“Squash bug!” Kenny says. At two years old, he clumsily stomps on the concrete, missing the pill bug completely. Excitedly, he runs in place, then tries again. His baby fine, thin brown hair is chin length. His eyes are big and brown, like a puppy, with beautiful long eyelashes. He is simply adorable.
“Thanks again for inviting us over,” I tell Logan. I stand holding baby Jack. At 7 months old, he can crawl, but I don’t want him crawling on the apartment complex parking lot. He watches Kenny, fascinated. Inside, he had crawled all over Darrell and Logan’s apartment, so he is content to let me hold him; for the moment. He’s heavy, so I stand with my hip popped out, leaning away from him.
“Sure, glad you could make it,” Logan says. He is more animated than the last time that I saw him, and more talkative. There are still long pauses between sentences, but at least he’s making an effort. “Have you heard from your ex?”
I shake my head. “There was a prank call to my parents’ house, and they think it was him. They won’t tell me what he said, so it must have been bad. But the point is, he knows where we are. He hasn’t tried once to contact me. I thought for sure that he’d want to see Jack. How can he stay away from his son? Seriously, I thought that I’d have to fight him for custody. Instead, he just—disappears.” I am still having nightmares, but I don’t mention them.
Logan shakes his head, too. “I don’t know. Nothing is going to keep me from seeing my boy. Yes, that’s right, Kenny, squash them bugs!” Logan stomps the ground next to his son, sending him into a giggle fit. I laugh, too, because he is so darn cute!
“I’m quitting my second job,” I tell him.
“Waitressing? But I thought you made, like, $300 a night?” he asks.
“I do, but…everyone has a sad story. The customers complain because they’re not in relationships, or their relationship is bad, or work sucks. They come in to, you know, feel better. Sure, there are some bachelor parties, but even with those, there are some guys in the group that are jealous that they aren’t the groom. And then there are the dancers, who are working hard to earn money for their kids, or drugs, or college. So many of them just hate men now, because of how they’re treated at the club,” I says, pausing to gather my thoughts. “I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want to have to drink or, do drugs, to get through the day.”
“Ya, I understand. Are you going to be able to pay your bills with just your cashier salary?” he asks.
Surprised, I realize that he cares. I feel like I am talking to a real friend and I am touched. “Ya,” I says. “I have some money saved up. Still, I’m looking for a new job. $5.25 per hour sucks. I’m going to take some classes at the community college to become a paralegal, you know, a secretary for lawyers. They make decent salaries, and it’s only a two-year program.”
“So you’re replacing your second job with school,” he says.
“Ya. I’ve gotta do something, so that I can take care of my baby, here. Maybe one day I can afford daycare, so that Mom doesn’t have to watch him,” I say.
“I bet your mom loves keeping him,” Logan says, then smiles at Jack. “Your grandma loves you, doesn’t she? Yes, she does.”
That is the first time I’d seen Logan smile. He really is ok looking. I mean, not gorgeous, but definitely not ugly. Maybe like John Travolta, but with a smaller chin.
“What are you going to do?” I ask.
“I quit school. I mean, I would have completely failed this semester, because of what happened,” Logan says, referring to the whole cheating wife fiasco. “I had an interview at IBM to work in their tech support department.” He shrugs. “It’s kind of easy work. I mean, most of it is telling people to reboot their computers, or download a driver. But it’s good money. Hey, would you want to work there?”
I laugh. “Computers are not my thing. I’ll stick to secretary school, thanks!” I smile at him, then say, “I hope you get it. I mean, it was great of Darrell to let you stay here with him, but I bet you’ll be happy to get an apartment of your own, right?”
Logan says, “Actually, I really like living with Darrell. He has all the kitchen stuff and couches and…you wouldn’t believe how much it costs to buy all that stuff.” Then he glanced at me and said, “Maybe you would. Anyway, I’ve got to finalize the divorce and save up some money. I’ll be living with Darrell for a while. It’s ok, he’s a pretty good roommate. He’ll buy the steaks if I cook ‘em, and that works for me.”
“Oh, you cook?” I ask.
“Yep. Just a few easy meals. My mom had three boys, and she didn’t want us to starve as bachelors, so she taught us all the basics,” he says. “I actually don’t mind doing it.”
“Cool. I avoid cooking, myself. It’s like, a necessary evil. Gotta eat, right?” I force a laugh.
“Ya, gotta eat,” Logan agrees. He looks at his son, then his face hardens. “Jodi and I are writing our divorce decree together, using a template we found online. We’re going to try to do it without a lawyer. Should be easy, we don’t have much to fight over.” He clenches his jaw; he is obviously still hurting badly.
I didn’t know whether to console him or what. So I offer news about my own divorce. “Mine is final. I had to hire a lawyer for my ex, since he’s vanished, and pay to have a summons put in the newspaper. Had to pay a detective to try to find him, too—even though I’d rather he stay gone!”
“That sucks,” Logan says, still looking out into the distance and clenching his jaw. He is a million miles away.
“Ya, at least it’s over. Well, this guy looks sleepy. Maybe he’ll fall asleep on the ride home,” I says, nodding my head to Jack. He put his head on my shoulder and his eyes were drooping. His chin is slack, too. Yep, he’s ready for a nap.
“Yep. I’ll grab your bag. Kenny! Come on, let’s walk Jack to the car!” Logan says. Kenny looks up and squeals with delight.
“BUGS!” he says.
“Yes, we can look for bugs while we walk,” Logan says, grabbing my diaper bag and purse from inside the apartment and then taking Kenny’s hand.
I buckle Jack into his car seat, then give a brief hug to Logan and Kenny.
On the drive home, I wonder what today meant. I mean, it wasn’t a date. We are just two friends watching our kids play. Logan didn’t try to hold my hand or kiss me goodbye. But do I want him to? Seems like he still needs time to get over what happened. Maybe he just needs a friend right now, someone who’s going through a divorce, too.
I sit a little straighter. I can be a friend. And I like having one, too. As said in Casablanca, “This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
I haven’t heard from Mike. That’s not surprising, considering how terrible our date went. Still, I did everything he wanted. Why hasn’t he called? Should I call him, to make sure that he has my number? He was the instructor of my class, which meant that he had access to the paperwork with all my registration information: address, phone number, and email address. If he isn’t calling, it is because he doesn’t want to see me again. Sigh, why can’t I have a normal relationship for once?
This chapter is part of the continuing romance novel, How I Met Your Father; the next chapter is here. In case you’re new to my site, I recommend that you start reading at the intro, here. I’ll be posting a chapter a week on Mondays (although I’m a day early this week). Since this is my first love story, comments and suggestions are welcome. I rewrote chapter 2 based on reader feedback, and it was much better. Actually, one of the reasons that I’m writing this book is to improve my writing skills. Let me know what you think.
In other news, I go into surgery tomorrow, and I have pain meds for after. Then I’m slacking the rest of the week; just chillin’ out at home with chipmunk cheeks and Netflix. I stocked up on Jello, pudding, and bananas, so I’m set! I’ll take some selfies and post them on Facebook for you.
I hope 2016 is treating you well! Stay warm!