The summer between Jack Booth Jr.’s sophomore and junior year, his mother left him and his dad for Tennessee with her friend Linda. She was trying to determine the nature of her slippery, vivid sexuality, and she could not do that in West Virginia, she said.
They sat on the front porch together and sipped iced tea while she waited for Linda to pick her up. She said, “Honey, eventually every real woman gets to a point where she’s given her last fuck. I gave my last fuck on Tuesday.”
Jack Booth Jr. nodded and wondered whether she meant “fuck” literally. When the little black Honda pulled up he watched Linda check her lipstick in the rearview while it idled.
“You understand, honey, right? I’m not leaving you. I’m leaving your dad.”
His mother kissed him on the cheek and took him in close for a tight hug. He heard the upstairs window slide up in its ungreased casement and felt the presence of his father.
“You’re a good boy,” his mother told him, then corrected herself. “You’re a good man. You’re going to be just fine.” She had tears in her eyes. The smell of a cigarette drifted down from the second floor. “I love you, honey. I’ll call you real soon. Real soon.”
“Fuck you, Celine,” called Jack Booth Sr. from the second floor.
She stood up. “Fuck you, too, Jack.” Her tone was not bitter. She was tall and strong, like Jack Jr., and threw her suitcase into the trunk with ease. She blew him a kiss and shook her fists at him as if to say, “We’re in this together.” Then she slammed the passenger’s side door behind her, and Linda drove her away.
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