Reader Discretion Advised, some mature themes and language.
“I’m leaving.” Amanda stood in the kitchen door.
How nice for you. Andrew sat at the kitchen table, staring at his laptop. His fingers were twitching manically over the keys, typing in the air.
“I can’t do this anymore.”
Tell me something I don’t know.
“Can’t you say anything to me?”
What do you want me to say? Don’t go. Don’t take my kids. I’ll do anything. I’ll give up the work. Babies will die. Somewhere in the U.S. a butcher in scrubs is waiting until a baby’s head crowns, sticking a syringe through its fontanelle, and sucking its brains out. But that’s okay. The babies can fend for themselves. Is that what you want me to say? Can you live with that? I can’t live with that. Can you live with that?
“The kids are at my mother’s. I’m staying with her for, I don’t know, until I figure something out. Okay? Can’t you say anything?”
Do you know how common you are? No, I can’t say that. Andrew’s jaw clenched. Do you know how predictable this was? I saw this coming before you did. You’re not the first. No, I can’t say that. Those are my babies, too, you know. You wanna rip them from their father? You want your babies to grow up without a father? How you gonna explain that when they’re older? I had to leave your father because he wouldn’t stop trying to save the babies. No, I can’t say that. Say something! Say something! She’s going to walk out! Say something! Anything! There was a roaring in Andrew’s ears. The fluorescent lights in the kitchen ceiling were so bright they made him feel like he was in the dentist’s chair. It made his teeth ache. He wanted so desperately to say something, but he couldn’t make anything come out of his mouth. Everything he could think of to say would only make things worse, so it died there in his brain.
“There’s a casserole in the fridge. The bills are on the desk. The electric’s being turned off on the 10th.”
Okay, thanks a million. Andrew stared at the laptop screen even harder. She’s walking out! Say something! If I say something, I’ll lose it. I’m so close to tipping this table over. So close to. Grabbing the table and. Sending everything flying. Including my laptop. That’ll really be the end. That’ll be all she wrote. Look, I’m trying to restrain myself, don’t you get it?! I’m not a monster! I know throwing something on the floor is just as violent, just as threatening as socking you in the jaw. I get it! That’s why I can’t say anything! If a word comes out of my mouth I might lose it.
You can’t do it, can you? You can’t give me the benefit of the doubt. You can’t give me that much credit. Can you?
“I know the babies are important. But Andrew…” Amanda choked up. “Andrew… You need help. I can’t help you. You need to get some help. You’ve been up for 72 hours. You can’t save the world all by yourself.”
Oh my God shut the fuck up! Just. Shut. Oh my sweet God the lights are bright in here. It’s blinding. My head is splitting open. Andrew closed his eyes and started to rub his temples.
“Okay, I’m leaving. You can reach me at Mom’s. Okay?”
Okay. Fine. Just go. Go. What are you waiting for?
“Bye,” Amanda whispered.
The front door slammed. Andrew’s body started shaking. He was wracked with sobs, but no tears came. Finally, the shaking subsided. He went back to typing his opinion piece with new intensity. A stamped #10 envelope lay at his elbow, addressed to the New York Times.
March 1, 2004
Statement of Marvin Thomas Jones, taken by Det. Sgt. C. Martinez.
I hereby give the following statement of my own free will. I am not under compulsion or duress. Everything in this statement is true to the best of my knowledge and recollection.
I’m not a murderer. I’m really sorry that happened to that guy’s family. I feel their pain. But I’m not a murderer.
Okay, I was at this party in Claremont, at my buddy’s, my old teammate Clyde Kershaw’s. Right, right, Saturday night, February 27th. He and I were on the Clippers in 2000, before I blew out my knee. There was maybe thirty forty people there. It was Clyde’s birthday. We’re talkin’ family gathering here: friends, players, ex-players, wives, no bimbos, no coke.
I was there with my buddies Michael and Curtis. Michael Chambers. Curtis Wilmont. My wife moved out about two years after I blew my knee. Blindsided me, the bitch. Called the police, said I was beating on her, which wasn’t true, it was an accident, her face ran into my fist, heh heh, no, I’m serious, I didn’t mean to connect, she moved into me. You wouldn’t believe the names she was calling me. Anybody woulda gotten mad.
Anyway, she had the ammunition she needed. Two weeks later her goon served me with divorce papers. I didn’t have a chance.
Yeah okay, what I’m telling you is everybody was there with their wives except me and Micky and Curt, and I’d had a few beers, and we’re getting bored. So me and Micky and Curt pile into my Escalade and we’re gonna go to the Kat Man Do. You know, that strip joint, uh, gentleman’s club down in Pomona.
What you have to understand is I had a few beers, but no more than I usually have, and I was perfectly fine, I’ve driven that, you go over the bridge, the Covina Gulch Viaduct, I’ve driven it hundreds of times—the car knows the way, you know? No, seriously, I was fine, the point being I’m very familiar with this route.
The Darvon? I take that for my knee. It’s prescribed. I have chronic pain.
Sure, but we’re talking a coupla beers. A coupla beers. It’s no big deal. The Darvon doesn’t make any difference, it’s like aspirin, you know? I can handle it. I’ve handled it lotsa times.
Okay, so we’re in the Escalade and we’re on the viaduct and there’s this car fulla spics, I’m sorry, Chi-KAHN-oes, I think it was a Rambler, anyway it was some P.O.S. fulla Chi-KAHN-oes and they’re goin’ like forty, maybe thirty miles an hour, I mean creepin’ along, like they’re the only frickin’ car on the road, you know?
Okay, so I admit it. I’m telling you the whole truth here, right? We’re tailgating ‘em—yeah, I’m driving—okay I’m tailgating ‘em and flashing the high beams. And they slow down!
So I’m like, OK fine, I’m cool. So I get into the left lane, I’m gonna pass ‘em. So now Mick and Curt roll down the windows and they’re yellin’ at the spi—people of Hispanic persuasion, and I guess I’m yelling a little too, you know, just havin’ fun.
Yeah, just having fun! We’re not talkin’, you know, hate speech. Okay so maybe we said spic. But, c’mon, we were cool, seriously, we didn’t mean anything. So now I look ahead and there’s this car in front of me, and it’s another P.O.S. and it’s goin’, I don’t know, twenty? And it’s in the left lane!
So I’m a very good driver, and I realize I don’t have time to stop, I’ve got one choice, I’ve gotta shoot the gap. I’ve gotta shoot the gap or there’s gonna be a ack-si-dent. The point being, I’m fine, I know what I’m doing here, I’ve done it millions of times. So I’m gunning it, I’m buzzing the slowpoke and slippin’ back into the right lane. See, I’m putting as much room between me and the Rambler as possible, right? I get back into the right lane and I don’t feel anything, but you guys are telling me that’s where I clipped ‘em. That Escalade’s three tons, you know, so I didn’t know anything was happening back there until Curt told me to stop. It wouldn’t surprise me if the P.O.S. Rambler went out of control all by itself. Or if I did clip him, maybe it’s ‘cause he sped up. ‘Cause I should’ve been around him. I’ve done it hundreds of times.
Yeah, yeah, fine, so Curt says, “It’s on its side! You gotta stop!” so I stop, like a good citizen. And by the time we’re stopped, the Rambler’s like three hundred yards behind us, so we get out and start walking back and I thought everybody was out, they’re all standing around, screaming in Hispanic a mile a minute, I don’t understand a word, but they look OK, one guy had a bloody nose. How was I supposed to know there was some guy pinned under the car? There were four spi—people hanging around, that’s gotta be everybody, right? How was I supposed to know there were five people in that little P.O.S.? So they’re all screaming at us, so Micky says lets just go back to the car and wait for the police.
So we walk back to the car and I get on the car phone and call my agent, and I tell him, hey look, we’re on the viaduct, and some guy’s car is on its side. And he says he’s gonna take care of it. I know I should’ve called you guys, but I didn’t know there was somebody under the car, how would I know that? And I didn’t know the, uh, people in the Rambler didn’t have a cellular phone, and I didn’t know if I was actually involved, you know?, so I figure the best thing is to let Benny—my agent—Benjamin Rothstein, handle it. He’s a lawyer, too. He handles everything. You probably don’t know what that’s like. You have to, when you’re a celebrity.
Yeah, okay, fine, so finally the police get there, and they arrest me! They give me a breathalyzer! They give me a frickin’ breathalyzer and they tell me I flunked it, which is bullshit. They say I clipped ‘em and the guy was thrown from the car and it landed on him and he died instantly. You’d think I’d get credit for not leaving the scene of an accident! I feel real sorry for what happened to those people, but I don’t belong here. I’m not a murderer.
© 2012 Douglas J. Westberg. All Rights Reserved. Please share this on the web by means of a link back to this page, but please do not copy. Doug’s blog is Polymath.
Choose an event from your life, a birthday party, a wedding, a vacation, etc. Now write two stories about that event: one fiction, one non-fiction (sorry no poetry for this one). Keep each story short, a few paragraphs should do, and each one should be entertaining and sound like its true (even though one will be a big fat lie).