I really didn’t think Billy understood what had happened. By the way he responded to Carl, my son probably just thought his dad was another picture. He might as well have been for all he had been around.
Billy had done it again, of course, when I put him down in his crib. What made it worse was that he seemed to know what he was doing, saying goodnight to his daddy. The daddy who had disappeared before he was born and had seen him for the first time that night, before running away. I hadn’t actually seen Jinx run but assumed he had. I was so confused.
I didn’t want Billy to see me cry. There was really no way to explain it to him. No way I could think of anyway. Making sure he was safe in his crib, I went to my room and cried myself to sleep. Whimpering softly into my pillow, the movie of my life with Carl unspooling in my head, like a pre-death highlight reel. Most of it was really nice.
Even the high school years weren’t that bad. Despite both of us being misfits. Carl would get shit about his clothes and music but always had a witty come back and well-thought-out argument, usually ending up with more friends than enemies. I was always his best friend though. The girl he used to share his sandbox with. It gave me special privileges, and no one could mess with me without incurring Carl’s infamous verbal fury, reducing more than one mean girl to tears during our high school career.
Then we graduated and went to college. Things were pretty good. We both got into the same school up north and watched each other’s backs at parties and during mid-terms. It was really lovely having a built-in friend. Especially one I already knew so well.
It was about that time we started sleeping together. We hadn’t really planned it. Though the chemistry was undeniable. A magnetic force that pulled us into a tender, passionate kiss that just kept going from there. We tried to figure out in later years who had kissed who first but just couldn’t figure it out. It had all been entirely mutual as far as we could tell.
It was my first time, which seemed to surprise him. He was enormous but also really gentle, and it had only hurt a little bit at first. Then it started to feel really good. Then we did it more. I don’t think we ever officially declared our love, even to each other, or said, “we’re a couple.” It was just so obvious such statements just seemed redundant. We had always loved each other.
Then things got bad. I put it at around the time he started working for his dad when we came back to Vegas. Jinx started changing. Getting more oily, meaner. We didn’t have sex anymore. He spent most of his time when he wasn’t working at the casino drinking and gambling. I missed sex. Though more than that, I missed him and how we used to be. It was like I could feel him slipping away, and there was nothing I could do about it.
The problem was I loved Carl. Even with how much he hurt me. I still loved him, even after he ran away. He never did handle high-pressure situations well, and I did sort of dump it on him. Though I really couldn’t think of any other way to tell him that we had a baby. It shouldn’t have surprised him really. Considering how much he had fucked me before things went off the rails. Rarely did we use protection. I wasn’t on the pill, and neither of us liked condoms. I was already well on the way before he disappeared without a word. I guess he had missed it somehow.
I woke up to Billy crying. I looked out the window. The sun was up, which was a good sign. He had taken to given wake-up calls before the sun was fully up which tended to wake up everyone in the house. Not just me. Irene was fine with it. Apparently, she had always been a heavy sleeper.
My son was hungry, of course. He was always hungry in the morning. He was off the boob by then, so it was far more of a production to get food down him. Involving a high chair and bib and all manner of pre-soften food. Which he sometimes only ate with some coaxing, despite his claims to near starvation. He was really easily distracted.
Getting Billy into clean clothes, the feeding session messier than usual, I left him with Irene and carpooled with Aria down to the Desert Protect’s offices. I thought it would be a bit hypocritical for us both to have our own car when we worked for an environmental NGO. Aria agreed, at least to the point of being willing to drive me most places, at least for work purposes. Anything else, and it was something of a toss-up. Good thing bus passes were relatively cheap. Non-profit didn’t mean no income, but there wasn’t a whole lot of that either in those lean days. Not that it mattered. I was mostly doing it for the cause.