Everything Stuck To Him, Part V
Seven Questions About the Boy
Lorraine was sleeping soundly and motionlessly. When she slept like that, Ray knew, his wife was usually dreaming. She was never plagued by nightmares, instead Lorraine was visited in her slumber with walks through lush redwood forests with cascading waterfalls or a journey over the tops of palm fronds in an Amazon jungle as she rode upon the beak of some great winged creature.
“Your dreams,” Ray once told her, “are the stuff of romance and fantasy novels. I’m surprised there aren’t kindly dragons whisking you away to Camelot.”
“Does a griffin count as a dragon?” she had asked in reply.
Ray sat up painfully on the side of the bed, deposited his cold feet into the fuzzy brown house slippers on the floor, and groped for his bulky gray bathrobe at the foot of the bed. He left the room as stealthily as possible, though when Lorraine was in dreamland with her griffins and friendly ogres there was very little that could awaken her.
He crossed the hall and entered the den, turning on the green-shaded banker’s lamp on the desk. He pushed aside boxes of paper clips, ballpoint pens running low on ink, and a stack of postcards from the coast as he rummaged the desk drawer for a sheet of blank onion skin paper. Ray laid the paper flat on the blotter and sat down in the leather office chair, pen poised in hand, and considered the questions he must ask Juditha about the child, about the boy. By no means, he had explained to Juditha on the phone earlier that day, did he need the information, he simply wanted it. Needing something and wanting something are two different things, he had emphasized. She accused him, as always, of playing a game of semantics.
Ray lit a Gauloise with a monogrammed gold lighter and began to scratch at the paper with the pen.
1. When, exactly, was the boy born? Day, date, and year. I’m afraid I’ve forgotten. It must be the meds they have me on or simply advancing age or, well, you know the rest.
2. Who do you think he favors the most in terms of, say, hair color and eye color? Temperament? Any hints yet at what he will be when he grows into a man?
3. As an addendum to number two, please keep the boy away from Jesuit schooling. You know full well what it did to me. But if you must do the Jesuit thing I understand and in that case I ask that you consider Georgetown. I do believe they have a scholarship in my name there. The memory is hazy at this hour but, yes, I think it is Georgetown … or Dallas Jesuit.
Ray paused and took a long drag off the rich French cigarette, squinting through a haze of blue smoke at what he had written. Approving the words he surveyed, Ray continued writing:
4. The boy should not consider writing or any of the arts for a career. Too much uncertainty and we already live in a woefully uncertain world. Isn’t that so, Juditha?
5. Is he exhibiting an aptitude for sports? If so, help him choose, if you must, baseball over football, basketball over hockey, if you desire that he keep his natural teeth.
6. Do you have any thoughts on his sexual orientation, premature as that may be? If he grows up to be gay, be as supportive as you can. If he’s straight, don’t meddle in his relationships. Women are hard enough without outside interference.
Point seven, the final point, was the most difficult. Ray snubbed the cigarette out in a large glass bowl ashtray, lit another, and wrote it as simply as he could:
7. Please do let the boy know, always, that if I could have loved him … if circumstances were different and I might have got to know the boy … well … shit. You know what I’m trying to say.