The Thousand-Yard Stare“It must be so nice to be home,” Josefita chirped, walking through Waterfront Park, holding her boyfriend’s hand. “Isn’t it, Billy? You get to see your daughter again… and all your friends… and me…”
“Uh, yeah,” Billy muttered. He put his arms around her shoulders and kissed the top of her head, but he stared at something a thousand yards away.
He’d been different since he got back from jail. Quieter, distant. He’d been acting like his usual gregarious self around his friends, but Josefita could tell he was putting on a show. When they’d had sex (for the first time in forever), he seemed like he was just going through the motions. Something had happened to him. And Josefita had a feeling she knew what.
“It’s about damn time they let you out,” she added. “You didn’t belong in jail. You didn’t do anything wrong.”
The Ultimatum Chapter 6Eight o’clock. Showtime. Billy knocked on the door of the Kiskaddens’ mansion on the Battery (where the rich people lived). Mrs. Kiskadden opened the door and smiled at him. “Hey, Billy. Josefita’s in the courtyard.”
After making small talk with his girlfriend’s mother, Billy made his way through the hallways of the palatial house until he reached the courtyard. The warm summer evening air hit him like a train on the tracks when he opened the door. Josefita was sitting at the patio table. She smiled weakly when she saw him. “Hey.”
“Hey, yourself.” Billy sat down next to her, pulling his chair close to hers. She wore a pretty little sleeveless green dress. He could see the scars on her arm. “I like your…”
Josefita blushed. “Thank you.” She made eye contact with him. “I’m sorry for losing my shit at Hyman’s.”
“Forgiven,” Billy told her. “It was kind of just
The Ultimatum Chapter 5“I really fucked up,” Billy said, sitting on his motel room bed while James warmed up some ramen noodles in the microwave.
“Yeah, you kind of did,” James agreed.
Billy didn’t even bother to take exception to that. He knew it was true. Josefita had probably broken up with him back there. He’d just pissed away one of the best things in his world. How had things gone from so good to so very, very bad in two days?
“You know what you need to do,” James said, pressing buttons on the microwave.
“When did you become my mother?” Billy demanded. He wished his mother was there now. He needed to talk to her, to feel her hold him, to hear her tell him in her Irish brogue that everything would be okay. But she’d been dead for six years now, and he’d never told her what happened to him.
The phone rang. Holding his breath, Billy answered it. Josefita. “Hey,” she said. “It’s me. Josefita.”
Like he didn
The Ultimatum Chapter 4Josefita was quiet all throughout dinner. It was just Billy, Josefita, and her older sister Della, who thought the world of Della. Della usually brought out the boisterous side of Josefita, but as the three sat at Hyman’s Seafood (Della’s choice – probably a direct metaphor), Josefita said nothing. Just ate her mozzarella sticks and glared.
Apparently, Billy wasn’t the only one who noticed. “What’s gotten into you?” Della asked. “Well, besides…”
Billy choked on his French fries. “I’m right here!”
“Nothing,” Josefita mumbled, taking a bite of a cheese stick. The glare she shot Billy from across the table signaled to him that it was definitely not nothing.
Della got up. “I’m going to the ladies’ room, and when I get back, you two better like each other again.”
When Della was gone, Billy felt a sudden, shooting pain in his shin. Josefita glared daggers at him. “What the
The Ultimatum Chapter 3“That was awesome,” Josefita told Billy for the umpteenth time since they’d gotten dressed and left his place.
“Glad you thought so.” Billy looked down. It hadn’t been awesome for him. It wasn’t her; it was just that he couldn’t concentrate because of that stupid twenty-four hour shit.
As they walked down Market Street, hand in hand, Josefita suddenly pulled him out of the Market. “Let’s get some fudge.”
Billy grinned. “Now you’re speaking my language.” He began to pull out his wallet when Josefita stopped him.
“You always pay for things,” Billy pointed out. Sure, she was rich, while he was broke and had a little girl to support. But just once he wanted to treat his girl.
“Because I have money to burn,” Josefita replied. She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. “Besides,” she whispered, “you treat me, too. Just… in
The Ultimatum Chapter 2“Heyyy!” a familiar voice shouted, and Billy felt his girlfriend, Josefita Kiskadden, wrap her skinny arms around his waist from behind.
Billy turned around. “Hey, babe.” He put his arms around her waist, leaned down, and kissed her. He felt a little sick. He loved her to bits, and under other circumstances, he would have felt on top of the world. But now, all he could think about was that conversation he and James had had the night before. But he smiled and asked, “How’d you get in here?”
“James let me in,” she replied.
“So, what would you like to do today?” Billy asked.
“You, sweet thing,” Josefita replied straightforwardly. (To say she was blunt was putting it mildly.) She ran her fingers down his upper arm and smiled shyly, like she was still getting the hang of this whole having-sex thing, but she enjoyed it.
Billy gulped. He really wasn’t in the mood. Not after that conversation with James.
The Ultimatum Chapter 1Most guys, after sleeping with the girl they loved for the first time, were probably ecstatic. But Billy Maguire was in a panic. He ran into the room he and his best friend, James Lanier, shared at the shitty motel they dubbed “the Bates Motel.” “James! James! JAAAAAAMMESSS!!!”
James had been sleeping. He sat up in bed, angry. “WHAT do you WANT?!”
Billy’s nineteen-month-old daughter, Flo, started crying. Billy picked her up from her crib and rocked her. He’d had custody of her for a year, since her mother ditched her because her stupid boyfriend didn’t want someone else’s kid around, but he still hadn’t gotten the hang of this fatherhood thing. “I’m sorry, mija. Don’t cry.”
James stretched. “Seriously, dude. What do you want?”
Billy put Flo back in her crib and sat on James’ bed. He could tell James. He told James everything. “Um, should I tell Josefita?”