(Brief warning: Uptown is pretty frank about Andrea’s horrors, but Tessa is a new PoV and she may use more graphic language in regards to them)
Before starting, Tessa promised that her bongs, bowls, open cannisters of weed, and edibles, were just in safe keeping on the porch. She was trying to smoke less. But maybe it would have put her in a better mood. No wonder Anthony gave me easier vibes.
What is your name?
“Tessa. Yeah, some people shorten it. I don’t give a fuck.”
But I like it. Do you know why you were named that?
“Yeah, my dad didn’t plan on any kids or names after Anthony. I literally was named on the spot, like an afterthought. Like he thought he’d never have to say my name again.”
Did he get used to it?
“Nope. Should’ve called the cops when he kept calling me a little slut as much as he said my name. Dude cared more about me wearing shorts than what stupid name he chose, all ‘cause he didn’t want mum to make us sound too Jewish. I can’t believe she went along with that.”
But surely life is better without him.
“Yep, drank lots of champagne when he croaked.”
Single or taken?
“I’d be a lot less snarky if I was taken.”
Any bits from your exes you want to share?
“Fine, wouldn’t be a tell-all interview without it. 99% of them are scum, cheats, and creeps, and I’d fucking castrate some of them if I could. The other was Liam. We’re still friends…I don’t know why he stays around, but I’m afraid to tell him that I really like that he does.”
Wow, he sounds the most interesting now.
“I think we’ve broken up about three times now. I’m always mad at him when it happens…but he’s never mad at me. That’s the saddest part of this.”
Stop being a Mary Sue! So…where did you get those beautiful black eyes from?
(She also rolled them at me)
“You know, I’m really fucking glad that I mostly look like my mum. I did enough hating myself when I looked in the mirror, so at least I don’t have to look like a real life monster every day.”
As a question, do any of your siblings look like Andrea?
“Honestly? Our mum should have left and passed us off as her next husband’s kids. Would have worked fine for everyone.”
(Tessa, age 18, before a routine PET scan for Mike)
Have you ever done anything to your hair?
(Tessa, age 16, pre-undercut)
“Yeah, perks of being an insufferable borderline with no sense of self-love or identity, right? So I dyed it in high school and shaved the sides for years and I think this is the only time in my life I’ve just let it grow.”
Are the waves natural?
“Not really. My mum and I have been taming and changing my hair since kindergarten.”
What do you have to say about your family?
“Okay, do you want a rant about my dad or not?”
It’s not an “either or” thing.
“So, you know what? I love everyone but my dad. I mean, my uncle Gian is his twin and he’s my favorite uncle and you better not tell the other ones that he is. Like, who knows how it happened. The family created one monster and he beat everyone into submission until they were saints. Isn’t it sad that it has to be like that?”
Yeah, when you put it that way.
“And I always liked Gian because…he listened. He’s kind and gives everyone a chance to be loved and appreciated. I mean, fuck, I worked for his department for three years! Everyone loved him as a boss too. He actually cared about what I did and my art and how I felt after breakups. He was like the dad I should have had and once I learned that he came that close to getting my mother instead, I was pissed. But not at him. I’m pissed life had to be that way for him.”
What do you think of his recent…well, new roommate, if you will.
“I don’t think Leticia’s living with him, but I’ve met her once and apparently before that, since she’s a librarian and I used to borrow tons of manga. I like her. Hope he doesn’t fuck this one up too. Like, dude, settle down! I have to get over losing my mum too, but…come on. I have to hear in therapy all the time to not let her death ruin all my relationships.”
I was talking about Thu.
“It’s not gonna end up well for him. He’s stuck in this cycle of falling for her ‘broken bird’ mirage and then it bites him in the ass and he swears he’ll stop caring and…look, I can think that my favorite uncle has to change his life a little. He probably will say the same thing about me.”
But rumor has it she’s in therapy.
“Yeah, okay. Good for her, I guess. I can’t see her being a good patient or getting anything through her thick skull.”
Do you hate her just because of Andrea?
“…sure. Why is that a bad thing?”
“Good, because I have a right to be angry at some stupid little girl who he seduces and still defends every abhorrent thing coming out of his mouth and dick. You know what Thu? Most girls don’t want their daddy to find them drunk and passed out at seventeen and…I almost choked on that, okay? Only you are stupid enough to think I should be grateful. And only you would drag my ass through court because you think that a little well-placed anger means I’ll kill your kid. Stupid cunt. Her heart should have stopped instead. At least Jacob might have had a chance.”
And coming from a man who didn’t love you kids at all.
“Yeah, cruel irony, right? He hated me until he could pop a boner about it, I dunno. I hate that I couldn’t put any pieces together and that mum couldn’t either until I said something to her face.”
Oh god…I just realized.
“That she may be dead because of this? Yeah, it happened right after I told her everything I could remember and what my friends saw. It’s more complex but I wish she just blew his brains out and changed her name. She thought a fatal car crash would be less suspicious if she lived, and if she wanted to be the one to die alongside him, then…I dunno. I felt like that for a while too.”
Are you feeling better today?
They say pets can help.
“Really? I never had one. Dad hated pets and then I realized I’m not good at taking care of anyone.”
But aren’t you going to therapy? Surely you’ve changed.
“I’m gonna ease into it by babysitting Mike and Everett’s schnauzer when they take him home.”
That’s cool. What’s something you don’t like?
“Responsibility? Not being high? Dude, I already ranted about my dad.”
Do you think there’s a chance for you without him?
“Well, my uncle Gian thinks so. He’s arranging the therapy side of things for me. And yeah, I know he’s doing it for Thu too. It’s a waste of time but the fact he’s trying to babysit two mentally ill adults is just…wow. Wouldn’t be how I spend my retirement.”
Do you have a job?
“I don’t even make fifty bucks on Patreon.”
Oh, what for though?
“Comics. Hopefully they don’t get too autobiographical.”
Do you have any hobbies that you like?
“Yeah, I like art. I don’t get paid for it at all now, but even on my worst days, I tell myself to do one sketch. And it’s usually three plus a watercolor. I have a lot of time now.”
“It’s fine. I didn’t finish art school, but I tried to make up for it.”
Oh, why’s that?
“Literally, a month into my freshman year in Empire City, and my mum visits by herself and I tell her everything, and then she’s gone. Dad picked me up from the airport and he looked at me and then I knew what went on…it’s why I didn’t tell anyone else for a while. I knew he wanted to guilt me into that. And you know what? I let him. I thought I was lying to myself for years.”
How would you have liked to hurt him?
“I used to say that I’d do the same things he did to me if I had an eight-inch Cote schlong too, but then he died of cancer…and it was almost slow and painful enough. Kinda glad Thu kept taking his pain meds and that no one would prescribe him Fentanyl…small pleasures, man. Hope the Devil he believed in knows where to stick that pitchfork now.”
Have you ever hurt anyone else?
“Loads, I know that.”
Beyond that. You can’t control what she did to try and protect you.
“I don’t regret most of the pain I dole out. And yeah, even my brothers say that maybe publicly humiliating guys who were bad in bed or voted Republican is something I oughta stop, but why? Don’t make an ass of yourself if you can’t take it back.”
Are you okay with me disagreeing?
“Yeah, I guess I have to be. My therapist made me lock down my social media beyond my art.”
Too many Twitter tantrums?
“Blocked by hundreds, still no regrets.”
Why do you do this, though?
“I dunno…it made me feel good one day.”
It sounds like you’re trying to get power back after twenty-something years under your dad’s foot.
“You know, my therapist tries to make me more responsible for it than you are. She’s probably right. Me and my younger brother? We’re assholes, and we choose to stay that way even if dad moulded us like that from day one. I like that narrative better.”
…because it gives you power.
“Yeah, whatever. So it does.”
Ever… killed anyone before?
“My goal is to have a conspiracy theory that I did.”
What kind of animal are you?
“I dunno, an asshole parrot? Most birds are assholes but if I had my own place, I’d want one. One of my friends in private school did and her macaw bit my nose.”
And that doesn’t stop you from wanting a bird?
“Nope, not really.”
Name your worst weaknesses.
“Ugh, how many times have I gotten back with Liam?”
I should have asked about him with people you’ve hurt.
“Well if I keep hurting him, he keeps coming back. I dunno what that says about either of us.”
But earlier you sounded like you wanted to change about him.
“I…I do. He makes me feel different than anyone else, like I don’t have to prove anything or be critical of him. Like, I’m usually not. I let my guard down. Sometimes we’re even together for more than a year at a time. Then it feels like a weakness.”
How did it end last time?
“Horribly. Look at this…”
(She’s rich. That ring looks like the cheapest thing she’s ever owned)
“…I could have just rejected his proposal but then I started feeling like, you know, maybe Liam’s my only shot. Maybe he’s the only person on Earth stupid enough to love me, the only person I’ll open up to…besides you. But you’ll probably forget about me in a week. At most you’ll hear about some creeps being ratted out of Cosavo and think ah yeah, Tessa did that. But Liam? He’s gonna spend the rest of his life knowing…”
(awkward silence) Come on, finish the sentence at least.
“…knowing I’m just pathetic. I didn’t grow up from my past. And now I watch my brothers actually do that and I’m just stuck being a jobless asshole who dumped my fiancée.”
Do you look up to anyone?
“Funny, we’re just going over that in therapy.”
So do you?
“Yeah…my mum. She was my hero. Mike and I barely did anything without her.”
Is it helping you in therapy?
“Well, at first I couldn’t stop thinking about how my big mouth killed her, but it’s making me think about how she’d wanna see me. She probably thought I’d be doing a lot better at 31.”
“Probably like Anthony and almost-married with kids, something like that.”
Surely you still have time.
“Yeah, surely I won’t screw over Liam again. I can see it now: us getting desperate one night, not bringing any condoms, and then we have a kid and marry because we have to. And we’ll probably be miserable but, hey, I’m having trouble moving past myself!”
…maybe you should ask your therapist.
“My therapist also banned Tinder use, so…it’s a dry spell.”
Are you straight or a little something else?
“Come on, you could word that better.”
So are you bi instead?
“No, just straight. But Mike always seems to make an exception and get me into gay bars and Pride marches and parties as an ally. And I have been. I’ve been by his side since he first told me he was gay. No one else would do that for him.”
Do you want to go back to school?
“Ha, not after 30.”
No matter what…ever want to marry and have kids one day?
“…if I can.”
In a perfect world, what would you want?
“Honestly? I’d want to marry Liam and have a beautiful daughter with him.”
Specifically a daughter?
“Yeah, gimme five boys after that, I don’t care. But…gawd, please erase this after I side with Thu on something.”
“I know. But, I guess I get where she’s came from in her miserable life. Anthony told me a lot. She had a shitty mum and after she met my dad, she wanted a baby girl she could be a great mum to instead. If it wasn’t Thu and dad, I’d respect that. And it turns out that I wanna be that. Now I don’t have to worry about my dad. And I wouldn’t worry about Liam either. He’d be everything I wish I had too.”
Do you still love him because he’s the only guy you trust?
Do you have other fanboys?
“They don’t stay that way for long. There is Victor from Cosavo. He’s not really creepy enough to fire, but I slept with him. A lot. It sucked but the guy disagrees.”
“It always involved his wife but he’s one of those guys who couldn’t stop making disgusting comments on my big boobs and thunder thighs. Unfortunately I think a lot of guys just wanna motorboat me.”
(To be fair, she’s ridiculously shaped. Her top is stretched out over her giant funbags)
What are you most afraid of, now that your dad isn’t something to fear?
“Being in the same place in ten years. It’s why I agreed to therapy. I might seem like a bitch now but imagine me a year ago.”
What do you usually wear?
“Yeah, it’s all tight and revealing. It’s always stylish though.”
What’s one food that tempts you?
“So, my dad died of stomach cancer, and like it or not, I’m his kid. But I’ll still risk my life with deli meat. I get a pastrami sandwich at least once a week.”
What’s the best deli around here anyways? You’ll probably be a good judge of it.
“Okay, so the sign fell down and they haven’t replaced it yet, but Aaron’s on Cobbler Street is still owned by Jews, so I have to give it a thumbs up.”
You’re also French and Italian too.
“Oh, believe me, the food’s great there too. Italians also have delis. French-Canadians have…lots of things with potatoes. Everyone loves potatoes.”
So what’s your favorite way to eat potatoes?
“Not really a cultural thing, but roasted with olive oil and herbs. Mike actually does it more perfectly than anyone. Pretty great for a guy who can’t really eat potatoes.”
He can’t? How horrible.
“It’s because of his kidneys…you’ll probably get an earful about it from him if you two talk. Poor guy would do anything to mindlessly shovel down potatoes or bananas or maduras from the Cuban place in Uptown.”
Am I annoying you?
“Is it my resting bitch face? It’s just the way I am.”
Well, it’s not over!
“I’ll yell at you when I want it to be.”
What class are you (low class, middle class, high class)? How many friends do you have?
“Besides Liam, right?”
“Well…I’ve moved to make and keep more. There’s Masami from high school. She’s probably my longest-lasting friend. And Bri and Dakota and Pajeet from Cosavo have always been there for me. I really like Anthony’s fiancée and her younger sister. Suri’s a tattoo artist when she’s not hugely pregnant with her next kid, so I kind of have a kinship with her, you know? And she has a lot of ‘mom friends’ who I actually really like too…and then I met the cousin of Thu’s last boyfriend.”
“Eww, fuck no. Is that really a thing?”
Look…you were on a nice streak, okay?
“Axel’s cousin. Wish he wasn’t such a loon himself. Maybe he could have shut Thu up once and for all. Anyways, I met his cousin Alice and now we do a lot of painting together. I’m kinda sad for her. She actually got to finish art school and then got knocked up right after. So she sells clothes and didn’t get to work in animation like she wanted.”
Would you ever want to work in animation?
“Hell yeah, that would be perfect with Alice. I don’t think it’s too late for either of us.”
Any more friends?
“Oh right, one of Everett’s coworkers from Cosavo. Ashley the network engineer. We get high together on the weekends. And I set her up with her girlfriend, so…yeah.”
How did you do that?
“Her girlfriend is Alice’s sister, so we just all went to a bar together and they were making out after an hour.”
So you have more friends than you think.
“You know…you’re right. Still trying to cleanse my mind of reminding me that Gene exists.”
Better than Gene: what are your thoughts on pie?
“Pecan pie, it’s the best.”
“Moscow Mules and anything with blue curaçao.”
What’s your favorite place?
“This porch, getting blazed.”
I think I was meaning…broader.
Oh, I love karaoke and Little Italy and visiting my grandparents when they were still alive.”
“I mean my mum’s parents, since they lived in Empire City. My grandpa died two years ago. I love my nonna but…I don’t think we see eye to eye on a lot of things.”
Oh, like Andrea.
“Ugh, yeah. I mean, I get that he was her son and that she hated to lose him. I try not to blame her for making him into a monster, but…it’s really hard to think about what could’ve been if she just had a goddamn spine. Or if grandpa Aubrey wasn’t a serial teen fucker too.”
But you still hate Thu.
“She’ll probably be around for longer. And she never loved me. At least nonna loves us. No matter what, she treats my brothers and I well, and hell, Mike and I lived with her after dad kicked us out and he needed to go on dialysis. Thu would never do that. She’s not generous or loving. She’s a selfish little girl.”
But the victim of a “serial teen fucker”, as you put it.
“Sure, and it’s hella gross because she’s this uncanny woman-child who’ll probably look and act 13 forever. But nonna actually ended up as an alright person. Other people have racist grannies, but Elena isn’t even that. She even likes Jews, ya know? Thu isn’t decent. She’s never done anything that wasn’t for her or her precious daddy.”
You’ve mentioned that she’s put you through court over her baby’s death. Anything you want to add to that?
“It’s not really my place…Mike had it worse. But you know what? I will say more. I might not have been happy about dad having another kid that he was going to dote on while still treating us like garbage, but hating Jacob? He didn’t ask for his parents. He was gonna have to live with a debilitating heart condition and god knows what else Thu can pass down. She can’t think straight. Hate for our dad is hate for her and her kid, in her stupid little head. Thu’s paranoid to the core, and, like, I am too. But at least I use it to guard against real creeps while she can’t see the awful truth in front of her. She thinks I helped poison her kid, but she can’t see that Gene just wants another Asian wife to use and abuse. She really is a hopeless case.”
Are you interested in anyone? (I’ve heard enough about Liam and the other exes) Would you rather swim in a lake or the ocean?
“Eh, probably ocean. Mike and I took a trip to Finland after dad died, and I did freeze my tits off in the Baltic Sea.”
But how were the saunas and booze and metal?
“Ten outta ten. I’d love to go back. I got Anthony a lot of obscure vinyl for his collection. He didn’t ask for death/doom but he better love it now.”
Have you traveled a lot?
“Moderately? I went to Ireland too, sometime when dating Liam. He still has family over there and they liked me, so I’d give it a 10/10 too. Plus I saw some cute guys there when Liam wasn’t looking.”
What’s your type, gingers?
“I know Liam’s one but I don’t really have a ‘type’. I’ve dated every kind of guy. A lot of them were shorter than me, but it says more about my height than my tastes.”
How tall are you anyways?
“Just under six feet. My mum was just over that line, though. It’s why uncle Gian likes to fuck tall women. He and my mum never had an affair, but it lets him pretend.”
That sounds like another fetish of his.
“Oh believe me, that’s mild for Gian. I once accidentally bumped into him at a BDSM meet. God knows they’d probably pair me with him. He wants to be whipped like a little bitch and I do the whipping.”
Are you still in that scene?
“Not really. I’ve downgraded to fuzzy handcuffs in bed.”
Does Liam like that?
“Yeah, a lot.”
Camping or indoors?
“Difficult, can go either way.”
Have you ever gone camping?
“Yeah, I have. I used to like to run away when we stayed in Maine, so I’d end up sleeping outside on the beach or something.”
Was it to feel safe?
“Dad was still alive.”
Would you still do it?
“Maybe for the thrill of it…but honestly, I like feeling safe now. For once I do all the time, even in my own skin.”