86400 Seconds -- 9


My teeth slide back and forth in my mouth, grinding against each other.  I don't normally react to stuff like this, but I guess that's because I normally am not answering to my daughter.  Working in the business that I work in, I barely answer to anyone.  Yeah I have a boss, and I have to make sure that my charges are taken care of, but for the most part there aren't questions posed at me about stuff like this.  I just do what I'm going to do and only have to ever answer or explain my actions when something has gone wrong.

Is something wrong?  I mean I know it sucks to be a kid in a divorced family, but there is something more that has come along with her question--a hinting at something that hasn't been talked about.  Jayden is getting to the age where she probably needs to see me more.  She's starting to wonder why I'm not there and when I'll be back--things that were only trivial in her life at an earlier age.

School has done this to her.  I'm not at all against putting her in school.  I mean she has to go, but sometimes I wonder about Beverly's choice to put her in private school instead of public school.  I pay for the stupid classes and I know she's getting educated, but the crowd of people that send their kids to private school sometimes scares me.  I went to public school my whole life and I don't think I should be sending my kid to one just because I can afford it.  I want her to be normal.

I shouldn't bash the school.  This would probably happen in public school too.  Teachers and students always talk about their mommies and their daddies and the fact that her daddy isn't around is probably weighing on her mind.  I hate that.  I hate being an extra worry

Just as I'm starting to be able to formulate an answer to explain to my daughter why I have to be away from her so much, Vivian returns to the room next door.  I hear the door crack open and the working part of my brain tunes my ears to the sounds in the next room.  I relax instantly when I hear her quietly apologize for the interruption and soon am greeted with her soft face slipping into the bedroom, leaving Barry to care for Justin for the moment.

There's something about this girl.  I swear if Justin wasn't into her, I'd want her.  Or at least I'd want someone just like her, since now it would be like incest or something to be hitting on her.  She's like a daughter/best friend to me.  When she first started working with Justin she was really green and I had a few times where I was saving her from the crowds and chaos more than I was saving Justin from them.  Now though, at least up until today, I figured that she didn't need anyone to take care of her anymore, but her _expression says something different to me now.

"Daddy.  Color."  Jayden slides one of her coloring books towards me.  Her eyes stay down and she's still coloring in one of the headpieces on beauty from her beauty and the beast coloring book.  With her free hand, Jayden supplies me with four markers to color with.

I look up at Vivian, without trying to make her feel like she's under a microscope.  It's not gonna work, but at least I try to have a tone to my voice that isn't parental.  "Where'd you go?"

She's deep in thought, lips moving as if she's trying to figure out what she's going to say and has to mouth the words to see if it's ok to speak the words.  Worry covers her face.  Or guilt.  Yeah, guilt seems to be the _expression on her face.  It can be heard in her voice when she speaks next.  I don't think that she's done anything too crazy, but knowing her, knowing women, she's probably just called someone to spill her guts and probably said some really harsh things that she'd never want anyone else to hear and is wondering if someone has heard them.

The flat questioning tone makes it clear that she's unsure that her answer is believable.  "Had to make a call?"

I nod believing for the moment that her answer is believable.  She probably did make that call, but looking at her I'm not sure that it was a good call that she was making.  "You ok?"

She nods.  "I had to--"  She looks at Jayden for a moment.  "Vent.  Yeah.  That's the word I'm looking for."  She walks over to the window and I can tell that if Jayden wasn't here right now that she'd be bawling her eyes out.  I'm not sure who she called, but I don't think that the venting worked.  I think she probably needs to break down, have a good cry, take a deep breath and get on with her day--more easily said and done with half the world's press is on the other side of that door.

"What does vent mean?" Jayden asks.

I sit back and wait for Vivian to explain.  I know she'll do it tactfully.  She's good at getting out of situations like this.  It's probably a trait she needs to teach Justin since he clearly has no clue on how to deal with situations like this.

When she turns back around I can tell that today is going to be a long day.  She smiles though, through whatever anger she is sitting in and comes over to Jayden.  "It's just when you have a really good conversation with someone and you say certain things that you've been needing to say for a while."

"Oh."

When Vivian settles into a seat with us on the bed to color I let the whole subject drop.  It's not worth going over it and over it if clearly it's going to make her even more upset.  I've learned that much in life.  Never take a conversation to where you're just making it worse by bringing it up in the first place.

*****

It doesn't seem like too much later before Barry comes into the room with a binder in his hand.  "You guys want to order lunch?"  He hands over the binder.  Its the standard room service book.

Gross.

I know people would string me up and hang me for turning my nose up at room service, but after you eat it more than a few times in a row you really get tired of it.  Going down the street would be better than ordering something, but we have to stay here.  I almost wish that someone would protest.  Vivian could probably use the break to run down the street to get lunch, but I know that Barry won't allow it.  The hotel is giving us a break with the commotion we're causing running so many people through here and we have to do the nice thing and use the amenities that come along with our rooms.

I look towards the door and see Justin still doing his interviews.  He looks pissy right now.  I don't know if it's the press, the questions, or Vivian's attitude towards him, but I know that if something isn't done soon he's liable to go off on someone around here.  I'd rather like to avoid him making a scene.

"He ok?" I ask looking at Justin's _expression again.  He's rolling his eyes, which is definitely not a good sign.

"We're going to have Justin take a break in a minute.  He's getting cranky."

"Cranky?" Vivian parrots back at him with a muffled laugh, "Hmmm.  Not surprising?"

Barry looks at me and I shrug.  I'm not pulling myself into this.  He can do that on his own.

"Miss Vivian."  Barry uses a mocking tone.  "Is there anything else you'd like to tell the class?"

I turn to look at Vivian and Jayden does this too.

After a moment my daughter opens up her mouth and I KNOW that something crazy is about to come out.  I can see the smartass little look on her face.  Who knew that kids could be logical smartasses?  They must be getting better at it these days because when I was little there wasn't a time that I could get away with what my daughter says.  "No," Jayden answers for her.  "She doesn't want to vent right now."

"Oh really?"  Barry looks at Vivian.

"Yes," Vivian says getting up from the bed.  She breezes past Barry into the room where Justin is still in the middle of an interview.  I hear her apologize for interrupting again and I hear Justin say her name before the sound of the door echoes in the room.

"What's wrong with her?" Barry asks.

"Long night," I say, "And a long day."  I push myself up.  "Can you be a good girl for a second Jayden and stay with Barry and Justin while I go find Vivian?"

"Yes daddy," she says, unaware that what she's just said has basically started World War Three.

I move out of the bedroom, into the living room and Justin looks up at me and slyly looks at the door.

I answer his look with a nod.  "I'll be back."

I nod to the reporter then slip out into the hallway.  I should be staying in the room and making sure that Justin is ok, but with Barry there I know I can take a second or two to look for Vivian.  I give myself five minutes to find her and bring her back.

She's down the hall and around the corner sitting in a little alcove staring at the wall.

"Come on Vivian," I say and reach a hand out to pull her up.  She motions to push my hand away and then curls her legs up to her chest and leans against them.  She nods her head that she doesn't want to budge so I take a breath and silently count to ten.  Women are the worst some times.  If they weren't so overly sensitive I think everyone's lives would be easier.

Beverly's biggest problem with my job was that I had no time to call and talk to her while I was on the road.  It wasn't--at least at first--that I didn't want to talk to her.  It was that I was either too physically and mentally tired to pick up the phone and call or I was completely booked from morning to night to have the chance to get away to speak to her for more than a "hi, how are you, that's good, gotta run" call.

Vivian, like I used to tell Beverly, needs to let this roll off her back instead of internalizing it so much.  "You know he didn't mean what he said.  He's got to--"

There are tears in her eyes when she looks up and her voice is heavy.  "I know.  I know.  Jesus.  I know."

I don't know what she knows, but it must be something good considering that her voice has just picked up in volume and in pitch.  Even through her tears she has the ability to seem calm and see totally out of control at the same time.

"And I know what you're thinking that I'm totally stupid for acting this way.  I knew what I was getting myself into and I should have expected something like this."  She wipes at her eye.

"Logically I do think that--" I try to word this carefully.  I don't want to take sides in this situation.  I think that has gotten too many people who are support staff into trouble in situations like this.  If you stay neutral then no one gets hurt.  If you chose sides, everyone gets hurt and sometimes you lose your employment.  "--BUT I understand that he hurt you."

She nods.  "He did," she says.  "I shouldn't take it hard.  I know he has to keep up appearances and I understand that, but the fact that he doesn't even realize that I'm pissed at him right now really--"  She sighs.  "I just can't understand how he can say something that he has to know will hurt my feelings and then when he has the chance to apologize or even explain--he doesn't take it."

"He's a guy," I say, "Guys don't know how to handle women.  I know you're smart enough to know that."

She looks up and takes a deep breath.  "I knew what I was getting into and I know enough about guys.  I just need to vent a little more about this and then I'll come back."

"You sure?" I ask.

"Yeah," she says, "Go back in there or you're gonna get into trouble."

I want to stall and make sure that she's ok.  She doesn't look ok yet and even though I know she can handle this herself, I think she needs a bit more support before I leave her on her own.  "Do you want me to order you lunch?"

She sniffs, "Yeah.  Turkey sandwich?"

"Dr Pepper?" I ask with a half smile knowing that the sugar will do her good.  When we travel so much people are normally cranky so getting sugar into their systems and getting them hyper usually does a good job of distracting the person from what is really on their minds.  Its a horrible thing to do, but you do what you have to do to get through the day.  If we could I'm sure we'd all be drunk most of the day.  At night when everyone goes clubbing we all go through that, but during daylight hours, and especially when press is around we have to be good kids.

"Thanks," she says.

I leave her alone in the hallway and walk my way back to the room just as another reporter is coming out.  For a moment while no press is in the room I look at Justin who is staring at me, asking with his eyes if Vivian is ok.  I look at him and smile then move towards the bedroom door.

"Tiny?"

"What?"

He hesitates for a moment, looking at the floor as he digs for words before he finally asks what I know he's been wanting to say.  "Is she ok?  Was it the stuff from before--"

I put a hand up to silence him as there is another knock at the door.  "Give her a bit," I say as I go towards the door to open it.  "She'll be fine."

Justin slumps down on the couch.  He's acting like a baby.  He gets this way when he's working and has other things to take care of.  I've seen it a million times before.  This trip hasn't had as many episodes as the others, but I'm sure that we're all due for one of his fits.  I thought he was going to have one the other day when Vivian and he were talking in the back room at the Virgin Megastore, but somehow she soothed him into remission and we got through the day ok.  I just hope that this can be smoothed over or it's going to be a LONG day.