was fine, it turned out, as she always was despite me. But Greg,
who wasn't happy about being woken up, started yelling.
afraid to leave town half the time because I never know what'll
happen to my kid if I'm not there to watch you," he shouted,
stomping in his boxer shorts to the bathroom for a glass of water.
Bebop into my chest and kissed her sore head. "You think I'm
a bad mother?"
even your own mother thinks you could use some help."
off the bed. "You talked to my MOTHER behind my back?"
only wants to help," he said quietly, running his hands through
don't help me," I yelled.
trying to make money," he said. "And I never wanted kids.
And you're the mother. It's your responsibility, not mine."
know what? I want a divorce," I said. I stomped into Bebop's
room to put her in her crib, and it broke my heart when I realized
that she was safer alone in her own bed than she was with me.
slept on the couch that night, and when I got home from work the
next day, his clothes were gone. He called a few days later to give
me his new phone number, but by then, I'd gone out and gotten a
second job. He said that he missed Bebop but that he couldn't take
her with him, since he was always leaving town for work. I didn't
answer my phone for a week, afraid that if I picked up, it would
be my mom or Greg. I was trying to prove that I didn't need anyone's
help. But I realized that night -- two weeks into our separation--
on my way to the Laundromat, even before I ran out of gas but around
the time I discovered I'd forgotten Bebop's bottle, that I was failing.
The wind was still blowing sideways at 30 mph and I could feel,
through the back of my coat and the scarf I'd wrapped around my
face, that the temperature had plunged below zero, but the snow,
at least, was starting to let up. I made it to the pay phone without
incident and managed to call 911. Then, I swallowed my pride and
made a quick second phone call to my estranged husband. Fortunately,
he answered on the second ring.
can't talk because I just discovered a murder and the killer might
still be here, but I need you to pick me and Bebop up at the Clark
gas station at Auburn and Kilburn right now," I told him.
an exasperated sigh. "Christ, Julia, what the fuck is wrong
to slam down the phone but I didn't have anyone else to call. My
mother? I didn't want to speak to her till I was on top of the world
and could rub her nose in it, and tonight was definitely not that
you please just come?" I pleaded. "The car's out of gas
and the police are on the way but I don't want to walk home with
the baby in this blizzard."
kid had commenced to howling. I didn't want to go back into the
gas station -- after all, there was a dead man on the floor and
who knew if the killer was hiding in the bathroom? But Bebop needed
something to eat, and as we walked back up to the building to wait
for the police, I saw through the plate glass window that there
were a couple of vending machines I hadn't noticed before, along
the side wall across from the counter -- one for cups of pop and
coffee; the other for snacks. Bebop didn't have too many teeth yet,
so, true to my white trash roots, I bought her a Hostess Twinkie
for dinner, which at least seemed less likely to choke her than
a candy bar or chips.
was contentedly gumming her Twinkie when a dozen squad cars careened
into the parking lot, sirens blaring, lights flashing -- the first
set of cops leaping out and running into the gas station without
even slamming their doors.
detective arrived at the same time as my husband, who snatched Bebop
out of my arms, his heavyset frame quivering with aggravation. I
snatched her back, handed him my keys and asked him to go get her
car seat so that the police I was getting to know wouldn't feel
compelled to arrest us for illegally transporting the kid on my
snow had stopped completely, but the temperature had plunged to
30 below by the time the detective finished asking me questions
and Greg returned. Shivering, we strapped Bebop into the back seat
and she fell asleep as soon as he started the car, which is when
I started crying. It was 1:00 a.m. and I was going to have to get
up in four hours to get to work. I was also going to have to wear
a dirty, frozen uniform to my second job as a waitress, because
the laundry baskets were in the trunk of my car and the Laundromats
had closed while I was busy running out of gas.
you think," I sniffled, as we pulled out of the parking lot
behind a patrol car that was cruising slowly down the street, "that
we could come home with you instead?"
had a rough night," he sympathized, his dark eyes softening
as he put his arm across the back of the long bench seat.
if you were around a little more, we could have worked this out,"
I suggested, unbuckling my seat belt to scoot closer to him.
retracted his arm. "You should have thought of this before
you told me to leave."
I made a mistake," I offered, and took his hand.
pulled off onto a residential street and we sat and watched a few
squad cars circle around the block while Bebop snored in the back
seat, snuffling through what sounded like a dream.
he let go of my hand and leaned back against his window, shaking
sounds like an attempt at regeneration," he said. "And
if we learned one thing from zombie movies and Stephen King novels,
it's that regeneration is not a good thing."
I shouldn't have done what I did next, but I was desperate. I leaned
over to put my arms around him, thinking that maybe if we started
kissing, I could talk him into taking us home with him, at least
until I could figure out what else to do. But he saw it coming and
pushed me away with both hands.
he said, but he said it with some sadness. "It's too late for
I realized then that he was through with me. But I was going home
to an empty house on a freezing January night with a serial killer
on the loose. And goddamn it, I was only twenty-three years old.
If I was going to get through this and not fuck up completely, I
needed help. I turned to my soon-to-be-ex-husband.
want my mom," I said.
nodded his head and shifted the car into gear. And as the snow fell
quietly around us, he drove me to her house.
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