I woke up with the worst chest pain I have ever felt. I groaned and barely open my eyes. “Kaliq?” I heard the voice of the angel that I love. “Kaliq, you there?”
“Riddler?” My voice felt hoarse and dry. “Riddler, w-where am I?”
“In the hospital. You had a heart attack, baby.”
“H-heart attack?” I tried to sit up and screamed. My arms clutched my chest. Fuck me, did that hurt. How the hell, the pain wasn’t as bad when I passed out!
“Whoa, careful, Kal. You just had major open heart surgery.” I looked at Riddle stunned. What? Me? Open heart surgery? Oh no, no way did I have my chest cracked open. I tried to sit again and my breath hitched. My chest felt like a car hit it. I looked down, sure enough I was in a hospital gown and inside was a bandage across my – holy hell THEY SHAVED MY CHEST! MY CHEST!!!
I took Riddle’s hand and squeezed it, giving her my fear. How did I let this happened? Riddle squeezed my hand back, reading me like she always has. “I know, Kaliq. I’m scared too. It was touch and go for a while, but you pulled through.”
“The kids?” I tried to sit up again. God, the kids. I bet they were terrified.
“Everyone’s fine, Kaliq. They’re all worried about you, though.” Riddle pushed me back down gently. “You need to rest, babe.”
“It hurts,” I whined, and it did. It fucking hurt. My chest felt like someone slammed a car into it. Every breath I took made me hiss. I hated it, and I really hated being here lying in a fucking hospital bed. “How did it happened?”
Riddle gave me a small smile, “The doctors said that your heart stopped. That it had been struggling for a while from the looks of it. They had to put an ICD in you. That’s what they called it, they said it was a defibrillator and pacemaker combined. Did you have any warning signs, babe?”
I turned my head and lied, “No.” Oh, I had a ton of warning signs, I just didn’t think it was actually my heart. All the chest pain I had I easily blamed on my emotions.
Riddle kissed the side of my head and whispered, “Liar.”
“Sorry,” I cried and faced her. “I didn’t know it was my heart. I just thought that it was just emotional ache. First there was Jamie and the bullies, and then Cait.” I cried harder, “Oh god, Cait was there!” I tried to get up, and screamed as my chest hurt again. It was hurting all over.
“Relax Kaliq. Just lie down, and do yourself a favor and stop worrying about the family for once. Let us worry, okay.” Riddle pushed a button next to my arm. “This should make you feel better,” she whispered and bent to kiss my parched lips and forehead. “Sleep, we’ll all be here when you wake up.”
I felt the morphine kick in and soon I was off into la-la land as sleep took hold of my body.
I woke on and off throughout the next few days, with Riddle never leaving my side. It was hard to sleep with nurses poking me every few hours, doctors coming in to check on me, and then just the annoying beeping from the damn monitors. I didn’t remember much, seeing as I was high as a kite on morphine, but I do remember my Riddler there, never letting go of my hand.
For most of the week I saw almost everyone. Ma and dad visited in the mornings. The twins came after school each day to say hi and give me their love. Jamie visited a few times during the day, he practically had to be dragged out when visiting hours ended. Yet, I hadn’t seen Cait the entire time.
Finally, the day before I was getting out she walked in and looked at me, “Dad?”
I sat up and hissed, “Hey, angel cake.”
She ran to my bed and into my arms. I hissed when she took me in a tight bear hug, “Oh my god, I’m sorry. Did I hurt you?” She asked when she pulled away. “Did I tear a stitch, do you need anything?”
“Cait, relax, it’s just a little sore,” I assured her. “I’m fine, I’m a little loopy with all the drugs I’m on, but I am fine.”
“They giving you the good stuff?”
“Oh yeah, I think I hallucinated briefly when you came in. I could have sworn you called me dad,” I winked at her. Cait started to cry and that wasn’t my intention. “Hey, now, why are you crying?”
“I gave you a heart attack, daddy.”
“Oh baby,” I stood, ignoring the pain in my chest and drew my daughter closer to me. “Listen to me, Caitlin, this. . .” I motioned to my chest, “was not your fault. You didn’t cause me to have a heart attack. It was caused by not eating right, drinking maybe a tad too much, stressing over my writing, stressing over about everyone at the house, but sweetie you did not cause this.”
Cait didn’t believe me, she started to shake her head, “I broke your heart, daddy. I told you, you weren’t my dad and would never be, and I was lying. You are my dad, and I love you so much. How can you even forgive me for saying such cruel things?”
“Because that’s what fathers do,” I smiled. “Cait, please don’t blame yourself. I knew you were mad at both your mom and I for lying, but you had a right to be mad. I never stopped loving you, and you are my daughter. Who cares what a stick of DNA says, go read your birth certificate.”
Cait hugged me, and I really hoped that we were going to be all right.
The next day my doctor came in and started to discuss the after care at home before discharging me. Riddle took everything serious as I half listened. My life was changing rapidly from the sounds of it. No more salty, deep-fried, cheesy, gooey foods, healthy meals from now on. No more drinking, unless it was a glass of red wine. Exercise more. Reduce stress – apparently the doctor hasn’t met my family. All this, and I quickly learned that heart attacks are a pain in the ass. On top of all the do’s and don’ts I was put on a huge cocktail of meds.
When I arrived home I found dad in the kitchen with ma standing over him. There were bottles littering the counter as he poured a bottle of vodka down the drain. “What are you doing?”
“We’re going dry, Kaliq,” ma informed me. “I’m making your father dump out all the beer and alcohol in this house.”
Dad looked at me, “Because, apparently, our wives thinks its killing us Rains.” He looked over to ma, “Which I think is just bullshit. I’ve been drinking since my very young adult life, I’m perfectly healthy.”
“Oh I can see that.” Ma rolled her eyes and moved her hand to the left of his face and held up a few fingers, “How many fingers am I holding up?”
“Bitch,” dad mumbled and turned back to emptying the vodka. “You know what I mean.”
“Yes I know, but seeing as how I would like more of the Rains to live past the age of sixty other than you, I’ll keep this a dry place.”
“Alcohol isn’t the reason the last two generations died before their time. Grandpa was poisoned and dad was killed.”
“And my son almost died of a heart attack, so keep pouring Parker Rain.”
I decided I was not going to be in the middle of this. I headed upstairs with Riddle tailing me, making sure I was “okay.” Of course she didn’t believe me when I told her I was fine, and just wanted to rest. She started to fuss over the pillows and the blankets, and everything. Even getting down to my boxers was a pain with her! I just wanted to fucking sleep! “Riddle, I’m fine! Please, can I just rest. My chest is throbbing and I just want to take a Vicodin and sleep.”
“Let me get you a glass of water and your pills,” she said. I got comfy in my bed and before Riddle came back I was asleep.
Fifteen months to the day of my heart attack has past, and everything has changed. First there’s me on the treadmill every day, no thanks to dad and Casey taking me to the gym. While those two run, I walk or speed walk. Dad, I swear is fitter than any man or woman in the gym, and he’s the oldest guy there! I never was into working out.
Today I collapsed on the bench in the locker room and just breathed heavily. Dad had raced me on the treadmills, first to five miles and the loser would owe the other a hundred bucks. Dad won, Casey came in a close second, another guy came in third and I quit after three miles. I was breathing heavily when I looked at dad. He looked as if he just got to the gym, the fucker. “How are you not tired?”
Dad shrugged, “I have a good heart for one, and second – well I’m fucking Delta Nine.”
I gave him the finger, “I quit. Never again will I ever work out. This isn’t for me. No more.”
“Quit your whining.” Dad scolded, “If you had been exercising two years ago I’d be able to drink. One heart attack, and I lose my booze!”
Casey laughed and smacked dad, “You quit your bitching. You know you have three bottles in the office, and that flask you carry everywhere.”
And with that dad took his flask from his his locker and took a drink. He smiled at me and toasted us. “To hiding from the wives. . . again.” I swore if the man could wink, he would have. Instead he just took a drink of his flask. He passed me it and I took my first sip of the strong liquor since my heart attack.
“She’ll eventually find out about it again,” I laughed as I handed him back the flask.
“I know, but I also know that no matter what I do, that woman loves me – flaws and all.”
In the morning I found Pear eating breakfast while Riddle cleaned the kitchen. She placed a very healthy breakfast on the table with my pills when I walked up. “Take your pills,” Riddle said as I sat down.
“I know,” I rolled my eyes. I haven’t forgotten a single day of pills thanks to her, but still, Riddle always reminded me. I tossed down the five pills and drank a bit of my OJ, wishing that I had dad’s flask to make it taste a bit smoother.
While my youngest son ate waffles next to me, I had myself a crappy bowl of fruit. I watched as Pear purposefully soaked his waffles with maple syrup. My mouth salivated. “Psst, Pear,” I whispered and held up my index finger.
Pear looked behind him to make sure Riddle wasn’t looking before cutting a piece and handing me his fork. Just as I went for the grab it was snatched by Riddle, “Nice try.”
“What?” I looked up sheepishly to Riddle.
“Pear, next time I see you trying to sneak unhealthy foods to your dad, you’ll be eating the same healthy foods as him.” Riddle said as she went back to doing the dishes.
“Food nazi,” I mumbled. This was beyond crazy! I just wanted a bite to eat. I watched as Pear scarfed his plate down. It must be good to have clean arteries at his age. I almost wished I was fourteen again instead of forty-two.
“Okay, I’m off!” Came Cait’s voice from behind me. “How do I look?”
I turned and looked at her up and down, she looked same as always, except with some extra make-up. Her hair was a bit different, maybe up. And is that – OH MY GOD! – cleavage! “What the hell are you wearing? Since when do you show your breasts to the entire world?”
Cait rolled her eyes, “I’m not showing my entire breasts, dad. This is what I’m wearing for that interview at the science lab for that internship I was telling you about.”
“And you’re wearing something from a porno?”
“Kaliq, knock it off. She looks like an amazing successful woman.”
“Yeah who opens her legs to get up the ladder,” I mumbled. Cait stormed out of the room. “I’m sorry, honey!” I yelled. Shit.
After Cait left, Riddle just looked at me with some disgust, “What the hell is wrong with you? That was just mean.”
“Sorry. I just didn’t like seeing my baby like. . .” I pointed to the door, “that. With boobs and everything.”
“News flash, she’s not your little girl anymore, she’s a WOMAN, she’s supposed to have breasts!”
I just slumped down into my chair and groveled. When did my kids start growing up? And to show how much they really were, my other daughter decided to walk in, with Penny practically imitating her sister’s clothes! “Not you too!”
Penny and Riddle looked at me, then Riddle looked over at Penny and laughed. “She’s a girl too, get over it Kaliq.”
“We should have had just boys.” I said getting up, and walking out of the kitchen. God, I hated seeing my girls growing up. I could hear Riddle telling Penny, “He’s fine, he just doesn’t like the fact his daughters have breasts.”
“DAD! GIRLS ARE SUPPOSE TO HAVE BREASTS!” Penny yelled at me and laughed.
“NOT MY GIRLS!” I could hear Riddle and Penny burst in a fit of laughter.
A little while later both twins ran towards the door. I called to them, “Hey! Where do you think you’re going!?!”
“The arcade!” Pear cheered. “We’re going to spy on some people.”
“And do I know these people?” Pear and Penny were on restriction. They looked at each other and both shook their heads no, and not looking at me. “Pear, Penny.”
“You don’t know them.” Pear fidgeted. “Honest.”
I laughed, “Pear, you may get a lot of things from your grandpa, but the ability to lie you got from me. So, out with it.”
Pear sighed, “We’re going to spy on Jamie and Benny. We just have to get there before he does. Please?”
“No.” I shook my head, “This is his first date, you are not going to ruin it for him. Go play, or better yet go hook up with Anna and do something productive like that science project you have due.”
“But dad!” Penny whined. “We want to go to the arcade!”
“But Penny!” I mocked, “you’re both on restrictions. The arcade is one of those places. I’m sorry, but no.”
“Fine,” Pear and Penny said and walked to the security room. Good, I thought. They could bug their grandpa and I could just relax and write.
I was just getting back into the zone when I heard Jamie scream from the top of the stairs, “MOM! Where’d you say dad’s aftershave is?”
“Top drawer,” I called out. I decided to go help him, and headed up there. He followed me into the bathroom and I handed him the aftershave. “What happen to yours? I know I bought you some last week.”
“Pear.” Jamie rolled his eyes. “Really dad, his pranks have to stop.”
“He’s already on restriction, what the hell did he do now?”
“He replaced my bottle with rubbing alcohol! Do you know how much that shit hurts?”
“Yes, and don’t say shit.”
“Shit,” he joked. I popped him in the head. “Last week it was the shower, and now this. It’s getting childish.”
“I agree, and I’ll have another talk with him.” I watched my son primp his hair. “You look fine.”
“Shows what you know, I have to look hot. Sexy. Hello, the guy is a freaking god!”
I laughed, “You sound worse than your two sisters. You’re just as handsome and good looking as this guy. Don’t sweat it, Jamie. Go out and have fun.” I pulled out my wallet and handed him a twenty. “Don’t spend this all on one game.” I whispered in his ear, “And if you need more,. I know for a fact grandpa has a brand new hundred dollar bill in his wallet. You get it for me, I’ll give you half.”
“Will you help,” Jamie asked with a smile. I nodded and winked at him. “AWESOME!”
We got downstairs and I called dad out to talk. Dad came out and within two minutes, Jamie walked out. He nearly got to the door, before dad snapped his fingers. “Jamie.”
Damn. Jamie walked over, and handed him back the hundred dollar bill. “Sorry grandpa.”
“You know about this?” dad asked me.
I looked at Jamie, “Nope.”
“Bullshit. You’re just as bad of a liar as Pear. Next time you want cash, Jamie. Just come and ask. Don’t try to covertly steal back your dad’s money he lost in a bet.”
“Can I have money, grandpa?”
“Nope. You work for the enemy.” Jamie shrugged and left, looking at me apologetically. I should have had Pear do it, except his rates are far more expensive. Dad faced me after Jamie walked out the door, “And you, my son. . . “ he shook his finger. “Very disappointed. Teaching your kids how to steal from their own grandpa.”
Dad laughed, “It was. You want your money back, you have to win it back. Tomorrow five miles. You beat me I’ll double your money, you lose I get another hundred.”
“You’re mean,” I pouted and went back to my writing. Dad laughed and went back to work.
For the rest of the day I worked on my novel and waited patiently for Jamie to get home. I was nervous for my son. He was on his first date ever. Riddle and I weren’t surprised that it was a boy, or that it was Benny Zevon, a killer pitcher on the High School baseball’s team. Jamie couldn’t stop talking about his new friend since the school year started and Benny came up to him and befriended him. Now, the two were finally going out and Jamie had his first boyfriend.
Jamie had come out to Riddle and I over the summer. He sat us both sit down. We both had an idea what he was going to say, and we were right. “I have something to tell you both,” Jamie took a deep breath. “This might be hard to hear, but I’m gay. I know I thought I was bisexual, but I just can’t see myself ever with a girl.”
“You sure?” I asked.
“Pretty sure dad.”
“Well, okay then.”
“Also, dad I was wondering if I could go to the camping trip this year?”
I sat back and thought about it. I had no problem with him wanting to go camping. In fact I wanted to jump up and give him a hug. He hadn’t come on the camping trip for years. However, this trip was the last weekend before Carter had to go back to Twinbrook, and Casey was looking to spending it with Carter up in the mountain. It was the one place those two really talked, and didn’t fight.
“Carter is going to be there, Jamie. I know the two of you have issues.”
“I know, and if he can keep his mouth shut, I can handle it.” Jamie shrugged, “I just wanted to spend a weekend with my dad.”
“And I want to spend it with you. Let me talk to Case, and we’ll figure it out.”
“Cool, thanks.” Jamie ran back to his room, and I swore I heard him hooting.
I laughed and Riddle looked at me, “You know, you’re an amazing father. Did you see his smile.”
“Yup. Its about time he came out. I was getting tired of knowing, but not.”
“Me and you both,” she laughed. It was quite obvious that Jamie was gay. It had been for a while, and it may have taken me a while to get use to the idea, but I was okay with it. I just realized after my heart attack that my son was still my son no matter what. Gay, bi, or straight, I love all my kids, and I’m proud of them.
Too bad on that we had to cut the camping trip short. Carter just couldn’t stop saying shit to Jamie about being a fag on the car ride up the mountains. That first night they were just fighting and bitching, and both Casey and I were at our wits end with them. Hell, Pear trying to light his farts on fire didn’t even soften the mood, even if Casey and I laughed. The kid was something else.
Then it finally blew over, and I have to say it when it did, I was the proudest father ever.
“Will you shut the fuck up, Carter! Yes, I am a homosexual! Yes, I like guys! I’ll share that with the world, if I have to. But for the love of all things holy, will you shut the fuck up and stop the fucking name calling! It makes you look like a closet case who’s just dying to take it up the ass.” Jamie did what he did best then and walked off.
Casey and I just sat there and both of us tried hard not to laugh. Pear laughed his ass off. “Dude, he just called you gay!”
Carter went to go punch Pear, and Pear blocked him and somehow manage to knock Carter down on his ass in one swift motion. I just wish his grandpa could have seen that. Dad’s been teaching Pear and Penny some moves since they were just toddlers.
“Carter,” Casey warned when the boy got back on his feet with the face that was ready to kill.
“He just -”
“And you tried to punch him,” Casey interrupted. “Maybe you shouldn’t try to go up against Parker’s double.”
Pear smiled at Casey’s compliment. “Yeah, and maybe if you stopped acting like a total douche, you’d have some decent friends, like Jamie and me. You know, he’s still the same Jamie he was when we were kids, you idjit.”
Carter stalked off, and that night Casey and I made the decision of not staying the next day. We packed up the car and drove the whole next day home. Carter and Jamie fought the entire time. Casey and I knew in that moment it would be our last camping trip with our boys.
Jamie immediately apologized at home for ruining the trip. “Wasn’t your fault. Casey and I should have known you two wouldn’t get along. You okay though?”
“I’m okay. It just sucks knowing the only friend you really ever had hates your guts just because you’re gay. I thought Carter and I’d be friends for life, now I just never care if I ever see him again.”
“I’m sorry Jamie. I wish things could be different too.”
Now here we are a year later and my boy was on his first official date. Jamie came home just before dinner with all smiles. “I take it the date went well?”
“Jamie, you’re the biggest chatter box I know, and I ask about you’re date you give me one word? Really? What gives?”
“Nothing,” Jamie shrugged.
“Come on, you can tell your pop’s anything. What, did he kiss you?” Jamie turned red. “He did! You’re first kiss?”
“Shut up, dad.” Jamie whispered.
After that date, Jamie and his boyfriend were practically inseparable. It was almost mind blowing how much PDA was going around in my house. First there was Cait and Moron kissing and making out like they were newly weds. Then there was Jamie and Benny.
Jamie and Benny, I tend to have to split up on the sofa because, well they are both teenage boys and only have one thing on their freaking minds! Their kissing would turn into making out, and then they’d start to. . . well, it’s not pretty.
Then this afternoon I got the shock of my life. Dad came in dragging both boys by their collars. He ordered them to sit on the sofa, and I was just stunned at how red all of their faces were.
“What the hell, dad?”
“Do either one of you want to tell Kaliq what I just caught you guys doing?” They shook their head, and kept their gazes away from both dad and I. “Fine.”
Dad turned towards me, “Case was watching surveillance when he saw something covering over one of cameras. He called me to look, and I went to investigate. Found these two out in back engaging in a sexual act.”
“Sexual act?” I looked at Jamie, “What were you two doing?”
“I was. . .” He mumbled something.
“What? I didn’t quite hear you. What were you two doing?”
“Giving head, okay?” Jamie turned red, and I turned red.
I shook my head, “Jamie.”
Dad faced them both, “Look, usually I would be calling Ben’s parents. But I don’t know if he’s out to them or not, and I am not into outing anyone. So, you have two choices, Benny, one stay off this property for two weeks, or I go call your folks.”
Benny’s eyes widen, “Sir, please don’t, I’m not out. Not yet, at least. My dad won’t understand, and I just can’t. He’s not as cool as either of you, Mr. Rain,” he whispered.
“Alright.” I said, “Ben, you two have to stay apart for two weeks. Oh, and if anyone catches either of you like that, we’ll have to call them. Understood?”
“Yes, sir.” Benny stood. “Can I please go now?”
“Get going kid,” dad said. Benny understood and walked out the door with the look of shame written on his face. Dad turned his attention onto me, “Now, you need to talk to your son.”
“Me?” I asked. Oh no, I am not going there with Jamie.
“Yes, give him the sex talk.”
“Because you’re his father.”
“And you know more about it than I do! You’re the one that’s been with another. . . ”
“Shut up, Kaliq,” dad said quietly.
“What, wait? What?” Jamie had confusion written all over his face. “What are you two talking about?”
“You bastard,” dad mumbled. “Kaliq, I told you to drop it.”
“Sorry. It just slipped.”
“Wait, you’ve. . .” Jamie got quiet, “Slept with another guy?”
Dad gave a small nod, “Yeah, I have Jamie.” Dad glared at me. “And you and I are going out to talk about it, alone, at dinner, downtown, because blubber mouth can’t ever keep a fucking secret – or to know when to mind his own damn business.”
“Blubber mouth,” Jamie laughed and walked out of the house with dad.
That dinner changed Jamie and dad’s relationship. It now seemed they were bonding more than I would have ever imagine. They often went out to dinner, or I would find Jamie talking to dad in the security room, quietly. They would always be whispering. I was happy. For one, I was glad that Jamie had someone like dad to look up to, and second that my dad had someone he could talk about Nick with.
Now, that I knew Jamie was being smart – or at least hope he is – I could concentrate all my energy and time into breaking up Moron and Cait.
Cait moved out about a month ago after I about killed her boyfriend. I just walked out of my bedroom, ready for the day when I ran right into Moron. The man was in his boxers, and they were tenting! I started to scream for Riddle, and Cait came out of the room wearing a little thing that I just didn’t like. “WHAT THE HELL, CAITLIN!” I screamed at her.
“Dad, I’m nineteen.”
I turned to Moron, “You sleeping with my daughter?”
“Dad!” Cait screamed.
“Sir, I am in love with your daughter.”
“That didn’t answer my question.” I took a step closer, “You have five minutes to get out of this house, and if I ever catch you in this house dressed the way you are, so help me I will go find my dad’s gun and shoot you with it. Understood?”
“Daddy! UHG! How could you do that to me!” Cait yelled at me as Moron ran out of the house. “Aaron, wait!” She yelled as she ran after him. That afternoon she packed her bags without telling me, and moved in with Aaron. Pissed couldn’t even begin to describe how I felt that night.
When I walked into the house this evening, I thought my day was a pretty good day. I was happy, healthy, and just all in a good mood. That was until Jamie found me. he had this smirk on his face when he saw me. “What?” I asked.
“You haven’t read Cait’s SimFace have you?”
“No.” I looked a little like a sad puppy, just mentioning her SimFace made me sad. She dropped me as a Friend the same day she moved out. “What it say?”
“Like I’m gonna tell you. No, it’s more fun to just watch.” Jamie laughed and walked towards the kitchen, I followed.
Riddle was on the phone and she looked excited, radiant even. “We need to find a dress. . .I know it’s early but honey, that’s like the first thing you need to think of. . . Okay, yea the date is important to.” Riddle saw me, “Your dad just walked in, want to tell him?”
“Tell me what?” I asked. Dresses? Dates? OH HELL NO! “No way! No how! Not on my life!”
“Aaron popped the question last night.” Riddle beamed.
Blood ran straight to my head, and I wanted to hit something. “That moron is not marrying my daughter!”
“She says she loves you too,” Riddle laughed at me, “And told you that she was.”
I grabbed the phone from Riddle’s hand and looked at both Jamie’s and her smug looks. For years I have called Cait’s boyfriend Moron, they knew how much I disliked the idiot. “Why the blazes do you want to marry him?”
“Because I love him, daddy. Don’t get all stressed out about, geesh. Calm down and take a chill-pill.”
“I am not going to calm down!” I screamed, “This is Moron you’re marrying, I will not calm the fuck down!”
“Dad, I’ve told you a million times, His. Name. Is. Aaron.”
“Well he’s a MOR-ON, he didn’t even ask me for your hand. What kind of idiot does that?”
“You didn’t ask my dad,” Riddle piped up.
I turned to her, “Wanna bet? He knew my intentions when he put me on the plane out to Hollywood. I was either marrying you or I was. . . “ I shut my mouth. Riddle didn’t know it at the time, but I was actually leaving her building all those years ago to go up to the top story and jump off the building. Good thing she caught me when she did.
“Going to what?” I heard from Riddle, Jamie, and Cait on the phone at the same time.
“Nothing, going home.”
“Right. . .” Riddle glared at me, “You and me are going to talk tonight about this.” She walked out of the kitchen, pointing to the stairs. I was to go up there when I was done. Crap.
“Daddy, if he did ask you, what would you have said?”
“See, that’s why he didn’t. Dad, I love Aaron, he’s my Prince.”
“More like Princess,” I mumbled.
Jamie pushed me and Cait yelled at me, “Hey! That’s just wrong dad.” I turned to look at my son, yeah I might have crossed a line. He just shook his head at me. “I’m sorry,” I told both of them, and I meant it like I always did when my stupid mouth got in the way.
“Dad, just promise me that you’ll at least be at the wedding. I really want you to give me away. Please.”
I took a deep and relaxing breath before answering, “Fine, but he and I are going to talk, and soon.”
“That’s fine, maybe he’ll finally win your heart.”
“Not likely.” We hung up and I looked over at Jamie who still looked a bit put off, “Sorry.”
“Jokes like that are just as cruel as being called a fag, dad.”
“Yup,” I nodded, “And I am sorry to both you and Cait, okay?”
“I should tell mom, but you’re already into some serious trouble with her, I’ll let it pass. Besides I gotta head to my audition for Mary Poppins. I’m so getting the part of Burt!”
I laughed, “What song are you singing.”
Jamie had a wicked smile on his face, “The one that Grandpa Moss can’t stand. I’m going to call him and sing it for him if I get the part, just so he could cringe some more. Then I am inviting him and grandma to the play!”
I laughed along with him as he ran out of the house. Jamie had been practicing Chim Chim Cher-ee this past weekend when Riddle’s folks came down to visit, Cocaine just cringed when he walked in.
“Why are we singing that song?” Coke asked. “Seriously, why?”
Jamie didn’t stop and I just laughed, “Come on Gramps, jump in and sing with him,” I teased. “You know you want to.”
Cocaine just cringed even more. So I started to sing along, and then Riddle and even Anya followed. He shook his head and headed towards my dad’s office.
I headed upstairs after Jamie left for his audition and found Riddle in our bedroom. “Spill it, Kaliq,” she said. I couldn’t even look at her I was so ashamed. How could I tell her this? “What would you have done if I hadn’t accepted your apology and taken you in twenty years ago?”
I lowered my head, I really didn’t want her to know. I never wanted her to find out. “Before I tell you, I want you to know, I was in a bad place when I left Neverglade. I was a depressed drunk that thought I didn’t have anything worth living for.” I looked up to her, “Before your dad came to me, and told me to go after you, I was about to kill myself. I was going to use dad’s gun that day and do myself in.”
Riddle gasped. Horrified.
“When you caught me on the elevator, I wasn’t heading down. . . I was heading up, to the top of the building. To. . .” I couldn’t even form the words. “You saved my life, Riddler.”
Riddle kissed me, “I love you so much. And you may have been a stupid young man then, but you had me.”
“No, I didn’t. But I do now.” I grabbed her off her feet and into my arms. I walked her the few feet I needed to get to the bed, where I laid her down and stripped us both of our clothes. That evening we made sensual, slow love to each other – relearning our bodies even after twenty years. Thank god she wasn’t pissed off about my thoughts back then. I’m just as happy to be alive today, as Riddle is. My life would have never been so complete without my wife and my kids.
After our love making, Riddle and I settled down on the sofa and watched a movie. At some point I fell asleep and only woke when I heard music to my ears.
“Chim chim-in-ey, chim chim-in-ey / Chin chim cher-ee! / A sweep is as lucky, as luck can be / Chim chim-in-ey, chim chim-in-ey / Chim chim cher-oo! / Good luck will rub off when I shakes ‘ands with you / Or blow me a kiss and that’s lucky too!”
Riddle and I both screamed and jumped off the sofa. The three of us sang, and we even called Riddle’s dad. Cocaine, well he was a bit put off about the song choice, but was happy that his grandson got the lead role in his high school play. I had never seen Jamie as happy as he was at that moment. I knew that my Jamie would be a big star one day, and he wouldn’t have to ride his mother’s coat tails to do it. Jamie had talent that only every person in Broadway would die for.
It was almost a month after Jamie received word that he got the part that I became concerned for him. Jamie started to lose some weight when he started to stay later for rehearsals. I noticed he was getting skinnier, and my mind came up with all kinds of ideas as to why. First, I thought he just was exercising way too much and not eating enough. Then, I thought maybe he just was over exerting himself and just forgetting to eat. Last thing I thought was all because of a stupid article I stumbled upon online.
I manage to find myself on this blog, Sasha Sees about a High School somewhere in Twinbrook. The post, “Bulimia at Twinbrook High: More than just Binging and Barfing,” was telling about how the dancers at the school were being pressured into losing weight from parents and staff. I was appalled as I read how some girls were even becoming bulimic. I was going to kill Jamie if this was the shit he was doing.
When he walked into the house that night, I got right into his face, “You doing anything stupid?”
“Uh? What?” Jamie tried to sidestep me. “Dad, are you okay? I mean your veins in your neck are popping out. Please tell me your not like having a stroke! MOM!”
“I’m not having a fucking stroke. Now answer the question, are you doing anything fucking stupid because of your dancing and acting classes!”
“What the hell’s going on?” I heard Riddle ask behind me. “Kaliq?”
“I think dad’s having a mental breakdown or a stroke or something?” Jamie answered her.
“I AM NOT HAVING A STROKE! Now answer me Jamie!”
“I don’t even know what the hell you’re talking about, dad! Really, if you explain why you’re acting all mental, maybe I can answer. Mom, tell him to relax before he goes all crazy and has another heart attack.”
“Kaliq, what the hell’s gotten into you?” Riddle asked, this time pulling me away from Jamie. “Take a deep breath and tell us why your gearing up for another attack. You know your heart can’t take this kind of stress.”
“Are you bulimic? Anorexic? Anything?”
Jamie’s face was all kinds of shock. “What the hell are you talking about? Are you mental? How can you even think like that dad?”
“Your losing way too much weight and I just read about how dancers are being pressured into looking like sticks.”
“First off, Mrs. Harper would kill any of us if we even thought about doing that to ourselves. Beauty, she says, is on the inside of us and she won’t have anyone trying to look like the Mary-Kate’s and Ashley’s of the world.”
“Then why have you lost so much damn weight?” I grounded out.
“Maybe because I am sixteen and am in the middle of a growth spurt, and I can’t eat enough calories in a day. I dance four hours a day now and I burn too much off. Trust me, you’re not the only one that’s noticed. I eat like ten snacks a day, and I still lose weight. Mrs. Harper and Mr. Reyburn are both trying to help me get my weight under control. I’ve had to do three different fittings alone for Burt’s costume, and I’ll probably need two more before next month’s opening. So, relax dad, okay.”
I didn’t relax, not one bit. “You pull anything like that, I will hurt you.”
“You and everyone else that cares about me. Relax.” Jamie looked to Riddle, “Mom, tell him to stop hounding me.”
“Believe me, I will. Come along, Kulk, time to get you back to being human.” Jamie laughed as Riddle dragged me away, saying that he loved my new nickname.
She led me to the bedroom and pushed me gently onto the bed. I was still seething mad, pissed even. I just didn’t know why I was so upset about something my son wasn’t doing. I believed him. I never even thought about how much of a workout dancing was, and now he was doing double the workout for the play. Of course he would be losing weight, the boy was a stick already. He’s never been able to keep fat on him with the amount of dancing and work he’s done over the years.
Stupid fucking blog.
Did I mention I wasn’t paying any attention to my wife, who was now naked and on her knees . . . Wait, when the hell did my jeans come off? “Kaliq, relax.”
I looked down, and laughed. “I am relaxed.” I winked.
She and I both had a laugh, and then did what she did best, and soon I was more than relaxed. Damn, Riddle, even after all these years knew exactly how to use her mouth to get me to shut not only my mouth up, but my head up as well. I was at her mercy in bed.
The next morning started out like any other Friday. Riddle made breakfast for the kids. I found myself eating the healthy crap while I watched Pear douse his pancakes in butter and syrup. I tried sneaking a taste and Riddle slapped my hand. “Kaliq, no. Bad, dog.”
“Ruff,” I barked, which made Pear laugh.
Penny came down and started to talk a mile a minute about school to Pear. I only half listened, half stared as she did the same with her pancakes. I looked down at my soggy fruit covered thing and my stomach turned. God, how much I wished I could have their breakfast.
Jamie was the last to come downstairs, looking all fancied up and glamorous as always. “Dad, can I borrow the car? I have a huge rehearsal tonight and then a bunch of us are going out to the karaoke bar and grill place and eat. Maybe wow everyone with our singing.”
I dug the keys out of my pockets and handed them to him. “Be home by eleven, and if something happens and you need us, call.” I didn’t have to say what that something could be. Jamie had been gay-bashed on more than one occasion when he went out with friends. Some he reported to the police, but more often then not he just called and had me pick him up, talk to him, tell him he was going to be fine. I just couldn’t wait till he was out of high school, where he could move in some community that accepted him for him.
“Eleven, thanks dad.”
The kids headed off to school with Jamie driving. I didn’t mind him driving the twins to school, he was a lot better of a driver than his mom and me.
Riddle left for work, and I went to the publishing company. Everything was fine. It was just one of those eerie perfect days that most people take for granted.
At night Riddle and I made love again. She had surprised me around eight when she came downstairs almost completely naked, and told me that we had the house all to ourselves. I hadn’t even noticed. My parents were off at the movies with the twins, seeing Spy vs. Spy and Jamie was still at rehearsal. For the first time since before Cait was born, Riddle and I were completely alone. Needless to say, we didn’t take that for granted.
I chased her up the stairs, and tackled her onto the bed. We kissed and made out, until we finally found ourselves making slow love to each other. We both wanted the moment to last. It was just the perfect night for the two of us.
While in the afterglow of our passion, Riddle’s fingers traced my scar. “I never want to lose you, Kaliq.”
I kissed the top of her head, “I never want to lose you, either. We’ve had an amazing trip, haven’t we?”
“The most amazing trip. Couldn’t have been the same without all the ups and downs.”
“I could have gone without some of those downs.”
Riddle smacked me, then laughed. We laughed in bed the rest of the night, basking in the afterglow of our love, and our life. We kissed and we held each other. This was my life and it couldn’t have been any better. This was the life I wanted, and never wanted to give up.
That’s when the phone rang. . . .
Author’s Note: Song used in the update is Chim Chim Cher-ee from Mary Poppins. I want to thank my friend Rhett (Author of Shmidt Happens) for creating both Benny and Aaron (Moron).