Lubbock, Texas. 2000.
“Did he stay that time?”
“He stayed two years. He got a job with the Navy ROTC on campus. In that time, we had another son. Named Ricardo, after Diego’s dad.”
“How did you end up with Tex again?”
“Then why was he at your house?”
“I’m still trying to remember,” Janet replied. “I know it’s late—or early. I’m pretty tired.”
“I’ve kept you talking too long.”
“I kept myself talking.”
“I’ll come back later. I wanna know how this ends,” Flora said. “I’ll see you later, Janet.”
Janet sighed, closing her eyes. She lay in the hospital bed with the beeping and the blood pressure cuff, trying to sort things out. She’d lied to Flora. She did remember how Tex got there, and it sickened her that she’d agreed to have anything to do with him.
He threatened to kill my son! Tears rolled down her face until, eventually, she slept.
Lubbock, Texas. Spring 1990.
Diego and Janet pulled into the driveway of their home, warily. A strange car was parked out front. A man moved slowly from the shadows of the arched front porch. From his bearing, Janet knew he was military. The way Diego stiffened, she knew he recognized the man.
“Babe, why don’t you go pick up the boys at Dad’s?”
“It’s Coffey, isn’t it.”
Janet leaped from the car, storming the porch like the peasants breaching the Bastille. Not saying a word to the colonel, she unlocked the door, flinging it back with a bang.
Diego ran after her, deeply worried. He shoved past Coffey. The other man tried to stop him. Diego shook him off.
“She’s got a .357 and she knows how to use it. Get in your car.”
Janet didn’t have the gun. He found her in the bedroom standing over the locked drawer where it was kept, weeping.
“Honey, please. We knew this could happen.”
“Is this all there is for us? Little snatches of time together. Is this it?” She spun around, her balled fists pounding his chest. “Tell him you can’t go. You’re not available.”
“It doesn’t work like that, baby. I go where I’m sent. A warrior follows orders.”
“Why you? Why does it have to be you?”
“No matter what it is. No matter what rat hole he sends you to, you’ll go. You’ll leave your sons and go halfway round the world to do what? Kill someone?”
“That isn’t all I do. You know that.”
“I don’t! I don’t know what you do. You can’t tell me.”
“Mrs. Macy,” Colonel Coffey said from the living room.
“Don’t call me that. Don’t say that name in this house,” she screamed. Pushing past Diego, she confronted Coffey, standing toe to toe with the big man.
“Janet,” Diego said softly, taking her arm.
She jerked her arm away and shoved the Colonel. She was powerful in her rage. The tall, broad shouldered warrior took two unsteady steps back. Janet followed, bumping him back another step with her hip. Her arm came back to slap him, but Diego took it in an unyielding, but gentle, grip.
©2020 Dellani Oakes