i’m sitting in a concrete garden between two skyscrapers when i listen to the message from the stepbrother—my hand held to my heart in shock as a voice that, thanks to two decades of jackie o documentaries, i would have recognized anywhere, comes out of my very own phone.
it is a 3 ½ minute display of old world graciousness that was, due to a bad connection, punctuated by loud bursts that i would have interpreted as gunfire had i not known he was calling from a castle in rhode island.
this was last august. way before the whole 9/20/13 plan.
we talked three more times and then i dumped him. i didn’t call, didn’t write, didn’t do anything. because i didn’t know what to do with him. i didn’t know where he fit in the story i was trying to tell.
that hasn’t changed. i’ve still no idea. but i’ve given myself a year. i’m throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks.
in that spirit, i’m meeting the stepbrother in newport this weekend.
there won’t even be an attempt to play it cool here so just know: everything about that sentence is scary. that is why i have put this off for so very very long.
calling the step-brother on the phone is an ordeal so awful that i dally for whole weeks at a time before ringing him back.
our phone calls, thus far, have been epically bad. like, horrendously, hilarifyingly bad. in the made-for-tv movie treatment of Jackie: The True Story Of The (un)Making of A Book That Never Was, the scenes comprised of these phone calls are going to earn jennifer love hewitt her biggest laughs.
i speak too softly and too fast. the step-brother appears to be calling me on a walkie-talkie from the middle of an airfield that has come under enemy fire. we speak to one another as victorians not yet familiar with the cutting-edge technology of the telephone.
there’s obviously enormous room for improvement here so i’m holding out hope that it’ll be me and jackie’s stepbrother kicking it at the castle and that we’re going to be, like, totally steller communicators when we meet face-to-face.
minimal hope, mind you. but hope nonetheless.