“You better watch your step son.”
I ignore her. I don’t want to hear why she gives me this advice, but she ignores my silence right back.
“This is a small town. No one’s business is secret.”
I still don’t bite.
“You know what I’m talking about,” she goes on.
“What? Because I kissed Anne in public, really? That’s a little Victorian even for our town. ”
“A little what?” She laughs. “Are you a trying to make me feel stupid? Anyway, it doesn’t matter, that’s not what I meant.”
“Then what did you mean Mom?”
“Linda. She’s been saying things about you, making out like you and her have something going on.”
“Then you’re there right out in front of her kissing that other girl and with Bobby being her cousin and all.”
I feel my blood pressure rise. “You know Anne,” I say. “She’s not the ‘other girl’ and what about it? Linda is married. I don’t even like her and nothings going on except in her imagination.”
“Well, that’s not what’s been said here and there. She says you got drunk together and had a wild night in the sack. Now, I don’t have anything to say about if that was right or wrong. You’re a grown man and certainly can do what you want, I’m just saying you can’t burn the candle at both ends and think you’ll get away with it.”
“She’s a liar.” I curse at myself under my breath because it was only half a lie. I remember leaving that kitchen table in her apartment and walking home. “And what about Jake? If you heard that line of bull shit so will he.”
“Well, he’s not really come home the past few weeks. That’s the other thing. Claims his dad has Alzheimer’s and he has to get the house set-up to keep him safe. Sounds like a story, you think?”
I don’t answer. I pull to a stop in the driveway. “I need to go to work.”
Mom glances over at me with a furrowed brow as though she expected that we would talk more. “Don’t be mad at me just cause I’m telling what’s going on. You need to know.”
“Got it Mom, thanks.”
She shakes her head then swings her bad leg out and shimmies out of the car. I back out and press the gas hard squealing down the new paved street. For a split second I fantasize that I’m driving off a cliff. Not a healthy thought but going blank into oblivion is a tantalizing idea. There are no cliffs around so I’m safe. But ‘safe’ is subject to interpretation and change.