Knock-knock-knock on the door. Fast knocks. Hard knocks. I'm busy, dammit. Was busy. Knock-knock-knock, heavier, faster. Coming. I'm coming, little shit. Eyes press against the narrow glass next to the door, framed by little hands, like the inside of my house some kind of show, or worse a circus. I see him. He sees me. Busted. He slides out of view, waits.
I open the door. I know how it goes. His little eyes rise up to meet mine, hopeful. "Can Owen play?"
"Owen isn't here," I tell him,"at his mom's house this week."
"Oh. Okay." He's sad because Owen can't play, isn't here.
"He'll be home Sunday, though, okay?" I reassure him.
"Yeah, alright." Sunday is still several days away. He doesn't understand where Owen is. At his mom's? Where's that? What's a Sunday? Owen isn't there, that's all he heard. He turns for his bike, peddles out of the driveway. He'll be back tomorrow.
My return to peace is brief. Knock-knock-knock on the door. Shit. Ding-dong-ding-dong-ding-dong. The hell! I head for the door again. Dammit. The eyes again, watching me watch them again. The eyes hide again.
I open the door, preparing my speech. It's the first boy's little brother, shirtless like their dad. I refer to their dad as "Gun Show," wonder if their dad owns a single shirt.
"Is Owen here?" the boy asks.
"No, Owen's at his mom's house, be back Sunday."
The boy stands there wincing, pinching himself. I ask him if he needs to pee.
"No," he says, defiant. He lifts his bike and rides off fast, shirtless. Balanced, too, with one hand gripping the handlebars and the other gripping his crotch just as tight. I'm somewhat in awe, and certain that I'd be unable to do the same under similar circumstances. He'll be back tomorrow.
Knock-knock, Owen isn't here. Knock-knock, Owen's not home. He's at his mom's house this week. Be back Sunday. They are young; Owen's friends don't understand. They just want to play. They don't know about divorce. Their parents are normal; Owen's parents are not. Each knock a reminder of why Owen isn't here.
Knock-knock. Heavy knocks. Hard knocks.