Best Men, part 4

Saturday, December 13

Lisa was as impressed with the transformation of the house as we had been, although she struggled not to show it. “Pending the outcome of an inspection, we may be able to get the full asking price for the house.”

Pete waved that off. “If so, fine. If not, fine. The sooner the better, as far as we’re concerned.”

“Yes, of course.” Lisa rubbed her hands together, then seemed to remember why we were selling the house. “How is your father?”

“He’s doing well. He’ll be moving to my sister’s later this week.” Pete handed Lisa a 3×5 card with Jack’s new address and phone number on it. “This is his contact information, and that’s my sister’s below it.”

“Christine Fernandez. Right.” Lisa tucked the card into her briefcase. “I have two showings scheduled for tomorrow, one for Tuesday, and an open house next Sunday. When will you be moving the pickup truck?”

“Next Saturday morning. Jamie and I will be spending Friday night here, to get an early start the next day.”

Lisa was horrified. “In one of the beds?

I laughed. Pete said, “No, on an air mattress in the middle of the family room floor. We won’t leave a trace. Just don’t schedule any showings for Friday evening.”

“Fine.” Lisa shook our hands. “Tell your father I’ll be in touch.”

 

We checked to make sure the air mattress was still in the closet where we’d left it, then locked up and headed south. Pete was quiet until we got on the 15. I was texting with Liz when he said, “I have an idea about best men.”

“What?”

“Logically I’d ask Steve, right? But you’ve got two brothers. Which would you ask? And would the other be pissed to not be chosen?”

“Hm.” I considered that. “I don’t know. When Jeff and Kevin got married, they both had my dad as best man.”

“Do you want to ask your dad?”

“Well – if I don’t, I’ll be the only one who didn’t. What was your idea?”

“I was thinking of asking Stephanie and Samantha to stand up with me. You could have Colin and Gabe.”

Oh. That’s an interesting idea.”

“But?”

“But then I still wouldn’t be having my dad. Do you object to asking Steve?”

“No. He’s probably expecting me to ask.”

“If Colin and Gabe were either older or younger, I think it would work. Right now, Colin’s going through a growth spurt and he’s cranky, and he and Gabe have been at each other’s throats since fall. Steph and Sam would be awesome, but I think it would work better for me with one or the other of the boys, not both. And then I’ve got the same problem as I do with my brothers.” I patted his leg. “But it was a sweet idea.”

“Ah. I didn’t realize Colin was cranky.”

“He’s thirteen. I think his hormones are beginning to stir.”

“We haven’t seen much of them since last summer.”

“No. We’ve been busy, and so have Jeff and Val. I’d like to rectify that this spring. Maybe we could have one of the boys for a weekend every month.”

Pete grinned. “I’d like that. So it’s settled, then? I’ll ask Steve, and you’ll ask your dad?”

“Yep. I’ll ask him today. Any thoughts on who you want to do the ceremony?”

He shook his head. “Still working on that.”

 

We got to my dad’s just in time for lunch. He and Barb were sitting on the front porch waiting for us. We greeted each other with hugs and Barb said, “Pete, how’s your dad?”

“Physically, he’s doing well. It’s difficult to tell what he’s thinking, though.”

"Oceanside-pier". Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oceanside-pier.JPG#/media/File:Oceanside-pier.JPG

“Oceanside-pier”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oceanside-pier.JPG#/media/File:Oceanside-pier.JPG

Dad asked, “Is he looking forward to moving?”

“He seems to be.”

Dad noted Pete’s gloomy tone and exchanged a look with me. He said, “I’ve got burgers ready to grill. You two must be hungry.”

I said, “I am. Breakfast was a long time ago.”

Barb arranged condiments and toasted buns while Dad cooked. I said, “Is this some of Val’s ground beef?”

“It is.” Val bartered eggs and goat cheese for beef with a friend who raised grass-fed and -finished beef cattle.

Pete said, “Jamie and I are trying to eat better.”

Dad paused, spatula in mid-air. “Do you want something else?”

“No, no. This is great. But I won’t have any cheese on mine.”

“No cheese. Got it.”

We loaded our burgers with lettuce, tomato and homemade pickles and chowed down. Afterward Barb and I cleaned up, leaving Dad and Pete on the back patio. Barb ran water in the sink and said, “I figured Pete needed some time with your dad.”

“That’s why we’re here. Pete’s dad hasn’t said anything to him about moving away. Not ‘I’m sorry I’ll be so far away from you,’ or ‘I hope you’ll be able to visit often,’ or anything.”

Barb frowned. “I get the impression Pete’s dad doesn’t say much.”

“That’s true. And Pete knows that – but I think he’s feeling kind of abandoned.”

Barb dunked our plates into the soapy water and began to wash. “There’s one thing for certain. You can’t help how you feel.”

 

When we finished Barb folded the dish rag neatly over the faucet. “I’m going to go home and let you guys visit. It’s always great to see you, Jamie.”

“You too.” I hugged her. “See you soon.”

“Will you be here for Christmas?”

“Either Christmas Day or the day after. That’s not clear yet.”

“Okay. I’ll see you then.”

My dad saw Barb out then stopped in the kitchen on the way back outside. I said, “Do you and Pete need more alone time?”

“We do. I’ve got a bed of lettuce out there that needs thinning, if you want something to do.”

I took a bottle of beer with me to the far corner of Dad’s tiny back yard, where one of his raised beds contained several varieties of loose leaf lettuce. I couldn’t hear everything that Pete and Dad were saying, but I caught snatches of the conversation. Pete was definitely struggling with the idea of being left behind, so to speak.

I felt bad for him. Other than my years in Oxford, I’d spent my entire life surrounded by family. I knew Pete and his dad weren’t as close as I was to mine, but it would be nice if Jack would have at least said that he’d miss Pete.

Maybe he didn’t care that much.

But I didn’t believe that was true. I suspected that Jack just didn’t know how to say it.

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