Maybe I should show him the photo book privately and see what he says.
Would he try to talk his way out of it? Or would he come clean?
I don’t think I have the guts to find out.
Dad stares at me, seemingly expressionless, but I can tell that gears are turning inside his head. Does he have some inkling about what I’m thinking? I relax my features to match his.
After a moment, he sniffles softly and jingles the car keys in his hand. “If that boy bothers you again, Zorie, please tell me. Immediately.”
He can hold his breath, but I don’t think I’ll be confiding anything to him any time soon.
* * *
That was all my dad and I said to each other before he apologized to Mom for making a scene at work. Then he made a pit stop in his office and jogged out the door again. Like nothing had happened. A couple hours later, he’s still gone, phoning to tell us to eat lunch without him. He claims he’s playing racquetball with a client. Only, I’m not sure I believe that’s what he’s really doing.
I may not believe anything he says anymore.
Mom closed the clinic for lunch, and after nibbling on farm-to-table veggie tacos at her favorite vegetarian restaurant, we are strolling back home through the main Mission Street shopping district.
Apart from food and coffee, the sycamore-lined promenade has nothing anyone really needs, but everything you want. Specialty shops selling Swedish toothbrushes, craft sake, exotic hand puppets, and toys made from recycled wood are tucked between a handful of national chain stores. And all along the sidewalks in front of these shops, moms and tattooed street punks share benches as they listen to a student jazz ensemble that plays for donations outside the Jitterbug coffee shop.
“You barely said anything in the restaurant,” Mom points out, carting the leftovers from our meal in a white plastic bag. “I know it was busy and loud in there, but you usually get in at least one joke about vegetarians.”
It’s easy to do. Tacos should have meat. That place goes against nature. Half of the people who eat there are in need of a good iron supplement.
“Just thinking about the trip,” I lie.
“The trip . . . or your dad making an idiot of himself in front of Lennon?”
“Maybe both,” I admit, slanting my eyes toward hers. “Diamond Dan went a little nuts.”
“Diamond Dan can get carried away by his emotions sometimes.” She sighs deeply, tugging on the diagonal seam of her tunic scrub top. “I’ve never agreed with how he’s treated Lennon. If the Mackenzies ever treated you that way—”
“But they don’t.”
She nods. “I know. And it’s not much of an excuse, but your father is really stressed out right now about the business. He’s lost so many massage clients. We’re bleeding fairly profusely now, and I’m not sure how to stanch the wound until the business bounces back.”
I consider this for a moment. “You could call Grandpa Sam. He’d loan you money.”