Ricardo (A Crime Fiction/Novel)

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Chapter One

Ricardo picked up his plate and walked to the kitchen. Along the way, he picked some dried leaves littered on the floor. Possibly, one of his family members had brought in a plant and let it drop its leaves everywhere. It could be his mother or his sister, his brother never cared much about plants. Those women be blushing around beautiful flowers like they gave money or something. He’d never understand.

“Mom, we agreed on no flowers in the house anymore, didn’t we?” Ricardo called over to his mother. He didn’t know where she might be. There was no noise coming from anywhere in the house except his booming voice and a distant hum of a speaker.

Ricardo walked without watching his steps or where his legs stepped. His legs graciously moved on the tiles, savoring the smoothness, the coldness. his eyes was above the regular view, washing the white ceiling and the designs they had come to call home. He didn’t look, so he didn’t know when the tip of his right foot hit the wall standing close to the kitchen.

“Dammit!” he said and kicked at nothing. Mouthing ouch, ouch, ouch. He stopped and looked around to make sure no one was looking. He wouldn’t want to be seen behaving similar to how a child behaved. He had told his family regularly that he was no baby or child. He won’t love anyone to come with pitying eyes and a sneer hidden somewhere.

Ricardo stopped, stared at his feet, to the wall, then he stared back to his feet. He looked up, his neck bulging, like a great stuff would pummel forth and descend on the floor. “Mom!” he yelled. There was no response, but there was still a distant hum of speaker, from his sister’s room perhaps. “Mom! Mom!”

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“Yes, hun,” his mother called out. Her voiced sounded exasperated and exhausted, like she was lifting some heavy stuff. “What’s the matter with you? You want something?” His mother had a loud voice that easily echoed, hitting on the walls and bouncing back, filling up the entire space. Ricardo often wondered why she had no soothing voice like his classmates’ mothers in high school. They all had tiny, pleasant, soothing voice, but his mother had none of those. Her voice was loud, defiant, authoritative and not anywhere tiny.

“Your flower has sliced my foot open. I am in pain!” Of course, he knew that it wasn’t the flower that cut his foot. He wanted to make trouble and courted attention. There was no way the flower would cut his leg open.

“Sorry, hun.” She was shouting now, her voice louder than before. She was probably cleaning up something or doing laundry. “You should remember to do the dishes. Your sister ain’t free enough to come and do your dishes. Keep some of those fries for your brother in the fridge.”

“Mom, I ain’t doing no dishes. She is not busy. She is playing some songs in her room!”

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“She has exam to write, hun. She is studying. You know how your sister loves studying with soft music playing in the background. Huh? Do the dishes. It takes nothing!”

Ricardo grumbled. He walked into the kitchen. Their magnificent kitchen–that’s   what most of his visiting friends called their kitchen. It was the size of three rooms. The kitchen was totally white, from the walls to the cabinet to the electric stove, everything was painted white. Ricardo didn’t know whose idea it was to do this white stuff, but the person was thorough with it and made sure it was followed to the end. In his teenage years, he had resented it, but now he looked at it with indifference.

H e walked to where the sink was, beside the window with frames painted white and glass so free of dirt and cloudiness that it showed how frequent his mother made sure it was cleaned. The tiles reflected back the blazing white lights in the kitchen. Ricardo smiled. He had come to associate this place with being heavenly. He had equated here with heaven with all those tales of white angels, white rooms, white robes, everything white and clean and smooth. This was then, the former innocent Ricardo.

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He got to the sink. The sink was stainless. A sink was supposed to be stainless, good for washing oily stuff. Now, it was indeed stainless, absorbing all the dirtiness it could find from the dishes. He closed his eyes and struck the thought off his mind. He wasn’t in the mood to be thinking of all these stuffs.

Ricardo dropped the plate in the sink. He took the washing gel from where it stood close to the plates arranged in stacks and the sponge. He turned the tap and began to wash. The smell of the washing gel turned his stomach and made it growl at him. This was one of the reasons he didn’t like doing dishes. He hated the smell of the gel, he hated the water touching his hands, he hated having to stand and perform the duties his friends said belonged to a lady. His mother called his friends’ thinking stupid.

He scrubbed and turned the plate around, the water running all over it. When he was sure it was clean, he closed the tap and put the plate where the others were. He let out a heavy breath and walked back to the hallway.

On the hallway was his mother in her apron of many colorful patterns. She had a cobweb remover in her hand and moved her heavy body around. Ricardo stood and watched her. She was rounder now around the hips and buttocks than she had been some weeks ago. “Mom,” he said, lowly.

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“Yes, hun.” his mother turned to look at him and looked away almost immediately. “Why are you standing around looking at me that way? Am I a Godzilla? Do I look like one, hun?”

“Mom, you look like five Godzilla,” Ricardo said. He was trying not to laugh. He didn’t know how his mother would take it, but his mother wasn’t really the kind of woman that would go all furious and attacking over every little thing. He wanted her to look somehow else. He didn’t like the way she was looking as of recent, although he had always liked her heavy and bold.

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“You got to be proud of your momma,” she said, swiping the edge of the wall close to her for some cobwebs. Ricardo was sure that there was no cobweb there. Mother was also repetitive of some house duties, even when they weren’t needed. “You got to tell your friends with happiness in your heart of how beautiful, big, bold, your mother is. I am a beautiful Godzilla. Got that?”

“Mom, you have been missing your workout sessions?”

His mother shifted where she was standing and walked to a little distance. She continued swiping at the wall, silent a bit, like she had not heard her son speak. This her son with somewhat of a loud mouth. She tolerated and humored him. She loved him around. “My workout sessions? Oh, those?”

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“Yes, mom. You’ve added a lot of weight, and it has been long I saw your fitness trainer around.”

“Hun, you can go stand in my place in the gym, he would love to have you around. Shouting to your ears that you aren’t doing enough. Young enough to be my own kid. He does that because he’s got some muscles and makes all the women blushing …”

Ricardo laughed. He laughed so loud he’d thought he would break his ribs, or his mouth would spill wide open, falling on the ground. his mother was damn funny sometimes. She said things in that uncaring manner of hers as if it wasn’t intended; meanwhile, he knew it was somewhat intended. “Wait, mom, you are crushing on Tom?” he asked, controlling the laughter a bit. “was that why you haven’t been going for your workout sessions? He was looking at other women, and not you?”

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She scowled at him. “Who said anything about crushing on anyone?”

“It was better you don’t, Dad would roast you like a barbecue. Tossing you here and there. Dad would strangle Tom and feed him to some lions …”

“Stop that, Ricardo,” she said in a defiant, strict, sharp voice. S he wanted to cut off the nonsense that was coming from his mouth. She didn’t like that Ricardo would run off track in some discussions sometimes. She understood it was all for the laugh, but she didn’t joke with the matter that had to do with his Dad. She still loved his Dad so much, even though he was far away and that they had been through a lot. “You know how much your daddy means to me. He was not here, but I still have lots of love and admiration for him, the reason why I haven’t gone for another man this far.”

“Mom?” Ricardo had an unbelieving look on his face. Then, he laughed. “I was just joking, mom. You know I’ll always support you in whatever you do. Dad’s not here. He rarely visits and caused us a lot of pain in the past. I don’t think it’s a bad idea at all if you move on.”

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“Awwwwn. Thanks, hun,” his mother said, brandishing a smile. “Come and give momma a hug.” She spread her chubby arms with a smile still on her face.

Ricardo knew his mother knew that he wouldn’t hug her. He had come to disassociate himself from anything that would make them see him like a child or a baby. He watched as his mother spread her arms and did nothing. He looked behind her and right behind her, Nya, his sister was coming.

“What did I hear about getting a new boyfriend for mom?” Nya said in a voice so similar to that of her mother, but it was was a younger version of it. “Have you people been planning on throwing dad away? He is still my daddy, remember?”

Ricardo made a really deep voice, letting it form the thickest bass-like voice he had heard. “You have been eavesdropping on our conversation, Nya. That was not really good of you,” he said.

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Their mother looked at Nya with warmth in her eyes. She was trying to speak with her eyes, sort of to let her calm down and understand that her mind shouldn’t be working that way. “We ain’t talking about throwing off your daddy. And why should you be eavesdropping on our conversation?” Her voice was strict toward the end, and Ricardo wandered how she could so easily switch emotions when she spoke. There were many things he admired in his mother.

“I swear I wasn’t eavesdropping,” Nya said, her arms slightly suspended in the air. “I only came in now and heard the tail end of the conversation.”

“Mom said you were reading for your exam?” Ricardo asked. “You have exam, you’re supposed to be reading and preparing. You have been reading, and your stereo has been playing music since over an hour ago?”

Nya scowled at Ricardo, her lips sagged to the right, her head tilted to the same right. “Don’t tell me you don’t know I read with my stereo on?”

“It still means nothing. I don’t know if you read or not. You could be something else in your room. Who knows? You’re behind the walls. Thick, breathless walls.”

“Ricardo, I am in my room, reading, and I ain’t forming something else as you may think,” Nya said, wryly. She turned to her mother. “What are we having for dinner, mom?”

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“Hun, are you hungry already?” Mom’s eyes opened up wide looking through at her daughter.

Ricardo laughed, looking at them. “There was a mother, and then a daughter,” he said, and continued laughing. “Nya, you’d soon be like mom with way you’re eating.”

“And you’d be like dad the way you’re going,” Nya said in a mocking tone. “The tough man kind of person and all, we aren’t that. We are ladies, huh, sweet ladies of the family.”

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“That is great,” Ricardo said. “You guys should watch what you eat still. Nya, you’d soon be set for college, and you don’t want to be a fresher looking like bloated toad …”

“Stop that, Ricardo,” their mother said, giving Ricardo a stern look. Then, she turned to Nya, giving a warmth look, and spreading her arms. “Come, hun, give momma a hug.”

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Nya gave her mother a slightly suspicious look before she walked to where her mother stood and wrapped her arms around her mother. Ricardo watched them with disbelief. What they did was something that Ricardo would have considered befitting for a child or baby, and not someone as old as Nya. his mother and sister wrapped their arms around each other, burying their heads on their chests, looking relieved. It seemed awkward for Ricardo, watching them, because this was what they did frequently. ***

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