Thursday Afternoon: Appropriate Timing

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Jamie froze when he saw me, and our eyes never broke contact. He spoke like a man, no pleading in his voice, just truth.

“Christine, I didn’t tell anyone. It wasn’t me.” I couldn’t doubt it any more.

“I believe you. I’m sorry. I…it was a shock, and the timing…and I don’t trust anyone, you know.”

“I know. But I still love you.”

“I love you, too. I can’t hug you right now. I’m too bristly.”

“I can see that. What just happened here?”

“Trix kicked Lizard out.”

“What?” “Why?” Jamie was very agitated – he had jumped up from his seat and seemed ready to bolt the room.

“Latchkey slept here. Lizard told Trix it was just days. Now there’s a social worker poking around, saying she can shut things down. Trix is pissed.”

Jamie’s face had turned the kind of bluish white that shows every pock and mark like it was drawn on with makeup. I was afraid he might vomit.

“She kicked him out? Because of Latchkey? Just Latchkey?”

“I don’t know. Maybe because of lying? Or both?”

“Shit.”

“I know. But he was almost ready to leave, anyway.”

“No. Latchkey slept here. In the workshop. Lizard just found him something to do upstairs during the day for me. It’s me who should be out.”

“Jamie, you can’t tell her!”

“I have to.”

“No way! What about the show? You need to be here. Just…wait. Let’s get past this show, then you can martyr yourself or whatever you want to do. Don’t blow everything because you feel guilty. Don’t put her in that position.”

He looked pained.

“Maybe it’s better. I’m a mess, Christine. I can’t handle it. I don’t know what I’m doing and nothing is right. Maybe it’s better to let her professional handle things. Isn’t that why she brought him?”

“She brought him to help you…because she was putting you under too much pressure.”

He was surprised, and shook his head in disbelief.

“She brought him because I’m fucking up too much, because she doesn’t trust me to come through. She’s right. I suck.”

“Jamie, come on! This place would fall apart if it wasn’t for you.”

“And what if I fall apart? Does that mean everything stops? I can’t handle that, Christine. Don’t put that on me.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

I could see, now, the toll that the week was taking on him. He looked more gaunt than ever. His hands were shaking.

“I could maybe do a hug now,” I said.

We met halfway. I stood on my toes and his head hung over my shoulder. He shook like he was crying, but there were no tears. I wanted to make his world okay.

“Just stay out of Trix’s way today. It’s not lying. It’s…appropriate timing.”

“Do you really think that, Christine? Is that really the right thing?” He was like a small boy, uncertain, looking for approval.

I felt a pang. He was ready to defer to my judgment if I seemed certain, but was I right? I didn’t think that Trix would say so, but who made her grand arbiter of rightness? The thought of Jamie getting kicked out right now, when he was so vulnerable, that could never be right.

“Yes. Just take care of yourself, take care of the show, and let’s get through the next couple days, okay?”’

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