she did not want to let jeffrey go to mcdonalds by himself, but what could she do?
she had promised him he could go if he behaved, and he had behaved.
and he had done his lessons. he had read the books dr stimson had given him.
dr stimsom had not tested jeffrey on the books yet, but she had assured margo that it was no big deal, that it did not matter so much if jeffrey even understood what was in the books, just that he had the discipline to read them.
and so far as margo could see, jeffrey had actually read them.
it was a nice sunny day, margo could not use the weather as an excuse to even hint that maybe jeffrey could put off his trip until another day.
another day when he did not have that look in his eye.
when he had the look in the eye, margo did not dare contradict him, or make any suggestion that he might take as a contradiction. like, make some kind of a hint as to how long his visit to mcdonalds might last.
when jeffrey first started going out by himself to fast food and other public places, margo had been tempted to follow him in her car and watch - “stake out” - whatever premises he was visiting, but the thought of the kind of rage it would provoke made her break out in a cold sweat.
no, there was nothing else for it.
margo still had faith in dr samantha stimson, who had been recommended by her friends who had similar problem children, and who had such wonderful credentials and testimonials , but still -
every time jeffrey was completely out of her sight and reach, she felt an overpowering premonition of total disaster.
but what could she do?
jeffrey was all dressed up and ready to go. in his kansas jayhawks jacket and cap, which, as margo. knew, “showed he meant business”. whatever that meant, and she could only hope it never meant anything.
he was shaved as well as he was going to be - but with his judgment day five o’clock shadow showing through as savagely as error. margo thought he might look less intimidating if he actually grew a beard, but jeffrey had his reasons - he always had his reasons, though he never revealed them - for not doing so.
and of course he had that look in his eye.
“well, have a good time,” margo told him, with her best attempt at an encouraging smile.
“i’ll try,” jeffrey answered, with what margo could only hope was his attempt at a friendly smile.
margo watched from the window as jeffrey walked off down the street with his unique walk, where he managed to be both slumping and stiff at the same time.
at least it is a nice day, margo thought, he won’t come home dripping wet. nothing could ever persuade jeffrey to carry or use an umbrella, no matter what the weather or the forecast.
margo wanted to call dr stimson, but willed herself not to. what would she say? she would just be wasting dr stimson’s time and abusing her trust.
jeffrey was twenty-four years old.
margo was forty-one years old. after twenty-four years of jeffrey, sometimes she felt she was one hundred and forty-one years old, and sometimes like she was still seventeen years old.
the same seventeen years old she was on that fateful day when jeffrey was just a gleam in satan’s eye and half an ounce in her uterus and she decided to let him see the light of day.
a decision she had regretted every day for twenty-four years.
and that even though she never said so outright, that jeffrey knew she regretted.
and she knew that he knew.
and he knew that she knew that he knew.
walking along, jeffrey was in a pretty good mood.
as he always was, when he could get away from margo at all.
how he wished she would get a job, and leave him alone for about eight hours a day!
but there was no sense thinking such thoughts now, when he was having a taste of freedom.
he could think those thoughts all the time.
the streets were empty, as they always were.
jeffrey wished that they were not, but he knew why they were not.
because they were all sitting inside, on their laptops and tablets and phones.
things were a little better with the new phones, because a few more people would come out into the fresh air. but they still walked around with their eyes on the phones, hardly looking where they were going.
jeffrey dreamed of a world like he had read about, where streets and parks were filled with people, sitting on steps and boxes and arguing, standing on soapboxes and shouting, getting in each other’s faces..
maybe even getting in fights and kicking ass!
but the days were gone, probably forever.
jeffrey felt that in such a world, with no web or internet and everybody out in the streets, he, jeffrey, would have a better chance of realizing his dream.
his dream of starting a new religion and conquering the world.
jeffrey liked mcdonalds because he could sit there and sometimes overhear what people were saying.
but most of the time he had to just imagine, or try to figure out, what people were saying.