Published on July 23rd, 2009 | by TLV News0
“What the Faulkner Presents: Adventures with Pinecone” by Charles Hale (from TLV #85)
I had told Pinecone the day before that I would take him to lunch but it was going to be my choice. As much as I don’t think he was happy about that arrangement he still agreed and so as I was walking up to his front door I was still trying to decide where we ought to eat. My week had been going pretty sweet up until that point, I had won a trophy at a hot wings contest and my roommate cleaned up our apartment. And I got an A on a Business of NASCAR class that I was taking during the summer. I was also distracted by the prospect of a trip to Colorado in a few weeks and thus I wasn’t thinking about Sheila when I rang the bell at Pinecone’s house.
Pinecone’s mother answered the door and I was immediately taken aback. For one, I wasn’t expecting her home and it looked like she had been crying. “Hello Mrs. Collins,” I managed to spit out and I stepped inside when she motioned me in. Immediately I started looking for Pinecone, so we could make a rapid escape, but he was nowhere around.
“I’ve been meaning to tell you how much it means to me, this time you’re spending with Pinecone.” Mrs. Collins walked over to the couch and sat down. I followed her out of politeness but didn’t understand what was happening. Then she patted the cushion on the couch next to where she was sitting and I felt obligated to sit down. “Pinecone needs all the adult male interaction he can get…” Mrs. Collins said and then started crying. It was sobbing really and she reached out and touched my hand. “Especially right now.”
I didn’t know what ‘especially right now’ meant and I was afraid to ask so I sat still for just a moment and hoped Mrs. Collins would start talking again. But she didn’t so I asked her what was going on. “Pinecone’s father and I are getting a divorce. I’m convinced he’s been cheating on me.” She kept talking and the sobbing intensified. At one point I was convinced that she wanted me to hold her, which was the last thing I wanted, but then she stood up and walked in the kitchen. There she found a napkin and wiped her eyes and nose.
I still didn’t know where Pinecone was and I didn’t even know if Pinecone was his real name. His mom called him Pinecone, so did his sister, and it occurred to me that maybe his parents used to be some of those granola-eating, tree-loving people I’ve seen at concerts banging on their wooden drums. But Shelia was such an average name so my theory didn’t seem to be working well and Mrs. Collins kept crying while we were in the kitchen. When I saw an opening in the tears I asked her where Pinecone was, we were supposed to eat lunch and I was ready to leave.
“He’s asleep, dear, I don’t think he’ll make it to lunch. He went to a sleepover at one of his friends’ house. But I don’t think they did much sleeping. He got home around nine this morning and went straight to bed. You’re going to make him such a good man, Charles. I really believe in you. Not like that slimy husband of mine. I know I haven’t been a knockout in over a decade, but I’ve still got these lips and these hips.” I took a step back because I thought I had just heard Pinecone’s mother talk about giving her husband oral pleasure. She was staring off into space somewhere so I felt pretty certain she wasn’t offering me anything, maybe she was remembering an old time when she and her husband were eating granola and having lots of sex, but I wasn’t sure and by this point I really wanted to leave. “If you want some golf clubs,” Mrs. Collins said. “You can take them. I’ll tell him they must have been stolen. He’s a dirty trap.”
“Thanks Mrs. Collins but I’m not really much of a golfer. I think I better be getting on.” I turned to walk out as quickly as I could because I was worried she was going to try and hug me and even though she had mentioned her hips, I didn’t want them anywhere close to my hips. While driving somewhere to get a sandwich I started worrying about Pinecone. He was old enough to understand a divorce and feel all the emotions that boil to the surface when one happens, but he was too young to comprehend it all. He didn’t have a place to run off to like Shelia did. If his parents really were splitting up it was going to be rough for him. It would be the kind of thing that causes little kids to start smoking cigarettes and lighting cats on fire. I wasn’t sure what I could do for him, I’m not much of a man on my own, but I’d at least hang out with him still. Maybe we could go shoot some hoops later.
This is part 4. To read part 3, click here.
This article was originally printed in The Local Voice #85 (published July 23, 2009).