Story:Dominoes Part 4: The Rescue
Dominoes Part 4: The Rescue
Written by Shataivian
Keep moving. Got to keep moving. Keep busy. Got to keep busy. Clean this. That needs to be dusted. Missed a spot. Clean that again. Start over. Do it right. No mistakes. Keep moving. Keep moving. Keep moving…
The day had barely begun but Lisa was already up rearranging, cleaning, and re-rearranging. The more she did, the less she would be thinking about what happened the night before. She even hand-washed each of her jerseys and turtlenecks and hung them to dry over her bathtub. There was no way she was going to the laundry facility and showing her face out there. The garbage bags started to pile up by the door as she continued to clean and purge, but eventually she would have to make the excruciatingly long journey from her apartment to the garbage shoot out in the hallway by the elevator, but not now. There was time to worry about that later.
Keep moving. Keep cleaning. What a stupid mistake. Keep busy. How could something like this happen? Clean that again. What an idiot.
The doorbell rang and Lisa froze. True to her species she stayed as quiet as possible, pretending she wasn’t home. A knock. Maybe they’ll go away. “Lisa, it’s me.” A voice? Her father’s. She took slow steps towards the door and opened it slowly, cowering behind it.
David entered her apartment, dropped his things, and hugged his daughter. “I’m so sorry, baby girl.” Lisa fell into his shoulder. “I’m here now.” He tightened his grip and kissed the top of her head. When he went to rest his cheek on her head, he took notice of the “mess.” He knew what this obsessive cleaning meant. He had made the right choice in flying out to be with his daughter.
When the two settled a bit, David took a seat on her couch in the living room, but Lisa remained standing.
“You know what you need to do,” David started. “You need to spin this in your favor.” Lisa just shook her head. “I mean it. This was an accident, but they don’t have to know that. If you spin this the right way, you can turn this into a major positive.” Lisa started pacing.
“I-I-I can’t. What am I supposed to do, pretend like this,” she pointed to her neck, “is a good thing?”
“Yes. Exactly that. I know it’s hard, baby, but that’s the way the game is played. You need to turn this into a stunt.”
“Dad, I can’t.”
“Then let your agent do it. Just get ahead of this now before it gets out of control. I can help, too. I can spin this along with you to give you a fighting chance. I’ll go on record saying how difficult things were back then and how you persevered. Hell, you can do a charity stunt to really make this look good.”
“This feels like lying… Dad… I just don’t want to deal with this.” Suddenly, the doorbell rang again.
“You expecting anybody,” David whispered. Lisa shook her head.
“Lisa, It’s me.” A voice? Her friend’s. Jason. She took slow steps towards the door and opened it slowly, cowering behind it.
Jason entered her apartment, dropped his things, and hugged his friend. “I’m so sorry, Lisa.” Lisa fell into his shoulder. “I’ve gotchya.” He tightened his grip and kissed the top of her head. When he went to rest his cheek on her head, he took notice of David. Their eyes locked and Jason stood stiff. Lisa could feel this rigidity and pulled out of his hug to see what was going on.
“And who is this,” David asked.
“Oh. This is my best friend, Jason. Jason… this is my dad,” Lisa introduced.
“Really? Nice to meet you, son,” David greeted with a cheery voice.
“Right.” Jason’s voice, however, was stern. Quickly moving his attention back to Lisa, he asked if she was okay after noticing all the signs of her nervous cleaning. Lisa shook her head in response. “This is my fault, isn’t it?”
“No,” Lisa insisted. “No, no! This was totally my fault. I’m the one who left my turtleneck in Alaska and left the rest of my stuff out for my cat to get at. It was a mistake.”
“What makes you think this was your fault, son,” David asked Jason. Jason cut his eyes to David but did not respond. This caused David to flinch in a confused but defensive manner.
“He asked me to come to Seattle after my game in Alaska,” Lisa began, “but it’s not his fault! It’s nobody’s fault but mine, okay? No one needs to take blame for my mistake.”
“So, you flew all the way here from Seattle to check on Lisa,” David asked, impressed. “What exactly are you two? I mean the guy is wearing a wedding band.” Lisa tried to beg her father to stop. “Fine, fine. But we still need to figure out what to do next.”
“What are you planning to do,” Jason asked Lisa.
“I don’t know, I don’t know!”
“Calm down, baby girl. You’re not alone, okay,” David reminded her.
“Well, you’re not now that I’m here,” Jason clarified. David scoffed with an amused smirk on his face.
“Jason,” Lisa whispered to her friend. “Don’t.”
“Why don’t you and I get out of here,” Jason suggested. “You don’t need to be cooped up in here all day.”
“Actually,” David stood up. “I’ll take care of it from here.”
“Wow.” Jason sarcastically said. “Must be new for you.” David cocked his head to the side and the two locked eyes.
“No, I’m her father, or did you forget?”
“My apologies. I guess I couldn’t see passed the crap.” David shifted his jaw to crack it.
“No,” Lisa shouted. “I will not be dealing with this! I don’t know where you two are planning to spend the night, but if it’s going to be like this, you’re on your own!”
“That’s up to buddy boy over here,” David gestured to Jason.
“Right. Well, you won’t have to worry about me. I’m not exactly the shittiest person in the room,” Jason jabbed.
“Out,” Lisa demanded. “Both of you, out! Now! I don’t need this!” She grabbed her father’s wrist and shoved both him and Jason towards the door. “Maybe later you can come back, but right now, go! I can’t! I just can’t!” She screamed in frustration then slammed the door on them leaving the two alone in the hall.
Jason took a few steps away from David and stopped to lean against the wall.
“Do we have a problem,” David asked. Jason chuckled.
“You know, I’m no stranger to shitty fathers.”
“My father was never there, too, said some things he shouldn’t have, did some things he shouldn’t have.” He looked at David from the corner of his eye. “You’ve done some pretty fucked up things to her. Hurt her in ways that made her half a person. Some fathers are just shitty like that.”
“Oh really,” David said, folding his arms.
“But I also know those shitty fathers have the ability to turn things around once they come clean,” Jason continued. David dropped his head and laughed to himself.
“Alright. I’ll play. What shitty thing have I done that I need to ‘come clean’ with?” Jason scoffed and came off the wall.
“I’ve known Lisa for a long time now. Gotten to know her pretty damn well. She’s a fierce and wonderful person once she comes out of her shell. I’ve also gotten to know her uncle, your friend, Eric? Nice guy, really funny, almost broke his arm once.” David held a smirk as Jason continued. “And in that time, you hear things, learn things, start to piece things together.”
“So, we’re a detective now.”
“Oh, it’s my job to problem solve.” He stepped closer to David. “For example, you know she wants to find her mother, right?” David knowingly nodded.
“Yes, I am aware.”
“Good! A father should know his daughter’s wants,” Jason mocked. “She’s going to find her, and she’s going to learn the truth.”
“Which is,” David egged.
“I have a question,” Jason continued without answering. “I mean, I’m sure there’s a simple explanation like adoption or something but humor me. How does a mouse end up with lions for children?”
“Am I supposed to understand your little riddle?”
“Lisa. That’s actually a really beautiful name. She’s named after someone, isn’t she? A so-called ‘friend?’ Melissa, if I’m not mistaking. Must be someone real special to give your daughter her name.” David dropped his head and started to laugh to himself again. “And Lisa dated one of her sons. But he’s a lion,” he said in a voice mimicking someone who had just came to this realization. “So, I ask you, how does a MOUSE end up with lions for children?”
“Okay,” David continued to chuckle to himself. “Let’s just cut to the chase, shall we? So that we’re on the same page, are you insinuating that, first, this woman with lions for children is actually a mouse and that, second, Lisa, my daughter, is a bastard child, born out of wedlock, between me and this woman?” David laughed. “Okay. You care about her, right?”
“More than you can know,” Jason spoke quickly through his teeth.
“No, no, no, no, no. The way you talk about her, the fact that you’re here. You could have just called her, but you flew all the way out here to help her. You love her, don’t you?” Jason didn’t answer and David’s smile grew more insidious. “But, wait! You’re wearing a wedding band. That’s odd. Must be hard to be in love with someone while you’re married to someone else. I wouldn’t know anything about that.” Jason remained quiet. “Now, you listen here. If you want to help her, then help her with this problem. She’s already dealing with the weight of the world on her shoulders. She does not need your half-baked assumptions adding to the pile. Don’t come here acting like the ‘hero.’ This is not about you. You are not here to ‘come to her rescue.’ This is about her. I suggest you focus on her.” The two could hear Lisa approaching her door from the other side. “You can hate me and think whatever you want, kid, but I am her father. It’s my job to make sure nothing,” he glared at Jason, “tries to harm her. And for the record,” he continued, “Melissa IS a lion. Like you.”
The two men held eye contact as Lisa opened her door hiding her face behind all the garbage. “Are you two still here, fighting?!” Jason was the one to break eye contact and respond back to Lisa.
“No. No, we’re not fighting. We’re… actually on the same page.” Jason looked back at David. The two could feel a sort of weird tense understanding between them.
“We just want to make sure you’re okay, sweetie,” said David. Lisa scanned the two of them and determined they were telling the truth. After stealthily taking out her trash, she allowed them to reenter her apartment. The three of them spent the day brainstorming, trying to figure out the best course of action.
“Stay public with this. Smile. Be positive. Have people been messaging you online,” David asked, and Lisa nodded. “Then respond with confidence. Own this. But you’ll need a bigger stunt to pull this all together. Something to really get their attention.”
“Talk to your agent, too,” Jason added. “You’re not alone. You’ve got a pretty good support group,” Jason smiled, and Lisa smiled back.
As the day came to an end, Lisa set up a blowup mattress and some blankets for her guests to sleep with. She informed them that one of them would have to take the couch, then wished them both goodnight. As the two men gathered their things and got ready, Jason made his way over to a shelf that had the picture David had given Lisa of him and his ex-wife.
“So, that’s her mother,” Jason said, holding the picture. David stopped what he was doing to look over at the picture. “She doesn’t look anything like her.”
“She’s definitely my child,” David chuckled. “She got all my DNA. It’s always amazing trying to guess what a child is going to look like before they’re born only to find out you were completely wrong. What about you? You have any kids, or any on the way?”
“My wife is pregnant…”
“Yeah, well, you should congratulate the father.”
“Aaaah! I see! My condolences. So, that’s why you’re here?”
“No... But it is why she came to Seattle.” David started to lay down on the couch, and Jason on the air mattress.
“So, what’s your plan with your wife,” David pushed.
“That really isn’t any of your business.”
“Lisa’s involved. It’s my business.”
“I don’t know,” Jason relented. “I guess I’ll talk to her about it.”
“Is this child the problem?”
“Well, no. It’s not exactly about the child.”
“No,” David challenged. “So, if she decides to keep it, can you work things out between you two if she’s willing to try.”
“It’s a bit more complicated than that,” Jason defended. “She cheated on me.”
“And if she terminates the pregnancy?”
“I don’t know. I guess it would be difficult, but sure, we could probably work something out.”
“Uh huh. And if it’s yours?”
“But if it is?”
“Then, I don’t know! I guess I’ll be the one in the wrong and have to apologize for assuming. Is that what you want me to say?”
“So, it is the child,” David concluded.
“No! She went behind my back.”
“In each of these scenarios she went behind your back, but you gave me three different answers depending on this child.”
“It’s not. That. Simple,” Jason pushed.
“It is. You have these rules on how you can love this child.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“You have all this animosity towards a child who doesn’t even have a personality or a voice.” Jason stayed quiet for a moment.
“You’re talking about Lisa.”
“She wasn’t even born yet, and she was already damned before she could defend herself. Don’t use this child as your scapegoat. Lisa neither. She’s not your consolation prize for if things just don’t work out between you and your wife. If things end between you two, make sure it’s because of you two and no one else.” Jason finally agreed with him. “And I suggest you make your decision pretty soon. If you drag this out, you’ll end up hurting all three of you, and losing both of them.”
“Is… Is that what happened to you?”
“Think about it, son.” David rolled over facing the back of the couch and Jason took this time to roll in the opposite direction.
“Was it hard… to go through all of that and make a decision?”
“Kid, this shit ain’t easy. Just do all the right things. And don’t worry about hurting anyone. Someone, no matter what, is going to paint you the villain. You’re just going to have to deal with it. Hell, you and I just met, and you already saw me as some sort of ‘bad guy.’ You think that phases me?” Jason lightly chuckled. “But if you make yourself the villain of your own story, your own antagonist, you’re gonna have a rough life, son. Don’t worry about being the hero of other people’s stories. Be your own hero, the rest will follow suit.” Jason chuckled.
“Can’t believe I’m saying this, but you actually make sense.”
“S’what happens when you’ve been around as long as I have.”
“You never think about your ex-wife, or Melissa? You don’t have any regrets?” David laughed.
“Kid, come back to me when you’re my age and see if you can answer that question for yourself.” The two shared a laugh.
“Fair enough. Thanks…”
“Don’t thank me, kid. Just get it right. And do it soon.”
Jason rolled over to his back and stared through the darkness up at the ceiling. His fingers were laced, and his thumbs tapped against each other. After some time, he shot up and marched towards Lisa’s bedroom. He knocked and opened her door, entering and closing it again behind him. David rolled over, now with his back against the back of the couch.
“Don’t you fuck this up, kid,” David whispered.