The Lineman

I am a lineman for the county.

It’s true, and there was a time when Pam laughed when I said that, but now she just smirks and turns away; now she monitors the time I spend with Amanda and counts the days until the divorce comes through. Whenever I pick Amanda up for dinner, a wave of teenage cologne and strange hair colors in the cab of my truck, there’s yet another pasteboard box or torn grocery bag Pam has left on the steps with some of my belongings—old shaving cream, T shirts, junk mail. She says she can’t bear to see me. We once had an old retriever mix named Teeny who, when caught spread-eagle on the living room sofa, stared into the far corner as if we couldn’t see her plump body because she couldn’t see us. We laughed at it then. Even Pam, who was not a dog person and got angry about her shedding in the living room, had laughed and marveled at Teeny’s sweet passive attempt to make us disappear.

“Pulling a Teeny,” I almost said the other day when I arrived early and caught her off-guard, my mother’s old jewelry box and a shirt I hadn’t worn in over a decade in her hand. The last time I tried to make light of her ignoring my presence, she said I repulsed her. Somehow she has managed to take her affair and turn herself into the victim. It’s not easy to cross those things up but she has become a pro. I almost said that, but then thought better because Amanda was standing right there—fourteen and so easy for me to lose right about now. Her hair had a bright blue streak that day, like in the comic books, and her boots looked like the ones I wear on the job.