He survived it. He came home unscathed, maybe even stronger.
But first, oh. The "but first" part was gawd-awful:
My husband sits at the kitchen table right after the phone call, drumming his fingers. "He's with Redlin. I wish I had Redlin's number. I almost asked him for it today when I saw him at work."
I pause in my frantic pacing. "I want to wring that kid's neck. He knows what's at stake here. He knows all Logan's been through. What kind of 'friend' picks a kid up one day out of rehab and smokes weed in front of him?" I have a moment of sheer hatred for this weasel-like kid who's dogged our paths for years. Christ, now he even has a job at the same place my husband does. What are the odds.
My husband lifts chin out of hands. "If I had Redlin's number, I'd call and tell him if anything happens to Logan tonight, he's out a job."
My pacing stops. "What? You would do that? You could
"Yeah. I could get him fired. Easy."
Takes him fifteen minutes to track down the number, fifteen minutes in which I think there's maybe a prayer Logan gets through this tonight.
I step into the other room while he's on the phone, but I can still hear him.
"Redlin! Hey, how are things? How's Logan?...Good, he's okay so far?...Good. You'll bring him home soon?...Good....Yeah, sure, see you at work tomorrow...Have a good night...Stay safe...Sure, we'll play a hand of cards tomorrow. You draw first. See you soon!"
He comes out the door and my blood is boiling. I try not to say anything. I try, oh, I try.
"What?" he says. "Why are you looking at me like that?"
My lips are taut as a piece of steel and my nostrils wide as caves. "That. That."
"What?!" His voice is loud.
"That. Was very far away from 'You'll lose your job if anything happens to him.'" I'm panting.
"God, Frankie! I'm doing the best I can!" He's yelling. He never yells. We go into separate rooms.
Somehow the next hour passes. And a half. I'm curled on the couch staring at a mute TV, wondering how to handle the fact that he's now late. "Be home in an hour," my husband had said to him, and he'd promised he would be. Now it's an hour and 15 minutes later.
"Well." Husband stands up. "Time to place a follow-up call."
"He's late." I croak. "You told him to be home in a hour and he's not home."
"Let me call him." He punches numbers. "Logan! Hey, good job answering the phone. About time to head back this way."
"He's late! Tell him he's late!" I have turned into the shrew from hell.
"So you'll start heading home soon?"
"You told him to be here by now! Tell him he's late!"
"Good, so we'll see you in an hour or so? Okay, bye." An hour or so?
He's giving Logan MORE TIME with these kids? More time to screw up? More time for me to wait in agony? I begin to cry again, and instead of comforting me, he's mad at me. Arms crossed, I go into the garage to cry so the youngest doesn't hear. My husband follows, and I turn to him, furious. "WHY DO YOU DO THAT? WHY DON'T YOU SAY WHAT YOU MEAN? WHY DO YOU PRETEND EVERYTHING'S OK WHEN IT ISN'T?!!!"
He turns on his heel. "Fine. You're welcome to call him yourself next time." The garage door slams behind him, and I begin to sob.
After a while of hunched-over sobbing, I'm aware he's behind me again in the dark. I turn to him and spit out, "Why are you acting so mad at me?"
Again he yells. "I'm doing the best I can! What do you want from me?!"
I should preface this by saying we never fight. Never. Ever. We adore each other. Not tonight.
My spine fails me and I double over, stamping my bare feet on the driveway. Suddenly they are moving, my feet, taking me away from this house, these troubles. I stamp up the hill, around the corner, through the street light. It's 11:30 at night in a middle-class neighborhood. Everyone else is asleep. I keep walking, my tears turning to bitter anger. I do not want this job. I do not want these people. I want to live alone. I want to keep walking. I'll be like Forest Gump, and just keep going. My bare feet stamp against the rough road and I head for the concrete gutter. I trace blocks and blocks and blocks of gutter in the dark, knowing it's too cold to be out without a coat, knowing I'm foolish to be barefoot. Who the hell cares?
Eventually I head toward home. I just won't speak to my husband for a week. How's that. If he wants to attack me when I'm beyond myself with worry, fine. Who needs him. Who—Who is that?
A man's figure steps out of a backyard, striding toward me. I freeze.
"Hey." It's my husband, fleece coat zipped against the chill. He reaches my side and I turn away. He turns with me.
We walk in silence for a minute. "You're in bare feet, Frankie."
"Yeah." It's all I can think to say.
He takes off his shoes. "Put these on."
"No, I'm fine."
"Frankie, the last thing I need is for you to get sick. Put these on. I have socks, I'll be okay."
I slip into his way-too-big-for-me shoes. He puts his arms around me, there in the dark street. I sink into them. He rubs my back. I mutter into his jacket, "It's not fair for you to be mad at me when I'm so worried."
He squeezes tight. "I know. I'm sorry. But it's not fair for you to criticize me when I'm trying to help, either."
"I know. I'm sorry."
"Come on, let's go home."
We head back: him silently, sockfooted on the rough pavement, me shuffling the oversized shoes along.
We see a car ahead: Redlin's.
"See," he says. "We got him home. That's all we were trying to do, just get him home safely. We'll deal with the other stuff later."
I nod in the dark, wondering what we'll face when we get home.