Published by The Ocotillo Review in January 2018
A brassiere had fallen or been stuffed under the driver’s seat, from the back seat.
Stephen kept a folding umbrella in exactly that spot. A light rain had begun as he pulled into the company parking lot, so he’d reached back under his seat to get it.
The umbrella was there, but so was the bra. A lacy, frothy, wireless garment. For a well-endowed young woman, he judged. Amazing how taut and firm young breasts were. Carol hadn’t worn anything so revealing in years; nowadays she wore a lot of Spandex to hold up — or in — the sags of age. Maybe this filmy thing was from Victoria’s Secret? He’d long wondered what those were like.
He sat for a few minutes, watching rain spatter noisily on the windshield, thinking. There was a faint aroma in the car. Closing his eyes, he breathed deeply through his nostrils. Perfume, no question. And not Carol’s.
Step one, obviously, was to ground Chip, who had successfully gone through the state-required stages of supervised practice and was now fully licensed. He’d borrowed the family car frequently since his eighteenth birthday last month. He and Carol should confront their son that night.
Or maybe this should be a father-to-son moment. Find out who the girl was, and how far they’d gone. His mind flooded with memories. If they’d been in the back seat, odds were they hadn’t stopped with shedding a bra. Was Chip smart enough to use condoms? Was she on the pill? The sex education he and Carol gave Chip when he turned fifteen relied on a booklet Father Murphy gave them. He’d thought, even then, that it wasn’t too realistic. Count on a celibate priest to think abstinence would never be overwhelmed by raging hormones.
A father-son talk might be a way to bond. Offer Chip advice on how to protect himself. And the girl, of course. And what if she came up pregnant? Not something Carol would want to talk about: She’d worry that Chip might think about the time between their anniversary and his birthday.
His son wasn’t as smart as his father, Stephen thought; not exactly a shoo-in for a top college. Having a child out of wedlock might consign him to community college. How might the girl feel about an abortion? Again, not a topic to discuss with Carol present.
He should talk to Chip man-to-man.
The bra was like gauze, so skimpy that it slipped into his left jacket pocket without the least bulge. He got out, opened the umbrella and walked to the office, letting his left-hand fingers fondle the fabric idly.
The responsibilities of fatherhood, he thought, were not without some pleasure.