Yoharie: Existence (part four)
Trevor’s cul-de-sac was called Tampico Way. The stub, or rectal portion, if you had it in you to chuckle at Mat Busby’s humor, was crossed by Reagan Place. The shuttle streets, Atlantis, Challenger, etc., also an Apollo and an Armstrong, and another cul-de-sac called Old Glory Way, told something of the developer’s vision.
Since he’d only walked to Trevor’s, going home and heading off on his bike again seemed to Val unfeasible.
If he went home, he’d run into Dawn.
When he ran into Dawn, he had to ask her… Not, “Do you figure you’re a good mom because you never had kids?” But: “What can I help you with?” This he asked her daily because she looked so pleased, and never took him up on it.
“Oh, now, I’m fine,” she would say. “How’s Trevor?”
Or, “How was your trip?” Her idea of what he was doing on the trails. Taking little jaunts.
And if Giarma was at home (she’d be, what did Giarma do except shop and noodle on her computer?), he’d have to pass on Trevor’s job offer. He wants to take you out, but he thinks you think you’re too good for him, so he wants to sit beside you and work on a little project…
No, let the kids have fun, Val told himself. He allowed he was jealous.
You could go for it, after all, if you’d been dumped anyway—the act of desperation. The idea sat waiting, wholly crafted, for him to put it in words, only wanting…
A sign. Not this one: Enterprise Avenue.
Conspire Right had a slogan, under whatever you called it, the header. Not something he would memorize, but gistwise…
If a thing can be done, and if it can be done in secrecy, and if anyone can profit from doing it, do you feel confident ethical considerations alone will prevent it being done?
If not, congratulations, you believe in conspiracies.
I never walked around this neighborhood and took a look at things, Val thought. I could play Hibbler. He grinned at this addendum…in public, talking to nobody…and wished Hibbler could see and get nervous about it.
Per Roberta, they complained in this subdiv about values going down, new people changing the tone. The tone was politics, of course, demographics.
The desperate act…
The rest of it was not that bad, and Val wasn’t ashamed of it.
You should be a friend, you should keep in touch. He didn’t think his mother or his father actually had friends, so if he was stupid at it for lack of home examples, whose fault was that? But losing, being humiliated, maybe before the eyes of a happier rival…being hurt in a way that would last, struck him likeliest.
He could surprise Sasha at home. Supposing he lived where he had. There would be a housemate or there wouldn’t.
And what do you get out of that…only a chance to bawl, “You don’t really care about me, do you?”
But because he was tempted, and because the answer was given—no, Sasha didn’t care, or he’d have said “Why not move in with me?” fucking already—Val couldn’t stop the daydream of it, the making of little pictures behind spoken thoughts.
Sasha was shy, like Trevor with Giarma, and just didn’t know…
And if he knew…
But he wasn’t shy. He was a dog, he liked getting around, and he didn’t want a boyfriend.
Val put his hands in his pockets and hit an ambling stride. He had not before right-angled onto Enterprise, and the street looked empty ahead, the properties not much individualized. It was a deluxe section…or a moonshot of a section, might be the developer’s lingo. The houses were big, and the yards were big, and the bookend styling meant two big yards segued together, a little riding mower paradise.
“Hey, get yours while I’m at it!” (You could well imagine, from the neighbor who’d mounted up first.)
Beatty appeared, from under someone’s weeping shrub, paws scattering little chunks of dirt. He played a reasonably acted ruse of surprise—to discover a friend, here of all places. He lowered his head, wagged a frenetic tail.
The middle of the street was his choice for hurling himself on his back.
“Come on, get up, what’s wrong with you?”
“Beatty’s a Hibbler. There’s something wrong with all of us. Didn’t you figure?”
Val rose from a squat, from patting the dog’s belly in the middle of the street, regardless.
“No, you seem cool.”
She’d given an opening hard to resist, as far as her dad…but people who scorned their families didn’t always allow others to.
“Thanks.” Savannah’s face had a wet-eyed, quivering-lipped aspect. Her hair was matte and fried, too many ideas tried with too many drugstore products. Parts of it were blue, like his own. This was comedy, the two of them standing here, confounding each other.
“What’s up? Things rough for you?”
“Listen.” She was urgent suddenly. “You dropped out of school. That’s what they say.”
“Who the hell?”
“Oh…my mother.” The tears spilled a little.
“Well, I did. But I had to get a GED. The system’ll get you in the end.”
“But I mean…did you just not go one day? Did you get in trouble?”
(2019, Stephanie Foster)