The Abduction(10)

By: Mark Gimenez


Grace.

She beeped the Lexus locked and hurried toward the vacant soccer fields and the solitary spectator sitting in the stands.

Where John was saying into the phone, “Oh, and what do you know about love, dude? Lou, are you aware that the boot sequence required to produce an orgasm in a full-grown American female is more complex than the ignition sequence of a neutron bomb?”

She saw him before he saw her. But he felt her presence, like one felt impending doom.

“Spousal unit alert,” John whispered into the phone.

He lowered the phone from his ear—he could still hear Lou yell, “Don’t mention my name!”—pushed his glasses up, and saw her eyes locked on him like proton blasters as she approached at a rapid pace from midfield in her Elizabeth Brice, Attorney-at-Large mode. Fear shot through his brain like a bullet—Cripes, what did I do wrong this time? His wife appeared very much as she had when they had first met in Washington ten years earlier; she was forty now but still insanely attractive (even when she was in a bad mood like now) and just as intimidating, looking totally perfect in her best closing argument outfit (black on black on black) and acting in complete control of herself and everything and everyone she touched. Elizabeth Brice was a perfectionist control freak, hardwired at the factory. Which made them a complete mismatch, like a Wintel program on a Mac. Which made John wonder, as he had often wondered: Why did she ask me to marry her?

Her fists punched holes in her hips when she arrived.

“Where’s Grace?”

“Dangit, Elizabeth, you promised her you’d make at least one game this season.”

“I promised my client I’d win his case, and I did. Now where’s Grace?”

John opened his mouth to remind his spouse that she had made and broken the same promise to Gracie before every game this season, that Gracie was more important than some bogus criminal even if he did pay her $400 an hour, that … but she seemed more agitated than usual tonight, tapping her foot at a furious pace, a sure sign she was seriously fried about something. Elizabeth’s personality was a binary system—off and pissed off. He wanted to ask her now, as he had always wanted to ask her, What are you so mad about? But, as always, he quickly decided that discretion was the better part of not being blasted with a streaming audio of profanities that would make a complete system crash seem pleasurable. So he kept his mouth shut rather than chance a random explosion of his wife’s volatile temper; he thought of it as risk management. And besides, Elizabeth did not allow him sex during her trials; this weekend would present his first opportunity in more than two weeks. He couldn’t afford to blow it with ill-advised flamage. He pointed the cell phone at the concession stand.

“Snow cone,” he said.

Coach Wally bit the top off his cherry-flavored snow cone; some of the cool red juice trickled down his double chin. He wiped his mouth on the sleeve of his Tornadoes jersey.

Wally Fagan was walking away from the concession stand and toward the field to retrieve the game ball he had left behind in all the excitement of Brenda’s winning goal. He bit into the snow cone again, wiped the juice off his chin, and noticed a woman approaching fast like a distant thunderstorm—dark hair, dark clothes, and a dark expression.

Gracie’s mom.

Wally’s pulse ratcheted up a notch and not because of her short skirt. He had talked to Gracie’s mom only a couple of times in three seasons, but for some reason she had always made him nervous. Fact is, Wally Fagan stood just under six feet and weighed just over two hundred forty pounds, but he was wholly intimidated by the slim woman walking his way. She was maybe ten years older than him, but he always felt like he was talking to his mother—Oh, shit, her mother! Which made seeing her tonight seem odd, now that Wally thought about it.

She approached, and they made brief eye contact. Wally smiled politely, waiting for a hint of recognition to cross her face. None did. He was a complete stranger to her. Wally debated whether to speak to her, since she was about to walk right past him. Without consciously deciding, he did.

“Gee, Mrs. Brice, I didn’t expect to see you here tonight.”

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