Chapter Twenty-One

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Walk away, walk away. Dream instead of brighter shades and don't forget to hit replay. —Jackson Killian

Chapter Twenty-One

I faced the movie, but I wasn't really watching it. I was watching Jack. At first I'd tried to be subtle, just looking at him from the corner of my eyes. He had one booted foot up on the dash, making a head support for Quinn who was conked out on his lap under a blue and gray Mexican blanket.

I'd had an idea he wasn't watching the movie either, but I couldn't quite make out his face from my peripheral vision, so I finally faced him. He wasn't watching the Muppets on the large drive-in screen. He was looking at me, eyebrows aloft, his right arm resting on the sill of the passenger door, his hand cradling his jaw.

"This is nice," I said softly. "A good idea."

It had been his suggestion. I'd been staring blankly into the fridge, having one of those moments where the impending chore of making dinner felt overwhelming. It was a take-out kind of evening, really, but even that seemed like a lot of work. Mostly I just wanted to flop down somewhere and do nothing.

I'd pulled a sack of shredded cheese out of the deli-drawer; thinking I might just slap together some quesadillas, maybe garnish them with some pre-chopped broccoli (also out of a sack), when my phone buzzed on the counter.

Hey, you around?

I plucked out a quick affirmative response and almost immediately my phone buzzed again.

Apparently, on Tuesdays it's only five dollars to go to the movies.

I was working on my response when another text arrived.

There's an old school Muppet movie double feature at the drive-in tonight.

I sent a smiley face. And– We'll take my car. That way we can all sit in the front.

I'd not taken Quinn to the movies yet. I had this notion that he had to be older-maybe like five-or at least old enough to reason better. My trepidation came from my mother, I knew. She was extremely bothered by asshole parents. Asshole parents let their children drive the shopping cart in grocery stores, roam untended in restaurants, and the most offensive: asshole parents took their toddlers to the movie theater. In Raley's or Safeway or Applebee's, she would only occasionally call out asshole parents to their faces, being satisfied mostly with griping about it to me and my father. But in the movie theater, if a kid began to cry or yell or even loudly ask questions during the main feature, she would holler something along the lines of, "This isn't the place for your kid," or "Get your kid out of here."

I don't recall a single instance where an asshole parent wanted to challenge her. My mother didn't fear confrontation; if she did, she never showed it. And she didn't shy from eye contact, so if she thought you were out of line and she leaned in to tell you so, you felt the full brunt of her accusatory glare. She intimidated grown men, so it's not a wonder that she often scared the bejeezus out of me.

I wasn't going to have my mother calling me an asshole parent. Not even in my subconscious. So Quinn and I hadn't been to the theater. We normally waited for movies to hit the Redbox-which was good, because there was no predicting the movies Quinn would enjoy all the way to the end and those that would have him dancing around bored after twenty minutes.

But the drive-in. The drive-in was safe. And Jack had suggested it.

He'd shown up less than half an hour later, a small cooler and two blankets on the passenger seat of his Tacoma. We'd transferred the gear into the Bronco and headed out towards Bradshaw.

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