Two days before I took the picture of the vodka bottle in Oldest’s bathroom, I was in our garage/gym/laundry/storage/TV room when I heard Oldest’s car come up the driveway. We had had a fight the day before and were now speaking only when required. I heard him get out of his car and walk to my car. I heard him rustling around in the plastic shopping bags I keep in the trunk. I don’t even think I went so far as to wonder why. It was a slightly odd occurrence. I may have wondered idly, "Why the fussing? Why not just get one and put it to use?" But probably not. I was still annoyed. I didn’t think anything of it.
Despite the fact that he made an effort at dinner that night to participate, to pull his weight, I was still annoyed with him. He got up after dessert and said he was going out. From outside, I watched as he walked across the length of the living room. He carried a plastic Whole Foods bag. I noticed that he carried it a little oddly, not hanging from the handles, but slightly strangled, a shade too tight, a hairsbreadth too self-conscious. I was still annoyed. I didn’t think anything of it.
In the night, he walked past our room without announcing his return. I was still annoyed. I didn’t think anything of it.
The next morning, I went rowing early and as I eased my car into our crowded driveway, I saw his car. Something made me think of the rustling of plastic, the strangled hold. The idea of the bag, like a particularly buoyant piece of wood pushing its way through the flotsam on a crowded watery surface, arrived at the top of my brain. What I thought was, I wonder what was in that bag?
I went to have a look. It was right there on the passenger seat. Since I don’t much believe in snooping, you might think I would have been more conflicted, but I wasn’t. I looked in the bag.
Two half-empty bottles of Coke. One half-empty bottle of Jim Beam.
I don’t know what or how to think.