What Happened to Mrs. McNair?
by Kevin Sweeney
I blame myself. My overwrought wise–guy persona
can’t resist a good joke, so when a new family buys
the big house on Broadway (supposedly haunted)
I notice that the wife /mother looks like the girl who
killed ex–NFL QB Steve McNair. Not as young
or glamorous but surely not as unstable; her two
pre–teen boys look like her with dark hair and eyes.
The father is tall and graying but fit and happy.
So I start referring to them as “The McNairs” when I
see the boys walk their small dog to the beach or the
parents set camping chairs on the sand, enjoying the
short span of Maine summer. Work is being done
on the house. Plants hang on the porch. It’s the kind of
house I’d once aspired to before a bad first marriage
then a good second with someone who understands loss.
But this year I see Mr. McNair at the beach with another
woman. I see him out walking, and it’s a different other
woman. That day in town he can’t get his Saab started
I walk over with jumper cables, mention I used to own
Saabs too. The woman in the passenger seat is pretty.
I want to ask, “What’s going on? Where’s your wife?
What about the kids?” The boys seem like teenagers
in that acoustic, minor chord way of melancholy and rue.
I see one reach the crest of a hill near their home with
his father. Both look stricken. I want to pull over and
offer something. A ride? Assurance she’ll be back?
The kids can still see her despite the divorce. I’ve
been through that; it can be okay. Unless she’s dead,
which is why Mr. McNair looks sad too. It’s my fault.
I shouldn’t make jokes. Then last week I drive by the
house and Mr. McNair is smiling, as are both boys.
They’re on the porch facing a dark–haired woman,
a late model car parked at the curb. It looks like her.
On the way home I see the porch is empty and the
dark–haired woman gone. Maybe reconciliation is
in progress? Maybe she’s getting a Ph.D. in something
esoteric and will be home soon. But next day
Mr. McNair and another other woman (is this the 4th?)
sit on the porch in Adirondacks. I’m wounded and
bereft. I thought Mom was coming home. The torn
garment mended. Kevin Sweeney, wiseass cynic &
self–styled suburban satirist off the hook, but Dad’s
laughing with a stranger in the middle of a beautiful day.
What the fuck; doesn’t this guy ever work?