Joyce’s Sisters – Mavis and Maureen

 Joyce’s sister Mavis

Mavis's favorite tattooMavis 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.


 Mavis’s twin sister Maureen

Maureen St. JamesMavis and Maureen moved into Joyce’s small apartment under the up ramp and took Kingsley’s bedroom and his brand-new bed.  Kingsley had to sleep on the new couch.   They were still in bed when Joyce went to work in the morning and when Kingsley caught the bus to school.  They were out of bed and awake when the bus brought him home from school in the afternoon, but just barely.  They were sitting on the couch, watching TV, wearing only their bras and panties. He lowered his head and hurried past the two teens.  He stayed in the kitchen eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches until Joyce came home, after sundown.  When Joyce saw the twins still in their underwear she hit the roof.  She pulled the two teens off the couch and slapped their behinds. “Get dressed!” she yelled.  “We’re going shopping.”   She grabbed her purse.  “You’re coming with me to the mansion tomorrow.  You’re going to help me take care of Mrs. Sutherland.”

Maureen sneered. “I ain’t wearing no old lady shit,” she said, eyeing Joyce’s drab work clothes.  “Goth is real me.”

“I don’t give a rat’s crap about the real you,” Joyce snapped.  “You’ll clean up and wear what I tell you to wear or hitchhike back to New Orleans.”   The twins got dressed and she herded them out the door like a rabid border collie nipping at the heels of two stupid sheep.   Kingsley was glad to see them go.  All of them. Even his mother.   He was finally able to watch TV in peace without so many noisy women around.
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