Phyllis's demeanor changed from nervously optimistic to angry in a heartbeat.
Phyllis: "Who do you think the father is, you idiot?"
James: "Hey! We agreed to keep it casual, you know? I don't know - or care, really - who you sleep with when you're not in my bed! It could have been anybody!"
James: "Then the test's wrong. I don't make babies."
Phyllis: "You're sterile?"
James: "No! There's nothing wrong with me, I just don't make babies. Unless I want to. Which I don't."
Phyllis: "What a load of-"
Something loud on the TV in the next room drowned out the end of her sentence, but the meaning was obvious.
James raised his hand to protest, then let it fall as Phyllis stormed out of the room, slamming the front door as she went.
James threw himself into his job over the next few months, half as a distraction from the frustrations of his other life and half in an attempt to have at least one of his plans succeed. The hard work soon paid off, with a promotion to Bagman. This only served to increase his frustrations, however, because he felt as if he wasn't any closer to the mob at all. He didn't want to spend his life as a petty thief, he wanted to be the one calling the shots. His inquiries were mostly stonewalled, though; you didn't come to the mob, they came to you. Every time his phone rang, he thought it might be a new job offer, but it was usually just Phyllis, always with the same complaints, even though he'd told her several times that she shouldn't expect any child care from him. In fact, he wouldn't even give her a cent of child support unless she got a DNA test to prove it was even his kid, because he still wasn't convinced on that front.
Eliza: "Come here, we need to talk."
James: "Every time somebody says those words to me, it ends badly."
James: "I know. I just don't understand why she's holding me responsible."
Eliza: "It takes two to make a baby, you're both equally responsible."
James: "Not really. She said she was on birth control, it's not my fault if she didn't take it, or whatever happened. I just don't think that I should be held responsible since it wasn't my intention, and she misled me into thinking that there was no way it could happen."
Eliza: "I didn't raise you to knock up a girl and leave her on her own. I know that I can't force you, but please, do the right thing."
Over the next few months, Phyllis's calls to James stopped - clearly, she'd given up trying to get him on her side. The next reminder of the situation came in the form of Phyllis and an infant arriving at James's front door.
Phyllis: "James, answer the door! I know you're in there!"
James: "That's the baby, then?"
Phyllis: "Yes. Her name's Renee."
James: "Look, I've been thinking this over, and you're right. I should pay something, and maybe it wouldn't be so bad if I had to take her some of the time while you worked or..."
He trailed off as Phyllis shook her head.
James: "What are you talking about?"
Phyllis: "I'm sorry that it had to go this far, but I've got a signed court order here. You know the laws in Sunset Valley, if a couple who have a baby is unmarried or divorces and one of them makes under a certain amount in income-"
James cut her off, frowning angrily.
Phyllis: "No! Look, you forced me to this. I can't believe I actually used to like you."
She set the swaddled infant down on the sofa and handed James some papers.
Phyllis: "There's the copy of the court's decision. It's all legal, but I know you'll want to pick it over for any loopholes. Don't worry, nobody around town knows you're the father, so your precious reputation is safe. They all think I gave the baby up for adoption."
James: "Maybe you should have."
He rifled through the documents, coming across a birth certificate, which Phyllis pointed to.
Phyllis: "That needs to be dropped off at city hall by the time it closes. All it needs is your signature. you'd better hurry, I think you've only got about an hour."
She stormed out the door, leaving an angry and disoriented James behind her, wondering what exactly had gone so wrong in his life.
~ * ~
As was probably predictable, James was selfish and irresponsible for pretty much this entire chapter. Will having a child change this aspect of him? Doubtful, but tune in to the continuing story to find out!
Yes, I really did put those urns on top of the fireplace, using one more slot platforms. I didn't think it through at all. The result was probably as easily predictable as James's reaction to impending fatherhood, and yet I was still surprised. I don't think I have the genius trait irl.
Despite Alpha seeming to be a rather cold and uncaring name to choose for a baby girl(well, at least for the reasons James chose it, Alpha being the first letter in the Greek alphabet...it was essentially one nerdy step beyond naming your kid "Child A"), as I map out this generation's story I've found that it actually fits her very well. Or rather, I suppose she grows into it well - it is a very silly name for any infant.