Sunday, April 28
Tom wants to quit The Rayys. He said he's been wanting to for months.
“Why?” I asked.
Tom shrugged. “I’m just sick of playing with them.”
“Is it Stan?” Tom and the bass player don't like each other much.
“I’m tired of hanging out with them. I want to play with other people.”
“Being grounded from your band was good, I guess.”
We drove to my mother’s and the three of us played miniature golf. While Tom was jumping across water features and hitting balls, he was texting.
“Who are you texting?” I asked.
“Tell him you’re playing miniature golf and you’ll text him later. It’s your turn.”
We moved onto the next hole.
“Hey Mom, I’m up here,” Tom shouted. Tom scaled a fake cliff and was waving from the top. He started texting.
“You’re not supposed to be up there,” I yelled. “Get down before they see you. Play. It’s your turn again.”
We finished the round and hit baseballs in the batting cages.
“It hurts when I hit with this metal bat,” my mother said, shaking her hands.
“Yeah,” I agreed. “A vibrating jolt goes through my hands every time I hit.”
We drove back to my mother’s house and she served dessert. Tom said he didn’t want any.
“Is something wrong?” she asked him.
“Yes.” Tom swiveled his chair toward me. “You!” he said, glaring at me. “I’m still mad at you for what you said and I’ve been texting Dad and I want to go to his house. He’s picking me up when we get home.”
“Oh really. Well, he can keep you the next two weeks.”
Tom’s face fell.
“Yeah,” I continued. “You can turn your grades around at Dad’s. I’m sick of dealing with your school work.”
We drove home. On our way into the house, I held out my hand. “Let me see your phone,” I said. Tom looked sick. He handed it to me warily and took several steps back. I began scrolling through his texts. While we were playing miniature golf, Tom had texted his father that I’d punched him three times yesterday. He said I knocked him to the ground and he'd hidden in his closet. JB had texted, “Are you okay?” and Tom wrote that I was screaming at him.
“You little weasel,” I hissed at Tom. “You manipulative lying little creep.” I threw the phone at him. It smacked his chest and fell to the ground.
“Well, you did punch me,” Tom stammered.
“Well, not yesterday but about a month ago.”
“I never punched you. I shoved your shoulder. You texted your father that I punched you three times. You told him I knocked you to the ground, that you had to hide in your closet. Those are horrible lies.”
I unlocked the door to the house and swung it open. “Get inside and pack your bags.” Tom went upstairs to his room. I sat in my office. I called JB. I got his voicemail. Of course. Only texts and emails for JB. Coward.
“Tom wants to spend the next two weeks with you,” I texted. “He says you’re picking him up this afternoon.”
I assumed this would be news to JB. Getting Tom was not on his agenda. There was nothing about it in their string of texts. JB didn’t respond.
“I’m going out for an hour,” I shouted up the stairs. “Hope you’re all ready to go to Dad’s.”
I drove to a recovery meeting. Four guys were outside smoking.
“Hey,” Chuck said with a big toothy grin. “How are you?”
“Not good,” I answered. “My twelve-year-old is playing my ex and me against each other. Could I bum a smoke?”
A bony hand offered me a Pal Mel.
“Thanks.” I inhaled deeply.
We went into the meeting and afterward, Chuck pulled me aside.
“My son doesn’t speak to me anymore,” he said. “Your sons, they don’t trust anyone anymore. Finding out their father is not the man they thought he was—that’s a deep betrayal.”
“Blake isn’t talking to his father right now. Tom’s the only one JB’s got. Tom’s got to be feeling a lot of pressure. Poor kid.”
My phone buzzed in my purse.
“My phone was dead,” JB wrote. “Do you want me to get him?”
I called JB and he actually answered. I told him to get Tom. I explained what was going on.
As Tom was leaving the house with JB, I said good-bye but didn’t hug or kiss him. Hugging and kissing didn't feel right. But I felt horrible not doing it. Tom hung his head and walked out the door. I started crying.