The shampoo never tasted so good.

“Stop drinking the shampoo,” my sister’s thunderous demand broke the silence.

“But it tastes like bananas and hazelnut.”

“That’s a horrible combination,” our mother’s hair glistened in the morning sun, “but let me try it.”

The brew of fruit jelly simmers before my sister adds the preservatives and all the other nonsense, but I still like to bathe in the scent and dip my finger into the jar. The warmth of the jelly fills me with hope like an addict promising that this will be his last hit. “My last drink of the day, I promise,” I of course lie. It’s never the last of anything. There’s more to misconduct. More to deceive about. And I like to lie and fib. The fabrication is my drug. Chasing the paper full of secrets but I’m not as unpredictable as I believe because my sister knows my play word for word.

She snaps at my fingers and closes the lid. “Enough.” She looks up at both of us, my mother and I. “Both of you,” she adds less annoyed and more with a glimmer of a grin. She knows how to play and tease along my grove of the nuisance. I like to keep her on her edge; how else would I be considered a good brother?

The ping-pong table folded and stored in the cellar beneath the aged porch for the winter and all the chimes lie displayed as a condition for the next sale. It’s my sister’s way to conduct her creation and business under the same roof of an abandoned stable. Or at least she structured it to look in such a fashion. ‘It brings out the country charm,’ she once defended her stance on the layout.

They call me Random Randy. Bravo, how clever. But no one ever thought that I was crazy. I find that particularly odd as a self-proclaimed oddball. In addition to my eccentric ways of twitching and tugging on my skin, my fascination with hair and shampoo became apparent when my sister struck on the commerce adventure to make her soap, conditioner, shampoo, and all little trinkets you would find in a hamlet shop.

Find a word and fit it into a sentence. An assembly of quests and horrendous adventures, but there’s no order or sense. I fit into life just the same without structure and purpose. Aimless giant simply taking up space but the freshly washed hair and the scent of banana shampoo revive me to reality. My sister hums to no music, creating her acoustic tune. Meanwhile, I look out the aged windows. Roy walks in smashing into the table. “Damn it!” The annoyance in his voice carried through the door as few jars fall from the table and shatter on the stone floor, “Who buys shampoo in a glass jar?”

But I admire his angry brows and raise my hand as if answering a teacher, “Sir, would you like to dance?”

The obvious answer to that question is a baffled stare but he takes my offer in stride. All the broken glass forgotten. The grave and despair, vanishes for a moment or two, as he spins me into his arms and smiles. Our daily routine. Well, not the broken glass but the dance.

“How rude? You didn’t ask for me today,” he disputes to my ear and I’m speechless. His boots scrape along the stone floor and he hoots like a cowboy. The shout carries through the shop, reaching my mother and sister, who turn to hoot back. That’s how the tale spins. An ever a gentleman, Roy stops by every day and doesn’t begin until I ask for his hand to dance. After all, that’s how we met. My awkward ways and his compliance with my demands. At times I wonder who’s odder, him or I?

Disguised beneath his silver eyes, the key to my heart. “Thank you,” I utter and mean every word. He has rescued me from a moment of loneliness. No more paper-thin. Noticed. The melody of his feet carry me gently and I follow without a gap. Maybe it’s the continuity of his tresses that attracted me to him and mended the blue day.

He smells of coconut butter and pine. The sweet and utterly distinct. “I love you,” he whispers, squeezes me, and spins me out of his arms. Approaches my sister with a glee, “Let’s get back to business,” and he lifts a crate of dozen bottles and locks his lips. No apologies for leaving me standing in the middle of the shop resting my arms to my side, quivering and bewildered. But then he blows a kiss as he pushes the door open with his back. A wink. The deceptive and playful way he is.

I tuck my shirt in and plop on the stool next to my sister, grinning like an idiot.

“Satisfied?” She asks. “You’re such a flirt,” but she accuses with pride. Her little brother finally found the connection she hoped he would. “You’re not odd,” she reminds me as she always does. “So, here, keep on putting on those labels and stop messing around with my recipe.”

“You saw the wink?” I ask with curiosity and a need for validation.

“Yeah, I saw the wink.” My sister answers as my mother smiles. My mother rarely speaks. Her gestures give it all away and I plunge into my world of fantasy and scents. The coconut butter and pine. I’m infected. It’s my favourite scent now, more than the banana strawberry whipped body lotion and the nutty whisked shampoo.

© Jacob Greb — 2020

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