Ivy Kedem cannot speak.
Effe stands in front of her mother.
You said those things to his hearing?
(wringing her hands)
I didn’t know he was behind me, listening. I’m so sorry, dear.
Effe nods sadly.
Hmmm. You know how fiercely he loves Chris. Anyway, Junior says he wants to show him something, so I’m going with them.
You didn’t go to the office again?
Oh, I’ll go. This won’t keep long at all.
Do you have to go with them, darling? Please, Effe, don’t give that man the chance to ruin your life again! I beg you.
I’ll see you soon, Mama.
She turns away, and sees that Chris has raised his left middle finger which Junior is still holding.
Champ, why do you always hold the middle finger every time you want to hold my hand?
Junior giggles suddenly as if he finds its extremely funny.
Maybe it is because it’s so big, and because I love you so much! Every time you see your left middle finger, know that I love you very much, Daddy.
Chris bends at the waist and looks deeply into his son’s eyes.
No, my dear Champ. When I saw you the first time after your birth, you were crying really loudly. Nobody knew what was going on. When I entered the ward and took you in my arms, your tiny fingers curled around my middle left finger, and you stopped crying immediately.
Really, Daddy? Really really really?
Yes, my Champ. Really really true.
Then I’ll always hold your middle finger. To show I’ll always love you, and I’ll always believe you, and I’ll always forgive you, and I’ll always pray you don’t go back to prison. Because I don’t ever ever EVER want you to go back to prison like Grandma wants you to!
Chris nods, because at that particular moment his heart is so full with love for his son that he does not trust his voice. He takes the smaller helmet and tries to put it on his son’s head.
No, Chris. We’re going in my car. You can leave your motorbike here. I want to leave Junior with my Mom, so if you don’t mind I’ll drive you.
Chris’ eyes harden, and his look is full of acid.
I’ll bring him back. You know I’ll bring him back.
Before Effe can reply Junior grabs Chris’ left middle finger again.
I want Mommy to come along too, please, Daddy! Please, okay, please?
Chris sighs, and then he reluctantly puts the helmet back, turns and walks outside to wait.
Effe unlocks her car.
Junior hops in the back, and she makes sure he is strapped in. She goes around to the driving side, deliberately avoiding her mother’s angry stare. She starts the car as one of the security details opens the gates for her. She drives out and finds Chris waiting. She parks with the front seat near him, but he ignores it and tries to open the back door. Junior locks the door and rolls down the window. He pops out his head.
Daddy, you’re supposed to sit in front with Mommy.
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I want to be in the back with you, Champ.
Junior shakes his head vigorously, so fast that his cheeks bounce rather comically
No-no, no-no, no-no! Back is for me! Front is for you and Mommy!
Effe looks away, trying to hide her smile. She sees the child-like look of confusion on Chris’ face, and she finally chuckles to herself. She knows Junior will never unlock the door for his father. With a final look of resignation Chris opens the front door and gets in. He fastens the seat-belt, and Effe looks at him, and he looks at her, and his eyes blaze his resentment and show that he is still hurting.
She begins to drive. Junior sticks his head between their seats and looks at his father.
Are you angry, Daddy?
Chris looks at his son and shakes his head.
No. I’m fine, Champ.
Good, because I want you to sit with Mommy and I will not let you sit in the back with me because I want you to sit with Mommy and you should not get angry because it is really really really good to sit with Mommy and-
Hey! I’m sitting with Mommy, okay?
Junior begins to giggle, and Effe laughs. She reaches over and places her hand on his left hand. He looks across at her, and she is afraid he will push her hand away, but instead he grips her hand, and a slow warmth spreads through her, taking her quite by surprise. She withdraws her hand slowly and puts both hands on the steering-wheel. She does not look at him again.