The Informers

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07.03.2019

“Did you know that Robert Waters is here?” Rachel asks us.

“Who?” Tim asks sullenly.

“Come on, Tim,” I say. “Robert Waters. He’s on ‘Flight Patrol,’ that TV show.”

“I guess I don’t watch enough TV,” Tim says.

“Yeah, right,” I snort.

“You don’t know who Robert Waters is?” Rachel asks him.

“No, I don’t,” Tim says, an edge in his voice. “Do you?”

“I actually met him at Reagan’s inauguration,” Rachel says, then, “God, I thought everybody knew who Robert Waters is.” She shakes her head, amused.

“I don’t,” Tim says, plainly irritated. “Why?”

“Well, it’s kind of embarrassing.” Rachel smiles, looks down.

“Why?” Tim asks again, a fraction of coldness evaporating.

“He’s here with three guys,” I say.

“So?” Tim asks.

“So?” Rachel laughs.

“One of them tried to pick up on Tim today,” I tell Rachel, attempting to gauge her response because at first there isn’t one but then she starts laughing and then I’m laughing with her. Tim is not laughing.

“Me?” he asks. “When?”

“At the bar,” Rachel says. “Today on the beach.”

“Him? That guy?” Tim asks, remembering.

“Yeah, him,” I say, rolling my eyes.

Tim blushes. “He was nice. He was a nice guy. So what?”

“Nothing,” Rachel says.

“I’m sure he was real nice,” I say, laughing.

“Real nice,” Rachel repeats, giggling.

Tim looks at her, then sharply at me since I’m to blame, and then back at Rachel and his face changes as if he understands something might be heading toward something else and this realization seems to relax him.

“I guess you two would notice,” Tim says, still smiling at her, then, grimly, my way. He lights a cigarette, taunting me. But I only smile back and pretend not to notice.

“I guess we would,” I say, patting Rachel’s arm.

“Come on, Tim,” she says, pulling back a little. “They like you. You’re probably the youngest guy here.”

Tim smiles, takes a deep drag on the cigarette. “I haven’t noticed how many ‘young guys’ are here. Sorry.”

“You shouldn’t smoke,” Rachel says.

“I told you, Tim,” I say.

He looks at her, then at me. “Why not?” he asks her.

“It’s bad for you,” she tells him earnestly.

“He knows that,” I say. “I told him last night.”

“No. You told me not to smoke because ‘we’re in Hawaii,’ not because it’s bad for me,” he says, glaring.

“Well, it’s bad for you too and I find it offensive,” I say with no effort.

“I’m not blowing it in your face,” he mutters. He looks over at Rachel to save him. “Am I bothering you? I mean, jeez, we’re outside. We’re outside.”

“You just shouldn’t smoke, Tim,” she says softly.

He gets up. “Well, I’m going somewhere else to finish this cigarette, okay? Since you two don’t like it.” Pause, then, to me, “Are the odds pretty good tonight, Dad?”

“Tim,” Rachel says. “You don’t have to. Sit down.”

“No,” I say, daring him. “Let him go.”

Tim begins to walk away.

Rachel turns in her chair. “Tim. Oh God.”

He walks past a couple of small potted palms, the piano player, one of the fags, an old couple dancing, then in, then out of the dining room.

“What’s wrong with him?” Rachel asks.

The two of us don’t say anything else to each other and listen to the piano player and the muffled conversations that float out of the dining room, the background sound of waves breaking along the shore. Rachel finishes a drink I don’t remember her ordering. I sign for the check.

“Good night,” she says. “Thanks for dinner.”

“Where are you going?” I ask.

“Please tell Tim I’m sorry.” She begins to walk away.

“Rachel,” I say.

“I’ll see him tomorrow.”

“Rachel.”

She walks out of the dining room.

I open the door to our suite. Tim is sitting on his bed, looking out over the balcony, curtains billowing around him. The room is completely dark except for moonlight and, even with the balcony doors open, permeated with marijuana.

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