The Unknown is Always Known
Trust your gut.
Trust your gut.
The caller ID came up as “Unknown.” I answered.
She wasn’t invited.
She never has been invited.
She never will be invited.
She’s an addict.
A fuckin’ junkie.
But, she’s his mother.
I listened to her tiresome and too familiar “This time it’s different” stanza. If such a school formally existed, she would’ve been expelled from the Piss Poor School of Parenting.
My dead mother has more of a presence in my son’s life, and she’s been dead for ten years.
He’s only seven.
I hung up hoping, praying, that this time it was true.
That it’d be different.
But I knew.
With junkies, you always know.
Later, the braying of her beat-up brown Camry announced her presence.
I sighed like only a parent can and put the magazine down as the dog ran to the front door, tail wagging.
The car sputtered and collapsed more than it stopped. Our progeny bolted down the stairs informing me that his mother had arrived.
“Yes, so I hear,” I acknowledged and stood up. My sense of dread running parallel to their double dose of excitement darting around me.
She came to the door as the boy sprinted by me to grab his bag.
I walked to the front door and took a beat to think maybe I had it wrong. Neither of us was a saint when we were younger.
That’s how we got the boy.
I grew up out of necessity.
She remained frozen in time.
I believed people could change.
I know people can change.
I hoped she had changed.
I opened the door just as she removed her sunglasses. She smiled that smile. Low and behold, it was different — the stench of cigarette smoke and booze didn’t slap me across the face.
This time her pupils were the size of saucers.
Where there was once love, there is now a feeling that transcends hatred.
We stared at one another, each waiting for the other to blink.
A mother has a right to see her child.
“Just make sure he’s home by 6.”
The boy pushed me aside and shimmied by the dog to get out.
She slammed her heels together, shot her right arm upwards in a mock salute, and in a German accent, replied, “Jawohl, Mein Führer.”
Without breaking my eye, she put her sunglasses back on and then looked down at our son, “You ready buddy?”
“I was born ready, Mom.”
She smiled that smile again.
The one that melted my heart.
“Indeed you were,” she replied as he reached up for her hand.
I felt my stomach drop as I watched them walking hand in hand towards her braying, beat-up brown Camry. The car whined and coughed its way to life — then convulsed out of sight.
Closing the front door, I could only hope.
Later, I heard the sirens first.