“You promise?” I asked.
“You have my word,” said Salim, the cab driver.
“On the Koran?”
“I said yes.”
“And you will curse at us?” asked Glory.
“That I will not do.”
“It’s part of the whole experience.”
“I hold some hefty gratuity in my hand if you’re all in,” I waved some money.
“Fine,” He said. “I’ll do it.”
“And be honest everyone knew Osama was in Pakistan?”
“I already told you. Yes. Everyone knew.”
“I fucking knew it.”
I kissed Glory and grabbed the six pack of Hofbrau we scooped up at a store before we reached our final destination. “Right here is fine, sir,” I said, winking. I leaned in closer to her and whispered, “You remember the code words?”
“Yes,” Glory mouthed in an over dramatic fashion.
“The fare is 32.50.”
“Is that all? Allow me to retrieve my wallet so I can pay this handsome man from Pakistan.”
“Take all the time you need, young man.”
Glory screamed the code, “Faith, unity, discipline.”
We flung the car doors open and ran from the taxi like a Bengal tiger was chasing us. We quickly passed the streetlight, and the prehistoric pay phone, and were swallowed by the darkness of Memorial Park. The bottles chattered under my arm as I ran. All the times I had done this when I was younger, not that much younger, but still all the times I had done this with my friends I laughed like a little school girl. The only difference was this time it was staged. It was a thrill. Glory was ahead of me, completely in character, running from the law, running from everything. The trees lined the dirt path, and I wished there was more light coming from the moon so I could see her ass better. Salim, a good sport, gave chase, running further than I expected to run, leaving his car unattended. He called us dirty motherfuckers, and a few other obscenities.
We ran until we reached the opposite side of the field, smiling under a ponderous moon, catching our breaths.
“The mouth on that guy,” said Glory.
“For someone who didn’t feel comfortable using swear words he really let it rip.”
“This park is nice. Quiet. Do you live nearby?”
“Yes, that way.” I pointed north. But the truth was I had lived in every direction. “Here. You have to kind of climb under then hop over the wall.” I pulled the fence we clipped years earlier away from the wall to make it easier for her.
“Am I going to die here?”
“Did you happen to tell anyone where you were going.”
“Jeepers. Yeah man, I told Dasha.”
I handed the six-pack down to Glory and jumped down onto the field. I ran here from time to time, but I hated running. We sat in the center of the track, which doubled as a soccer and football field. I opened beers for the both of us.
“No, I’m fine. The beer is still cold. Do you spend a lot of time at the park?”
“I haven’t spent much time here lately at all. But growing up my friends and I practically lived here. We hung out here and down there, between those two schools, at that first school’s playground, the red house down the street, behind the handball courts, all over. You could show up here at any time and one of your friends was here to hang out with. Predating cell phones.”
“That sounds so nice. Especially if you don’t want to cooped up at home.”
I did not. I thought about all those times I left Catherine behind, I left her alone with them, it ate away at my soul. “Let’s talk about you. What was it like growing up in your neighborhood upstate? Did you have any pets?”
“I had a German shepherd as a kid named Olaf. It died a while back. We have a cat. His name is Barker.”
“Do you like cats?”
I said, yes. “Her name is Pangur ban. She’s dying. I don’t want to talk about it. More about you, please.”
“I spent a lot of my youth isolated. Me and the woods behind our house. I thought if I left my backyard I would feel less alone. I was wrong. I did a lot of acting. Lots of playing pretend. I’d pretend that I was in different cities: New York, Paris, Tokyo, anywhere. I’ve always had a good imagination. My father was very influential in terms of art and all things creative. We put on plays. He built a stage for my sister and me. He is very crafty. Can build anything. I had an art gallery at seven in the hallway of our house.”
“You don’t say.”
“I remember being such a bitch to my younger sister. I didn’t want her art next to mine or even on the wall at all. I was a brat. My mom says I am. My mother is a nice woman, loves movies.”
“What is her name?”
“My mom or my sister?”
I guess, both.
“My mom is Tuppence and my sister is Evelyn. She’s like a genius.”
“Intelligence is attractive. Your family sounds great.”
“I used to feel so alone at home. And I thought if I went to a big city with all those millions of people I wouldn’t feel that loneliness, but I was wrong. I feel the same here.”
“I get that. I’d prefer to have the version of loneliness you used to have. I want to meet your parents, is that weird?” Glory would never meet mine.
“Yeah. They seem hip.”
“I would never use that word to describe my parents. I’ll tell them you said that.”
“Did you just see that? It is a bat.”
“There are no bats here.”
“There are bats here.”
“My favorite movie is Buffy The Vampire Slayer.”
“Kristy Swanson is a babe. And I love Pee Wee.”
“Me too. My dad whittled stakes for me and dressed as Donald Sutherland.”
“Can I call him Merrick?”
“Sure, can. Are you going to tell me what happened to your eye? Did a girl sock you?”