FACT : When he heard he was going to be a father, he hailed a cab.
The scene of an automobile accident met Jon and Cassia as they left the diner. Jon made a comment but unfortunately Cassia had left her newfound confidence and any witty reply inside. He dug his hands into the pockets of his hoodie and chose to believe she just hadn’t heard him.
As they walked the opposite way down the block, they heard the man and woman involved in the miner collision bicker at each other and into their respective cell phones. Their voices were progressively getting louder. Neither claimed responsibility nor censored their thoughts as they yelled amidst slowing traffic. By the time car door slams resonated and tires squealed in escape, silence had followed Jon and Cassia to the next intersection. It was there one car came to a screeching halt and the echo of “CUT!” from a disembodied voice sounded in a bullhorn.
“That’s California I guess.” Cassia mumbled more to keep the sunset company than to make a statement. Every day scenarios, dramatized to this extent was not a foreign concept in Beverly Hills, a town where every melodramatic waiter was aspiring for something bigger. And it hadn’t been the first time she had accidentally walked onto a movie set. Although the last time, she was a curly haired four year old and the director thought it was adorable enough to cast her in a commercial. Her acting career ending as soon as she refused to eat the cereal she was meant to be endorsing.
“I’m from Chicago.” Jon announced. The words he spoke didn’t hold the same aversion Cassia expected them too. They were friendly enough to invite further conversation.
“What are you doing?” Cassia asked as though Jon hadn’t been written so congenially in their script. Lines folded themselves neatly across her forehead and it looked as though something foul tickled at her nose.
Jon turned away, pausing as if to find words that would be better welcomed. “There’s no need to be defensive.” He sighed messing his hair, “You never even told me your name.” Her presence, a hint of an unintentional attitude, was making him uncomfortable. Even a modest t-shirt and sweatpants combination couldn’t keep her from blending in with the crowds that had just began to gather on the outdoor patios of today’s “chic” restaurants. Girls in designer dresses hung delicately on the perfectly tan arms of guys with shirts unbuttoned a few places too low; yet without trying she was just as stunning. Jon, who was neither flashy nor arrogant, felt vastly underdressed and out of place with his jeans hugging his legs a bit too tight and the wrinkles of his striped shirt peaking out from beneath his favorite hoodie. It was not often he found environments that were so unwelcoming.
Before Cassia could think of any reply her eyes caught those of a pretty blonde socialite familiar only from a distant circle of friends. Tugging on Jon’s arm, Cassia ducked her head and led him away from “Le Petit Bistro” before she could be greeted with shallow pleasantries and gossip. She froze, turning to face Jon only once they reached a crosswalk she finally began to see him like she had the night they met. His brown hair hung in his face, covering his eyes only until he swung his head to the side. Then it laid gently across his forehead. His warm brown eyes reflected the same kind of security that had drawn her to him originally. When she mumbled a shy, “My name is Cassia Meyer.” He smiled.
“My name is...”
“It’s Jon.” She interrupted him, although she hadn’t meant to be rude, “I remember.” And the light switched to display a white figure. That’s when he finally understood they really didn’t have a destination. The conversation that would eventually fall out of their heads, mouths, and hearts had no rules. For the time being it hid in dusk’s first shadows, following their aimless steps farther from the diner and consequentially the silence became more comfortable.
As night continued its approach, the sound of our footsteps accompanied a cricket’s song. Cassia stole glances at him just to be sure he hadn’t fallen behind while she took her time to find the words she had to stay. Jon was patient, her nervous glances assured him an explanation of some sort would come eventually, but the longer he waited the more painful his insides became. Even a hint of what was on its way through the dark would have put him at ease.
“Look.” Cassia spoke finally settling on a rambling conversation approach, “I don’t know if you make a habit out of one-night stands or what you have heard from Brendon about me or what Regina told you, but there’s something you really need to take into consideration before...”
“I don’t.” He said as scratched the back of his neck. Grazing her hand as he brought his arm back to his side he continued, “Make a habit out of one night stands, that is. I guess you could say that night was a special circumstance.”
Like a fish out of water Cassia open and closed her mouth repeatedly without emitting a single sound. She had arbitrarily planned something between a rant and a rave to fill the empty space in their conversation. Unable to place any further attack on his character she tucked a lock of hair behind my ear. She came across as timid now, “I was going to say something to the same effect.”
Pursing his lips in a satisfied manner he looked toward the nearest street sign as if to place himself on a map. “Looks like we’ve got something in common already,” He
Cassia allowed that statement to permeate the silence between them for the next few minutes. When she finally announced his name in the darkness, a predecessor to the announcement she had been avoiding, a cell phone sang out an interruption. Excusing himself politely, Jon took the call, speaking only briefly before placing it back in his pocket.
“I’m pregnant.” Cassia blurted simply because her psyche couldn’t withstand another interruption.
Jon inhaled deeply, but the increase in oxygen didn’t clear his head at all. He mumbled something between “Alright” and “Okay” before stepping to the near-by curb. Cassia watched as a he raised his arm to hail a cab and a lump formed in her throat in fear she’d be left alone in this situation once more.
When a yellow taxi rattled to a halt just in front of where they stood, Jon opened the door without hesitation. “Ladies first,” He smiled backed toward Cassia gesturing her into the car. When she didn’t take his hand immediately, he stepped back to explain, “That was Brendon on the phone. He told me to make sure you got home okay, they’re already back.”
With limited opportunity to escape the situation all together, Cassia slid across the ripped leather interior of the cab. The scent of week-old takeout food in a bag only slightly visible beneath the passenger’s seat met her nostrils. When the driver barked for a destination, she choked on her address glad there was nothing in her stomach to spill. The empty heaves were only slightly more comfortable than the conversation Jon began after rolling down his window. The pungent smell of that backseat combined with the new information he had just been given made him feel like he was going to vomit too.
The cab’s unexpected turns and consistency of hitting every pothole in California, stole the words from Jon’s throat. He began three times before speaking a clear, “So when you said that you were pregnant, you meant that I’m...”
“Yes.” Cassia answered before he could finish. Now that she was able to speak with the sophisticated ease of a pageant queen she didn’t want to risk hysterics again.
“So that means we are...” Jon trailed off once more. His mind was still reeling, grasping at old memories. It was the pit in his stomach that reminded him of the current reality. He was traveling 20mph over the limit in the rank backseat of a cab, feeling much like a director would yell “CUT!” on this scene any second. Either that or they were about to have a very unscripted crash.
“I guess so.” Cassia, shrugged. Anticlimactic: it almost disappointed him.
“Congratulations!” The cab driver exclaimed slamming on the break 30 yards short of the stop sign. He was a stout middle-aged man with a friendly smile. When he reached into his back pocket to remove the pictures of his six children Cassia opened her door in a hurry.
“You can drop me right here.” She announced pointing out her apartment building. Quickly pulling bills from the wallet in his own back pocket, Jon thanked the man a hurried after her. It wasn’t until he saw the two pacing figures in front of the building he realized she was in fact home. Regina and Brendon hurried to greet them like they had been lost at sea for years.
“Thanks man,” Brendon said with a clap on Jon’s shoulder and Regina wrapped Cassia in a tight hug.
“We’re still going to watch the movie aren’t we?” Brendon piped noticing Cassia’s pleading gaze. The sudden concern for her was already suffocating.
“Of course,” Regina smiled releasing her friend from the embrace, “Jon, you’re more than welcome to join us.”
If Brendon hadn’t been standing closes to Jon at that moment he would have politely declined, but as soon as the invitation was spoke Brendon began another endless stream of chatter. It only seemed natural to walk with him, quietly listening as he talked.
“Reggie what are you doing?” Cassia whispered stopping her best friend a few paces behind the boys.
“Helping...” Regina smiled sweetly, pulling out her key to unlock the door.
As soon as the group entered the apartment, they disappeared into the loft to watch “The Notebook”. While Regina and Brendon sat close on the couch, Jon fell back into the shadows, choosing a beanbag chair as his seat.
“Cassie, hurry with that popcorn! Brendon’s already started the movie. You’re going to miss the beginning!” Regina giggled over the railing of the loft.
In the kitchen, Cassia shook her head in amusement, Brendon’s impatience definitely mirrored Regina’s. The more she saw them together the more and more she was convinced they were perfect together. They seemed to be just another love story she’s watch with a bowl of popcorn in her lap.
Cassia’s “I’m coming, I’m coming” was interrupted with a scream halfway through. Losing her footing on the seventh step, she tumbled forward, the bowl of popcorn she was carrying fell from her hands and landed upside-down. At the sound of the crash, Jon hurried from his seat on a beanbag chair to be sure she was okay.
“I’m not helpless.” Cassia snapped noticing him standing above her. Instead of checking to see if the bump on her shin was already bruising, she began collecting the spilled popcorn.
As Jon knelt down to help her he whispered, “But you’re crying.”
Cassia wiped her eyes and looked at where he had begun collecting popcorn into piles. She was neither injured nor upset, tears just seemed to come more naturally than most emotions recently. “I don’t know what to say else to you,” She admitted hesitantly. She hoped he didn’t take that to mean she wanted him to leave.
Jon emptied the last of the popcorn from his two cupped hands and placed the large bowl aside. Moving to sit besides Cassia, who now held her head in her hands, he was uncertain before gently placing a hand on her back. “That’s alright,” He said moving his in a comforting circular motion.
Cassia had stopped crying by the time she lifted her head. “I really don’t need your help,” She with more compassion this time. Now, she was trying to put him before the harsh independence she had been feigning, “I mean that I don’t need your money, or anything like that.”
“Brendon mentioned today you went to an abortion clinic...” He tried to understand.
“It was an option. But I couldn’t go through with it.”
“Then it looks like I have a reason to be a part of your life.”
She paused, still trying to figure out what kind of person he was. It scared her, knowing so little about him. “What are you suggesting?”
“Come on tour with us.” Jon told her, “You know Regina really wants you to and Brendon has been pestering everybody for weeks.” When Cassia seemed disheartened by his answer, Jon gave her the real motivation behind his suggestion, “And I really want to be a part of this.”
Cassia smiled weakly, “I guess I can’t say no to that.”