Turning from Gene, Casey closed his eyes forestalling having to face Lynn. Taking a deep breath he opened his eyes only to find Lynn had silently turned and left the room. Shrugging Casey followed her to her room. Knocking briefly he cracked the door open “Lynn can we talk?”
Nodding Lynn crossed her arms staring at the far corner of the room. She tensed up when his hands touched her bare arms “please … don’t”
Dropping his hands to his sides Casey mumbled “sorry.” Sighing he moved away sitting on the floor, leaning he rested his back against the bed. Silently he watched Lynn, wishing there was something he could do or say to ease her pain. Why had he jumped the gun by asking her to marry him? His actions reminded of an old college buddy he had who always came to him for a should to cry on when some girl had dumped him. That college buddy had the uncanny ability of jumping from 0-60 in a relationship and invariably every girl had run away screaming. He wondered whatever happened to him and if he ever found that illusive girl who could put up with him. Idly he fiddled with the carpet beneath his fingers waiting for Lynn to break the ice between them.
“Neither do I,” Casey grunted “I’m sorry.”
Shifting to face him “sorry for what?”
“For a lot of things,” Casey blurted looking away from her piercing gaze. “For hurting you. For leaving Eddie alone for so long. For drowning my fears in alcohol. For the lost years between me and my brother. For being an ass and only thinking of myself,” sighing he looked directly at her “I could go on. The list is quite long.”
“That’s ok I get the gist,” she smiled as she dropped to the floor sitting in front of him. “What do you want from me?”
“What makes you think you deserve one?” she asked knowing she was being harsh. She needed to know what was motivating him. His marriage proposal had thrown her for a loop. She liked him a lot but the whole situation made her uncomfortable; especially since they had never even gone on a date. Then his anger and refusal to listen to her side of things had left feeling her only option was to leave. She wouldn’t be pressured into doing something she wasn’t ready for.
“I don’t really,” he sighed. “I put you in a really bad position and I’m sorry. I should have listened to you when you tried to explain your feelings. I was moving too fast.” Laughing harshly “I got in my own way and ruined the best thing that could have happened to me.” Turning away feeling like he had lost the game without ever having had the chance to play. Gene was right, he was wrong about her. Lynn was a good person. She deserved better than him.
Standing he went to Eddie “come on buddy it’s time to go home.” Eddie went willingly into his arms. As he neared the door he turned to look at Lynn who was still sitting on the floor where he had left her. “Thank’s for contacting Gene.”
Lynn looked up as he turned to leave “Casey …. ” her voice broke “don’t go. I’ll give you another chance. Ask me out. Send me flowers. Let’s do all the things normal people do when they want to know each other better. Can we do that? Do you want to do that?” She stood holding her breath waiting for a positive response.
Smiling Casey felt for the first time that he was seeing the sunshine come out from behind the clouds. “I’d like that. I’ll call you to set up a time and place.” Looking at Eddie half asleep in his arms “I have to get this little guy home.”
Closing the door behind him a smile upon his face looking forward to his first date. So lost in his thoughts the commotion going on near the front door jarred him out of his daze. He couldn’t believe the things his mother was screaming at Gene and how much self-control it required for Gene not to clobber their mother. Poor little Aimee was standing between the two reminding him of someone in locked inside a shark cage with hungry sharks swimming menacingly close by. What was even more shocking to Casey was the fact he had been deaf and blind to his mother’s abuse for years. It was so blatant now and it was inexcusable that he hadn’t noticed it before.
No wonder Gene had been so messed up as a teenager. He had no doubts now why Gene had so many behavioral problems while growing up. What that woman was saying could tear the heart and soul out of a person and to do that to her own son was monstrous. He was thankful when his dad stepped in and pulled her away. Casey breathed a sigh of relief as Aimee forced Gene out the door. Following in their wake, he couldn’t help but feel his support a too little too late. He should have been there all along like Robert had been. Maybe if he had been Gene wouldn’t have gone so far done the road of self-destruction. He couldn’t do anything to change the past but he could certainly do something about the present.
Driving home after seeing Aimee and Gene drive off Casey contemplated taking Gene up on his offer to visit them in Starlight Shores. Maybe when goes he’ll arrange with their dad to take Michael with him. It’d do the kid some good to get out and do something other than play video games. Casey knew Michael was retreating into the virtual world to get away from mother dearest. He chuckled to himself as he realized he was adopting Gene’s pet name for their mother. Gene always had the ability to see their mother for who she was. Now Casey wondered was that the reason she seemed to single him out for special ill-treatment. Gene always stood up to her and her injustices while the rest of them walked on egg shells and wore blinders when dealing with her. Gene always seemed to be fighting alone. Smiling at his reflection in the rearview mirror Casey spoke aloud with conviction “not anymore dear brother. We fight together.”
Pulling up outside his house, Casey got out. Eddie didn’t even stir as Casey took him from his car seat. Walking to his house with his son asleep in his arms he wondered if Eddie would have better memories of the house he grew up in then the memories he had of his childhood home. Laying Eddie in his crib, Casey wondered what kept his father tied to a woman like his mother. She obviously no longer loved him or the kids she kept producing. Sure he was told why she was the way she was, alien pheromones messing up her brain chemistry but it didn’t alter the fact she messing up not only her life, her husband’s life but the innocent kids lives still living at home not to mention the lives of her adult children who had little if any desire to be around her. His dad needed to wake up and realize he was wasting his time staying with her and losing his kids in the process.
Maybe they needed to do an intervention and persuade their father to have her committed. His dad had to consider the effects she was having on the kids. She was much worse now then she was when he was growing up and look what she did to Gene? What would they do if the next kid that took after Gene actually succeeded where Gene had failed in taking their lives. He knew his dad would never forgive himself if something like that happens. It was past time their dad made a bid for his own happiness and thought about the welfare of the little ones still at home before Jessica messed them up too.
Laying in bed Casey thought about Gene and how glad he was he had found someone like Aimee. Sure she was quiet, reserved but she had guts. Standing up for Gene in the face of their mother was surprising but refreshing. She was exactly what Gene needed, someone who would support him instead of control him. Thinking back on it with new eyes he could see why Gene had felt the need to break free from Tracie. Instead of supporting him she had wanted to control him. Wanting to mold him into the person she wanted him to be instead of loving the person he already was. When he refused to be shaped into her mold she dropped him. Gene would have been miserable if he had stayed with Tracie.
Shaking his head at himself Casey tried not to admit he had been Gene’s biggest critic and was all for the changes Tracie wanted to make. He couldn’t believe he had agreed with Tracie believing that Gene needed a whole new personality as if who he was somehow flawed. How wrong he was. Robert knew all along that Gene was alright just the way he was and all he needed was love and support. He had a lot to learn and he hoped he had time to learn before he messed up his own son.
He was almost asleep when his phone began ring. Groaning he looked at the time 2:00 in the morning. Who would be calling this late? “Hello?” he groggily said into the phone.
“Aimee? What’s wrong?” he asked instantly alert.
“I didn’t know who else to call … what am I going to do? My parents won’t talk to me … William’s ok but he’d bring that woman ….” She gulped in air and rambled on some more.
“What’s wrong? What isn’t wrong?” Aimee shrieked into the phone causing Casey to pull his ear away from the phone until the decibel fell to a more normal level.
“Aimee let me talk to Gene,” Casey demanded.
“I … I” she burst into tears “I can’t.”
Her words galvanized him with burst of energy all thoughts of sleep gone. “What happened to Gene?”
“He’s …” taking a deep breath “he’s being prepped for surgery. Casey he has a perforated appendix …..” She burst into tears once again.
Listening to her sobs he almost had to shout to get her attention “I’m on my way ….”
“Don’t tell that woman. We don’t need her here.”
“Don’t worry I’ll tell dad and we’ll be there in a few hours. Just hang in there. Gene will be ok.” Casey told her confidently even though he knew his words were mere platitudes intended to give her comfort.