The night of the party ends badly.
“Come on in.” Mikey said noticing that Lindsey was still standing in the doorway. “Alicia is almost ready.”
Holly looked up at the couple and knew immediately by the looks on their faces there was a lot of tension between them.
Lindsey walked over to Holly. “Thanks for watching Baby B tonight.”
Holly smiled, “No problem. Molly has been looking forward to this all day.”
“So has B.” Lindsey admitted setting down on the sofa next to Holly. “Uh, we might be kinda late tonight.”
“I sorta thought so.” Holly said keeping her eyes on Lindsey not wanting to look over at Gerard. “I was thinking maybe B should just stay here tonight. You guys can just pick her up in the morning.”
Lindsey nodded, “Yeah, sure. That sounds good.”
“Yeah, thanks.” Gerard added. He was standing by the sofa now but made no move to sit.
Holly didn’t acknowledge his words. “You look great.” She said to Lindsey. “That color really looks good on you.”
Lindsey smiled, “Thanks. I just bought this dress. Mom insisted we go shopping while I was home.”
“So did you have a nice visit?”
Gerard clinched his fists at his side. What the hell was Holly doing? She had to know how hurt he’d been by Lindsey’s trip. Why was she chatting about it?
“It was nice but awful short. B and I really didn’t get a lot of time to visit.” Lindsey sighed.
“Well maybe you should go back and stay longer.” Gerard ground out.
Lindsey swiveled her head to look at him. “Yeah, maybe we should.”
Mikey knew the potential for a full-blown argument between them was brewing. “I'll just go hurry Alicia along.” He said before moving down the hallway.
Holly too could sense what was happening. “Uh, so had B eaten dinner?” She asked trying to change the subject.
Lindsey turned back to face her. “No, Gerard told me you were gonna feed the girls dinner.”
Holly tried to look unsurprised by that bit of news. “Oh well sure, no problem.” She hoped Molly wouldn’t suddenly pipe up and admit she’d already eaten dinner but a quick glance over at the little girls made it apparent they weren’t listening.
Lindsey turned back to her husband. “You did tell me that.”
Gerard looked over at Holly but once again she was only looking at Lindsey. “I thought that’s what Mikey told me.” He said slowly.
Holly smiled, “Really, it’s okay. I’m guessing B likes Mac and Cheese?”
“She loves it.” Lindsey nodded.
“Well that’s good because that’s what we have.” Holly smiled. She hoped Alicia would be ready soon.
“So Holly, are you feeling better?”
It was impossible not to look at him when he asked her a direct question especially one that confused her. “Uh, was I feeling bad?”
Gerard stared at her. “Mikey said you were when I talked to him earlier.”
“Oh.” Holly looked away. “Just a bit tired. No big deal.”
Now Lindsey was staring at Holly. When Alicia and Mikey both walked into the room it was all Holly could do not to sigh with relief.
“Ready." Alicia smiled at her guests.
“Great.” Gerard said sullenly. “Lets go.”
“Try to curb your enthusiasm.” Lindsey muttered as she rose.
Gerard started to open his mouth but Holly cut him off. “Have fun guys. Enjoy the party.” She got up to follow them to the door. Lindsey walked by her husband without glancing at him. As Holly tried to follow she saw Gerard glaring at her. She ignored the look and sailed past him. He reached out and grabbed her arm.
“Stop it.” He whispered roughly.
Holly made sure the others were still moving towards the door. She pulled her arm out of his grip. She wasn’t sure what he meant but now was not the time to discuss it. Shaking her head she shot him a glace she hoped he’d understand.
“Are you coming?” Lindsey’s voice caused them both to turn towards the others.
“Yeah." Gerard muttered.
Holly followed them out onto the front porch. “Have fun.” She said again trying to sound chipper.
The others smiled but not Gerard. The last look she got from him was a glare.
“Okay Baby B. One bowl of Mac and Cheese.” Holly sang as she placed it on the tray in front of Bandit.
“Dood stuff.’ Molly nodded to her little friend. She had insisted on sitting at the kitchen table while Bandit ate.
Holly heard her cell phone in the other room. “Keep an eye on B.” She said to Molly who nodded.
Running into the living room she grabbed the phone then started back towards the kitchen. “Hello?”
“Hey.” Christa greeted her. “Catch you at a bad time?”
“Nope just gave Bandit her dinner.” Holly said smiling at the toddler who was digging into the dinner with gusto. “What’s up?”
“I was wondering if you wanted to go down to the shelter tomorrow afternoon?”
Holly had planned on going giving her a chance to say goodbye. “Sure that sounds great. What time?”
“Well Ray and I have some stuff to do in the morning. I was thinking if it’s okay I could have him drop me off there at noon and you could give me a ride home when we’re done.”
Holly picked up a stray piece of cheese pasta that Bandit had dropped off the tray. “Sure that sounds good.”
Christa had wanted to talk a bit more to Holly but could hear the noise in the background.
“Sorry.” Holly said a minute later. “Bandit spilled her juice.”
Christa laughed, “Yeah sounds like you’re busy. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
After they said their goodbyes Holly set down her phone only to have it ring again. She answered thinking Christa had thought of something to add. “Yes?”
“That’s a weird way to answer.”
“Oh, I though it was Christa calling back.” Holly said slowly. She took several steps back towards the living room standing where she could still see the girls. “Where are you?”
Gerard sighed, “Outside having a smoke. We just got to this fuckin party. Why?”
“Why does it matter where I am?” He pressed.
“Just wondering you are supposed to be at a party.”
“Well good then go enjoy yourself. Don’t worry about B she’s just fine enjoying her Mac and Cheese.”
Gerard took a deep drag from his cigarette. “I’m not worried about B.”
“Okay, good.” Holly said slowly.
“I’m worried about us.”
Holly leaned against the door frame. “There is no us to worry about.” She said softly.
“You know what I mean. Look, I’m sorry about what I did. It was wrong of me to kiss you, I know that. But I don’t want it to ruin things between us.”
Holly lowered her voice. “Yeah, it was really wrong but I understand. You’re in a bad place right now and I just happened to be there.”
He uttered several curses. “Is that what you really think? “
“That is what I really know.” Holly said quickly, “Don’t forget I know you.”
“Mommy B’s wants more.”
“Okay, Sweetie." Holly answered. “I have to go.” She said into the phone.
“We need to talk." Gerard said gripping his phone tightly. “Holly, I can’t lose our friendship, I just can’t.”
Holly sighed, “You’ll never lose my friendship. That’s a stupid thing to say.” She picked up Bandit’s bowl and moved towards the counter. “But that’s all we have. It’s all we can have.”
Suddenly all he wanted was to go inside and snag a drink. “It’s not a stupid thing to say. Fuck, you wouldn’t even look at me earlier.”
“I have to go." Holly said as she balanced the phone on her shoulder so she could refill Bandit’s bowl.
“We need to sit down and talk.” He said again.
“There is nothing for us to talk about.” Holly answered as she sat Bandit’s bowl back down on her tray. “Nothing to be said. Now go enjoy the party.”
He opened his mouth to say more but heard the sound of the call being disconnected. “Fuck." He muttered. He pocked the phone, tossed the cigarette butt aside then walked inside. He saw Lindsey laughing with a group of her friends and it was just too much. Making his way across the room he headed directly for the bar.
A gentle knocking on the door awoke Holly from a troubled sleep. Slipping from the bed she first glanced over at the sleeping girls on the cozy pallet she’d made for them on the floor. They were both sleeping soundly. Then she glanced at the clock it was almost 3 am.
“I’m so sorry to wake you." Alicia whispered as soon as Holly pulled open the bedroom door.
Holly moved into the hallway gently closing the bedroom door behind her. “What’s wrong?”
Alicia looked as if she’d burst into tears at any moment. “It’s Mikey and Gee. They are both drunk.”
Holly noticed a figure moving down the hallway. Through the shadows she saw it was Mikey.
“Hey Holly.” He said loudly as he stumbled towards them.
Alicia shushed him.
“Oh oops, sorry." Mikey grinned stupidly. He took a few more steps then crashed against the wall.
“Shit." Alicia ran towards him to stop her husband from falling.
Holly blinked the sleep from her eyes while trying to think. She closed the distance between herself and the couple. “Do you need me to help you get him into bed?” She asked her friend still not sure what was going on.
“I need you to help me get Gee inside. He’s out in the car and won’t budge.”
“Why’s he here?” Holly asked slowly.
“He and Lindsey had a huge fight. She left the party hours ago with a couple of her friends. I was gonna drop Gee off at his house but I didn’t feel right about doing that as drunk as he is.”
Mikey nodded, “Yeah he’s really wasted.” He said still leaning against the wall.
Holly glared at him. “Like you’re not?”
“Just a little.” Mikey weaved as he tried to stand straight.
“I’m sorry, Holly.” Alicia said again. “I’m sorry I had to ask you to help me deal with this.”
Mikey giggled drunkenly. “I’m not so bad.”
Holly surprised him and Alicia by snapping. “Yeah, you are bad. You’re stinkin’ drunk Mikey. And I’m sure your brother is worse.”
Mikey blinked in confusion. Holly never yelled at him. “Not stinkin’ drunk.” He said trying to defend himself against her words. “Just had a good time.”
“Really?” Holly glared at him. “And it has nothing to do with your brother’s actions? You didn’t get drunk because his life is fucked up?”
Mikey was having trouble believing this was his friend Holly practically yelling at him.
Holly shook her head in disgust. “Can you get him to bed?” She asked Alicia.
Alicia blinked back tears while nodding.
Holly took a breath trying to calm her temper. She hated to see Mikey like this and more than that she hated why he had allowed it to happen. Gerard’s drinking was affecting more than himself and he needed to understand that. “I’ll go get Gee." Holly said tiredly.
“Are you sure you can?" Alicia worried. “Why don’t you just wait and after I get Mikey to bed I’ll help you.”
Holly smiled at her sadly. “I’m gonna go out there and see if he’ll come in. If not then he can just sleep in the car all night. Simple as that.”
Alicia nodded, “Yeah, right.” She grabbed Mikey’s arm and started towards their bedroom.
Holly didn’t even bother with shoes she simply walked outside then down the cement pathway. Once she reached the car she pulled open the car door. “Gee." She said loudly. “Get up.”
Gerard lifted his head opening his eyes slowly. ‘Whaaa?”
“Come on.” Holly said tiredly. “Get out of the car.”
Gerard blinked trying to clear his alcohol clouded mind. “Holly?”
“Yeah, Holly.” She said crossing her arms while glaring at him. “Come on you’re at Mikey’s and you need to get inside.”
He shifted his body towards the open door. As soon as he tried to stand he stumbled and if Holly hadn’t been there he would have fallen. She propped him up against the car then slammed the door with more force than needed.
Gerard giggled drunkenly. “Wow what did the door ever do to you?”
Holly’s anger was to the boiling point. “Shut up, Gerard.” She warned grabbing his arm. Slowly they made their way towards the house. His steps were unsure and Holly struggled under his weight as he leaned against her.
“”Why are you so mad at me?” Gerard suddenly asked as they neared the doorway.
“Just be quite.” Holly hissed. "The girls are sleeping.”
“Oh yeah, my baby B is here.” Gerard said remembering. “Wanna see her.”
“Not a chance.” Holly tightened her hold on his arm. “Just shut up and lets get you into the bedroom.”
Again he giggled stupidly. “Yeah, you’d like that wouldn’t you?”
As they crossed the threshold Holly’s anger erupted. “Stop being such a fuckin’ jackass.” She hissed. Letting go of his arm she closed then locked the front door. By the time she turned he was swaying. Holly grabbed his arm to keep him from falling.
“Don’t like you like this.” Gerard muttered. “You’re too mean.”
“And I don’t like you like this.” Holly countered. “You’re a stupid, drunk, idiot.”
“Hey you don’t know what happened.” Gerard answered. “She fuckin’ slapped me. In front of our friends.”
Holly could see his face clearly now. His bottom lip was cut and swollen. “You probably deserved it.” She assumed correctly he was talking about Lindsey and what had happened at the party.
Gerard shook his head angrily. “The bitch slapped me, ain’t right.”
It was hard for Holly to control her anger. “Don’t use that word to describe your wife.”
He tired to bring Holly’s face into focus but it was impossible. The room started to sway. “Why you defending her?"
Holly just wanted to get him to the bedroom where she planned on letting him fall on the bed. She didn’t care if he slept in his clothes.
‘Well?” He asked again. “You should be on my side.”
“Why?” Holly asked knowing in her heart it was stupid trying to reason with him.
“Cause she took your place. You coulda been my wife.”
Suddenly Holly was afraid Alicia might reappear and overhear this conversation. She started to pull Gerard down the hallway. He stumbled to keep up.
“You ain’t answering me.” He said loudly.
Slowly they made their way down the hall. When they reached the second guest bedroom Alicia reappeared
“Mikey’s in our bathroom puking.”
Holly nodded, “Go take care of him. I’ve got this.”
Gerard frowned, “Got this? I’m not a this.”
Ignoring him Holly gave Alicia a small smile, “Really, it’s okay. Go ahead.”
Alicia nodded then turned to go back to her bedroom.
Pushing Gerard into the room Holly flipped on the light. Gerard blinked at the sudden, painful, brightness.
“Go to sleep, Gerard.” She said tiredly nodding to the bed.
Suddenly his face took on another look Holly understood. As quickly as he could he weaved his way towards the attached bathroom. A moment later Holly heard reaching and prayed he’d made it in time. Part of her simply wanted to turn around and go back to her bedroom yet she was afraid if she didn’t get him into bed he might start wandering around and wake the girls.
He was on the floor, his head hanging over the toilet bowl. His hair hung down covering his face. Holly stood silently as he vomited waiting until it finally stopped. She then grabbed a washcloth and ran it under the cold water from the sink. “Here.” She held it out to him but he made no move to acknowledge her.
“Gee, wipe your face.” Holly’s tone was emotionless.
“Go away.” He finally muttered, “Just go away.”
“I will as soon as you’re in bed.” Holly leaned over and touched his shoulder. “Now take the washcloth and wipe your face.”
“I said leave me alone, damn it.” He exploded angrily. “You don’t fuckin’ care about me so just go.”
“I care more than I should.” Holly said softly.
He turned his head to look up at her. “No you don’t. You don’t give a shit about me. I don’t think you ever did.”
His words wounded her. “You know that’s a lie.”
“No, I don’t. I don’t know nothing anymore.”
Before he could react Holly used the washcloth to wipe his face. He tried to push her away and in the process fell backwards hitting the side of the tub. He howled in pain then slumped completely to the floor.
“Gee get up.” Holly said sharply.
“Leave me the fuck alone. I wish I’d never met you.” He yelled.
Holly stepped back as if slapped.
She turned in shock to find Molly standing in the bathroom doorway. Quickly she blinked back her tears and tried to smile. “It’s okay, Honey. Gee’s just sick.”
“Mes donts wants Gee to be sick.” Her bottom lip trembled.
Gerard looked up in shame. “It’s okay, M. I’ll be okay don’t worry.”
Holly placed her hand on Molly shoulder. “ Come on kiddo. Back to bed.” She left without glancing at Gerard.
When she returned several minutes later he was still on the floor.
“Gee please get up.” She said softly.
“I fuckin’ sorry she saw this.” He muttered.
Holly knew she couldn’t pass up this chance to hopefully make him understand. “Gee, that could just as easily been Bandit. Is this how you want her to see you?”
He looked up slowly, his eyes filled with tears. “Holly help me.” He begged.
It was all she could do not to break into tears. “I can’t.” She whispered.
His head dropped to his chest.
The next thing he knew he felt her sliding her hand under his armpit to pull him up. It was a struggle but a moment later he was standing. Slowly Holly helped him stumble to the bed. Once there he collapsed onto the mattress then rolled onto his side.
Holly looked down at him a moment then turned to leave. Her heart was breaking when she heard him whisper.
“I’m so sorry.”
Without turning back to face him Holly whispered brokenly, “I’m sorry, too.”
He heard her flip off the light then close the door. In the darkness the hopelessness consumed his soul. He felt so lost he truly believed there was no way he could ever find his way out of the darkness again.