The Whiteheads (End)


On top of those, there developed the issues of Kelly’s weight, Kevin’s headaches, and Peg’s bones. It’s obvious to me even if not to Dr. H that Kelly grew fat to irk Peg, and Kevin’s sport- and job-preventing headaches served as excuses to avoid everything that Jim advised, urged, demanded.

Peg broke her right wrist when she slipped on the Bay Ridge trail. That was weird; anyone else would have maybe sustained a sprain. She and Jim were about halfway through a level weekend walk and she had the bad luck to fall just wrong. That injury slowed her at work more than at home. I discussed osteoporosis with her but she said she tested normal.

A few years later she and Jim were working in the garden one Saturday and Peg’s ankle broke. The orthopedic surgeon said she again fell exactly wrong. She missed more work and her habits became even laxer.

Our friendship flagged of course. When we lunched together we mostly talked business. God I grew to hate those lunches, with me begging for any kind of help, despising her. She always ate white food – potatoes, Caesar salad, mayonnaise – and she invariably spoke with her small mouth full, a glob of bad white caught in the corner.

To the extent she discussed her marriage she reported it good. She enjoyed Jim’s company, she said, and the sex was as great as ever. I didn’t believe it. Her face said otherwise, tighter and twitchier all the time.

I guess it was inevitable that we’d squabble when the business failed. Even though we both understood it was her mistakes as much as the law changes that did us in, even though she never argued when I asserted that she’d been overpaid, she came after me for money. Or Jim did. I don’t imagine she argued with him either. And when I saw that my name wasn’t spelled right on the demand letters, I knew Peg hadn’t even read them.

I remember now that odd conversation we had on her last day in the office. We didn’t know then it would be her last day, that Jim wouldn’t let her come back. Cash flow had been bad – for the first time ever I’d delayed her draw as well as my own – and after lunch she came to my desk begging for her check. She promised she wouldn’t cash it; she just needed to be able to say she had it. “Or what?” I asked before thinking. She hesitated for a moment with a trapped look in her eyes, and then she muttered something about peace in the kitchen and no one stomping out of rooms. I thought about bones.

I might have been able to salvage something out of the business if I hadn’t spent all my energy on the lawsuit. And Peg and Jim might have salvaged their marriage – even though they got some money they also got slapped over and over with how incompetent she was at work and he was at representing her, and as the illusions fell the veils were stripped away from their home life too.

I used to say everything bad that happened to me turned out to be good. Now it isn’t so. Or not exactly. Now it’s more like the badder gets the gooder. Because Peg got the worst of it. Her marriage collapsed and her relationship with both of her kids has suffered. And yet …

Her move to Rohnert Park is actually looking good. I can’t imagine living there but it’s her home turf; it must be working for her. Her new job has energized her and living alone seems to be bringing her back to herself. She doesn’t deserve it but she appears to be happy.

I had an escape route. I could retreat into my house and use the old transcription skills. Put in the hours I want and make enough. But it’s not working for me yet.

I lucked into the connection with Dr. H. Seems I’m developing a specialty in transcription for psychiatrists and my clientele is now ranging into Solano county, but what were the odds of getting Peg’s shrink?

Not that I agree with some of his assessments, but it’s interesting to hear them. As far as I’m concerned I’m not breaching any confidentiality deals. Peg broke all those herself.

No, I do okay here and I’m sure I’ll be happier once I complete this. It’s giving me a perspective on the course of my own events. I’ll finish it and then I think I’ll take a walk. I can do that. Just because I haven’t doesn’t mean I can’t. It’s easy to order in, and I’ve been busy.

Contrary to what my brother said last week, I can do it. And I know it’s been awhile, but I doubt it’s the months he claims. I just haven’t had the time or the need.

Besides, I feel safer here. And I don’t appreciate his nagging me about it. I need to take care of myself. It’s clear no one else will. So I have to set limits. I won’t read his e-mails. And I’m sure as hell not going to answer the phone. Not till I feel better.

This entry was posted in Fiction. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s