Read American Babe Online

Authors: Babe Walker

American Babe (16 page)

“Got it. Totally makes sense. But just so you know, you wouldn't have been the first Uber driver I've had who was also a fan of my work.”

“Okay, miss.”

“We are still waiting on one more passenger.”

“Sounds good. I'll go grab the luggage now?”

“Yeah, it's just inside the front door there.”

Robert loaded up the car. I checked Instagram—it was boring as fuck, per usual. We waited for Knox.

Then we waited some more. Where was he? He was obviously dressed because his suitcase was already packed.

Babe
?

Babe
you coming? We gotta go

I decided to give him five more minutes. Nothing makes me more edgy than being rushed. Especially on a travel day. I decided to write a poem while I waited.

Robert The Second

There are other Robert's in my life now.

And I

Okay, time's up. Where in the fuck is Knox? I had a look to the back of the SUV to make sure he grabbed everything and, after counting the bags twice, I noticed that one of Knox's bags wasn't there. Only his clothes suitcases were there. Where was that chic little knife bag I'd bought him at that godforsaken mall? He usually rests it on top of his rolling bag. At least that's what he'd done on the way out here. FUCK!!!

“Robert, I'm sorry, did you notice anyone leaving this house before I came out?”

“I didn't.”

“Okay, then I'm confused. I need to go back into the house for a few and find my cousin slash brother slash travel partner slash Knox.”

“Sure. Take your time. I did see a black Mercedes sedan pulling out of the gate when I was pulling in.”

“Goddammit! Did you happen to notice anyone in the passenger seat of the car?”

“Yeah. A kid, I think?”

“Fucking Mabinty. I can't believe these stunt queens.”

I took out my phone and called her.

“Ya?”

“Mabinty Jones, what on earth do you think you're doing?”

“Mi tyook ya boy to his damn audition. Ya know dat boy got real talent, gyal? Besides, dat lil' cutie wouldn't shut de fuck up 'bout it. Mi had to do da right ting.”

“Yes, Mabs, of course I know he has talent. But—”

“He made me a crepe this morning from scratch. Tryna convince me to take his scrawny ass down to the Fox lot. Dis boy has crepe skills.”

“How dare you kidnap my relative? He'd already been kidnapped by me. You can't double-kidnap a ten-year-old. It's completely unethical.”

“Well, he just got tru di first round and now they movin' him upstairs.”

“What!? Oh my God! Yes!! Go Knox!” I shouted into the phone. “I'm so proud of him!”

“Mi too. Mi too, gyal.”

“I'll be there in thirty.”

I sat there for a second.

“Robert. Change of plans. We're going to Century City. I'll put the address into the app.”

“Roger that, Miss Walker.”

Ew.

FIFTEEN
The Most Expensive Uber Ride of My Life.

A
s I opened the door to the dark stage and the cold air rushed toward me, I realized how nervous I was. This was huge for Knox. I knew how talented he was and how much he wanted this. It was like all of my hopes and dreams somehow transferred over to him in that moment and all I wanted was what he wanted. I told the driver Robert to wait. I needed him standing by in case Knox didn't make it to the next round and I had to get him out of there quickly. I would be such an incredible stage mom. I was
being
such an incredible stage mom.

“Let's give a warm
MasterChef Junior
welcome to the
one, the only, Chef Gordon Ramsay!” a woman with a microphone yelled.

Holy. Fuck. I forgot that this was Gordon's show. My dad has represented him for years. They came up in London together. Gordon is actually so fucking hot. I know you've never come to this conclusion on your own, but it's true, and I'm always happy to be the one to tell you what you actually think. Maybe it's all the screaming that he does, or maybe it's his weird face and rough hands, but the atmosphere he creates around himself is exhilarating to be around. Not my normal type of guy, but definitely very fuckable. Gordon walked out onto the soundstage and took the microphone as the crowd of quaint little children dressed in those chef robes and their parents exploded in applause.

“Thank you, thank you. Thrilled to be back for another season of
MasterChef Junior
,” Gordon began. He really seemed to mean it. “If you're in this room, it means you are one of the top one hundred chefs between the age of eight and thirteen in America!”

The crowd went nuts. I caught a glimpse of Knox and Mabinty in the last row of the bleachers and headed right toward them.

“You've all been selected to be in this group of one hundred because our judges see something special in each and everyone of you. By the end of today, we will have selected
our final twenty-four chefs for the televised portion of our program. But first you will be put through two more rounds of auditions to determine who our contestants will be. So I will ask that all the boys please line up over to my left and check in with Janet over here . . . and all the young ladies please line up to my right and check in with Kelly. You should all be very proud of making it this far. I hope to see you soon on the program. Best of luck, chefs!”

And with that, Gordon was out of there. Who knew he had it in him to be so kind and loving to other human beings? Me. I knew. I waited for Knox and Mabs at the bottom of the stairs because I avoid stairs when I can. They're an involuntary StairMaster, and I'm not working on my ass right now, so no thanks. Knox saw me, and his eyes lit up. He hopped over a bunch of rows and pushed through a gaggle of losers (mini-chefs) to get to me. He literally jumped into my arms, and I held him up. He was light. Or I was strong? Or it's true what they say about developing superhuman strength in moments of extreme concentration.

“Babe, it was amazing! I was, like, totally in the zone and they asked me to make an egg-white omelette, and I'm, like, amazing at omelets because it's my mom's favorite breakfast. SO . . . I was like, duh? And I caramelized these mushrooms that they had with a little bit of white
wine, and the judge told me it was the first time any kid had thought to caramelize mushrooms at an audition, and it was maybe the best omelet she had ever tasted and I'm really, really sorry that I left you at the house, but I just had to come here. I could feel it in my bones that I had to be here. I feel bad but also not bad. Are you mad? Please don't be mad at me. I just wanted to finish what we started.”

I was taken aback. Knox was holding on to me for dear life. I don't think I've ever caught someone before.

“Knox. It's okay,” I said as I held on to him. “I get it. Congratulations. I'm so proud of you.”

“You're not mad?”

“NO!” I shouted, overcome. “What?! You rose from the ashes of my irresponsibility like the fucking PHOENIX THAT YOU ARE and I could NOT be more proud!”

I felt the eyes of a few parents on my back.
Yes, I said fucking, get off me.

“Boy. Mi promise yuh, there ain't no chance dat dis gyal would be able to be mad at yuh after how good yuh dun today,” Mabinty added.

“Did you leave the water running to make it seem like you were showering in your room? Because if so, that was brilliant. I was completely fooled. So something I'd do, so well done.”

Knox honestly looked like he was going to explode with happiness. I hadn't seen anyone smile that big since Genevieve found out snorting Cialis could make her nipples hard.

“I need to go line up over with the rest of the boys who made it this far. I overheard someone saying that the next round is all about chopping and mincing, which is supes cute because I've been really focusing on both of those skills in the last few months.”

“Ya gwan crush it, mi little love,” Mabinty told him. She was in this, too. The three of us were such a chic, multicultural family, and I was dying for us.

“I'm sure that you're going to do great. Just breathe and remember that you are a better chef than all of these other pieces of shit.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence, Babe. But I saw this thirteen-year-old girl preparing a coq au vin that would blow your mind.”

“I'm gonna take your word for it. You better get over there and line up.”

Mabinty and I each gave Knox a hug and he joined the rest of the group.

“In some ways, this kid and I are so similar. But when I was ten, I would have never had the kind of drive and focus,” I said to Mabinty as we walked with the rest of the parents into a large room that had coffee and pastries.

“Yuh must be trippin', gyal. When yuh was a little one yuh drove mi crazy with all yuh drive and focus. Not one day went by without yuh bahderin' mi wit yuh practicin' yuh fashion and yuh stylin' clothes et cetera . . .”

“Really?”

“Every day ina di week began wit yuh pickin' out yuh outfits and yuh dresses and then changin' dem outfits tree hundred times before settlin' ona di one yuh liked most of all.”

“I mean, I kind of remember that. But it's not the same as what Knox does. He, like, practices chopping shit. He works hard at it.”

“And so did mi little Babe. It's the same, gyal. That boy is related to yuh. No doubt in mi damn mind 'bout that.”

I knew I had to talk to Mabinty about the Knox maternity issue.

“About that . . .”

“Mi already know.”

“What do you mean?”

“Mi already know what yuh 'bout to tell mi. Concernin' dis little chef.”

“What exactly do you think I'm going to say?”

“That Knox not yuh cousin, he's yuh bruddah.”

“What the fuck, Mabinty? You knew?”

“As soon as mi met him dis mornin', mi knew it.”

“Just from meeting him? I don't get it. Are we that much alike? He could just be my cousin. I don't have any real proof. But I just met my grandfather, Joe, or whatever, and he said some intense shit about Knox being my brother. Fuck. Veronica. She's going to legit slice my throat when she sees me. Am I losing it?”

“He is yuh bruddah. One hundred percent.”

“You knew? This whole time? How could you keep this from me?”

“Mi didn't know fuh sure until dis mornin'. Yuh see, mi saw Mrs. Donna at a gas station on Beverly Glen, back when yuh were in high school. Or at least mi thought mi saw her. She looked pregnant. Mi couldn't believe mi eyes. Mi wasn't sure it was her. How could mi bring it up to yuh or yuh father?”

“Jesus.”

“Sorry, Babe.” She was feeling for me. She cared. Love my Mabs.

I honestly felt like I'd been punched in the stomach. Not because I was shocked that this was the truth. But because I could actually imagine Donna, as a mom, pregnant as fuck, filling up her car in LA, when I was probably, like, two miles away, in high school, having no idea who the fuck/where the fuck my mom was. It all made me feel weird. It all made me fucking hate Donna. What a fucking
cunt. Like, I already knew she was a cunt, but, like, what a fucking cunt.

“What a fucking CUNT!” I yelled a bit too loudly for the green room at
MasterChef Junior
, but I'd already established myself as the “young, hip parent” of the group so it was fine.

“Mi know dat's right, mi know. But now yuh have dis bruddah. And yuh can take care of dat boy. Sounds to mi like he got lucky wit yuh aunty takin' a care of him.”

I gave it all a second's thought.

“Yeah. You're right. He is lucky. He's lucky he has me. My dad is gonna shit a brick when he finds out, though.”

“Maybe, but the boy gonna shit an even bigga one.”

“Yup. He sure is. Fuck. I don't know if I should tell him.”

“What yuh need to do is tell yuh aunty that yuh know the truth. See what she say to yuh 'bout it. She da one dat's gotta deal wit dis. She raised him from da time he was a baby.”

FULL. BLOWN. PANIC. ATTACK.

I don't know what triggered it, exactly, but it was happening. I popped the two Klonopin I'd been saving for the plane and just sat in that room with all of those other parents and guardians, looking at all of their weird bodies and faces. I couldn't have imagined a stranger, more awkward place to have confirmed my suspicions. The ramblings of
an elderly stranger were one thing; Mabinty's confidence was another. I was in a daze. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion, yet I had a feeling that in reality time was passing very quickly. I remember Mabinty telling me at one point that Knox had advanced to the final round. I also remember talking to Veronica for a second and then handing the phone to Mabinty, who I believe filled her in on what was happening and why we were not going to land on time.

I needed to snap the fuck out of my daze. It was not a good look for me. Also, my brother was about to have one of the happiest moments of his life or the darkest moments of his life. He was going to need me either way. I was in no shape to deal with him in my current state. I mustered up enough energy to mouth the words “Diet Coke” to Mabinty who kindly rushed over to the food table and grabbed me a few diet beverages. I drank the most amount of Diet Coke that I've ever had in one sitting. It really helped me. Like, it actually helped me a lot. Thank you, kind people at Diet Coke. You saved me.

“What time is it?” I asked Mabinty.

“One thirty.”

“What? Are you serious? Did I fall asleep or something?”

“Mi don't know what yuh were doin' but Knox is about to com thru dem doors. Yuh gonna be okay, gyal?”

“Yeah, I'm gonna be fine.”

“Dat's right. Yuh Babe fuckin' Walker. Yuh can do whateva yuh want. Also, mi rebooked yuh onto the red-eye flight. Yuh takin' off at nine thirty p.m. Veronica wants dat boy back. She no playin' around.”

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