“I know it was supposed to be a tribute to him, but the way he’s harassed you makes me sick. You swore me to secrecy—and I haven’t told a soul—but I couldn’t stand creating art that would honor him. He’ll be gone, but we’ll have to look at that wall every day for the rest of our lives.”
“You could have at least discussed it with me and shown me your alternate design.”
“Be real, Claire. You never would have agreed to let me make protest art on your father-in-law’s building.”
With tears of rage surfacing, I said, “You have to stop fighting my battles for me.”
She slid off the stool. “Wait, Claire, I’m sorry I—” She tried to give me a hug, but I pushed her away with the force I should have used on Coach Kent in the conference room.
Outside, my father-in-law’s voice came over a loudspeaker, asking for everyone’s attention. I smoothed the wrinkles in my dress, unlocked the door, and stood on the porch of the café to watch the proceedings from behind the crowd.
Coach Kent approached the microphone. Like a rock star, he had to wait for the crowd to stop whistling and whooping before he could speak. He looked tan and athletic in shorts and a polo with sun streaks in his wavy golden hair. I remembered the smell of his breath and felt a wave of nausea.
“And now…” Coach Kent was trying to settle the crowd, but the audience only got louder. He tapped the toe of his topsider against the pavement like a bashful little boy. I caught sight of Amber in the crowd, her arms raised overhead, clapping.
“And now for the—” More cheering. While he waited for the ovation to subside, he pointed at individuals in the crowd, mugging for their cameras from the podium.
“And now for the moment we’ve all been waiting for.” He motioned to Tracy in the fire truck bucket to remove the cloth.
It took a while for Tracy to unhook each grommet from the top of the building. The crowd tilted their heads back, shading their eyes from the late morning sun.