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The Sjellborn Ultimatum
Joanna sipped the beer her brother brewed and pretended she liked it.
Cal took this heel and pushed the cooler full of PBRs closer to her.
“It’s ok,” he said, not having to complete the sentence.
She took one more sip of the porter and put it on the picnic table.
“Alright, Mr. Mindreader, serious question: Do you think Dad’s having an affair with Mrs. Sjellborn?”
“Mom’s been dead for 2 years and I don’t even remember a Mr. Sjellborn, so whatever it is can’t be an affair.”
Joanna slammed her hand into the icy water holding the PBR and pulled one out, cracked it, took a guzzle and made a commercial-style exhale of enjoyment.
Cal stared at her.
I get it, you hate my beer didn’t have to be spoken.
“I said ‘serious’, Joanna said. “In your opinion are Dad and Mrs. Sjellborn intimate?”
Cal sipped his porter. He was happy with it. He took another sip. Joanna stared at him, her color changing and her eyebrows were lowering into her lids.
“It’s not my opinion,” Cal said. “Within my realm of knowledge, based on what I’ve been told, Dad and Mrs. Sjellborn are intimate.”
Joanna’s eyes opened like a cat had triggered a roll-up drape.
Before Joanna could ask another question, Cal said “She’s great for Dad. Therapeutic. She’ll probably add 10 years to his life.”
There was a long silence.
Cal watched Joanna sip his porter again like she forgot she didn’t like it. After a grimace, she set it down, put the PBR to her lips, decided against it, and set that down too.
“Why, “ Joanna asked, sounding cut-from-the-debate-team-before-a-trip-to-Washington miserable, “didn’t Dad tell me?”
“Probably,” Cal said, “because they are intimate in ways that would make you uncomfortable.”
Joanna leaned back in her chair and accidentally kicked the table. Her bottle of PBR fell over and she made no move to right it.
“Holy screamin’ crap, Calvin Michael Morris, Dad told you sexual details?”
Cal shook his head and left it in a position where Joanna could see he was getting annoyed.
“Tell me,” Joanna said.
Cal didn’t want to smile, but he couldn’t help it. He felt like he was 11 again, torturing his sister by taping her beloved Blueberry the Bunny to the weed whip.
“It’s none of our business, JJ.”
From somewhere deep in her throat with her teeth clenched, Joanna growled “Fuuuuuuck you, Calla Lily, tell me. What kind of kink is our dear father into?”
“Intimacy isn’t necessarily sexual, Jo. I read that in one of your magazines when I was 17. Mrs. Sjellborn comes over, Q-tips dad’s ears, makes sure his glucometer is affixed to his arm properly…and…you might need one of those beers for this one–pops his back zits for him.
Joanna grabbed the porter, took a swig and gagged.
She closed her eyes, then opened them again.
“It is kinda sweet, I guess.”
Cal finished the porter he brewed, and let a silent belch escape.
“Could be a kink on her part though.”