“Oh,” Sandy said. “I … I thought you were a biker.”
“Because of your tattoos,” Sandy said.
“Oh,” Aden flushed. His arms, neck, and back had been covered with tattoos. Thanks to laser technology, his adolescent gestures at identity were almost gone. “No, I work for Jake. I’m his assistant.”
“Jill and I went to high school with his assistant.”
Sandy nodded her head.
“Molly is Jake’s bookkeeper for his rehabilitation business. I work for Lipson. Jake has me and another assistant, Blane.”
“Oh,” Sandy said.
“Why did you think I was married?”
“I went into the locker room and this girl told me line and verse about you, your wife, your kids, and all this stuff. I …”
“Tall? Thin? White-blonde hair?” Aden asked.
“Very pretty. A lot prettier than me,” Sandy said.
“I call her Lexi Luther because she’s like my archnemesis,” Aden said. “Okay. Well that makes more sense. Thanks.”
Aden and Sandy stood facing each other. The uncomfortable silence stretched.
“Are you married?”
“No,” Aden said. “I was married. She left when our daughter was a couple months old. We weren’t actually divorced until four years ago. I kind of hoped she would disappear, but … Jake made me file.”
“Jake’s had a big impact on you,” Sandy said.
“You could say that,” Aden replied. “I have two kids. They live with me most of the time. Would you like to see their pictures?”
Sandy nodded. Aden opened his wallet and pulled out his favorite picture of Nash and Noelle.
“I dropped them at their mom’s house before I came here. I … They’re my life.”
“Why would Lexi say all that stuff?”
“Oh,” Aden sighed. “Because I fucked up. After Nuala left — that’s my ex-wife — I wasn’t in a great place. I was still … drinking … and I was going to be a rock star. Mostly, I worked during the days and spent the nights at clubs. I didn’t know what it even meant to have kids … I thought women took care of all of that. Real evolved, huh? I thought if I got another woman right away, I could keep living the way I was … you know, not have to change. Lexi and I … got together, and … It didn’t go well.”
“What happened?” Sandy asked.
“I can’t imagine you want to hear all of this crap,” Aden said.
“Actually …” Sandy said. She dared to look at his face for the first time. “I do want to hear about it. My dad left my mom when I was a couple months old … and I have a particular interest in stories just like this … stories like mine.”
“Lexi moved in right away. But Noelle, my daughter, never liked her. She cried until I got home from work. I was at work one day when Lexi called to say she had moved out. Fuck me and fuck my stupid kids. I …” Aden shook his head. “It was totally my fault. I just had no idea of what I was doing. What happened with you?”
The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1, continues tomorrow…
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