Anderson Cooper is telling me that I should go through with it. Not literally, but it’s in his eyes. I watch his show to keep up with the world. Some people say too much news can hurt you, though I do like Anderson’s calm manner and the way he doesn’t club you over the head with it all. He eases you into the disasters around the globe, like when he reported during Katrina, impeccably dressed and knee deep in water. You believed he felt sorry for all the chaos floating around him. He knows about loss.
I was watching his show, waiting for Mary Catherine to come home and wondering whether I should tell her the truth about the burglary. The truth being that there hadn’t been one. I’d only made it look that way, had smashed a window from the fire escape when she was at work and when I was supposed to be. The police filled out a report, in their casual way, as if they had more important things to do, which I guess they did.
I had taken Mary Catherine’s watch and jewelry from her bureau, including her ruby high school graduation ring and the pearl necklace from her grandmother and sold all of it to a guy I knew from the restaurant where I worked who was into all sorts of shit. I got enough money for the tickets to London, where we’ll be spending the summer. Mary Catherine’s cousin lives there, but she’s going to Spain and that’s why her apartment is available. This cousin, whose actual real life name is Frederika, is a semi-successful singer and actress and in photographs I have seen has the sad and emaciated look of an aging runway model. When she called Mary Catherine a few weeks ago and offered the use of her place, I could see my girlfriend calculate how much we’d need to cover our transportation, our rent here in Boston and the UK living expenses. She tried to be optimistic because Mary Catherine has often pined for overseas adventures. She even asked her British cousin to give her some time to work it out, but I knew we’d come up short.
I settled on my plan after that, though it didn’t take any real planning. I only had to make sure no one saw me break the window. When I came home with the tickets a few days later, I told her a distant relative had died and left me the money. Mary Catherine didn’t question this, only hugged me in a mixture of condolence and relief, but I know eventually she will get around to asking, maybe even while we are on the final approach to Heathrow.
The guilt I feel must mean I’m serious about Mary Catherine, more so than I have been about anyone else, and I have had more than my share of romantic interludes and semi-permanent attachments in this somewhat stormy life. If it’s true that Mary Catherine is different, then how can I not tell her about my lies. I was back and forth on this until just a few minutes ago, when I suddenly pictured her forgiving me for the whole deal. It was my very own miracle, like when you read about some farmer who claims to see the image of Jesus in a head of lettuce.
This epiphany came as a direct result of my watching Anderson Cooper and all that forgiveness bubbling up in his weird blue eyes, staring back at me from the tube, wooing me to do the right thing. It was absolution, I believe — enough for me, enough for everyone, and it makes it so much easier to sit here, recognizing my newfound faith in the world, while I listen carefully for Mary Catherine’s key in the door.
Bill Gaythwaite‘s stories have appeared in Alligator Juniper, Lynx Eye, Boston Literary Magazine and Word Riot. His work has also been included in Mudville Diaries, an anthology of baseball essays published by Avon Books. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.