As the pistol spun and wobbled on the oak table, Jay remembered playing spin the bottle in the basement of his grandparents’ house. They had used a glass milk bottle and it clanged loudly on the concrete floor. It was cold and musty down there, but he remembered his palms were sweaty. The girls were Dawn and Amber. He was the only the boy. Eventually, he knew, he would kiss both of them, and he would get to see them kiss each other. It was safe, because none of it was his idea, but he had to hide the tremble of his hands. Then his grandmother ruined everything. She heard the odd sound in the basement and intervened before any kissing occurred. He wished his grandmother were alive to intervene now.
We went as far as his car would take us, driving past the smoking blue mountains of north Georgia and Tennessee, the hickory sweetness invading the cracked leather of our 1995 Chevrolet Cavalier, which was an indistinguishable red-brown-orange depending on which angle you looked at it from. We sped through the once-treasured nightmare of Detroit, the neglected chaotic sunset of Dallas. Yellowstone, freshly scorched and withered from its latest cleansing.
I still can’t believe how long it took me. To realise. Between the time she left – slammed the front door – and me making the connection. Incredible!
And all the time, the facts were staring me in the face.