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Chapter Thirteen

Leigh came through the doors of the jail with the officer at top speed, her heels clicking on the cement. She stopped in front of the cell Howie was in, her eyes flashing, and started yelling in rapid-fire Spanish at him. He leaped off the little bench stuck to the wall, where he'd been napping, and started whining out sorries that didn't cool her down. The cop smirked, and was no where near as reluctant to let her in as he was to let Howie in to my cell before.

After posting bail - from Howie's depleated bank account, might I add - Leigh had us out in the car. "What in the hell happened?" she demanded the moment the car doors slammed shut. She turned in the driver's seat to look at me in the back, then at Howie beside her. "Explain to me. Now."

I looked at Howie.

"AJ was at the bank," Howie answered. Leigh's eyes flashed to him. She looked unsettled. Obviously it was still weird to her that Howie was me and I was Howie. "They thought he was using a stolen card, since he's not...himself."

"Then I suckerpunched a cop," I added.

Leigh sighed. She turned forward and swore en espanol. I think she called me a donkey again, like D had, but I'm not positive.

Howie hung his head.

"And you, what did you do?"

"Threatened to kill an officer," I piped up. Howie turned red.

"You what?!" Leigh's face exploded in shock, "Howard Dwayne Dorough," she started to scold, but I interrupted.

"Well technically to keel not kill," I clarified.

Howie turned even redder.

Leigh's face didn't look any less horrified.

The ride home was very Spanish and I tuned most of the scolding out. I couldn't understand it anyway. When we got back to the McLean Castle, baby James screaming mercilessly in the backseat from the tension level in the car, Rochelle was sitting outside, smoking on the front stoop.

"She's pissed, just so you know," Leigh said.

"Great," Howie muttered, "I get chewed out by two wives and J doesn't have to deal with any."

I leaned forward and patted his shoulder, "Look at it this way, man," I said, "At least she won't try to sleep with you when you're in the dog house."

Leigh rolled her eyes, "You two stupid heads don't seriously think I'm not going to tell her you're switched, right?"

"YOU CAN'T!" I blared.

Howie and Leigh looked at me curiously.

"She already thinks I'm nuts..." I said.

"She's right," Leigh muttered and she got out of the car.

Howie sighed. "She took that well."

"That was well?" I asked.

The backdoor opened and Leigh hauled wailing James out of the car seat and hoisted him to her chest. "Come on, inmates," she said.

Howie and I got out of the car and followed Leigh across my lawn. We weren't even halfway to the house yet when Rochelle stood up, tossed her cigarette to the ground, stomped it out, and flew like a bat out of hell at me -- er, no, at Howie. With a crack, her open palm swiped across his face, "What in the name of all hell were you thinking Alexander James!?" she demanded, "Do you know how tweaked out your manager is? Not to mention you mother?"

"MY MOTHER?" I cried out.

Ro looked at me, her face contorted with confusion.

Leigh sighed, "Ro, I think we all need to sit down and have a nice long chat."

Rochelle looked at Howie, who was clutching my cheek. "Oy," he muttered, "For a mamasita you swing harder than Babe Ruth..."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"I don't believe it. I just don't believe it."

We were sitting in J's living room, the five of us, J and I having just completed our tale to this point. James was sitting on my lap, his legs happily swinging back and forth. J kept watching them carefully, probably to make sure his junk didn't get a toddler-sized shoe slammed into it.

Rochelle was sitting there, shaking her head, looking at the three of us like we were nuts. J got up and sat next to her. She scooted away but he put a hand on her shoulder.

"I can prove it to you," he said. He leaned over and began to whisper in her ear.

The more AJ whispered, the larger her eyes became. James seemed transfixed that someone's eyes could actually get bigger than his.

I should clarify that this isn't a jab at my son. He has gorgeous eyes. Someday ladies will kill over those eyes.

"OH MY GOD!" Ro shouted. James entire body jerked; he began to cry. Ro stood up and, as seemed to be the pattern lately, whirled on me.

"We had a conversation about my ring! Why didn't you tell me?"

"Because you'd go insane!" I screeched. "Kinda like what you're doing now!"

"If you didn't have a baby on your lap, I would so hit you!"

"Maybe she'd even keel you," J said. I passed him a dirty look. He grinned. I think he actually enjoyed seeing Ro scream at me.


"I think the most important thing is what we're going to do," Leigh said calmly.

"Do? Do?!" Ro shouted. I guess she wasn't done with being la loca. "This is a nightmare! I can't be married to this one," she said, pointing at me. "Because he has a personality like a tuna fish. And I can't be married to this one," she said, pointing at J (in my body), "because he looks like a cupie doll!"

J's mouth was flapping like a fish. James wrapped his hand around my arm and I sighed. "Tell me how you really feel about me," I muttered.

No one heard me. The moment the word 'cupie doll' flew out of Ro's mouth, Leigh was on her feet.

"'Scuse me?" Leigh said. "I don't take insults to my husband lightly. It's not like yours is a prize!"

Now, here's the thing. Leigh and Ro never fight. Sure, they're not the best of friends, but still...

They had never gotten in each other's faces before. Like they were doing. Right now.

"My monkee's a man!" Ro shouted.

"He's a coloring book gone bad!" Leigh shouted back. "And the only thing 'monkee' about him is his smell!"

I couldn't help it. I really couldn't. I lifted my (well, J's) armpit and smelled. AJ was doing the same.

"That does it!" Ro hissed. She slid off her earrings.

It's never a good sign when girls take off their earrings.

Sixty seconds later I was holding James high in the air watching our wives wrestle on the floor. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen in my life. AJ came over to me.

"Do you think we should break them up?" I whispered. There was a good minute pause.

"Eventually," J said. "Damn."

Damn was right. I felt warm all over. I exhaled.

"Hey J?"


"I think your pills have finally worn off," I said.

We both looked down. AJ grinned.

"About damn time."

Unknown McLean Fact #13: Rochelle's not AJ's first girlfriend to have a pet name. Previous girlfriends have been called 'tiger,' 'panther,' and 'Pumbaa.' Let's just say 'Pumbaa' didn't last long. No girl wants to be called a fat warthog. Why Rochelle wants to be compared to a hairy primate is beyond me, but who am I to judge?