#2 - Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

      The day we got divorced she showed up early.

      It was a special kind of excited early that people usually are when they're camping out all night for star wars tickets.

      The sky was a grey that matched my mood, and my faded black Pittsburgh Penguins t-shirt. She was chain smoking expensive cigarettes on the front step of the office building when I got out of the cab. She had gotten her hair styled, she looked younger. She looked good.

      I had a neck beard. I drew power from it. If I lost the house and the car and the dog and my mom's lamps, I'd still have my neck beard. She couldn't take that from me. Could she? I didn't know. I was unprepared.

      "Let's do this thang." I said, giving a couple quick finger snaps. She rolled her eyes, exhaled a stream of thick smoke and opened the door without saying anything.

      She led me to a medium sized conference room where she'd been drinking coffee and planning my ultimate demise with her over priced lawyer for at least an hour. My lawyer was there too, he looked annoyed, probably the neck beard.

      "ok, gentlemen," Her lawyer said, thudding his briefcase on the table. My father always told me hotshot lawyers put rocks in the bottom of their briefcases to make it sound heavier when they put it on the table, therefore making them sound more important. I wondered if she'd fucked him yet. "I think you'll find these documents in order." I bet she had.

      He slid two stacks of paper across the table, one to me, one to my lawyer. Ah, the ol' document slide, classic lawyer move. This was a really nice table. Good sliding surface. Good home wrecking surface. The water cooler in the corner was titled: AquaMark LX. Someone had looked through a pamphlet of water coolers and was about to order the standard AquaMark, but at the last minute decided to bump it up to the LX. It was a nice cooler. I was thirsty. It was hot in here. Why did I wear sandals? Is it supposed to rain today?

      I started feeling dizzy, all of a sudden I was not feeling ready to do this thang.

      My lawyer reached for the stack of papers and began scanning the pages. My stack remained untouched. My hands were shaking, goddamn she looked good. I wonder how much she spent on her hair, how much she tipped the hairdresser. I was always a bad tipper. She hated that. I could fix that though I could get better. The water cooler claimed to offer filtered water with UV protection, which I assumed meant it injected all water with sunscreen. An obvious LX exclusive feature. My hands were shaking. I was sweating, goddamn it's hot in here. Pittsburgh Penguins, 90-91/91-92 back-to-back champions.

      My lawyer said things looked ok, which I thought was a pretty damn lawyer thing to say in this situation. Outside the window a squirrel was hiding an acorn underneath the exposed root of an elm tree. I wouldn't tell. Don't worry Edward (his name was Edward) I won't tell anyone about your acorn.

      Everyone was looking at me. I'd missed something, a question. "Sorry, What?" I said. She rolled her eyes again.

      My annoyed lawyer leaned in to me, "She wants you to take the dog, but she wants the car."

      "Yeah, ok sure." I managed, scratching my scruffy neck.

      Is that how these things are supposed to work? The car for the dog, the house for a rookie card, the books for the TV. I thought of when I was a kid and we would go to my grandmother's house at Easter time. All my cousins would be there, and when we got the green light, we would scour grandma's house for hidden chocolate. Later when it was all said and done, the oldest cousins would separate the chocolate out evenly. An egg for you, an egg for me.

      A house for you, a dog for me.

      Who the fuck puts sunscreen in their water?

      "Ok so we're just about done here, we'll just get you to sign these papers." Her lawyer was so good, his hair looked good too, I wonder if they had the same hairdresser, I bet he tipped well.

      I leaned over the papers and started in on my name. I hated my name, it was so stupid, the way it curved around all loopy and shit. Then I had the audacity to cross both T's with the same line. Who did I think I was? What an asshole, what a je..

      A tear hit the paper like an atom bomb.

      I stopped writing. Had anybody else seen that? Jesus... Fuck.. AquaMark had seen it for sure. I could feel its LX exclusive features laughing at me. I looked up. They'd all noticed, but were pretending to straighten their papers. They were fixing their expensive hair or clicking their expensive pens. They hadn't seen that one coming, neither had I. Edward was nowhere in sight. Edward hadn't seen.

      I wiped off my face, and the paper, in a sort of awkward movement, like an eighth grader trying to hide an erection. I finished my name. Fuck what a stupid name. She would change hers back for sure. Maybe she wouldn't. Maybe she would keep it thinking she would just wait and take her next husband's name. Maybe her next husband's name would be Lucas Outhouse, and she would still keep my name. Maybe He would take my name to get out of his misfortune. Wow, Lucas that's pretty fucked up, Lucas Outhouse, you wooden-seated mother fucker.

      I put the pen down and her lawyer reached across and took the papers from me, sliding them into his rock filled briefcase. I'm surprised he had any room for it with all the rocks in there. All the stupid polished big dumb table thudding rocks.

      Our eyes met. She looked sad. It helped.

      "Ok, great so I guess that's it unless anybod.."

She was looking down into her lap. Her voice rose quick and unexpected like a snake bite. "I'm pregnant."

      Atom bomb 2.0.

      Oh yes, things were going poorly now. The Shit had hit the ceiling fan and was all over the AquaMark LX now. We all sat there in a shocked silence enjoying an extra large, frosty glass of shitty, sunscreen water.

      "What?" I said. Anybody could have said it. We were all thinking it. He probably had a form for this situation too. An egg for you, a baby for you. Edward was hiding another acorn. For fuck sakes Edward, don't share those acorns with any ladies.

      "I'm sorry." She was crying now, little tiny atom bombs splashing all over the sliding table.

      An older woman knocked on the door. She poked her head in; she was wearing a business suit. We had to leave she said, we were over our time she said. This room was booked for another couple.

      And the papers would slide just as easily for them.

2009 Broken Chair