(Thanks to tip jar donations hitting $100 a few days ago here’s a Saturday bonus post! Remember, each time the total hits $100, it triggers an extra chapter!)
As turned out, Monday was a lot sooner than I might’ve hoped, meaning I had less than one day left to talk to Colin…and he didn’t seem to be home. Not in the basement. Not glued to his computer. Not in the back yard. Not doing pull ups.
Far as I knew Colin didn’t have a pager. Chris hadn’t heard him go out and didn’t know where he went.
Neither did Courtney, though she had a guess. “He’s been on again off again with a woman named Leah or Raya or something? Sometimes when he disappears he’s with her.”
“Okay, but how do I find him?”
She shrugged. “What time are we leaving tonight?”
“Seven, maybe?” I guess it was my job to set a time. “We can stop in Connecticut for dinner.”
“Is that Chris’s laundry in the dryer?”
“I’m gonna get another one started in the washer,” she said. “Good luck finding Colin.”
Amazingly Courtney didn’t pry about why it was so urgent for me to talk to him. Maybe she already knew.
I ended up going into Colin’s room to look around, didn’t touch anything, then went down to the kitchen and realized that written on the white board, among the phone numbers for calling a local taxi, getting ice cream (or anything else) delivered, and our old landlord (because that’s how long it had been since anyone had erased a number from that board), was one that said “Reah.” Hm.
What the hell, I gave it a call. A woman answered. “Yeah?”
“Hi, I’m looking for Reah? Or, well, actually I’m looking for someone named Colin–”
“Who the hell is this?”
“I’m Colin’s roommate–” That seemed the least difficult word to use. “–Daron.”
“Oh. Hang on.”
There was the sound of muffling and then the rather loud noise that must’ve been the phone hitting a table or countertop.
I could hear voices very distantly. A minute or two went by.
Then another clatter as someone picked up the phone. It was a different woman’s voice this time, I think. “He’ll be home soon. Okay?”
“Okay, cool, thank you. Um, I’m hitting the road at seven–” I think she had hung up after “thank you” and I just slowly pressed the receiver back on the hook at my end, thinking what the fuck, whatever.
It was six-thirty when he came in, and I had already packed and was basically gnawing bits of black nail polish off my nails that were still left from Pride day. (I really needed to strip it off and reapply just the clear coat I put on the right hand to keep them strong.) His hair was hanging flat and he was in a white tank top, denim shorts, and flip flops. Still sexy as hell, by the way, just much much more “normal” looking than I was accustomed to seeing Colin, especially for leaving the house.
“Hey.” He sat down next to me on the couch and kicked the flip flops off.
“Hey. Whereya been?”
“Revere Beach. Took my ex’s kids there today.” He let out a long sigh. “The boy’s nine and the girl’s six and, god, kids are exhausting.”
“I…yeah.” I really didn’t know what to say to that and didn’t want to step into a potential minefield, of course.
“She really really wants to marry someone who’ll be a good dad to them,” Colin said. “Which is why we’re exes.”
I think I actually said something dopey like, “But you’d be a good dad.” As if I was any kind of judge of that kind of thing.
“I am really not looking to settle down into a two-point-five kid life,” Colin said.
“Wait, didn’t we have this conversation once before?”
“I think maybe we avoided this conversation once before,” Colin pressed on his arms and made white ovals in his sunburn. “Whoops. I forgot what going out in the daytime was like.”
“I have some stuff for that upstairs. Come on.” I had a tube of sunburn stuff that I’d used once after Pride but hadn’t bothered with since then. Makeup had actually protected me surprisingly well from sunburn that day but I’d gotten a bit of a burn on my shoulders where the straps of the wings had rubbed.
It wasn’t even a question of whether he was going to strip down so I could slather the stuff all over him while he sat on the lid of the toilet. That part was totally natural.
Talking about kids was not so natural to either of us, though. “But you went to take care of her kids anyway?”
“She called this morning, desperate, in tears. Promised the kids a day at the beach, having a migraine, her sister crapping out somehow, the usual.” He sighed. “It’s not just the kids with Reah, it’s everything is a drama or a crisis, which is fun for a short while when you’re passionately involved but gets real old real quick in the day-to-day.”
“So why’d you do it?”
“My mom was a single mom. I felt sorry for the kids. But she really has to get her act together and meet someone who can actually father them and provide, you know? Which I realize isn’t so easy when you’re in your late thirties and have obscenities tattooed all over your boobs. For some crazy reason, guys tend to treat her like total shit when they see that.”
“Well, no, which is half the problem, although there are plenty of dirtbags in the scene, too, I guess.” he spat into the sink. “But I keep telling her if she keeps trying to meet a stock broker or a lawyer or something all she’s going to get is a steady stream of assholes who are going to use her like a whore and treat her like trash.” He sucked in a breath as a put a fresh cold dollop on the back of one lobsterine shoulder. “Then again, a lot of guys like me who will appreciate a middle-aged anarchist either hate kids or are not necessarily the best steady providers.”
“You’re an accountant,” I pointed out.
“And I’m a weirdo,” he said, as if we completely agreed on that point. “But I can’t solve her problems. I can’t be who she wants me to be, but she keeps trying to sucker me into trying.”
I hesitated a moment, because I didn’t want him to think I’d suckered him into a position where my argument would be especially compelling, but here it was. “Well, if you want to avoid the two-point-five-kids lifestyle, I have a gig in a road crew for you.”
He nodded slowly. “Yeah. Been thinking about that.”
No reason to hold back now. “I talked to Ziggy about it last night. He really wants you to come along. Supposedly so if things melt down between him and me, you’ll be my safety net. Also Ziggy really likes surrounding himself with people he’s slept with.” I shrugged.
“Yeah, I can see that.” Colin pulled a clean undershirt on carefully, so as not to scrape any of his skin. “And you want me to go, too?”
“I do.” I still had some nagging worries but, well, one of the big things I was starting to realize at that point in my life was that if I let nagging worries rule my decisions I would never do anything.
He nodded. “Yeah, it seems like all the stars are aligning, doesn’t it.”
“If you mean I want you to go, Ziggy wants you to go, and you want to go, then yes.” Seemed really logical when I put it that way, eh?
Colin laughed and hugged me, wrapping me up in the cloying damp scent of moisturizing cream. “Yeah, it doesn’t make any sense for me not to go. I guess my only question is when you actually need me to show up.”
“You don’t have to come to New York tonight. But come when the band starts rehearsals again after I get off the road with Nomad. I’ll tell Carynne to start the paperwork.”
“Great. That’s a load off my mind.”
Then came a knock on the bathroom door. Courtney. “Are you guys actually fucking or is there some chance we might leave on time?”
“We’re not fucking,” Colin said and opened the door. “If you guys need to hit the road, don’t wait on me.”
“Yeah, we should head,” I said, and squeezed his hand. “I’ll be back to do laundry and re-pack in like two weeks and then I’m off again.” We had another quick hug and he patted me on the back. “Unless you want to tag along to New York?”
Colin laughed. “Not this time, rock star. See you in two weeks.”