I stared down at the black and white picture in my hand. Awe had overcome me when I got to see the little pod with a heartbeat. That little pod was going to be my everything. As long as I didn’t keep acting like an idiot and pissing off her mother. I was convinced it was a she. Rhapsody ignored my ranting about our little girl. She had been pissed after I burst into the examination.
That day hadn’t started out well. The electricity in our building had gone out and my alarm never went off. By the time I’d woken up I had only an hour to get ready for pirate day at work and meet Rhapsody in time for her appointment. I’d made good time but knew I would be late if Alec wouldn’t give me a ride.
“Alec! Can you give me a ride over to Church Street?” I hopped on one foot trying to get my pirate boot on.
Alec sipped his coffee while staring at his phone. “Nope.”
“Why not? It’s not out of your way.” I adjusted the fake parrot on my shoulder.
“None of that is getting in my car. Bike it.” He said waving at my costume.
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
“No, I am not, Chord. Take your bike or I don’t know tap that wealthy pops of yours to get you a car of your own.”
I stared at my asshole cousin. “You know why I won’t do that.” Huffing out a breath, I said, “Fine. Be a prick.”
Storming out of the apartment I remembered to grab my keys and my phone. My anger at my cousin consumed my thoughts as I rode the elevator down to the retrieve my bike from the bike rack outside. It had clouded my vision so much that I found myself on automatic pilot. By the time I realized I had ridden all the way to work, I was five minutes late meeting Rhapsody. Cursing myself I turned my bike around and proceeded to weave recklessly through traffic. When I finally arrived at the doctor’s office I was drenched in sweat and the stuffed parrot hung limply from my shoulder.
After the nightmare of my morning, I may or may not have been a bit belligerent to the front desk girl when I insisted she take me to see Rhapsody. That was my first mistake. Barging into a gynecologist doing an exam was my second. It was only Rhapsody’s ability to convince them I should be allowed to stay that kept me from getting arrested.
Now, I had a picture of my little pumpkin seed and couldn’t be more overjoyed.
“What’s that Chord?” Mary, the other children’s librarian, asked as she rounded the children’s section circulation desk.
I flashed it toward her.
“Aww. Are you gonna be a dad?”
All I could do was nod. The idea of being a dad still seemed surreal.
Mary must have seen the look of fear on my face. “Scared?”
I nodded again.
“My husband, Tim, was terrified when I told him about our first. He told me once that all he thought of was how would he protect something so small from the horrors of the world.” A small smile curled her lips as she recalled the memory.
“Exactly. How did Tim get passed it?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know if he ever got passed the idea but as time goes by your fear will be replaced with excitement and happiness. You have a long way to go but it will go by fast. How is your girlfriend doing?”
How to answer that question? Rhapsody wasn’t my girlfriend, yet. I wanted to change that, but I kept messing up. Why would any woman want to be anything with me if I kept fucking up?
“It always is.” Mary gave my shoulder a squeeze. “Well, I’m so happy for you and your little one, Chord. You’re going to be a great dad. If you or your girlfriend need anything, please let me know.” Mary’s eyes went to something behind me. She gave me a small smile and walked over to the table we had crafts set up on.
“Uncle Chord!” Alice’s high-pitched voice came running toward me.
I placed the ultrasound print out on the desk then rounded the desk kneeling down to catch the mini-tornado. Her cloud of curls bounced around her head. My mind immediately wondered to what my daughter would look like. Alice’s arms wrapped around my neck giving me a squeeze.
“I’ve missed you.” She whispered in my ear.
“I’ve missed you too sweetie.” I looked up to see my sister walking slowly with Grandpa Lew. She had a strange look on her face.
I let go of Alice and watched as she walked over to Mary and the craft station.
“Everything ok?” I asked Miranda.
Before she could answer, Grandpa Lew said, “She’s being dramatic.”
“No, I’m not, grandpa.” Miranda protested then turned to me. “We just came from the doctor. They are worried about his sugar levels again. Apparently, they were so high he could have gone into a diabetic coma.”
“Those damn doctors don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground.” He pulled away from Miranda and leaned against the circulation desk.
“Grandpa are you taking your medicine?” I asked.
“He’s sneaking sweets again.” Miranda ratted out Grandpa Lew.
“Grandpa…” I began but was interrupted.
“What’s this?” Alice held up the ultrasound print out.
I felt my face heat. “That’s uhm..”
“Let me see that sweetie.” Miranda took the paper from Alice.
She looked at it then at me with large eyes. Before she could say anything, someone snatched it out of her hand. My stomach dropped to the floor as I watched my father look at the first image of my little pumpkin seed.
“Did you knock someone up, Chord?” Jimmy Ray asked.
I looked over at Miranda.
“He came with us to Grandpa’s appointment. He just showed up at the house.” She mouthed sorry to me.
“What are you doing here, Jimmy?” I snapped trying to deflect his question.
“I was just checking in on my pops to see how he was feeling. Color me surprised when I learned he was on his way to the doctor. I decided to tag along to spend some time with my daughter and granddaughter.” He gave me a smile usually reserved for his fans.
I looked at Miranda who was rolling her eyes.
“Papa J come see my pirate.” Alice grabbed Jimmy Ray’s hand while Grandpa Lew snatched the ultrasound out of his hand.
Jimmy Ray glared at me but let Alice pull him along. A mixture of dread, anger and fear spread through me. We watched as Alice chattered to Jimmy Ray in front of the craft table.
“You’re going to be a daddy.” Grandpa Lew stated.
I sighed. I wasn’t ready for this conversation. With a glance back to Alice and Jimmy I said, “Yes.”
A beat of silence built between us. Then Grandpa Lew and Miranda gave me huge smiles. Miranda pulled me into a big hug while grandpa slapped my back.
“I can’t wait to meet my little niece or nephew.” Miranda spoke soft enough for our ears only.
“I can’t wait to meet the mother of my great grandchild. Sunday dinner, Chord.” Another statement.
“Grandpa that might be a bit-“
“No excuses. I want to meet this girl, Chord. I’m sure your sister and niece want to also.”
I nodded reluctantly then said, “Jimmy can’t know.”
Grandpa looked at his son still standing with Alice. “He doesn’t need to know. However, he will eventually need to know he’s going to be a grandpa again.”
“Just not right now.” Or ever if I had a say in it. He’d blow a gasket knowing that I’d knocked up his mortal enemy’s daughter.
Miranda and Grandpa nodded together. She called over to Alice. Alice dragged Jimmy back to our small group. He had a fake smile plastered on his face.
“We gotta get going, Alice.” Miranda took the pirate picture she was holding.
“Ok.” Alice turned toward me opening her arms.
I picked her up and she wrapped her arms around my neck. She leaned back looking me in the eye. “Are you coming over for Sunday dinner?”
“I am sweetie.”
“Good.” She kissed my cheek then squirmed to get down.
“Sunday dinner?” Jimmy looked at the three of us.
“Come on kids. I’m getting tired.” Grandpa Lew held out his hand for Alice to hold it.
Jimmy looked at them then at me. His scrutiny made me uneasy. Without saying a word, he turned then followed behind grandpa, Miranda and Alice. I watched them leave and leaned against the circulation desk. A feeling of exhaustion overcame me.
“Everything ok, Chord?”
“Sure.” I gave Mary a strained smile. My phone vibrated in my pocket.
Jimmy Ray: I know something is up. I will figure it out.
I deleted the message but then a cold finger of fear slid down my spine. Looking around I noticed the ultrasound print out wasn’t on the desk. I rifled around desk.
“Did you lose something?” Mary asked.
“No. I’m sure it will turn up.”
Mary walked back to the craft table to help a few children that had come in. My mind whirled. Could Jimmy have taken the ultrasound? I felt sick wondering what he would do if he found out Rhapsody was pregnant with my baby. My phone vibrated in my pocket again. I pulled it out expecting to see another text from Jimmy.
Rhapsody: Wanna hang out tonight?
My heart flipped in my chest.
Me: Definitely! What did you have in mind?
Rhapsody: Pizza, ice cream and a movie
Me: Sounds perfect. I will pick up the pizza and ice cream.
Rhapsody: Make sure it’s sausage with extra cheese and cookie dough ice cream. I’ve already got the movie.
I smiled at her bossiness.
Me: I will be over at 5
Rhapsody: Great. See you then.
I smiled as I put my phone away. I had a date with my baby mama.