The shot really blew your mindI went shopping with Daniel all morning and ran some errands while he sniffled and coughed endlessly. I tried on jeans. I bought three designer handbags for pennies at a vintage store. I drove in the rain, peering out into the grey from behind the windshield of the Range Rover because I love driving other people's cars and Schuyler doesn't mind. I paid cash for things and I hummed all morning because I have lyrics stuck in my head, wedged tightly in between a listed hierarchy of boys in this house and my grandmother's recipe for cinnamon rolls.
Truly out of sight
And she cried for only a week or two
Then left the tears behind
And we froze feeling like mystery
On a misty road
In the dark filling the holes with love
Just to pass the time
It was already beginning to show curses from years ago
And the ocean is already parted
Will you take a walk
Walk with me now?
And danger averted us as it slowed me down
And it flashed in rhythm with my surprise
It never let me down
But it tried and i looked into its eyes
Then we said goodbye
There's a world balancing two designs
I can understand
I changed for my lunch date with Caleb, into the killer heels and the black and blush-pink dress he likes most. I put my hair up because he likes it up and then I put on lip gloss and mascara because that's all any of them like and I asked the mirror why I care what he wants to see anyway. She didn't answer fast enough and I couldn't wait anymore, I had to go.
When I arrived he was waiting for me, having driven his car here because of some meetings downtown this morning, while I was picked up and delivered by Mike, someone who was re-hired and relocated when I took John back from the Devil. Mike is someone I still steadfastly refuse to speak to anymore (after his guardianship in the Prairies turned distinctly stalkerish and he couldn't be called off) so I had my headphones in my bag and I put those in and didn't take them out until we were across the bridge and he opened the car door in front of the restaurant, umbrella in hand. I thanked him by name. I'm only a little bit of a monster, after all.
Caleb told me I looked beautiful and that he had already ordered for us. That's alright, I already called ahead to order a birthday cake slice for him with a candle for dessert. They frowned over the phone, this is not a place like Boston Pizza or The Keg where the staff will come out en masse and sing to the birthday celebrant. No, here the chef was agog that I would want to ruin his presentation with a wax candle, but based on Caleb's good name and my charm he agreed. Merde, he said and I knew what he meant and laughed.
After Caleb's delighted surprise at the cake, he slid an envelope across the table. It is blackened silver, and blank but sealed. I know what it is. I pick it up and put it in my bag. He pretends not to care, rubbing his face, fresh from a straight-razor shave and a haircut at the barber in his old neighborhood. I start to tell him I will talk to Ben about it and he abruptly says he already has, and he looks forward to tomorrow night. Then he stands up and asks if I want to ride with him back to the house. The surprise shifts back to me and briefly I wonder if he would mind if I put my headphones in. I laugh to myself but my outward smile is instantly mistaken for anticipation. He puts his arm out and I take it. People watch us leave. Then they watch as he takes the key from the valet and opens my door, somehow managing the door, key, umbrella and still a hand for me to balance with when I would have dropped everything by now. He walks around to his side and gets in.
Birthdays are strange, aren't they? he says as he pulls out into traffic. I watch him drive, his profile focused on the road and the lights and the other cars. I used to watch him drive when I was eleven, when he would drive everyone to the lake. Nothing has changed. He still smiles because he knows I'm staring at him. He has tiny lines at the corners of his eyes now. He has to shave every day instead of twice a week. He has a few fine grey hairs mixed in with the brown but only over his ears. The shirt he wears today costs more than his first car did. He'll be forty-nine tomorrow, he was nineteen in that other life before he knew he was the devil. Before I knew he was the devil.
He still reaches out to fuss with the heat and asks the same question he has asked for over thirty years. Warm enough? I nod, still fixated on his face. He keeps the stereo low so I can talk if I want to and I wouldn't had have the courage to take the headphones out of my bag and block him out because I would hurt his feelings and I seem to be incapable of doing that on purpose, instead doing it by accident and sometimes not doing it when I should.
We get to the house and I thanked him by name (monster) and headed toward the side door as he turned and headed toward the boathouse. I know he turned and watched me walk away but I didn't look back, I just felt it. I have things to do. Tomorrow's going to be a busy day. I have a cake to bake for the party tomorrow and I have to ask Ben why he agreed to something he promised he wouldn't agree to anymore. That he said he didn't want anymore and yet we keep going back for more punishment, over and over again. If this is is revenge for the fact that I still keep my little finger curled around dreams of the carnival then he's going about it all wrong.