UNITED STATES—Raising a child between two addresses, located halfway across town, is no bed of roses. Jared Hill knows. He takes his son Kyle to school bright and early on Monday for that stinking 7 a.m. AP class. What! Are the people running the school sick? This self-evident reaction is concealed for Kyle’s sake: rebelling against school policy would set a poor example for the kid. But still, the school administration ignores what neuroscience has proven: that the most natural hour of the day for teens to awake is 11 a.m.
Besides the gauntlet of reaching the school by 7 a.m. every Monday morning, there is a souvenir left in the back of the car. Some days it’s keys or a wallet. Today it’s the backpack which Kyle may or may not need today, but tomorrow or someday soon. The phone will sound, (“Da-ad… OK… like can you bring my backpack.”)
silence, dense with Kyle’s fear of rebuke. Then Kyle signs off with a final “Yeah.”
After a day swamped at the law office, Jared heads over to Beverly Hills instead of K-Town and some nice cold IPA. But first a pause in the library, a moment of peace, surfing the internet, browsing the poetry of Paul Celan. Yeah. Jared would love to linger in the library, but pursuant to returning the forgotten backpack, he calls Kyle, his son. Jared knows from bitter experience it is better to take care of things sooner than later, or they come back to bite you.
“Hello… hello… hello.”
It takes a few hellos to get through to Kyle, who over the phone reeks the groginess of one who has fallen fast asleep with buds jammed in their ears and an iPhone clutched in their hands after a day mired in schoolday bureaucracy and business.
“Do you need the backpack?” Jared asks.
Kyle emits a yawning ‘yeah’ and says, “Bring it as soon as possible.”
Jared leaves the library and throws himself into the mission. And when the mission is done, as it soon shall be, then home to K-Town and some ice-cold IPA.
When Jared gets to his former wife’s apartment in a district south of Burton Way, defined by the prevalence of apartments, the door opens. Surprise. He is met by Sasha herself, still beautiful as pearls in a foggy morning.
“He’s not here,” the former wife says, frowning.
Jared peers through the kitchen from carpet’s edge—as far as he can go without having to take of his lace shoes in obeisance to the custom at Sasha’s apartment. The sheets and comforter in Kyle’s room are all a jumble, and there’s no snoozing teen in sight.
“I thought he was here. I thought he was sleeping when I talked to him and he said to bring the backpack as soon as possible.”
“I’m concerned,” Sasha says. “He’s not answering texts. He sounds really sleepy and won’t tell me where he is. He says he’s going to the library but I don’t believe him. What do you think?”
“I was just at the library,” he says. “Darn, I wish I had told him,” he says, thinking he could have saved this detour to the apartment and be enjoying a rich, sudsy mug of IPA. Then with wonder: “He sounded so sleepy and groggy, though. I swore had to be home.”
Sasha looks at Jared and he remains mute. She continues:
“He sounded sleepy to me too. I think he’s not telling me the truth about where he goes after school. Or who he’s with. What do you think? He says he’s at the library. But he sounds so sleepy.”
To be continued…