The doorbell echoed. No answer. Viktoria shrugged at Eric and pushed it again.
Finally they heard the door unlocking from the inside.
“Olivia!” Viktoria could not help but exclaim her surprise.
“Aww, looky here, the dream team. Well, sorry, you will have to find some other fool whose life you can ruin today. Oh wait, silly me, you are not here for me anyway, are you Viktoria. So sorry, Blaine does not live here anymore.”
“Olivia, you do not need to be so mean to Viktoria. None of this is her fault!” Eric defended his friend.
“Figures. Everybody always defends poor innocent Viktoria … but we all know that you are not really all that innocent, and you certainly are not poor. I think that was what actually did it for Blaine, the knowledge that after everything you picked that rich guy over him. One could almost feel pity. Almost.”
“Goddammit Liv, why are you so frigging hateful. You know me better than this. I did not try to intervene in your relationship and you knew full well that Blaine and I happened one time only and nobody was together with anybody at that time!”
“True. But the only reason I was not with Blaine was because he was waiting to move on you. I asked him the night before THAT happened if he wanted to go steady and he told me that he needed to think about that. When I saw what I saw that morning, I knew exactly WHY he needed time. Well, the fool I was let him talk me into giving him a chance and we see where that led. Either way, I really have nothing else to say to either of you, so bye!”
She slammed the door shut and locked it.
Viktoria looked at Eric, who hated confrontation.
And where the hell was Blaine?
Eric decided to go home, while Viktoria went for a long walk to process everything. So everywhere around her the family life was crumbling, except for her, her immediate family was the only thing that was still intact. Thank goodness. But with that drama all around, it was probably just a matter of time.
She walked past a little restaurant and had an epiphany.
“No sorry Miss, Mr. Cameron no longer works for us. And I do not know where he lives now, even if I did, I would not be at liberty to share that information with you. Truly sorry.”
As she was ushered out of the restaurant Viktoria cursed in her head. Oh Blaine, getting in trouble again, are we?
She walked and walked, deep in thought, when she arrived at a very familiar crossing. A little park, where she used to play as a child. The tiny little home she grew up in was near. Should she go see it? Her mother passed nearly three months ago now but it still hurt terribly to even consider her gone. Viktoria had always been very close to her mother. Suddenly there it was. Home. Her feet had just carried her here.
She walked up to the mailbox, looked at the door, which now flew open, and a very angry woman, VERY pregnant woman stormed out, now addressing Viktoria.
“I would stay FAR FAR away from this place, if I were you!”
“Oh ok …” Viktoria stuttered, not understanding a word.
The front door was left open. Somebody lived here? She had not looked into the inheritance, but let her older brother handle it for now until she was ready. Then everything else happened. Ezio suggested selling the house, but Viktoria couldn’t. But Guenther should have told her he rented it out … she approached, curiously.
“Hello?! Is anybody here? I am unarmed, not a burglar, I am the … umm … landlady… I think?”
Viktoria heard moaning from somewhere behind the couch. This place was a mess, dirty, the bit of furniture that was there was not her mother’s, but some random stuff from a flea market or trash piles. It reeked of … dirty socks and stale alcohol.. and … sweat. There were empty bottles of booze and empty take out boxes everywhere. What a pig sty! She’d teach the new tennant some manners! They clean up or would be on the park bench by tomorrow!
She walked around the couch, already upset.
“Excuse me, but this is REALLY unacceptable, this is disgusting! You are a dirty old .. BLAINE?!”
“Hi …Vik…” Blaine giggled, attempting to hoist himself up from the floor, unsuccessfully.
“Blaine, let me help you up … OMG you are naked!!!”
He looked down on himself and giggled “I am…I know I have clothes .. somewhere …I think …”
“Urgh. Come on now.” Viktoria assisted him, avoiding certain regions on him, while he just giggled, trying to wrap his arms around her.
“Stop it you fiend! We need to get you sobered up. And into a shower. My gawd you stink!”
“Awww… the smell of love .. and booze. Mostly booze.” he laughed. He was absolutely drunk.
She put his arm around her shoulders and hoisted him off the couch and up the stairs to the bathroom. There was barely any light in this place and the stairs were dark. had she not known this place like the back of her hand, she would have stumbled and broken both their necks. The bedroom was sparse, just an inflatable camping bed and some pitiful nightstand .. and empty bottles. The air was stale and smelled like … sex. URGH! She now flung him into the shower, holding him upright with one arm, while turning on the water with the other ….
“COLD!” Blaine protested…
“It will get warmer in a second…. there we go already better…”
“Cold water shrinks my nu..”
“BLAINE I do not want to hear about your … you know .. parts. You need to sober up. You finish this, put on clothes, and I will make some STRONG coffee!”
She left and opened all the windows in the house before heading into the kitchen. There was no coffee maker. Or coffee. Or milk. Or food … Man, Blaine. You didn’t just hit rock bottom you found the bottom of the bottom. he clearly needed her. There was no way she could just leave him hanging. Even though she knew that if Ezio found out about this, there would be hell to pay.
She ran over to the small coffee shop down the street, praying it was still there and was in luck. She bought the biggest sized cups they had and went back home. Blaine was not downstairs yet. She went upstairs and found him, passed out face down on the bed. She exhaled. Maybe this wasn’t so bad. Sleep would do him good.
“Viktoria .. don’t … go …” he mumbled into the bedding.
“You’re awake. Here I have coffee. You need some!”
“I need YOU.” his voice seemed to crack as if he was crying. But she had never seen Blaine cry. No. It was just the alcohol.
“Well, you are in luck, you have both. Me and coffee, and both of us are going to sober your butt up! We need to talk.”
“No more talking.”
“Blaine Cameron, sit up and face me like a man!”
“I don’t wanna…”
“Since when are you such a drama-queen, Cameron!?”
He lifted his head. “If I agree to talk, will you stay tonight?”
“Blaine … you know I cannot. Ezio would have a cow. And I have kids to whip into shape. I just can’t.”
“They don’t need you like I do …”
“If only you knew…”
“I can’t do this anymore Vik … I am going to end it all….”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“Me. My life. Everything.”
“Blaine Cameron, if you mean what I suspect you mean, I am telling you now you are in super-deep shit with me now!”
“Why? I am just a fuckup anyway … a failure. Always have been.”
“Very sore is what you will be, if you keep that crap up!”
“ooooh, sounds raunchy … I am interested…” he chuckled while sitting up.
“I meant I’d beat your ass. And you are still naked!” Viktoria averted her gaze.
“Nothing you haven’t seen before, my angel!”
“Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaine. Please. Throw me a bone here…”
“I am trying…but you keep rejecting my … bone.”
“Oh my god what are you? 14? Just hit puberty?! Can you please adult for a moment? Put clothes on and meet me downstairs. Don’t dare falling asleep again!”
Viktoria stomped off. He was impossible, but still very likable. He always had liked to tease her and push her buttons. It was just his thing. She sat down on the couch and winced. There was a very noticable spring, sharply poking her rear. She stood up and investigated, while rubbing her butt.
“Need help with that?” Blaine teased.
“No thanks. Your couch attacked me.”
“Yeah … it’s kinda last year’s model … so to speak.”
“Blaine, what happened? What is all this shit? Why are you in this house? Why are you drinking so much? And why did you lose your job? What are you doing now for a living? And where is your guitar?”
“Oh man, I am not sure I am sober enough yet for this investigation… let me try. What happened? Well, you know the gist of it. Olivia left me, angry, then suddendly came back even angrier and demanded the house. It’s hers anyway, obviously I could not get a loan to buy a pack of gum, so .. I left. Evidently nobody likes to rent to losers, so … I ran into your brother and he suggested I stay here for the interim. Don’t start I know, but … I had no choice. This shit is what I could afford to furnish it. Most of it I found on the streets. Drinking is all I have left and it makes me forget, which answers you next question … evidently drunk line cooks are frowned upon. Sadly I was too drunk to remember not to got to work drunk so I got fired. Surprisingly an undereducated failed musician with not work history to speak of who got fired from their last job due to intoxication on the job, who is probably getting slammed with some hefty child support payments which I cannot pay, who has no solid residence is not a hit on the job market. Who knew. My guitar I pawned to afford the stove, fridge and microwave. Did I miss anything?”
“Why did you not come to me? Guenther will get an earful!”
“Leave him be, I begged him not to tell you…. and I am sure I do not have to tell you why I did not come knocking on your door with that jealous Italian and his mafioso family of his. Although that would probably be a cool way to go, but I’d hate for you to be the wife of a murderer.”
“Ezio is not that bad…”
“If I am involved, he IS that bad, sugar.”
“Drink your coffee. We need to get some food into you and clean this place up.”
“Sounds wonderful …” Blaine smirked while pulling a face.
“All right, where are your cleaning supplies?”
“My what? Well, there is toilet paper … I can spit on it for you … will that suffice?”
“Oh yuck. You are impossible, Cameron!”
“So I hear.”
“Get your coat. We are going to get you food and basic household items. And then we will get this house spic and span. Mama would be rolling over in her grave if she knew about this mess!”
Blaine’s smirk faded. “Yeah, about that … I am so very sorry angel… my condolences I ….I …ummm..”
She hugged him. He held on a little too tight for a little too long, so she pulled away … “To you as well. I know you loved her too. Which is why I do not know why you did not come to her funeral.”
“I … was there …. just not in plain view. It did not seem right. Considering all circumstances, I did not want to make things harder for you.”
“Ezio would have understood! He is not a monster!”
“Let’s just go, sweetheart, before I decide I want to get drunk again.”
They ate at a small diner, Blaine put down his food in record time, plus finished half her plate and two side orders. They got groceries and basic supplies, then cleaned her childhood home till it just glistened.
“Do you know where all of my mom’s things are? Did you sell those?”
“I would never sell your mother’s things. Your brother has them in storage somewhere. Apparently he didn’t think I could be trusted with them.”
“I’ll talk to him.”
A forceful knock on the door. The pregnant lady from earlier came back and started yelling at Blaine as soon as he opened the door. Blaine just stood there and listened, did nothing when she slapped him, hard.
“Hey, lady, wait a second!” Viktoria protested
“What do YOU want, you bitch? Think this one is going to treat you any better than me? I told you, run while you can!” She turned and stomped off.
“Umm .. Blaine … did you do that?”
“The bump no, she had that when we met. The Blaine-hatred, yeah, that was probably me. I seem to have that effect on females.”
“Thank god you didn’t knock her up. But why would you sleep with pregnant women?”
“Well, if there are no non-pregnant ones around, besides, no sex is ever safer …right?!”
“You are deranged. Speaking of, I have another question for you, and I need you to be serious now. Don’t lie to me.”
“Uh oh. What did I do now?”
“Take photos. Very specific photos. Of me. Is this enough of a hint or do I need to be more clear?!”
“How did you find out?”
“Long story. I am going to need those photos. Now. And any negatives you have. And I am dead-serious Blaine, do not mess with me.”
“Ok. But please, don’t burn them…”
“Of course not. I am going to make a lovely collage for my living room at home, you moron!”
“Can I not just keep them, if I promise…”
“You have got to be joking!”
He went up to the bedroom and came back with a small box of photos. Some very old and yellowed of happier and simpler times, showing them as children, as teens … and then there were the dubious ones. Viktoria fished all the negatives and photos out, then waved them in front of Blaine’s face.
“What the hell, dude?!”
“I … I .. don’t know …”
“I trusted you, Blaine!”
“I know … and I felt bad, but I just couldn’t… I … they were all I had left of you…”
“Blaine, enough. I have told you before and I am telling you again. I am your friend. Just like I always have been and always will be. But not more. You need to find your own happiness. There is a girl out there for you. You need to clean up your act, that manwhore thing was kinda cool in your twenties, but you need to be a real man now. I know you can do it. I’ll help you get your life straightened out, I’ll help you get a job, but I need YOU to do your part. Did I make myself clear?”
He just nodded.
“I … promise.”
“Great. Here you can keep the pics that pass censorship, but those I will take and somehow dispose of for good. And never ever take such photos of me again, especially not without my consent! Clear?!”
“Ok Blaine, I will be in touch about the furniture and the other stuff, ok. And you remember your promise.”