Ahhh, Paris. So romantic, so beautiful. . . Too bad we didn’t go there on our trip to France. No, we decided to stay in Champs Les Sims. Its close to Paris, and nowhere near as nice. Yet, my son didn’t want to go and explore this fantastic country, so we all decided to stay in Champs.
We boarded a train from the airport and rode into town. The sights going to Champs were amazing and I took a million pictures. Who knew I could be so photo crazy? It must be my age, I’m starting to feel nostalgic as I grow older. I guess having two teenagers, I just don’t want to forget a moment in their lives.
After getting settled in the hotel, I looked at both my kids and asked them, “what do you guys want to do?” My son just shrugged and mumbled, “I dunno. It’s whatever.” Something was up with him. The entire plane ride and train ride he was miserable. He just wasn’t himself. Alice looked at me with a smile, “I want to explore!” She said bright eyed.
So that’s what we did. Alice and I went exploring. Travis made a moaning sound like he wasn’t too thrilled with the idea, so we left him back at the hotel. I figured he was jet lagged. I didn’t want him to ruin the trip for Alice and I.
Alice and I found this beautiful sight. Across the river we could see the Eiffel Tower in Paris. “Wow, would you look at that Ally.”
“Oh my God, dad, that’s so beautiful.”
“I’ll say. Hey stand right here, I want to get a picture of you in front of it,” She stood where I was and I snapped a photo of my beautiful teenage daughter.
She turned her head after I snapped the photo and looked down the hill, “hey dad, you wanna go fishing?” My daughter really knows me, I always want to fish.
“Sure.” I said with a smile.
We headed down the hill, carefully, I didn’t want my daughter to break her leg on the first day here. We took out our poles and we stood there all day and fished. “You know Ally, you can’t beat that view.” I told her as I lured my line back in.
“It’s amazing. Dad, I love you.”
I smiled, “I love you too princess.”
After a long day of fishing and hiking, I decided to take Alice out to dinner. We went to this beautiful restaurant and ate outside. Alice ordered some weird stew that I couldn’t even pronounce the name of, and I ordered frog legs. I know, gross right, well, they were actually pretty good. Alice talked the entire meal and I sat and listened. She talked of going to high school, she talked about the farm, and she of course talked about Travis. I perked up my ears, “. . .I dunno what’s wrong with him, but he’s just so depressed.”
“Travis?” I asked.
She nodded. “At home, he cries and grumbles to himself. I’ve found him more than once screaming in his room.”
“Have you talked to him?”
She put her fork down and looked at me, she was misty-eyed. “He won’t talk to me. He tells me to leave him alone, and then pushes me away. Mom and Mike try to talk to him but he tells them to butt out and he tells all of us to ‘mine our own business.’”
That night at the hotel room, I was getting ready to go to bed when I heard someone out on the balcony, crying. I looked out my door and saw it was Travis. He looked as if his heart was ripping into a million pieces. “Travis?” I asked. ‘Travis what’s –”
He looked up at me and stormed back into his room, slamming the door. I just stood there in shock. He didn’t even want to talk.
In the morning I made pancakes at the hotel. Another family from Egypt was staying there. I was hoping to talk with Travis while we ate, but he sat next to this young boy, while I ate at another table with the boy’s father. Travis and the young boy started to talk immediately, they were even laughing. I believe I caught a smile coming from Travis’ face. “Well look at that, I haven’t seen my boy smile in a long time.” I said more to myself than the older gentleman.
“Boys, de tink de know everyding. Den when world get in way dey fall apart.” I laughed as he talked, it was so true. “How old boy?”
“Almost sixteen. My daughter just turned fourteen. This is her birthday gift, coming here I mean. How bout yours?”
“I have twelve boys, and dree daughters. Asmeen my youngest, he dis fifteen. De rest are in der twenties and dirties.”
“Wow, fifteen kids. I admire you. I can hardly handle my two.” I chuckled.
“Dis hard, but der moder dis great.”
“Well, it was nice talking to you.” I said as finished my plate. “Maybe, we’ll see you around.”
“Maybe. Dis was nice talking to you.” He stood and we shook hands.
Alice and I decided to go exploring again. We left the hotel, only after I made Travis promise he would head out of the house. He said him and Asmeen made plans to go to the museum. On our hike through town both Alice and I stood in awe in front of a huge farm. Now, there’s farms back home, I know, but not this extraordinary. “Now this is a farm dad.” Alice said to me. “Look at all the crops. They have all kinds of grapes.”
I bent down and looked at some of the different grapes and smelled them. “Merlot grapes.” I told her. “Man, what I wouldn’t give to get some of these back home.”
“Easy dad.” She laughed. “These are wine grapes, not for eating.”
“I know.” I looked and winked at her. She narrowed her eyes just like her mother. “What?” She turned and just shook her head and walked over to a woman who was reading.
I saw a set of boots in front of me and I stood, shaking off the dirt from my hands. “bonjour!” He greeted.
“Hello.” I said back. “Is this your farm?”
“Oui. I own this and the winery over there. My name is Paul and this is my son Kyle.”
“David, David Rain.” We shook hands. “So tell me about the grapes you have here?” He went on about the grapes and his fertilizing process. He took one and handed it to me, and told me about the wine making process. All of which was interesting. “You have an amazing farm here Paul.”
“Thank you. You know David, you and your family should come by, share a glass of wine. We could discuss the differences in farm land.”
“Sure, why not. Your wine sounds –” And then I heard a small cough from behind me.
I looked around and saw my daughter glaring at me. “Oh hey honey, Paul here owns this place and that winery over there.”
“Oui, Mademoiselle I was just inviting your father here for a glass of wine and chatter about farming. You are more than welcome to come.” My daughter gave a smile back to the man and then glared at me. She had her mother’s eyes and when she glared at me it was a scary view, it was like staring into Ella.
“What do you think Al, you wanna head over there?” I smiled.
“Dad, you are NOT going to have a glass of wine!” She yelled, narrowing her eyes.
“Oh come on Ally, its just a glass.” I scoffed. Hell, when did she become like her mother? I could have a drink if I wanted to, I was a grown ass man. She narrowed her eyes even more.
“Dad, lets go.” She took my hand. “It was a pleasure talking to you sir, but my dad doesn’t drink. Isn’t that right?”
“Sorry. Maybe some other time.” I said to the gentleman. We shook hands and my daughter pulled me away from the huge farm.
My son did end up going out, but not with Asmeed. He headed to a library out in town. He told me he met a couple of guys and chatted with them about books and other interests. I was just happy that Travis was getting out and talking to people, I didn’t care what he did. If he wanted to stay inside the entire trip, fine, just as long as he was happy and content in France I would be happy.
There was one thing that I couldn’t help notice though, he was always on his cell phone. Whenever we were all back at the hotel, Travis was on the phone. He was very secretive to who he was talking to and he spoke in soft harsh voices. Sometimes I could make out what was being said, “. . . Not here. . . It’s whatever you want to do. . . I honestly don’t care. . . “ I had no clue as to who he was talking to, but he was never really happy on the phone.
And if I come in the room, he goes stiff and hangs up. “Look, I gotta go.” Click. It disturbed me. I didn’t really care if he was on the phone, I didn’t pay for his cell phone bill. That’s what’s nice about being divorced to Ella, she was paying for the kids. I just got to visit them on the weekends. The only thing that disturbed me was that he was never really happy when he was on the phone and his attitude worsened.
Finally I got sick and tired of him on the phone and then taking it out on Alice and I. We were on vacation, and he needed to just chill for once. I went up to him as soon as he hung up to the mysterious caller. “Look, I don’t care that you are wracking up your mother’s cell phone bill, but you need to either stop or get an attitude adjustment when you get off that freaking thing.”
“Butt out dad. This is important, who I am talking to is none of your business, but I have to talk to this person. Okay! So butt out and leave me the hell alone.” Then he stormed up the stairs. I just looked there, stunned. Who the hell was he talking to?
Travis didn’t do much and he avoided me the entire trip. One morning I found Travis playing chess against Asmeed. “Travis, we are going to the museum and you are coming with us.” I said to him.
“No I am not! I’m staying here with Asmeed. You and Ally can do whatever the hell you want, I’m staying here.”
“This is a family vacation, you are coming with us. Now get your ass into gear before I rip you off that seat!”
I don’t know how I did it, but I got Travis to come with us. However, when we got to the museum he took off, away from us. I found him a few times looking at the different pieces of artwork from all over the world. He looked like he wasn’t having a very good time. I just didn’t understand him. I asked Alice while we were looking at some of the Chinese relics if she could try talking to him again, she said she would.
Alice and I enjoyed the museum. There were some incredible things inside, like a real sarcophagus. The one that we looked at looked as if it was cursed. It was evil looking. I was happy that it was roped off. “Man, would you look at that. I bet there’s a mummy inside. You wanna look?” Alice asked.
“Hell no! And you aren’t going to either. We are staying on this side of the rope, you got that?”
“I’m just kidding dad. Geesh, take a chill pill.”
I had fun admiring the statues. Especially one in particular. My daughter caught me staring, and possibly drooling. “Dad.” She laughed and shook her head.
“What? I am just admiring the art work.”
“Yea sure.” She laughed again. “You really need to think about getting a girlfriend.” She joked. I spun my head at her in shock. I couldn’t believe what she just said to me. “Its true. I mean look at you, your practically drooling over a statue.”
“I don’t need a girlfriend. I don’t have time for one, for that matter. I’m perfectly happy with my two kids.” I smiled and gave her a hug.
“Your happy? What about your sex life? Don’t you need some?” Hmmmm.” I was really caught off guard by my fourteen year old daughter. Since when did she talk about sex! I turned red and looked around, embarrassed.
“You just let me deal with that issue.” I whispered. “And don’t talk about sex, it’s just too. . . disturbing.”
“You are so old fashion. Mom and I talk about sex all the time. She wants me to be prepared for life.”
I did a mental face slap, “Okay, enough. I don’t want to hear it.” and then I walked away.
My daughter followed me out of the museum. She had a huge grin on her face, I think she thought it was funny that I was embarrassed. We headed out to the pond just outside the museum. We both caught some amazing catches, and like always Alice let hers go. I kept a few, especially if she wasn’t looking.
The next day when Alice and I got back to the hotel from another interesting day of exploring, we noticed that Travis was gone. I was happy he wasn’t moping around or on the phone. As the two of us sat down to eat we heard the door swing open and Travis ran inside freaked. He looked like he was in a fight. His clothes were missing and his hair was sticking straight up. I ran quickly to him. “What the hell happened?”
All I got in reply, “Zombie . . . Bear. . . Grave. . . Tomb. . .” And then he passed out in my arms. It sounded as if he had a bit too much adventuring for one day. I laid him on his bed and hoped he would be okay.
On our last evening in France, Alice and I were walking in the courtyard downtown. She and I spent the last of my money on a shopping spree. It was all for my daughter. We were looking at the sunset and she looked at me, “Thank you daddy.”
“Your welcome sweetheart.” I said not knowing what she was talking about.
Then she gave me a hug. I embraced her, holding me. “I love you. You’re the best father in the world.” I smiled.
“I love you too, princess.”
That night I went to go see Travis. I wanted to make amends with him, and try to figure out what was wrong with him. I got to the door and I heard voices. Alice was inside talking to Travis. “You have to tell them.” She said to him. I could hear Travis crying.
“I can’t. They’re gonna kill me!”
“No they won’t. They’ll understand.” Travis continued to cry. I decided to walk away. I felt horrible not knowing what my son had gotten into. What did he do that was so bad he wasn’t willing to tell me or Ella? Could it really be that bad?
In the morning I found Travis downstairs eating breakfast. It looked as if he had been crying all night. His eyes were bloodshot and tears stained his cheeks. “Is everything all right son?” I asked sitting down. Alice had walked in, she gave Travis a concerned look, but stayed away. Travis rose from the table and walked off.
I stood just as fast and I stopped him. “STOP!” I said standing in his way. “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON TRAVIS!?!”
“Just leave me the fuck alone dad!” And he pushed me. I held my ground.
“No. Not until you tell me what’s going on. I want some answers!” He broke down and started to cry. Alice took a step towards us, but I put my hand up and stopped her. I wanted this to be just between us. “Travis, I don’t know what you’ve done, but you can tell me. I’ll love you no matter what has happened.”
“Just leave me alone, please.” He said as he cried. My heart was breaking for him. I just wanted to know what he did so I could help.
“Alright. I’ll leave you alone. I am here though, if you want to talk. You know that right?” He nodded and ran up the stairs. I stopped Alice from following.
Later that night we took a flight back to Bridgeport. We slept at my dad’s place and spent the day with him, Lonni, and my brother before heading home. By the time we reached Riverview it was almost midnight. “Do you guys want me to drop you off at your mom’s or do you wanna stay at my place for the night?”
“I don’t care, I just want some sleep.” Travis yawned. He was beat, him and Jake played tag football with a bunch of kids from the neighborhood.
“Oh, I don’t care. Mom and Mike are probably in bed. So it’s really up to you dad.” She smiled. I could take them to Ella’s but then again, Ella would hate me and them if she woke up. She was, after all, pregnant. I drove by the house and noticed all the lights were off and I continued onward to my place.
“Home it is.”
“You don’t wanna face mom, huh? We were suppose to be home four hours ago.” Travis joked.
“I can’t help that there was a four car pile up on the freeway. Your mom would understand. . .” If she wasn’t pregnant. I finished my thought in my head. They both looked at me and knew exactly what I was thinking, we all laughed.
In the morning I discovered something about teenage girls, particularly about Alice. I headed out of my room after getting ready for the day and I froze at the sight of my fourteen year old in a THONG! She had a skimpy little spaghetti strap shirt on and a THONG! She took out her milk and made a bowl of cereal. She turned and waved at me, “Morning daddy.” IN A THONG!
I sat across the table from her and just stared at her. “What’s up dad?” She finally said.
“You’re wearing a thong!”
“And?” She looked up at me like this was old news.
“Your ass is sticking out and you have a string riding up the middle!”
“Dad, all girls wear them. Mom bought them for me.” Mental note: MUST KILL ELLA!
“Okay, but do you have to wear them like this? Ally, baby, I love you but your gonna give me a stroke. Please, just put on some sweats, or some shorts.”
“Dad, it’s not a big deal. Mike doesn’t care I wear them around the house.” Bigger mental note: MUST KILL MIKE! “God, you are so old fashion dad. But if you want, I’ll go find some sweat pants.”
“Thank you.” I sighed. I slammed my head onto the table and just breathed. This was not my morning.
I looked up and found Travis doing his homework. “So, you saw Ally’s thong?” He smiled.
“Did your mother actually buy her those?” I asked. “I swear I am gonna kill her.”
“Mom bought those for herself, Ally saw them in a bag and took them.”
“So your mom and Mike, they don’t know about them?” I asked, almost relieved but still pissed off.
“Yea right. I think mom would go postal if she saw her in them. I know Mike would probably die of a heart attack, like you are now. I only know cause I walked in on her in the bathroom when she was brushing her teeth.” Mental note: No killing needed!
“And what did you do?” I asked slowing my heart rate.
“I told her she had a nice ass and then smacked her bare ass with a towel.” He smiled and laughed. I just shook my head disapprovingly, it would only figure my son would tease her.
I headed into the shower after talking to Travis, and when I came out I found my kids gone and their luggage missing. I found a note next to a bottle of wine and some grapes that were on the table.
“Dad, went to mom’s to unpack. Will be back later tonight, maybe. I got you something in France when you and Ally were away. Ally doesn’t know so shh. The guy at the winery said this was the best type of Merlot they had. I didn’t know if you like red or white wine. Also I got these grapes and some seeds for you. Thought you could use them out back. I love you. I have things I need to talk to you about. Hopefully we can soon. Enjoy the wine, but if anyone asks I did NOT buy this for you. Love Trav.”
I looked at the wine and I felt that all too powerful crave for it. I looked at the time, it was barely ten. I wondered if it was too early for a drink. I figured it was, and as tempting as a glass sounded, I had work to do. My crops had been neglected for a week. I only hoped they were still alive.
I picked up the seeds and the few grapes on the table and headed out to the small field. I planted rows of new grapes and tended to the rest of my crops. I was pleased that none of them died. I even had a few I could actually harvest from. My new trees I had planted before I left were starting to come in. They all needed weeded, but that was a simple task for me.
After tending the yard for what seemed like forever, I headed out to town and sold off all my crops. I needed money badly, Alice had taken me to the cleaners in France. Who knew girls loved fashion so much!
When I arrived back home I found a bunch of luggage outside. Travis walked out of the house. “What’s this?” I asked. He looked up at me, evidently surprised I was home. He froze and turned and opened the door. He pointed inward, wanting me to go inside. He didn’t say anything. I just looked confused at him.
He stood there at me and just stared. It was nerve wracking. I wanted him to just come out and tell me what was going on. Why was he moving in? What the hell happened!?!
He just looked up at me, biting his lip. “Dad, I have something to tell you. . . .”