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Chapter 8
Buford's Big Bad Breakthrough

Chapter 8.A

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Why don't we have some girls over my roommate asked. I said why don't we and told him to make some phone calls. I did the same and handed him a beer. We ran out of phone numbers before we even finished our beers and wondered what was wrong with us. Then he got a phone call.

With each reply over his phone I could tell he was hiding excitement. Do you have any friends you could bring over he asked. A cousin he asked, sure, whatever he said, when can you be here he asked.

They showed up a few minutes later with the movie Trainspotting and a few bottles of hard alcohol. Rum and vodka. They didnt want our beer but were glad we had some orange juice even though I wanted it for breakfast and there probably wouldnt be enough to last until morning. Angie, the taller of the two dove right in with a glass of vodka and coke.

She had long blonde hair to her mid-back and a light blue shirt with Strawberry Shortcake across her chest, making it look much less innocent and vulgar than the girls I remember that watched it and wore Rainbow Brite backpacks with matching lunchboxes when I was in elementary school. No pony tails or missing teeth or shrieking voices, just a full, protruding chest that seemed eager to be grappled with. Her cheekbones were high on her small face and she smiled as she turned away from the kitchen table with a drink and headed for the tiny color TV in the living room to start the movie.

Her friend was a different color than I remembered seeing her last, with full, red hair like a roan horse and blue eyes that tricked to green in different light.

I watched as Angie bent to put the video in, revealing a butterfly tattoo on her lower back that was held there impatiently by the tiny strap of a purple lace thong.

Chapter 8.B

After my roommate got comfortable on the couch with her I looked back to the alcohol and mixed up a drink of my own, not knowing how much to put in and went to the couch and held my drink while the other girl sat alone in one of our lounge chairs drinking something similar. Orange. And sipping it delicately before putting it in the palm of her opposite hand resting on crossed legs.

The movie started and on a tiny screen it left little room for this other girl to see but she didn't seem to mind and kept drinking, so I got sucked into the movie. I like the soundtrack I said and Angie said I thought you would, that's why I brought it and she bounced on the couch nodding. I drank some more and the last of it singed the back of my tongue. I stood up to get some more and had to brace myself on the TV so I wouldn't fall over. The girl in the chair was almost out, so I took her glass and fixed up the same drink I had. I spilled the orange juice on the table and set the jug down hard. I looked at the spill for a second and went to the girl and sat on her lap.

You seem kind of lonely over here I said. She grunted at my weight on her thighs and took the drink from me with delicate fingers. Well she said. Do you want to come sit over on the couch over there with me I said, on the couch. She said yeah but you'll have to get off me first and took a drink.

I yelped at my roommate to get his ass up so we could sit down right here on the couch and patted one of the cushions next to Angie. He sat up and said alright, alright, don't get your panties in a wad and he offered the blanket he had to us all. Ingenious, I thought. No lights, cover, good music, now there's two people touching me.

Chapter 8.C
 

On one side I had this red-head's hand and was massaging her fingers with one hand while she touched the callouses on my other hand. On my left, though, was a warm thigh that moved with mine and was not shy.

The movie was coming to an end and I was confused about whose hand to take, but the agreement Ryan and I had was that he'd get the tall one because he's always wanted her since she started dating one of our mutual friends. I agreed because I didn't need all that drama coming down on me and this other girl seems quiet, ordinary, anyway.

Angie soon bent to take the movie out just as she had put it in and we both watched this time. He invited her into his room to show her some of his new guns, a few rifles and a pistol he kept in his bedroom closet. He closed the door behind him and I heard him clicking metal parts together and hearing them come apart. He said go ahead and I heard a muffled chuckle through his plywood door.

I looked over to the girl next to me and said I guess were alone. She said she didn't mean to get thi sdrunk. I said oh and started to take my hand away. No no, she said, thats not what I meant. I said oh and leaned closer. She closed her eyes in wait but instead I waited. I could stop here and nothing would change. I could pick up our half-filled glasses and take them into the kitchen and talk about work or car batteries instead. She felt up my shoulder and touched the back of my neck, one of her fingers dipping under the back of my collar. She pulled me closer and we met half way.

Chapter 8.D

She had big lips. But not distracting, just full. Like sucking on an orange clove. We fumbled in the dark and realized our heavy breathing was all we could hear. We stopped to listen and she said maybe we should go to your room and I said, uh, okay. I climbed up over the back of the couch and was back on my feet by the time she came around and walked past me to put her ear to Ryan's door. I looked at her and shrugged and she shrugged back, then tiptoed into my room.

I closed the door behind her and she held her hands together in front of her belly. She kept them that way, looking around the room, at the poems and letters and magazine pages torn out and tacked to the wall. She nudged a dumbbell with her foot and asked if I lifted. When I can, I said, but not so much anymore.

I picked up a shirt and some underwear from off the floor and threw it in a corner when she wasn't looking. She moved to the bed and sat down and asked if we can listen to some music. I said sure and I know just the thing, sifting through a tower and scanning it again when I couldnt find it. She picked up one of the books I was reading from my bedstand and opened up to the page I was reading. I finally found the CD and put it in. It was French techno thats hard to find at major retailers. Its the kind of thing you don't find unless you stumble into a record shop next to a German bakery and a grill. It had a jungle beat with cooing birds and monkey sounds and a singer that sounded like she was holding off an orgasm.

I laid down behind where she sat reading my book and asked her if she liked it.

Chapter 8.E

It was a sex manual I'd ordered from one of my magazines and she said she had the complete Karma Sutra at home I could borrow it if I wanted. I smiled and sat up to kiss her neck. She held the book still, but her head leaned back and out of my way as I pressed into her artery leaving a slight trail of saliva. She reached behind me and pulled at the back of my hair gently. I did the same and guided her to the pillow where she looked up at me and smiled a melancholy, anxious smile.

I straddled her belly and sat unbuttoning her shirt while she did mine. The buttons wouldn't come through so she just started pulling. I said wait and just took it off myself. I almost fell on her with my head and arms caught up in my shirt but caught myself by forcing a hand against the wall above her head with a thud. I whispered oops, sorry Ryan and she let out a little yelp and we giggled when I asked if she was hurt or squished. I said sorryboutthat and she said its okay come here.

The alcohol had taken over and I couldn't respond and she pouted, but I said give me another chance when I'm not slobbering drunk and she said okay. But we didn't stop and I marched a trail of kisses down her chin, her throat, her breastbone, her belly, her hip, her thigh, her shin, the top of her foot, then came back whispering to her inner thighs. She held me and held her breath and soon she began to shake. I finished the trail back to her earlobe and she asked where I learned to do that. I looked over to the book she was reading now on the table and she closed her eyes and exhaled.

Chapter 8.F

We tried to sleep but were talking and Angie knocked at my door. Chrysteen, I'm leaving, she says. Uh, okay, comes a voice from my bed. I think I'm going to stay here and I'll just get a ride home in the morning. I didn't think anything of it and was half passed-out when it happened.

My alarm woke me up at 4 a.m. to the CD we listened to the night before and she groaned, saying oh my god, who gets up this early in the morning. I said I do and animals like me. There's food in the fridge you can help herself and I'll be back in a few hours. She said okay as I was getting dressed in my dirty work clothes but she might not be there when I got back. I said that's fine and that I'd call her later in the day. As I left I held myself between the door and its frame and watched her fall back asleep in my tiny bed. It was still dark out and the new winter was edging in. I went out to start up my car but came back in to clear the table of the half-filled glasses of alcohol and melted ice and lime slices. I wondered if Ryan heard me heading out and if he was able to get any last night or if he scared his temptress off. I heated some water and put it in a mug with a pouch of hot chocolate mix and grabbed one of the two Ramens left on the cupboard above.

Work went fast and Angelita noticed something new about me when she came into the stockroom. She was already starting to get Christmas stock in and set up and I started shaking my head when she walked in. She didn't have to ask about the overnight change. Instead, she asked about the girl. She had seen her the other day, had I, she asked.

Chapter 8.G

She wanted to see if we had some kitchen appliance in the stockroom so I looked down at my LRT and punched in a code. No I said. How does she look. Oh, she's so cute, she says. She's got this beautiful brown hair just like her dad and brown eyes and a beautiful smile. She's healthy and she seems strong. What about the jaundice I asked. Oh, well you can kind of tell but not really. Her skin color is way more normal now.

I smiled and she said something about what I should do about the whole situation and how if there was anything she could do to help, anything, to just let her know. I looked up at her and saw she had a piece of paper with other items she wanted checked so took it from her, plugged them into my LRT and walked away to get the things she wanted.

She yelled that the girl has the most beautiful hair down the stockroom to me and my eyes began to burn. I put the things in a cart and shoved it in her direction and walked the other way. Theresa called out my name as I walked by where she was getting candy out and asked who had beautiful hair and I said oh just a girl I'm seeing. She was predictably intrigued but I told her maybe another time, I wasn't in the mood to chat right now.

I went on break a few minutes later and called Brenda. It was the first time in months but her voice still made me ill to my stomach. I asked her what was going on, but her short answers weren't too inviting for a chat session. She was mad, I was mad and there was a child whining in the background.

Chapter 8.H

I said so what do you want to do about all of this, I mean we haven't even spoken to each other in months now. She said yeah, I know, why haven't you called. I was silent for a second until she said hello and I said because I didn't think you wanted to hear from me because of the last time we talked. She said that was months ago, why didn't you call to see how I was doing and I said why didn't you call. You still have my number. It hasn't changed. She said she didn't remember it and I said it was written on a piece of paper tacked to the wall in her room and she said someone threw it away. I said huh and said well I guess we're both at fault, then.

So I asked again what did you want to do, then. Well, do you want to be a part of her life she asked. I said of course and that shes been all I've thinking about for months. She said yeah, she's got your eyes and definitely your dark hair. It's growing out now and I don't think I will cut it because I want to let it grow out long. I could see her pacing around in the basement of her mom's house with the cordless phone until that point where I imagined her sweeping the childs hair with gentle fingertips and swirling the fine threads in circles over her ears.

She said you're welcome to come and see her any time you want and I said I'd like that. I'd like that a lot and I could feel my voice shaking. She asked if I wanted to talk to her and I said if she can talk already, sure. She said not really, but she mumbles a little. I said that's fine, put her on.

Chapter 8.I

I listened to her nonsense and was amused, talking with her as if having a conversation with anybody. An old friend. She mumbled back sometimes and the phone went silent until Brenda started talking again. It looks like she's done talking for now. I said that's fine.

She said so when do you want to see her. I get off in a few hours. She said okay, just come in the front door. We'll be waiting for you.

I half-wondered if she meant for the words to sound so much like an ambush. I could be walking into a trap with a room full of thugs and her knowing full well that I would be the only one who knew where I was. But I dismissed it all for the sake of at least seeing the child, of which so far I'd only heard rumors and descriptions from the people at work who managed to escape back to the stockroom and found me walking past as they gossiped with others. And the work day slowed almost to a stop since I had finished most of my work before going to break.

But it eventually stopped and I caught myself at a brisk walk to my car when someone at a smoking table nearby said slow down, cowboy. It was one of the old ladies from the line, hunched and smoking her life away. I waved but said nothing and had a hard time getting my keys to fit when I got to my car.

I checked my phone for messages and saw that Ryan had called. He left a message that said hey, whats up master pimp-daddy, I was just calling to see what you were doing, but it looks like you're phone's off again so I guess I'll talk to you later.

Chapter 8.J

I deleted the message and pulled out with a lead foot. I cut off a woman in a minivan coming out of the bank across the street and she honked her horn at me. I waved at her and kept going.

A cop drove past and I slowed down. He kept going but I took it as fair warning. I drove the same path I'd driven for years now, only I'd passed my parent's apartment which was once home. I passed the dump and the few acres of park just beyond their apartments. I passed the freeway and took the frontage road instead. That afternoon the sun was rising behind me and shone on cars at the other side of the divided frontage road. I caught myself speeding and slowed again.

Another car passed me and I watched the road signs as they passed. Each green sign came closer to the turn. The first rainy night we met I couldn't find the road and drove right past. I was late, but I'd remembered by the next day which one it was. The trips change each time I went, each more anxious than the one before as our relationship dragged on. It changed to a path of fear and eventually of loathing for the vicious tongue I was so eager to keep. Three months of memories flashed and played back, weighing in against each other as if justify the drive.

When the street approached I turned slowly, crossed the same railroad tracks that hadn't changed in the months since we'd talked. But so much between the tracks had. Everything was as not a week passed, the pine needles in the street, the four way stop sign, more pine needles and a turn, here where the guy is mowing his lawn before winter pulls away his next opportunity.

Chapter 8.K

I turn the corner and the house is the same. The dense foliage is unkempt and screens the path from the front door. I roll up slowly and allow the car to come to a stop just short of the driveway. One of the cars is missing. It is her new step-father's, who I'd gotten in a fight with the last time I was here. I was ready to hurt him if he only would have given me the excuse.

I turned off the car and took my hands off the wheel and let my head fall to the headrest behind me. It was always there, I thought. I caught a face that peeked out the front window at me through the vines and sprouting foliage. It was her little brother, probably excited to see someone actually come back after leaving. But I wasn't sure if he had the right to be excited. I grabbed the rear-view mirror and looked at myself. I looked okay, clean, even though my hair had grown long since we last saw one another. I brushed at some of it but the curls went back to the way they were as if I'd never touched them in the first place. I bit my lip and grabbed some balm from the armrest next to me and put some on. After twisting the red lid back on I moved the mirror back and walked up to the front door. A thorny plant grabbed at the shirt I wore and I stopped to unhook myself. The steps along the path were just as before and the sprinkler head was still buried halfway under that pile of wood chips there.

A note on the door said come in, we're downstairs. I peeled it off and opened the door. Her little brother walked out of the kitchen with a bowl of cereal and I wondered if he was standing there waiting for me to come in so he could show up and say h-hey.

Chapter 8.L

I walked in, past the boy, and he followed me. B-Brenda's downstairs. I said yeah and held him the note. He took it and gave it back after looking at it for a second. I watched him and realized he'd grown some since we last saw each other. But his stutter was gone then. It had taken him weeks to get it under control and think before talking. I helped him with it when Brenda and I were together. Now it's just as strong as if we'd never met. I took back the note and stepped over a child-proof gate at the top of the stairs. He returned to his cereal and walked away. A faint glow was coming from the lighted living room below and I heard a child babbling. The noise grew louder as I stepped down and closer. The wood-paneled room hadn't changed. The trinkets and antiques it held were dusted. Below were a range of stuffed animals and bright colored toys; red, green, yellow, blue. Like a McDonald's ball room in a museum, the room catered to a palate only Brenda could enjoy. The kids dont care.

The doorway to her room still had strings of door beads doing little to stop the sound of the child just feet away. I slid my hand between a few strings and waved them aside as I stepped underneath. Brenda I ask to her closed bathroom door. Just a second comes her voice and a flushing toilet follows. Come on, Nadalee, let's go see daddy. A few seconds later she opens the door and stands just inside the door frame. She holds a baby girl on her bony hip, bent slightly outward to support the weight as if she had two torsos. Do you want to go see daddy she lulls to the child.

Chapter 8.M

She shifts her weight to better support the baby at her hip and leans over to hand her to me. She cries and tugs at her mom but Brenda pushes her into my arms. I bounce a little on the balls of my feet while I shush her. She starts to calm and her crying fades. Brenda steps around me and I lean up against the doorway while holding this girl. She squirms a little and starts to play with one of my shirt buttons, circling it with her finger, then pinching it and trying to pull it loose. I smell her hair and brush a lock from her eyes back around her ear. It feels like handling spider webs and I brush her hair back again.

Brenda walks to a photo album and brings it to me, making small talk about her mom at work. I zone out her voice and look at the pictures. They are from holidays I've already missed and days at the beach. Brenda hands me a paper envelope with duplicates of some of them and says they're for my parents. I say thanks and she looks at me. I say what and she asks if they know about Nadalee. Of course they do, I say. But I don't look at her. She says huh and asks why they haven't called to see her. I reminded her about the last time they visited and how their Tuesday morning pounds at her doorstep the night I stayed over set the stage for this. I said they didn't know how to react and wanted me to make first contact. I didn't tell her they just didn't know. She said well, I guess that's understandable. But they can come see her any time they want. I don't feel comfortable with you taking her right now, though. I looked at the girl in my arms as she reached up to tug at the whiskers on my chin.

Chapter 8.N

I said well, maybe after a little while we can see if she feels comfortable with me alone and I could watch her on my days off. I don't have a problem with that she says and walks over to pick up the photo album. She thumbs through a few pictures beside me and asks if I saw one of them. I looked and said yeah, it's cute. You haven't changed much I say and she looks at me. I mean it doesn't even look like you've had another kid. Well, she says while rubbing her stomach, I have a few more stretch marks. I nodded but didn't want to see. We talked and filled in months apart, cleared up some of the rumors while taking turns pushing Nadalee in a red plastic plane swing attached to the ceiling at the end of her bed. She blamed a lot of it on the pregnancy but said she was back to normal now. And her clothes finally fit again. Nadalee fell asleep when we ran out of what little we had to say to one another I told her I should get going. She agreed and said her parents would be home soon anyway. I kissed the baby's forehead and put my hand on her belly. It nearly wrapped around and I could feel the base of her rib cage and the top of her hips at the same time.

She walks me to the stairway and says I can come visit any time, just call first. I say thanks and walk back up the stairs and exhale when I get to the top. The natural lighting from the front window is much more harsh than the yellowed wood below. A wind picks up just outside the door and rustles the orange leaves of an aspen tree inches away.

Chapter 8.O

A few days later Chrysteen and I are still meeting regularly and I find myself juggling my time between sneaking visits to Nadalee, spending time with Chrysteen and keeping the girl from both her and Ryan. I call Brenda after I get off work and pick Chrysteen up for lunch. I tell her over the phone I have something I need to tell her and she says okay, what. When I pick her up she is standing outside the small dental office where she works with her purse in hand and she steps inside the car with a shy smile. A cold air seeps inside when she opens the door and she says brrr. I smile back and ask how a picnic sounds for lunch. She says it's cold out, but okay. What's this big surprise she asks. I look at her and wonder why she's any different from the girls before. She could be just as selfish and self-centered as the rest. I've known her for just a few days and want to tell her but have kept this secret from people I've known for years. She asks what Im thinking and I start to tell her about Brenda, about rumors at work, about keeping the whole thing a secret and not knowing why. I tell her about the papers, the test, the results.

By the time I'm finished we reach a small parking lot overlooking a lake and I turn off the car. A woman walks by with her dog and I wonder if she has any kids, if they're all grown. A dog would be so much easier to care for. We sit for a few seconds in silence and I reach back for a paper bag with a few sandwiches I'd prepared and handed one to her. She took it and her fingers brushed against mine in the exchange. She asked why I felt I needed to keep it a secret and I said I don't know. I just thought that I'd tell you and if you wanted to go your own way I'd understand. She laughed and asked why she'd want to go do a thing like that. I shrugged and took a bite of my sandwich.

Chapter 8.P

I asked if she wanted to go see the girl and she said really. I nodded and she smiled.

I called on the way over to Brenda's and told her we were coming. When I hung up the phone and rested my arm near the shifter Chrysteen took my hand in hers and I saw her looking at me in the corner of my eye.

When we arrived, there wasn't a sign on the door and I'd gotten used to walking in again without knocking. Chrysteen asked about it and I told her I'd done it hundreds of times before as we walked through the living room and downstairs. Corbin was trying to master a yo-yo trick and saw us as we came in. He said h-hey and waved self-consiously. Br-renda's in there with Nadalee. I said thanks and took Chrysteen by the hand. Brenda was changing her on her bed and said just a second, I'll be right out. We waited on the other side of the beaded doorway and Chrysteen picked up a picture of Nadalee and asked if this was her. I nodded and she said shes so cute and smiled up at me.

Brenda came out shortly after and Chrysteen set the picture back. Nadalee was on her hip again and one of the strings of beads draped her as they came through as if holding her back. Chrysteen said hello and held out her arms. Nadalee went to her willingly and tugged at her red hair. Chrysteen made some baby noises to her and made small talk with Brenda. After a few minutes we had to leave to get Chrysteen back to work before her lunch break was up. I told Brenda I'd call again soon and realized as I walked out that I was still holding Chrysteen's hand so I squeezed it and she smiled up at me.

Chapter 8.Q

That weekend Chrysteen and I made plans with Morgan's ex-girlfriend to go to a party. We danced and she drank for the two of us. I drove. It was the first time we'd been drunk together since we'd met and I watched her move on the dance floor, enticing me. Her hips sank and rolled with a beat I wanted to be familiar with while she ran her fingers through her hair and danced with her eyes closed.

We left as things died down and she slurred to me that she wanted to take me home. I said how about I take you home and you can watch. She said that sounds good, too. We waited for a few minutes while she sobered up with some bread and water on the porch. She bummed a smoke from a friend and for as much as it bothered me with Brenda, I didnt mind her habit. She didn't taste like ash.

When we got home she weaved her way down the hallway to my room and laid back with a hand on her forehead. I started to undress with my back to her and a set of soft, supple hands sweep up my belly and chest from behind. I turned to kiss her and her mouth carried the sweet taste of citrus and alcohol. I slipped my hand back into her hair, cradling her, pulling her close. We fell back slowly to the bed and within seconds her body was sweeping mine, drenching me in sweat and fluids, kisses and nearly tears. Her hair and neckline stood out in the faint golden glow of the streetlight peeking in. Her skin sparkled. Her whimpers built and erupted as I did and we breathed on each other's cheek while our thighs stuck together under the sheets.

Chapter 8.R

We whispered to each other and I traced the diameter of her nipple with a finger while she watched. We were more awake and sober than before with something I hadn't felt in a long time. We tried to define it but couldn't. Our conversation stopped with a phone call. I didn't recognize the number on my cell phone and asked if she did. She said it was her mom and wondered how she got the number to my phone. Her cousin, maybe. She answered it and moments later we were dressed and on our way to the hospital. Her son and his father were in the waiting room and a male nurse walked in. He looked at a clip board and said Tristan.

The three went behind closed doors while I waited in the lobby and poured a cup of coffee from a push-top thermos nearby. It burned my taste buds and was lukewarm by the time they came out. Chrysteen was holding Tristan at her side and he coughed into her jacket. She and his father had words and I soon realized they were fighting over who would take him for the night. I said we could just keep him at my house overnight and she scoffed. He's your son, she said, you need to take some responsibility. He said he couldn't very well come all the way back into town if things got worse since he's staying an hour away. The fight continued as we left and I helped lift a portable play pen from the car he drove into my trunk and switched over Tristan's car seat. The switch triggered flashbacks of being with Brenda and her son, about Tristan's age then, and switching out car seats every time we went somewhere. The boy had a respiratory infection and was up all night coughing. Chrysteen cried quietly so he wouldn't wake up and apologized. I said don't be silly and felt her tears on my cheek as we tried to sleep.

Chapter 8.S

Ryan was up and out early the next morning and I wondered how much he'd heard and if the child kept him up. We got up and dressed while the child slept in and whispered love praises to one another. She packed her things to go and dressed the sleeping child on my bed while I collapsed the play pen. She left before Ryan got back from coffee.

He pulled up as she was leaving and peeled out in the gravel driveway leading to our apartments. I wondered if he was trying to impress her and if she noticed or cared. He came in with a coffee for me and I drank it while cooking some eggs and toast. He buttered the toast and ate it and I yelled at him. He said shut up, give me back my coffee and I said fine, eat up, and put more bread in the toaster. It buzzed at me when I pushed the lever down and he laughed. I asked him if he heard anything the night before or if the kid kept him awake. He asked what kid and I told him about the hospital and the hacking child.

He laughed and said yep, thats what you have to look forward to, pimp daddy. Goddamn, aren't you glad you don't have and kids and have to deal with that shit he asks. I say yeah and stir the eggs, which have become scrambled and misshapen. He asks if I want to go shooting with him and Sgt. Couch but I tell him I have to work until later tonight. He whimpers and says skip work, they won't miss you, and I tell him to pay my bills. He shrugs and says whatever, I guess we'll just blow stuff up without you. I apologize and wonder what appliance it will be this time around.

Chapter 8.T

At work things have simmered down, the rumors have dissolved and nothing seems to phase me anymore. I listen, do what I'm told and the managers leave me alone. But each day I leave having done everything they ask, sometimes more, and when I return it is as if I were never there. I move with the same hustle of a new guy but at the end of the night I'm still stuck with collapsing cardboard in a huge green bailer.

Mary, Brenda's mother, came up to me then to say I hear you've been visiting little Nadalee, isn't she just darling. I hold back months of built-up tension from this woman who has spread rumors and lies about me to make her knocked-up daughter look saintly and nod. Well, she says, Brenda's real excited you've been coming to see her, the baby. I nod and swipe a box cutter across one of the boxes and fold it shut. She has her hands on a cart of cardboard and starts to collapse some of the boxes. Leave it I say. Her goofy smile sobers up and she says you know, I just hope we can all handle this like adults. I look at her with a cutting glare itching to open up the fight and say yeah. Like adults. Then I collapse another box and throw it in the bailer. I grab the safety handle and pull down the front grate and push a button at the side when she starts talking again. The pressurized motor dulls what she's trying to say and she eventually walks out. I watch the two-way door swing behind her and leave work when I'm done collapsing her boxes.

Chrysteen left a message on my cell phone while I was working. I called her back and she said Tristan was doing much better. When can we meet again. Soon, I hope and she said me too.

Next Chapter

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The narrator meets a girl with several things in common, including a child. Despite a mix-up in communication, their relationship continues honestly and it is a new sensation for him. Especially after months of confiding only in himself. She coerces him to tell others about his child.