I held the pack of frozen peas to my cheek. Zoe sat on the rug near my feet, lining up the rocks we had collected at the creek. Ray scratched his gray beard and said, “OK, Christopher, just tell me from the beginning, son.”
Ray has been friends with my parents since I was a little kid…getting in trouble for soaking his hors d’oeuvres table with dive-bombs at his backyard pool parties. He has been the police chief just outside of town for about 20 years now. I took a breath and gathered my thoughts. “So yeah, I picked Zoe up from school on Friday and we drove up to my parent’s cabin.”
“In the mountains?”
“Yeah, that’s right – up near Rome.”
“Did you stop by that Mexican restaurant your Dad likes?”
“Nah, didn’t eat at Las Palmas this time around. Zoe’s gone gluten and casein free recently and I still haven’t figured out how to order for her in a restaurant. Anyway, we spent the weekend up there with some of my bandmates and a couple of their girlfriends. It was great. You should have seen Zoe smile when she caught this fish. It was only a tiny little blue gill but you would have thought she caught a whale. The whole weekend was totally chill.”
It was going to be hard to tell him about Odette. I stopped and looked down at my wedding ring, turned it on my finger a few times. I knew I had to explain everything, to get him to really understand what happened.
“Odette, she hasn’t really been able to calm down since her sister died suddenly last year. I know you know about that but, hell, I don’t think she even knows how to smile anymore and me and Zoe we just well sort of walk on eggshells around her. But this past weekend, we were just so damn free. It was real nice. So, we are driving out of town this morning and about an hour out we stop at this coffee shop. I was hoping for some grease – truth be told I probably could have done without that tequila last night, but hey, I was with my boys and when in Rome, (yeah, bad pun). Sorry, so I pull into this place and Dave, our guitar player. He’s pretty much my closest friend.”
“Yes, I remember him from when you were kids.”
“Yeah, well he is already there in the parking lot of the diner. He’s waving frantically at me like he wants me to leave. I don’t really get what he’s doing. Hell, he looked like he was waving off a giant swarm of bees or something, it kind of made Zoe laugh, which she doesn’t do very often.
So, I pull up and roll down my window to try to talk to him when I hear Zoe call for her Mama. I thought maybe she was just practicing her words or something but then I turn and saw Odette. My Odette with that ASSHOLE of a college student.”
“This guy she had been, well, hanging out with. Both of them just standing at the door of the diner staring at me. Now, I’m the kind of guy who needs time to process. So, I just sort of stared at Odette. And while I was trying to figure out what the hell she was doing here, with him, I yanked my foot off the brake. I guess I must have pressed the accelerator and wouldn’t you know it the car rolls forward and, BAM I smack right into that punk’s truck.”
“And you’re sure this was an accident?” Ray said.
Ray nodded. I thought I saw him crack a smile for a second there. I looked at my hands and turned my ring some more.
“So, now everyone is screaming at me and Zoe is manically biting her hair and I somehow manage to put my car in reverse. Then once I figure out where the brake is, I look up at Odette and wouldn’t you know it, the crazy girl is laughing. I mean one of those real belly busting, pee in your pants kind of laughs and it makes me laugh, but in a much more hysterical “Fuck, my life is really screwed up” kind of laughs. And that’s when the kid comes up to the window and punches me right in the face.”
I took the peas off my cheek and touched it to see if the swelling had gone down at all. “Damn, I have had girls tattoo images of my face on their tits back when we were sort of famous and now this kid, this total prick who is screwing my wife, thinks he is going to break my nose? I don’t think so. I was going to go all ape-shit on him and really beat him to a pulp. But I look back at Zoe and she just looked so little and so scared and I couldn’t do it. So I drove off. And yes, I realize that I left the scene of a crime but I think if you consider the circumstances you really shouldn’t blame me. I mean, what would you have done? And, let’s just consider that I did drive straight to you to report the accident. Well, not totally straight to the police station. I did stop at 7-11 first to get this pack of frozen pees to put on my nose and a juice for Zoe. But, after that – straight here. I would have called you but I left the charger back in Athens and Zoe was watching videos on my phone all weekend so it was dead. Frankly, I think 20 year old kids that seduce married women should go to jail way before confused Dad’s who just don’t know what to do anymore do. So, uhm, what’s it going to be Sir? What is going to happen to me? What is going to happen to my girls? Do I need a Lawyer?