I’d let myself go soft over the couple years following my time in rehab, so I started hitting the gym for the first time in nearly a decade. I’d always hated exercise, but this time around I found I didn’t mind it so much, mostly because of Jacky, my personal trainer. Jacky put a lot of emphasis on mind-body health. Beyond putting me through intense cardio-regimens and long yoga sessions, Jacky would take me to her acupuncturist and lead me on long relaxing excursions into the wilderness. She told me, “I don’t know why you’re so stressed, Knox. For a completely selfish narcissist, you sure seem to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.”
“I know,” I said. “An ex of mine used to liken me to Sisyphus.”
“Wow,” Jacky laughed, “She sure knew how to feed your ego.”
One afternoon, after a long hike along the coast, Jacky took me to a secluded beach where she seduced me in the sand. I was shocked because I had assumed she was a lesbian. In addition, I was involved in a serious, albeit, long-distance relationship. “If you weren’t leaving town soon I wouldn’t do this,” she said. “Sexual tension wouldn’t help your workout regimen. But if you just take this for what it is, it will definitely make you stronger.” A week later, I moved to Los Angeles, feeling healthier than I’d been in years.
Three years passed. When I moved back to Santa Cruz I bumped into Jacky at a farmers market with her kid. She invited me to their house for dinner. Over a meal of vegan lasagna, Jacky confessed that her little boy was most likely mine.
“We weren’t involved, so I don’t know. It felt wrong for me to track you down and try to make you be a part of our lives. You don’t seem especially phased by this.”
I thought about it for a moment and said, “Well, I guess I always knew you were out there. I mean, I didn’t know it was you. But I’m not naïve enough to think I’ve completely dodged the baby bullet over the years. Consider me on board.”
A couple days later, I moved in with Jacky and we went about starting a family. We didn’t love each other, but there was true affection. I think both of us were enamored with the idea that we had a real family. I mean, I hadn’t had a real family since my mother disappeared on my father all those years ago.
About six months later I went and got a physical from my doctor. I told him the news, that I’d finally made good, albeit, completely by accident. He looked at me quizzically.
“Mr. Dupree, it says here in your file that you’re sterile, that you’ll never be able to have kids.” Sure enough, when the paternity test came back, it turned out I wasn’t the guy. At the time, I thought it didn’t matter, but things at home quickly unraveled. When Jacky threw me out, she said, “If you were a different man, Knox, maybe I’d see past this, but you’re not really the father. I don’t see the point.”
And even though I was completely devastated, if I’m really being honest, I didn’t either.