|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)|
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The Monster called my cell phone this morning, demanding money.
That’s how he asks when he’s in trouble. He doesn’t know where I’m living right now. I felt the impulse to pick up and tell him, but I’ve let Petey think I’ve promised not to.
Petey wants to bring charges against him, for burning my house down. I was in the hospital at the time, just after New Year’s. You could say I was lucky my granddaughter, Kate, found me lying in the hallway. She’d stopped by on her way to classes at the community college. The Monster was home, too. Petey rants at me over and over that the Monster wouldn’t even go in the ambulance with me, that he just stood there stoned-staring, licking an ice cream cone while the emergency team shocked me back. And then he went into his room.
It’s true that if Kate hadn’t happened by the house when she did, I’d be dead. (I almost wrote that I’d be with you. Not true. Not ever. I’d just be in your realm, if the dead share a realm.) I can see the Monster standing in the doorway, blank as a bull’s eye. I know at that moment neither of us has a chance. Kate used to have a knee-hugging love for him, until he and her mother separated for the last time and she hit puberty, and the pain came between them all. He used to take her fishing when she was a child.
I don’t remember a thing about my collapse. I’d felt shaky beforehand, a little queasy, flu-ish, maybe. Then I was out. There was surgery, of course, right away, and the recovery room―so cold that room, and then the phone call. I was swimming in and out of the situation, you could say, given the painkillers and whatnot. The Monster was shouting at me through the receiver, crying and high. He needed money and he needed it now, and if I didn’t give it to him, he’d torch everything.
It’s not as though he hadn’t threatened this before. Or stolen pieces of my furniture to pawn. Or written bad checks from my account and even from Ray’s a year after he’d died. I wonder if one of his so-called friends heard his threat and decided to make it happen. More than one of those cretins have used him for their fun. He’s sentimental, the Monster is. He doesn’t learn.
But it’s not clear any fire was deliberately set. The whole thing could have been sparked by a cigarette fallen from an ashtray. He was lucky to be away and not passed out there.
This morning’s rant finally wound down to a pause, as though a revelation were in store, and then . . . “I’m trying my best, Mom, I really am. You know that. . . . I’m sorry . . . Ma, I can’t keep sleeping in Fred’s car! C’mon, pick up!”
He must be quite lonely, wherever he is.
I know, Petey has a point. The Monster is thirty-eight years old and has no business being so afraid, or being so skillful at it.