Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Errol Flynn Family Ch. 6 Pt. 7 Youngest Daughter

The next day Melanie was up early with the baby. Olivia came down and told her that since Simone didn’t get to come yesterday; she would be coming today by herself and sleeping over as well. It was the weekend so she often stayed with her grandparents; this gave Mark and Yvette a little time alone together to go out to the movies or dinner or even just relax at home.

As Mark dropped her off, it was just starting to rain so Simone was disappointed; there would be no fishing with Granddad. At least not right now. He grabbed her up in a bear hug the minute she came through the front entrance, though.

Olivia came from the kitchen to greet Simone who immediately launched into a funny story about school. Equipped with a sense of humor from both parents, Simone often made grown adults laugh in surprise. Olivia admired this quality in her and in Errol and Lalique who also had the same thing. She herself could appreciate humor she just couldn’t generate it. Certainly not as well as they could, anyway.

There was another small get-together planned for today; Glenn, was coming to see her new grandchild and to have supper. Errol stayed downstairs for a bit; he wanted to spend some time gaming with Simone to make up for the temporary weather ban on fishing.

Melanie, Gareth and Olivia gathered with Glenn in the couple’s new living space upstairs.  When Melanie brought Scarlett in, Gareth took her and then after a little bit of daddy-cuddling, handed her to his mother.

“She’s as beautiful as you were when you were this age,” Glenn grinned at her son and said approvingly,

“Good weight on her—she seems to be a sturdy little thing.”

While Glenn was holding the baby Simone came upstairs to see her new little cousin. When Simone talked to her you could see the Scarlett’s eyes follow her every movement.

“Look at that,” Glenn said, “She’s so alert.”

“Oh, yes, Mom, she just watches everything and is already trying to move around a lot,” Melanie assured her.


At supper that evening the family discussed what Lalique’s baby would be like and when he or she would arrive. It was a very enjoyable night for all of them as Simone kept them in stitches with the things she said. 

When Gareth walked his mother downstairs, Glenn hugged him saying,

“I’m so happy for you, honey, and I know you’re going to be as good a father as you are a son.”

Suddenly he felt a little bad for moving out and leaving her alone. She’d always seemed so strong, been so strong, and she’d lived alone for years before he was born, but now he hated sending her home to an empty house. She would have been furious if he’d expressed these thoughts to her, so he said nothing. She was the most independent person he knew. He just hoped she wouldn’t be too proud to ask for help should she need it. 

Glenn was over 40 when she’d had Gareth and so while she was not frail at all, she was a senior citizen or close to it. He could just imagine what she would say should he be foolish enough to suggest she might want to think about wearing one of those lifeline necklaces when she was home alone. Well, she was in great physical shape for her age, he’d just have to comfort himself with that thought. But from now on he intended to get over to her house once or twice a week at least for a short visit, maybe make any repairs needed at the house and then he could keep an eye on her, so to speak. He followed her to her car, kissed her cheek and watched her drive off down the road toward her home.

Upstairs in his bedroom Errol reclined on the bed. He wasn’t often still, but when he finally relaxed he often daydreamed. And the truth was that Errol loved his life, his wife and his children and grandchildren, he wouldn’t give them up for anything but…but sometimes he could still imagine himself as a carefree beach bum on an island in Figi with the appropriate native girls in attendance and a fruity drink at his side. Or on the old Sirocco once more—sailing away to unknown adventures, the ocean breeze in his hair. Just a little nostalgia that sometimes haunted him as he slipped into his golden years.

When you hit 35 or so you begin to realize that some of the ill-advised actions of your  youth that seemed so fun at the time you now view as bad choices that were foolhardy and less than amusing. But as you begin to slip down the other side of 45 or 50 and edge toward your senior years, those peccadilloes somehow seem golden once more, especially when you realize those times will never come again. Life was raw and dangerous back then, maybe even heartbreaking at times, but it seemed you were more alive. Every day was full of possibilities. Anything that wasn’t right today could be put right tomorrow, or so it seemed. Is life really better when you’re young; just because you’re young? Or is that just a trick of memory that we play on ourselves?

Simone always slept in their room when she slept over. They kept a small twin bed and a toy box there for her so she would feel safe when she slept over in that huge mansion. For her part, Simone loved to stay at her grandparents home. She used to sleep with Melanie until she got married to Gareth. Not quite so jealous since this was what brought about a new baby cousin, Simone was happy enough in the room with Errol and Olivia. Grandmere always spoke gently and was a quiet person. She’d raised her daughters a trifle more strictly than she was with Simone.

“Ha!” Yvette always said, “You let her get away with murder. But, I guess that’s the job grandparents have.”

That was indeed the job that Olivie and Errol thought was theirs. So they gave Simone all their attention, making sure she didn’t eat too much ice cream than was good for her stomach, but managing to have all her favorite foods there whenever she was with them, smiled when she banged away on Errol’s gorgeous and beloved baby grand like it was a player piano, let her roller-skate in the marble-floored lobby, and watched her slide down the banister of the grand stairway as Lalique used to do when they could not see her. They even let her jump on the bed for a while before bedtime every night.

At home Simone had to help with chores, but here she was waited on hand and foot by Grandmere who made the big bed quietly as Simone slept in the next morning. The child had been playing possum, though, so her grandmother would leave the room and Simone could make her own bed. She didn’t think Olivia should have to do it and, anyway, she didn’t want to wear out her welcome. There would be fishing with Granddad today and maybe a quick dip in the heated pool and then Errol would drive her home. Sunday nights were school nights so she must be back home early, but it had been a wonderful weekend for Simone and for all the Flynns.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Errol Flynn Family Ch. 6 Pt. 6 Youngest Daughter

Gareth and Melanie’s thoughts and activities were now focused on Scarlett. Gareth had his job to go to of course so Melanie was the one most involved in her care. Olivia was right there, though, should her services be needed.  And Gareth did always find some time every day to be with her—like changing her when Melanie was doing something else or giving her a bath in the sink.

He still couldn’t believe he was a father and that this fragile, tiny life had been given to him and Melanie to care for. It occurred to him what a huge responsibility it was; not just the day to day physical care of Scarlett, but the long term care to make sure she grew to be a happy, honest, well-adjusted person who cared for other people and not just for herself. He had neglected it for a long time; but after some thought Gareth now began to read his bible again and to think and pray about why he was here and where he was going.

For many years a friendly penguin had been invading the Flynn home on a regular basis. They’d even given him a nickname, “Tuxedo Junction” or “Tux”. No one had ascertained why he loved their place so much; he even waddled upstairs to check things out, but they no longer thought about it anymore. His favorite rooms seemed to be the library/den downstairs and the pool room upstairs. Gareth found this fascinating and the next time the fat little penguin appeared unannounced,  he froze in place, kept as still and silent as a statue and watched the bird’s movements. After doing this he was pretty sure he knew what was going on. Tux would stand and look up at the wall sometimes jumping up and down like he wished he could fly.

“He is trying to get to your mounted fish, sir,” he told Errol, “Evidently he believes his eyes over his nose. The fish isn’t fresh, of course, and is filled with chemical preservatives, so it shouldn’t appear to him as food like a live fish would. I’d like to try a little experiment; if you have no objection.”

Gareth always used a completely different tone with Errol, respectful—and mindful of his grammar.

“Certainly, my boy. I’m ashamed I didn’t come to the same conclusion myself years ago.”

It wasn’t more than a week before the little bird showed up. How his chubby little body got up the grand staircase was a puzzlement, but he didn’t seem to have any problem. Gareth quietly sneaked quickly down to the refrigerator to get one of the always available fresh fish from Errol’s daily fishing trips to the pond.

While the penguin vainly tried to fly while hopping hopelessly, Gareth moved the fish out by the pool table, set it on the floor gently and sat quietly in his living room with the door open. As he watched, Tux seemed to have given up his quest for the wall mounted fish for the day. Turning around to head for the stairs the penguin almost tripped over the fragrant fish. (Would Olivia ever forgive him for leaving it on her immaculate carpet?) The penguin almost backed up in surprise, then gave the fish his careful attention.

Evidently thinking it was just luck that caused one of the fish to fall off the wall when he wasn’t looking the penguin rubbed his little flippers together in anticipation. Gareth muttered to himself with a grin,

“That’s right, little guy, that’s for you.”

He wanted a closer look so as the penguin cuddled his prize, Gareth tried to walk through the room toward the pinball machine as if he didn’t even see what was going on.

When the bird suddenly threw the fish up into the air, catching it in his mouth on the way down and swallowing it in one gulp, Gareth couldn’t help it. He cocked his fingers gun-style and said,

“You da man, Tux.”

With that the penguin rubbed his stomach with contentment and looked at Gareth for one split second. Then he went down the stairs and out the front door, contentedly cooing now and then.


Just a few days after Scarlett was born, Melanie’s sisters came over for a visit. Simone was in school and had an after-hours activity to go to with the Girl Scouts as well so she was absent.

They gathered upstairs where the games were. Lalique was still pregnant at this time and she was anxious to see and hold Scarlett, who was napping at the moment. While Melanie and Yvette duked it out over the pool table, Lalique had another heart to heart with her mother. Although she’d always been the wayward middle child she revered her parents, and especially her mother, so Olivia's good opinion of Lalique was important.

“You always have my love, dear, always, even if we have disagreed at times. You don’t need my approval. I’m just another flawed human being like everyone else. As for those differences of opinion we’ve had and might still have from time to time; that’s perfectly natural. After all, we are from another generation entirely. Your father always said that if we didn’t lock horns with you children once in a while we must not be doing our job properly. Of course, he always said that while going out the door to leave me to handle the actual disciplinary action; no matter what it was. He has to be everybody’s favorite friend, or make that favorite scoundrel, and I had to be the “bad guy”, as they say. Only on certain issues would he stand right next to me in unison; like when it came time for you girls to date. Oh, my goodness, he was a terror; he believed every young man must be just as wild as he was. Well, for once he was probably right.”

Lalique laughed.

Gareth had Mark come into Melanie’s newly renovated living room and they played SSX3. He hadn’t known his new brother-in-law long, but he liked him. Mark was easy to know, really, what you saw was what you got. And he seemed to have no preconceived ideas on Gareth, who knew he frequently gave people a wrong impression of himself. They were careful friends right now, time would give them more ease with each other.

The baby woke up from her nap and Yvette got to cuddle her first. Olivia had every day all day long to fuss over her granddaughter so she left it to her daughters to spoil Scarlett today.

Lalique got up from where she’d been deep in conversation with her mother and went over to talk and play with the baby. Then Melanie took the baby as Yvette checked out Lalique’s round belly. At last, with a big smile, Melanie handed Scarlett over to Lalique, who was only filled with joy for her sister. She knew had she not been expecting her own child she still would have been happy for Melanie, but also conflicted with jealousy and bitterness hovering at her elbow. Now she was at peace, though.

Olivia headed downstairs to make supper for the group. Family dinners were a tradition of the Flynn family; always filled with lively discussion and laughter.  

Often the talk was of the days when the girls were small, or even when Errol and Olivia were young and making movies. Errol didn’t like his career discussed by most people, but with his immediate family it was different.

He had hoped for sons, but now in his old age he had two son-in-laws that he liked and respected immensely. Gareth was so young and without a father that Errol felt quite paternal toward him. Olivia had noted that he was becoming markedly attached to his new son-in-law. Mark was only about 15 years younger than Errol and seemed more like a kid brother than a son. He and Mark didn’t have much in common in their every day life, but Errol knew him to be an honorable man and that was enough.

“Besides,” Errol told Olivia later that night, “Any man who gives me Simone as a grandchild has won my heart forever.”

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Errol Flynn Family Ch. 6 Pt. 5 Youngest Daughter

Melanie Flynn Caswell - Youngest Daughter

Multi-Generational Living in Pleasantview

Melanie loved to watch Gareth play the pinball machine. He was fantastic at it; the only one of his friends who could beat him was Harvey Ferguson. Even better at pool, Melanie knew it frustrated Gareth to no end when he could never beat her father playing pool. Never.

Frequent games with Melanie helped him get in practice, but, after all, besting her was not exactly a triumph. She was pretty good at the game, but she was no pool shark.

“Big Boy, there are worse things, you know, than having your father-in-law happy to have you around. Dad loves to play pool with you not just because he can beat you, but because you are so good it’s a real challenge for him to do it. You are both w-a-a-ay competitive but the day you do whip him he’ll be happier than you are. He considers you stiff competition, believe me.”

“That day can’t come soon enough for me, baby,” Gareth grinned when she told him this, “Your dad is too cool, it’s true and he is the best pool player I’ve ever met. I guess it’s fun, in a way, to keep trying to figure out how he does it every single time. I think he just messes with my mind and puts me off balance.”

“Well, you will be victorious someday soon; I have faith in you,” she flashed her dimpled smile at him and he pulled her to him and said in a husky voice,

“Just keep having faith in me, baby, don’t stop. Hey, how’s the kid doing?”

She looked down and patted her tummy saying,

“The kid seems to be sleeping. I’m sleepy too, so I’m heading to the sofa for a nap. See ya later, alligator.”

He gave her a thumbs up.

Melanie, with help from her mother, had spent much of her pregnancy redecorating her and Gareth's end of the second floor. This included building a new wall to make a small living room for the couple. A wash of camel paint and two butterscotch chairs blended nicely while a rusty orange couch and accents gave the room a little pop. Olivia and Errol had always used the downstairs living room for reading and watching TV anyway, and this would give Melanie and Gareth a place of their own to serve that same purpose in privacy.

Gareth’s mother had a self-portrait she’d done while waiting for her him to be born. It was his favorite painting of Glenn and Gareth had asked that it be his someday. So for one of her wedding gifts she gave him the painting and threw in the portraits she’d done of him sleeping as an infant, toddler, and little boy. She had many more at home. Melanie and Gareth were thrilled and now Melanie put them up in their living space along with some portraits that her mother had done of her.

Their bedroom, which had formerly been Melanie’s girlhood bedroom in soft aqua blue, was now transformed into a more gender-neutral room using sage green and a creamy light beige. Her lovely "swan-lady" mirror (as she used to call it) was put in storage and they put a Shaker style mirror in its place. They left the exercise machine in there for convenience sake, but it was certainly not an intended part of Melanie’s décor.

Mostly a traditional girl, Melanie went with powder blue in the nursery, accented with pink and yellow. It had been her nursery years ago, then converted to a gym area with exercise machines, now it was going to be used for a child again.

They closed off the upstairs bathroom from the family game room and broke through a door from their bedroom to make the bathroom an en suite. Gareth and Errol did this door project on their own. Olivia already had her own en suite bathroom and Errol always used the bathroom downstairs, it was was very masculine and modern; he hated the pink roses in Olivia’s bath. After the bathroom had been redesigned, Melanie and Olivia didn’t really need to redecorate it except for a fresh coat of the same color paint and buying new towels and a new mirror.

Gareth really liked the changes and that was what was most important to Melanie. That was why she’d started the project in the first place; to make him feel this was his home and not just a room in a boarding house.

When she and Gareth had talked about names Melanie had suggested that if they used his mother’s name it would work perfectly for both a boy or a girl. Gareth chuckled at that,

“Glenn's not her real name, ya know.”

“It’s not?” Melanie was quite surprised, “What is it?”

“It’s Glenda. Man, she totally hates it, and she hasn’t used it since she was a kid, although my grandparents always called her by her whole name; Glenda Jean. Anyway, I always kind of wondered why she never legally changed it but I realize now it was out of respect for her parents. They were in their forties before they had Mom and she was their only child. They thought she hung the moon, but they were pretty old-fashioned and Mom drove them crazy with the things she used to do. She was pretty wild, I guess. Then her unconventional career once she left the police force worried them: I mean, private detective? SCIA? Not the southern debutante daughter they raised.”

This information fascinated Melanie,

“Wow, it sounds like all the makings of an interesting novel about the south in the fifties.”

“Yeah, she was born just outside Atlanta. Anyway, she’d definitely axe the use of Glenda but we can ask about using Glenn.”

However Glenn's response was,

“Ugh! Please don’t do that to a poor innocent baby. I appreciate the tribute you’re trying to give me, but I hate my name.”

So Melanie and Gareth kept tossing names back and forth to each other, trying them out.

“Erik?” Gareth ventured.

“Too Nordic,” Melanie replied and then asked,

“What about an old-fashioned name like yours from the days of knighthood, Sir Gareth? We could use Lancelot and call him Lance. Or for a girl we could use a variation of Guinevere.”

Gareth pantomimed gagging.

“No good, huh?”

“How about Emily?” he ventured, “And then maybe she'd turn out to be a poet?”

They looked at each other in silent puzzlement. Where would a child of theirs get the genes for that?

“No, go," Gareth said, "What about Robin—good for either boy or girl?”

“No, everyone will think it’s an allusion to Dad's version of Robin Hood.”

“So? They did that with your name,” Gareth pointed out, but Melanie just shook her head,

"He's different from Mother; he doesn't even like to refer to his acting career. 

Then she suggested,

How about Grant or Marissa?”

“I like Amber,” Gareth suddenly said.

Melanie narrowed her eyes,

“Please. Like that isn’t one of the most over-used names for the last twenty years. And don’t get cute on me, Big Boy, I know why you like Amber. You had a real thing for Amber Massengale back before you dated Holly.”

“I didn’t have a THING for her,” he protested and then asked in curiosity, “Who told you that?”


“Figures. The little squealer.”

He was somewhat surprised, though, to hear Lori had ever noticed who he liked or didn’t like. At least not before he began dating her friend, Holly Ferguson.

No names had came up yet that both of them liked equally. Gareth said he frankly liked the idea of using her parents tradition of French  names; Yvette, Lalique, Simone. Even though Melanie was named after one of her mother’s most famous movie roles it was also French. 

"I think it would be cool, man, to keep up the tradition. In fact I'm really pro on the idea of a French name. I'm pretty traditional myself. I mean, way down deep anyway."

Melanie looked at him and tried not to smile. She thought of him in high school with his mop of blond curls and his leather vests and beat up jeans. Melanie had thought he was just a bad boy and not very bright either. She had been nursing a long unrequited crush on Harvey Ferguson back then and would have turned up her nose if Gareth had asked her out. Besides, Gareth's reputation was terrible even though he was friends with many very straight kids, including his best friend, Harvey Ferguson. The whole school knew that wild man Gareth Caswell sneaked out at night all the time and went with his other friends who were equally wild to do who knew what. The girls he was known to see before he dated Holly had bad reps, too. Some people even said that he occasionally hooked up with girls quite a bit older than him. Quite a shocking thought to the band kids and varsity standouts.

In fact, the Fergusons had thought long and hard before they allowed him to date Holly. It hadn't been until the pool party at Lori's their senior year that Melanie realized two things; one, Holly had lost interest and was after Andy Lomax and 2. there was a lot more to this bad boy than people realized.  When they went to University together he still wore leather vests and his hair was even longer. There she got to know the real Gareth and soon fell in love with him.

Gareth looked at her with a question in his eyes now. He was waiting for her answer, but she was still just gazing at him.

"Melanie? So what about the traditional bit--a French name?"

“It’s a thought,” she came back to the present, “Let’s work on that.”

Meanwhile, Olivia received separate and frequent calls from Yvette and Lalique inquiring as to Melanie’s state of health, her appetite, and were there any signs of the baby’s arrival yet?

That evening at supper Errol said,

“Yes, yes, this tradition of French names is commendable and I’m glad your mother and I did that with you girls. But when is somebody in this family going to use a good sturdy Gaelic name?”

“Gaelic? Begosh and Begorra! Are there any names specifically Tasmanian, Dad?” Melanie teased.

Errol was born in Tasmania and his family moved to Australia when he was seven. Both of his parents were native-born Australians of Irish, English and Scottish descent, but Errol most often referred to the Irish part of his heritage.

“A little more respect for your elders, young lady,” he replied with his rakish grin.

That night they were still playing the name game.

“Katie Scarlett, and we’d call her Scarlett.”

“You mean like Scarlett O’Hara?” Gareth asked.

“It’s Irish.”

“I only saw part of the movie once, but weren’t Melanie and Scarlett enemies or rivals or something?”

“Yes, but then again; no. In the movie—and even more in the book—Melanie loves Scarlett dearly. Scarlett is definitely after Ashley, of course. After the war, though, Scarlett begins to love and respect Melanie. Not unselfishly, of course. But she wants her approval. Anyway she doesn’t realize how much she counted on Melanie until the end, but the reader knows."

“I guess I still like the French idea, but it would be nice for your father if we used an Irish name. But how about if it’s a boy, then?”

“I like either Flynn Gareth Caswell or Gareth Flynn Caswell.”

“Awesome, but baby, this is your call; I’ll go with whatever you decide. I'm totally out of names.”

Around 3 am Melanie woke up with labor pains and presently their baby was born. Gareth, in reality a gentle soul, burst into tears when he beheld his daughter for the first time.

Scarlett Angelique Caswell arrived healthy and strong and was quickly introduced to the beaming Errol and Olivia. What would she think of these two very famous and talented people being her grandparents? Scarlett gave them her complete and unqualified approval.