She pretends not to see his wheelchair. That’s what really bothers me; she acts like he’s just this regular guy, with regular guy legs. “Let’s take Margo to the farmer’s market today. Let’s go for a walk on the beach. Let’s ride the Ferris wheel.” To which Judah has to remind her that he doesn’t have the right wheels on his chair to ride the sand, and that the boardwalk near the Ferris wheel doesn’t have good wheelchair access, and that the farmer’s market is so crowded on Saturdays, that the last time they went they had to leave for lack of sidewalk space. She whispers to me that Judah can do anything we can do, but he just needs encouragement, and then winks conspiratorially. No, he can’t, I want to say. That’s why it sucks. I’m not saying treat the guy differently; just treat the situations differently. He has a goddamn handicap.
But Judah seems to like her new world optimism, brushing off her attempts to make him feel normal with a pat on her butt and a smile. They banter back and forth, and, if I weren’t so jealous, it would be one of those cute things you dream of having one day.
“I don’t need to do anything, guys, serious. I’m just here to see—to visit with you. You don’t have to entertain me.”
On my third day here, Erin decides to take us to dinner at the pier in her little Toyota that farts more than it drives and smells weirdly of crayons. Halfway to the restaurant, her brother calls.
“Yes, Joey,” she says. “Of course I can … Right now. Okay.”
She hangs up and tells us that his ride bailed, and she needs to take him to his therapy session. “If he doesn’t go to therapy, he gets super depressed,” she tells us.
“You should take him,” Judah offers. I suddenly brighten up in the back seat at the idea of getting rid of Erin for the night.
“I’ll drop you at the restaurant and pick you up after,” she says.
“No need,” Judah tells her. “Go be with Joey. We will take a cab home.” Erin kisses Judah on the lips, and drives away, leaving us outside The Organic Vixen.
“Wanna go somewhere else?” Judah asks.
“What? You don’t like hippies and organics and shit?”
“And shit,” says Judah. “Let’s get some pizza.”
I push his chair along the pier until we find one of those by-the-slice places. I carry our slices to the table on soft paper plates and slide into the bench opposite him.
“Sometimes,” he says, “I miss the Bone.”
“You do not,” I tell him, biting into my slice. The cheese burns the roof of my mouth, and I reach for my Coke.
“Come on, Margo. You don’t even miss it sometimes?”
I shake my head. “What is there to miss, Judah? The poverty? The litter? The dead eyes everyone walks around wearing?”
“It’s our home. There is something to that.”
“Bad things happened there. Things that changed me. I don’t see it that way.”
“Your mother?” he asks. “Nevaeh? What else?”
He’s pushing me. Is that why he brought me here?
I set down my pizza, wipe my fingertips on a napkin, trying to avoid his eyes.
“What are you asking me?”
He looks around to make sure no one is listening, then leans in.
“Lyndee,” he says. “Do you know what happened to her?”
“Someone killed her,” I say flatly. “It’s what she deserved.”
Judah draws back as if I’ve slapped him.
“What she deserved?”
“She killed Nevaeh,” I say matter-of-factly.
“How do you know that?”
I hesitate. I don’t know how much Judah can handle … how much he’s figured out already. “Because she told me,” I say.
He licks his lips. “Margo, did you do something to Lyndee?”
I stand up, mostly because he can’t follow me, and back up a few steps. Things flash through my mind: looks, frowns, narrowing eyes. All the times Judah was mentally compiling a case against me. All the times he was right.
“Stop it,” I warn him. “This isn’t something you want to talk about. Trust me.”
“I do want to talk about it,” he says. “You’ve done something…”
This is what it feels like to be found out. I can’t decide if I like it or not. There is also the matter of defending myself … or not. Not, I decide. I start to walk away.
But I don’t. He knows too much. He won’t go to the police … at least I don’t think so. I need to keep my distance. Make him think he’s crazy. My heart knocks fearfully inside of my chest. My stomach is sour. My brain is working slowly—shock, I think. You didn’t think he’d actually find you out. And if it had been anyone else, I wouldn’t have cared: my mother, or Delaney, or Sandy. But it’s Judah, the only person in the whole world I admire, and he’s looking at me like I’m a carnie freak.
I turn and run. I have my wallet; that’s all I need. I leave my bag at the apartment he shares with androgynous-named Erin, and catch a cab to the airport. Gone, gone, gone. It’s the end of an era, the finishing of a relationship. That will be the last time I make contact with Judah, or allow him to make contact with me.
I MOVE INTO MY NEW APARTMENT TWO WEEKS LATER. I don’t know what Doyle/Brian told his father, and I don’t care. I saw the fear in his eyes when I smashed the gun into his nose and heard the crack, and that was good enough for me. He’d do what I said … for a little while at least. And then he’ll start thinking about how he can fuck me over. But that won’t be for a while. It will take months for his little pinprick brain to work out a plan.
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