Suddenly her cell phone rang, and she glanced at the screen, surprised to see it was Raz, so she answered. “Raz? How are you?”
“Sorry to call you so late, Ms. Larkin.”
“That’s okay.” Heather didn’t know what was going on, but Raz sounded upset, his voice shaky.
“I’ve been calling Jordan. Do you know where he is?”
Heather hesitated. She didn’t relish being the one to tell Raz that Jordan was with Evan. She wondered if he and Jordan had talked since practice. Jordan had been upset about Mr. Y’s suicide and had spent the day in his room, on his computer and doing homework. She told Raz, “I think he’s at the movies. Maybe he has his phone on silent.”
“Who did he go with?”
“Evan, I think,” Heather answered, because it couldn’t be avoided. She didn’t know what Raz could have expected after he’d punched Jordan. She heard a woman’s voice in the background, probably Susan, but the words were indistinct, like it said on closed captioning. WORDS INDISTINCT.
Raz cleared his throat. “See, uh, I wanted to say I’m sorry to you, too. I lost my temper and I didn’t mean to hit Jordan, I’m sorry about that.”
“Well, that’s nice of you to say. But I think Jordan is the one you owe the apology to.”
“That’s why I’m trying to reach him.”
“Well, good. It’s between the two of you. You have to make it right.”
“I know, I went too far.”
“Yes, you did.” Heather felt a pang of sympathy for him, he sounded so upset. But still, she’d been happier knowing that Jordan was out with Evan and she sensed Jordan had been looking forward to it, too. Not that he’d told her as much, but he’d put on a clean T-shirt and jeans. And Heather couldn’t believe it when she saw Jordan and Evan driving off in a BMW that cost more than she made all last year.
“Mrs. Larkin, my mother wants to talk to you.”
“Okay, no problem, good night.”
“Good night,” Raz said miserably, then Susan came on. “Heather? I’m so sorry about what Raz did. I hope you accept his apology.”
“Of course I do,” Heather said, softening up. She felt guilty that she hadn’t gone up to Susan at the game. “I’m so sorry about Neil, and you have my sympathies. I know that couldn’t have been easy for you yesterday.”
“Right, thanks.” Susan sounded shaky, too. “It’s been so hard, and I’m not saying this is an excuse, but Raz has been very upset about losing his father.”
“I can’t imagine,” Heather said, though she could. Jordan never knew his father, but he still never punched his friend in the face.
“He’s been so angry lately and withdrawn, and he spends a lot of time in his room on the laptop. I’m beginning to worry what he’s up to.” Susan’s tone turned vulnerable, which surprised Heather. They didn’t know each other at all.
“Jordan spends a lot of time in his room too. They all do. They’re growing up.”
“I know, but this is different. I think he’s withdrawing and I don’t know who he’s online with, all the time.”
“Tell me about it.” Heather steered onto Central Valley Road, almost home.
“I hope that what happened won’t affect his friendship to Jordan. I always liked that they were friends. Jordan is such a good influence on Raz.”
“Thank you.” Heather didn’t think Jordan should have to raise Raz, but whatever. The traffic on Central Valley was light since most of the businesses were closed, the storefronts darkened and their signs turned off. Only the Friendly’s sign was still on, blasting into her apartment. She always thought, Not so Friendly, are you?
“Heather, I need to ask you a favor. I’m hoping there’s something you could do to facilitate things between the boys. You could broker a peace.”
“How?” Heather asked, unprepared for the request. Susan had a big job at ValleyCo, so maybe she was used to asking for things. Heather had always wished she could be more like that. She never asked anybody for anything. She relied on herself. She waited. As Dr. Phil would say, How’s that working for you?
“Please talk to Jordan and tell him that Raz is having a hard time. I don’t know if you heard, but his brother Ryan was arrested last night for vandalism, and that’s upsetting everybody.”
“Oh, my,” Heather said, as if she hadn’t heard, though she had.
“I hope you’ll try to just get us through this time. It’s a rough patch and I think Jordan would really be key to helping Raz. Jordan hasn’t answered his calls.”
“He was at the movie, so maybe he didn’t get it.”
“Raz has been calling him all afternoon, too. And texting. Jordan’s not responding. He would’ve apologized to him at practice but for the news about Mr. Y. It’s so terrible. I feel like we’re all in a bad patch lately, don’t you?”
“In a way, yes. I just left my job.” Heather reached her apartment building and turned left into the driveway, then had a thought. “Susan, you work for ValleyCo, don’t you?”
“Yes, I’m Marketing Manager.”
Heather hesitated, then thought of Dr. Phil. “Do you know of any openings, for me?”
Mindy scrolled through Facebook on her phone in bed, not bothering to comment on the funny animal videos, baby pictures, or inspirational sayings. Usually she was a Facebook slut, liking all her friends’ posts and counting the likes on her posts. But not tonight. She was completely preoccupied, waiting for Paul to come home. He was late, the second night in a row. And again, he’d only texted, got held up at the hosp, sry.
She kept scrolling, watching the posts flip by like a slot machine. She remembered when she used to read in bed, but Facebook had replaced books. She’d been happier back then, but that could have been a coincidence. Finally she heard Paul’s car pull into the driveway and glanced at the bedside clock: 12:15.
The house was quiet, and Mindy waited for him to get inside, so that when he finally did, she could almost hear the mechanical ca-chunk of his key turning in the lock downstairs, then the slight squeak of the front door opening, and the comforting sealing sound as it was shut and the deadbolt thrown. She knew Paul’s routines so well, the way a wife does a husband’s, so that she knew he would drop his keys jingling on the console table, which he did, then his messenger bag on the chair beside the console table, thud, then he’d turn off the light she’d left on for him, and last would come a sigh, which she used to think of as a sigh of contentment. But after he’d had his affair, she wondered if his sigh was one of resignation, like, I’m home, having no other choice.