St. Michael’s Cove
Chapter 5. The Martin Twins
The security system in the Martin home announced “alarm off,” in a loud tone that hurt Abbey Martin’s head. She muted the television in her bedroom.
“Are you kids home from school?” she called from the first-floor bedroom.
“It’s me, Mom. Andy has baseball practice,” Audrey called back.
“As if you care,” Audrey muttered under her breath.
“I’m a bit under the weather, today, honey. I have my water here—I’ll just have some of that. Take some money out of the drawer and order some dinner for you and Andy.” Exhausted by the effort it took to speak, Abbey fell back on the pillows on her bed.
“Sure” Audrey replied.
Abbey Martin had been “under the weather” for months. Audrey didn’t need to ask what was wrong with her mother. She saw the empty bottles of vodka in the recycling bin. She knew that her mother emptied water bottles while they were at school, and refilled them with vodka.
The only time Abbey left her bedroom was on Mondays when Maria changed the sheets and towels. She existed on a piece of pizza or half a sandwich a day and vodka. She was skinny as a rail. Her clothes hung on her. She didn’t bother getting dressed most days. When she did get dressed, she just slipped her nightgown off and replaced it with a caftan.
Audrey sighed and called Pizza Works. They knew her and Andy well. Brent, a classmate from school worked there after school several days a week. “The usual? Brent asked. “Large pizza half cheese, half meatball and two green salads to be delivered at 5?”
$44.56 including tax,”
Right. Audrey hung up the phone and went to the drawer in the kitchen where they kept the money envelope and took out $50. Her mother gave them a check for $500 every Saturday that she took to the bank and cashed to buy food for the coming week. She and her brother bought something at the bakery for breakfast and ate lunch at school.
Her mother now slept in the first-floor guest bedroom because she had fallen down the stairs too many times. Abbey ordered her stock of vodka from various markets in the area and had them deliver. She was careful to keep a list of the liquor stores and markets she used in the top drawer of her bedside table. She checked off the store she ordered from each week to avoid ordering from the same store two weeks in a row.
Money wasn’t really a problem. An actress, Abigail Martinez had changed her married name of Martinez to Martin at her agent’s suggestion when they arrived in Hollywood. It had taken several years, but she was finally landed a few big roles and became a household name. She bought the house in St. Michael’s Cove when she was flush with cash. After her husband died, her lawyer and accountant set up a trust that was sufficient to take care of her and the twins for the rest of their lives, providing Abbey didn’t spend too much. The residuals from her TV shows and films went directly to the trust.
There wasn’t much chance of her overspending. She rarely left the house these days, and only stayed sober enough to order her next supply of alcohol. She watched television from about noon when she woke up, until she passed out at 10 when one of the kids turned the TV off. She gave Audrey her credit card to order their clothes and school supplies online.
Audrey missed Cathy, their nanny of 14 years. Her mom said that they didn’t need her when they started high school last year. Besides, they lived in the village and everything they needed was within walking distance—including the high school. She said that Audrey and Andy would be getting their driver’s licenses soon, and Abbey had promised that they could drive the family Volvo after they completed the course she had paid for. Audrey hid both sets of the keys to the car so that her mother wouldn’t be tempted to take the car out for a spin while she was “under the weather” or “not feeling well.”
Their father’s death from a drug overdose had been thoroughly covered by the media, so no one ever asked about their father. But the questions about their mother were relentless.
Audrey and Andrew were constantly making excuses for their mother—why she didn’t come to Andrew’s games; why she didn’t answer her phone or return calls; why she never went to back-to-school night; why she couldn’t be part of the carpool for away games; why she never went to the market; why she didn’t take them to doctor or dental appointments; why they always ate take-out. The questions were endless. The twins saw both smirks and pity on people’s faces when they offered yet another excuse for their mother.
The main excuses they used were that their mother was “under the weather,” or had a public relations event to attend, or she was avoiding the paparazzi, or she was out of town filming, or just exhausted from work. They used the “under the weather” excuse frequently, because those were the words her mother used most often.
It hadn’t been a problem when Cathy lived with them. So many kids in St. Michael’s Cove had nannies, whether or not one or both parents worked. Everyone in the Cove understood why parents didn’t show up for most things if there was a nanny to go to the market, take the kids shopping, participate in carpools, take them to doctor and dental appointments or pick-up take-out.
Audrey was on the receiving end of most of the cross-examinations about their mother, because Andy was gone most of the time with baseball related activities. Andy lived and breathed baseball. His coach said that he had a good chance of getting a baseball scholarship to a good university. He was either at practice at school, playing on the team, or at a baseball camp.
Audrey did most of the everyday household tasks, including the marketing and food ordering. Audrey wasn’t athletic, but she was an excellent student. She had started working at the frozen yogurt shop in town on Saturdays just to get away from home. Mrs. Janowski, her English teacher, said that she would help her navigate college applications. Audrey figured that Mrs. Janowski had guessed that there were problems at home, because she stopped asking questions about their mother.
The phone rang about 7 o’clock after the O’Connell kids had gone upstairs to finish their homework and get ready for bed. Liz picked it up in the kitchen.
“Hi sis . . . “
Liz recognized Charlotte’s voice. “Charlotte? How are you kid?” Liz asked brightly.
Charlotte’s voice was shaky. “Not well, I’m afraid . . . I hate to ask this—I know you must be busy. But can you come to my house now?” she pleaded.
“Jeb is out of town, and I didn’t know who else to call. There’s been an accident.”
To be continued . . .