I remove my Montreal Expos cap and take a step forward. I snag a firm grip of his shoulder, then stare straight into his eyes.
“One day, God-willing, you’re going to have a child of your own. And when you do, you’re going to raise that kid and do everything you can to keep him from becoming the person you once were; maybe the person you are now. When that day comes, I want you to look in your child’s eyes, and ask yourself – was it worth having this child? All the sleepless nights, all the extra-payments, all the stress that comes along with caring for a family?”
“Fuck that, I don’t do relationships.”
I smile. “Have a good day, son.” I turn around to face my wife. “Let’s go, babe.”
She frowns, then takes my hand. We leave.
My Dodge pickup sounds like it gurgles cement as we bump along the road. Loretta unbuckles her seat belt, then leans over the center console and wraps both her arms around my right bicep.
“Let it go, baby,” she says, then kisses my shoulder.
“We should move,” I say.
“Why?” Loretta springs back.
“I don’t want to live here anymore. I don’t want Avery growing up here.”
“You and I grew up here. We have family here.”
“I don’t want Avery dealing with the same bullshit I do. She shouldn’t have to deal with these questions.”
“C’mon Loretta, you want me to say it?”
“The fact that I was an NFL prodigy who quit. Fact that the same people who thought I’d be rich and famous call me when their pool’s got too many leaves floating on top.”
Loretta laughs. She sits back in her own seat, crosses her arms, and stares out her window.
She looks at me, rubs the tip of her nose, and turns away.
– Thomas M. Watt