“You know I would never say a bad word about another child, but did you see his kid at the last scrimmage? He’s about as comfortable on the ice as Shaq,” Jax says, taking a swig of his now cold coffee. Miss Melon stifles a giggle with one white, manicured hand.
“Aw, that’s not very nice to say. Toby has improved a lot this season”.
“And I give him credit for that. But it’s not that hard to improve when you’re starting at zero,” Jax says. “And then to attack my child…”
Miss Melon swallows.
“Yes, I must say that I do feel partially responsible for that. Maybe I shouldn’t have shared a room with Jayden at the tournament, but I just thought, they’ll be two queen beds, it could save your family some money…”
“No, no, Miss Melon, don’t get me wrong- I have no problem with you sharing a room with my teenage son. I mean, I do okay for myself financially, but if I can save money, I will. And by the way, Miss Melon- thank you so much for taking him in the first place. Brittany and I had work events that we just couldn’t afford to miss. Still hustling after all these years,” he says. His eyes, famous and blue, glint in the hot Valley sun.
25 years ago, Jax would’ve tried to sleep with Miss Melon faster than a bullet from a barrel, but that was then and this is now. So many things have happened that changed him completely- the death of his father, the birth of his three sons, his transition from reality bad boy into hockey commentator. He is, undeniably, a better man, a more upstanding man, but when someone tries to mess with his family? All bets are off.
This situation in particular is a no-brainer, Jax thinks to himself; everyone is jealous. It’s a tale as old as time, like that weird fucking movie with the woman and that monster. It’s like the time that he and Brittany got back together after she found out that he cheated on her with Faith and everyone had something to say about it. They could pretend they were “protecting Brittany” or whatever, but really, they too bored with their own pathetic lives to mind their own fucking business. And now, the same thing is happening with his youngest, Jayden.
Of course, Jax loves all of his sons to an extent; what father wouldn’t? But, everyone has a favorite child, whether they admit it to themselves or not, and Jax is no exception. Maybe it’s because Jayden reminds Jax so much of himself at that age, before he did all that coke and got all those nose jobs. Good-looking, athletic, and charismatic, Jayden is the best kid on the hockey team and was the first to lose his virginity (to a hot UCLA coed, no less). It’s no question, Jax thinks to himself- this kid is a winner.
The real problem, Jax explains, isn’t that everyone found out that Miss Melon shared a room with his 17 year old son. No, the real problem is his youngest’s grades. In his junior year at high school, the kid bombed his SATs, coming in still drunk from the night before. Jax couldn’t help but laugh when he found out, but Brittany nearly had a conniption. That’s why he set up the meeting with Miss Melon in the first place. To get into St. Cloud State, the college with the best hockey team in the country, Jayden would need a score of no less than 900, which, given his previous score of 500, wasn’t looking too good. You got 200 points just for writing your name, for the love of god.
“And, you know me, I’m all about hard work and honesty, but taking time off from hockey to memorize vocabulary he’s never gonna use? That seems like a real disadvantage to me,” Jax says. Miss Melon furrows her otherwise perfect brows.
“I totally share your frustration, Mr. Taylor. I myself did volleyball in high school and believe me, finding time to study in between matches was a struggle, let alone actually studying. It’s something many teachers can’t understand because they weren’t athletes. Did you play any sports in high school?”
Jax’s mind flashes with cigarettes behind the bleachers, fingering girls in backseats of cars, walking around the hallways while everyone else was in class and making fun of the hall monitors. What had they called him, a super senior?
“Captain of the hockey team. Four time state champions,” he hears himself saying. “Like father, like son, I guess,” he says, broad shoulders shrugging, a sideways smile.
Now, Miss Melon laughs unexpectedly, throwing back her head, exposing a little cross necklace that dangles in the soft white pillow of her cleavage. Jax flexes his thighs, willing his boner to take a breather.
“Can I be honest? For the first time in my life, I don’t know what to do. I wish there was a way that he could take it without taking it, you know? Of course, I wouldn’t want to jeopardize your position.” They’ve finished their meals half an hour ago at this point, sitting among the remnants of their eggs and meat, not even caring that the bus boys hadn’t bothered to clear their table.
“Maybe there is. I respect that you don’t want to jeopardize my position, but when I feel passionately about something, I’ll do everything in my power to make it happen, whatever that entails,” Miss Melon says. Jax looks down at his lap like aw shucks. Still looking down, he smiles the smile that turned him into the D-list celebrity he is today. Then, when the time is right, he looks into her eyes and stays there, his face blank. She stares back, unblinking. Women are like sudoku; that is, if he was really really good at sudoku.
“I have to tell you, Mr. Taylor, I’ve been a fan of yours for a long time. I even had your picture up in my room when I was a little girl. Is that embarrassing to say?” she says. Jax doesn’t respond, just stares into her eyes like they hold a secret or something. God, when she was a little girl? How old is she, anyway?
“You know, I really admire your commitment to your son and his passions. In all my years being a guidance counselor, I’ve never met a boy as passionate as Jayden,” she says. Jax sees her riding his son, her small hips moving up and down, her cross necklace flying through the air above her chest. Then he deletes it from his head like a text from a phone. His mind amazes him sometimes. And everyone always thought he was so stupid. Well, who’s laughing now? Me. I’m laughing. All the way to the bank.
“What are you smiling about, Mr. Taylor?” Miss Melon says, suddenly feeling like she’s naked in front of a classroom.
“Oh, nothing. You’ll understand when you’re a parent,” Jax says. His veneers catch the light from the outside, blinding her.
Keep reading the story here: 20 Years Later: Part Three