The Test By Christopher Reel

Anxious and almost drunk Donnie Brooks sat quietly on the sofa, clutching a bottle of brandy, as he waited for his two unwanted guest. Tameka, his wife of 20 years sat on the opposite side of the living room staring at him. He avoided eye contact. He hated when she stared, because that meant that she was mad at him. The phone call he received two weeks ago gave her every reason to be.

‘Hello, the Brook’s residence, Donnie Brook’s is speaking.’ There was no response ‘Anyone there?’

‘It’s me?’ A woman’s voice replied.

‘Tameka?’

‘Donnie it’s me.’

‘I don’t know anyone named Me.’

‘It’s Mia.’

The phone nearly slipped from his hand. ‘Mi . . .Mia Waters?’

‘The one and only.’

Although married for over two decades, Donnie was faithful only for the last ten years of his marriage. One night after a rendezvous with a prostitute something suddenly struck him almost immediately convincing him that cheating on his loving and caring wife was wrong. That something that suddenly struck him was a car, a car driven by his loving and caring wife, who had followed him that night. He had slept with Mia nearly eight years before that.

‘How did . . . how . . .what . . .what . . .why . . .’ He stammered.

‘I work at the syndicate.’ Mia replied.

‘Huh?’

‘I work at the syndicate that publishes your comic strip.’

‘But how did you get my number?’

‘There’s something very important that we need to talk about.’

There’s something very important that we need to talk about. There’s something very important that we need to talk about. There’s something very important that we need to . . Shut your mouth! Donnie hated that sentence. It always brought him stress. The principle of his children’s school was the last to use it. The something that was very important that he needed to talk to Donnie about was how his son Marcus had defected in a classmate’s book bag.

‘It’s about your daughter.’ Mia said.

Not this again.

‘She’s 17 now.’ She continued. ‘She’s about to go off to college soon and enter the land of the grown up and she wants to met her father. I agree. I think it’s time for you to accept your responsibility.’

Donnie met Mia in a bar. He went there to drink away the nagging voice of his wife that was stuck in his head after an argument about his infidelities. Mia went there to drink away the nagging voice of her husband that was stuck in her head after an argument about his sexual orientation. Sitting beside each other at the bar counter the two of them slowly slid into a conversation that begun when Mia said ‘Hi.’ Donnie who’s comic strip was recently picked up by a syndicate found much in common with Mia; an artistic agent. The two of them ended up having sex in his car. They exchanged numbers and went their separated ways. A week or so later, Mia called him claiming that she was pregnant by him. Since he had sex with her once he quickly came to the conclusion that she was mistaken, but Mia protested that her husband was gay and that they haven’t had sex in six months.

‘Well, it isn’t mine.’ Donnie had told her then.

‘You’re the only man that I have had sex with in the last six month.’ She replied.

‘Maybe you husband sperm was confused at first . . . well . . . because he’s gay, right, and that means his sperms gay and . . . maybe they weren’t sure what to do until . . .’

‘Huh?’ She cut in.

‘I’m almost joking.’

‘This is too serious to joke about. You have to be the father.’

‘Well, maybe you were kidnapped by aliens.’

‘What?’

‘I seen a special on T.V about that.’

They hung up without any resolve. That was the last time the two of them spoke.

‘Donnie, are you still there?’ Mia asked.

He nodded.

‘Donnie?’

‘Huh?’ He replied.

Donnie never expected this to come up again and wished that it would go away. Anxiety and despair invaded him. He needed a drink. He felt vulnerable, stripped, and exposed, maybe because he was naked.

‘You knew that this would come up again, right?’ She asked.

‘No, not really.’

‘Why not? You know she’s yours. And after you and her take the test and . . .’

‘If she’s mine,’ Donnie cut interrupted. ‘then tell me way you didn’t press the issues then. Why call me now, after so long?’

‘I was going through a rough time and . . .’

‘A rough time?’

‘I was going through a divorce.’ She said. ‘ Plus I respected you enough not to destroy your marriage. I did remarry and she does have a father, but she needs to meet the man who help give her life.’

Donnie thought of how his wife would react to the possibility that he had a daughter by another woman and he quickly realized that he would have to buy himself a bulletproof vest very soon.

‘Do you want to talk to her?’ Mia asked.

Hell no!!!!! ‘Sure why not.’

‘Hello.’

‘Hell no.’ He replied. ‘I meant . . . I meant to say, hello.’

‘Hi, daddy.’ Lisa said.

An awkward silence followed. The face of his wife slow danced across his thoughts. The last thing he wanted to do was hurt her again. Although his cheating ways were long ago in the past, this situation would bring up those memories that he was sure wasn’t fully forgotten.

‘We need to meet.’ Lisa said.

‘Why?’ He replied.

‘Because, I need to meet you?’

‘Why?’

‘I don’t know?’ She said. ‘Maybe because you’re my father.’

‘I might be you’re father. Keyword; might.’

‘We’ll take the test to find out.’

‘When?’

‘Whenever.’

‘Your mother has my number.’

‘I have it too, and I have your e-mail address that I got off of your website site.’ Lisa said.

A silence begun, which Donnie found as an opportunity to escape. But before he could think of a lie to get off of the phone Lisa added. ‘I want to take the test, soon.’

‘Where should we meet?’ He asked.

‘How about at your house?’

Wrong answer lady, Donnie was thinking more on the line of a diner or any location where his wife wouldn’t find out about all of this mess.

‘Daddy, is there something wrong?’ Lisa said.

Stop calling me daddy. Stop calling me daddy. Stop calling me daddy . . . He did not respond.

‘I have your address and I will come to your house if you like it or not.’ She said. ‘But, I’ll call you and give you the heads up first.’

Donnie wondered if he could move his family to another state before then.

‘If you were me you would want to find out the truth too.’ Lisa said.

‘Donnie?’ Mia’s voice reentered the phone. ‘Is it alright?’

‘Yes.’ Donnie answered somberly, because it would have to be all right. He believed that Lisa would come to his house no matter what anyone said. Besides, if he were in her shoes he would want to know as well.

‘Did you ever tell your wife about this?’ Mia asked.

He shook his head.

‘Donnie?’ She said. ‘Do you hear me?’

‘No, I’ve never told her.’

‘You’re telling me that you never told your wife about this?’

‘No.’ He said. ‘I didn’t think that I needed to.’

‘Well, now you do.’ She said and paused.

Donnie thought about hanging up.

‘She’ll call before she comes. Bye.’ The phone clicked death.

Everyday after that unwanted phone call all Donnie could think of was how he would explain the situation to his wife. There was no good way so he decided to tell her while he was drunk.

‘Tameka, children, I have a confession to make.’ He said at dinner table one night. The room fell silent. He was nervous but the liquor helped him to keep his cool. ‘I might have a daughter by another woman.’ If he weren’t drunk he would have been able to duck the shoe. He stood. ‘What the hell was that for?’ He said to everyone because he had no idea who threw the shoe.

‘You cheated on mommy?’ Said Latasha, his 13-year-old daughter.

Her words and the way her voice cracked hit him harder than the shoe did.

‘Baby,’ He said in the compassionate voice of a loving drunk father. ‘That was a long time ago, before you were born.’ His wife stared at him, he avoided her eyes; instead he was stuck in his own rotating stare at the shock expressions on the face of his two children. ‘I would like to say to everyone, that I’m sorry.’

‘Dad?’ Marcus said.

‘Yes son?’

‘Why don’t you have any pants on?’

‘Kids, go play.’ Tameka said. ‘Your father and I have to talk.’

The children obeyed. Donnie watched as his off springs, that he was certain was his, disappeared from the dinning room. He wondered how this would affect them, his eyes begun to water. He didn’t get to wonder what Tameka thought because she dived tackled him to the floor. He laid out in a sprawl as she stood over him clutching a kitchen knife.

‘How old is she?’ Tameka asked.

‘Who?’

‘The daughter, your daughter.’ Her voice was low with controlled anger.

’17.’

‘Your lucky.’

She dropped the knife and walked away. Donnie didn’t move. He stared at the dull blade of the knife that sat inches away from his face. Hw wondered if she really would have stabbed him. Later that night he inquired and she answered with ‘Didn’t I run your ass over before?’

The next day his children acted as if he had never confessed. He wanted them to ask questions, He needed to know how they felt. However he figured it was for the best that they did not ask questions because he wouldn’t had know how to explain that he violated their mother’s trust.

Tameka hadn’t said a word to him at all the rest of that day until they were in bed. ‘Donnie?’

‘Yes?’

‘Your daughter called today.’

‘She’s not my daughter. I only have 1 daughter and 2 children.’

She turned to him; staring. He looked away.

‘Well,’ He said. ‘she might not be my daughter.’

‘She said she’ll be here tomorrow, with her cousin. I told her to come after 10 pm. The kids would be in bed by then. Donnie you know . . .’ She stopped.

‘What?’ He asked.

Tears ran down her cheeks.

‘Don’t cry.’ Donnie said.

She leaned back into the pillows wrapping her arms around herself. Donnie wanted to hug her, to apologize, to somehow make it up to her.

‘You know,’ He voice was low with controlled pain. ‘Latasha came to me crying last night and asked if we’re going to divorce. And . . .’ She closed her eyes. ‘For the first time I really didn’t know.’

‘Huh?’

She looked at him, staring through tears. ‘You have put me through so much for so long and I’m tired.’

He didn’t turn away. Her stare was weak and pain riddled like it was when her mother died. His eyes watered; a tear escaped. ‘I’m sorry.’ He said. ‘I know I have hurt you but for whatever it’s worth, that was the past. And you know how the past has a habit of popping up in the present. Tameka, I love you and I always did and will.’

‘I know.’ She said as she leaned into him. He wrapped an arm around her.

‘Do you for give me?’

‘I have ten years ago.’ She said. ‘But I have never forgot although I have tried.’

Sitting in the living room waiting for his possible daughter to come to take the test, Donnie stared down at the neck of the bottle of brandy clutched in his hands.

‘Donnie.’ Tameka said.

Reluctantly he lifted his eyes to meet hers. The anger he expected was lost to a smile.

‘Like I said last night, I have forgave you ten years ago.’ She said.

He smiled.

‘If she’s yours, she’s ours.’ Tameka said.

When the doorbell had rung, Donnie stood and headed across the living room to the front door. His wife followed. He peered through the peephole. Two teenage girls waited on the other side of the door.

‘Is that her, do she look like you?’ Asked Tameka.

‘It’s two of them.’ He opened the door.

Husband and wife stared across the threshold of their home at the teenagers. Donnie studied their faces. He didn’t see himself in either. Tameka leaned towards him and whispered, ‘None of them looks like you.’

‘Are you my father?’ One of the teenagers asked.

He studied her face until he was certain and said, ‘No.’

‘How sure are you?’ The girl asked.

’99.9 percent.’ He replied.

The girl made a weak smile. ‘I wondered way my mother would lie all these years.’ She sighed. ‘Well, okay then. I’m sorry for bothering you and your wife like this. And thank you for taking the test.’

‘Oh, that’s okay.’ Tameka. ‘We needed to know too.’

‘I hope you find him.’ Donnie said.

‘Me too.’ The girl said before leaving with her cousin.

Tameka and Donnie smiled at each other before shutting the door.

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