James LePore: Secret City

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Secret City

Secret City, © James LePore 1996

Of course I didn’t know she was pregnant. You couldn’t be much dumber than twenty-five-year-old me. I thought she left for an adventure, that New York had somehow restricted her wild spirit. I even had thoughts of rekindling our romance (delete romance, insert sex life) when I called and asked if I could stop by her apartment in San Francisco. I was on my first bona fide business trip, had taken my first cross-country flight. What could be cooler or more sophisticated than a brief fling (delete brief fling, insert one-night-stand) with an old flame? So Sinatra-esque.

An old guy answered the door. “You’re the father,” he said. “I’m the grandfather. Follow me.” She was in a rocking chair in the tiny living room, breast-feeding.

“I wasn’t going to tell you,” she said. “But you called. This is your son, Billy.”

Billy died in Operation Desert Storm in 1992 in a fluke accident at an air base. I’m glad his mother didn’t keep her secret. I would never have known him, known how much better a young man he was than I had been, a better man than I’ll ever be, period. That’s my secret, or was until now.

James LePore is the author of several national bestselling novels. You can stay up-to-date on his blog posts at his website.


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On February 2, 2015
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