I knew when I booked my ticket I was staying too long. But it had been years since I saw Lopez, longer since I saw Reggie, and I never saw their baby. I thought we’d have plenty to catch up on and do and all that. By 48 hours in I was already counting the days until I’d be going home. My grandma once told me that after three days fish start to stink. I’m changing it to two.
I leave tomorrow and have a sinking feeling in my guts. It’s weird, sorta like I feel guilty. Like I did something wrong or I’m leaving something out. I guess I know that everything is fine really, but probably this is the last time I ever make a trip to see these folks, and they’re damn sure never coming to see me. So like, this could be it. We’re not old or nothing, just in our 40s, but this might be the last time I see them before I die.
I don’t know what I was trying to do coming here anyway. I mean, I love Lopez, no doubt. Like a brother, you know. I’d do anything for his dumb ass. And once upon a time, he’d say the same about me. But he’s changed. We’ve changed. He reminds me of my for-real crazy uncle, Marty. I never heard the word prepper until uncle Marty said that’s what he was. A prepper. Preparing for the holocaust apocalypse or some shit. Terrorists and whatever. He loads up his backpack with weights or rocks and walks circles around the block until he can barely move. The guy’s fucking nuts. One of these days his heart’s gonna give out, that’s what my old man says. Dad says the men in our family got weak hearts.
Lopez doesn’t do crazy shit like this, but he’s weird like my uncle. He doesn’t make any sense anymore, always going on about politics and the president and I know that really he don’t know jack. Then he gets mad at Reggie for telling him to put a sock in it and goes off like she did something wrong when she hasn’t. Just told him to knock it off, is all.
I know what’s up though. Like for reals. Lopez didn’t want that baby. That Molly. But he’s all fucked up about it because Molly’s the best kid ever. I joked one night and said if they ever want to give her away I’d take her and take good care of her too. The looked at each other like they were considering it. I know this because I saw the look. But like, who would want to give me a kid? I’m a total screwball. Less of one than I once was, but still. But you’re goddamn right, I’d take that baby if they gave her to me and I’d damn sure do whatever I could to make her happy. I don’t have much experience with babies, not much money either, but Molly likes me, always smiles when I’m around, and that’s a good start, ain’t it?
I know one thing for sure, if the baby was with me she wouldn’t grow up listening to people getting all stupid drunk and breathing their chain-smoked menthols. She wouldn’t have to deal with her parents arguing and fighting and crying and shit. Molly got dealt a bad deck. It’s messed up. I’ve been here barely a week and already sick of the mess between Lope and Reg. It’s fucked up, you know. Babies shouldn’t have to deal with that. I’m not even part of it all and I get a stomach ache after listening to ‘em every night. I wake up in the middle of the night with diarrhea. And it’s not from the booze, but I’m sure it doesn’t help.
You know, the more I think about it, the more I wonder if I should actually take Molly away. Not kidnap her, nothing illegal or anything like that, but I might bring it up again and this time when we’re not all drunk. I’ll call it a trial period. Living with me would be like the lesser of two evils. Or, in this case, three evils. Shit, I’ve always wanted to be a daddy.