Bart came upstairs a little later, while I was trying to get my clothes on. I could comb my hair but not put it into a ponytail holder. I lay on top of the bedding staring at the ceiling and holding my splinted hand in the air.
“So, what was he telling you when we came in?”
“Some bullshit story,” Bart said, and sat down cross-legged on the floor. “Nothing really. But debrief me. What was all that about in there?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know.” I was saying those three words entirely too often and I made myself a promise to stop. “He shows up on the doorstep uninvited, and I’ve got no idea what to expect. I really wanted to tell him to fucking get lost, but I just couldn’t.”
Bart watched me wave the splint in the air. “He didn’t seem that bad.”
“That’s just it. If he were being a serious obvious jerk, I could do something. But he won’t.”
“You sound bitter about that. Maybe he’s changed.”
I grimaced. “Was all the tension in there my fault?”
“I couldn’t tell.”
“Do you think I should give him a chance, because he’s my father?”
“Or in spite of the fact? Are you still kind of afraid of him?”
I shrugged but did not say ‘I don’t know.’ “I think I was more afraid of him showing up than I was of what would happen when he did. It’s not like he’s going to belt me one or something.” I touched the bruise on my face and started to laugh.
“What is so funny?”
I couldn’t stop. I knew it wouldn’t make any sense to try to explain the mental hiccup I just had. I mean, here I got belted in the face anyway and he wasn’t even there. I was somewhere between irony and hysteria, and it took a minute for me to calm down. “He’s probably just after money.”
“He looks like he’s doing alright for himself.”
“Yeah, he does.”
“So what do you think this business idea is he has?”
“I’m afraid to find out.” I chewed my lip. “No, not afraid. I just don’t want to find out. I want him to go away and leave me alone.”
“What if we could use him somehow?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, you’re worried he’s going to take advantage of you or something right?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“What if we could take advantage of him instead?” Bart’s voice was serious, but his smirk had a bit of mischief in it.
“Do you know who he works for?”
“No. You heard him dancing around the issue out there.”
“He works for the Weiland Thomas Agency.”
“You are shitting me.”
“I looked in his briefcase while he was taking a crap.” Now he grinned.
WTA was second only to the super-agencies like Creative Artists and William Morris, power houses who handled movie star careers and more. “I know what you’re thinking.”
“What.” He shuffled a little closer, scooting his butt along the floor and knocking over a pile of CDs.
“You’re thinking if we had a kick ass agency behind us, we could do the tour we want.”
Bart smiled. “Actually, I was thinking we could get him to take us somewhere Really Pricey to eat. But clearly that’s what you are thinking.”
I shook my head. “I don’t know.” Damn. “The last thing I want is another manager to butt heads with.”
“We’ve been through this before. We don’t even know what he does for WTA, so maybe we’re counting the chicks before they’re hatched anyway. But I thought you’d want to keep it in mind, in case we could use him.”
“Just an amateur.” Bart patted me on the shoulder. “You need anything? Aspirin?”
“They gave me horse-size pills at the hospital. I gotta eat to take them though or they’ll burn a hole in my stomach.”
He nodded and got up. We had one of those moments where it was like we were still talking, but we weren’t saying anything aloud. The glances were all the equivalent of yeah okay, sounds good, whatever, talk to you later, I’ll be around. After he went out of the room, I lay there looking at the splint and wishing I had something else to think about.
Then my wish came true, and the phone rang, and it was Mills. Be careful what you wish for.
(Primo content update: You did it. Donations have passed the threshold, so the SPIN article will post Friday for all to read, and Daron will read it in the plot sometime after!)