Saturday, 30 June 2012


I woke up this morning alone in the bed and covered in charcoal fingerprints, the bed cold, rain pouring in sheets down the window glass, the house quiet. When I sat up I saw Lochlan sitting on the floor, wearing his pajama bottoms and drawing conclusions on a big sheet of Ingres paper. His headphones are on to block out the world, probably with some Floyd or Senses, background music to soothe his carnival brain that never shuts out the flame or the lights or the love.

Ben is working. Ben is always always working and does not sleep or worry or check in often enough and I feel disconnected and alone without him here when I wake up. I take my phone and find my robe and then change my mind and head for a hot shower instead. My head is throbbing from the scotch.

When we reached the back door last night, Lochlan knocked his chair over in his rush to come and take over possession from the devil, who exited graciously and did not attempt to linger.

Where's Ben? I'm so tired I cut directly to the chase with no explanations of the night thus far.

Recording or writing, I don't know which, peanut. He's been down there all night.

I'm going down to see him.

Bridget, you need to sleep. He'll come find you. He turns me around and steers me upstairs in the near dark. I am heavy-headed and all fluttery, fumbling fingers with the wrong words spilling everywhere and we're slipping on them. Lochlan takes advantage of my loneliness, and my dependence on him like he has so many times before, pulling me into his arms, winding me out and keeping me captive until I am asleep, exhausted and bathed in a mixture of sweat and shame.

When I emerge from the shower some twenty minutes later, scrubbed clean but with faint traces of grey still ground into my flesh, Ben is sitting on the edge of the bed waiting for me and Lochlan has taken his tools and vanished. The rain has stopped and the sun is fighting to peer through the cloud cover, losing the battle before it has even begun.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Perrault vs. Grimm.

You like it when you are pulled in different directions.

No. I shake my head gently and take another sip of burning-warm scotch.

You wanted me back and I warned you it wouldn't be easy.

Let's get something straight here. I wanted you to come back for your son.

Don't be coy. Henry has a waiting list of surrogate dads and has hardly noticed I'm here or made note of the fact that I'm back ten days early. This is about us.

There is no us. I am drunk and slurring slightly. I wonder briefly if he can still understand me.

Those delusions help you sleep, don't they, beautiful? He reaches out to touch my bitten shoulder but I pull back, away, pushing out from the table. It could have been worse and by the way, you look adorable and helpless with your hair ending at your chin like that.

Fuck you and your fantasies, Diabhal.

He lifts up his drink and drains the glass before placing it upside down. He leans across the table and smiles again, without letting his eyes in on the joke. What if I changed my terms?

You don't get to have terms. We have no agreements.

But we could. We should.

I need to go.

Probably a good idea. I'll walk you over.

I can find my way across the drive.

Bears, Bridget.

Ironic. Leave the wolf to encounter a bear.

He ignores the namecalling. You're not at full capacity right now. Let's go.

That's the kindest way anyone's ever described me, you know that?
I stumble when I stand up. Fucking Scotch.

He just smiles so very tightly, and offers me his hand.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Aperture science.

He showed up this morning.

Dressed in a bespoke suit with his shit together and lies in his eyes, Caleb was standing in the driveway talking to Dalton when I came out of the house also in my finest, dressed for graduation day. The last day of school for Henry too but the strange transition of Ruth beginning high school, since they start it here in Grade 8. The ceremony was amazing. She is too grownup and I am having trouble grasping this, like all change.

He had a wrapped grading present for each of them, and his luggage was nowhere in sight. A red eye with red eyes, the very worst of travel but he still looks presentable and is or seems sober.

And I'm weirdly thrilled that he came when I called.

Like a fucking puppy.

(Here, boy.)

Bridget. He smiles almost imperceptibly and waits for my reaction. He is tense and exhausted and evil and charming all at once and it is the very worst way to show up in front of me. Especially when I am not warned in advance because I didn't expect to see him and I don't know if he is here for the day or the weekend or back home for good and Lochlan still isn't speaking to me but here I am balancing my emotions on a scale but I've shoved the scale way in the back of the cupboard since today will not be about me by any stretch of the imagination. Oh no. This day is for the kids. They worked very hard and we are dressed to the nines and beyond and will go to the school then out for a big ticket celebration.

And that's precisely what we did and now I am flitting around the kitchen on pins and needles waiting for one message to go across the driveway and get the information I want and two messages to go upstairs so I should just drag that scale back out and set it on the counter and hope the balance tips in my favor, always.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012



I heard him coming a mile away and I did what any self-respecting adult would do when faced with a confrontation.

I hid.

Only he knows me so well he was opening cupboards as he talked, looking for me. I was standing beside one of the opened bifold doors by the front hall closet listening to his diatribe about my absolute gall in calling Caleb and what did I need that I would go looking for trouble when trouble finds me.

(Without a map, time after time, a homing beacon locked on a moving target, no less.)

I am trying to parse Lochlan's one-sided discussion and failing because he's moving too fast and his voice cuts in and out between the accent and his movements and I finally get so frustrated I bang my head against the door and it slides closed, revealing the red hair and concerned face of my conscience.

My conscience frowns his disapproval and yanks his jeans up a little higher at the same time. He is losing weight, something he tends toward every summer when the days are long and hot and he lives on night air and bright lights and joyful screaming.

(But it sounds so disturbing written like that.)

I step back behind the door, opening it again to block his unwavering gaze. I don't want to present to him right now. I don't want to answer to him. I don't want him to be involved in my brain right this second but these are the moments when my judgement tips over the front of the Ferris wheel and he scoops it up from the platform and returns to the brake to stop each car at the line to exchange riders. He won't give it back for days. I'll have to beg. I've been doing a lot of that anyway lately, I guess.

He Scottish-clicks open disapproval at me and I cover my whole face so he won't see how much that sound annoys me.

Don't hide your face. Be mature.

Pot, kettle, Locket.

I know, but why did you call him?

If I could answer that I wouldn't be hiding.

So be brave.

I'm so not brave.

Oh, yes you are.

Nope. Wrong girl. Move along. I sink to the floor behind the door and he reaches down to scoop me back up, standing me on my feet, closing the door and pulling me away from the wall in one practiced, acrobatic motion.

Fine. I'm very brave. That's why I called him in spite of your eventual disapproval.

My immediate disapproval. Disapproval isn't the word I would use though. You're so fucking proper sometimes. I should be grateful, I suppose, considering I taught you to spell on the road.

Yes, you should be grateful that I'm so awesome.

And braver by the minute, it seems.

Oh! Just shut up!

You first!


Tuesday, 26 June 2012

You're going to miss Henry's graduation.

There's no graduation ceremony from grade five. I will see his report card when I return and bring a grading gift plus his birthday present. I'll be back in time for the party.

He's disappointed that you're going to miss his last day of school.

I'd be working anyway.

But you'd be there in the evening. So he could tell you he's done.

Oh, I see.

Do you? Do you get that you can't insert yourself properly as a father and then just disappear?

Yes, Bridget, I get that. Do you think it's easy to leave?

Then why did you? I told you you didn't have to go anywhere.

And I told you I did.

Is it working?

It's only been a week, Bridget. Give me time. You calling me out of the blue wanting me to come back is really fucking with my head. I'll just have to drink extra now.

I called you for Henry. This is not about us.

Everything is about us.

Maybe you should ease up on the drinking.

You're just beautiful today. Jesus Christ. I wish I was there.

So do we. Family comes before all of this.

I agree. But I'm here and my flight out is on the tenth of July so you'll just have to make do. Now I'm going to go back to my scotch. It's almost nine and I hope to be unconscious by eleven.

What are you doing?

Sitting in a chair alone in the dark thinking.

You at the house or the cottage?

I'm at a hotel downtown.

Why aren't you with your folks?

You want me to subject them to the Devil? Bridget, I may be cruel but I'm not dumb. They're old now. They don't need to see this. There are things they don't need to know.

Discretion isn't a bad thing.

I'm alone, have been since I arrived. Now are we done here? I'm thirsty.

You could just come back.

Bridget. If I come back right now, the way I feel, things will be very hard for you. So just say goodnight and let me get back to the dark, please.

Goodnight, Caleb.

Goodnight, Bridget. Cheers.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Composure took her sweet time leaving, and in her place sat resignation and an oddly comfortable sort of peace. I meandered my way upstairs shortly after midnight, trailing behind Ben, his hand stretched back to pull me along slowly as I kept becoming distracted by things along the route. Pictures that seemed fascinating or crooked. Blooming flowers. A cat on a stair step. My face in the mirror.

Finally he pulls me into our room and closes the door behind us. Lochlan is almost asleep, a thick acknowledgement in the dark confirming his presence. Ben responds and then leads me into the bathroom. The lights are off, the candles lit, bubble bath drawn, steaming clouds of foam fill the tub up to the brim. I know the water only goes halfway. Ben's exercise in volume proved to us early on how far we could fill it before we flooded the floor.

He strips himself first and then me, taking his sweet time. Big fingers on tiny little buttons, hooks and eyes, satin and bows. I don't help, I watch his face. When he is finished he holds his hand out and I take it and step up and into the bath. The water is so hot I gasp. Once I am sitting he steps in and sits down, the water level rising to lap against my shoulders. He positions his legs under mine and pulls me up into his arms. My arms go around his neck as I am lifted into his lap, holding on for dear life. He presses his head down against mine and I close my eyes.

I think sometimes this is my favorite place in the whole world now, after the beach, right at the edge of the water where the earth meets the ocean and all the treasures remain when the tides change. Ben stirs, kissing my damp skin, pulling up a washcloth, wringing it out against my spine so that the hot water courses down in rivers between my shoulder blades.

It was the last thing I remember before my dreams took me.


Sunday, 24 June 2012

Neither here nor there.

Call you up in the middle of the night
Like a firefly without a light
You were there like a blowtorch burning
I was a key that could use a little turning

So tired that I couldn't even sleep
So many secrets I couldn't keep
Promised myself I wouldn't weep
One more promise I couldn't keep
I'm watching from the door as Lochlan opens the bottle and drinks pretty slowly at first, picking up speed as he tilts downhill. The guitar comes up and the words begin to pour easily as he works his way through his most favorite of pop radio hits from the early eighties to the early nineties and not a moment beyond and only the ones within his range, besides.

The melody turns to water, washing over me like a tide, dragging me out into the deep where I can't swim, drowning me in memories, drinking me back in and the louder he sings the harder it becomes to keep my head above the surface.

He knows I am nearby. Where else would I be? Immersing us in the past is one of his gypsy charms, one of his carny tricks, one of his aces up-sleeve and it's always so fuzzily hard for me to see past it or around it and so I must go straight through it and I never end up in quite the same place on the other side. When I can no longer breathe I open my mouth and the recollections pour in. I die a thousand deaths before he sings me back to life with his sorcery, that magical way he has of just unnerving people enough, just making them crush hard enough on him so that they don't notice he had stolen their wallets or their hearts, for that matter until it is far too late to turn back.

Ben has his wallet on a chain but I've had his heart for years, ripped out when he wasn't looking and stuffed behind my back hastily to hide when he came too close. He walks down the steps to where Lochlan is sprawled in the chair with the guitar and he picks up the bottle and turns and walks back up to me. He hands me the bottle and tells me to drink what I want and then pour the rest out.

I listen to Benjamin and not to the rest of Lochlan's songs while my throat burns and my composure flies out the window like a goddamned bird.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

And above all, be good.

To the sea with all of us
Let the deep wash over us
To the sea she's calling us
You and me gonna turn to rust
In the sea with all of us
Let the deep wash over us
To the sea she's calling us
Let the cities all turn to rust
In the sea

She said she knew with the first kiss
That the man don't match the myth
That the truth can't beat the wish and
Oh! How the man don't match the myth
Ashes to ashes, cheek to cheek
She looks at me and my knees go weak
Struck dumb, too dumb to speak
Ashes to ashes, cheek to cheek
My phone rings at precisely nine each night. The ringtone plays the second lead from Sabbath's N.I.B. and the contact photo is the devil from my Spanish tarot deck. I think it's hilarious. Henry isn't sold, but when it plays he runs for the phone. He and Caleb talk for thirty or forty minutes before Henry has to go to bed. Every night in person when Caleb is here and every night by phone when he isn't.

Only I told Henry to tell his father that he wasn't allowed to waste time talking about me, that if I need anything I will be in touch. Henry, being ten, does not listen to me and spends a good fifteen minutes telling Caleb how he thinks I am, based on what he knows.

Sigh. It's sort of funny and really sad and completely expected. It's also glaring truthful as only a child can be.

Batman, mercifully has kept his word and not contacted me at all, short of sending a curt email reminder to tell me that I am not to worry about any of the boys who might be working on contract to his holdings and that if anything goes wrong and you don't call me you'll be in Big Trouble.

I did not reply.

New Jake has asked if he can still be my friend. I sent back a Maybe text message with a sad face. He replied with three sad faces and Ben sent him an angry face text and then I didn't hear any more from Jake but I know Sam will run a steady stream of updates back and forth because Sam said he really hoped no one would ask him to pick sides because I'm cute and all but Jake is infinitely more useful since he does construction in addition to all the cloak and dagger bullshit.

Only Sam stopped after saying 'construction'. I added the rest in my head.

So I stand by the door and watch as Henry tries to wedge the phone between his shoulder and his ear, failing and holding it with both hands while he walks around his room answering his father's questions and asking some of his own (Is it raining there? Do you still have to do work while you're there? What is Grandma baking today?) and sometimes he laughs and sometimes he says I don't know and then he says I love you to Pluto and beyond and Goodnight, Dad and I will and I'll tell her and Okay, talk to you tomorrow night and then he presses the red button to end the call and runs back to me, putting the phone in my hands and planting a big fat kiss on my cheek, telling me That's from Dad.

I smile and return his kiss because Henry is innocent, and never going to follow in his father's footsteps. Not if I can help it, anyway.

Friday, 22 June 2012


Third time's the charm, is it, peanut?

I am surprised. I was coming into the garage to talk to Jake and Lochlan is sitting in the centre of the floor, cross-legged, hands on his chin. Elbows on knees. His waiting pose.

Batman, Caleb and

Never. I cross my arms, defiantly. This has nothing to do with you or with Ben or with anything else. They both pissed me off and it wasn't a spur of the moment thing, it was a snowball. I gave Batman far too much power and Caleb would agree to a certain amount of power and then cross the line almost immediately.

I know, I've warned you your whole life about that. He says it softly. He is staring at me, no hiding behind the red curls, for his hair has only grown out into little waves that flip up all over the place and he perpetually looks like he just woke up. I have nothing to hide behind either and I self-conscious tuck my hair behind my ears and square my shoulders.

I'm slow to learn. It's a defiant, ridiculous statement that makes him laugh.

Yeah. Yeah you are. And he gets up and comes over to me, holding his arms out. That's okay though. I think you get that from me.

I laugh when his arms close around me. I think I've done nothing but stand on the verge of tears all damned week again but I laugh too. Half-relief, half acquired insanity. Inherited? Absorbed, maybe. Absolved, always. Redeemed in the face of violent absence, salvaged by the tide.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Conversations from within the cookie cupboard.

What are you doing in there?


Hiding from whom?


Keebler elves still failing at their protection detail?

Spectacularly, Ben.

So come on out and we'll talk. Because I don't fit in there with you.

What's in it for me?

My undivided attention and ice cream. Later on, sexual favors.

Oh! Deal.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

I had this big speech planned but when I stepped outside he was loading his suitcases into the Porsche.

Where are you going?

He drops the big suitcase on the pavement beside the car and throws his hands up. I don't know, away? I'll either be hammered into the ground by your husband and your boyfriend soon enough or I'll lose control. I lost control twice with you in one night. I don't want to see what a third time would have brought.

I notice evidence of a landed haymaker on his cheek. The dark shadow of a bruise tells me he's already been confronted.

I told them not to see you.

What makes you think they would listen to you?

Everyone listens to me.

Yes. Just long enough for everything to go wrong. You, my little darling, are a shipwreck in progress.

Which is why I took responsibility for what happened!

Do you think that makes a difference? You can jump around saying it's your fault all you like but it's not. I know better and I still...I couldn't help myself.

When are you coming back?

In time for Henry's birthday. And you know what? While I'm away I'm going to drink my face off, black out often, work very little, sleep with completely normal women and attempt to forget that I'm in love with you. How does that sound for a plan, princess?

You're already drunk. Jesus, at least let's find someone to drive you to the airport.

Yes, let's do that. So I can come back in one piece for more punishment.

That's why I was coming to find you.

To make sure I was safe? I figured we pretty much established that I'm not the other night.

No, to tell you I won't be seeing you anymore unless it's for something related to Henry.

Oh, I didn't realize we were officially seeing each other. I thought we were...parents with benefits. That I was lucky. This will just finish me off. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a plane to catch. I don't know what you did to me this time. I feel completely undone and I need to be away.

Which is why I need to straighten things out. We're all getting hurt here. And you don't have to leave.

He shakes his head in exasperation and pulls out his phone to call Mike for a drive. When he hangs up he looks at the sky.

You don't look hurt, princess. And I am not drunk enough for this day anymore. I'm going to go fix that. See you in two weeks. Say goodbye for me to whomever else you banish while I'm gone. You seem to be on quite a roll.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Overnight a box is left on the front porch. I bring it unceremoniously to the kitchen and open it there. I look inside and then close the lid again and pick the box up. I head down the kitchen steps and out the side door, across the driveway and up the steps on the other side. I walk down the side of the boathouse to the front door and knock on the glass. Caleb opens the door. He looks tired too. He looks relieved that I'm not someone else and I thrust out the box, letting him know he can't buy my forgiveness any more than he can torture it out of me.

I don't need presents, Caleb.

How are you?

I survived. You?

I'm so sorry, Bridget.

Don't be. I came to you, remember?

I know but I still overstepped my boundaries again. He takes the box from me. How long do I have before the angry mob with pitchforks arrives?

I don't know. They are resigned to my whims, foolish as those might be.

Bridget, they won't let me get away with this. No one should.

Cole got away with it. What difference does it make anymore?

Cole paid with his life.

You think? Do you really think God killed him because he hurt me?

God wouldn't do that. But the devil would. You really should know that by now, Bridget. His eyes grow huge and black until they are empty holes in his face and he smiles until that hole joins with the first two and I am falling into his face, into darkness again. I wake up with a jolt and a cry. I jump up, falling, stumbling out of his bed and outside in the dark, naked and exposed. I run for the house in the pouring rain. He does not stop me. He doesn't even wake up.


Ben sent for the doctor (who isn't a doctor at all, I don't think), who came to the house and put five stitches in my shoulder, asking if I knew if my immunizations were up to date. I was given antibiotics to take. He said it would have been better if I had been bitten by a bear, that the human bite is the most likely kind of bite to become infected.

He stared at Ben the entire time he was talking and Ben stared at me. When the doctor was ready to leave he hesitated before shaking Ben's hand. Ben said that he didn't do it and the doctor looked back at me.

She is yours? He is talking to Ben, staring at me.

Yes. Mine. Ben said. He is exhausted and barely speaking, hands curled into fists.


I managed to avoid Lochlan for most of yesterday as he was up working late into the night and then slept the whole day away. Last night I had already gone to bed when he turned on the light beside the bed and pulled me up to see for himself. He put his hands on my head, smoothing my hair down to where it ends, just at my chin. He frowned. His fingers flitted over my now-bandaged shoulder and he pulled me in against him, rocking me so gently we weren't actually moving.

He kisses the top of my head until he wears a divot in my skull. He is tense, coiled to spring, barely holding it together but trying to be gentle for me.

This is not part of the deal, peanut. He doesn't change. Oh my God. Why do you go to him if he won't change?

Turn off the light, brother. Ben's voice from the other side of the bed. Ben reaches out and takes me right out of Lochlan's arms and tucks me in against his chest and is back asleep in seconds.
I don't have the same luck. I lie there for hours after Lochlan leaves. I don't know where he's going and I am wide awake.

Monday, 18 June 2012

I think the whole day just chipped away at him until he was in a headspace he could not escape. By the time I walked up the steps to the door he was too far gone to be honest and too angry to see reason. I should have left then, but I don't like to leave them like that, any of them, including Caleb.

He reached out, pulling me through the door, putting me down inside, his lips locked on mine, tearing his suitjacket off while he kicked the door closed with his leg. He couldn't get the jacket off. He finally gave up, with it still mostly inside-out and hanging off one arm. He wrapped his arms around me, lifting me back up, walking me backwards all the way across the room and down the hall, stumbling but never letting go, still kissing me every step of the way.

He dropped me on the bed, pulling the jacket off at last, letting it fall to the floor. His tie followed. Cufflinks next. Belt. He unbuttoned his shirt and then stopped, staring at me. I was leaning up on my elbows watching him. He is glorious, unhinged and rattled. Desperate even. He looks violent, unsure and determined all at once. Until we tip that balance to the dark I'll enjoy his vulnerability while he displays it. Then we'll trade places.

He steps closer and bends down, hooking his fingers under one strap on my dress and sliding it down off my shoulder. Then the other strap. My arms are pinned. Abruptly he lifts me by the hips and turns me over, face down into the quilt. He cuts the dress off me with scissors. I protest and he clamps his hand over my mouth.

His head is pressed next to mine and he tells me not to say a word unless it's a safe one. He squeezes my face to get a response and I nod under duress. When I whimper he kisses my hair and lets go again. Cutting fabric once more and my favorite babydoll that he chose for me is in pieces. He inhales sharply, running the point of the scissors down my spine. I can feel the trembling in his hand, his efforts to be human instead of monstrous, his failed attempts to make me comfortable instead of scared, his need to make me last when he would prefer to cut me to pieces too. He puts the scissors down and presses his hand flat against my flesh, pressing me down until I can no longer breathe and then he lets go and I gasp for air. I feel him fight his demons in the dark, his face changing as it remains pressed against my head.

Then a ribbon slides slowly around my neck. He pulls it up over my eyes and ties it tightly in a bow against my hair. I try to claw it off and he pins my fingers together in his hand and orders me not to touch it. He asks for confirmation that I understand and I nod. He asks if I will be good and I shake my head. No. I won't. I am brought into the dark, into hell, in an exquisite rush of blinding need. I am left shaking and ruined after many hours, and he asks again.

Will you be good for me now, Bridget?


He sighs and lifts me up once more, leading me away from the warm sheets, toward the cold wall. I am turned to face him and pressed against the bookcase.

Abruptly he walks away. I stand and wait. When he comes back I feel him take my hair up in one hand and I cry out, I know what he's doing but it's too late. The scissors slice through my hair.


This is control.

Lochlan loves my hair and now Caleb has taken it away. His brief victory overwhelms him as his emotions escape, a torrent of anguish and rage.

I say the only word I think he'll hear. I breathe it but he doesn't react. The word comes out in a yell from deep inside me suddenly and everything stops. He hears it. He lets go and then he changes his mind, reaching for my hand. He takes it and turns away, and I am led down the hall to the bathroom. He turns on the shower, still holding my hand and stands there staring at it, his hand in the spray until it is hot enough. Then he ducks us inside, where he stands with his eyes closed while the water beats down on our heads relentlessly. He brings his hands up and touches my hair, unleashing a new wave of sorrow that weighs him down until he is sitting down against the shower wall, knees up, head down. I get down in front of him and put my hands on his face. I kiss his forehead. Shhhh. His face relaxes. He orders me to forgive him. I tell him I do and he says not for today, not for right now but for everything.

I stand up and he raises his hands toward me, begging me to let him off the hook and I can't. I can forgive him in theory but not in practice and he's never going to have more than what he has now. Enforced compliance, fleeting touch. Temporary custody. A fantasy that disappears the moment the sun conquers the horizon.

I shake my head and he yells my name in frustration. I reach up to touch my hair and he stands and pulls my hands back down. He doesn't let them go, he doesn't move.

Be mine, he instructs. I close my eyes. Please, he begs, trying a different angle. It was supposed to get better, Bridget and it just keeps getting worse. I can't live without you anymore. I won't live without you.

Only if you turn out not to be the only monster left.

He slumps back against the wall in surprise. I watch the emotions on his face. I watch them like a flip book playing a movie on the corners of the pages. Acceptance. Fight. Denial. Regret. Fear. Resignation. Adoration. Rage. They are shuffled out of order and the steam from the hot water is obscuring my brain as we continue to stand there with the water pounding down on the tops of our skulls. I want to be out. I want to be dry. I want to be away from him. I want to come here not on his terms but on my own. I want him to be without strings attached and conditions and demands and threats. I want peace of mind and I want guarantees that he won't die before I'm good and ready but I want him to stay where I keep him, in my darkest dreams and not out here in simple daylight to complicate things more than they already are.

I know I can't have my cake and eat it too. I know that a huge part of him wants to treasure me and the rest wants to punish me. We share the same feelings toward each other. I can't reconcile this any better than he can.

He reaches out suddenly and pulls me in against him, resting his head on my shoulder. Biting it, breaking the skin, tearing me apart. I bear it. I do nothing. I don't say safe words or anything else. I just stand there and let him symbolically eat me alive.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Number One.

Today was the first official Father's Day for Lochlan. Very first, if you can believe what it must be like for him right at this moment. I wouldn't even dare try, I'm sure he will tell me later.

He's doing pretty good with it. He's a little drippy and a little sentimental, and ridiculously grateful but I do believe this boy is holding his own. They'll be okay, I think. And it's something else to stand here and watch this as he grows roots before our very eyes. Something else indeed.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Tiny moments.

Lochlan pulls a quarter out of my ear and frowns at it. Twenty-five pennies for your thoughts?

I laugh and say nothing.

You going to talk today?

I shake my head.

What if I pay you....uh...he's pretending to search my face, lifting up my upper lip, and then peeking in each nostril and making a face, and then pushing my cheeks in together before combing through my hair with his fingers and coming up with one of the bills I returned to him from Caleb yesterday. Fifty bucks! What if I pay you fifty bucks?

Then I'll talk. I take the fifty and jam it into my bra.

Aw, Christ, I was only kidding.

Me too. I flip the bill back out and it lands at my feet. He picks it up and holds it out to me. I stare at it but I don't touch it again. He shrugs and puts it in his pocket. The day you can make change out of that bra is the day we take this show back on the road, Peanut.

(An observation, not a post, not poetry, not gospel.)

I am the sea.

Ben is the mountain. Steadfast, forged out of rock. Broken faces, landslides, avalanches burying us. But still I climb. I have conquered this mountain, eroding his edges, smoothing his sharpness, throwing myself against him and still he stands, with me in his shadow.

Lochlan is a boat, tossed upon my waves, anchored and within sight of shore but content to come and go, always within reach. I hold him in my depths, I cradle him. He rises and falls by my tides and still he floats, buoyed by the hope of a horizon that never ends.

Caleb is the moon, pulling me closer, pushing me away. Dark and high in the night sky, he casts a pale cold light upon my surface and I am captive to his plans. He disappears in daylight and come out at night and I am powerless against his whims. He is constant, forever and apart.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Tucker makes a rare appearance.

(That's what we used to call Ben: Tucker, short for Tucker Max, because he can be so incredibly tasteless and crude sometimes, but funny too. Some things never change.)
I followed a rabbit
Through rows of mermaid-entwined shrubbery
Oh, what marvelous things but
They are, they are, they are
Giving me the creeps

Dark night, hold tight,
And sleep tight, my baby
Morning light shall burst bright
And keep us here safely
Yesterday was a reprieve, and today Lochlan read everything I wrote on Wednesday, or should I say, everything Caleb said on Wednesday. I saw him put his face in his hands and peer between his eyes, unbelieving at the screen. Then he made that disapproving Scottish click with his tongue and got up, slamming shut the laptop and heading outside. Probably to count to seven hundred and forty-nine (thousand) and still not be cooled off when he is finished.

Ben watched him leave, took another bite of his ham sandwich and with his mouth full, said,

Your boyfriend really needs to learn to relax.

He doesn't want anything to do with Caleb'

His loss.

Don't pick sides.

The only side I'm on is yours, Bumblebee. You know that.

Then don't fault him for not wanting to participate.

He's fine with me though. Ben makes an expression here I won't even describe. Because I can't.

Just barely. And besides, you're much cuter than Caleb, that's why.

I knew it!

Can we change the subject?

Not when I'm winning, bee. Have a heart.

You're making fun of him.

Are you kidding me? I love Lochlan. Truly I do. I would love him more but he just won't..stop screaming...

Oh my God, Ben. Stop now.

Yeah, I crossed one of my OWN lines right there, I think. Damn.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Night flights.

When I bring the money back to Lochlan I have to search all over the place for him. I finally find him behind the garage, hard at work re-wrapping wicks on his torches. He's been trying to give his bad arm a workout, albeit for very short increments. He says it hurts like hell but he doesn't stop. His muscles have atrophied and he's anxious to return them to shape. Only I think he pushes it. He wasn't supposed to risk injury. The torches are heavy and it's far too much too soon but Lochlan doesn't listen to reason when it comes to his own preservation. Only mine.

Can you hold this? He passes me the roll of webbing. I drop it almost instantly.

That's a no, then? He laughs and scoops it up, putting it back into my hands. Just don't move. He holds his hand up to freeze me in place.

He's always done hand signals in case I miss the words. Like Cole, he never acknowledged the fact that I might have a hearing loss, he just compensated for what was missing. Cole talked directly into my ear, making the hair on the back of my neck stand up straight, shivers going down my spine. Lochlan used hand signals, because I was always on the other side of a ride, or at the top of a platform or out in the crowd looking for easy marks. Subtle signals that he still uses and I still obey. They certainly aren't as in-your-face as Caleb and Ben's forcible verbal directions and so they mostly escape scrutiny. When Lochlan issues a verbal command, I fulfill it even faster. He has degrees of seriousness and I know him better than I know anyone else. Maybe even myself as I continue to stand there holding the roll of tape while he lights the other five torches that he has with him tonight.

He motions for me to walk out ten feet. I'm in the center of the driveway. He turns around and walks to me backward, throwing the torches low. They burn red today. Magic fire, I always say and smile and he laughs. There's no magic in this, he tells me each time.

When he reaches me he stops walking. I am peeking over his shoulder. All around me torches rise and fall and spin and twirl and burn. I am in the center of a maelstrom. Firestorm. I step forward slightly until I am pressed against his back. I feel his shoulders working alternately, I watch his hands let go of the handles of the torches. He steps away slightly, always mindful of the danger and where I am in relation to it.

I step forward again and he walks five paces away, still throwing and then when he's far enough away he drops his hands and lets everything fall. Burning torches bounce on the concrete rolling in lazy arcs back and forth slowly as he turns around. Flames fall from the sky to light a circle around us. When I take count of the torches I see that I am in the circle too.

I look up at him in surprise.

How did you do that?

Magic, Bridget. You used to believe in it wholeheartedly. He turns away and begins to dunk the torches in the bucket, one by one.

Still do.

He doesn't look up but I see him smile wide. It's enough.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The stars beneath my feet.

Hello, hello. There is no place I cannot go.
My mind is muddy but my heart is heavy. Does it show?
I lose the track that loses me, so here I go.
And so I sent some men to fight, and one came back at dead of night.
Said he'd seen my enemy. Said he looked just like me,
So I set out to cut myself and here I go.

I'm not calling for a second chance,
I'm screaming at the top of my voice.
Give me reason but don't give me choice.
'Cause I'll just make the same mistake again.
I sense him before I see him, not unusual since I have been crouched at the water's edge for the better part of the morning investigating the treasures the tide brings to me.

But then I see the shoes beside me. Not just any shoes, Italian leather dress shoes. Only one boy in my universe wears those, only he is never considered a boy of mine. He would like to be but I keep him segregated, separate as much as possible. He's a monster. He's a wolf. He's the devil. He holds fully a quarter of my broken heart when and if it is to be divided only among the living.

Find any treasures today, Princess?

I shake my head. I'm not really looking for treasures. I'm actually thinking.

What are you thinking about then? You've been down here for three hours.

I avoid the question. Is three hours bad? Do I have plans?

Maybe I can take you out for lunch?

I stand and wobble a little. I forgot breakfast and my stomach growls, giving me away. He smiles wide. See? Sounds like you could use something.

He hasn't noticed I haven't said anything out loud yet but he offers me his arm. I run back to the logs and collect my bag. I brought my sketchbook down but I didn't draw anything today. And my phone is still in the bag. I leave it there now, since I've dropped it in the water twice this spring already.

I walk back and take his arm and we stroll up the new, unbelievably simple-to-climb staircase cut into the rock face. At the top I type in the code to open the gate. When we get into the yard Lochlan is just coming out through the back door. He hesitates when he sees Caleb and recovers quickly enough to be spared.

Lunch, Bridget?

I've invited Bridget to go for lunch already, but let's make it a threesome. Caleb smiles so smoothly at Loch. I am attempting to simultaneously keep a poker face for the innuendo and watch Lochlan's arm for the inevitable fist thrown when Loch surprises me by making an effort anyway.

Sure. Where are you thinking?

Caleb answers while I continue to wait for the punch to be thrown. Then he drops his arm so I let go and Lochlan picks up my other hand all at once.

Oh, I see. It's going to be one of those really weird days.

At lunch they talk about things I know nothing about while I nibble on prosciutto and the kinds of cheese I still can't actually afford. I text PJ under the table that the day is freaking surreal and he doesn't believe me and wants me to record it all on video when I notice a lull in conversation and look up abruptly.


Lochlan looks a little bit hopeful but completely alarmed at the same time but Caleb has his I'll handle everything expression on. The one we see the most, unless he's wearing his I have to have you now face which they don't see but I do.

I was just offering Lochlan a job.


I bought a company that I want him to run, with your help.


Bridget, are you wearing your hearing aids?

No, why?

Nevermind. Yes, so it's a company and I think it would be fun for you to run it. Together.

We're not interested, Lochlan says, just about cutting him off but not quite.

You haven't even heard my proposal.

I don't need to. The answer is no.

Bridget can speak for hers-

And she'll say no as well. I look at Lochlan but he is staring at Caleb.

Last I heard, you were unemployed again, Pyro.

Then you heard wrong. I've been doing commissions for months. And don't call me that unless you want a taste of your own medicine.

How so?

Oh God. Here it comes. I squeeze my eyes shut.


But nothing happens. Caleb is staring at his plate, seeking composure. Lochlan's staring at him, eyes blazing, cheeks red, teeth gritted. No composure sought.

Lochlan, stop. He made an offer, that's all.

We don't need his generosity.

We live in his house.

Yes, and someday you'll have to remind me why, Bridget. Lochlan stands up and grabs my coat and pulls me up out of my chair at the same time. Then he reaches into his pocket and throws two fifties on the table and says Thanks for lunch and congrats on your purchase. Too bad the only company you can seem to keep is one you pay for.


Two hours later Caleb comes into the kitchen and drops Lochlan's money on the counter where I sit drawing elephants in the water and elephants in the room.

I covered the bill, since I extended the invitation.

He can afford it.

Oh, bullshit, Bridget. How many clients does he have right now? And then what? Lochlan lives from one fifty dollar bill to the next. I'm trying to offer him something more permanent. Something you can have a part in as well. God only knows why everyone is so generous with him when he offers nothing in return.

I look at him. Because everything you offer comes with a catch.

I want both of you to feel comfortable with me. He drops it on the counter in front of me and I watch his allusion spin in a lazy circle before falling flat. We have changed the subject into something dark and unspeakable before it stops reverberating.

No, Caleb.

But you have before-

Very incredibly rarely.

It's a beautiful thing.

And I want it to stay that way.

Bridget. He places his hands on the counter, stretching his shoulders back and down, broadly, almost popping the shirt buttons right off and I need to look away before the gravitational field around him sucks me in. You've got to give a little here. We're all trying to peacefully coexist.

I can't make him do things like that. Don't you even go there.

He does for Ben.

That's different.

All I'm asking is for you to talk to Lochlan.

Don't do this. Not now. Was this all part of the grand plan? Wait until Batman is gone and then start squeezing Lochlan? Or did my tab just go up from the work on the property?

He smiles tightly but still reaches for honesty instead of evil. I'm just trying to make this life a good run for all of us. My apologies for overstepping.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Castles made of sand.

Just on the other side of the big forbidden fence around the perimeter of the backyard is where they began. Holes blasted gently into the cliff all the way to the bottom, and now stairs made out of stone. A railing. A safer way down to the sea, switchbacked into the cliff instead of the near-vertical treacherous path through the rocks before.

And at the bottom, a platform deck and a removable (in case of very bad weather) dock on the deeper side of the property where the big rocks used to be piled up. Where I fell into the sea. Where Caleb's going to moor his next purchase, no doubt in this being a benefit to more than just me as he eyes a sailboat small enough to catch a sunset or two on a calm summer night.

I did expect a whole yacht club to be down there by now, since it took so long, but now I see why it did. I didn't know the path was going to be made and now that it is there, I don't understand why it was never done before. All of this means the children and their friends can now hang out down on the beach without so much difficulty since they are getting older now.

And it means I can go down by myself. Finally! I've already packed a bag with my sketchbook and my music and a pear, as always and I keep the bag on a hook by the patio door, ready to go. I might not be inside so much for a bit. I hope not to be, anyway. :)

Monday, 11 June 2012

Brightly wound (waking up in hell).

Good morning.

It's very sunny out today and I don't know what to do with it, run and hide in the darkest corners, of which there are few anymore since we blew them all up, or venture outside to watch my skin blister and sear in the painful, unnatural light.

It's a subversive kind of day that follows a night like last night.

Early up this morning, propped and prodded against his arm as my head lolled back against his shoulder, shaken and stirred and cajoled out of bed.

I have a surprise for you, he said.

Yet I could not open my eyes.

Come on, sleepydoll. Time to wake up now.

There are stones piled on my eyelashes and concrete poured onto my brain this morning. I open one eye, squinting up into his face. He bends down until we are touching noses and says There you are. He smiles and I notice his teeth are so very white. Or maybe I am still blinded by the night in which the ribbon burned a strip across my temples as I was forbidden to see anything that might surprise me or cause alarm and so I remained behind the fold until now.

Get dressed.

I obey, pulling out a black dress with no less than one hundred buttons, stockings with seams that must be painstakingly straightened once on and my heavy platform shoes. I appear at the door several moments late and he frowns. It's nice out, I thought you would show up in shorts.

I don't have shorts.

Then I can take you shopp-

This is fine. And it is. I freeze while others bake in the sun. Lochlan took all the heat growing up, literally AND figuratively and I got all the cold somehow and I've never figured out how to equalize since. Lochlan would never in a million years say a thing about my clothes. I wish this one would follow suit.

He recovers quickly and asks if I am ready. I nod and he holds out his hand. Oh, I'll be led, I see. Much like I am straight through life, down dead-ends and around blind corners, doubling back and trying a different path. It's a labyrinth but I have no short-term memory to find my way out and so I live within the high walls, running down path after path. They all profess to know the way out, the lot of them and yet if I run long enough through a day I'll discover all of them are still right here. If I found the way out I'd be gone, and you'd never see me again. But that's neither here nor there, and as the lady of the house, I've been given a great and terrible honor today.

I get to inspect the finished dock.

He's built something for me. Finally somebody made something just for me.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Some men just want to watch the world burn.

How long till you're gone
From every troubled thought?
Cause you're still here to heal what's wrong

And it was only my fault
Such a beautiful view
With a long way to fall
I was afraid how it could hurt
To leave the safety up above
But if it doesn't, it's not love
Batman arrived as promised, just twelve hours later than expected. He buzzed the gate right after breakfast yesterday morning and I greeted him without even unlocking the screen door.


Hi, Bridget. I brought you something. He holds out a small, soft package wrapped in pretty paper. The Mermaid Parade t-shirt.

I unlock the door to step outside and I take the shirt. I'll have to pay you for this. I can't take gifts from you anymore.

Don't be ridiculous. Nothing has to change.

Yes. It does. It's time.

Let's go for a drive and talk. Can we do that?

You need to go. I'm sorry. Jake is already relocated. I told you I wasn't going to change my mind. You asked me to choose and I chose family. This is the way it's supposed to be.

What happens when something goes wrong?

It already did. Look. You push too hard and you cease to be a part of my life. You'll be the third permanent absence. Only you get to keep your life. Be thankful for that, I guess.

Don't lump me in with your ghosts, Bridget.

I can't help it. That's where you are now. The past.

Maybe I should speak with Ben.

This isn't Ben's decision, it's mine.

What about the rest?

Again, nothing to do with them. I speak for myself. Don't come around anymore. It's not like I'll leave some gaping hole in your life. Hell, you called once a year for over a decade. You don't need me.

See, that's the thing. I might. You got under my skin.

Then peel it off and I'll escape and you can keep going. It only hurts for the first hundred years or so. But I'm forever grateful to you for everything.


I shake my head. My plate is full. I whisper it.

He puts his hands in his pockets. He's going to make it easy. I know it is, baby. I know. He fishes out a business card and takes his pen from his breast pocket. He scribbles a phone number on the back and a word. He moves in very close until we are kissing distance and he takes my hand and presses the card into it. If you ever need anything, you simply call this number, and say this word. Can you do that for me? Bridget? Promise me.

I shake my head and press the card against his chest. No, I can't. I have what I need.

Then put it in a drawer and when you turn one hundred years old, burn it.

I close my fingers around the card and nod. We're getting to that point and he's going to leave and that will be that and it's over and maybe this is a bad idea.

I'm going to return to the previous schedule and we'll go from there. I can respect your wishes but at the same time, you are woefully irresponsible and unprepared so I'll call on New Year's Day. Like I used to. May I?

I nod again. Yes, out of words. My brain is reverting to stunned purposeful silence. I did this and I don't like it when they're not within reach, no I don't. Only he isn't part of "they" and I am doing okay now. I don't need a safety net under the safety net, I've walked this line so many times I can do it in my sleep. Built-in redundancies are wasteful and complicated and unfair to everyone involved. That's why I gave outs. I gave chances and I gave tries and I gave excuses and I gave in. I gave a little curtsy and a tiny almost-bow when the lights went up and I swore I'd never climb the ladder again but then I did, addicted to the lights, and the gasps of amazement and the cheers. Addicted to all the eyes on me. Sated on pure adoration and drunk on near-misses but presently sober and right on target again.

Holding steady.

The lights are no longer trained on me. I have abandoned my mask of makeup and my costume and I've abandoned the appreciative stares and the held-breath and the compliments and smiles at the end of the evening. I've abandoned the fireflies and dirt roads and burned-out bulbs and unnamed towns. I've abandoned stacking the boys like armies against the night, against each other, against everything and I stepped back in front quite abruptly. I am so small from here, but it's not nearly as scary as it once was.

You may. I'd like that. My voice comes out strained, formal and weirdly strangled and he understands perfectly. He steps forward even further and kisses my cheek slowly, with purpose before stepping back. He hesitates and then reaches forward and squeezes my fingers even tighter around the card and he searches my eyes for confirmation that I know what I'm doing. I nod and try for a small smile but it fails and he picks it up anyways and returns it to me. Then he turns and leaves.

Not a backward glance.

Not another word.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Stop writing on my open windows, sweetheart.

When you look you see right through me
Cut the rope, I fell to my knees
Born and broken every single time

Always keep me under finger
That's the spot where you run to me
Might see some type of pleasure in my mind
cause I'm super awesome and Bridget loves me.

from: Ben.
(He does this every time I leave my computer.)

Friday, 8 June 2012

With. Drawn.

(Boys have left the collective before. Dylan first. Then he came back. Then Corey left. But he also came back. Ben. Look where he is now. Maybe my luck will hold. Though, we all know what kind of luck I've had in life so far.)

My sundress ruffles in the ocean breeze as I stand down at the end of the yard where the best view of wide-open Pacific can be had. I cross my arms in the most closed posture I can come up with, rubbing at the goosebumps on my upper arms. Keith stands beside me drinking a beer I don't recognize. He must have brought it back with him from the states, for after they were finished loading PJ's truck for New Jake's move to Andrew's old house.

I'm going to need flowcharts shortly to keep track of everyone, though losing two will make things easier and keep the even numbers I like so much.

What about you? Do you work for Batman too?

I work for myself.

Like a boss, too, I bet.

Like a boss, Bridget.

I would ask you to prove it, but you're not around enough to be a spy for Batman.

Come on, Bridge. Jake needed the money. He's not good with that sort of thing. And it was never his intention to wind up on your bad side. Truth be told, I think he had quite a crush on you.

Entirely mutual. Selling out isn't good though. We were helping him.

He didn't want to become a charity case.

So he became a snitch?

Ouch. Bridget, maybe you should rethink this.

Keith, if you think it's easy to excommunicate someone from my life then you don't know me at all.

I thread the church key opener from his case of beer into my hair, making a big messy knot at the back of my neck (I can pin it up with anything) and I frown at him. He pushes a kiss against my cheek and tells me he'll see me tomorrow.

I hope so, I tell him, ignoring the kiss in favor of a big crushing hug. Batman comes back to the city tonight and I'm not looking forward to it at all. So if I'm still around tomorrow that will be a good thing, right?

Thursday, 7 June 2012

The Gingerbread Men.

Run, run, as fast as you can.
This morning Ben put the whipped cream on the table (leftover from strawberry shortcake) and the chocolate sprinkles too. He drank his coffee in one go, filled his mouth with whipped cream and motioned for me to pour the sprinkles in on top. I stood on a chair and did just that.

That beats Fourbucks, he said.

He offered me some but I declined. I like my coffee black and slow and plain and old and awful. I can't deal with all the variations when I walk into a coffee shop so I make it at home every day. The old castle was within walking distance of a great coffee shop and it was always so cold living in that city so we could justify it, now I have to drive to find a nearby shop and it would be a special trip and I don't do special trips for things I can make myself, I don't care how many sprinkles they offer. Especially when gas is 1.62/litre and coffee six dollars a cup.

Now if they could put edible glitter on my coffee I might change my mind.

I put edible glitter on Ben once. It was as successful as you can imagine (shhh my mom reads, so I can't tell you how successful). Then he put it on me. Sometimes I'm surprised I still have all my original body parts when it comes to Benjamin but I do, luckily enough.

And not to worry about Batman. The threats were not to our personal safety or anything, they were more of the warning as to how miserable our future will be without him there as a safety net sort of threats. He will also still own and run the parent companies of the various outfits that employ some of the boys. Their employment is not on the line, nor will it be in the future.

So for once we're civilized and organized and yes, this will be difficult but at the same time Batman has hardly made an effort to let me in or let his guard down. Add to that the half-dozen or so other 'project' girls scattered around the globe (that I found out about yesterday) and really it was not a difficult decision.

Oh but I'm his favorite, I was told.

I guess I'm a sucker for a man in a cape. An attention-paying, fast-talking, world-saving, sure-of-himself-at-all-costs superhero but at the end of the day I'll still wedge myself in quite firmly between the rockstar, the fire thrower and the devil because that's where I belong. With the freaks, not the luminaries. With the known, the understood, not the mystery. With the exciting coffee, circus shows on the lawn every night at dusk and homemade evil too.

And the x-rated glitter parties because those are just the best.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


I want to hear your voice call me, call out loud
When you talk to me I'll hear you out
I want to space it out, too close, move on out
It's all around for you to see
Yeah, it's all I want to see
But there's such a lot of baggage
If you are playing along at home in picking sides, you'll want to switch sides at this point. Things are going to shift a little. Just a little. Last July Batman asked me to abandon my loyalties to Caleb and I refused. He asked again this morning and again, I refused. He began to threaten both of us and so I went one step further and abandoned any loyalties I have to Batman.

I've now forced to ask New Jake to move on (and move out) as well.

No worries, he won't actually be out in the cold, Andrew is going to arrange to sell Jake his place, and Andrew is moving here to the point, to live in the...other house next door (we haven't come up with a good enough name for it yet).

Batman thinks I am overtired and projecting and posturing, and that when he returns late Friday/early Saturday he will be able to smooth things over and all will be well. Only it won't and I've already told him that. He forced me into a corner and instead of surrendering I came out swinging. And it makes me sad as hell that they can't coexist in my presence but at the same time I have a duty to ensure that my son has unrestricted access to his father and I have a bond with Caleb that not even Caleb can break, and he's tried. Very very hard.

Everyone backs me up. There wasn't a moment's hesitation. No debate, no protest from Loch even, I think he/they shared that fear of the unknown in a way that was a million times scarier than whatever Caleb can bring. At the end of the day Caleb makes mistakes but he's human. He loves Henry, Ruth, me and almost everyone else in the house in some way or another. He's a fixture, not a whim like I was to Batman. A fixer-upper, damsel-in-distress, project-girl for the ages. Fuck his promises to Cole. Cole is gone. Cole NO LONGER CARES.

Me neither.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Painproof girl.

Jake finds me and passes me his phone. He mouths a name at me. Batman.


Why did I not see how quickly he would spill the beans when confronted with your big watery eyes and ridiculous cuteness?

He's a good guy. Telling the truth is always the best plan. Wouldn't you agree?

Depends. Sometimes things are done for your benefit that you don't necessarily need to be aware of.

Does this mean you're plotting Caleb's removal from my existence again?

Oh, Bridget. You have no idea.

So does this also mean you aren't coming for a late afternoon snack of crow and admissions?

No, sorry, but as I reminded you last week, I'm in New York until Saturday. Friday night is the earliest I can get out if need be.

I can't keep track of where everyone is.

Where is August?

St. John's.

Where is Christian?


And where is Ben?


Well, I've fallen rather far down the list then, haven't I? He laughs.

No, I don't have your schedule.

I'll have it sent to you. Now just please don't leave the house for the next three days and I'll be there as soon as I can.

Are you serious?

I wish. It seems like the only way to keep you out of trouble is to lock you up and so much is clearer to me now. I have to go, just stick close to Ben, okay, Bridget?

He sides with the devil, you know.

Not for long, he doesn't.

Will you stop at Coney Island and get me something?

I already did.

Cool things I find in my Instagram feed (Part 1):


(Actual post to follow later. We've run out of strawberries and whiskey, so I need to go shopping first.)

Monday, 4 June 2012

Une espion (ici dans mon coeur).

Mike stopped by this morning, on his way back from taking Caleb to a meeting. Not sure why Caleb couldn't drive himself today but I know that the literal handful of sleeping hours we amassed over the weekend collectively have made for a lot of slow starting on this rainy cold Monday morning.

He wanted to check in and see how I was. I told him he could call but he said he was in the neighborhood.

Yeah, right.

This was a visual inspection, not all that different from the one Lochlan gave me, or Mike would have simply called. I told him I was fine, that I would probably see him again in a couple of weeks. I gave him my five-hundred-watt smile to seal the deal so that he would see that I am eager, that I am okay. I kept my bruised wrists behind my back and I talked really fucking fast, too, but that's neither here nor there.

It was after he turned to leave that things got interesting.

He walked away down the steps but veered down the path to the driveway, ostensibly to say hello to New Jake, who is in the driveway keeping the Sunbeam motorcycle on life support every chance he gets. (Today was a day off from working with Sam, since Sam is on a little long-weekend vacation with Matt so they can sort out their hearts together in private). I am keeping one eye on Jake today and one eye on the clock because he is my next victim for giant rustic sandwiches. Today I'm plotting sprouts and swiss on rye, toasted with a side salad of tomatoes and oh fuck, nevermind. You really don't care what we're going to have for lunch, do you?

I went up to my balcony to water plants instead of watching the men. My balcony is off the master wing, the wrong side of the property. Instead of the water, it overlooks part of the driveway and the side yard. Brilliant design, really, but good for sun for my potted flowers. I'm done watering when I realize Mike is still here and that he and Jake have taken up some interesting posturing. I get as close as I can to the railing without being seen and I hear the defensiveness in Mike's voice.

No one's looking out for her here so I try and do what I can.

You don't know anything about any of us, so don't assume.

Actually you're the only one I haven't really been briefed on, Jake. Want to tell me how long you've been a hired gun?

Let's cut to the chase then. Jake smiles. I was hired to keep an eye on Bridget. Your boss knows that. He probably didn't tell you because he's so surprised I wound up living sixty feet away and he doesn't quite know what to do about that so he feigns ignorance and pretends that the story I give them holds. But in the interest of Bridget's safety, I think she should continue to think of me the way she does now.

How do you protect her when you can't shadow her moves?

That isn't required. I only keep my employer informed.

Mike is nodding, possibly deciding that Jake is not an imminent threat. He checks the clouds and then asks Jake if anything ever happens to give him a call, he can be here in minutes. Jake thinks for a minute and then nods and shakes Mike's hand. There's a brotherhood of a different sort, right there. Hired goonage.

I crawl off my balcony and in through the double doors.

Goonage indeed. I count to one hundred and then go downstairs. When I get outside the driveway is empty. The bike is locked away in the garage so I head back into the house and after a brief peek into the kitchenI find no one and so I head down the hall.

The door is closed. New Jake is in his room. I knock and he tells me Come in. I barely hear him. He is standing at the bureau testing his blood sugar. He holds up his numbers and I nod. I've learned more about managing diabetes in the past year than I ever knew growing up.

His room is so cozy. Stacked with books. Tidy, unlike most of the other boys. His messenger bag contents are laid out neatly on the desk, a clear and questionable departure from you would expect to find on an apprentice carpenter should you find one and ask him to empty his pockets. It's an everyday carry kit for urban survival, and I'm not as dumb as I look.

Jake had huge holes in his story and I didn't ask him to shine lights into them. I did my own investigations and I had my suspicions before today but I waited for him and I can't wait anymore.

Jake works for Batman. He is a spy, plain and simple. A plant, here to keep an eye on me as I exist under the dark wings of the brothers Grimm, one living, one dead, because Batman made a promise and a promise is a promise, after all.

Which explains why Caleb balked when new Jake arrived and won me over.

I just knew that new Jake, with his coincidental name and terrible habit of going days without eating properly, did not fall into my care by accident. Accidents like this don't happen. Everything's coming out, we're laying it all on the table at last. Every last secret, every swallowed feeling, every lie told in an effort to live transparently, pure. There's no other way we're going to make it. And besides, he's a lousy carpenter. Sam wouldn't have much use for that and so Sam obviously has chosen sides as well. I'll have to deal with him later.

Time to call in the beginnings of Jacob's truth.

How often does Batman pay you?

He whirls around, looking alarmed. Too late to check the expression but he tries, nontheless.

I work for Sam...A weak defense, maintaining position. This doesn't give me any reason to trust him if he's going to stand there and deny the truth. I tell him this and he smiles.

You know, he really wasn't kidding when he said you were addictive.

I roll my eyes. I need answers, not charm. I won't have strangers in my house, Jake.

I'm the safest man here, Bridget, I can guarantee you that.

I let that inalienable truth hit the floor and remain, a fixture.

What exactly are you doing, then?

Information management.

You report my activities.

Yes, mostly. And the others, as necessary.

Caleb's movements as well?

Yes, if necessary.

What does Batman do with the information you give him? Is he plotting something?

You'll have to talk to him about that. I just provide the intel.

The intel. There's that word again. The last time I heard it I went on a wild goose chase to the other side of the country and set myself back a thousand years if a day.

Give him a call. Tell him you need him to stop by.

Bridget, I-

Just do it. Please. And come and find me when he arrives. I guess you'll know where I am.