1995 - Tucson, AZ - Friday, p.m.
Note: Most of this story takes place in Mexico. Accordingly, many of the conversations would take place in Spanish. Alas, I do not speak Spanish. All conversations that should accrue in Spanish will be italicized. Furthermore, while I did research these topics, I am not an expert in Mexican due process or prescription drugs, so I apologize for any inaccuracies.
“Hi, Mom,” Shawn said. His stomach was in knots and his palms were sweaty. She wouldn’t be happy to see him. Or maybe she would. Shawn had no idea what to expect, and he was afraid.
“Shawn?” his mother asked. She was clearly surprised to hear from him—but of course she would be.
“Yeah, Mom, I’m here.”
“You’re here?” She asked. “Here in Tucson?”
“Here on your doorstep,” Shawn said, glancing around at the sterile entrance to the cookie-cutter condominium complex. Like every other building in the neighborhood, it had a sand-colored stucco exterior and bright red tile roof. There was a decretive rock garden on the path leading to the door, accented with potted cactuses that bloomed in the moonlight, just like every other building.
“I, ah, I rode here,” he explained. “Here to be with you.”
“You didn’t steal another car, did you?” she asked clearly alarmed.
“What, no!” Shawn said. She wasn’t happy. ”I bought a bike. I just . . . please, can I come in, Mom, please?”
There was a pause, a very long pause. Then the door buzzed and unlocked. He was too nervous to wait for the elevator, so he bolted up five flights of stairs to her condo. When he got there, she was waiting at the door. She wasn’t happy at all.
“Do you have any idea how worried your father has been?” she said viciously. ”He’s called me three times—and I don’t have to tell you that he’s the last person I wanted to hear from.”
“‘Hi, Shawn, how was your trip?’“ Shawn said, trying to smile despite his mother’s withering looks. “I’m so happy that you went through all this trouble just to be with me.’“
“We will not argue in the hallway,” his mother said, softening a little. “You look tired.”
“It’s a nine-hour drive across a desert,” Shawn said.
“Get in,” his mother said, ushering him into her condo. “I’ll get you some milk and we’ll discuss it.”
Shawn crossed the threshold and realized he’d run further then he’d anticipated. When he’d thought of his mother it was always in the context of their home on the beach. She was lounging on the couch with his dad, she was cooking in the kitchen, she was working in the study. The interior was brown and comfortable—nothing was fragile, everything could withstand the rambunctious antics of a young boy. But her condo was completely different.
The carpeting was white, and the walls were a pale sky blue. The furniture was dainty, probably antiques, and everything was spotless. He had to take off his Doc Martin’s as soon as he entered the foyer, and his leather jacket and helmet were quickly stowed in the closet. She led him to a built in breakfast nook with toile cushions and an embroidered linen table cloth. He realized for the first time that his mother wasn’t just a mother, she was actually a woman. Moreover, he was starting to suspect that she was the kind of woman who did not like having boys around.
“Now, are you hungry?” she asked. ”I think I have some canned soup. There might be some hot-pockets.”
“No, I’m fine,” Shawn said. He felt so out-of-place—he almost regretted coming.
“Well, let me at least get you some milk,” his mother insisted. “And I need to call your father—let him know that you’re safe.”
“Yeah, I guess,” Shawn said, accepting the glass of milk and taking a deep drink because it gave him something to do.
He watched his mother call his father, just as he’d watch his father call his mother so many times. She was so cool, totally collected and unemotional. His dad got so heated up—never violent, but sometimes frightening. Eventually, she hung up, took a deep breath, and sat down at the table across from him. His milk was long gone, but he still stared at the glass, rather then look at her.
“You going to tell me about it, goose?” she asked.
“I found the papers,” he said. ”Dad left them on the kitchen table—probably so he wouldn’t have to tell me.”
“And you stole a car,” his mother pressed.
“That had nothing to do with it,” Shawn said. ”I was trying to impress a girl.”
“I hope she was impressed,” his mother said.
“Look, I spent a night in a holding cell, I paid restitution, I promised never to do it again. It was enough for the judge—why can’t it be enough for you?”
“Fair point,” she said. “If it was enough for the judge, it’s enough for me. But I still want to know why you spent the day riding across the desert instead of going to school.”
“School ended last week, mom,” Shawn said.
“But isn’t graduation tomorrow?” she asked. ”I thought Gus was going to give a speech.”
“I don’t need to be there for Gus to give a speech,” Shawn said. ”When I saw the divorce papers on the table, it all became so clear. I needed to be here, with you.”
“I didn’t ask you to come, Shawn,” she said soberly. ”When your father and I split up, we agreed that it would be best for you to stay in a stable environment.”
“Why don’t you just say what really happened?” Shawn demanded. ”When Dad drove you away you couldn’t take me because he’s pushy, and aggressive, and demanding. But I’m 18 now, and high school is over, and I can choose to live wherever and with whomever I want. And I want to be with you, Mom. I drove all day . . . I left my best friend, and all my stuff, and Chairman Meow . . . I left my life to be with you—to help you.”
“Oh goose,” she said, her expression softening. ”You really have a tender heart—nothing like your father.” She got up and kissed him on the forehead. All Shawn’s fears, anxiety and regret melted away with his mother’s kiss. “I’ll make up the guest room for you. We’ll figure things out in the morning.”Start writing here ...