“…she was short on sleep and in no mood for bad news.”
There was no other way to tell her except for straight out.
“Was the whole crew laid off?”
“They said they needed a more experienced operator.”
“Who said?” Since the baby had arrived, Judy was short on sleep and in no mood for bad news.
“I just got a piece of paper, hon. That’s all they would tell me.”
“Well, godammit. Did they say for how long?”
“Don’t worry.” But he was worried. If they didn’t need him at the ponds, why hadn’t they reassigned him back to finishing where guys were always calling in sick? The place was either too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter. Then his mind waded into swampier territory. He didn’t want to believe that he was being singled out. After all, he had made an effort to show up a half hour early every day, and he knew that despite his wise-ass remarks, Jay liked him.
“It’s gotta be my father,” she said. “That fucker.”
“He’s screwing us.”
“How can you be so sure?”
“Don’t you get it?”
“I’m going to call him up.”
“No, don’t do that.” She had already used up their good graces with Vernon by asking him to foot the bill for his drug recovery program. Maybe his father-in-law didn’t think he was a good investment. Either way, he was planning to pay every penny back.
“This isn’t about you,” she said, lifting a bra strap from her shoulder. “We need the money. How are we going to live, especially right now?” She cupped a breast in her hand and rubbed her nipple.
“I can collect unemployment.”
“Like that’s going to do us a lot of good.” Their son cried out from a foam rubber bed on the floor. Judy ran and picked him up, lifted her blouse and fed the baby her breast— milk flowed with the steady pressure of a mouth clamped on her nipple.
“Don’t worry. I’ll figure out something.”
Judy settled into a rocking chair. She offered Mark a nod of recognition and closed her eyes. The retriever settled between Mark’s knees. For the next half hour, they were a happy family.