Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Dynamite--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Wednesday, May 29

     The wheels are in motion for a mortgage in my name. Yippee! The bank sent an appraiser over, then I went to hit golf balls where Golf Guy teaches. I’m sick of playing the powerless female. The one waiting for the man to make all the moves so I can respond. I was groomed to behave that way. I’ve done it all my life. I feel like a ninny letting Golf Guy string me along, decide how this goes. We're going to move forward or he needs to go.

     “I’m going to hit balls where you teach. Say hi if you can,” I texted Golf Guy.

     I drove to the club, opened the back of my Tahoe, put my golf shoes on, and carried my clubs to the ball vending machine. The balls rumbled into a basket and a golf cart pulled up to the shelter. The sun was in my eyes, but I could make out a guy with a crew cut smiling at me. I pulled the ear buds out of my ears and gave a little wave.
     “Hi,” the guy said.
     “Hey,” I said walking closer and realizing it was Golf Guy. “I didn’t recognize you with your hair gone.” Golf Guy had long hair before.
     “It was time,” he said, pulling the cap off his head. “Feel it.”
     I ran my hand over the top of his head. “Always liked the feel of a crew cut.”
     Golf Guy looked over his shoulder. A couple of women in a golf cart were driving up. “They’re so needy,” he said. “I told them to wait but they had to come over. I gotta play nine holes with them.”
     “You better go then,” I said.
     “Text me and let me know how you hit.”
     “Okay.” I put my ear buds in, walked away, and hit badly.

     “Hope tomorrow is better,” I texted Golf Guy. “I’m playing 18 for the first time. Nice seeing you.”

     “Good to see you as well.”

     That was it. Dude’s gotta go.
     Tom and I ate dinner then checked his grades online. He had a D in social studies. I clicked on the D and a list of missing homework assignments popped up. The last one was a big project worth huge points.
     “What is this?” I asked.
     “That was a project I was supposed to do with a partner, but he did a bad job,” Tom said.
     “What do you mean he did a bad job?”
     “He just copied some stuff out of a book and pretended he did it.”
     “So he plagiarized.”
     “And you contributed nothing.”
     “You let him do everything and he wound up plagiarizing.”
     Tom swallowed and shrugged.
     “What is wrong with you?” I screamed. “If you’d done well on this you’d have a good grade. This is a fun class. Your teacher is voted ‘best teacher’ every year. Blake loved him.”
     Tom gave me a vacant Napoleon Dynamite stare from his favorite movie, “Napoleon Dynamite.” The slack-jawed, droopy-eyed, nobody-is-home expression, I wanted to slap it off his face. Another of Tom’s idols is Nathan Barnett, a balding, frizzy-haired, jackass who does stupid stunts on YouTube. Tom has been creating and posting videos like Barnett’s. I yanked the cable connecting the computer to the Internet.
     “You’re done watching Barnett! You want to be a guy my age who acts like guys your age?”
     “I don’t care,” Tom shrugged. “Yeah. I think it’s cool to be like Nathan Barnett. I want to be like him. Bad grades don’t bother me.”
     I shoved Tom’s shoulder. I actually growled like an animal. I made myself walk away before I did something I’d regret. I was going to take Tom out to watch the Hawks/Redwings game after he finished his homework, but I stalked out alone.
     I drove to a local bar. It was full. There was an open spot near the waitress stand and I grabbed an empty stool from a table and sat at the bar. I put my purse, club soda, and money on the bar in a wide semi-circle in front of me setting a boundary I wanted no one crossing. I watched the game and came up with a list of chores to occupy Tom’s summer hours. Pick up dog poop, clean the basement, clean the garage, weed. He’d have no time for his slacker heroes. A bartender walked up.
     “Are you okay?” he asked. He was in his early twenties. His face showed concern.
     “Yeah,” I said. I felt tears coming on. I choked them back and forced a smile. “I’m fine.”
     “Okay,” he said.
     I breathed deeply. My throat tightened. I hated what was going on with Tom. I hated Golf Guy. I hated JB. I bought a pack of cigarettes on my way home and smoked a couple. I’d given up smoking years ago, even though I bummed  one or two cigarettes a year. I looked at my phone and there were no texts from Golf Guy. I hated that I checked.

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