Thursday, September 13, 2012

Informer

One hot and stuffy afternoon, during time I should have been playing soccer, I consumed acres of literature instead. Skipping practice has always been a last resort, worst case scenario. That week, however, soccer fatigue had overwhelmed me. I stalled on a couch with literature.

Then I looked outside. Suddenly, or so it seemed, it had become late evening. I ventured off the couch towards the great outdoors; a walk would do me some good, an uneventful and utterly pointless stroll around the hood, for its own sake.

I hadn’t gone very far before things turned interesting. I met The Ex, apparently on her way home from work. As rock music fans like to say, I felt nothing. At first.

“You don’t look well,” she said, her eyes scanning mine.

“Football fever.” I wasn’t going to explain that. She knew me well enough to understand. “So we’re talking now?”

“I heard about you and Jennifer,” she accused, in her inimitable passive-aggressive manner.

That gave me a start, a rude shock. My heart long-jumped over a few beats, and then sprinted through the rest. “You weren’t supposed to hear,” was the best I could come up with.

“So it’s true! I thought she was making it up!” This exclamation of surprise accompanied the first manifestation of emotion on her face and tone.

“She’s the one who told you?!” I was as incredulous and as stunned she was.

She started to walk away, distractedly. From her studied expression, I could actually see in my mind’s eye millions of her mental cogs turning over the new information using a magnifying glass and a fine toothcomb. I discerned that this would be an optimal time to cushion the impact.

“Look, I’m sorry; I was angry and jealous. And I wanted revenge.”

As she turned to face me, there was more perplexity than anger in her face and voice as she replied. “You shouldn’t care, why should you care?” The finality with which she said that (while walking away I might add) essentially plugged my maw and made me think about it. Next I looked up, she was scratching her head as she turned a corner and vanished from sight.

I made a decision: the informer needed be answerable. Jennifer’s place was far, but I ran the distance. Incidentally, this helped to clear some of the lactic acid in my sore limbs. But we all know that was the least of my intentions for running. I hadn’t carried bus fare.

Luckily, I met her opening her door, just coming in from work. She considered me with a half-smile that I appraised to be merely diplomatic; on the basis of which analysis I replied her “Hi Antony” with “I can’t believe you told her.”

She looked like she was going to pretend to ask what I was raving about. And then she saw impatience hot on my face and looked like she thought better of it and made peace with the obvious. “Come in,” she offered.

“No.”

So she stood inside and I stood outside and we besieged the open door.

“It just came out, alright?”

“It was supposed to be a secret!”

“I know! I get it! But she’s my best friend, for goodness sake! I had to confess.”

My mouth opened, but I found I couldn’t argue with that, so I shut it.

“Okay,” I said, “Goodbye.”

And I jogged back home.

(The Ex was right: I shouldn’t care. I don’t even want to. But I can’t just seem to let this issue die a natural death before I hear the conclusion of it. As for feedback, I’m still waiting to see how things pan out.)

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