A man behind me yelled, “Christopher! I said get your ass over here and sit down!”
Trenton leaned over to look around me, and frowned. A little boy about eight years old ran over, closer to me than to his father, waiting.
“Sit down!” the father growled. The boy did as he was told, and turned to watch the other kids playing.
Trenton tried to ignore the scene behind me and leaned against the table. “You still like working at the Red?”
I nodded. “As jobs go, it’s not bad. Hank is cool.”
“Sit still!” the father behind me snarled.
After a pause, Trenton continued, “I was just going to tell you that if you weren’t happy at the bar, there is a receptionist spot open at the shop.”
“Skin Deep is hiring? I thought Cal just had whoever wasn’t busy answer the phone?”
“He said Thirty-Fourth Street Ink has a hot chick at the desk, so he thinks we need one, too.”
“His words, not mine,” Trenton said, scanning the crowd for Olive. He didn’t look long. He knew where she would be.
“Loves it,” he said, smiling at her like a proud father.
“Damn it, Chris! What the hell is wrong with you?” the father behind me yelled, standing up at the same time. I turned, seeing the father’s toppled glass, and a very nervous little boy staring at his father’s wet lap. “Why do I even bother bringing you to places like this?” he yelled.
“I was thinking the same thing,” Trenton said.
The father turned around, two deep horizontal lines in the center of his forehead.
“I mean, you don’t really act like you want your kid running around, playing, or having fun in general. Why would you bring him here if you just want him to sit still?”
“No one asked you, ass**le,” the man said, turning around.
“No, but if you keep talking to your son like that, I’m going to ask you to step outside.”
The man faced us again, began to speak, but something in Trenton’s eyes made the man think better of it. “He’s hyper.”
Trenton shrugged. “Hey, man, I get it. You’re here by yourself. It’s probably been a long day.”
The lines above the man’s eyes softened. “It has.”
“So let him burn off some energy. He’ll be worn-out when he gets home. Kinda silly to bring him to an arcade and then get yourself all worked up when he wants to play.”
Shame darkened the man’s face, he nodded a few times, and then he turned around, nodding once to his son. “Sorry, buddy. Go play.”
The little boy’s eyes lit up, and he jumped from the booth, blending into the continuously moving crowd of happy children. After a few awkward moments of silence, Trenton started a conversation with the man, and they began chitchatting about where they worked, Christopher, and Olive. Eventually we learned that the man’s name was Randall, and he was a newly single father. Chris’s mother was an addict and living with a boyfriend in the next town over, and Chris was having trouble adjusting. Randall admitted that he was, too. When it was time for them to leave, Randall held out his hand, and Trenton shook it. Christopher watched both men, grinned, and then took his dad’s hand. They left, both of them with smiles on their faces.
When Olive’s quarters were depleted, she sat at the table, the golden chicken strips before her. Trenton squirted some hand sanitizer onto her hands, she rubbed them together, and then devoured everything on her plate. Trenton and I ordered the adult version of her meal, and we all finished at about the same time.
“Pie?” Olive said, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.
“I don’t know,” Trenton said. “Your mom got pretty mad at me last time.”
I liked the way he talked to her. He wasn’t condescending. He talked to her the same as he did to me, and she seemed to appreciate it.
“What do you think, Cami? Do you like pecan?”
I shrugged. “I could handle a third of a pie. Want to share too, Trent?”
Trenton made eye contact with Cindy, and held up his index finger. She nodded, knowing exactly what he meant. Olive clapped her hands together as Cindy brought over the plate in one hand, and holding three forks in the other. The slice was nearly a third of the pie, with a heaping mound of white, whipped topping.
We dug in, all humming when the first bite of sugary goodness found its way to our mouths. Within a couple of minutes, the plate was empty. Cindy brought the bill, and I tried to pay for half, but Trenton wouldn’t even entertain the idea.
“Do you ever pay for Raegan’s lunch?”
“Shh,” he said, lifting Olive into his arms. “This is the part where you say thank you.” He put two bills on the table, and then shoved his wallet into his back pocket.
“Thank you,” Olive said, resting her head on Trenton’s shoulder.
“You’re welcome, Ew.” He leaned over and grabbed his keys from the table.
Olive eyed me with sleepy twin pools. I didn’t push the subject.
The ride back to my apartment was quiet, but mostly because Olive had fallen asleep in her car seat. Her little cheek was smooshed against the cushion beside her face. She looked so peaceful, so happily lost wherever she had drifted off to.
“Her parents just let the neighbor covered in tattoos babysit their five-year-old?”
“No. This is new. We just started Chicken Joe’s this year on my days off. I watched Olive for Shane and Liza a couple times for about half an hour or so in the beginning and we somehow graduated to Chicken Joe’s.”
“I’ve been her Twent for a long time.”
“Her initials. Olive Ollivier. O.O. When you put them together, it makes an ‘ew’ sound.”
I nodded. “Makes sense. She’s going to hate you for that in six years.”
Trenton glanced at the rearview mirror, and then back at the road. “Nah.”
The headlights lit the front door of my apartment, and Trenton finally looked ashamed. “I’d walk you to the door, but I don’t want to leave Olive in the car.”
I waved him away. “I can get to the door by myself.”
“Maybe we can kidnap you again.”
“I work Saturdays. This was just a freak accident.”
“We could change it to Chicken Joe’s Sundays.”
“Me, too. But not until one, and you don’t go in until later, too, right? We could do lunch. An early lunch.”
I pulled my mouth to the side. “It’s just not a good idea, Trent. But thank you.”