Big Pickle: A Secret Boss Romantic Comedy - JJ Knight
It’s pretty great when a new Pickle comes into the world.
Today my cousin Greta is giving birth.
Like, literally, right now.
She’s walking the halls and refuses to lie in bed.
Her husband Jude is off talking to the doctor, hoping they can convince Greta to lie down and accept an epidural.
Her pain is great. She’s already cussed out all the nurses.
But Greta hates needles. This is a fear we share.
Since I’m on her side, Greta asks me to walk the halls with her to escape the hostility. She stops every few minutes to let out a rather alarming groan.
I’ve texted both my brothers and my dad to walk with me because I have this terrible, awful feeling my cousin is going to squeeze out a kid on the linoleum floor.
And it’ll be my fault.
They’ll say since I hated needles and spouted off about how horrible they were when we were kids, that I’m the one who poisoned Greta on them.
And that’s why she’s currently walking the halls of Mercy Hospital, deep into labor pains, and refusing to even put in an IV.
It’s on me.
I’m the eldest of all the cousins. I’m the big Pickle.
I was a tyrant in our youth. I made everybody listen to me. Follow my lead. Do what I say.
Especially when needles were involved. I provided detailed descriptions of the pediatrician’s office, so the cousins knew where to flee when the vaccine shot came out.
And here we are. Still on the run.
Greta’s wheat-blond hair sticks to her forehead in sweaty clumps. She wears two blue hospital gowns, one open to the back and one to the front, to avoid having to worry about drafts.
I hold her arm as we walk along the hall, the occasional visitor looking at us with alarm as they pass.
“Maybe needles aren’t that bad—” I venture.
She cuts me off. “Shut up, Jace. I’m trying to have a baby here.”
“Wouldn’t it be better in bed? With sheets? And a doctor?”
“Walking helps labor go faster.”
“We’ve been walking half an hour—”
“Shut up, Jace!”
I shut up.
We make it a few more steps when suddenly, Greta’s face goes red, she bends over, and squats smack in the middle of the hall.
The groan that comes out of her mouth would scare off a pride of mountain lions.
I look around frantically for a doctor, a nurse, a janitor. Anybody.
Why is nobody outside their rooms?
We’re at least ten miles from the nursing station.
“You okay, Greta?”
She huffs in several big breaths. “I think he’s coming!”
She lets out another long screech and I do the only thing I can think of, harkening back to my football days.
I lunge to the floor between her legs and hold out my hands to make the catch.
My brother Max got a picture.
Of course he did.
While Greta holds baby Caden, who was born quite properly in her bed a solid hour after my baby dive, Max uploads the shot of me on the floor, my hands outstretched beneath the hem of my cousin’s gown, to his Instagram.
I’m going to kill him.
But not in front of the baby.
He and my youngest brother Anthony snicker over it endlessly.
We’re about to get in a shoving match like we’re twelve instead of pushing thirty, when the great matriarch of the family, Grammy Alma comes in.
“Boys, behave,” she orders.
We stand still like we always do.
“Let me see that child.” Grammy moves to the bed, her orthopedic shoes squeaking on the floor. She’s spry for eighty, and still runs the original deli of the Pickle clan, deep in the heart of Queens. My other cousin Sunny helps her.
Delis definitely run in the Pickle blood. My dad owns the massive Manhattan Pickle, which takes up an entire city block. As each of the three Pickle sons ventured off for college, he built a franchise for us in our chosen towns.
Anthony is the baby of the brothers. He’s dressed casually in jeans and a T-shirt that reads “Another one bites the crust.” He’s twenty-six and runs the deli in Boulder, where he went to culinary school.
Max, our middle brother, is two years younger than me. He is undoubtedly the alpha. He’s a workout junkie, and he’s tricked-out like a bodybuilder. His deli is in L.A.
Dad built my deli, Austin Pickle, while I was at the University of Texas.
I rarely visit it. Sure, it’s an all-right town. I show up for the big music festivals and drop in whenever a blizzard hits up here. But my little deli does fine without me. Probably better.
Grammy turns from where she’s been cooing