Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Errol Flynn Family Ch. 5 Melanie & Gareth Pt.1

When Melanie Flynn returned home to her parents’ mansion in Pleasantview, she was used to being on her own in the house she’d rented with Lori Lassiter at University. Now she felt almost as though she had reverted to childhood. Her parents were thrilled to have her back at home and showed their affection, trying not to be the authoritative parental figures, but Melanie felt disjointed somehow. It was home; but it wasn’t home. The main reason was that she missed her long-time boyfriend, Gareth Caswell, who was in similar circumstances at his mother’s house. Neither one of them had much money of their own and they were looking for jobs. Happily Gareth did get a job in the sports field within a day or two of returning home. He was currently a coach and history teacher in the local high school, but he didn’t make much money. 

Melanie was still trying to decide what she wanted to do for employment. Her degree was in economics. That had sounded good in theory and she excelled in the subject, but now that she was back in the real world, she had no idea if she wanted to go into the business realm or not.  She needed money though, if Gareth asked the question she hoped he would ask, they would need a house.
Olivia told her daughter to just enjoy her freedom for a bit; she’d had her nose to the grindstone for four years, she needed a little vacation.

So Melanie decided to relax and enjoy the time off, shopping at Goth’s Apparel appealed to her so she left early one day to do just that. The first person she ran into was her oldest sister, Yvette. They talked for a while and had coffee. She promised to visit Yvette and Mark soon; she was anxious to see their daughter, Simone, who was growing by leaps and bounds.

That evening over dinner, Melanie asked her mother to give her a massage on their new massage table. She had been telling her parents that, even though her degree was in economics, she thought she might prefer a more creative job. She used to love to paint. Her parents were former film stars, now they both were authors. Her mother wrote fiction and her father wrote of his many exciting exploits when he was single. Mostly adventures in travel and danger, but admittedly, some romantic peccadilloes, too. Olivia, as a rule, preferred not to read some of these. The less detail she knew of the perils Errol had sometimes been in or the hearts he had broken, the better. So they definitely understood her desire to explore possibilities in the creative arts area.

Melanie talked over her worries further during her massage. Her mother did not give advice but only acted as a sounding board, a very sympathetic and understanding one.

The next day Garrett was coming over for dinner at the house, just casual but she had not seen him in a couple days and was anxious. He had cut off all his beautiful curls and she had yet to see how he looked.

“Babe, I couldn't start a job as head coach with my hair looking the way it always has. It’s time to be professional; time to grow up. Athletics just don’t mix with long hair and leather vests, especially high school athletics,” Gareth had told her over the phone.

“I know,” she’d pouted a little.

She could picture his mischievous and irresistible grin in her mind’s eye as he said,

“Afraid you won’t love me any more without my bad-boy good looks?”  


He laughed, “Thinking of calling us off?”

Melanie regained her composure and her usual cynical humor,

“No way. I gave myself up for lost when I first fell for you, handsome, I knew it was no use. Just face it though; you’re hooked, too; don’t try to squirm out of it.”

He laughed his easy laugh once more. Yes, she was very anxious to see her boy again.

A few minutes later she was headed to the mailbox (which the family had forgotten to check in three days) when she recognized Chelsea’s mother, Jenny, walking down the street. Melanie hadn’t seen her in years, not since before she and Mr. Lomax divorced. She looked very well, amazingly she was as young and pretty as ever. Jenny had always been nice to Melanie when she was a child, but she knew that Chelsea had been devastated over her mother’s defection and never talked to Jenny. She never talked about her much, either, except sometimes to Trey Lassiter, her high school sweetheart and now her husband.

Melanie greeted her and they talked for a few minutes about what was new in Melanie’s life and in Jenny’s. Evidently she had remarried—and had a child. This totally threw Melanie; Chelsea had never said a word about it---did she even know?

That night when Gareth came over for supper, Melanie took a long look at him.

“Well?” he winked.

“I like it short; I was afraid I wouldn’t, but I do. Still, where are your curls? Are they gone because it’s so short?”

“Nah,” he looked sheepish, “I put a lot of that gunk in it to make it straight when I blow it out.”

“It looks nice, but I’d love to see you use just a touch of the ‘gunk’ and let your curly hair be itself,” she suggested with a smile.  

“As you wish,” he made a slight bow from the waist and, becoming serious, switched to another subject,

“You know I’m in love with you, but I haven’t actually put the question to you. So now I’m asking you now if you’ll marry me,” Before she could answer he added,

“If you agree, I want us to announce our engagement and go look at rings—I mean everyone knows we want to get married, but let’s make it official. What do you say, baby?”

“I say absolutely, positively yes!” she eagerly leaned toward him and he pulled her close.

“Then it’s settled, you’ll be Mrs. Caswell as soon as we can swing it time-wise, okay? Baby, give me some sugar.”

And she did.

They had just enough time before the meal to get in a game of pool, and Gareth teased her,

“I love your mom’s cooking; but when do I get to sample some of yours? I mean, just to be sure I’ve made the right choice.”

“Okay, I’ll cook dinner tomorrow—but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

“That’s okay; I’m marrying you for your looks and money, not your culinary skills.”

“That’s what I was afraid of,” she laughed.

They told Errol and Olivia at supper. Her parents were not surprised in the least and gave their approval. At first, they’d been a little leery of Gareth and the way he looked and talked, but soon, like everyone else, they found out he was a warm and genuine man who was good to have around.

Now they made a proposal to the young couple that they were a little tentative about.  They were unsure how either of them would react. They hoped Melanie and Heath might consider living in the Flynn home rather than buy a house at this time.

“We are leaving this house to you eventually anyway,” Olivia added.

“But what about Yvette and Lalique?” Melanie asked.

“Well, Yvette and Mark have no intention of moving from where they are now—they love it there and it suits their lifestyle. Lalique is totally uninterested. She said, and I quote, ‘If a miracle happens and I ever marry, I’ll want to choose a home with my husband. If not, the house I’m in is plenty for me to take care of at this point.’ You’re father and I are fortunate to still have good health and have no plans to go either to a rest home or to die any time soon, but you never know. If you decide you like the idea we’d be leaving the home to you in our will and then you would own it free and clear. To make up the difference to Yvette and Lalique they would be receiving a larger amount of money, while you would inherit our home and a little less money so that’s something to consider. You may prefer to opt for the larger portion of money and that’s perfectly all right with us. Or you can live here, but sell the place when we go and have that money. If you feel at any time you want to move to another place we can still leave this house to you to sell or keep as an investment.”

Gareth was totally in shock and a little apprehensive. Melanie, on the other hand, was elated. She’d always hoped to raise her children here, she loved it so.

“You don’t have to make a decision now, of course,” Errol pointed out, “Take your time, think about it and talk it over with each other in privacy. The most important thing to us is that you be happy whatever you decide.”

“Sir, I am truly overcome and honored,” Gareth finally was able to speak, “I promise you we will give it due consideration.”

At any time Gareth was apt to switch from his usual ‘dude, you’re a crack-up’ speech pattern to a more formal one that included a well-rounded vocabulary, depending on the subject matter. Melanie was used to this; it was just another facet of his personality that intrigued her. Of course, her parents were startled to hear him talk this way suddenly, yet Olivia was pleased. She loved precise diction and grammar. Being a formally trained actress, this was understandable.
Gareth surreptitiously reached for Melanie’s hand under the table and squeezed it in reassurance.

Oh, how I love this man, she thought giddily. 

The next day at breakfast, Gareth broke the news to his mother about the engagement and the possibility of moving into the Flynn mansion. Glenn was somewhat worried, especially regarding the part of the young couple living with her parents.  Gareth was used to a relatively simple life with his mother, at least simple when compared to the Flynns. In addition, she wondered if he was responsible enough to take on a wife. Gareth was a good son and she knew he was highly intelligent and capable of great things. But he was still very young at 22. Melanie, she knew, was ready for this commitment, but women usually matured earlier than men. Glenn didn’t want to say anything to criticize Gareth or Melanie and her family, so she chose her words carefully. As she spoke Gareth listened attentively and when he answered her, she realized that in the four years he’d been away—and in spite of his casual manner—he had grown up much more than she realized. This put her mind to rest about their marriage plans, but she still was cautious about the possible plans to live with Melanie’s parents.

He convinced her that even if they decided to do so, nothing was written in stone that they had to remain there if they were unhappy.

“I know Melanie really wants to try this, Mom, oh, she hasn’t tried to coerce me—I just know her and how she thinks and how much her home and family mean to her. I’d really like to try it if nothing more than to make her happy.”

Glenn nodded,

“Gareth once you’re married you will be her family. Her allegiance should be to God first, then you, then to any children you have, and only after that to her parents and sisters--and it should be the same for you. You both need to think on that. I’m glad you want to make her happy and your first consideration is her feelings, but she has to reciprocate. And if you’re not happy there, she will not be happy there either. What do you really want to do? Will you promise me to debate it in your mind and talk with Olivia again?  And, Gareth, be sure to pray for assistance in your choice.”

He nodded. The next day he then told Glenn,

“I want to try living there with Melanie. I think it’s only fair to give the idea a chance, Mom.”

Glenn hugged him,

“That’s your decision then and since you’ve really thought about it and prayed, I’m content. Therefore; I think it’s time to invite her parents over to celebrate your engagement.”

“That’s what I’m saying!” he lapsed into his usual vernacular and Glenn smiled,

“I’m so going to miss you son,”

“I’ll just be across town, Mom.”

“I know and I thought I should be used to living alone here again, but all the time you were in school you came home for holidays and I knew you would be home when you got your degree. Don’t get me wrong, I love living alone in a lot of ways, I did it for years before you were born. I just miss having you around—you’re good company you know.”

“I promise I’ll come by every week and bring Melanie and sometimes I’ll come alone so we can play SSX3 or pool,” he assured her.

Glenn rarely cried, and never in front of anyone, but she was fighting back tears now as she looked at Gareth and remembered the little boy he’d been and the things they’d done together through the years. Well, she now had the daughter she’d once wanted and perhaps grandchildren would come along before she died.

“Buddy boy, I’ve love that,” she high-fived him.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Brian Ottomas Ch. 4 - Life At The New House Part 2

Saturday morning, while Brook prattled to herself in her bedroom, the rest of the family enjoyed pancakes. Heath got his father to promise that later on they could play a game together.   Right afterward,  Meadow went shopping so it was Brian who bathed, dressed and fed Brook.

Once she was napping, he got in some practice on the drums for a short while. He tried to give both his children attention this afternoon, tossing Brook in the air to her great delight and playing the promised game with Heath. 

Meadow got home where he was reading the paper, her voice was a little breathless.

“You’ll never guess who I met today at Goth’s—Margo Ferguson, er, Margo Candeloro, introduced me to Lori Lassiter’s mother, Melora.”

“Her mother?”

“Yep. I didn’t recognize the name at first, but it made sense after a minute; her mother’s first name is Melora, I wonder if that is the daughter’s real name and she just goes by Lori. Anyway I guess she is Lori Ferguson now; not Lori Lassiter.”

“Actually, if memory serves, you’ve got it right,” Brian mused, “She said she was named after her mother and her twin brother was named after her father.”

“She’s really nice, a handsome woman—must have been quite pretty when she was young. Anyway, I thought I’d tell you.”

“Thanks,” Brian sounded a little caustic, “Don’t know how I would have lived without that information.”

Meadow said nothing, just went back into the living room to put away her newly purchased items. She wondered what his problem was about her meeting Lori’s mother. I assumed he’d be interested, Meadow thought with irritation. So much for a kiss hello. She had been going to make stuffed pork chops for supper; the way she felt now, he could just eat grilled cheese sandwiches. At least Heath would enjoy them. I'm so passive-aggressive, she thought with a slight smile.

Upstairs next to Heath’s bedroom and across from the music room was the children’s play area. One evening Brian was up there reading a book so he could watch Heath make things with his blocks.  The boy liked to call his father’s attention to whatever he made once it was done. Meadow came in with Brook and set her down near the play station so she could also play with blocks,

“Brian will you keep an eye on her while I take a long bubble bath? I need it.”


Once Brook had her blocks, Heath thought it prudent to color instead of trying to build elaborate structures she could easily knock down.  

Eventually Brook began yawning and then tossing blocks about so Brian picked her up, telling Heath,

“15 more minutes, buddy, and then lights out.”

Once he put Brook in her crib for the night, he got into bed—Meadow was just finishing up her long bath.

When she came out she put on her warm pajamas instead of her usual bed wear; a short satiny slip of a nightgown.  That was odd, thought Brian; she never wore pajamas except on a cold winter night or when she was….he stopped. He suddenly had a sick feeling, like he'd fallen out of a high rise; like his life was passing before him. Meadow crawled into bed,

“That was so relaxing, thanks for giving me that time, babe. Did Brook go to sleep okay?”


He was watching her closely like she was a bomb about to explode. She was serene and happy as she asked him,

“What about Heath?”

“He’s got about 5 minutes left—I’ll check on him to make sure in ten.”

There was silence for a moment.


“Yes, babe?”

“…Are you...pregnant?”

She gave him a Mona Lisa smile.

Brian was incredulous,

“How can this be?”

“Well, the usual way is that the man—“

“Don’t try to be funny. Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I’m telling you now.”

“Only because I asked and I only asked because I saw you were wearing your "Flannel Annies". I mean, was this accidental? Because, correct me if I'm wrong; I thought you said if you could have a second baby you’d be content.”

She looked a little anxious,

“I know, but I can’t help it if I love you so much I want to have a ton of your children,” she tried to joke, but it was quite obvious that Brian was not amused.

“How could you make this big decision without me?” he asked.

As she tried to explain, the truth became clear; she wanted another child and she didn’t think he would agree so she went off her pills without telling him.

“So you didn’t think it was important what I thought or wanted, and decided to changed both our lives—all our lives--without consulting me. Meadow, I've been thinking it wouldn’t be too many more years before we could take the kids and go on a real vacation. This puts anything like that off by a few more years at least. And I had no say in your decision, it’s like you tricked me,” he put in a crusher, “I’m not Lonnie Hammond; you know. I’m your husband. We’ve always talk over big decisions like this first. Or at least we did.”

“Brian, I’m sorry you’re so mad at me and now that I hear you say this I realize you’ve every reason to be angry,” tears began to gush from her eyes, “But I want this baby so much. Will you forgive me?”

He thought in frustration, why is it that women always win an argument by crying?

“I’m not angry really; but I am upset and very disappointed in you. I thought we had a real understanding between us; real honesty.”

She was sobbing now as she said,

“I know I was wrong, but the baby is on the way, and I want it.”

She got up out of bed and stood by the dresser, still crying, and obviously wanting him to come to her. He sighed and then did exactly that.

Taking her face in his hands gently he smiled,

“Okay, Sunshine, I give. As usual. So when does this bambino arrive?”

She threw her arms around him and they kissed. He never really had a prayer.

The next morning over cereal Heath told his parents how his first week of school had gone. He was doing very well with his studies. After he left on the bus, Meadow fed Brook her oatmeal and mused about the baby on its way. Would this one look like Brian? She hoped so. Heath frankly looked like Lonnie Hammond, of course, and so far Brook looked like Meadow, who could also see a few traits of Brian's mother, Samantha.

She later took Brook up to the playroom. When Heath got off the bus that afternoon He came dashing in waving his report card—A+! Meadow praised him extravagantly; all that help with his homework had won the day. She was very proud of her son and she knew Brian would be, too.


Over the next few days she worried about Brian and their relationship. Had she permanently weakened it? Or even truly damaged it?  He was such a good husband and father—and she did adore him--she knew he would never shortchange this child in anyway, even though he had not wanted more children. 

When she finally asked him if he had forgiven her for getting pregnant, he answered,

“I already have forgiven you, Sweetheart, but you still don’t get it. I wasn’t angry because you’re pregnant (although it gave me quite a jolt)—I was upset because you did not discuss it with me beforehand. Had you done that I might have given in right then. I love our children; you know that. But you lied to me, in essence; lied by omission. I wish you could understand what I mean. Anyway, the baby is coming; I’m fine with that now, even looking forward to it. But please don’t make a decision like that ever again without us talking it over first.”

Meadow realized sadly that he had forgiven her, but he was still bothered and…would he ever trust her again? She wasn’t sure that she could ever forgive herself for this total  lapse in judgment

Heath was more interested in music every day; especially the music his father played. Meadow had told him he could go in to watch Brian practice, but he should sit quietly on the couch and not be a distraction. He did that for a while, just a silent observer, but when Brian looked over once and winked at him, Heath couldn’t contain himself, he had to go over and cheer. He determined that when he was old enough he was going to play guitar too—or maybe drums—and have long hair and a beard just like his father.

It had been a busy day and this late in her pregnancy Meadow needed frequent naps. She curled up on the couch while Brook played with her xylophone. Even the music upstairs didn’t keep her awake.  Over supper that evening Heath told them that he was going to play in a band when he grew up and when could he have a leather vest?  Brian looked somewhat troubled.

After Heath and Brook were in bed, he told Meadow he was thinking of cutting his hair.

“What for?”

She loved his hair, it was just a part of him—when it was loose at night it flowed over his shoulders like black satin and she often mused that he looked like a more handsome version of Daniel Day Lewis in Last of the Mohicans come to rescue her. She loved that movie and this was a heady image. Brian would have laughed out loud if she’d told him.

“I think it’s time. Besides it’s a hassle sometimes.”

“Why are you doing this, Brian, is it because of what Heath said tonight?”

“Well, partly,” he admitted, “I don’t want him to aspire to be a lousy musician in a cut-rate rock band. Now a concert pianist; that would be fine. It’s a little bit of over-aggrandizement, I suppose, maybe a lot of kids do it with their parents, I don’t know. But he has me on a pedestal and I’m afraid it is skewing his outlook. I guess I admired my Dad too, but there were special reasons. And Pete was a very good role-model, anyway.”

“I think you’re a wonderful role-model, babe,” Meadow said softly, “Compassionate and kind, honest and loyal, calm and nurturing.”

Brian smiled ruefully,

“Thanks, sweetheart. Well, it’s just I don’t want to embarrass him either.”

“That’s crazy you couldn’t embarrass him; he adores you!”

“If his friends point out that I don’t look the way most fathers do and ask ‘hey, what’s the deal with your dad, man?', it will embarrass him. Kids don’t want their parents to attract the attention of their friends unless it's their idea. We’ve got that Open House at his school coming up in a month. I think it would be good if I looked like an average guy when I went there.”

“You’re not an average guy, that’s why I married you; because you’re so special,” Meadow told him, “You should wear your hair however you want to, though. Remember? That’s what you told me.”

“Ahh, trapped by my own words,” he laughed, “Well, don’t worry, I’ve been thinking about it for months--haven’t yet decided. Heath’s announcement tonight, though, brought it to the forefront of my mind again.”

“Well, I wish you wouldn’t do it if those are your reasons, but I do understand. Now if you were doing it just because you’re bored or unhappy with it; that would be another thing.  I’ll love you whatever you decide and I’m sure you’ll look handsome either way.”

“Thanks for being so supportive, kiddo,” he said and kissed her, “You’re very good for my ego.”

That night the baby was born. She was a lovely girl they named Willow Annette. They placed her gently in the crib in their room and thanked God that she was healthy and safe. Now that she was here they couldn’t imagine a life without her. Brian looked at her silky pale eyebrows and grinned at Meadow,

"Another blondie!"

More and more Heath was proving to be a responsible and considerate child. He would come over on his own initiative to amuse Brook, who adored her big brother, calling him “Heat”.

“’Heat’ might be a good professional name for me when I start a band, you know,” he told Meadow importantly, “And I could call the band ‘Spontaneous Combustion’—we learned about that in school--or maybe ‘Heat Wave’.”

His class was currently concentrating on geography and science. Meadow hid a smile,

“Well, I must admit I prefer Heath, with an ‘h’. That’s why I gave you that name. But, once you’re grown up I guess it will be your decision."

He was also quite self-sufficient in many ways by this time, but Brook and Willow required quite a bit of attention and time from Meadow and Brian. They thought about converting the playroom into a bedroom for the girls when they were old enough, it was fairly large. Then Brian said,

“I think what we really should do is convert the music room into a bedroom and keep the playroom as it is for all the kids. After all, Heath’s bedroom is smaller and this gives him an opportunity to have more space to play in—what do you think?”

“Oh, no, Brian, not your music room; that’s what happened at the old house. We can convert my studio into a bedroom, it’s quite large.”

“Well if we don’t use it, you will lose your room for painting, it’s the same thing.”

“No, it’s not. Painting is just a sometime hobby of mine and I haven’t done much of it since I had Brook anyway. But music is your life!”

He leaned over and took her hand with both of his,

“You and the kids are my life.”

“I know," she smiled, "But please, let’s use the studio. I can go outside to paint in warm weather, but really, I don’t feel the same need to paint. I guess you and the kids and our home are enough for me right now. And there are other hobbies I’ve thought about that don’t use up a whole room if I need an outlet.”

So they held on to his music room and made plans to convert the studio later.

Heath was starting to bring friends over to the house and Angelo Severino was one of the first ones.His family had just moved to Pleasantview from California. Angelo was a nice little boy, by all accounts, but from the little bit Meadow had gleaned from the town pipeline, his family was used to a more upscale town.  She hoped they would find happiness here, in spite of how provincial Pleasantview could be. He didn't seem to mind playing with little Brook in the room, so he was all right in Meadow's book.