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BARE HUNTER

Chapter 14

By Tina D'AngeloPublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 6 min read
Top Story - April 2024
14
BARE HUNTER
Photo by Justin Wolff on Unsplash

CHAPTER 15

I pulled up in front of Sandy’s a little early, so I texted Becca again and left a message for Sharon, hoping she had a good day and I’d see her tomorrow. Two cars pulled into Sandy’s driveway. I don’t know why I was surprised to see another man with her. We’d been apart for two years and I certainly didn’t waste any time getting back on the horse.

It stung, though, to watch Timmy hug the guy before bounding over to me. “Bye, Doug!”

“See ya, sport!” came Doug’s reply.

He was a big, dark-haired guy, who probably weightlifted trucks for a hobby. I’d get his last name from Timmy this afternoon and run a check on him when I got home tonight. I scooped Timmy up in my arms, and he nuzzled my neck, blowing raspberries, like I taught him. “Ow, ow, ow, you’re killin’ me. Stop!!” I squealed, reveling in his four-year-old laughter.

Sandy introduced Doug to me. We sized each other up and shook hands, then I turned my attention to buckling Timmy into the car seat I kept in the back of the car for these special times.

“Bye, Tim-tim! Have fun,” Sandy called out as I pulled away from the curb.

“Hey, Daddy, Doug has a motorcycle. It’s loud.”

“Yeah? You don’t ride it, do you?” I asked, to make sure.

“No. He said when I get big, I can.”

Hopefully, I thought, Doug would be long gone before that happens. “I thought you’d like to go to Burger King and go in the playland. How does that sound?”

“Cool, Daddy. Can I have ice cream?”

“Sure, if they have it. I don’t know. It’s not Summer yet. But we’ll get something good there anyway.”

“Do you think they have Dino Adventure toys? I have three of them. Look, Daddy, three,” he said loudly, holding out three fingers for me to inspect.

“When did you learn to count with your fingers,” I asked.

“At Mrs. Ever’s. I go there when Mommy works. Mommy said you don’t give her enough money, so she has to have a babysitter an’ work.”

I had to bite my tongue before the words fell out of my mouth that my son shouldn’t hear me say, ‘Maybe if mommy stopped getting her hair dyed and her fingernails done every week, she’d have enough money. And, maybe slow down on the fancy clothes and jewelry.’ Today was about him and me. I refused to fall into the trap of badmouthing his mom when we were together. She could do what she wanted. I wasn’t going there.

I was surprised that Timmy could now reach the counter when we ordered. The cashier handed him a crown and he insisted I wear one too. He inspected me carefully before saying, “You’re a pretty cool Daddy.”

It caught me off-guard, and I swallowed a lump in my throat, thinking of three little girls who would have been in their teens now, except for me. Not only did I take away their mommy and daddy, but I took their futures away as well. I felt so unworthy to have this kind of happiness in my life, as I hustled Timmy to a table near the Play area and went back to fill our drink cups.

When I got back, he said, “Mommy doesn’t let me drink soda. Should I keep a secret?”

“No, that’s all right. Just tell her I forgot the rule today.”

“Daddy, if mommy marries Doug, are you still gonna be my Dad?”

That smacked me between the eyes. “Of course, Timmy. If I get married, Mommy will still be your mommy, and if she gets married, I’ll still be the same old Dad, okay? You don’t need to worry about these things.”

“Good. I was scared,” he said solemnly, reaching into the bag for his toy, seeming to forget his concerns as soon as he pulled out the box with the stuffed animal inside.

Oh, to have the mind of a child. Question answered. Problem solved. Move on, how I wish my life were that simple. Every day, something would trigger my memories, forcing me to relive the worst day of my life over and over again.

As Timmy stuffed the last of his French fries into his mouth, he garbled to me, “Mph, mph, Daddy, can I go play now?”

“Sure, I’ll come with you and watch,” I said, picking up our trash and depositing it in a waste container.

I watched as he confidently climbed the slide tower. Last year, he cried and became stuck on one of the middle tiers and I had to rescue him and wipe the tears off his little face. Was he four years old already? Next year, he’d be in kindergarten making friends and learning without Sandy or me to witness it. We’d be surprised when he recited his alphabet or counted to ten. I wasn’t prepared for that. I missed so much of his life now, when he went to school I would miss even more of his life. I’d have to speak with Sandy about visitation rights again. Perhaps with a new man in her life, she wouldn’t mind having a few more days without Timmy.

“Did you see me? Did you see me? I didn’t cry today!” he chirped with an ear-to-ear grin.

“You’re getting too big, buddy. Slow down, okay?”

“How? Mommy wants me to eat my vetagles so I can grow big and strong. I have to eat them, you know.”

I laughed as I snapped pictures of him climbing the slide tower and hitting the musical chimes. Then, I had him stand as still as he could next to me so I could take silly selfies. It was a rare happy day and I wanted to remember it. At three o’clock, I hustled him out into the rain for a short dash to the car and pulled out the Walmart bag for him to inspect while we drove back to Sandy’s.

“Oh, wow! I love them. I can’t wait till it stops being yucky out. I have a sandbox now.”

“You do? That’s great. Perfect trucks for sandboxes. When did you get a sandbox?”

“Oh, Doug built it for me, an a swing set with a tree house an a slide.”

“That’s, that’s nice. What’s Doug’s big name?”

“His big name?”

“Yeah, everyone has a big name. Like, yours is Timothy Bronsky, I’m Ted Bronsky. You know, like that.”

“Um, I think it’s Doug The Builder,” he said, scrunching his face, trying to think.

“Oh, well. He sounds like a nice guy,” I struggled to get the words out.

“Yeah, Daddy, he’s really nice to me.”

“Well, good. I’m glad.”

I texted Sandy before I got Timmy home, to make sure we didn’t catch her and Doug The Builder in a compromising position when Timmy crashed their party. I got a quick okay emoji, so I pulled up in front of the house and unbuckled Timmy from his seat, giving him one last kiss as Sandy and Doug came out to collect him.

“Look! Daddy got me trucks for the sandbox, and I won a prize and played on the slide!”

“That’s nice, Timmy. It sounds like you two had a fun day. Look, if you want to see Timmy more often, call me. I’m sorry I’ve been making it so difficult,” Sandy said, totally unlike the Sandy I was used to.

“Wow. Um, That’s so nice. I appreciate it. I miss him, you know.”

“Dude, we got to talking about things, and my ex-wife just about cut my kids out of my life. Sandy didn’t want to be like that; you know?” Doug interjected.

I reached out and shook Doug The Builder’s hand, thanking him for his kindness to Timmy. I was too uncomfortable to thank him for suggesting to Sandy I should see Timmy more. But the afternoon gave me hope. It also made me feel better that someone capable was spending time at the house with Timmy and Sandy, just in case.

MysteryFictionCliffhanger
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About the Creator

Tina D'Angelo

G-Is for String is now available in Ebook, paperback and audiobook by Audible!

https://a.co/d/iRG3xQi

G-Is for String: Oh, Canada! and Save One Bullet are also available on Amazon in Ebook and Paperback.

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Comments (9)

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  • Z.a.i.n.t.z25 days ago

    Luvvvvvvvv this alot 🤑🤑🤑 deserves a dollar sign

  • Charlie williams26 days ago

    Beautiful

  • Anna 28 days ago

    Congrats on TS!

  • Congratulations on your top story

  • D. D. Lee29 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story.

  • Mark Gagnon29 days ago

    Glad you got a TS or I might have missed this chapter. I'm happy your series got some recognition.

  • Back to say congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • Kendall Defoe 29 days ago

    Beautiful! 🏅

  • "Last year, he cried and became stuck on one of the middle tiers and I had to rescue him and wipe the tears off his little face." Hahahahahhahahahahaha that made me laugh so much 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 Doug seems like such a nice guy. So glad he's talked Sandy into letting Ted see Timmy more often.

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