"Yeah, Mama, I'll be there." Cigarette caught in his lips, Robbie cradled the phone between his ear and his shoulder as he shielded the lighter from the breeze coming in through the window. He tossed the disposable Bic on the coffee table and took a slow drag as quietly as possible.
"Robert Sexton! Are you smoking?"
Fuck. Obviously not quietly enough.
Letting out the smoke on a natural exhale, Robbie did the only thing he could at that moment: he lied. "No, of course not, Mama."
"Well, that's good. Burying your daddy in a few days because of those wretched things. Can't have my boys smoking now too."
Robbie groaned quietly. "Yes, Mama. I take it Russ is going to be there."
"Now, Robert. Don't come down here expecting to make a big fuss with your brother. He's doin' good now."
What? Not mooching off of his parents, you mean? That's what Robbie wanted to ask, but he bit his tongue. No need to get Mama all upset. She had enough going on. Robbie stubbed out his cigarette and got up from the couch. If he was going back home, he'd need to get drunk before doing it. Down there, among birth family, no one knew him. Not the real him, anyway.
"I promise," he said. "I won't start anything. But I still don't think it's right for him to lean on you every time he gets into a bind. I'll be there in a couple of days."
"Love you, son."
"Love you, too, Mama." Robbie waited until the line went dead before hanging up. He was so not looking forward to this trip. Trip? Hell, it was more than that and he knew it.