Published in Freight Stories #7, 2011
The set up to the joke was bad enough: What was lower than a guy rifling through an ex-girlfriend’s trash? The answer was obviously being that guy, especially in Friday Harbor where anyone who spotted me would spread it all over town by lunch. On an island of just over six thousand people off-season, there was a good chance that anyone driving by could tell you not just how long Virginia and I had been together (not long) but also the day she had arrived on San Juan, the scope of her duties as curator for the Westcott Bay Institute for Art and Nature and the fact that she was five months pregnant. A sizeable portion of those people, the females in particular, had known she was pregnant before I did, and I was the kid’s father.
“I’m not asking for anything from you,” was how Virginia had answered when I called to ask if the baby was mine.
“Wow,” was all I could say. I would have given anything not to have taken a hit of pot before dialing the phone. I would have given almost anything to have had another. “I can help.” I was working my way up to say that I wanted to help. I didn’t know it then but I was just scratching the surface of what I wanted in connection with that baby. …