Lochlan is sitting in the big chair in the corner by the fireplace picking a melody on a guitar, singing just barely audibly over the music. His face looks angry but he's still holding it together while I argue with Batman on the phone.
I made it all the way until around fourish on Christmas day when I went to do something that had already been done and a drink was fixed and left out for me besides and I had to go look into a mirror to tell the girl who looked back that I didn't know her and so I couldn't let her in, sorry, and then I went back and told Asher that he was off for the rest of the day and we would discuss employment tomorrow but this sort of ambush on Christmas Day isn't exactly a good idea on Batman's part and I'm not sure this sort of life for Bridget is a good idea on anyone's part, frankly.
On Thursday I would not let Asher make breakfast or coffee. The others locked me out of the house while he made lunch, only letting me in when it was ready, and then by midafternoon pretty much all of the boys were convinced that Asher is the best thing since sliced bread and did much to alleviate their guilt.
Lochlan hasn't said a word about it but I know he thinks all of this is so ludicrous. He thinks paying more than a dollar for a loaf of bread is outrageous when the rest of the world has moved on and doesn't blanche at paying $3.99. He thinks all kinds of things and only says half of them out loud because he chooses the hills he will die on and leaves the rest be.
It's very difficult to argue the actual need for Asher. No one wants to see me struggle. I don't know how not to, though.
By Friday I suggested he do no further unpacking and instead go and stay with Batman in Ben's recently vacated room or any one of the other rooms there and we would work out a schedule in which he could maybe come down and help for a couple hours a day to start.
Yesterday I fired him, telling him to go and get a life. He smiled impassively at me because he knows damn well I'm not the boss.
So I swore at him and one eyebrow went up and it was a little bit hilarious that he was standing there taking it when most people would have walked out and never looked back.
How badly do you need this job, Asher?
I was told not to make this personal.
If you live here on the point you do it without skin. It's one of the perks and one of the drawbacks.
I heard and I'm cool with it, I just don't want to guilt you into keeping me here. Did you really spend time with a circus?
Yes. Why do you need the job so badly?
Nothing tragic. I fucked up my chances at a corporate job on purpose because wearing a tie makes me gag. Batman is doing damage control on my behalf.
He needs to let you fall. He's not doing you any favors.
No, the whole domestic help thing in which I scrub toilets and sort mail and schedule appointments for the nouveau riche is absolutely not a favor, by my standards.
Trust fund kid who lost his way?
That's hilarious, Asher. Now tell me the story of your name.
He looks at the sky and then squeezes his eyes shut. Oh fuck. My folks named me Holden and no one ever let up with the Catcher in the Rye references so when I started Grade eight in a new school I campaigned successfully to change it.
To Asher? Why did you pick that?
It was different. I don't know. I was fourteen. It was Judd Nelson's middle name. I had just watched the Breakfast Club.
Fair enough. Holden was fine though, trust me. Every kid gets teased for their name in school.
They still call me Midget and Fidget when the mood strikes. Widget. Bitchet. Frigid. Hatchet. You name it.
I thought they called you Princess.
They do but it was never meant to be a compliment.
Batman has agreed to be a little less rash in trying to throw Asher into the fray here. Caleb hasn't said a word, preferring to let Batman take any consternation full on because tomorrow is New Year's Eve and he's hoping for certain appearances to be made. Just after two he slips a pewter envelope through the door and leaves without a word. Two minutes after that Lochlan picks up the envelope on his way from the library to the kitchen and goes back into the library, throws the envelope in the fireplace and continues on his path without a word.
He sees me watching him and he doesn't say a word.