Friday, December 3, 2010

Brian Ottomas - Ch. 1 His Story Pt. 1

Brian Ottomas watched Lori Lassiter drive off toward Rapid Racers; then he came inside and shut the door. She'd been at their house all evening.

“What could you possibly be thinking of, Bry?” his sister Bridget’s voice was low but emphatic.

He shrugged slightly, “What?”

“You know what. When you asked me to fix dinner for someone named Lori Lassiter, like a fool I thought you meant her older sister, Grace.”

Brian started playing with his ever present hand-held game; then he said without looking up, “Why would you think that?”

“Well for one thing I knew you used to date a girl with the last name of Lassiter in high school. For another, I did not think my brother dated children so I expected a woman his own age to show up; that translated to Grace. This girl is what, 15?”

“Sixteen,” he said quickly, “And I’m not dating her.”

“Would you give me just a small break?” Bridget was getting worked up, “The point is that she’s under 18 so she’s a minor. Jailbait, Brian.”

“I told you I’m not dating her.”

"Oh, then what would you call it—babysitting?”

He continued to play with the game.

“Brian, look at me!”

Tossing the game on the love seat next to Bridget, finally he sat down in the chair.  Bridget thought she saw the old torment in his eyes.

She sat down on the floor across from  him and her voice was softer.

“You’re just getting your life back together, again, Bry.  That’s why I wanted you to move in with me; I knew you could make a new beginning. And it's going to be great. But if you don’t nip this in the bud you could be in real trouble.”

Brian sighed and looked away, then back at his sister,

“I never meant to get involved with her—I’m NOT involved with her, really,” he protested, “It’s just…”

“I know, Brian, ” Bridget cut him off, “Of course, I know. Except for the black hair she looks just like Corinne. It’s amazing.”

He slid down to the floor too, sitting across from her, Indian style, the way they used to do when they shared a room as children.

“I couldn’t believe it the first time I saw her,” he said, ready at last to talk about Corinne and how meeting Lori had made him feel like he was 19 again. He knew Bridget would understand if anyone did.

But before he could get started, Bridget closed up on him. He could see she was uncomfortable and wanted to drop the subject she’d just introduced. Or maybe she thought he was uncomfortable talking about it, he didn’t know. But she suddenly became abrupt,

“But you know she’s not Corinne, Bry. She's just a child who happens to look like someone you once knew. So you have to forget about her. Don’t call her, don’t text her, don’t see her, don’t contact her in any way. Promise me.”

She paused and Brian looked down, considering. He pulled at his lip.


“Okay, you’re right," he paused and then said, "I won't see her anymore, then. Okay?"

“Unfortunately I don’t think it’s going to be that easy,” Bridget admitted, “She’s obviously got a very big crush on you. It won’t be enough for you to stop calling her, she’s going to keep calling you;so you’re going to have to make it clear to her not to come around or try to contact you. Make her think you’re not interested.”

“You just said I shouldn’t contact her.”

“And you won’t—after you break it off cleanly.”

Brian just looked at her.

Bridget sighed,

“I know you don’t want to hurt the girl’s feelings, but it’s better for her if you do. Just a clean break; but be nice about it.”

He was looking at his sister with growing irritation,

“Now, how can I tell her to get lost and still be nice? Why can’t I just not see her again? She'll get the idea.”

It was Bridget’s turn to shrug.

“All men are the same; social cowards. Okay, sure, give it a try. But when she’s sending you texts night and day wondering why you don’t answer, remember you heard it first from me.”

Bridget started toward the stairs and then stopped and said,

“Bry? You know that I’m sorry I even had to bring up Corinne.”

“Yeah. It’s okay.”

But it wasn’t okay. Not really. It had never been okay.

Brian went up to his own room and flopped on his bed, but the memories had already begun rushing in. The floodgates were open for the moment.

Corinne. Beautiful Corinne Turner was everybody’s favorite person on campus. She was the whole package, beauty, brains, compassion, talent. Brian was a goner. They’d met as freshman at the University and fell in love with each other almost immediately. For a whole year they were joined at the hip, attending all the campus social functions, studying, planning their careers. They were both music majors; with Brian it was guitar, drums and bass, and writing music, with Corinne it was piano and voice. They both just assumed they would marry after college, and considered themselves unofficially engaged. Neither set of parents wanted them to even talk about a wedding at this point, but everyone knew they would be together. They were a matched set.

In the fall of their sophomore year they were on their way to the October Festival dance. It was one of the worst wrecks in the history of the college. A drunk speeding down the road crashed into Brian’s car which careened into another car and pinned it against a tree.  All of the four kids in that car were killed instantly. Brian crawled out of the wreckage of his own vehicle and collapsed. He had multiple internal injuries, a broken leg that required two pins and various lesser cuts and contusions. He was in the hospital a long time. The worst for Brian, though, was when he woke up and learned that Corinne had died on the way to the hospital.

He never went back to school, he couldn’t stand the memories. He drowned in guilt. It didn’t matter that everyone told him he’d done nothing wrong, all he knew was that he had been one of the people driving and lives had been lost. His beloved Corinne was gone. The pain of simply missing her outweighed even the guilt.

Brian's first thought when he got out of the hospital was too join the army but the pins in his leg quickly put an end to that idea. He felt that he’d come to an impasse; nowhere to go, nothing to care about. He stayed away from Pleasantview. His folks tried to convince him to go to school somewhere else, they’d gladly pay for him to finish his education any where he wanted so he wouldn’t be confronted by painful associations at every turn. He wasn’t interested. For years he wandered here and there, working as a mechanic, selling insurance, slinging hash at a greasy spoon, working construction or on a road crew, it didn’t matter to him. He didn’t care where he went or what he did. He had shipped his guitar back home. Music was painful now, he never played. He lived all over the US. He stopped corresponding with his family.  

One bleak day he found himself in the mental ward of a hospital in a town far from home; he’d finally had that nervous breakdown he’d been working on for over 10 years. The good thing was that he got counseling and things started to turn around. He began taking evening classes at the community college there and got a part-time job with a local 3-man band that played mostly country-rock and took gigs at various venues within a 40-50 mile area. They made practically no money, but it felt great to be making music again. Brian had bought a beat up guitar at a pawn shop to be able to join the group. He missed his own guitar though, and feeling remorseful at last about the worry he must be putting his parents through, Brian contacted his family and let them know where he was. They were overjoyed to hear from him and he visited home one night on the pretext of getting a couple of his instruments that his parents had stored for him. While he did want his guitar and bass, the truth was he just suddenly needed very much to see them. It had been so long; his parents were both in tears when they hugged him. He stayed for supper. That’s when Bridget asked him to move in with her and share expenses. 

So Brian had decided to take a chance on Pleasantview one more time. He still loved music and now practiced guitar and bass in his free time, but he knew it was unlikely at his age he could make a living from it. He got a job selling insurance, he’d done that before. It was boring to him, but he was a people person and he was good at it. He and Bridget were as good a fit as they’d always been. For Bridget’s part, Brian was a big help with expenses and he was good about sharing chores and cleaning up after himself. For Brian, there was a  huge room on the third floor that Bridgie indicated he could use for his music. They were twins, they'd always been close until Brian had left town. They both loved some of the same things, jogging, games and gardening and a certain amount of privacy so it was working really well.

Until I started screwing up, Brian thought bitterly. Well, Bridgie is right; I’m playing with fire here. It took hearing her say it out loud for me to recognize it. It’s not fair to Lori, anyway, if I’m just seeing her because she reminds me of Corinne. She deserves more than being compared to a ghost, even if that ghost was the love of my life. It was brutal to put it that way, but he had to learn to finally say goodbye to Corinne. An old remembered pain started to rise up and Brian squashed it back down inside him. No. Not going to think about Corinne anymore tonight. That was the thing, of course, since he’d met Lori he really hadn’t thought of Corinne--for pretty much the first time in 15 years. He’d had no intention of trying to romance her, or that’s what he’d been telling himself.  He just wanted to see her, talk to her; be near her. If he ended his friendship with Lori, how would he keep away the Corinne-pain? Never mind about that, he said to himself sternly, this insane thing with Lori stops now before it goes any further.

Suddenly he realized he'd received a text. It was from Lori, “Nite-nite, Bry-man”. He smiled without thinking, then came to his senses and sighed. Whispering a quiet but heart-felt epithet he spoke into the darkness, “This is not going to be easy..."

Next installment of Brian Ottomas HERE



Sim Girl said...

Do not worry, it is easy to see the resemblence :D That was a good highlight of his story! I love it, poor Brian...

Lorelei said...

I know, he's not the villain you might think, just kind of an emotional wreck.