“The confidence he had when he said it? Yeah, that’s how those guys were in Afghanistan. I mean, logically I knew they were lying. Val would never forget me or give up. I knew someone someday would come for me. But they were so sure, so confident in what they were saying … I … I believed them.”
They pulled the last window in silence.
“What are you going to do?” Mike asked when they set the last window down.
Mike laughed. “Come on, lover boy. I brought a work truck. Let’s load up these windows. You’re taking them to the workshop?”
“To the window shop. They need to measure the frames to make the double panes,” Jacob said.
“Ok, let’s call the girls and tell them we’ll bring lunch,” Mike said.
Jacob nodded. “Valerie said to take a shower.”
“Oh well, you wouldn’t want to wash off the stench of Jill would you?”
“But why would Trevor say all of that?” Jill asked. “I … We’re divorced. He hasn’t wanted to have anything to do with me or Katy since the day he left.”
“He found out his rich wife is only worth about forty grand a year,” Valerie said. “Now she’s lost her trust because she violated the confidentiality agreement. But Jacob won’t follow through on that.”
“Why? Because she’s pregnant?”
“How did you know?” Valerie said. “I was afraid to tell you.”
“Oh, I know the man.” Jill waved her hand in the air as if having a baby was like swatting a fly. “We were in high school and he wanted a baby. I’m the only reason we don’t have fifty. Children are things, possessions, toys, not living, growing beings. Speaking of which, I need to give Katy her medicine. I’ll be right back.”
Valerie nodded her head.
“I mean, you can come and meet Katy. I’m sure she wants to meet you. She’s just still very sick.”
Following Jill into the apartment, Valerie marveled at the way Jill had made everything feel like home. She watched Jill wake Katy and negotiate the medicine. Half asleep, Katy took the meds, then let Jill kiss her before falling back to sleep.
“I think she’s happy to be home,” Jill whispered.
“There’s no place like it,” Valerie said.
Jill smiled. They refilled their water glasses and returned to the balcony.
“I’ll tell you this, Valerie. I’ve never told a soul. I knew he was with someone else. I refused to believe it, but I knew it. And when he gave me the divorce papers? We were in bed, of course.”
“You mean he asked you for a divorce after you …?”
“Yeah,” Jill said. “When he gave me the papers, the first feeling I felt was relief. Sheer relief. Stupidly, I signed them right there. My lawyer will never let me forget that stupid act. But Trevor? He was stunned. I took a shower. When I got out, he was gone. I’ll tell you — I cleaned this place of every single item he owned. Everything. I would have chucked it, but I knew he’d throw a fit. He filed the papers and then came here! He expected to spend the night here!”
“The manager threw him out. I … You know, Delphie said this morning that I know the truth when I hear it. And she’s right. I might not always know a lie, but I always know the truth. I know you’re telling me the truth, Val. Can I call you Val?”
“Trevor said, that day after New Year’s and after he fucked me, he said, ‘You and Katy are better off without me,’ and I knew it was true.”
Valerie smiled. No wonder her mother loved Jill.
“When do you think Jacob’s coming back?”
The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1 continues tomorrow...
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