Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Brian Ottomas Ch. 5 Neighborhood Block Party Pt. 2

Having decided, after about 5 minutes, that she needed to get over herself, face the music and dance...and try not to fall, Lori headed back to the table where Chelsea, Melanie and Gareth were seated. As she came across the lawn she saw Brian and Harvey talking animatedly. She knew Harvey had spoken with Brian at length and on various subjects when he brought over the casserole that day, but actually seeing them together was another thing.

“It’s like ‘when worlds collide’, it’s almost surreal,” she thought. Looking about for Meadow she saw her over by the table where the refreshments had just been laid out. Evidently she must be helping out with that. She didn’t appear disturbed or even to be paying attention to Brian and Harvey or to Lori for that matter.

When Lori returned to her place and sat down, she noticed Gareth glaring at Brian and then he looked at her anxiously. She returned a puzzled look. Whatever was his problem? There was not time to ask him. Harvey turned to Lori and said somewhat unnecessarily,

“Honey, here’s Brian.”

Brian looked down at her and smiled his lazy smile.

“Hi, Brian,” she said softly and smiled back at him, hoping she sounded cool, yet friendly. His eyes were still blue-gray, she thought and then she shook herself mentally. You dolt; don't look at his eyes. But don't look away, either! That would look like you are avoiding his gaze. Okay, look at his mouth instead, no, not his mouth--his chest, wait, his belt. No! She didn't know if she should close her eyes or just go blind.

“It’s been a long time, Princess,” he nodded but of course, did not try to shake her hand.

Lori’s world rocked and she thought with panic,

“He used his old nickname for me right in front of Harvey!”

It did not seem to be a problem for Harvey, who looked neither perturbed nor worried, maybe he hadn’t even noticed, she hoped fervently. But what was she thinking? She knew Harvey; he was taking it all in—how she acted and spoke; how Brian acted and spoke. He might never mention it, but he wasn’t missing a thing.

They only talked for a few more minutes—just casual conversation—and then Brian went over to where Meadow was—without introducing Lori to her.

Elle and Corky and Chelsea and Trey had finally arrived. There were more and more couples out there dancing; David and Barbara, of course, but also the Hammonds. Elle immediately dragged Corky out to the “dance floor”. Harvey and Lori joined them. 

Lonnie and Jenny were enjoying themselves; because of the way their romance started they had never been to many public places as a couple and rarely did now except occasionally for the supermarket. They’d never even danced together before, not in public. 

“I love this,” Jenny told Lonnie, “I haven’t had this much fun in a long time. We should get to know some of these people better; you know, invite them over or take them out to the restaurant on our dime.”

“You’re right. We need to have a little more R & R when we can,” Lonnie agreed.

“The house over there is the one Loni Faye was at when she called the other night to have dinner with her little friend, I think his name was Heath or Keith or something like that.”

“We should meet his parents just in case she wants to invite him over or visit again,” he suggested, “You know, make sure they’re the wholesome type.” Lonnie was a rather protective dad.

“Oh, I know the father, he's Brian Ottomas,” Jenny said, omitting the fact that years ago she’d had a one-night (actually one-day) stand with Brian at his sister’s house. It had been memorable, to say the least, so she was not sure how cozy she wanted their two families to be, “But I don’t know his wife at all.”

“I do,” Lonnie supplied, then looked at Jenny and admitted with neither shame nor pride, “I dated her a couple times back in the day.”

Jenny raised one eyebrow, changing her mind.

“Oh, indeed? Well meeting her should be interesting. Come to think of it, you must have “dated” quite a few of these women, probably even at the same time.”

“Hmm, two can play at that game. I seem to recall that…”

“Yes, well, we’re having such a good time let’s drop that subject right now,” she interrupted him, a wry expression on her face.

People table-hopped as various couples got up to dance or came back to catch their breath.

Brian and Meadow sat down on the vacated chairs at Dylan’s table, David and Barbara finally took a break and sat with Trey and Chelsea.

Lori and Harvey were still on the concrete “dance floor” when they saw Brian lead Meadow to the other side of the street near the stereo to dance.

After a while Dylan, falling right into his usual position as “host” and social director, announced that the live band would be playing now. Corky had agreed to play the drums, while Lonnie was going to play piano. Brian was on lead guitar, of course, and Dylan played bass. 

Meadow jumped up to become a cheerleader for Brian; Elaine, Elle and Jenny did the same for Dylan, Corky and Lonnie. 

It was not too long before Meadow realized she had some other cheerleaders backing her up; Lori Ferguson and Lalique Flynn. Lalique was acting like a heat-crazed groupie, but Lori just looked enthusiastic. 


The women had left the table where Harvey and Gareth sat; Lori was up by the band and Melanie was in the bathroom, throwing up and thinking that morning sickness was hitting her morning, noon and night. Meadow had generously volunteered to let the guests use her two downstairs bathrooms, fortunately for Melanie. So Gareth now had some time to talk to Harvey alone. Instead of the conversation he had planned to start regarding Lori and Brian, Gareth happened to turn and see Barbara at the table across the way. It was the first time he’d noticed her because she’d been on the dance floor all this time. He was stunned,

“Dude, who IS that?”

“Calm down, boy, where you been? Everyone’s been talking about her—she’s Barbara Bel Geddes, I think David has definitely claimed her—at least for tonight.”

Gareth was rapt,

“Shut the front door! She looks like a movie star or something, or a model."

"Yeah," Harvey muttered, "Jeez, does everyone think people look like movie stars? I thought it was just Lori."

But it seemed Gareth wasn't listening.

“So, Lori said Melanie told her that you two are living at the Flynn mansion?” Harvey tried to drag Gareth’s attention away by reminding him subtly he was married.

Gareth finally looked back at him,

“Yeah, I wasn’t so pro on living with her folks, not at first; but they convinced me. They would like to keep the place in the family and they’re getting on; neither of Mel’s sisters want it; Lalique is totally uninterested; I think she still hopes to marry some day and doesn’t want to be attached to that huge house and Yvette is perfectly happy on her little farm with her husband and kid. Mel loves the place, though, and wants to preserve all her parents’ things. She also loves the idea of having a multi-generation home in which to raise kids.”

“What about you?”

Gareth shrugged and then smiled,

“We have more privacy than you'd think, our bedroom is on the other side of the house with an en suite, and right outside our bedroom door we have access to everything you’d have in your living room; comfortable sofas; big screen TV and games. We share a pool table with her parents—that’s a plus—her dad always hustles me and you know that ain’t easy. Plus her folks are fine with us remodeling that end of the second floor. Anyway, Errol and Olivia are great, they give us a lot of space, we do all meet for supper most days, but lots of time, with my job, working out, going here and there with Melanie, I might not see them until that meal or even at all.”

“I sure couldn’t do it, but more power to you, buddy. Anyway, you want to keep Melanie happy, right? I don’t know about you, but at our house you better do that cause if Mama ain’t happy; ain’t NOBODY happy.”

Gareth laughed at that,

“I hear you, dude.”

As the evening wore on Bob Blackford seemed to be drowning his sorrows as he watched Lalique with Jacob Black. And then she had bounced up to where the band was and stood by that guy who was playing guitar. She had hardly spoken to Bob all evening. Even if they had broken up a year ago, she could at least be friendly.

Brian was playing with the other guys and reflecting that he was performing once more, even on a night off. However; he’d been thinking he was glad after all to have attended this block party. Meadow was having a wonderful time, exhilarated and looking like she was 15 again. Then he saw she had been joined by Lori and even by an old flame of his, Lalique Flynn. Not really an old flame, he corrected himself, really, they’d only shared a passionate afternoon at her house a few years ago. The three of them there together made him uneasy to say the least. The three muses...or maybe if they started comparing notes they could become the three furies.

Worse than that, when he attempted to avoid the gaze of the trio of women, he looked the other way and to his vast surprise there was his fully-dressed young son watching in fascination as Lonnie played the piano. Brian had noticed immediately that Lonnie did not just know how to play the piano; he knew how to make it weep and laugh. He was a virtuoso. Why he was running a restaurant instead of making music, Brian didn’t know. Evidently the live music right outside the house must have been inexorably drawing Heath outside. It was late; he obviously should have been in bed by now. Probably he had, in fact, Brian surmised, been in bed, couldn’t sleep, got dressed and sneaked out past Brian’s parents. 

Looking over at Meadow he tried to draw her attention to what was going on by cocking his head toward Heath. She finally caught his look, frowned a bit, then turned to look. Her mouth actually dropped open in shock. Just then the little boy looked up at his father and realized that he’d been spied. Of course, it hadn't been too hard for Brian since Heath had pulled up a chair right behind Lonnie. He’d been hoping his Dad was too engaged in his playing to notice him. No such luck.

“Okay, sweets, nice try,” Meadow said as she came over to Heath intending to scold him and get him back into bed before either of the Hammonds could see him, “How did you get out?”

“Nana and Papa fell asleep watching TV,” he confessed, “They don’t know I’m here.”

“I see,” Meadow had her hand on his shoulder, “Well, I won’t mention it to them—they’d feel bad if they knew that while they were sleeping you were disobeying.”

That was all the scolding she could manage, she wanted to get him in the house as soon as possible. Besides, Brian was the usual disciplinarian, she sucked at dealing with it.

"Too much of a softy," Brian teased her. The truth was she had less patience and more temper than Brian. He could chastise the kids and never get carried away.

She hoped fervently that neither Lonnie nor Jenny had seen Heath.

“I’m sorry, Mom, I know I should have stayed in bed, but I could hear the music and people laughing and talking," Heath offered as they crossed the lawn. When he could see he wasn't in too much trouble he couldn't hide his excitement,

"Did you see that man playing the piano? Gosh, HE...is...GOOD! He plays even better than Daddy,” he faltered at the heresy he had just spoken, but then his enthusiasm carried the day. “Loni Faye told me he was coming tonight; she said he’s the best piano player in the whole world, so I wanted to see for myself. He’s her father, you know.”

Meadow couldn’t help but think sorrowfully, my beautiful boy, he’s your father, too. Sudden guilt assailed Meadow. She really would have to tell Heath someday in the not too distant future and what would he think? He loved Brian as his real father. Would he want to get to know Lonnie better or get angry at her? Or even at Brian? How would Brian feel? She couldn’t bear for him to be hurt either. 

This was all her fault but if she hadn’t done what she did she wouldn’t have Heath; if she hadn’t been pregnant with Heath perhaps she never would have got to know Brian better and fallen in love with him; and if not for Brian, Heath would have had no male role model, no loving “Daddy” and she would not have her two beautiful daughters. No, you made decisions the best you could and then you dealt with the consequences, good or bad. That’s what Brian always said, anyway. She went up to his bedroom with Heath, tiptoeing past Brian's parents snoozing on the couch where the TV was still blasting. He crawled into his bed and she kissed him goodnight and went to check on the babies.

The party was dragging to a close; it was 1 am and the neighbors who had not attended would surely appreciate a little quiet now. Everyone realized that and since they hoped this would become a once a year event, decided to be gracious. Well, perhaps everyone but Bob Blackford, who was nursing another drink and grumbling to himself that some people at this party didn’t appreciate him. 

David and Barbara kissed at last and knew that they didn’t want the evening to end just yet…they were later seen making their way down the street toward her little house.  

The members of the one-night band were dismantling their instruments. The piano belonged to the neighbor across the street and a couple of the men, including Lonnie, helped him wheel it over to his house and get it back inside again.

Brian looked around for Meadow but realized she must be in the house with Heath.

“Um, I just had to tell you how great it was to see you performing,” Lori’s soft voice was behind Brian and he turned around.

“Thanks. I guess that’s right; you’ve never heard me play before.”

“Never had the opportunity,” she glanced over to where Harvey was trying to convince Melanie and Gareth to head over to Sam’s Snappy Service for a quick late night meal of “chee-chee burgers” and vinegar fries.

“You should go, Princess,” Brian said, thinking again in spite of himself, that the 16 year old girl he’d known certainly had become a beautiful woman. His words were not casual but he tried to keep his expression that way as he went on, 

“It’s not a good idea for us to be seen alone together, Lori. We have a reputation based on history, imagined or not. It’s easy for people to make up new gossip that could go around town, just from us standing here talking. I have someone who can’t be hurt; so do you.”

“We’re not alone, there are still a lot of people here, but I guess you’re right. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to cause a problem, I just wanted to applaud you; you really play a mean guitar,” she smiled a little, “I know Harvey enjoyed it too.”

“You didn't cause a problem, kiddo. Not yet, anyway. Harvey seems to be a great guy, Lori, I like him."

Although he was talking to her, he was scanning the crowd all the time, 

“I really meant to introduce you to Meadow but she’s inside with our son who wandered out here.”

“Yes, I’d like to get to know her.”

Now Brian looked directly into her eyes, taking her breath away for a moment,

“No, sweetheart, that won’t fly. Oh, I’ll introduce you sometime to Meadow, I’m sure, but we’re not all going to be close friends and have each other over for cookouts and Christmas. You must know that can't happen. It wouldn't be fair to Meadow and Harvey. You two have your own world with your young friends and your family. Meadow and I are busy with our kids, the house, my job and my family. Our lives, yours and mine, have always been on separate courses and they still are. The past is in the past and it needs to stay there.”

Lori felt chastised. I was only talking about his music, she thought. But then she felt a stab of guilt at her self-justification. Down deep she knew what he was saying and knew he was right. Harvey was looking at her now and waving her over to their table,

“C’mon, we’re going to Sam’s with Mel and Gareth,” he called, “See you again, Brian—we’ll have to come up to the club soon.”

Brian nodded at Harvey calling back across the street.

“Harvey, it was good to see you again—stay safe,” he turned his attention to her once more, 

“Lori, be good to him; to all intents and purposes he seems to be crazy about you.”

That made Lori beam,

“My plan exactly.”

Then she spoke softly again,

“Bye-bye, Bry-man.”

“Bye, kid,” he smiled at last, “Have a great life.”

She walked away, her hips swaying gently and her ponytail swinging, to join her husband and friends. Brian watched her go for a moment, as he had once before a long time ago, and then began to help with the cleanup; folding up the chairs and tables for the Neighborhood Association people to put in a truck and take back to the rental place. 

Corky and Dylan had packed up Brian's guitar, drums and bass and he asked them to try not to make too much noise when they took them into the house.

“Just leave them in the living room, boys, I’ll put them upstairs tomorrow,” he spoke in a quiet voice.

Finally the last couples strolled away and the street was cleared.

“What a night...what a party,” Brian murmured as he trudged across the lawn to his home and family.

Just a neighborhood get-together; a simple street dance.  Yet would it turn out to be the party that changed everything?

Next update: The Lomax Family Ch. 6 Two Couples and a Dad Pt. 1

Brian Ottomas Ch. 6 After the Block Party  

1 comment:

mrssimgirl said...

Oooooooo wow, lots of drama hidden in those conversations :D YAY! Great party man, you sure know how to throw them!! And nice way to keep us hanging too LOL