This morning, I stood at my wife's door. Todd, my tag along friend, found out she now lives with her mother and is penniless, the way I left her, eighteen months ago.
TODD: Ring the doorbell, Eric.
ME: I can't do it. I put myself through the most wretched year of my life, and she stands there and looks at me that way.
TODD: Uh... Eric... you haven't even seen her yet.
I was livid.
ME: I'm a human being. Not a piece of dirt. I deserve better.
TODD: You haven't even rung the doorbell yet.
I didn't hear him as I slammed my fists and head against the door.
ME: How dare you! How dare you!
The door opened and I fell to my knees. I looked up to see my wife staring down at me, holding a tiny bundle in a pink blanket.
MY WIFE: What are you doing here?
Her eyes held back a rage, like the Hoover Dam about to bust loose a tsunami.
ME: I came to get my CDs.
She stepped back for a moment and then returned, dumping an armful of CDs on top of me and shutting the door behind her.
I stood and opened the door.
ME (shouting in the doorway): My Mr. Belvedere Christmas CD better be here, because Lord help me, I will make your holidays hell. I better not be coming here and you guys are all laughing, unwrapping presents, listening full blast to my Mr. Belvedere CD.
MOTHER-IN-LAW: Eric, is that you?
My mother-in-law came to the door.
ME: Yes, it is. I don't have time to chit chat, Mrs. Pattkins. I'm just here for my Mr. Belvedere.
MOTHER-IN-LAW: Don't you want to come inside to meet your child?
ME: Well, I could use a glass of water...
I stepped inside.
MY WIFE: Mom, he doesn't care about his child. He's been AWOL for over a year.
I followed my wife's voice, toward the kitchen. Todd was right behind me.
ME: Do I just help myself? I mean, I don't know. I haven't been here in a while.
Inside the kitchen, my wife stared up at me with the same rage, still holding her pink bundle.
MOTHER-IN-LAW: Who's your friend?
ME: Do you have any Perrier?
MY WIFE: I want you out of this house.
My mother-in-law took the bundle from my wife.
MOTHER-IN-LAW: This is your daughter, Jessalyn.
ME: If your Perrier's flat, then it's okay. I can do without. Do you remember how long it's been since you first opened the bottle, approximately?
My mother-in-law handed me the bundle, and I held it.
MY WIFE: Mother, no...
MOTHER-IN-LAW: He should know what he left behind.
I looked down. A tiny face stared up, with big eyes.
ME: She's so light...
I looked up at my wife. She glared back at me with a tired expression. I turned to Todd. He had tears in his eyes.
I held my daughter close to my chest.
MY WIFE: You'll hurt her...
My wife took the baby away.
ME: Can I move in?
MY WIFE: There's no room for you here.
ME: I can fix things around here, and do all the man stuff. And Todd can move in too and stay my best friend. He sleepwalks though, and sleeps in the nude, and wrestles people, but it's not offensive in any way 'cause he's still asleep, right, and he doesn't know what he's doing, even though it's like eight hours a night. You get use to it though, searching for alternative methods of catching up on your sleep throughout the day.
MY WIFE: You are not staying.
MOTHER-IN-LAW: Give him a chance. He is the father of your daughter.
ME: We are going to be so happy, the five of us together.
I hugged Todd.
ME: We found a place to live! We finally have a place to live! I am so happy! Merry Christmas Todd! It's easy street from here on out!