Monthly Archives: December 2018

Hurricane Frances

IMG_2841-EFFECTS

Not Hurricane Frances.

 

Happy Boxing Day! Here’s a snippet that I wrote during hurricane season, as Hurricane Frances was approaching the coast of the Carolinas. I realized that Jamie’s entire family was in the path of the storm, and this conversation was the result. Hurricane evacuation is an art that, unfortunately, all of us in the southeastern US know how to perform. Some better than others.

A reminder of family relationships: Carly Brodie Moody, a pharmacist, is the youngest daughter of Jamie’s Uncle Doug and Aunt Linda. She lives in Wilmington, NC, and is married to Mike Moody, a physician’s assistant. They have no kids. Carly and Kevin are the same age.

Doug and Linda’s middle daughter, Lindsey, is married to Jake. They have two kids, Zoey and Oliver, and live in Greenville, NC. Lindsey is two years older than Carly and Kevin. Lindsey is a known worrywart.

Will Brodie is the oldest son of Dennis Brodie, Doug and Dave’s middle brother. He lives in Chapel Hill, NC. Tanner Brodie is Dennis’s third of four sons; Tyler is Dennis’s youngest. Tanner lives in Jacksonville, NC; Tyler and his husband Blair live in Washington DC. Dennis and his wife Toni live in McLean, VA; Dennis is a rear admiral in the Navy and works at the Pentagon.

Sarge, who is grandfather to Jamie, Kevin, Carly, Lindsey, and Will, lives in an assisted living facility in Jacksonville, NC. Doug and Linda also live in Jacksonville. “Grampa’s house” is the original family home in Beaufort, SC.

Carly is a fan of Double Stuf Oreos. Who isn’t?

 

The conversation is as seen from Jamie’s phone, so his texts are on the right. Carly’s are in blue; Kevin’s are in red.

I apologize for the spacing, but couldn’t figure out how to fix it.

September 11, 2018

5:45 pm EDT

Wilmington, NC

Hey guys we’re loading up to evacuate. Going to 

Mom and dad’s tonight then caravan to Uncle

Denny’s tomorrow. Pick up Lindsey and crew

on the way.

Be safe. Is Grampa going with you?

Yeah, other old folks are going to a shelter and

he said hell no. LOL

Is Will going?

Nah. He’s safe in Chapel Hill.

Tanner is gonna ride it out at mom and dad’s.

Why??

Mom isn’t comfortable leaving house empty. He

offered. Better him than me haha. They have

hurricane shutters that roll down and sandbags.

He should be safe on second floor.

You’re taking the animals, right?

 

Duh of course. Wouldn’t leave them behind.

Mike is saying come on. Gotta go.

Let us know when you get to Doug’s.

Will do.

September 11, 2018

7:38 pm EDT

Jacksonville, NC

Hey guys we are at dad’s safe and sound.

Dad is over at the ALF helping Grampa pack.

He doesn’t have much stuff does he?

No but lots of photos and shit.

He needs to scan those.

I keep telling him. Gonna just have to do it

for him I guess. When the power comes back

LOL

What time are you leaving tomorrow?

As early as we can get Grampa. Probly like

6 am.

Is Lindsey freaking?

OMG yes. She’s trying to take her whole house.

Jake keeps telling her no. She keeps texting me

to be on her side but I keep telling her no too.

How are Zoey and Oliver?

Oh they’re fine. Big adventure. Helping Jake carry

stuff to their second floor.

Is anybody checking on Grampa’s house?

Dad and Mike went down on the weekend and

boarded the windows and moved everything that

they could upstairs. There are no trees that can

hit it and it’s lived through 125 years so fingers

crossed.

Text when you’re on the road tomorrow.

OMG it’ll be 3 am in CA!

So we’ll see it when we wake up.

LOL OK.

September 12, 2018

6:18 am EDT

Jacksonville, NC

We’re outta here. Grampa is grumbling

about having to leave but not too bad.

September 12, 2018

7:47 am EDT

Greenville, NC

OMFG I’MMA KILL MY SISTER

Y?

She isn’t READY. WTF has she been doing

all night?? And y r u awake??

Going to pool early to swim. WTF has she

been doing?

NO IDEA. Jake and Dad are both yelling at

her now.

Greaaat. She’s not riding with you is she?

They’re in their own cars like us.

Small mercies.

LOL exactly. Will you help me hide her body?

HAHAHAHA. Later. Drive safely.

September 12, 2018

9:13 am EDT

Roanoke Rapids, NC

Is Lindsey still alive?

Haha no thanks to me. Jake is ready to

strangle her now. She wanted to turn around

and get something she forgot.

FFS.

Srsly.

You are NOT texting and driving, right?

Duh, no, Mr. Popo. We’re at a Hardees.

I am eating a deeelicious fried chicken biscuit.

Bet you don’t have ‘em there.

<biscuit.jpg>

Nope. Just tofu.

Tofu biscuits? Gack. You are pullin’ my leg.

LOL yes I am.

Don’t y’all have to go to work?

Eventually. Is Grampa OK?

He’s fine. Telling hurricane stories. Oops,

we’re loading up. Later.

September 12, 2018

12:48 pm EDT

Hampden-Sydney, VA

OMFG this is taking FOREVERRRRR

Taking back roads?

Uh huh. Interstates are jammed.

Then why are you bitchin’?

‘Cause I can. Shut up.

Temper temper.

You shut up too.

Ha ha. Where are you?

IDK, somewhere west of Richmond.

On US 15 until we get to Manassas.

I’m just following Daddy.

Hardees again?

No Wendy’s this time. The trouble with

staying off interstates. There aren’t any

Cracker Barrels out here.

<frosty.jpg>

Got your hurricane snacks?

No Toni said she’d have stuff. Bet I still have

to go to the store when we get there tho.

But we brought all the booze so Tanner

wouldn’t drink it. It’ll keep me and Jake from killing

Lindsey.

Toni doesn’t strike me as a Double Stuf gal.

Noooooo. Y’all at work?

Yup

Yup

Well then y r u talking to me? GET TO WORK

Yes ma’am.

September 12, 2018

5:17 pm EDT

McLean, VA

PRAISE JESUS WE MADE IT

No casualties?

Not yet. It’s early tho.

September 12, 2018

6:23 pm EDT

McLean, VA

Where are you and what are you doing?

Mike and I are on the way to the store.

Toni didn’t have Double Stufs. Or near

enough margarita mix.

Where’d you park all the cars?

Mom and Dad’s both in the garage.

The rest in the driveway. Uncle Denny’s

parking on the street ‘cause he has to

go to work still.

Pentagon isn’t closing up huh?

Guess not. ‘Murica.

September 12, 2018

7:44 pm EDT

McLean, VA

EATIN’ MY DOUBLE STUFS

DRINKIN’ MY MARGARITAAAA

You’re gonna eat all your snacks before

Florence even gets there.

Double Stufs and margarita? Ptui.

Nawwww this is GOOD SHIT.

<doublestuf.jpg>

Hey Jamie, Carly’s drunk.

YOU SHUT YOUR FACE KEVIN BRODIE

Truth hurts.

Wish you guys were here. Be more fun with

you.

Never been to a hurricane party.

You have to visit in the fall sometime and

GET EVACUATED WITH US

Hm, maybe not.

Don’t know what you’re missing. Oh,

Grampa says hi. He’s helping me eat the

Double Stufs

<grampa.jpg>

Should he be eating those?

He’s 93. He can eat what he wants.

EXACTLY. You’re the murder popo, don’t

be the food popo too.

I find that term offensive.

5-1-5-0 SOMEBODY CALL THE POPO

Shut up.

LOLOL what is that from?

It’s a Dierks Bentley song.

Who?

OMG HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW HIM

HE IS A GOD

So he’s a country singer.

He kinda looks like you, Jamie.

<dierksbentley.jpg>

Huh.

Still getting mistaken for you know who?

Yeah. It’d be nice to get mistaken for

someone who’s actually alive.

😦  That is so sad.

Tell me about it.

Now I’m crying.

You are gonna be hunnnnggg over.

Nah. I’m GOOD at this. I have SKILLZ>

Uh huh

Srsly. Never misunderestimate the talents of a

Southern woman.

LOL

LOL

And I’m a Brodie. We HOLD our liquor.

Fuck yeah.

September 13, 2018

9:46 am EDT

McLean, VA

Hey you guys awake?

Yeah, how’s your head?

It’s FINE. I told you. I shouldn’ta eaten

all those Double Stufs tho.

You’re gonna gain ten pounds this week.

Nah. Going for a run soon as Mike is ready.

Then gonna find a dog park. The boys need

their exercise too.

<dogs.jpg>

Awww. Wish we could introduce your

pups and Ammo.

<ammo.jpg>

He is soooo gorgeous. Sweet baby.

He’s a Marine. Don’t let him hear you

say Sweet Baby.

Marines need cuddles too.

Where’s the cat?

<cat.jpg>

LOL. King of the jungle.

“Peel me a grape, human.”

Right? Little bastard. Oops, Mike’s ready.

Later.

September 13, 2018

11:32 am EDT

McLean, VA

<dogpark1.jpg>

<dogpark2.jpg>

<dogpark3.jpg>

Looks like fun.

You bet. Wear ‘em out so they’ll sleep.

Just like kids.

How are Zoey and Oliver doing?

They’re with us. Having a blast.

<zoeyoliver.jpg>

Wear ‘em out so they’ll sleep.

Exactly. Tho if they don’t it is Not. My.

Problem. 😀 Gotta go. Restock on

DoubleStufs.

Good grief.

LOL

September 13, 2018

3:14 pm EDT

McLean, VA

OMG this freakin’ hurricane is taking

FOREVER to get here.

What’s the rush?

Every day it lingers is another day I have

to spend cooped up with Lindsey. Who has

not moved from the Weather Channel since

we got here.

<lindsey.jpg>

She had better not be giving

ME that finger.

Naw that’s meant for me. LOL

Is she crushing on Jim Cantore?

Nooooooo

I think Reynolds Wolf is hotter.

RIGHT? Where’s Kevin?

Probably at lunch. Or a meeting.

Do cops have meetings?

Just like normal people.

If I was the person leading the meeting

I’d be afraid someone would shoot me.

LOL

LOL

September 13, 2018

6:38 pm EDT

McLean, VA

<dinner.jpg>

Hi everyone

Hi everyone

Hi back

Mom has been cooking all day

Takes her mind off Flo

Get Lindsey to help her.

HAHA she’s too busy watching to see if

Cantore is standing in her front yard.

Greenville isn’t even in the danger zone.

EXACTLY

September 14, 2018

10:20 am EDT

McLean, VA

FINALLY. Getting down to BUSINESS.

Is it making landfall?

Yup. At Wrightsville Beach.

How far from Wilmington?

Not far enough. But our house should be OK.

We put on a metal roof last year and cut

down all the trees. Our idiot neighbor

stayed so he will let us know.

RIP trees

I know. Not ALL the trees, just the ones that

could hit the house. And we are elevated

so should be OK.

Has Lindsey calmed down?

Not yet. Still convinced it’s gonna make a

sudden swing to the north. I swear.

Never knew she was so sorry in an

emergency. You’d never know she was

raised by a Marine.

Or that she was a Brodie?

YUP.

What about Doug’s house?

Dunno. Flooding would have to be super

bad for them to flood but it’s gonna be

super bad so ??????

Tanner will hold back the waves.

LOL. Just hope he doesn’t do anything

STUPID.

I hear ya. Have you seen Ty?

Not yet, he and Blair are coming for

dinner tonight.

Oh God.

LOL yup.

September 15, 2018

9:32 am EDT

McLean, VA

OMFG THEY’VE CLOSED I-95

AND I-40

Whaaaaa??? Both of ‘em?

Shit.

Exactly. I”ll NEVER get home.

Is there water over the road?

Must be.

Did you hear from your neighbor or

Tanner?

Yeah. Both said power was off but houses

are OK so far.

Is Lindsey finally convinced that their

house will be OK?

Yeah. But now we’re all glued to the TV.

Get outta there for a while. Go

back to the dog park. Something.

Watch some Dierks Bentley videos.

You remembered his name!!

Duh I’m a popo. I remember shit.

LOL

One week later…

September 22, 2018

7:32 am EDT

McLean, VA

PRAISE JESUS WE’RE GETTING

OUTTA HERE

Three hours later

Yes! Are the roads open?

Another hour later

Not entirely. I-95 still closed. Gotta

take the scenic route.

<scenic route.jpg>

It’s scenic, all right. Not.

Where the hell are you?

Charlotte. Jake and I are going to

Grampa’s to make sure it’s OK and

de-board the windows. Might have to stay

there a couple of days.

Be careful

Ditto

ALWAYS.

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4 Comments

Filed under Short Stories, Writing

An interview with Dave Brodie

Historic Forestville, Minnesota - White Picket Fence

Tony Webster from Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

By the time I turn onto the curiously named Sleeping Indian Road, it feels as if I’m in the country, although I know that there are housing developments within shouting distance on either side of me. The road winds up slightly through farmed land. About a mile later, I turn left into the driveway. White rail fencing lines the drive until I reach the house. I park beside the silver Toyota Tundra truck that’s already there; when I get out, I spot Val’s Percheron horses in the distance. They spare me a glance then return to their grazing.

Dave is on the front porch, waiting. “Hi there. Any trouble finding the place?”

“None. It’s gorgeous up here.”

“It is. I’m still blown away by the view every time I step out the door.” He opens the screen door and waves me into the house. “Come on, I’ll play tour guide.”

I smile as I walk through the rooms that I know so well. “Do you know how I decided that this was your house?”

“No…?”

“I found it on Trulia. It was for sale, and from the description it looked just right. Three blocks from the beach, fenced yard, three bedrooms.”

He laughs. “You chose well. It’s been nearly perfect for us. The boys were kinda cramped growing up in the same room, but it forced them to compromise.”

I stop at the door to the back yard and run my fingers over the height chart. At the bottom, written in black marker: Jeff, age 1. At the top: Kevin, age 18. I study the marks and ages. “Kevin was taller than Jeff and Jamie, at the same ages, from the beginning.”

“He was. He grew three inches between his sophomore and junior years of high school.” Dave laughs. “We couldn’t keep him fed.”

“I bet.”

“You don’t have kids, do you?”

“No, but I’m close to my nephew. He’s two years younger than Jamie. Not to change the subject suddenly, but I noticed that you got a new vehicle.”

“Oh, yeah, that truck is a couple of years old now. The Volvo lived far longer than I expected, but I finally had to have it humanely destroyed.”

“Ha! A pickup is better suited for farm life, anyway.”

“Yes. And I almost never have more than one person with me. Either Claudia or one of Jeff’s kids.”

“How are the kids?”

“Oh, they’re great. Colin will stop by after school. He comes over here to study before dinner.”

“I guess it’s noisier at his house.”

He chuckles. “You could say that. Gabe’s a pistol, just like his mom. When they’re together they’re either talking or arguing, but they’re never quiet.”

“Is Gabe still thinking of taking over the farm?”

“Yes, but he’d have to have some other source of income, and he hasn’t quite wrapped his head around that yet.”

“A teacher’s schedule might work with farming.”

“True. Or maybe he’ll marry someone with a well-paying job. When Gabe puts his mind to something, he’s typically successful. I reckon he’ll figure this out, too. How about some iced tea? We’ll sit on the back porch.”

“Is it sweet tea?”

He grins. “Would I make anything else?”

 

The back porch is shaded, with four rocking chairs of the type sold at Cracker Barrel stores. Not that there are Cracker Barrels in California. I say, “You must have questions for me.”

“Not too many.” He gazes out across the field at the horses. “Based on what the boys have told me about their chats with you, I see what you’re after.”

“Do you? Because sometimes I’m not sure myself.”

He gets tickled at that. “Have you made continuity mistakes?”

“Oh, yeah. I’m going back to fix them eventually. I don’t think any of them are with the immediate family, though…although I admit, I can’t remember.”

He cuts his eyes sideways at me. “I feel bad for Pete.”

“I know. Readers have said, ‘You need to be nicer to Pete.’ It’s true. I’m working on that, I promise. But he still has a few lingering issues.”

“Yeah.” Dave frowns into the distance. “I try to talk to him about himself, but he’s hesitant to open up. I know it’s because I’m Jamie’s dad, but I also know that his own dad isn’t gonna help out in that department. But the little probing I’ve done…he’s not done dealing with his past. Whatever it is, it’s coming.”

“Yes.” I leave it at that.

He tips a smile in my direction. “I do have one question. You sure are familiar with the Carolinas. You must have connections.”

“I do. My entire family lives there, west of Charlotte. I lived there for a couple of years, and also lived in Charleston for a few months. I mean, Charleston, South Carolina. I lived in Charleston, West Virginia for years.”

“Now, that is someplace I’ve never been.”

“Did you ever visit Huntington? I lived there, too.”

“No. Julie always said we’d go after the kids were grown.”

“If it’s any consolation, you’re not missing a whole lot. And I say that as someone who loves that town.”

He laughs. “Have you been to Beaufort?”

He’s referring to Beaufort, South Carolina, where he grew up. “Yes, as a teenager. I don’t

16_Beaufort_SC_6398_(12367436195)

Beaufort, SC. bobistraveling [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

remember much about it, except that it felt like the perfect small Southern coastal town. Kinda quaint.”

“That’s about right. I have to tell you, your description of eastern North Carolina, when Pete went to meet Doug and Linda for the first time, made me chuckle for days. It is the ugliest part of the state.”

“Right? I mean, where my dad lives is no great shakes, but at least you can see the mountains and it doesn’t smell like hogs.”

He muses for a moment. “I’ve spent my entire life living on one ocean or the other. Can’t imagine living inland.”

“It’s different. I prefer the coast. So… tell me about Jamie as a kid.”

He smiles, remembering. “He was never any trouble from the day he was born. He was a happy baby. Even his terrible twos weren’t all that terrible. I never had to worry about him in school, I never had to worry about his friends… he was just a terrific kid.”

“In spite of him being gay?”

“Yes. He announced to me – us – that he was gay when he was five, you know.”

“I know. Did you believe him?”

“I believed that he believed it. Did I know that his wanting to have a boyfriend wasn’t just a ‘girls are icky’ phase? Not entirely. But as he got older, I’d ask him about it. Was anyone at school calling other kids names? Was anyone at school being picked on? What was going on in his head as a result? If he was gay, I wanted to make sure that he didn’t grow up thinking less of himself because of the attitudes of idiot teachers or kids or parents he might come in contact with.”

“There must have been kids in his school that were bullied.”

“Yes. And eventually, Jamie felt comfortable enough with himself that he could stand up to the bullies. Of course, with Kevin lurking over his shoulder, no one was gonna tangle with Jamie.”

“Sarge’s reaction was a blow to him.”

“Yes.” Dave shakes his head. “I’d been afraid of that. But it still hurt him badly.”

“How did you come to be so understanding? I mean, you’re a few years older than me, you grew up in the South, Sarge was your dad…”

“It was my years in the Marines. There were guys who’d clearly joined the Marines because they were trying to prove something to someone. A father, usually. And if that was the reason they’d joined, they were miserable. As you can imagine, Marine boot camp is not for the less than totally committed. I felt terrible for them, but I was just their weapons instructor. There wasn’t a lot I could do for them individually.” He grins. “Of course, we also had an equal number of badasses who’d wanted to be a Marine since birth, and just happened to be gay. Those guys – and women – were awesome.”

I say, “Robbie Harrison.”

“Oh, God, poor Robbie. He’s the perfect example. His parents were terrible, especially his father. Robbie drank himself out of the Naval Academy… he was messed up for years.”

“He’s getting a happy ending, more or less.”

“True. No thanks to his family.”

I smile at him. “You are the best dad ever.”

He grins. “If so, it’s thanks to you.”

“Did you have any idea before Jamie’s announcement? Or was that a complete surprise to you?”

He considers that. “It was a surprise, but it also explained something. Neither Jeff nor Kevin, as kids, ever cared what they wore. Jamie was picky about his clothes from the time he was old enough to choose.”

“No kidding? How so?”

“He only wanted to wear certain colors. Green, yellow, brown, tan. He hated blue and red. You said you have a nephew of a similar age; you must have some idea how hard it was, 35 years ago, to find boys’ clothes that weren’t blue or red.”

I laugh. “Oh, yes. Fortunately my nephew looked good in both red and blue. I’d have thought that Jamie would have worn mostly hand-me-downs.”

Dave shakes his head. “By the time a piece of clothing had been worn by both Jeff and Kevin, it was pretty much shot. Kevin, in particular, was always tearing the knees out of his jeans or grinding in grass stains that wouldn’t come out. And Jeff was a tree climber, so he did his share of damage. Jamie wore a few leftovers, mostly pajamas, but his school clothes were almost always new.”

“So when you took him school shopping…”

“That’s the thing. I had to take him school shopping. Jeff and Kevin would wear whatever I brought home to them. Jamie had to have a say.”

I chuckle. “What did Sarge think about that?”

“He grumbled a bit about letting a five-year-old choose his own clothes. My response was, ‘Do you seriously want to pick this battle?’ He conceded the point.”

“Jamie notices clothes. The first thing he comments on, when he meets someone, is what they’re wearing. I thought that was a habit he’d picked up from Scott…maybe not, huh?”

“Oh, no.” He laughs. “He’d fuss at Ali if she wore a shirt and pants that didn’t match. He’d see some random man in a restaurant or on the street and whisper to me, ‘Daddy, that tie is ugly.’ And he’d be right.”

“But he never wanted to design anything, did he?”

“Nah. He never demonstrated any interest in that. I don’t know if you’re aware of this or not, but all of my sons are lousy artists. Jamie couldn’t have sketched a shirt and tie even if he did want to. Which he didn’t.”

I sip my sweet tea, which is perfect. Cracker Barrel quality, if not better. “I think my readers know Jeff less well than they do Jamie or Kevin. What do you want to tell them about Jeff?”

Dave smiles fondly. “Jeff always preferred animals and books to people. Except for the family, he still does. He was a voracious reader, growing up. He learned to read earlier than either of the other boys, well before he started school. He doesn’t have as much time to read now, obviously, but he carves out an afternoon every weekend, usually on Sunday, when he comes over here and sits in that chair you’re in and reads. Val instructs the boys not to bother him. It’s his only private time.”

“He doesn’t spend it all reading professional journals and such, does he?”

“Nope. Usually nonfiction bestsellers. He’s one of the public library’s top customers.”

“I suppose he always wanted to be a veterinarian.”

“From day one. We had dogs, from before Jeff was born, so we were always taking them to the vet. Jeff was fascinated. As soon as he was old enough, our vet gave him a job cleaning kennels and comforting the animals that were recovering from surgery. We figured that would either make or break his career path. Turns out to have made it.”

“Does he have friends?”

“He and Val socialize with his partners in the business and their families. Fortunately, they’re all close friends in and out of work. He has a few high school friends still in town, but doesn’t see them much.”

“Tell me about Val’s family.”

He laughs. “They’re crazy. In a good way. Val has four brothers, and they and their wives are all just like Val in personality. And Colin and Gabe have eleven first cousins on Val’s

Harvesting_(Green_Gulch_farm)

photographer: Joshua Wickerham * photographer_url: [http://www.flickr.com/photos/kafka4prez] * flickr_url: [http://www.flickr.com/photos/kafka4prez/43530193/]

side. When they’re all in the same house, it’s chaos.”

“I bet. And they’re all farmers?”

“Yes. Val’s parents have 100 acres up near Tulare. All of the sons farm on it, 100% organic. All of Val’s sisters-in-law have outside jobs for health insurance purposes.”

“It sounds like a terrific life.”

“It’s damn hard work. But they enjoy it. And, so far, they’re still able to make a living from it.”

“Fingers crossed that they can keep it up.”

“No kidding.”

I drain my tea and decline Dave’s offer of a refill. “What do you think is ahead for your boys? And what are your hopes for them?”

“My hopes are the same as they’ve always been. That they’ll be happy and loved.” He gazes into the distance, thinking. “I expect that Jeff will keep working until he can’t anymore. He and Val aren’t going anywhere. They may end up living in this house, depending on what Gabe does.”

“What about Kevin?”

He smiles fondly. “My just right boy. Now that he has Kristen, I don’t worry about him as much.”

“Are you pleased that he’s leaving police work?”

“From the standpoint of his own safety, yes. But I’m not sure the social work gig will last.”

“Why not?”

“At West LA, he and Jon work…what? Six to eight murders a year? Now he’s going to be dealing with a different grieving family almost every single day. There were two hundred and eighty-two homicides in Los Angeles last year, and that’s a low number for them. Kevin’s a tough customer, but he’s not armor-plated. All that grief…” Dave rubs his chin. “I suspect that eventually Kevin will realize that he has $38 million in the bank, and it’s not necessary to continue to surround himself with suffering.”

“What do you think he’ll do?”

“Well, he’s going to teach at the LAPD Academy. He’ll enjoy that. And he still owes Mel quite a bit of paralegal work.”

“True. Do you think he and Kristen will stay in LA?”

“Yes. They’ll probably sell the condo and live at the house, but they’ll stay.”

“What about Jamie?”

Dave tips a smile at me. “Where do you think Jamie will end up?”

I laugh. “Not fair! To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. Although, I promise, he and Pete will always be together.”

Pete and Jamie's lot

Pete and Jamie’s lot in Alamogordo (photo by me)

“I’m glad to hear that. But I have some concerns about this move to Alamogordo.”

“So does Jamie.”

“Yes.” Dave sighs. “I suspect that if they hadn’t built that fantastic house, Jamie would consider changing his mind. But they did build it, and they’re determined to live in it.”

“What’s your primary worry?”

He chooses his words carefully. “From listening to Pete, I think that he believes that once he and Steve are living in the same town, that they’ll grow much closer. That their relationship will mirror Jamie and Kevin’s. And… I have serious doubts about that.”

“Why?”

“You know, Val and I got to know Steve well during those three years that he was helping out with Colin’s homeschooling. He’s brilliant, and he was a wonderful teacher for Colin. But he is intensely focused on his work, and he’s not terribly interested in anything else.”

“Or anyone else?”

“Oh, he’s personable enough. I’m sure he can maneuver through social occasions on a surface level without raising any flags. But underneath, he’s always thinking about physics. He and Colin clicked so well because Colin understood him and wanted to learn more.”

I say, “Pete has no interest in physics.”

“No. And another issue…the main reason that Kevin and Jamie are so tight is that they’re so much alike. Not just in interests, but in personality. Pete and Steve share a few interests, but they are nothing alike in personality.” Dave sighs deeply. “I’m concerned that this will be just another disappointment for Pete.”

“Hm. It would help Pete to realize this before he and Jamie move.”

Dave gives me a look. “Yes. If you could arrange that…”

I smile. “I’ll see what I can do.”

“Thank you.” He points toward Jeff and Val’s house. “Here comes Colin.”

“Ah, good. I’ll say hello to him, then I’d better get moving.”

We stand as Colin approaches. I say, “Wow, he’s tall.”

“He’s a half inch taller than Jeff, and still growing.”

Colin steps onto the porch and lowers his backpack. I hold out my hand. “Hi, Colin. I’m Meg.”

He shakes my hand firmly. “Hi, Ms. Perry. It’s nice to meet you.”

“You, too. Grampa Dave and I were just reminiscing about when Steve Ferguson taught you science.”

“Oh, yeah. That was fun.”

“Are you still heading for CalTech?”

“No, ma’am.” Colin sits on the porch rail, dangling his feet. “Uncle Steve was kinda upset when I told him, I think.”

“You can’t worry about what other people want you to do. You have to travel your own path.”

“That’s what Dad said.”

“Smart man. So what’s your plan now?”

“Environmental engineering. The program at USC has a concentration in water management.” Colin spreads his hands. “Space is awesome, but most of us are stuck here on Earth, and there are serious problems to solve. The fires last year really made me think about the drought… The more I learn about environmental engineering, the more I want to do it.”

“That sounds amazing. Good for you.”

He grins shyly. “Thanks. I’m super excited about it.”

I grin back. “I can tell.”

We chat for a while longer, then Colin starts his homework. Dave walks me to the car. “Thanks for coming.”

“Thank you for having me. I’m so glad I finally had the chance to meet you. My readers love you.”

He laughs. “Do they?”

“Some of them wish they’d had you as a dad.”

“Well.” He doesn’t quite know how to respond to that. “I wish I could oblige. Anyway. Thank you for my family. I’m a lucky guy.”

“You’re welcome.” I shake his hand. “I’ll see you again.”

“I hope so.”

He waves as I drive away.

 

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