I find the proof I hoped I wouldn’t while my mom is telling me how she disapproves of my dad’s new hobby, which is growing marijuana in the basement of the house I grew up in, the one they still live in, a two story craftsman, a century home with a brass plaque to prove it, three red states and a time zone away.
In one hand I am holding my phone to my ear and in my other I am holding Molly’s phone, who is in the shower and who is my wife and whose birthday is 09-17-84, which is her passcode, which I type in, and what I see in her messages opens a cavern in my crotch, a great cosmic fissure starting at my loins and splitting through my skull and the words I read are familiar and foreign at the same time.
The last thing my wife typed and sent. I never thought I’d love sucking cock, it reads. But I do now.
Then a crazy face.
Then an upside down smiley face.
“He calls it the big tree, but it’s really all these little ones. ‘Gotta go see about my big tree.’ Like it’s a farm chore!” my mom says in my ear.
Molly calls my penis my Wing Wang, my Thing Ding, my Little Man, my Downstairs Guy. Always has. Even in our hot days, our way back days. Ours is a cockless marriage.
“It’s drugs, okay? And then he’s always after me to try it, which, yeah right mister.”
I hear the water from Molly’s shower rushing through the pipes in the walls of the house we bought together. I look down at her phone again.
But I do now.
“I mean, it’d be one thing if it was outside. At least he’d be getting some fresh air. But he has this tent in the basement. All these lights too. You know what he’s like, it’s a whole operation. I’m thinking, is this a drug den? I mean officially?”
I’m poking around the wreckage of my insides to see what remains and at the dawn of knowing an angry fire burned hot, but now the only feeling left is shame and filth and ache and ashes because I’ve known without evidence for months and did nothing, swatted the idea away from my face where all summer it buzzed in angry circles and this, this moment while she’s still in the shower is my shriveled dick chickens coming home to roost. “He has cancer, mom,” I tell her, but what I’m really thinking about is my wife’s wet, naked body with someone who isn’t me. My Thing Ding curiously stirs. Fuck you, I say to it. You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.
“Had,” she says. “He had cancer and that was years ago. We’re down to an annual visit to Dr. Khan and now he needs this for pain management? You can’t see me, but I’m doing those finger quotes.”
I try to picture Molly saying the words I’m reading in her messages, but I can only see her mouth moving and no sound. Love sucking cock, she says on a muted loop in my head. Upstairs, the shower water shuts off. I hear her step out of the bathtub and creak across the floor.
“When you visit for Christmas, you’ll see,” my mom is saying. “Just how ridiculous he’s being. That’s why I’m telling you. I need an ally. Your sisters don’t know and I don’t want them to. I mean, the whole house just reeks. It’s like I’m married to Rob Marley!”
Upside down smiley face. What does that mean, I asked Molly when we first got engaged. She said it meant that she was so in love that her body ceased to be governed by gravity.
“I think with you and me and Molly it will really seem like a unified front. Have you seen these interventions? They do a whole show about it and that’s what I have in mind.”
Molly’s phone makes a pinging noise. Incoming message from the person who’s cock she loves sucking. Better late than never, it says.
Then a winky face.
Then a tongue.
Then a heart.
Then Molly comes down the stairs in a towel and goes to the outlet where she left her phone charging but it’s not there. She looks up to see me holding one phone to my ear and holding her phone in my lap. I have a thought that if we had a son, this is how he’d look at me when I’d catch him jerking off. She puts her face in her hands and yells, Oh god. The towel falls down. Her pale tits make two sad eyes above the smiling crease of her navel. I start laughing. I can’t help it.
“Please,” my mom says, exhausted. “Tell me what is so hilarious about your father being helplessly addicted to drugs.”
Molly is wailing at me to give her the phone but all I can do is laugh. My eyes mist and my body shakes. I am powerless to stop it. What’s happening inside me is chemical. It has breached the threshold. The Coke bottle of infidelity and the Mentos of my mom and the insane burping giggles bursting forward.
It all starts running together. My dad in the basement sucking cock, my wife as the angel on a Christmas tree, my mom smoking marijuana upside down in the shower. If I could tell them, they’d laugh too but when I open my mouth what comes out instead is the voice of the world’s biggest moron and when he finally stops laughing, the only thing he can say is, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.