“Honesty is the fastest way to prevent a mistake from turning into a failure.”– James Altucher
Brindleton Bay Ragdoll Refurb
Unnerved, Rhys shifted, his face showing that he was not happy about the current conversation with his father and stepmother, while he played with the handle of his coffee mug.
“Rhys, honey, your daddy and I ARE happy for you, congratulations again, I am glad Sandrine recognizes what a wonderful young man you are … we just think 18 is a bit young for an engagement. You had one girlfriend before Sandy, you have barely experienced life, barely traveled …” Rhys’ stepmom Lana carefully attempted to get through to him.
“Mom, I get it. I KNOW we are young. What you and dad don’t get is that it’s an engagement, not a sentence to get married within the next 30 days or else I get shot by firing squad. Maybe we’ll wait till 20, 21, 22, … or 30. Nobody says that you have a small window of time from when the ring goes on your finger till you have to have said the vows.”
“Rhys, son, look, generally your mother and I agree with what you just said, and no doubt about it, Sandy is a very nice girl, but … the Auditores are a very different type of people than we are. We’re just not 100% convinced you fit in there, let alone that you could be happy among that kind of crowd, once the new wears off.”
“Oh great! Now my own dad thinks I am too much of a country bumpkin to marry my rich girlfriend. Fiancée. Whatever.”
“No. I think you deserve a queen, kid, but that doesn’t mean it would make you happy. We are simple people, Rhys, you like simple things, the Auditore’s lifestyle is so different from ours, from what you are used to and what you are comfortable with, and their rules are very rigid. What I want for you, same goes for your mother too, is to be happy. Genuinely happy. While compromise is part of any working relationship, it is doomed when one partner is the one having to compromise too much at the cost of them being happy. We don’t want that for you, but think that is what may end up happening.” Eric told his son.
Rhys inhaled deeply, working up his snarky and snotty retort when someone banged on the front door. Hard and intensely. Saved by the bell. Or bangs.
“I’ll check it out. There better be a fire!” Eric grumbled.
“Dad – I got this. This is my home. I can answer my own door. Give me a little credit, will ya?”
Eric halted and gestured to his son to go ahead.
Opening the door produced a middle-aged man Rhys had never seen before.
“Yeah?” he asked impatiently and not very polite.
“I am sorry. I was not expecting a young man to answer. Isn’t this ..” he proceeded to list the address, which caused Rhys’ father Eric to join the discussion.
“It is. How can we help you, Sir?” he said in his firm, but polite police detective voice.
“Looking for my daughter, I heard she lives at this address. Her name is Samantha. I am Paul Mellencamp.”
“Holy shit!” Rhys burst out, surprised and shocked.
“Rhys, language! I am sorry, Mr. Mellencamp, please come in. This is my son, Rhys, he and your daughter are roommates here. This is my wife Lana, she and I are only visiting. Is Sam home, Rhys?” Eric took over.
“Yeah, upstairs. I’ll get her.” Rhys said, then ran up the stairs.
What followed were intense moments of incredibly uncomfortable dirty laundry of the Mellencamp family being aired at high volume, as Sam rushed downstairs immediately, but not to hug her dad, who immediately yelled unflattering things at his daughter, she yelled at him to ‘get out’. Eric, Lana and Rhys ended up with front row seats to hearing and seeing some of Sam’s reasons to live on her own at 18. Finally, Lana nudged Eric, who then stepped in front of Sam, and firmly asked Sam’s father to leave, while Sam was fighting to keep her composure.
“Who the hell are YOU to try and kick me out of my daughter’s home?!” Mellencamp roared at Eric, who remained stoically calm.
“The father of the other resident here, like I told you, neither of the two want you here, which should be your cue to leave. In case that wasn’t clear, please go or I will help you outside.”
Mellencamp shot some unflattering insults at Eric, to which he produced his badge.
“That’s Detective Eric Cameron to you, my badge number is RIGHT there, and you are very welcome to complain if you think that would do any good, but I am well within my rights, while you may end up cited for insulting an officer of the law and for trespassing. And for your information, my lovely wife right there is an attorney at law.”
“Oh, isn’t that idyllic! Fine, you deal with her then, I didn’t raise a whore living in this Sodom & Gomorrah after she was the mistress of a married man! If you think you need to ‘save’ my retched daughter, have fun. My wife and I tried. A more ungrateful child has never been heard of! A disgrace, that’s what she is!” Mellencamp shouted.
He then pulled open the door, rushed out, leaving the door wide open, which Eric was quick to slam shut loud enough for Mellencamp to acknowledge with a one finger salute at Eric as he was getting into his car.
“Wonderful parenting, setting an example, one middle finger at a time. Unbelievable!” Eric grumbled after watching it through the window.
“Sorry about him. I never thought he’d even try to find me. That was embarrassing. Yikes.”
“What a dick! Nothing for you to be embarrassed about, he should be!” Rhys exclaimed.
“RHYS, language! But you’re not wrong. Some people … horrible!” Lana said. One could theorize that Mellencamp’s behavior may have reminded her of her first marriage to Meaghan’s father, the late Ted Bagley wasn’t known for his kind and calm behavior either, while Lana never talked much about it, the few hints she had dropped were enough to know it had never been harmonious.
“I wish grandma would have been here.” chuckled Rhys, his dad chiming in.
“Not me, I’d be cleaning up a crime scene, whatever would be left of Mellencamp and then have to cover up a murder – committed by my own mother.” laughed Eric.
“So worth it! Go gramma!” laughed Rhys.
“Yeah. Well, now you all know why I got out as soon as I legally could. I literally ran away the night of my 18th birthday. My father’s impossible and my mom does nothing about any of it. I got involved with an older man, at the office where I interned during summers to get some office experience in for after graduation, knowing my father would never pay for college. Well, I found out the man was married. He kept telling me lies, I was naive enough to believe them. Until I found another girls’ underwear in his city apartment bed. Wasn’t his wife’s. Then it finally clicked, and I came to my senses. Now I am all alone, no parents, no boyfriend, just me, all alone in the world, … ” Sam said, and it was obvious she wasn’t fishing for pity. It was genuine.
“You got me!” said Rhys, partially hurt by her not even listing him.
“No, I don’t, Rhys. Sandy’s got you. All this just really weird now, and will probably end soon anyway, I just don’t think Sandy is cool with her fiancé living with another girl. I mean, that is pretty awkward, no matter how you twist it, especially considering her conservative background. Just you wait, she’ll want you to move. Or me. Which I can’t since I can’t afford a piece of gum until payday.”
“Sandy wouldn’t do that. Guys, really, you have a totally wrong impression of everything, and it’s just an engagement, a promise. You all need to keep your panties on about this. Nothing will change. Not a big deal.”
“Rhys, it IS a big deal. YOU are the one who’s not seeing the big picture, everyone else is.” said Sam, Rhys saw his stepmother nod in agreement with her.
“Sam, you KNOW why I accepted her proposal. What was I supposed to do?” Rhys pleaded with Sam.
“Well, not THAT. That’s the exact opposite you went to meet her for and the exact opposite of what I would consider the right thing to do. Seriously Rhys, what the hell?!” Sam retorted.
“Sam, none of this was her fault. And I meant to do it, but then … I couldn’t … I just .. couldn’t.” Rhys told her.
“Guys, what’s with the code-talk? Do you have that in plain English for the boomers present?! Involve us. Please.” Eric had enough of the cryptic exchange before him.
Rhys stared at Sam, looking ready to cry, but didn’t. Rhys inhaled.
“I was gonna break up with Sandy the afternoon she proposed.”
“What? Why? That’s quite a stretch here!” Lana wondered, unable to mask her shock.
Rhys turned his face back to Sam, without ever taking his eyes off her – he said.
“Because Sam and I got drunk after we both had a rough day and may have slept together. We don’t know that we did, but we also don’t know that we didn’t, because we were so blackout trashed, but several things point to that we did it. There, welcome to the behind-the-curtains of our shitshow here.” Sam’s eyes got wide. Oh no he didn’t.
After three people nearly simultaneously sucking in air for surprise you could hear a pin drop, as everyone’s chins dropped at the revelation.