No, no, Robbie, you're not dumb, she reassures him with a sigh directed more at herself than him. Defeat. She isn't even mad at herself that she has agreed to see him so quickly. They are over-played arguments in her head (You fucking bastard), enough-so, she doesn't want to make them real. And yes. Very much so, yes. She misses him.
No, I am. I really am dumb. You have no idea, Lill, he tells her. Can we get together like right now? I can tell you why I have finally reached this conclusion with myself. Now that I know, something can be done about it. You'll help poor little, old me, won't you?
And she wishes she were offended with herself for not being offended with herself, even though she hears that whine in his voice. Instead, she feels warmth spreading through her, somehow she feels grateful he's finally called her again. It's been almost three months.
She's used to being first. First born, first found, and first lost, in Robbie's case anyway. She understands. It has to be this way because they are like moth to a flame, the flickering dance of macabre. So mutually exclusive of, almost unwaveringly seeking of each other's every reaction, thought, it repelled others. Especially girlfriends, particularly boyfriends. No, she and Robbie were not in love with each other, but sometimes she isn't certain that she is his friend either.
He is living with his mother again, so she drives over to her place, to the row after row of townhouses at the edge of town and Robbie meets her in the parking lot for guests. Hey, it's a nice day. I got some beers. Let's go sit around back on the deck, he says.
Mmmm, she agrees, it's always the deck; she's never been in his mother's house. Is your mom home?
He shakes his head. Let's go. Before one of the teenaged punks around here makes off with my beer.
They soon find out that it's too nice of day in the noontime August sun. Her head starts to feel muggy after two beers and the sun is getting to Robbie too because now he's crying and she can't take it and she says, Just stop for a second. Let's put up this umbrella.
Okay, he agrees, and I will get us some water too because yeah, this is all too...intense. I'm sorry, Lill.
No-no, Robbie, she waves him off, but when he goes inside his mother's house, she rubs her hands across her eyes and sighs. What a mess this time, she thinks.
Once in the shade for a while, they start to notice the soft, summer breeze again, tickling their bodies, sliding up their noses and they are happy again, his feet up on the cooler and hers up on a large, blue plastic tote. Time keeps slipping with the sun.
Almost dusk, she asks, What's in this one? She nudges the point of her toe at the blue box.
He shrugs. I don't know. You can open if you want.
She shrugs too. Okay. Inside, there is row after row upon row of telephone bills. She reaches down inside to the bottom right-hand corner of the container and pulls out the bill. Oh, my god, Robbie. This is from 1967.
I know. She's fucking crazy. See the lid of that one? That piece of paper on it?
She grabs the lid to look at it. January, 1972. March, 1987. August, 1976. September, 1991. April, 1994. All written in different ink, same hand.
The one's that she can't find. They're like missing children to her and the FBI isn't helping her.
Why would they? We're fucking Canadian, she laughs. I do hope she isn't giving out our National Secrets.
If I don't get out of here in like three days, I'm gonna want to hang myself, he says, leaning his elbows on his knees and pounding himself in the forehead with his fists. Fuck, Lill, I have been so stupid this time.
Do you think she has called the police on you, Robbie? I mean really--?
Her ex is doing time up in Kingston. She said he used to beat her, among other illegal shit--selling some pot, petty theft--says she had to call the police on him 23 times before he went away longer than 90 days. He had a warrant for his arrest three days outstanding and the police were all too happy to add in the domestic violence charge. Bam. Six years. I don't know. It's like...what she does. She's fucking hysterical. They're just words, you know? Angry words. Stupid words. But just words. It's not like I hurt her or anything.
Do you think you will piss your pants when that big motherfucker, the one who has a foot on you, threatens you with the same shit, when you are begging no trying to save your ass?? You can't be running around saying that kind of shit to people, Robbie. You just can't.
Seriously? That's what you've got to say to me? I need some reassurance here? You know that, right?
What, she asks, confused. First, you call me to come here to hear your story under the pretense that I would agree with your stupidity and here I am doing just that and now you want me to what--pump you up instead? She mimics him, They're just words, you know? If you need me to make you feel good about yourself, then maybe you should have said something good about yourself and I would have followed suit. You know your list is long, but they're just words, right? What do they mean coming from me? She sighs loudly. You may soon have someone reading you your rights. How very just, indeed, she laughs at herself suddenly thinking she is funny and she can't help but grin at him wickedly.
He grins back, shaking his head at her; I won't go to jail or anything. Slap on the wrist.
Not even that if you go in court offering a donation to a worth-while cause, maybe there's one that helps women with the cost of their psychiatric drugs for hysteria or something.
—You're an ass—
Among other shows of good faith. It's good you have a regular job. You would want the charge to be lowered, so you don't carry around the stupid bastard file forever.
You're right. Do you think I should call the police now? Turning myself in would be another show of good faith.
Don't be stupid, Robbie. The police know who you are. They'd come looking here first.
He sighs and nods, You're right. He lets a pause hang between them and then he queries, hopeful, Don’t suppose you've got a pity fuck in ya?
That won't be happening and even if it could be, you're way too pathetic right now, she tells him.
I know. I know, he agrees, nodding his head in agreement. I really am. I've got to get my priorities in order. First I've got to get myself out of my mother's place and then I can go get myself laid. It's easy. I can do it. But I've got to do it fast. If I don't, I'll go back to her. Jesus Christ, I will, he puts his head between his knees and rubs at his head vigourously, but he'll be washing that woman out for a while to come yet. He knows it and looks over at Lill and she knows it too, and he's not nearly sorry enough. With his frowning mouth and smiling, begging eyes, he says I've got some takeout sushi in the fridge. You want some?