Joyce’s sister Mavis
Mavis owned scores of romance novels. Flimsy books she picked up at the grocery store with drawings of half-naked lovers on the front cover. She stacked the books one on top of each other in the corner of the bedroom she shared with her twin sister Maureen. The bedroom that used to be Kingsley’s in their small, second-story apartment, before he and his mother moved in with the Sutherlands. A shabby looking complex next to the coal docks in Hampton, as dilapidated as tired old men with four units in each building – two upstairs, two downstairs. Half-wrecked cars littered the front, the dumpsters overflowed, and dirty children played between rows of thick concrete girders.
Joyce wrinkled her nose. “I hate those paperbacks,” she complained. “Why don’t you buy an e-reader like Mrs. Sutherland’s? They don’t attract mold and silverfish.” All Mavis had to do was point to the black coal dust Kingsley tracked in and Joyce would back down. Their air conditioner had stopped putting out cold air long before summer ended. The landlord had told Joyce he’d fix it but he never did. Mavis would sit on the windowsill, dangling her legs out the window, reading Forever Isn’t Enough.
When Kingsley asked Floyd what was so special about romance novels, why do girls like them, Floyd leaned back in his favorite wicker chair on the front porch. “They’re predictable,” he said. “No matter how bad the man treats the woman, she forgives him and they’ll end up falling in love.” That made no sense to Kingsley.