He turns 18 in seven hours. At 11:04 AM, he will become a man, shedding childhood's shelter forever. Continuing to protect him from the truth seems pointless. He's a smart kid; he starts his B. Comm. at Northwestern in the fall. He'll figure it out - which is why I've been up all night trying to find the words to explain. If he hears it from me, all of it, perhaps it will soften the blow.
Zebediah Gilbert Kovacs (yeah, really!) - Zeb for short - believes his father died in a car crash. Todd was such a reckless driver that the lie was easy to tell. Anybody who had ever been in the car during one of his frequent bouts of road rage had a story to tell, and Zeb ate those tall tales up as if they were candy. I never tried to turn him against his father. Never said a bad word about him. On that point, at least, my conscience is clear. Zeb knows that I was very young when I met Todd, that our relationship was stormy...and also that we were just about to marry.
In describing my brief relationship with Todd, I've never told Zeb that we loved each other. The reality is that I enjoyed chasing him and got bored once I caught him, while Todd was seeking yet another fling and got a fiancée. When he was little, I would say "Mommy loves you very much, and Daddy wanted to meet you so badly." He seemed satisfied with that. If he asked for details about the "accident", I would change the subject.
So telling him his father was murdered will break my heart, but it must be done. I owe Todd that. His son should have an opportunity to properly mourn his loss and to understand the talent and the drive that were stolen from this world on that horrific day. After what I put Todd through, after all the drama and all the chaos and all the conflict, Todd should live on in the eyes of his boy as the force of nature he was. He was indestructible and irrepressible. It took evil to remove him from our midst, because he wasn't going anywhere.
The obvious question is - who did it? My Dad was convicted, but I never quite bought that scenario. My Dad was every bit the philanderer Todd was, but less subtle and considerably less smooth in covering his tracks. He was prone to drunken confessions of adultery at the drop of a hat, and Mama always took him back. He swears up and down he didn't hire those hoodlums, and seems genuinely devastated since Todd's death. If he'd done this, I'd know it. I'd sense it in every fiber of my being. I look in that man's eyes every time I visit, and he never cracks. He meets my gaze straight on, especially when we discuss the glory days of his and Todd's youth. It's a subject of which he never tires.
Which leaves us with the bitch. And there's my biggest problem. A few years ago, she re-entered my life in the most bizarre fashion possible - as the new Guidance Counsellor at the high school Zeb attends. How can I warn her to stay the hell away from my child when she's invigilating the SATs and teaching college prep courses he needs to graduate? What's worse, she's wormed her way into a weird sort of friendship with Zeb. He's told me he considers her his mentor. He wants to invite her to dinner next week! "You should meet her, Mom. Mrs. LeGroot is AWESOME." Yeah, son, and she had motive and opportunity and the cojones to keep her hands clean.
I may have to tell the poor kid. God knows it won't be easy. But I don't know how much longer I can stand to hear her name.