Myrah and Jill pulled up to the curb outside of their neighborhood surrounded by flashing lights. They’d been in the midst of emergency vehicles all day long and now there were more of them. Their first reaction was that someone had died. Jill was worried about Thom. Had he found the gun and used it to commit suicide in his heartbreak over her leaving him?
Thankfully, a quick survey of the cars that were parked on the street revealed that his was not among them. Even though it was the forth of July they knew that he was probably still at work. He seemed to live there now spending even more time behind those rusty metal gates than he had before his father had been set free.
“I wonder what it could be?” The girl said as the stepped around the holes in the street.
“Lord knows.” Myrah grumbled. “Whatever it is, I wish that Jack would have called me first. If I’d have known that I’d be talking to the cops again, I’d have had a margarita or two first.”
The drama from the grocery store parking lot was still fresh on both of their minds. The builder’s wife even had a blood stain to remind her of it lest she forget. It steamed down the front of her coat in a blotted and matted pattern not unlike the cement dust that had ruined her husband’s jacket.
Thankfully, the old man was going to make it. No one could guarantee whether or not he’d be a vegetable for the rest of his life but Myrah’s quick thinking had likely saved him. Even though her attempt to dress his wounds had been amateurish by the standards of the paramedics who showed up to the scene, it had still helped to keep his brains from falling out of his head.
“No ambulance.” Jill commented. “It looks like it’s just a fire truck and maybe an extra cop.”
The builder’s wife glanced down at the tracks that were made in the thick coating of snow on the street. With a sinking feeling in her gut, she realized they were all leading up to her front door. “I hope everyone’s okay.” She said, with a little less edge to her voice.
“Me too.” Jill nodded.
They could see that the entryway had been propped open using what appeared to be one of Justine’s old soccer cleats. Myrah seemed to remember buying the shoe from her sometime last summer back when things were warmed and more certain. Now it had a warped look to it, the heel poised in midair with the scuffed and scarred toe jammed up underneath the bottom of the door.
As if this were all some kind of bad dream both Kinkaid and Wallace stepped into sight. Their eyebrows rose in recognition as they saw the two women climbing the steps.
“I’d say you were going to be rich.” The astronaut smiled moving aside to let them in. “Unfortunately, these things aren’t as rare as they once were.”
“What the hell?” The builder’s wife spat. She could see by now that members of the fire crew were gathered around an object in the center of her front room.
“You got hit.” Wallace said giving a nod in the direction of the commotion.
The firemen were spraying the floor down with a sulfuric smelling foam and jabbing at the wreckage with their axes. “Is NASA coming?” One of them asked.
“No.” Another replied. “They’ve got the one in the field.”
Myrah could see her husband standing in the hallway talking to a cop. The scene reminded her of the bail bondsman in the parking lot of the grocery store. He’d been ushered into a waiting squad car and hauled away as the women made their statements.
She turned to Kinkaid. “Why are you here?” She asked.
“I came for the party.” He replied nonchalantly.
“Doesn’t look like there’s going to be one.”
“Yes.” He said. “I can see that.”
“What the hell happened?” The builder’s wife repeated, more loudly and forceful than she had before.
Markoff looked up. He flashed her an apologetic looking smile. Beyond him, she caught site of her boy.
Jose was sitting at the table in the kitchen crying. He looked pathetic with his fat chin rolled up against his heaving chest. She was struck somewhere between wanting to slap him and give him a hug.
Wallace stepped around blocking her view. “That there is a meteor.” He said pointing in the direction of the front room. “It tore a hole right through your roof.”
“Jesus!” The builder’s wife exclaimed. “Is the damned thing radioactive?”
“Probably not.” He said shaking his head.
One of the firemen turned around to face the women. “We called NASA to check on that. We thought that maybe you’d want to know.”
“Well?” Myrah asked.
“Those idiots have got bigger fish to fry.” He said laughing. “They said that they might come by and check sometime but mostly not to worry.”
“Well I ain’t living in a house damned with a toxic space-rock.” She said angrily. “Can’t someone come out here and tell us if we’re all in danger of being irradiated or something?”
The fire fighters chuckled at her statement.
Myrah turned to Jill. “Do you think your boyfriend could check this crap for me?” She asked gesturing towards the smoldering pile.
The girl appeared offended. “I told you that he wasn’t my boyfriend.”
“Whatever.” The builder’s wife quipped. “Can he come out and wave something over this that will let us know we’re not all going to go bald and start puking.”
“I don’t know.” Jill answered.
“I need to know if I’m going to die from having this God damned meteor in our front room?”
The girl frowned putting her hands on her hips. “Why do you have to ask it like that? Why can’t you just say his name? Why do you have to insult me?”
“Look,” Myrah said. “I’ve got a meteor in my house. I’m not real concerned about offending anyone right now.”
As if he hadn’t heard a word that she’d just spoken, Jose pushed around the astronaut and threw his arms around her. “It smashed my computer.” He wept.
She regarded him as if he were from another planet. “Quit crying and clean your face.” She said angrily.
Wallace looked away, pretending to be interested in the hole that the asteroid had created in the roof.
The boy went one “It’s ruined.” He blubbered, grasping at her legs tighter.
“Your daddy will buy you a new one.”
“But my game!” He argued.
“Stop it right now!” She snapped. “This is embarrassing.”
“Everything I did is gone now.”
Myrah knelt, grasping him by his shoulders. “Toughen up.” She barked as she gave him a firm shake. “There are worse things that could happen to you. What if this thing had smashed into your head? You’d be dead now right.”
The boy nodded.
“Do you see this blood?” She asked slapping the spot on her coat where the old mans head had poured out onto it. “I’ve just come from seeing a dude with his brains falling out of his skull. He got that way by worrying more about his damned cell phone and saving money than he did about crossing the street. Do you want to end up like that?”
Jose sniffled and shook his head.
“That’s right.” Myrah continued. “Maybe you should be a lot more concerned about getting some space disease than you are about that stupid game.”
The astronaut cleared his throat. “There are no diseases in space.”
“Do you know that?” She asked standing and releasing the boy.
“I’ve been there.” He answered.
“Yeah, I know.” She said with mock enthusiasm. “It was your moment. The one time in your life when you were truly happy. It’s the gimmick you use in your dumb motivational seminars to teach people how to seize the day.”
“It’s not a gimmick.”
“It is!” She shot back. “It’s a crappy trick that you pull on people. You tell them that they’re made for one thing and that they have to seek it out in order to fulfill themselves. It’s a lie.”
“It’s not a lie.” He argued. “It’s not a gimmick either. You had a moment at the mall. That was your time. That’s why you keep going back to it and talking about it every chance that you get.”
One of the firefighters nodded. “I can relate to that.” He said holding up his axe. “I once used this to knock in a door where a little girl was trapped in her bedroom. Got her out using a fire proof blanket and saved her kitten to! I love telling people about that.”
“See?” Wallace said.
“It can’t be that depressing.” Myrah sighed. “It can’t be just one thing.”
From the corner, Kinkaid looked sadly towards the floor. “I don’t recall ever having a moment.” He muttered. “Perhaps it will be the birth of my son.”
“You’ve had your moment.” She said turning to him with a roll of her eyes. “You just don’t remember it.”
“Then I’m lucky.” The older man smiled. “I get to have two moments.”
“I just saved a guys life.” Myrah said to Wallace. “That’s another moment.”
“Did you get a rush from it?”
“I guess.” She shrugged.
“You guess?” He said dubiously.
“Well, coming home to all of this is kind of a buzz kill.”
“You never forget your first.” The fireman interrupted. “I remember when I’d just joined the department. I gave a guy at an accident an ice pack to put on his face.”
“But that wasn’t your moment?” She asked.
“Not by a long shot.” He answered. “I didn’t have fantasies of handing out ice packs when I was going through training. It was fine, don’t get me wrong but it wasn’t what I signed up for.”
“You signed up to rescue little girls from burning buildings.” The astronaut said with a nod.
“With my axe.” The man added.
“So the guy at the parking lot wasn’t your moment.” Wallace continued turning back to Myrah. “It was the mall. You’re complete. Quit trying to recreate it.”
“So I should have just let that guy die?” She asked.
“You should have just done your thing and then come home expecting life to resume.”
“With a grapefruit sized space-rock in my front room?”
“With anything.” The astronaut said. “Your boy is upset. Jill’s just trying to get by. Quit imposing all of your worry and insecurities on everyone else. It’s childish.”
“You know what’s childish.” She spat. “Getting drunk off your butt every freaking day and passing out on people’s lawns is childish.”
“Maybe so, but its what I do.”
“So’s building stupid Alpine villages with ski slopes in Texas.” She went on, flashing her husband a rueful look. “Why can’t everyone just behave like adults?”
Kinkaid spoke up. “I’m an adult.” He said stepping forward with a sheepish look. “Perhaps I wasn’t always, but I feel that I am one now.”
“Why do you think that you weren’t?”
“Well.” He began seeming to be a little embarrassed to be talking about the matter. “As I understand it, perhaps I’m one of the reasons that the police are here on this street.”
“That wasn’t you.” Myrah interrupted. “There was something stolen.”
“Indeed.” Kinkaid said lifting his chin. “Still, I picked on the professor who I’ve met now and count as a true friend and a lovely human being. I feel that I must have been much more pig-headed and foolish when I was the person that you all once knew.”
“You were a lot more fun.” She added. “That’s for sure.”
The old man flashed them all a self conscious smile.
“Wait a minute.” The astronaut said putting out his hand. “Ain’t none of us adults.”
The fireman gestured with his axe. “I agree with him.”
“Speak for yourselves.” Myrah snapped. “I’m a wife, a mother and I pay taxes. You don’t get much more grown up than that.”
“Then why do all of your moments happen when you’re out buying things that you don’t need?” Wallace asked. “When I listen to you talk, it’s like you’re perpetually toy shopping.”
“Hey dick head!” The builder’s wife said taking a step forward. “I was buying stuff for this God damned 4th of July party today.”
“With it snowing?”
“Seems like an odd time to hold a cook out.” He said casually. “Did anyone else want to have this party besides you?”
Kinkaid raised his hand. “I was interested.”
“Okay.” He nodded. “My main man Tony Blair over here wants to get to know his neighbors again. Fair enough.”
“Are you saying that I’m forcing you people to come over?” She asked.
“I’m just saying that I think you wanted to go shopping.” He said. “You’ve got plenty of wine and plenty of beer. Shoot, I’ll even bet that you’ve got a couple of frozen pizza’s in your ice box. Did you really need anything else?”
“We needed hotdogs you ass hole!”
“I don’t want no hotdogs.” He said, turning to Kinkaid. “Do you want any hotdogs.”
“Actually, I’m more a fan of fish and chips.” He smiled.
“Are you saying that it was wrong of me to be at the store?” She said knitting her brows. “Are you trying to tell me that I shouldn’t have been there to rescue that old man today?”
“I don’t care who you rescued or where.” The astronaut laughed. “All I’m saying is that you’re no more of an adult that Jose over there.”
Myrah looked past Wallace to where the boy was standing. She could see that he had retreated to her husband’s side. His arms were around the builder’s waist and he was sobbing quietly into the folds of his shirt as Jack spoke with the police office.
“For God’s sake Jose.” She barked in disgust. “Suck in your fat gut and quit acting like such a damned baby.”
“Leave the boy be.” Wallace said. “He’s just lost his life’s work.”
“He’s got plenty of time to do more life’s work.” Myrah argued. “He needs to get a hold of himself.”
Jack nodded towards the cop and shook the man’s hand. Their conversation done, she watched as he knelt to talk to the boy. He grasped Jose firmly on the shoulders and looked him straight in the eye. “I’m sure that there’s something we can do.” He said gently.