Holly remembers her first Thanksgiving with Gerard.
“You okay, Mikey Boy?” Holly asked softly.
“Yeah, I’m fine.’ He answered but when he glanced into the mirror and saw that Molly had fallen asleep he shook his head, “No, not really.”
Holly reached over to touch his arm. ‘It was a nice dinner.”
“Yeah, it was great.” His voice lacked enthusiasm.
“You can’t let his actions ruin your life.” Holly said gently knowing what was on his mind. “I know it’s hard but at some point you have to realize you’ve got your own life to lead.”
“I wish it was that easy.’ Mikey sighed.
“I didn’t say it was easy. Watching someone you love hurt themselves is never easy.”
“So you saw him drinking too?” He asked briefly glancing over at her.
“Yeah, when I went to tell him we were leaving he had a drink.” Holly confirmed
“Why does it do it?” Mikey asked, ‘Why?”
Holly spoke softly, “Mikey an alcoholic drinks because of the disease. Plain and simple. They either chose to fight that disease and control it or they don’t. No one can make him stop, only he can do that.”
“But he should be happy. Look at all he has in his life.”
Holly nodded, “Yes to us he has so much. Beautiful wife, beautiful child, a home, a loving family, his careers…but the disease doesn’t see that. It just wants the alcohol.”
Mikey thought a moment then asked, “So did you and Lindsey get along okay?”
Holly thought back to the last conversation she had with Lindsey just before they left. Lindsey had pulled her aside to apologize for her earlier comment.
(“I’m sorry about what I said.” Lindsey had said softly. “But honestly if you look at it another way I was saying you really look great now.”
Holly had smiled, “No problem. I’m over sensitive sometimes about how I used to look.” She’d been shocked when Lindsey had given her a quick hug.
“I understand that.” Lindsey had whispered. )
“Holly?” Mikey said still waiting for an answer.
“We got along just fine. I like her.” Holly answered honestly.
When they arrived Mikey carried Molly in and helped Holly get her settled into bed.
Once he left Holly decided to work on her wind chime that was almost completed. She smiled up at the baby monitor Mikey had installed so she could work without worrying about Molly.
Still she was finding it difficult to concentrate on he work. Soon memories of another Thanksgiving evening filled her mind.
Thanksgiving night 2006
“So are you sure you can’t go shopping with me tomorrow?’ Alicia asked looking over at Holly.
“Sorry, gotta work.” Holly answered. She, Alicia, Mikey and Gerard were all seated in the living room. All the guests had left and the house was quiet once more.
“Where do you work?” Gerard asked.
“I’m a waitress at the Timeless Diner.” Holly answered.
“I know that place. Me and Mikey spent a lot of late nights there.” Gerard laughed, “Got tossed out of there several times too.”
Holly laughed, “Yeah, I’ve heard.”
Mikey smiled, “I told her about the time you ate that whole pie.” He said to his brother.
Gerard rolled his eyes, “Oh thanks. I’d like to forget that.” His smile faded, “I’d like to forget lots of times I did stupid shit because I was fucked up.”
Much to his surprise Holly said, “You really shouldn’t.”
Gerard frowned, “Why not?"
“Remembering stuff like that makes you remember why you don’t get fucked up anymore.” Holly shrugged.
While he knew she was right it still bothered him she thought she understood what being an alcoholic was like. The hell he’d been through. “Sometimes it’s better just to forget and move on. But then I don’t expect someone like you to understand that.”
Mikey and Alicia both looked shocked by his rudeness towards Holly.
“Gee.” Mikey said softly. “Holly didn’t mean anything bad.”
Gerard turned angrily to his brother. “Hey, why don’t you just stay out of this.”
Holly stared at Gerard a moment then said, “I don’t expect someone like you to understand that you aren’t the only person in the world who has dealt with alcoholism. Jackass.”
“Oh shit.” Alicia whispered. She’d seen many times before that when Gerard was talking like this his anger would just worsen.
Gerard glared at Holly for several minutes then looked away. The room was silent until he said, “Yeah, you’re right. That was a jackass kinda comment on my part.”
“Yep." Holly laughed, “But no worries.”
“Well then.” Alicia said feeling relieved and surprised Gerard had backed down, “I’m going to bed. Gotta get up early to get the good sales.”
Mikey stood too. “Yeah I’m gonna turn. All that food made me tired.”
“Night, guys.” Holly said as they both headed towards Mikey’s bedroom. She sighed then stood up. “Well I better be going.”
“No, wait.” Gerard said suddenly. “Don’t go yet.”
Holly gave him a questioning look.
He felt bad he’d been rude to her. “I mean unless you gotta go.”
Holly sat back down, “Actually I don’t work until ten in the morning and Sonja is staying at a friend’s house tonight.”
“Cool cause I have a surprise for you." He smiled but that smile turned to a frown when his Sidekick went off. “Shit.’ He muttered pulling it out. “I gotta take this. Promise you won’t leave?”
Holly shrugged. “Okay.”
Gerard walked into the kitchen. Holly could only hear parts of the conversation but by the tone of his voice he was annoyed. She turned the TV on low and tried to concentrate on the late night program.
“Sorry about that." Gerard said walking back in. He’d been gone for about fifteen minutes.
Holly smiled, “No problem.”
Gerard sat back down. “Uh, I had to take that.”
Holly simply nodded.
“Didn’t mean to talk so long, sorry.”
She looked over at him. “Okay, Gee. Who was it?”
He tried to pretend the question surprised him. “What?”
Holly laughed lightly, “It’s pretty obvious you want to talk about the call.”
“No I don’t.” He responded quickly.
She stared at him a moment then said, “Already told you, you are a terrible liar.”
Gerard sighed, “Okay yeah I sorta wanna talk about it but I have no idea why I want to talk about it with you.”
“Gosh, thanks.” Holly responded.
“No, that sounded wrong. It’s just….” He wasn’t able to put into words how he felt.
“It’s just you can’t figure out why you want to discuss something personal with a woman you just met?”
“Sorta.” He said looking away.
“We already decided that’s because you want to talk about it with someone who isn’t close to the situation. That was Eliza I assume?”
“So I’m guessing she’s upset you didn’t spend Thanksgiving with her?”
“I didn’t tell her what I was gonna do today. Hell I wasn’t even sure until the day before that I was coming here. I mean I just don’t know what I want.” He said sadly. He was shocked when Holly laughed.
“Sorry. I’m not laughing at you it’s just the way you said that, like you think you should know and you’re upset that you don’t.”
“Well I am upset.” He said frowning.
“Upset because you don’t know or upset because you know but don’t want to deal with it?” She challenged.
“God, you don’t hold back any punches.” Gerard said shaking his head.
“Hey, I told you I’m pretty honest about things. You want to talk about this, okay we’ll talk about it but don’t expect me to just say what I think you want to hear because I won’t do that.” She paused, “I think you’ve got enough people around you already doing that.”
His eyes narrowed, “What do you mean?”
Again she laughed, “Gee, honestly. From what I’ve seen people pussyfoot around you. I’m guessing you got a pretty mean streak and they don’t want you mad at them.”
He gave her a shocked look, “No I don’t.”
“Oh Lord." Holly said rolling her eyes, “Then you totally missed the looks on Mikey and Alicia’s faces when I called you a jackass.”
“What difference would it make if I was arguing with you?”
“To them you mean?” Holly asked.
“Well because if you got pissed at me then they would feel out of loyalty they would have to side with you. I’ve become pretty good friends with them and I don’t think they’d like to cut me out but they would if forced to make a choice.”
He shook his head in denial, “That’s not true."
“Sure it is.”
Gerard leaned back against the back of his chair. “I don’t demand people agree with me.”
“You might not demand it, but that’s what they do. I’m guessing that when you get mad you hold a grudge a long time.”
He was about to disagree when he realized she was probably right.
Holly smiled, “But on the flip side you can think that the people around you care about you so much that they allow your wants to dictate what they do.”
“That’s fucked up.” Gerard muttered.
Holly laughed, “Whatever, Now tell me about Eliza.”
Gerard was still thinking about what she’d said. It took him several moments to shift gears, “What about her?”
“Do you love her?” Holly asked simply.
He looked away, “I dunno. I mean she always seems to understand what I’m feeling because she’s been through a lot of the shit I have.”
Holly crossed her arms but remained silent.
“It’s like when I talk about my problems she understands. She gets me.”
“And that’s important to you.” Holly said softly.
“Well yeah, I like to be understood. Fuck, who wouldn’t like to be understood?”
Holly could hear the anger in his voice. “So you like her because you think she understands you while others don’t?”
He nodded, ‘Yeah. She gets me.”
Holly once again fell silent.
“Well?’ Gerard said, “Say that you’re thinking?” He could tell she had something on her mind.
God this woman was infuriating. “Yeah, I wanna know.”
Holly nodded, “Okay first off let me say I really don’t know her. I can only give you and outsiders perspective." When she saw him nod she continued, “Gee, it’s not hard for some people to tap into other’s emotions. Once you do that it’s not so hard to say what you know they want you to say.”
“You think she’s just doing that?” He asked sitting up. “You think she’s just saying what I want her to say?”
“I told you I don’t know her." Holly responded, “I just think it’s possible especially given the circumstances.” She paused then said, “So you’ve known her a couple of years, right?"
“And how did you meet?” Holly asked.
Gerard thought back, “Uh, she came to a show.”
Holly could tell by the way he answered there was more. “A show? You met her at a show?”
He looked uncomfortable, “Well she came to the bus and wanted to talk to me so she uh,,,gave one of the guys a message for me.”
There was something strange about the way he had said that. “She wrote a message for you?"
“Uh no actually she uh..just asked on of the guys to repeat what she said so he found me on the bus and did.”
Holly burst out laughing.
“Oh Lord. She must really have said something interesting. You’re blushing.”
“I am not." He lied.
“Yeah, you totally are.” Holly smiled. “But never mind that. So you met her at a show then what?”
“Then what, what?”
“God this is like pulling teeth.” Holly said rolling her eyes, “Then what happened?"
“Uh I got her number and we started texting now and then.” Gerard answered.
He sat back, “Well she started coming to more shows.”
“And you’d meet up with her?”
“What is the point of all of this?” Gerard was angry again.
“The point is she was attracted to you and from what you’re saying she went after you. Did she know you were involved in a relationship at the time?”
Gerard crossed his arms, “Yeah, I told her.”
“But that didn’t make any difference, did it?”
Suddenly he stood, “I don’t wanna talk about this anymore.”
Holly sighed, “Bet you do that a lot too.”
His eyes narrowed, “Do what?”
“Shut down when you don’t wanna deal.” Holly answered staring him directly in the eyes.
For a moment he was angry but it quickly faded, “Yeah, probably. But I’m tried, jet lag still has me.”
Holly stood, “Okay, Gee. Well tell you mom again how much I appreciated her invite to dinner for me and Sonja.” She looked around, “But I need my coat to leave.”
He was shocked to realize he still didn’t want her to go. “Uh you haven’t had your surprise yet. Hold on.”
Holly sat back down while he sprinted off towards the kitchen. She was surprised a few minutes later when he came in carrying a tray.
“I saved two pieces of your Apple Brown Betty.” He said.
Holly saw that there were two small plates and glasses of milk on the tray. “You didn’t have to do that.”
“Sure I did. You should have seen them digging into it." He sat back down and smiled, “And I’ll have you know I haven’t tried it yet. I wanted to wait until you were here.”
Holly was touched by his thoughtfulness.
He took a bite and smiled, “Hey this shit is good.”
“Well I’ve never had my Apple Brown Betty called shit, but thanks.”
As they ate their desert a comfortable silence filled the room. When she’d finished her last bite she stood. “Thanks for sharing that with me.”
Gerard nodded, “I’ll go get your coat.” When he returned he was laughing, “God I’m glad this thing didn’t make my bed collapse under its weight.”
Holly grinned, “Pretty heavy, isn’t it?”
He helped her put it on. At the door she said goodnight but was surprised when he followed her out.
“Get back in the house, it’s freezing out here.”
Gerard smiled, “I’m gonna watch you walk up the road. Pretty sure if you slipped and fell you’d never be able to get back up. Don’t want you freezing to death.”
Holly laughed, “Oh you mean like the brother in A Christmas Story?”
“Yeah,” He grinned, “Exactly. If you fell you’d be flailing, flapping your arms trying to get up.”
“Oh ha ha.” Holly laughed, “Well goodnight again, Gee.”
“Nite Holly.” He said to her retreating form.
At her front porch Holly turned and saw he was still standing outside in the cold watching her. She quickly unlocked the front door then moved in the darkness to the window to make sure he’d gone back inside. The man was still standing here hopping from foot to foot trying to keep warm.
“Damn fool.’ Holly laughed. She switched on the lights then returned to the window but he was gone. A smile came to her lips as she realized he’d been waiting to make sure she was safely inside before heading back inside his house.
Finally Holly forced herself to stop thinking about the past and get to work. It was almost midnight when she switched off the lights then started towards her bedroom. She heard the front door opening just as she was walking past. Alicia pushed open the door so that Mikey, who was carrying Bandit, could walk in.
“Hey." She whispered.
Mikey gave her a tried smile.
“Holly can you help me grab some of Bandit’s things?” Alicia whispered.
“Sure.” Holly said following her back outside. She was surprised to see Donna unloading a large bag out of the car.
“Hey, Donna." Holly greeted the older woman. “So I guess you’re staying here tonight?”
“Yes.” Donna nodded. “I’ll just watch the girls here tomorrow.” She trudged up the pathway to the house.
“We brought Bandit home with us because it was getting a little out of control at Gee’s.” Alicia said with a sigh.
“Oh.” Holly answered afraid that was what had happened. She helped Alicia pull the travel playpen from the back of the car.
“Figured B could sleep in this with Donna in the guest bedroom.” Alicia explained.
When the playpen was set up and Bandit tucked in snuggly Holly said good night to everyone and started towards her bedroom. Alicia had already gone on ahead to bed. Donna said goodnight to Mikey and Holly then closed the door.
“Fuck, she’s upset.” Mikey whispered.
Holly took several steps closer to him, “What happened?”
“Too much drinking, it was getting really loud.” Mikey said softly. “B woke up and started crying then Gee and Lindsey got into a fight. Ma’s was pissed at first but now she’s just upset.”
“And so are you.” Holly said reaching out to touch his arm. “I’m sorry Mikey Boy.”
“I’m just so tired of this shit.” Mikey answered looking down.
Holly gave him a hug, “Mikey I told you there isn’t anything you can do. Stop carrying the weight of your brother’s actions on your shoulders.”
Mikey shook his head, “I’m not.”
“Sure you are. You did the right thing by bringing your mom and Bandit here. Now let the rest of it go. You can’t do anything else.”
“But he’s fucking up.” Mikey started to say but Holly held up her hand.
“Mikey he is fucking up but only he can change that, not you. He knows you love him. He knows he has a beautiful child and yet he chooses to drink. This is on him, not you. You have a beautiful wife who loves you. Don’t let anything ruin that for you.”
Mikey gave her a surprised look, “You think that’s what I’m doing?”
Holly glanced away, “I think that could be a possibility if you keep doing what you’re doing.”
“She’s told you she wants us to start a family, didn’t she?” He asked but already knew the answer.
“Having a child is a big step.” Holly said softly. “You both need to be sure it’s what you really want but you can’t let anything but what the two of you want factor into your decision.”
“And you think that’s what I’m doing?” He asked.
Holly smiled sadly, “What do you think?”
Mikey sighed, “I think I’m glad you’re here my friend.”
Again Holly gave him a quick hug; “Now get to bed and hug that wife of yours tight.”