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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Breaking News

I feel the way CNN should feel.

CNN has a love/hate relationship with the Republican nominee and they’re the worst when it comes to falling prey to his antics. Maybe it’s because they have a twenty-four news cycle to cover, plus they attempt to be “neutral” while lapping up the high ratings they get just from mentioning his name. But if Trump actually wins, in my mind, CNN will have a lot of explaining to do.

Just this week, they ignored a major story from Newsweek about Trump’s shady international business deals, instead covering the suspenseful results of his latest doctor’s appointment, a manufactured farce. But Friday was worse, when the network got tricked into giving him free coverage of veterans endorsing the new Trump hotel, all so he could spend less than a minute to say “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it. I finished it.”

You know what I mean.

“I think I’m being taken in,” I said to Robin, who had come for dinner on Tuesday night, one day before Monty was due home, one day before he’d finally reveal the details of dinner with his ex-girlfriend, Evelyn. “I’m terrible at calling him on his crap. I should have insisted that he tell me everything over the phone, but instead I’ve been distracted all week, wondering what the heck he has to tell me.”

Robin rubbed her belly, which was starting to protrude ever so slightly as she moved into her second trimester. “Okay, maybe I just have babies on my mind, but you don’t think he found out that he got her pregnant all those years ago and she just never told him until now, do you?”

Thank God I’d sent Abby and Noah outside to play in the backyard after they’d finished their chicken nuggets. Of course the possibility had occurred to me, but I certainly didn’t want to explain it to my children. “I don’t know,” I said glumly.

Robin reached over and squeezed my arm. “Forget what I said. I’m sure it's something simple. She probably just wants one of his kidneys, or maybe she's actually an alien and wants to take him back to her mother-ship.”

I surrendered half a laugh. "Something simple like that, huh?" She shrugged. “Let’s talk about something else,” I told her. “How’s business lately?”

Robin started telling me about her latest dress order from a C-list celebrity, and I tried my best to listen actively and ask questions. But I couldn’t stop myself from thinking ahead and wondering what talking points the next day would bring.

By some miracle, I was able to free up my schedule so I could pick Monty up at the airport on Wednesday afternoon. My car was pulled up to the curb at baggage claim and as soon as he climbed in I pounced, desperate for the interview I’d been promised. “Okay, we can talk in person now. Tell me about Evelyn.”

To his credit, he didn’t sigh belligerently or make some sarcastic comment, like “nice to see you too.”  Instead he leaned his head back against the car seat and stared forward, not meeting my eyes, which admittedly, needed to be on the road. “She’s a single mom - ”

I cut him off. “How old is her kid? Is it yours?”

“No.” He took a deep breath and tapped his fingers against his knee. “Her son is only three, not twelve, like he’d have to be if was mine. The father is someone she met in South Sudan, but he’s dead now, because it turns out he was HIV positive when they met and later he came down with AIDS.”

“Oh.” I stopped at a light and switched on the turn signal, trying to form a reply. That’s too bad would sound like a terrible understatement.

“There’s more,” Monty said. I glanced over at him. His eyelids were drooping and so were his shoulders, making him look worn out and deflated. “Her kid is fine, he doesn’t have the virus, but a couple of years ago Evelyn tested positive, and recently she was diagnosed with AIDS herself. So she moved back to the U.S so to get better health care, but that’s really hard to do without a job.”

“She doesn’t have a job?”

“Actually, she does now.” He swallowed hard and finally looked at me. We were in traffic, inching forward at a snail’s pace. His ominous tone made me wish to press on the gas pedal, to speed toward some unknown destination. “She begged me to pull some strings so she could work in my department at the Gates Foundation.”

“And you did?”

“Yeah. I mean, she’s more than qualified, and I didn’t know how I could say no.”

I white knuckled the steering wheel while I bit my tongue.  If I pointed out that he owed her nothing I’d be the “deplorable” one, speaking ill of a single mother with AIDS. But Evelyn would never have to answer for all her misdeeds; she’d earned a free pass at a terrible cost. “You’ll be co-workers now?"

Through my peripheral vision I saw him nod. “I knew you’d be upset. That’s why I had to wait to tell you about this in person, so you could see my face and believe that it’s all going to be fine.” Monty placed his hand on my knee, surprising me with the coolness of his touch, its chill seeping through my cotton khaki pants.

“I’m not upset,” I said. “I… I don’t know what I am.”  Just like CNN, I didn’t know how to insist that he back up his blanket statement of fineness, or do anything but be stunned at getting caught off guard. I was one step behind the breaking news, one step behind having the news break me.

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