(page 5 of 7)
I could almost hear his brain frantically buzzing, but I wasn’t leaving till I heard the answer. He could probably read that from my body language.
“Um, I kind of heard him talking on the phone.”
“Yeah? Who was he talking to?”
“Your father’s brother?”
“Yeah.” The kid looked really uncomfortable.
“I see,” I said. “Well, I want you to know - it’s important for me that you know, Michael, that there is nothing like that between your father and me. Unfortunately, because this has come up, I think it best if I don’t come here to help out anymore. I just wanted you to know that it has nothing to do with you and Jeremy. You’re both good kids.”
He looked dismayed and upset, which surprised me. He’d never given the impression that he cared if I was there or not. “But if there’s nothing going on, why do you have to stop coming?”
He had me there, didn’t he? I hesitated. “Well, I just feel weird about it, okay? Also, I need to get back to my job search. I have to support myself and can’t stay at my mom’s forever.”
He nodded, solemnly turned and headed off down the hall to his room. I heard his door click shut.
I was stepping out the door when the phone rang. Chrissy’s voice blasted from the answering machine. “Michael? Jeremy? Michael, pick up! Susie woke up! And she can wiggle her toes! Do you hear me, Michael, she can wiggle her toes! I’ll be home in a little while. God, this is wonderful!”
It was pleasant telling my mother that she was wrong, but not to know that I’d run out on Chrissy and she’d never know why. Not the real reason anyway. But then maybe she’d be home more now that Susie was coming around. I was happy for her, even for Joe.
So the next morning when she called, it was a punch in the gut.
“Lynn?” she said, her voice hoarse, as if she’d been crying. “I can’t believe you’d infiltrate my house, my family, and come on to my husband! When we have a child who’s been teetering on the brink of death! What kind of a person are you?”
For a moment, I forgot how to speak. As I felt the skill returning, I was faced with a dilemma. Should I tell her it was the other way around, that Joe was a shit and bring down more things in her life at such a vulnerable time? Or go along with Joe’s story that I’m the shit to save her trouble while ruining my own reputation?
Frantically, I dug into every corner of my brain for an answer and came up with a wobbly one. “I absolutely did not come on to Joe. He is totally not, and never has been, my type. I think what happened is that he was feeling very down about Susie and all and I gave him a little hug and he misinterpreted things. Believe me, nothing is going on. I have the total hots for this guy in Philadelphia.”
There was no guy in Philly, but hopefully...
She said, “Yeah? How come Joe said you suggested that he and you hook up while I’m at the hospital?”
Oh Lord. “I don’t know, Chrissy, maybe he’s having a little fantasy and anyone would do. You know men. But I assure you-”
“You always were like that!” she barked. “Think you’re hot when you’re not!”
Time to get tough. “Let me say this again, Chrissy. Joe does not turn me on, okay? Not my type, not interested, total turn off, okay?”
“Fuck you,” she said, and hung up.
I have a temper - not a good thing, but there you are. I’ve tried to banish it through meditation, affirmations, therapy, you name it, but it won’t go away. When someone insults me, I am as predictable as a machine. A quick call to Terry and I knew where Vera Lithgow lived - Grasswood Apartments
Sputtering with rage, I jumped into my car and drove there. I’d heard she was out on bail. Not sure what reasoning I was following here, but something like if Chrissy and Joe are going to screw me, then why not give my sympathy to the perpetrator of the crime? It doesn’t make sense now, except that probably Vera and I had once been better friends, if only for a short time, than Chrissy and I had ever been. And now Vera was in trouble.
I Stopped Reading the Newspaper continues...