TOPANGA (Chapter 7)
“ There was a long silence. I imagined frantic hand signals in the hallway, clothes snatched off the floor.”
I'd waited with Rachel until the bus picked her up. We talked about some of the boys who were already smoking weed on the way to and from school. They'd made a point of walking along the road blowing smoke clouds as the bus passed them in and then passed them going out. Rachel rose to one boy's defense and I was a little upset knowing, here in the 6th grade, she was already clearing room for an attraction to bad boys. It’s in her blood. Because it's in mine and if I'm resolved to it, I'm not comfortable with it.
She'd raised the topic in a light of mature discourse at first, but right away tipped her hand.
"But he gets straight A's anyway."
I tried to impart some wisdom.
"Won't be for long. Weed takes away all your ambition, Honey."
"Mom. He's...just himself..and he's kind of fierce about it and he has to be the best...surf, baseball...dancing."
"Well...be a good friend to him. Don't support...or be entertained by his rebellious ways..."
She kind of blushed, well, it wasn't a blush but it was on the way.
And now, I'm conflicted as all hell, frustrated by the conflict itself and furious with my whole situation. Maddest most at Eddie.
Stomping down the lane until I caught myself and now looking at the footprints in the dirt lane going this way and that, boots, sandals, thudding strides, half prints and long spaces between where someone was running, all the while thinking that I hoped Richard wouldn't call and, yeah, hoping that he would.
And to avoid waiting around the house bloating myself on buttered toast at the breakfast counter, sorting the laundry, pulling the phone by the cord to sit it on the closed toilet seat so I could grab it should he call, jumping in the shower, so I could admire and disparage my body, I just walked right past our house and down the lane to Richard's front door.
I heard a girls' voice inside.
And it was too late to retreat, so I knocked.
There was a long silence. I imagined frantic hand signals in the hallway, clothes snatched off the floor.
He came to the door.
"Good morning Richard."
"I heard her. I don't care."
Richard opened the door wide and smiled in a half bow.
"..then maybe you should com'on in."
"Richard I don't care what you do so long as...ah...just call me later."
I walked down the stairs, along his jasmine lined walkway, under his primrose trellis and since I had to turn to get to the lane I snuck a peek out of the corner of my eye and Richard always the actor had frozen at the door, still holding it wide open for dramatic effect. Some kind of beatific look plastered on his face, selling for all he was worth a moment signifying some appeal to our undying love and deep mutual understanding.
He made me sick.
If I could have reached Eddie at work I'd have called him right then and there and told him we were through and sell off our stuff and get Rachel the hell out of Dodge.
But I cleaned the house with a vengeance, and then with about two hours left before Rachel'd be home, he called and asked to come over.
And I said,
"Yes, " to Richard and his lies and money.
And betrayed Eddie again, who I loved once for what he was, and now hate that I still love him for being the same way as he always was except without any promise, without a future and reliving his life of an ex-jock over again and neglecting the real world, the present and us.
He's depressed. I'm pissed off. Rachel's confused.
I'm laying in an empty bed imagining the neighbors watching Richard strolling out of my front yard.
In fifteen minutes I'll have to appear in the same road walking down to pick up Rachel at the bus stop.
Some of the same people I imagine are watching Richard closing my gate are going to smile at me and let their voices sound
cheery in their innocent greetings as I pass.
Eddie is going to find out sooner or later.
Especially now that he's got that degenerate Grant on the job.
And then the panic attack hit full force and I was twenty minutes later going down the lane and had to run to make the bus's