Don arrives and surprises Gerard during a conversation.
Pulling out of the driveway he sighed. Now to just get home, take some more aspirin and hopefully get the chance to lay down.
“That Holly is a fine looking woman.” Don said as the car edged its way into the traffic.
Gerard bristled. “Uh, don’t you think you’re a little old to be saying that?”
Don laughed. “Son, do you honestly think I’m so old I can’t appreciate a good looking woman?”
Gerard stared straight ahead concentrating on the traffic.
“I was wondering though, she’s not sick is she?”
This time Gerard turned to glace over at him. “Holly?”
“Yes, that’s who we’re discussing.” Don smiled, “I was just wondering because she looks so thin and her eyes have lost their sparkle.”
Gerard sighed, “Pretty sure losing Sonja caused that.”
“That was a sad, sad, thing.” Don said softly. “Brought tears to my eyes when Mikey told me.”
“Yeah.” Gerard agreed. “It was.” He thought a minute then decided to level with his dad. “And yeah, she is very thin. We were all pretty sure she’s got an eating disorder but she hadn’t really admitted it.”
“That’s sad too.” Don sighed. “I hope she gets help.”
“We all do too.” Gerard admitted. “Lindsey and Alicia talked to her about it. She’s promised to seek help back in Arizona if it don’t get better.”
Don thought a minute. “So Holly and Lindsey get on okay?”
Gerard nodded, “Lindsey really likes her.”
The car grew silent for several minutes.
“So son, how’s your marriage?”
Gerard tried not to let his anger take over but it was hard. This was definitely something he didn’t want to discuss. “Just fine.”
Don gave him a pointed look. “You never could lie for shit.”
“I don’t want to talk about it dad.” He said in a chipped tone. As he glanced over he saw a look of hurt pass over his fathers face. Immediately he felt guilty. “Sorry. It’s just hard to talk about. Things between me and Linds are strained.”
“And have been for quite some time.” Don added.
Gerard sighed, “Yeah, but it’s gotten worse in the last six months. I’ve tried to talk to her.” Suddenly he was tried of holding in the truth. “But she don’t love me anymore.”
“Has she said that?”
“Not in so many words but I can tell.” Gerard answered sadly. “I just can tell.”
“Do you still love her?”
The question caught Gerard off guard. “Well of course.” He sputtered.
Don looked over at his son. “You answered that too quickly. Either the answer came from your heart or it’s the answer you want to make yourself believe.”
His head was pounding too hard to think. “Shit, I don’t know anymore. Nothing is like it was when we first met.”
“Son, let me tell you something I’ve learned. Love is a wicked mistress. Once you fall into her arms it’s hard to free yourself.”
Gerard gave him a confused look.
“Let me try to explain what I mean.” Don said. “When I first met your mom I fell head over heels. I truly believed we would never break up. I loved her so damn much. But sometimes love don’t last. Slowly it fades leaving only an empty feeling. I wanted to love Donna like I once had, I wanted that with my whole heart. But once love fades you can’t get it back.”
Gerard considered his fathers words. “You think that’s what’s happened to me and Lindsey?”
“Only you can answer that. The only thing I want you to realize it this, just because it fades it doesn’t lessen what you once had. I know you’ll always love Lindsey, you and she have a beautiful child together. But staying with someone, trying to get back what is gone, never did anyone any good. In fact it makes it worse.”
“Is that what happened between you and mom?” Gerard asked.
Don sighed, “Like I said I loved Donna with my whole heart and soul, I still love her but we’re not in love anymore. We tried mostly for you and Mikey to make it work. But staying with someone you’re not in love with is wrong. In the end both your mother and I realized that. We were hurting each other, we had to move on.”
For several minutes neither man spoke.
“I just wish things hadn’t changed.” Gerard finally whispered.
“I know, Son. I also know how you are, when you want something to be a certain way you convince yourself that if you want it bad enough then that’s how it will be. But Gee, life don’t work like that.”
“I’ve always been like that, haven’t I?” Gerard asked sadly already knowing the answer.
“You have.” Don nodded. “You really have.”
Again the car grew silent. When Don spoke again his question caused Gerard to snap out of his growing depression.
“Son, has having Holly here made things between you and Lindsey worse?”
Don knew there was a good chance he was going to anger his son but it was a risk he was willing to take. “Has having Holly here made it more difficult?”
“Made what more difficult?” Gerard truly had no idea where his father was going with this line of questioning.
“Look, I was never really sure why no one else saw what went on between you and Holly back then.”
Gerard cut him off, “What went on? Dad, Holly and I were friends.”
Don shook his head, “Son, there is no point in you denying this. I’m no fool, I saw the looks that went on between you and Holly. I know you were more than friends. I watched and I wondered why no one else saw it. I still wonder that.”
Gerard wished with all his heart that they were closer to home. This conversation was taking its toll on him. Still he found he couldn’t lie to his father. “Holly said it’s because people only see what they want to see.”
Don considered this. “I think she’s right. Back then most people probably wouldn’t have wanted to see you and Holly together.”
“Why?” Gerard asked angrily. “Because of the way she looked? That’s just bullshit.”
Don understood he had hit a nerve. “I didn’t say it was right, I just think that’s how it was. I always thought Holly was cute as a button even if she was overweight. But more that than I could see what a beautiful person she was inside.”
Some of his anger faded, “That’s the truth.”
“So why did you keep it a secret?”
Gerard sighed, “That was Holly’s idea. I’d just broken up with Eliza and she thought it would look bad that she and I hooked up so quickly.”
Don thought a minute before saying, “Bet that wasn’t the only reason. I’m guessing Holly was afraid of what else people would think.”
Gerard looked over at his father. “What do you mean?”
“Son, don’t take this wrong but Holly was wiser than you. She knew that usually people judge by looks first. They would have wondered why you were with Holly.”
“I thought you just said Holly was cute as a button.” Gerard said growing angry again.
“I did say that and I meant it. But I knew Holly, really knew her. There is a difference. Think back to that time in your life.” He paused. “Do you want me to be brutally honest?”
Part of him wanted to say no but he truly wanted to hear what his father thought. “Yeah, be brutally honest.”
“Back then you spent a lot of time caring what people said. You’d pour over articles written about the group, you’d read all the comments on the sites. You spent a lot of time caring what people said and when it was something negative you took it to heart.”
Gerard frowned, “You think that was bad?”
Don smiled, “Yeah I think that was bad. It was like you honestly believed you could please everyone, you wanted everyone to like you. Realistically that ain’t ever gonna happen.”
“So what does this have to do with Holly?”
“Think about it. Holly probably knew you better than you knew yourself back then. She knew how you’d feel if someone made a comment about the way she looked.”
“Wait.” Gerard cut him off, “Are you saying she though I’d be hurt for her or for me?”
Don frowned, “Are we still being brutally honest?”
“Yeah, Pop.” He said softly.
“I’m afraid Holly was scared she’d get her heart broken. People, especially on the Net can be vile. Back than Holly looked like a middle aged, overweight woman. People, who didn’t know her, didn’t know what a truly kind, sweet woman she was would have judged by just her looks. That’s terrible but that’s a fact. I’d even wager some would have been vile enough to call her a hag.”
“Fuck.” Gerard exploded.
Don shook his head sadly, “It’s true, son. Holly knew that. She knew she wasn’t right for you and yet…” He paused then added softly, “She loved you. I could see it in her eyes.”
“And I loved her.” Gerard whispered.
Don had always known this. “So what happened between the two of you?”
Gerard was unable to speak for several minutes. Finally he admitted, “Holly was right about me. I couldn’t handle it but back then I was too stupid to understand that. When I wanted her to go with me on PR she said she couldn’t go. She tried to explain why but I never really listened to her.”
“And she was having problems with Sonja, wasn’t she?”
“How do you know that?” Gerard asked in surprise “Did she tell you?”
“No, she never told me but I thought something was wrong. I’d see Holly watching Sonja and it was more than the normal motherly concern. Was she sick?”
Gerard slowly told his father about Sonja’s illness hoping in doing so he was not breaking Holly’s trust. He stressed to Don this was something he shouldn’t discuss.
“That is heartbreaking.” Don said softly. “She’s had such a rough life.”
“And her ex husband was a son of a bitch.” Gerard couldn’t stop himself from adding. “Holly carried the burden of Sonja’s illness alone.”
“And now she finds herself raising Sonja’s child.” Don said sadly. “But to be honest I think that’s a blessing. From what you’ve told me I’m not sure Holly could have found a reason to go on if it wasn’t for Molly. Losing Sonja like she did, that was devastating.
“I’m afraid that’s true.” Gerard agreed. “And realizing that breaks my heart.”
They were almost home when Gerard asked a question that was gnawing at his brain. “Pop, I was pretty fuckin’ shallow back then, wasn’t I?"
Don shook his head, “No, son. I don’t believe that. It’s just things happened too quickly for you and your brother. Success came too fast and it came hard. You went from being pretty much a hermit in the basement to a man in the limelight almost overnight. That was a hard thing to have happen. You’re a good man, son. A man I am proud of in more way than I can ever say. But life is a funny thing. It throws shit at us and sometimes we have trouble dealing. If things had been different back then, if you hadn’t had all the fame then I have no doubt things would have turned out differently for you and Holly. But thing were what they were.”
“And Holly understood that.” Gerard whispered. “And I didn’t until it was too late.”
Don knew how he wanted to answer his son’s last statement but he remained silent. There were still so many things his son needed to learn on his own.
As Gerard sat at the dinner table that night he was finding it harder and harder to concentrate on what was going on around him. He felt like a actor in a play and that feeling tore at his soul. Lindsey was once again playing the part of the loving wife. He honestly didn’t know if he should be angry or if he should thank her. Perhaps she was doing it for him, believing it was what he wanted her to do in front of his father. Still the fakeness was almost too much to take.
He looked up to see his father staring at him.
Don smiled, “I was just saying if it’s okay with you two I’d like to spend some time with my beautiful granddaughter after dinner.”
Gerard looked confused, “Well sure.”
“And you and Lindsey can get away together for a few hours.” Don added.
Gerard looked over at Lindsey and saw the smile on her face didn’t reach her eyes.
“Sure, sounds good." She said softly.
After dinner Lindsey went to change before she and Gerard left. Gerard took the opportunity to whisper softly. “Why?” After the conversation they’d had in the car he should have understood the tension between them.
Don smiled, “Because Son I don’t ever want you to live with regret. Make sure the choices you and Lindsey make are the right ones. Never wonder if you could have tried harder or done something differently.”
Gerard honestly just wanted to sleep. No, he honestly wanted a drink. That thought cut the deepest because he knew it was the truth.
“I just wish…”
Don held up his hand to silence him. “I know what you wish but wishing can’t make it so.”
Gerard nodded sadly, “Yeah, I get that now.”
“What time are you picking Don up in the morning?” Mikey asked looking over at Holly who had just entered the room. She’d been outside in the garage since they’d finished dinner a few hours ago.
“I told him I’d pick him up at nine.” Holly answered. She looked over at Molly, “Okay kid, time for a bath.”
Molly frowned, “Mes keen.”
“Oh no you’re not.” Holly said taking a seat by her daughter who’d been watching yet another Christmas movie with Mikey and Alicia. She lifted Molly tiny hand. “Uh what do you call this?”
Molly looked at the dried icing on her fingers. “Uncle Mikey gaves me a tookie.”
Holly smiled, “With red icing.”
Mikey laughed, “Hey, red icing is the best. Me and M discussed that earlier.”
“Sure you did.” Holly nodded. “Come on kid.” She gently pulled Molly’s hand. “We’ll get you all bathed then you can come back and tell them goodnight.”
“Otay.” Molly yawned.
Once they’d left the room Alicia turned to Mikey. “It was good seeing Don today. I’ve missed him.”
"Yeah, he looks good, doesn’t he?” Mikey was always worried about his dad’s health.
“Yep, he does. So since we’ve got M tomorrow what should we do?”
Mikey thought a minute then smiled, “I saw a commercial for a place that has like a workshop set up for kids to make Christmas gifts. I bet M would love to make Christmas gifts for people.”
Alicia nodded, “Yeah, I saw that commercial too. I know she’d love to do that. That’s perfect.”
“Then afterward we’ll take her out to lunch.”
Getting up she walked over to the sofa and sat down next to her husband. He slipped his arm around her shoulder as she snuggled up next to him. “We’re pretty good at this aren’t we?” She asked softly.
Mikey understood what she meant. “Yeah, and someday this is the kind of stuff we’ll be doing with our own kids.”
Alicia smiled, “Yeah, someday soon I hope.”
Gerard glanced over at his wife and smiled. They had decided to head down to her studio for a few hours and now as he watched she was busy sketching. She looked so beautiful as she concentrated on her task and she was truly smiling.
Lindsey knew he was watching her. She glanced up. “What?”
“Nothing." He answered. “What are you sketching?”
Holding it up she showed him. It was a drawing of Bandit by the Christmas tree.
“That’s wonderful.” He said.
She sighed, “It’s not exactly right yet but it’s getting there.”
Gerard looked down at the sketch he’d been working on. “Same here.”
Lindsey looked over at his work. “New character?"
He nodded, “Yeah, I’ve had this one in my head for a while. Think I’m gonna introduce him in my next issue.” He paused, “Well maybe.”
Lindsey laughed, “You think too much, Gee. If you want to use that character than just use him. Don’t over think everything.”
“I do that, don’t I?”
She nodded, “Yeah, anymore you do. You analyze every thought you have. Just go with what feels right.” She picked up her pencil and started to sketch again.
“Linds” He said softly.
“Yeah?” She answered without looking up.
“This is nice isn’t it?”
Lindsey sighed, “Yeah, because we’re just working side by side and not really talking.”
He frowned, “You mean because we’re not really talking about what’s wrong between us?”
She looked up and their eyes met. “Sometimes you just have to realize that talking about something won’t change it.”
Sadly he understood what she meant.