It will be our last excursion, our last momentum fueled by convenience and lust.

Whatever we made of it: work fling? Friends turned intimate? An affair? Our age gap is seventeen years! Laureen is twenty-six. And with Laureen, I hear the crack of her syllables, a hesitation in her voice when we boarded the plane to Hawaii.

“Of all places, Hawaii,” she says. “Our last hurrah. Sucks to be us, huh?”

I take in her sarcasm.

We had been having drinks at one of the bars at SeaTac, waiting for our flight back to Tempe, when Vessman our boss called on video chat. “Change of plans,” he said, his large eyes wide and heavy. This was not unusual with Vessman; he had routed us from Dallas to Miami last month.

Laureen nudges me and says, “Damn, I was looking forward to getting home, checking on my mother. Did you see what that dude had on? That green Polo? Really?”

“He hardly sleeps,” I say.

A banking convention at the Omni Hotel in Hawaii, and Vessman thought we should go at the last minute. American and Japanese investors will be there. Hotshots in the global banking industry. They had contacted DDC to adjust encryption, code. At DDC, we are always on-call. “Bravado I.T. Travelers,” Laureen referred to us a while back. We made good money, but I hated the rigorous nature of traveling, and I wanted to quit, honestly.

Carolyn had sensed something might be going on, and I had told her about Laureen. I didn’t keep secrets from my wife. We go to therapy, but Carolyn lets me know that she will never forgive me for it, and she is still considering a divorce or separation. I told her, after Hawaii, that I am going to resign.

Laureen and I work on our laptops, somewhere over the Pacific, two hours into our flight.

“Threshold Moon,” Laureen calls her special input of computer code. “Finished.”

She closes her laptop, rubs her fingers across her temples as if she feels a headache coming on. The airplane tilts right suddenly. Laureen tips her drink and sips the last bit of her margarita.

“How is your mother?” I ask. “After treatment?”

“Okay, the last that I’ve heard. My brother checks on her while I’m traveling. He sends text updates that she’s fine. We hope she’s done with chemo and it’s isolated. Thomas, do you think I curse too much?”

“You don’t.”

I think about my son Patrick, who’s fifteen, plays on the freshman basketball team in Mesa, Arizona, where we live. He’s almost as tall as I am, six feet, and has a much better jump shot than I had at his age.

Laureen and I get along great. But it’s not as though we can finish each other’s sentences. We are not so agreeable, but more like two frisky cats attracted to each other in ways that feel unexplainable, that we have become unhinged by the laws of attraction, and always a paw length away from protecting our egos.

“I’m glad I’m with you,” Laureen says, putting the palm of her hand on my forearm. “Only as friends, may that it be. Just coworkers, I get that. Man, that margarita has kicked in.”

“You want anything, sir?” the flight attendant asks, walking by. “We still have cold beer?”

“No thank you,” I say. “I’m good.”

Laureen runs her fingers through my hair; her eyes drift to the window.

“Do you understand all this new code, Thomas? I hate how Vessman always has these last-minute assignments for us.”

“I know what you know,” I say. “The banking side is big business for us. The honchos in Honolulu. I think it involves a new solution to ward off global defaults. To prevent or soften another catastrophe like 08.”

“You want my flash drive?”

“No,” I say. “Just wait until we land. Or until we get to our hotel. Man, a steak sounds really good.”

Suddenly, there’s a crack, like the sound of metal splintering, searing apart. It is loud and near the wing by the window where we sit.

“What the hell was that?” Laureen snaps, squeezing my thigh. “I’m not ready to die, Thomas.”

“You’re not going to die. I mean, if it happens you won’t feel anything.”

Probabilities. I think how we both accepted the astronomical odds that we go down in the ocean or get torn to pieces. We accepted it, Laureen. The laws of physics now determine our fate.

Of course, I don’t tell her that.

“What?” she says.

She pulls her hand off my leg. She presses her face to the plastic window. I lean forward, hoping to see if something has hit the wing. In front of us, a teenage boy turns and says, “I bet the engine blew.”

The captain announces that the plane is stabilized. Laureen closes her eyes and folds her lips over, the front of her teeth pressing down on them, as her face flushes white with a tinge of fear, and her eyes widen to the possibility that we will be sucked out into the atmosphere at five-hundred miles per hour.

I feel calm, oddly. I feel if it is my time to break away with the plane and disintegrate into the ocean—there’s not much we can do about it. I can pray to God but stopped that long ago. After Carolyn went through two miscarriages, after my father’s suicide, numerous close friends who had died, what God?

The flight attendant says: “Stay calm. Everyone, we will be landing in Honolulu shortly.”

People will say that Thomas Tillson and his mistress deserved their punishment for their adulterous behavior. “God struck them down with vengeance,” a pastor in Mississippi will conclude, not long after the plane crash.

“God had a plan for them, for everyone on that plane, and it is God’s plan and desire that we don’t quite understand,” a pastor in Flagstaff will say with careful deliberation to a big crowd at a mega church.

We don’t hear another sound or any noise from the wing. Laureen grabs my hand and we keep our attention ahead, toward the cockpit. Briefly, I feel like a stranger to her. Maybe it was the refurbished air flowing through the plane? Maybe it was the alarming, sudden panic from the passengers after the sound near the wing? Are we not eventually strangers in the wide spectrum of life? Soon, we will walk across the tarmac at the airport and go to our hotel and order a bottle of wine, shrimp, and steak on DDC’s travel card. We will take a warm shower after soaking in the hot tub. In the morning, we will go to the conference rooms and set up any needed computer terminals. We will deliver the banking code to a gentleman known as Cheong-Le, a banking honcho from JP Morgan. I will read later that Cheong-Le’s nineteen-year-old daughter had leaped to her death off a bridge in Tokyo two years ago, but you could never tell something so tragic had happened behind his dark-pearl eyes.

When the plane swerves left after a bout of turbulence, the flight attendant stumbles. She is curled against the wall, and I see part of her black underwear exposed. Her left foot shoeless. She sees me, and we lock eyes, as if the two of us may die in the plane’s descent—our eyes entwined together, sunken into the realm of how we just might meet again in our next life.

I see Patrick as a baby, holding him. My life does not flash in front of me, but fragments of it jut out, like a spurt of air hitting a candle flame and all the good times in my life fly by.

A hard jolt bounces the plane as we land on the runway. We would learn later that part of the metal on the right wing had broken off.

The sun has not set and the clouds in the distance absorb a purple color of fading light in the air. I smell Laureen’s sweat; she hugs me and says, “Well, not the best flight that I’ve had, if this was meant to be, so—”

“Laureen, nothing is meant to be. We’ve had this philosophical conversation before.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

I think about dolphins in the Pacific Ocean, Great Whites’ fins slicing through waves and absorbing the entrails of half-eaten fish. I think about Carolyn and Patrick and how everything will be fine within our family dynamics, complicated as they’ve become. I will let Laureen go. I am sorry for all of this.

The next morning the sun heats my face and arms through the curve of the hotel window as I lay in the comfort of the white sheets. Even fancy hotels’ smells linger around us, and one cannot distinguish it from a lesser quality room. Laureen is gone. Did she catch the next flight back to Arizona? I can still smell her, like a drying towel, her powdered body…her breath like minted coffee and waffle syrup on her lips. I did not leave her, she has left me.

After I got out of the shower, I see Laureen standing by the bed. Her tennis shoes untied, her burgundy hair pulled back and wrapped with a tie, and she says, “Went for a workout. Let’s go for breakfast and finish the terminal install. Get the hell out of here. I understand, Thomas. Look, I love you, but you don’t have to love me. After all of this, we can just be normal coworkers. I’m okay with that. Really, I am.”

She gets a shower and then we take the elevator down, eat breakfast and begin our computer setup and don’t talk to each other for another hour or so. I want more than anything to leave Hawaii, but it will be another six hours. I walk over to grab coffee and stare out of the atrium window, watch clouds break apart and reform, watch a plane disappear behind them.


Missing Walrus

I walk into the bar on the north side of Toledo and see Connie Ramsey taking a shot of whiskey. She gestures for me. My head hurts, and I began to feel a knot or a bump compress above my left ear. I’d smacked into the side of a door while at work. I’m usually a careful guy, but sometimes these things happen inexplicably for no reason. Connie is the lead singer for “Walrus,” and she appears sober, despite the whiskey shot. Her hair is burgundy and black, and she has an energy about her that I find attractive, but not so attractive enough to risk losing my girlfriend Emily. Connie and I had gone out a few times before Emily and I’d met, laughed together while buzzed enough to enjoy each other’s eccentricities. She likes to say that she is the product of her mother’s lapses, a hydrocodone child in the womb.

“What up, Macy?” she says.

“Not much,” I say. “I can’t stay long. Told Emily that I would be home soon.”

“And why isn’t she here?”

“You know, pregnant? Five months along. She’s not feeling well.”

“That’s right. Forgot about that. Poor girl.”

It’s strange that people refer to each other by their last names. No one calls me by my first name anymore. Not that I really care. I didn’t like my first name. Made me think of “demon” instead of Damon.

“Well, I’d better get to the stage,” Connie says. “Let’s do one last shot. You in?”

“What kind?” I ask.

“All whiskey,” Connie says, and she touches the shot glasses with fellow bandmate Geoff. “To our lives filled with fleeting happiness and rushed moments in the throes of making money. Cheers!”

I took my shot. Connie can be off-kilter, somewhat philosophical. She has emerged as a stranger after not seeing her in a while; you can see that everlasting spark of impulsivity, her desire to be free and to have fun.

Emily’s more my kind of girl, who’s reserved, calm but attentive, and not so scatterbrained like Connie can be.

I feel that fire sting in the throat. Connie takes a swig of her Blue Moon and tosses the orange peel across the bar counter, smacking against the trash can. There are only three of them in Walrus: Connie, Geoff Schotterfield, and Kurt Williamson. All of them are in their early to mid-thirties, but standing far away watching them play, you might think they were in their twenties.

I text Emily. A few minutes later she replies that she’s going to bed, will leave the light on for me. We have kept the pregnancy to ourselves, for a little while longer at least. Emily has arranged for me to meet her mother in Columbus next week. I’m cool with it—have nothing to hide, and no sense to prolong the inevitable…

How will her mother react to me, this guy Damon Macy? A guy who works on the accounts payable side for a trucking company? Who finished college? Who’s forty-three years old? Forty-three! A man way older than Emily. I’m also African American and Emily is Caucasian, but it’s not that big of a deal she has said many times. We share a connection, an invisible mesh between the layers of being human. Love? Lust? Trust? All three, I’m sure. I just know that we get along and connect well together and it feels good.

I watch Connie take the mic on the stage. She says, “Hello everyone. Ready to jam? One thing I’d like to say: ‘Can we all stop the fucking chaos around our beautiful country? Just saying.’”

There had been protests in Toledo that week. Five people were injured. A police officer had shot and injured a teenager. The video of it went viral.

“We’ll be playing for two hours,” Connie continues. “Have a good time.”

She disappears into her music. Walrus played 90s and 2000s alternative rock. Occasionally, they did riffs of Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, The Doors…

I text Emily that my coworkers never showed, but she doesn’t reply.

I decide to leave my car and call for an Uber. Happy strangers around me bought me more drinks. I hear someone say, “Cops are out and about. Careful, peeps.”

My head throbs; I don’t know if it’s from the shots or beer, or the aftereffects of hitting my head on the door earlier. I look for cops across the street as I step outside the bar. They usually wait on people to drive out of the parking lot and then pull them over. Entrapment, I’ve always thought. I didn’t want any part of it.

I open the apartment door and turn off the lamp that Emily had left on. I guzzle a glass of orange juice and pop an Advil. I go out to the balcony and listen to the rustling of trees and feel the warm-for-November air, echoes of sirens in the distance.

I give Emily a kiss peck on her chin as I slide into bed, and she switches sides, flops her arm over my shoulder. I fall asleep fast. When I wake up later, almost four in the morning—my heart is racing. I can’t sleep. The blackness of the night. What form did it take on but dark energies? I have a strange sensation, a feeling that something might go wrong. Walrus? An earthquake? A blizzard? Something is taking them away, pulling them in like the gravity of a black hole. I will mistake—no— I cannot mistake this bizarre set of apprehension that has set over me.

It breaks on the news two days later that all three members of Walrus are reported missing. They had vanished on the very night after performing, and I can picture Connie still on the stage, her skinny body contorting to the sound of the music. People mentioned they had left the bar after two in the morning, got into their S.U.V. and drove off into the gray November night, never to be seen again. I wonder if I could have prevented this, could have stopped them from being swallowed up or dissolved into the fabric of the universe?

My headache slowly fades, but other strange bouts of insights and energies still manifest—outwardly, as if I knew in strange coincidences that they were going to happen.

First there’s Walrus’s disappearance. Second, Sheriff Morgan Keller: The night before he had lost control of his prowler, and I saw an image of a police vehicle tumbling through the vortexes of my mind. Sheriff Keller had died of his sustained injuries from the single-vehicle crash. I did not tell anyone about this. Certainly, not Emily, who’s already frazzled and emotional and loopy from hormonal changes carrying our child; she would find me odd and question the idea of us being together furthermore.

I ignore these changes and insights. I continue my days ahead working, sometimes the starry night sky reminds me of my small existence on earth. I feel fine, though. The bump on my head has receded into a tiny purple bruise.

A few days later Emily visits me at my apartment and I’m relaxed on the couch. I can hear her breathing heavy as she plops beside me and pulls out her phone, points it at me as if it were a gun. “Ready?” she says. We are going to go meet her mother, to tell her about the pregnancy. If her mother doubts me, it will not shock or bother me because I’ve been doubted all my life.

“Yes, I’m ready. What’s wrong?” I say.

“You didn’t hear?” Emily says. “They just found the vehicle that may belong to that missing band. What’s their name again?”

“Walrus. Where?”

“Off Wilson Road. In a retention pond, I think.”

“That’s not far. Let’s go there. It’s on the way to Columbus.”

“I was going to suggest that,” she says.

Her little round belly. I rub it as though our baby can feel my hand.

“Baby’s in the cocoon,” Emily says. “My beautiful butterfly. So, you ready to meet mom?”

“I guess so. Unavoidable at this point, right? Like the moment when you are about to get blood taken.”

She gives me a funny stare.

“What? Unavoidable?”

“It’s fine. I love you,” I say. “Man, it’s fucking cold. Did the temperature drop?”

“Weatherperson said it would throughout the day, into the lower teens. A possibility of snow showers later.”

“Snow?” I say. “So-not-ready for winter in November.”

“Technically, still autumn,” says Emily.


We drive along the highway and turn onto Wilson Road. A burst of snow colonizes in the crevices on the door windows. Emily smacks her chewing gum, her thumb swiping her phone screen. When I was young, I hardly thought about my future and the life that I might have. When I was young, nothing moved more slowly than time, being in church or in a boring classroom waiting for the bell to ring at the end of the day. Being older, you realize that there’s not a lot to look forward to, but having a baby changes all that. There’s an outward arrow of reckoning with time, and it quickly makes me realize to appreciate the moment, as the warm redness of the plasma in my body pulses from the chambers of my heart. I don’t have any more premonitions. It is this anticipation of not knowing what feels good but overwhelming. And Connie and her band? Were they even alive?

We park along the road. There’s a retention pond a hundred yards away. Emily makes the point of why didn’t someone see it earlier.

“I don’t know,” I say. “Probably nobody pays any attention. People are often in their own elements. Notice that drop off. Hard to see.”

The pond itself is down an embankment. A stop sign’s a few hundred feet ahead and it’s a two-way stop, and there are crosses and flowers on the corner that enshrine those who have died there.

“Aaaw, I felt babes,” says Emily.

“Did it kick?”

I reach my hand over and don’t feel anything.

“Hold on,” says Emily. She pulls her shirt up, holding my hand on her belly. “Look, there’s a foot! Kidding. Ha-ha!”

“You’re crazy,” I say. “I’m going to get a little closer to the pond.”

“Okay, I’m calling Mom to let her know that we’re leaving Toledo now. Be out in a minute.”

The police are parked around the retention pond and I’m not allowed past the bridge. I get a good glimpse, though. The gray dance of snowflakes and the police lights flicker off the water. The cold breeze goes through the skin on my neck. Walrus’s S.U.V. had been lifted onto a flatbed; I can see it in the distance, almost a mirage in the snow flurries. I wonder if they are inside, like bloated urchins—lifelessly tucked against the doors? They would be preserved by the cold water, I’m sure. I hope Connie had broken through the door and swam to the edge, but I’m probably wrong thinking that she made it out.

Connie is dead. Geoff and Kurt—all dead. It’s strange to me, knowing that I had felt the inclination that something was wrong that night after getting home. A news cameraman walks past and nods hello. He’s an older man with sad, hooded eyes, gray like the slabs of cold rocks nearby.

“Awful,” he says. “But, it has to be reported. It’s my job.”

He put away his camera, untangling a cord.

“Wonder how they ended up in there?” I say.

“Not sure,” he says. “Maybe they were drunk? Suicide?”

“I don’t know about that,” I say.

“Well, they’re all deceased. Hopefully, it went quickly for them.”

As fast as I’d seen the camera guy sprint up the embankment, like a frantic rodent you might quickly see in a barn on a cold morning, he got inside his news van. Emily gets out of my car and walks toward me, wraps her long arms around my chest.

“So? Anything?”

“They’re gone,” I say. “The band Walrus. All of them.”

“Awful,” Emily says. “We’d better go, honey.”

“You hungry?” I ask.

“Hell yeah! I’m eating for two now.”

“Let’s get out of here,” I say, and we go back to the car. I crank up the heat and look down at Emily’s belly, imagine our little butterfly of a daughter, or son.


Why don’t you just stay in there, little one. You are lucky to be kept away from this world. You are a lucky little thing tucked inside and will be crazily disappointed when you are out. I am sorry. I was part of your creation, you know? Blame me, if you want. I know there is no stopping you from this horror, this random and frantic experience we call life.


Our boss sent out a random e-mail to our department on that Monday before Thanksgiving. I worked in the ad department for a leading retailer, and in those sloppy matter-of-fact phrases without any punctuation, boss man Pearson wrote:

“I know it’s short notice guys have an idea meeting offsite tomorrow 9am Starbucks. Bring laptops.”

The day after Thanksgiving… we all knew the ordeal. But Pearson was a newbie and came from the car industry, had lots of ideas and seemed cool enough. He was young, like twenty-eight, but you could tell being a manager had aged him. His eyes were always heavy-looking with dark marks and lines under them, and he was always biting at his fingernails.

Linda Felton replied back to ALL:

“Nice! You want me to help control the stampede of the wild buffalo early Friday morning?”

“I just want to make sure everyone knows their role and last push for the big advertisement,” continued Pearson. “The sales department has that covered, Linda.”

Coworker, Leslie Blare scooted her chair up to my cube. She sat to my right, in the newer cube. Leslie was confident and talkative; I felt a subtle attraction toward her. That morning I was tired after being up most of the night with Molly, my beagle-mix; she had a rough night breathing. She was almost fourteen, and my thoughts jumped from her fading health back to Leslie, then to Pearson’s e-mail again.

“So cool,” said Leslie. “Pearson must’ve read what I sent him yesterday.”

“Sent him?”

“I made suggestions,” she said.

“You suggested to Pearson that we meet at Starbucks? Why?”

“It was a forward on office productivity. An article about how creativity and performance increase when taking your teams to offsite locations every now and then.”

“Hey, anything to break up the monotony around here,” I said.

“You want to ride together?” Leslie asked.

I caught a glimpse of her face from the corner of my eye. I imagined that she was pressing her lips together, waiting for a reply. Those lips, I thought. I would rather be with Leslie on a date than be talking business crap, or be compressed together with other employees at a noisy Starbucks.

“Which one?” I asked.

“Which, what?” Leslie said.

“Which Starbucks are we going to?”

“I don’t know. Good question.”

I clicked on the e-mail thread and stared at the word offsite. A paragraph below read:

“Meet at the Starbucks off Taylor Ave just 5 minutes from our office, everyone knows where at right?”

“You know,” I said to Leslie. “I’m sure Pearson’s making five times my salary, and apparently, doesn’t know proper punctuation and grammar. How the hell does that happen, Les?”

“Should I tell him? He seems pretty laid back. Or would that be too rude?”

“Don’t say anything,” I said.

I swiveled my chair up to hers.

“So, you want me to pick you up?” I asked. “I’ll drive.”

“You read my mind, Trevor. In the morning, just come by my house. I’ll text you the directions. Cool?”

For some reason, Leslie did not drive. She told me she had her driver’s license, but doesn’t drive and does not care to own a car. And I could tell in all seriousness that she didn’t want to go into reasons why. Leslie was married to a guy named Winton Blare. He was ten years her senior. I think Leslie told me that her husband was forty- six, but from pictures, the poor man looked much older. She referred to him as her “Soon-to-be ex.”

It felt odd that I was attracted to a married woman. It had been going on for the last three months. I’d flirted with her, here and there, but didn’t want to pursue her any further, knowing that she was married to Winton. In a way, I don’t think she was my type. She seemed spoiled, perhaps too goofy and too jokey for me, not to mention way too positive and happy-go-lucky, unfazed by any kind of wrongdoing throughout her early thirtysomething life. She and Winton didn’t have any kids together. He had a daughter, Amy, around the age of twenty, from a previous marriage. Amy lived in Chicago, according to Leslie.

But it was true that Leslie had a certain radiance about her, as if her attractiveness usurped feelings and lust into a gigantic bag that fitted tightly around my head and could not remove for some reason. I wondered if she really meant that she and Winton were getting a divorce, or if that’s what she really wanted but was just kidding?

The next morning a layer of fog blanketed a mist over my windshield. The morning news said there were school delays. But the fog had lifted, and I was on my way to pick up Leslie. I sent her a text message that I was leaving and on my way over. A few seconds later, I saw that Leslie had replied. She sent me her address and street, and I had a vague idea where it was, but I entered it into my phone map and it came up.

Stoneybrooke Ridge was where doctors, lawyers, and dentists lived. I had no clue on what Winton did for a living, but I’m sure that he was well-off, or doing great for himself financially. I knew that Leslie couldn’t afford to live in these houses on her salary. As soon as I turned into the neighborhood, a cop car flew by me. All lights. No siren. For a second, I thought he was after me for going through the yellow light that magically turned red as I plowed through the intersection a mile back.

Then another cop car followed. What was going on and what could be this urgent? When I got to Leslie’s house, a total of three cop cars were in front, and my heart began to pound, not just in my chest but the sound of it in my ears, the tinge of the pulse through my jugular, the tightening of my eyes as I squinted over my glasses. I could have been in “flight or fight,” ready to floor the gas pedal or get out and run just in case some lunatic came my way.

I heard a tap on my side of the car window. Leslie stood there holding her coffee mug and pointed her thumb toward the house behind her.

“Hey, my house is across the street. I saw your car.”

“What’s going on?” I said, getting out.

“We heard three gunshots at the house. Winton 911’d and here we are. Go figure. The Kleengers have always had issues. Domestic. Problems with their teen son. I don’t know. This is not the first time.”


A man hurried up to the car. My eyes roved straight at Winton’s giant forehead and blondish tufts of receding hair; he pulled his tan robe over his chest, had on jeans, and stood stoutly in grass-stained Converse tennis shoes, sockless, half smiling and eating a piece of toast.

“You must be Trevor Patterson? I’m Winton. Thanks for driving Leslie. I am deep in meetings this morning, conference calls and shit, or I would have taken her.”

“No problem,” I said, peering into their garage and seeing a silver Jaguar. “Are we OK to be here? You need to give a statement to the police?”

“I already did,” said Winton, taking another chomp out of his toast. “As far as I know, I think Mrs. Kleenger shot him, her husband, Stanley.”

“Hey, the dickhead had it coming,” said Leslie. “The way he treated Jill—”

Leslie was dressed in a gray parka, blue blouse. It was not cold or really warm, and we had had an unusually warm November. Today was a little chillier. You could see puffs of our breath. Leslie leaned into her husband and gave him a peck on his clean-shaven cheek.

“Bye, honey. Don’t be mad if Trevor and I jet to Costa Rica on your dime.”

“You kids have fun,” said Winton. “Hey Trevor, Leslie mentioned you guys are spending the day offsite. I think it’s a good idea, get a fresh look at your work.”

“Yeah,” I said. “I’m sure we’ll be more creative.”

So bizarre. I felt crestfallen. I felt panicked. An exhilaration overcame me that I might be sucked into a plane engine or that my parachute may not open all the way.

Leslie’s aqua flash of fingernails hit against her coffee mug, and then her wrist bracelets clanged. I got the feeling that she and Winton were fine, that no divorce was imminent. I was cool with it, even though I would not mind running off to, as she said jokingly—Costa Rica. I would enjoy it with Leslie.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “Winton can be strangely intrusive, overly optimistic.”

“Oh no, I didn’t take him that way. He seems like an easy-going kind of guy. Very laid back.”

“We both are. I don’t know if our marriage will work. I don’t know about things anymore, but I’m happy where I am in my life. He makes good money, runs a division for Marshlon Pharma. You know, the big drug company? He’s been there for twenty some years. I can’t imagine being on my own, living in a smaller house or in an apartment. But we’ll see. We do keep things simple. We really do have a good relationship, but sometimes I feel out of love, out of how it was when we first met and how he made me feel. All of that seems replaced by material things, the threat that it all could be taken away.”

“I know what you mean,” I said.

“I like you, Trevor. If I was not married to Winton, I would definitely be interested in seeing you in a more than a-friend-kind-of-way. You know?”

She put her hand on my hand, but her fingers slid into the ridge of my fingers and down to my wrist.

“Turn right,” she said. “Starbucks is down there. You See it?”

“I see it. I know.”

“I think this will be fun. I’ll buy our drinks.”

“Pearson should buy. You think?”

She looked at me for a second or two, but it felt longer, as if she’d found some flaw in my face and was wondering about how that had happened or if it had been there before and she just didn’t notice, or if I was older than I said I was, or perhaps not as “attractive” as she once thought.

“Yes, he should. Maybe he will. I don’t see his jeep. We’re a little early.”

“Yes, we are, but that’s OK.”

“Let’s just sit here.”

We leaned in together with our chins touching, our lips close, and I could taste her gloss and it happened fast—we started to make out.

She eased away.

I felt my pulse again, in my neck and around the temples, my eyes blurry for some odd reason, the strobe of red and blue police lights flashing through my mind from earlier.

“Let’s stop,” she said. “I can’t.”

“I’m good. You good?”

“I’m fine.”

We got out and walked inside Starbucks and we were the only ones there from the office, and we waited for ten minutes, but Leslie got antsy and said she could not wait any longer and went to the front and ordered our drinks.

“Hazelnut Latte,” I said. “Make it a Grande.”

A few seconds later Pearson pulled up in his red SUV. Mel Farmington, another coworker, parked his Chevy Malibu beside my car. Jenny Dixon showed up and then Linda Felton. We had most of the marketing department. Pearson was smiling and walking with more pep in his step and had his Mac laptop curled under his arm.

“This is great,” he said. “This is awesome. It’s almost here. D-Day. Let’s all just relax, just work on whatever it is you were working on, and try to finish all ads today. Happy Thanksgiving. I will reimburse your drinks. Order as many as you want.”

Leslie pulled her chair around and handed me my latte. She tapped her finger on her phone and then to my arm. I read her phone screen, a message from Winton:

“It was not Jill,” she said. “It was their son, Eric. They arrested Eric. Stanley is dead.”

And there it was again, that long stare from Leslie as if my flaw popped out and she was intrigued.

“He deserved it,” she said. “He was an awful, awful man.”