Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Whatever--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Saturday, June 15

     Tom’s band, Gamma Ray, played the youth stage at Libertyville Days, and JB, who had Tom for the weekend, played roadie. Blake and I walked the three blocks from our house to the middle of town for Tom's show and I told Blake, “Don’t be surprised if Dad comes over and talks to you. I'm thinking he will.”
     Blake groaned. “I hope he doesn’t.”
     “Be open to it. See what he has to say. It might be good.”
     “Really?” Blake asked sarcastically. “What could he possibly say that would make things better?”
     “I don’t know. But he’s your father. You’re going to end up talking to him at some point. This may as well be the time.”
     Blake sighed. “Whatever.”
     We continued walking in silence. I glanced at Blake periodically. He appeared to be mulling it over, softening.
     Tom and his band were on stage and Blake and I planted ourselves front and center. I began waving wildly at Tom. Tom waved back and shot us an enormous grin. JB, standing off to the side, was holding up his iPad to record video. Periodically, JB whipped his head in our direction then whipped it back like he wasn’t looking. Our old neighbors, Gerald and Fran, were standing behind Blake and me.
     “Hey,” I said.
     “Hey!” Fran said. “When are you going to Lakeside? We’re going to my friend’s cottage by you again this summer.”
     “We got divorced and JB got the cottage,” I said.
     “No,” Fran gasped. “What happened?”
     I told her.
     “Wow,” Gerald said, shaking his head. He motioned toward Gamma Ray. “Those kids are really good.”
     “You recognize the guitar player?”
     Gerald shook his head.
     “It’s Tom.”
     “Oh my God. Tom. He really grew.”
     “Here’s Blake,” I said, pointing.
     Tom was strutting on stage. He strutted too far and his guitar unplugged from his amp. Bob, an old high school friend of JB’s, rushed over and plugged it in. He walked off the stage and stood next to me.
     “Hey Bob,” I said.
     “Hey!” he said and gave me a big hug.
     Bob had sent me a Facebook message earlier asking for JB’s phone number, which I thought was odd.
     “I’m guessing you know we’re divorced?” I asked Bob.
     “Yeah,” he said, shaking his head. “What the hell happened?”
     “JB was on Ashley Madison the last five years.”
     “Ach,” Bob said, throwing his head back. He squeezed his eyes shut in a pained expression. “Look at you. You’re gorgeous. You dating anyone?”
     “Not really.”
     “I know a lot of nice guys who’d like to meet someone nice,” he said. “I should fix you up.”
     “I might take you up on that.”
     Tom finished his set and I ran on stage and squeezed him. “You were great. You guys sounded fabulous.”
     “Thanks,” Tom beamed.
     “You were great Buddy,” Blake said and high-fived his brother.
     JB, packing up band equipment, was shooting more furtive glances our way. I waited for him to walk over and say hello to Blake, but he never came by. When the last of the band equipment had been carried off, I turned to Blake and said, “Let’s go to Tommy’s, eat dinner, and watch the Hawk’s game on their patio.”
     We silently walked to Tommy’s. Finally, I said, “I’m stunned your dad didn’t come over.”
     “I’m not,” Blake said. “I’m glad he didn’t come over. He’s a pussy.”
     I looked at Blake. I felt like crying but held back the tears. A bouncer was standing on Tommy’s patio not letting anyone in under the age of twenty-one.
     “But I’m his mother,” I said. “He’s not going to drink.”
     “I’d let you in but it's not up to me,” the bouncer said. “I have to ask the owner. He’s probably not going to let me. He’s being really strict with Libertyville Days. But I’ll ask.” He walked off.
     “That’s a first, my mother trying to get me into a bar,” Blake smirked.
     The bouncer reappeared shaking his head.
     “Let’s go to Chili U,” I said.
     Blake and I walked down a few storefronts and somberly ate chili while the Hawks played in the background.

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