When Mother plonks down at the rickety restaurant table to wait for Father, I am warmed by the two hundred-crown notes I liberated from her wallet. Two years after divorcing him, she is handing me over. She tells me she loves me but. My teacher reported on my absenteeism, the police on the kiosk robbery; in my room she found her lost ruby ring, the rubbers, my teacher’s glasses.
In the family meeting she cried. “You are fourteen, Mirko. What has become of you? Reform school or your father’s?”
She orders a beer, switches to mineral water. I order a beer, watch her look, laugh. She glances over, shudders. I start whistling, “All You Need Is Love”.
“You could…try a little,” she exhales.
In the bathroom I throw the toilet paper roll in the garbage, take the lid off the tank. When I return, Father is with her, face stinking with cheer. “So, how are my two favorite people?” he asks.
Her eyelid twitches. “You have to do it, Lado.”
“Aaah, don’t you worry. He’s a chip off the old block. I’ll show him what he needs.”
Rising, she knocks her chair over. “Maybe he’d be better off in reform school after all.”
She pats my arm. “Call me if…”
I nod. “You will bail us out, won’t you, sweet Mami?”