DARK/PARK, smash. By Daphne Bellflower
DARK/PARK, smash. By Daphne Bellflower
It was dark at the park when Jill arrived. Liz tapped her foot impatiently and glanced down at her shoes. The thought briefly crossed her mind that her new Fluevogs weren’t the best choice of footwear for the task at hand.
As Jill approached the park bench where she sat, Liz jumped up and put out her cigarette. “Jesus Jill, what took you so long? I’m going to be late to the party. We need to get this thing done so I can head over there.” Liz glanced up at Jill’s face. Jill looked worried and a little nauseous. “Are you having second thoughts about this?”
“No. Got a rock. We’ll throw it through the window, grab the laptop, and get out. I need to get home before the kids wake up.” Liz looked down and saw that Jill had a large rock in her diaper bag.
The only reason Liz had agreed to tonight was because she felt partly responsible for the predicament Jill found herself in. Liz and Jill had been friends for over 20 years. This was now a loose description at best; Liz and Jill had grown apart after Jill had two kids. Liz was privately contemptuous of Jill’s choice to be a stay-at-home mom and housewife, and she found it difficult to appear interested in Jill’s activities. This was no mystery to Jill – Liz’s not-so-subtle comments and eye rolls made her position about Jill’s choices perfectly clear.
Prior to her first child, Jill had been the vice-president of an English bank, a job she secured immediately after she got her MBA at Swarthmore. Jill made great money, and had a lot of fun with it – clothes, clubs, dinners at good restaurants, vacations, and a lot of late evenings out. Jill was one of Liz’s favorite friends. She was good to go without a lot of advance notice and, most importantly, could keep up with Liz. Liz and Jill met at a mutual friend’s party, and were inseparable during their late 20s and early 30s.
Liz was happy when Jill married Johnny, a funny, good-looking partner in what was now a publicly-traded tech company. Jill and Johnny were a great couple – smart, wild, and best friends with Liz and her boyfriend Cal. The couples spent most of their free time together. They loved going to see music at clubs, heavy drinking, and the occasional coke and esctasy binge. They skiied together, the hiked together, they spent New Years Eve’s together. They all had straight day jobs, and thought they escaped the yuppie path by going out every night. But after Jill and Johnny got married, Liz watched them become a straight couple and start a family.
Liz and Cal didn’t want to get married in a traditional ceremony and did they didn’t want to get married in an ironic ceremony by some Elvis impersonator. So they decided not to get married at all. Liz and Cal had been together longer than most married couples – it was 19 years now – and Liz liked to taunt her couples friends with tales of she and Cal staying together for love and sex and adventure – not kids.
Liz and Cal watched Jill and Johnny slowly become overwhelmed by the demands of modern parenting, and they began to lose touch. Liz was amused by it all; the obsession with filling every last minute of a child’s day with quality activities, the demands of elementary school, the worries over chemicals in Baggies. Over time, Liz become less amused by Jill’s uber-mommy activities. Then Liz became bored with Jill. She no longer had a damn thing to say when they went out that didn’t concern her kids, or Johnny’s work schedule and the time he spent away from home.
Can’t blame you Johnny, Liz thought on the rare occasions when Jill could get away from her house and kids and meet her for happy hour. Why would Johnny want to come home after work to listen to the kids scream and Jill bitch. Liz could barely take it one night a month. Jill complained about Johnny’s work schedule more than she complained about the PTA. Jill was equally impatient with Liz’s tales of over-40, aging hipster activities.
“Snorting coke on your trip to LA. Really. At a club. What are you, 22?” Jill asked Liz over dinner a couple of months ago. “Liz, this isn’t going to stop you from aging. You’re 48. Are you going to keep this up until your first Social Security check?” Jill rolled her eyes and laughed.
Liz grinned at Jill. She continued to schedule their monthly happy hour nights because every once and a while, Jill’s sharp, sarcastic personality would sneak out of her modern housewife persona. “Tell me you wouldn’t do it if some guy offered it to you. Next time come with me. Leave the kids with Johnny. Better yet, use some of that “me time” and fuck some young guy – Johnny’s at work so much that you have the time.” Jill snorted and ordered another drink.
Liz was surprised to get a call a few weeks later from a freaked-out Jill. Jill’s intense child-rearing schedule rarely allowed for free time to engage in unscheduled adult conversations. Jill asked “Liz – what are you doing tonight? I need your help.” Liz started explaining to Jill that she had a party in Georgetown, and she needed to get some sleep before the party, and that tonight was bad night for any number of reasons, but Jill cut her off.
“Liz, quit talking about yourself for a minute. I need you to help me after the kids are in bed. I fucked our next-door neighbor Malcom – that skinny Microsoft guy. Remember, you met him at our Christmas party.” Jill paused for a second, then whispered “I have to break into his house tonight and get his hard drive. We took pictures when we fucked, and I was drunk. I have to get them. Tonight. Malcom’s out of town. Well?” Jill waited for Liz to respond.
Liz sighed. “Malcom? That visual is making me sick. Are you kidding me, what the hell!” Liz continued, “Jill, if we get caught, it would be super embarrassing, I don’t want to have an Internet mug shot, I look terrible in orange, I can’t miss the party, this is illegal, and…Malcom? Gross.” She thought about Jill screwing Malcom out of boredom or God knows what. Liz sighed again. “What should I wear to this event?”
A few hours later, Liz found herself following Jill through the dark streets from the park to her house. The house next door to Jill’s was dark. Liz followed Jill through the gate into what apparently was Malcom’s back yard. Liz glanced next door at Jill’s house. “Who’s watching the kids tonight?” she asked.
“Babysitter,” Jill replied. “Why do you care?”
“I didn’t know what a mom does with her kids when she’s breaking into the neighbor’s house to steal a laptop with photos of Mommy screwing the neighbor,” Liz snapped back. “What the hell happened to you Jill?”
“I grew up. I got married. I have a family. That’s what happened Liz. I. Grew. Up. Quit being such a bitch about it. So you don’t think it’s cool. So. Fucking. What.” Jill dug around her diaper bag and pulled out her rock. “OK. I’m going to break the glass, unlock the door, run in and grab the laptop. You keep an eye out for anything weird. Yell if you see something.” Jill smashed the rock through the glass, pulled the door open, and ran inside while Malcom’s security system started insistently bleating. Jill came running out with a Microsoft-issue PC. “Put this in your trunk and throw it out or back over it or napalm it, I don’t care just get rid of it.”
Liz and Jill ran through the gate to Jill’s yard, and darted into Jil’s garage, panting and laughing. “Nice breaking and entering skills. Where’d you pick those up?” Liz asked, doubled over in a giggling fit. “Some kid’s cartoon? Did you see Sponge Bob break into Squidward’s pineapple last week? Did Squidward have Sponge Bob porn?” Liz couldn’t stop laughing, but assumed this would all be far less funny if the police caught them.
“So where’s your party tonight?” Jill asked. “Can I come with you?”
“Fuck the party. Let’s pay off your babysitter and have a glass of wine. Plus, we won’t be surprised when the police head over here with a search warrant” Liz said. “I don’t want to go anywhere. I’m tired and my feet hurt.”