He was busy cutting up onions and tomatoes, a plate of cheese beside him and a cutting board in front. “Got ourselves new neighbors.”

“You got parent’s Myra?”

“I live with my mother.”

Mr. T took the response and only nodded, returning his attention to the grill. When he was done with the meat he called out for Vince to grab a plate and the teenager obeyed, quickly heading inside and coming out with a serving tray. Myra watched with a tense anxiety in her bones, not really sure if she was actually allowed to be here. Which was foolish, she knew it was foolish. Vince had invited her.

“You wanna help me with the cake Myra?” Mia offered her an inviting smile and Myra took it, quickly following the girl up the stairs and into the kitchen of the house she had been in not two hours ago. “Grab the icing from the fridge.”

She did as she was told, handing it off to the younger girl and watching as she popped the top off and quickly dipped her finger in. She licked the cream off and smiled, offering the frosting to Myra.

“I never cared for sweets.”

“Around here, if you don’t take it when you can you’ll never get it. These boys eat like pigs.” Mia took out a knife from the drawer and started to spread the frosting on the cake top and sides. “Do you have any siblings?”

“I had a brother once. But he died in a car crash.”

“Oh I’m so sorry to hear that.”

“I was only two, I didn’t really know him.”

“All the same though.”

A heavy silence sank in as Mia finished off the cake and tossed the frosting container. She wiggled her brows at Myra as she licked the remnants of the frosting off her fingers before asking her to open the back door so she could take the cake out.

“Don’t mind my dad,” Mia spoke quietly.

Myra let the screen door snap shut behind them as they headed down towards the table.

“He’ll ask you a million questions, he’s just nosy.”

Myra could only smile as she took a seat next to Vince and glanced around the table. He wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her closer, planting a soft kiss on her temple before returning to his conversation with Dom. Mia sank down beside her, offering her a bottle of water to which she took. When Mr. T brought over the plate of meat Leon joined the table across from Mia, hands rubbing together, tongue running over his lips.

“Let’s say grace then get to eaten. Mia.” Mr. T took a seat beside his son, just across from Myra. He closed his eyes and bowed his head and she quickly followed.

“Heavenly father bless this food we are lucky to have and consume. We’re always grateful for the broken down cars you lead into our daddy’s shop, the good grades you allow me to get, and the fights you steer away from Dom and his friends. Thank you for old friends, and new. Amen!”

“That’s my girl.” Mr. T chuckled, reaching in and grabbing himself a burger. As soon as he returned his hand from the platter the rest of the food started to vanish. Myra was mesmerized by the table manners, or the lack of, as the boys grabbed burger after burger, eating frantically.

“So Myra.”

She looked across the way at the older man as he squeezed out ketchup onto pickles and onions and lettuce over his open burger.

“What brings you and your mom here?”

“My mom got a job at Gateway Hospital.” She picked at the burger in front of her, glancing over and watching as Vince tore through his second.

“And your dad?”

“He lives in Orange County.” She grabbed the ketchup he had just put down and squirted a little on her top bun, making a perfect swirl. Pickles, a little lettuce, and last but no least a slice of cheese.

“That’s a completely different world than Echo Park, if you don’t mind me saying.”

“Dad!” Mia scolded him, shooting him a glare as she took a bite of her hotdog. Her dad only chuckled, rolling his eyes at his perturbed daughter.

“It’s ok.” Myra gave Mia a smile before returning her eyes to the older Toretto. “My dad got caught sleeping with the maid so my mom put in for a divorce. She hasn’t worked in a few years so the first job that opened up she jumped at. Hence why we’re here.”

The table grew a little hush hush at her ability to speak so frankly. Vince all but coughed on the burger sliding down his throat. Myra handed him her bottle of water and he waved a thanks before chugging half of it.

“You’re a spit fire aren’t you?” Mr. T smiled. His smile held a twinge of sorrow though; she could see the pity there in the folds of his cheeks. His eyes sparkled with some kind of knowledge she was sure he would keep to himself. He seemed like the kind of man who would let anyone, no matter their age, live the life they wanted.

“You can say that again.” Leon chimed in and snagged the ketchup at the same time, emptying almost half of the bottle onto his plate.

“Do you have a job, Myra?” Mr. T once again pulled at her attention, directing her gaze right to his chocolate brown eyes.

“No.”

“Are you going to college?”

“No.”

“Are you any good at organizing?”

------------------------------------------------


“What do you mean you got a job?” Tammy took a bite of her cold pizza slice, running her unoccupied fingers through her hair. Myra looked on at her mom with slight annoyance, her eyes involuntarily rolling without much thought.

“Isn’t that what you wanted?”

“Yeah but...” I didn’t expect you to actually do it.

“But what mom? You asked me to get a job and I got a job. What do you want now?”

“I just wasn’t expecting it to be at a place like that.” She finished off the pizza and placed the plate in the sink. Her slender form went about washing the plate quickly, drying it off and returning it to the cabinet where she had gotten it out before. It had been a while since Myra had seen her mother washing a dish. She wondered vaguely if it made her think of Selena the maid, the woman who had broken the last straw on their marriage. “Wouldn’t you like to work at a tanning salon or a restaurant maybe?”

“You don’t get to do this.” Myra picked herself up from the floor, brushing off the invisible dust from her pants. “You don’t get to do this to me right now. This is so unfair.”

She left the kitchen and headed upstairs to her room, the only place she could sit down on furniture. Her mother was hot on her heels though, and she knew this was going to turn into an argument she didn’t want to have right now. The stress was building and Myra sank down onto her bed, waiting for her mom to make it up the stairs completely.

“You can’t get rid of me like that Myra!”

But she could. She could just ignore her. She could just close her out and move on with the life she wanted to have. This place didn’t serve her purpose anymore, it only annoyed her. Only made her hurt. The open window sat just there on her right and she could see Toretto’s house across the street bright in the darkness of night. She wanted to be there, in the light, in the fun, not here.

“I’m going out.”

“No you’re not.”

Myra turned her eyes to her mother, watching as she tapped her foot impatiently, hands on her hips. She looked just as exhausted as she sounded, maybe even more. She had worked a long day; Myra could tell that. Her eyes were half open; she had dark spots just below them. Her lips were pail, her hair still held the dent from the ponytail it had been confined to all day.

All she could hear though was the phone call she had overheard, the words trickling into her mind as she stared at the woman who had pulled her away from everything she knew and loved.

“Why don’t you just send me back to Dad’s, like you’ve been thinking, huh?”

Her mom wasn’t sure what to say at first. She took a step back and placed a hand over her eyes. She rubbed her forehead and sighed, eyes finally returning to her daughter. “You weren’t supposed to hear that hon-“

“Yeah well I did.” Myra turned her back, grabbing the bag on her bed that she had packed while waiting for her mom to get home. She’d made up her mind a long time ago. After dinner with the Toretto’s it had turned into games with the Toretto’s when then turned into movies and chatter with the Toretto’s. She had spent her entire day in Vince’s arms, talking to his friends, being around his family. She didn’t want her life anymore, she wanted his. “Don’t worry about it, I won’t be here enough for it to matter anyways.”