It was Halloween Shane had plans with the younger kids to dress as witches for trick or treating. Our oldest daughter, Juliet, was in deep misery after breaking up with a boyfriend. She wanted to stay home with me and give out candy. Shane had another thought.
“Juliet, you go with your dad. Remind him he is happily married with a beautiful teenage daughter. “
I texted Ava. She suggested sushi. Juliet turned that down. The compromise was a pizza place. Juliet took an hour to do her hair, get dressed and make up her face like a gothic cheerleader. As we left, the head witch pointed her long, black nail polished finger in my face.
“I love you. but Juliet is the only person on this planet worse at lying than you. Get the information and medical advice, and get away from Ava.”
I kissed Shane’s costumed pale white made up face with a mole on the left cheek, deeply.
The trendy pizza parlor was crowded. The wait staff was dressed in Halloween costumes. The hostess looked like Marilyn Monroe. Juliet looked like a beautiful, angsty bodyguard.
“Listen dad, if she’s super duper crazy, I will bail on the LA for my birthday idea.”
I looked over the restaurant. I saw Ava coming from the restrooms.
“Thanks for your sacrifice, sweetheart.”
I caught Ava’s eye. She was wearing a tight black short sleeved shirt and a black skirt split north of appropriate. She saw Juliet and composed herself. Juliet leaned into me.
“Yeah, mom is so right on about me being here.”
I laughed and got a table from Marilyn.
After introductions, Ava smiled and Juliet crossed her arms. We sat in a booth with Ava across from us.
Ava’s long, slender hands shook as she removed a flash drive and some papers from her purse. I noticed the white elephant. Juliet saw it too.
“Dad, she’s not wearing her wedding ring. Now, I’m glad I came. Dude, You would have been in so much trouble.”
Juliet’s attempt to whisper was unsuccessful.
“Well, it’s no secret. Peter, my husband, and I are separated. It happened the day Lucas Bonner visited you, Caleb. I went to your work.
Juliet murmured, “stalker”.
“Caleb, I’m so sorry i went to see you, but I’m not sorry for talking to Lucas. As your doctor and supporter of Dr. Anson Cluber’s medicine, what they have to say I think you should do.”
Ava took out her phone, hit two buttons and turned it so Juliet and I could see. It was a picture of a man with a robotic heart, and long pieces of his body connecting his brain, major organs, and nervous systems.
“Juliet, this is what your dad will look like on the inside, after the surgery.”
The heart was shaped like a square but with the corners rounded off or sanded down. Long siney trails of plastic and metal fed the bloodstream and organs. It was imposing.
“So, why am I such and ideal candidate in comparison to the other?”
Ava put her phone away and smirked at Juliet’s incessant glare.
“Physically you are in the best shape of the five. You’ve taken great care of your body since your heart attack eleven years ago. You also have a lot to live for with your family and job. Mainly, your silence on the process is almost guarenteed. Cluber and Bulas made mistakes in 1970 that they have corrected with Lucas.”
I was banging my the butt end of my knife aggressively on the table. Juliet touched my hand and I stopped. Juliet and Ava ordered for us. Our waitress was dressed like a zombie.
“Will my dad be all robot freak like, you know, unemotional, like that Lucas guy?”
Ava shook her head.
“No one can take Caleb’s personality away but Caleb. Lucas Bonner was a laid back, laconic, dud before he was worked on. He chose a brainscan program called The White. It takes away negative impulses and medicates the brain with a drug called Hx21. It’s still experimental. The side effects are depression and sensitivity to light.
I thought about Lucas being in that dark office then meeting me a shaded parking deck. It made sense.
“Caleb, Lucas is a different kind of guy. You don’t have to get the brainscan or the drugs. You need a new heart and repair to your central nervous system.”
Juliet hit me under the table. The pizza came as I leaned over to her.
“Ava thinks the others will run their mouths , I get that. Maybe you should do this on your own, let Ava lead the way, and I’ll have an awesome birthday.”
Juliet dug into her Hawaiian slices, Ava picked at her vegetarian and I just stared at my spinach and mushroom.
“Breann is in as good of shape as I am. Maybe we can get her to sign a confidentiality agreement. She knows enough.”
Ava threw down her fork.
“Juliet, please tell your dad that Breann Lucos is a journalist. That means she can’t help but give information to people that would not understand the complexities of this situation.”
I looked at Juliet who had a mouthful of cheese and pineapple. Ava kept going.
“Breann has a publishing deal with Parker-Jordan. She signed it in September, one week after she met you. She’s living off a 50 thousand dollar advance.”
I sat in shock. Juliet and Ava started chewing and looked at me. Then Juliet broke the ice.
“Dude, now I know why she’s a doctor. She knows a lot.”
I answered my phone, it was Breann. I excused myself and went near the hostess stand to talk. As Breann begged for information and told me our plans for the next few days in New York I looked at the table.
Ava and Juliet were talking kindly. Ava reached in her purse to hand something to Juliet. As I walked closer to the table, I told Breann I would call her back. Then I heard them talking.
“Here, take this eyeliner. I don’t really like it because it’s dark and young looking. It would be perfect you. Any time you need stuff like this let me know. My old college roommate sells cosmetics.”
Juliet’s gaze to Ava was different. She’d been charmed.
“Thanks. I think it’s really cool you care about my dad. You also have nice shoes.”
*blogger’s note* – This is another episode of a story I’m writing. The other ones are here:
Today’s song came to me while listening to another R.E.M. song while taking my daughters to the pool. They were talking about makeup. Suddenly they were in an in depth discussion on eyeliner. It reminded me of how Ava found a connection with Juliet. Here’s Crush with Eyeliner.