It took me the better part of Saturday evening to get the balls to call Roofie and tell them I was moving. Even though I have family, lawyers, friends, teachers and pediatricians backing me, I still felt sweaty and sick, dialing those numbers. Its been almost a year since I stopped feeling this way when I heard my phone ring, but this weekend, I was right back there.
Some memories never really go away. As I waited for Rooferman to pick up the phone, I imagined him breaking into an uncontrollable fury, throwing the phone across the room, screaming obscenities. In a wave of nostalgia, this memory was suddenly triggered:
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, November 2005.
We sat in the sweltering heat of LSU Stadium, watching a New Orleans Saints game. 80 miles away, the Superdome housed thousands of rotting corpses, victims of hurricane Katrina. The Saints had been relocated to the college stadium at LSU for the season, where fans attempted to force a shred of happiness in the wake of utter misery. The cheers coming from the stands were gutteral screams, desperately seeking solace in watching the gold helmets sprint up the field.
Likewise, I was attempting to recover from the news that I was pregnant, and not one person was happy about it. Weeks before, I had taken a pregnancy test in a porta potty. Outside, Rooferman and the rest of the Construction crew had uncovered a nest of Coppermouth snakes near our campsite, and having ingested a few beers, were taking turns hacking their heads off with various garden tools.
Rooferman picked up the phone. “I have to tell you something,” I heard myself saying these words the same way I had choked them out 5 years ago. After telling him I was pregnant, he disappeared for the rest of the evening.
“I can’t forgive you for this,” he told me after returning from God-Knows-Where. I started sobbing and told him I wanted to go lay down. He refused and proceeded to lock me out of the room. I banged on the door until I passed out in the hallway. The Mexican workers who slept across the hall from us took pity on me and let me sleep in their room. The next morning I told Rooferman I was going home.
He begged and pleaded for me to stay with him. He told me he was sorry and that he was going to make everything right. I, being a pregnant fool, believe him. I stayed. I was scared. I didn’t know what else to do.
Now, sitting next to hundreds of drunken, traumatized Louisiana football fans, I felt numb. The sickness of Pregnancy had taken over my body, and the humid delta air was suffocating. I was dizzy, hungry, but we had spent our money on tickets instead of food. After a loss to the Chicago Bears, we made our way towards the exits.
Behind me, Rooferman was drunk on warm beer. He accidentally tripped up the stairs, lurching forward and causing me to fall to the ground. People’s feet kept moving as I tried to right myself. Rooferman pulled me up, saying “I’m so sorry baby, are you ok?” I angrily turned around and glared at him.
“I don’t know, are YOU ok?”
Something snapped in Rooferman when those words came out of my mouth. His eyes went wild. He turned, and with a “Fuck you!” he ran in the opposite direction. I didn’t realize he had my keys until I got back to my car. Two other construction workers were waiting when I got there. I told them Rooferman had taken off somewhere and I had no clue where he was. They rolled their eyes at me, hungry and wanting to go home.
We waited for an hour. When Rooferman finally showed up, he high-fived his buddies, opened the trunk of my car and cracked open another beer. Then turning to me, he chucked my keys and growled “You fucking drive.”
Silently, I took the keys and chauffeured the men home.
The interstate between Baton Rouge and New Orleans crosses miles of swampland. Nothing but trees, bushes & weeds rising up from the water. Nothing solid except the two strips of elevated highway could be seen. I was tempted to drive off the edge.
I’ve mentioned many times in this blog that I am ashamed for how I let myself be treated. I’ve dealt with the guilt for a long time and I think I’ve come to terms with it and have learned from my mistakes. Maybe its one of the reasons why I’m so hesitant to get close to another stranger. Maybe its the reason why my palms still sweat when I have to face Rooferman, even over the phone.
“I’m moving. We should get together and talk about it.”
He was silent for a minute. “When are you moving?”
“I start my new job June 1st.”
“This isn’t a good time. I’ve got a lot going on right now. I might be able to get together next weekend.”
“Ok well just call me when you have time.”
Hopefully I will already be gone by then.