Thursday, November 18, 2004

Shit hits fan; Steve gets dirty

Tuesday, November 9. 1:30pm.

BUZZZZZZZZZ, goes my phone. Caller ID is blocked. I let it go to voice mail.

1:41. BUZZZZZZZZZZZ, caller ID blocked. Voice mail.

1:43, same story. Then 1:50, and again at 1:56.

2:10. BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. This time there's a number on the display screen. I don't recognize it. But I want to know who the hell's been calling me.

"This is Steve."

"Steve, hi, this is Holly!"

Oh, FUCK. Jesus H. Christ! Where did SHE get this number?

"Hey, Holly."

"Are you busy?"

"Was that you calling before?"

"," she says.

"What's up?"

"Just saying hi."

Please, God, don't let this bitch turn into a fucking stalker. I really don't want to have to change my phone number and deal with all the family bullshit that is sure to result. Please let her just move on...

"Holly. I have a girlfriend," I say. There is a hint of anger in my voice.

"I have a boyfriend, too. I just wanted to say hi."

"I can't have sex with you again."


"Because I have a girlfriend."

"You had a girlfriend that night too, and you did it."

"We were broken up."

"And now you're back together?"


"Oh. Well, I would be cool with hooking up with you again, if you want to."


"Can I tell you a secret?" she asks.

"What's that?"

"I wanted you ever since I met you."

"Oh yeah? Thanks."


"Thanks, Holly. Hey," I say.


"It was really fun. It's not that I didn't like it. It's just..."

"You have a girlfriend."



Thursday, November 11. 10:40. Bonnie buzzes me. "Your brother and sister-in-law are here to see you," she says.

"Which brother-in-law?" I say.


"What do they want?"

"They didn't say," she says, her voice lowering. "But they don't look happy."

Please don't let this be about what I think it's about, I think.

I'll bet I know why they are here. Holly opened her mouth. Nancy overheard conversation, or Holly told her what happened, or, less likely, Bill or Jenny said something.

When Holly and I came back upstairs after screwing, Jenny was asleep. Bill was awake, though, and he didn't say anything, but he gave me a knowing smile as I walked by him.

"OK, Bonnie. Tell them I have an 11:00 and I need to start getting ready for it by 10 of."

"OK, Steve."

This is the best way to handle someone who is demanding to see me. If I send them away, refusing to see them, that will make them angry, and things will escalate. But squeeze them into a 5- or 10-minute gap in my schedule, and they think they have some kind of clout which forced me to rearrange my priorities for them.

What the fuck could they be so angry about? I am starting to think that Holly is a lot younger than she seemed. If she is, I'm gonna be explaining my ass off within the next 3 minutes.

Bonnie shows them in. Greg is pale, almost ashen. Nancy is angry. Her mouth is closed tightly, her lips pursed. She slams my door and the two of them sit down.

No one fucks with me in my office.

I look slowly at the door, then back at Nancy. "I've kicked people out of my office for less than that," I say curtly.

"Steve, WHAT HAPPENED between you and Holly?" Nancy says.

I actually consider lying for a moment, but it would never work. Nancy obviously knows something; otherwise, she wouldn't be asking. And if she knows something, then there is no reliable way to figure out exactly what she does know. If I lie, and my story does not agree with Holly's, it becomes a he said, she said debacle.

I don't like lying, anyway. It's time to come clean. But gently.

Breaking bad news to someone in a case like this is like writing an essay: You start out with general statements about the topic, and gradually work your way down to your point.

"Look, guys," I say soothingly. I sound like a therapist. "My family is very important to me. My relationship with you two..." I trail off, pausing for effect. "But sometimes things happen that we don't plan on-"

"Do you know the term secondary rape?" Nancy says.


"Yes. Secondary rape, Steve."

Greg and I lock eyes. "You mean STATUTORY rape?" I say. Greg covers his mouth. He's got all he can do to keep from laughing. I bite my lip and look down at the floor, stifling a chuckle.

"IT'S NOT FUNNY!" Nancy says. "She's SIXTEEN damn years old, Steve!"

I swallow my gum.

There is NO fucking way she is only sixteen. I remember seeing her last year, and she looked...tall and skinny, with braces. Yeah, come to think of it, she looked about 15. Nancy is right.

I feel my face go pale. What the hell did I do?

"Greg. Nancy. I PROMISE you, I had no idea-"

"You committed a CRIME, Steve. It's illegal. We left her with you. We ENTRUSTED you with her. We left her with you in GOOD FAITH. And you had SEX with her!" Her eyes are flaring at me; she's practically leaping out of her chair.

This chick is totally steamed. Yelling back is not going to accomplish anything. I have to keep my temper in check if I want to have any hope of controlling hers.

I look over at Greg. He is not saying a word. Too bad. I could really use his help in calming her down.

Whenever I have to explain why I fucked someone, I always make it sound as UN-sexual as possible.

"Look, guys," I say softly, almost talking like Dom. "You have to know that this is nothing I planned on. Holly and I talked all night and got along really great, and it.... just kind of happened. I never asked her how old she was, and she never said."

"Sure, Steve. How many times have you used THAT line before?"

Mmmm, about 3,431. But who's counting?

Time for Nancy to put her money where her mouth is.

"How did you find out about this, just out of curiosity?" I ask. Another good way to calm someone down is to ask a lot of questions. It's good to get them thinking.

"Does it matter," she says.

"How does Holly feel about this? Are you concerned? Did she seem... upset in any way?"

"Of COURSE I'm concerned! She's SIXTEEN years old!"

"Did she seem upset?"

"Steve, she's just a girl-"

"Did she SEEM UPSET." I insist.

"She's fine," Greg says, finally. "Nance, I think we made our point."

"NO, we didn't!" She shouts. She points a finger four inches from my face. "You stay away from her. You don't see her, you don't look at her, you don't talk to her."

"Nancy, I-"

"I never liked you, Steve."

"Nance, come ON," Greg says.

"You're an arrogant, conceited bastard. All you care about is money. You didn't even help your own brother out for his wedding. You're GREEDY! And you're a pervert! And you're-"

I glance over at Greg. Way to keep that wayward bitch in line, bro.

Greg got married about 7 years ago, and right before the wedding, he got laid off. I found out later that he had to sell some personal belongings to pay for wedding expenses, but he never asked any of us for any money. I was still working with Tommy at the time, and wasn't making much anyway, but after the wedding, I found out Nancy was angry that no one offered them any money. But we all knew Greg, and we knew he wouldn't take it. She knows it too. Bitch.

"Nancy." I say, staring at her. She stops.

"Something happened between Holly and I. I should have found out how old she was first. I didn't. I can't TELL you how sorry I am about that. But it's over. She already called me, and I'm not even sure how she got my number, but I've already told her that this can't continue."

They look at each other. "She musta gotten his number off my cell," Greg says. He looks at me. "She borrowed my phone yesterday-"

"I can't take back what happened," I say. "Now. If you want me to call her and apologize, I will. But," I say, looking right at Nancy, "it seems to me that YOU have got a bigger problem with this than she does."

"Do you think he should call?" Greg says.

"No." Nancy says. She sighs. "It's just that...she's always getting mixed up with older guys. And when I heard her bragging on the phone about a 34-year-old guy with a BMW..."

"I can't control OTHER GUYS. I can only control myself. And I promise you, now that I know how old she is, I will stay FAR away from her," I say firmly, leaning forward in my chair. Greg and Nancy move instinctively back.

"I doubt you can control yourself-" Nancy begins.

The door opens. "Steve, you have that meeting in ten minutes," Bonnie says.

I stand up. Greg and Nancy do too. "Nice to see you both," I say.

Nancy grabs her coat and storms through the door, Greg trotting behind.