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WARNING: SOME OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE
Attempting something new.
This post and those that follow are the draft works to a creative writing — mine.
It is a piece of fiction, although there will be spatterings of truth within it. Spatterings taken from my life and those of friends and loved ones.
It has been many years since I wrote ANYTHING of this nature; long before I married (first time 1990) and back then it was a detailed narrative told in rhyming couplets — a la Shakespeare, but written in modern English.
This time, there will be little poetry, if any.
I have had this family of characters in my mind for too long; their lives playing out like an extension to those of my family. It is time their journey is documented and they move on:
LETTERS TO LEXIE —
He sat in front of his late father’s old Remington typewriter, his mind as blank as the paper occupied in it.
Where do I start? he asked himself, as he rubbed his shorn head for luck. I haven’t done this stupid shit since college! I must be nuts!
Scrambling out of the chair, Patrick Orr Clarke circled the room twice, stopping at the far side to look at three photographs on the running board.
With closed eyes, he could clearly see their smiling faces in the first frame: his three little girls clinging to their Mickey-Mouse ears, sitting between him and their mother, Alexis, in a Spinning Teacup at Disneyland.
The girls were five years old, and he had just gotten honorably discharged from the Marines. He wanted to make up for all the milestones he had missed with something special. This was it!
The next captured memory was twelve years later: his three beautiful ladies gathered around him. He in his uniform, they in their graduation gowns. All of them with scholarships to their first-choice schools in medicine, law and engineering!
Then it happened, his heart began screaming!
WHY?!? Why her?!?
Tears fell as the painful darkness within him grew … again.
He glanced at a silver oval frame, right of “Their Disney Moment.” It was taken six years earlier.
“Why didn’t you tell me, Lexie?” he cried quietly to her face in the picture.
He was decked out in his dress uniform with a beautifully, beaming Alexis clinging to him, her arms around his neck, resplendent in a backless, beaded wedding dress! Over their heads, his groomsmen had drawn their swords and created The Bridal Arch that the Civilian world always found impressive, chivalrous and utterly romantic.
“Why couldn’t you tell me?” he softly repeated to the portrait. “We could tell each other anything. Remember?”
With a deep, calming breath, his mind raced through three years of memories. Good and bad. First Day of Kindergarten. First Christmas recital. First Tree Climb …
Patrick chuckled remembering that one. Rayne was like a monkey, climbing higher and faster than her sisters. She was a natural — until it was time to come down.
One misplaced foot and she fell from grace. She hit the ground hard, like a stone, and everyone heard the double SNAP!
Fear overwhelmed every parent in the park, quickly followed by Alexis screaming as she ran to the limp heap that was her daughter!
“Both arms are broken just above the wrist,” the doctor had said, pointing out the breaks on the X-rays upon the lighted panel. “And she has a concussion …”
But, it wasn’t a total loss. At school, all the boys fought over who would carry her books — except home. None of them dared carry her books home.
Patrick smiled, as his mind shuffled through more pictures, a year later: when Ayrie went missing on a school trip to the State Legislature.
“Uh, Dad?” a concerned voice asked from the hallway.
Wiping his eyes and nose with his shirt sleeve, he turned and locked eyes with his eldest daughter, Allison.
She was the spitting image of his late wife: the same bright blue eyes, the flip in her hair, and how she stood with her arms crossed waiting impatiently for his answer. It was so tempting to call her Lexie.
“You still cry looking at that old Disney picture? she asked. “We all miss her, Dad. You know that, don’t you?”
“Just remembering how young, you girls were,” he lied. “I feel old, right now.”
“You ARE old now, Dad,” Allison smiled, crossing the room to hug her father. “But I still love you.”
At five foot seven, Allison was able to bury her head easily into Patrick’s massive shoulder, as he lightly rested his beard-stubbled chin atop her head.
“I’m gonna miss you,” she confessed. He stiffened. She looked up at him, “You forgot, didn’t you?”
“Of course not,” he chimed as they slightly parted. “I know you’ve got to get back to law sch–“
“Med school, Dad! Rayne’s at law school!”
“Med school, med school! Yes, yes, can’t afford to piss off my daughter the doctor! Med school!”
“And Ayrie’s the one studying Engineering at Annapolis.”
Patrick needed to change the topic quickly, he really didn’t need Allison ticked off with him too.
“Speaking of your sisters, why did Ayrie have to go Navy?” he asked, as he searched his pockets for his keys. “When there are plenty of other schools, closer to home, with more to offer?”
Widening his search, he looked around the room and found his key-ring in the small candy dish filled with hard green mints, resting on the high table with the telephone.
Allison smirked, “Because she didn’t want you interfering with her studies on campus.”
Her father shot back a wounded look of surprise. “I didn’t do that, your mother did!”
“You BOTH did!” she feigned annoyance. “Stop denying it!”
“Have you heard from either of your sisters?”
“No, not for a while,” Allison replied, as her mind continued. Brace yourself, Sweetheart, here it comes!
“Why did I bother buying one of these stupid things,” he pulled out and waved his out-dated cell, “and learned how to Facebook? None of you call or write to me!”
Allison buried her face in her hands to conceal her embarrassment and laughter. He’s so cute when he tries to use technology.
“You want to use IM or Twitter, Dad. My sisters and I don’t use Facebook anymore.”
“I’m … I’m using a twit?” Patrick said confused. This massive man-mountain was conquered by a small piece of electronics.
Exasperated, Allison rolled her eyes at the ceiling. “This is Twitter, Dad,” she said, finally deciding to show him her account.
“Who is ‘The Baby Maker,'” Patrick asked with some concern, after reading through a sample of the people on her followers list.
“He’s a friend at school, Dad, just a friend.”
“He writes WTF a lot,” he continued. “What does that mean?”
Allison gave a deep sigh of relief when her cell began to vibrate and chime.
“Sorry, Dad,” she said, retrieving her phone and looking at the number. “It’s my roommate with more personal issues.”
Patrick nodded and pointed at the door, gesturing with his keys about starting the car.
As he stepped out the door with her bags, Allison nodded as she answered her cell.
“Hey, Meaghan, did ya burn the place down yet?”
A shocked Patrick looked at her wide-eyed as the door closed behind him.
“Huh?” the other voice replied. “Allie, it’s me, Rayne. Your sister, remember?”
Allison spun on her heels so her back faced the living room window.
“I had to come up with something quick,” she stammered. “Dad was still in the room! What did you want me to say: Hi, Rayne! Dad would love to talk with you, so … Here he is?”
“No! Not that!” the law student answered in a squeaky, panicking voice. “I can’t talk to him yet.”
“Oh, Rayne, not again,” Allison scolded. “I can’t save you from your credit cards. You’ll have to ask Dad for the money, this time.”
“It’s not that, Allie,” her sister started crying. “I’m pregnant!”
“Oh. My. God!” came the shocked reply. “Are you sure?”
“I bought an EPT, last week and this week; both were positive.”
“All that proves is that you can aim and hit the right part of the stick!” chimed Allison. “Do you know approximately how far along you are?”
Rayne paused, “About two months, give or take a week.”
Allison dropped her cellphone. Her head snapped over her right shoulder and saw her father waving from the car. She smiled and waved back.
“Allie? Allie, are you there? Hello!”
Allison grabbed her phone, apologizing profusely.
“Sweetie, I gotta go! Dad’s waiting with the car running to take me to the airport. I’ll call you back in a bit, okay?”
“Don’t tell Dad, Allie,” the tiny voice pleaded through the handheld. “Please, don’t tell Dad!”
“I promise. I love you, Rayne, but if I don’t go, now, Dad’s gonna get curious.”
After exchanging their goodbyes, Allison collected her purse and jacket, then rushed out the door before it locked behind her.
Once inside with her seat-belt buckled, Patrick slipped the vehicle into gear and turned it Northerly.
“Everything okay with Meaghan?” he asked.
“What?” Allison looked confused. “Oh! Meaghan’s having boyfriend problems, again. Nothing out of the ordinary for her.”
“Oh, okay,” her father replied, as he returned his concentration to the road.
The remaining time sped by quickly as Allison tried to explain the grief she was having with a couple of her courses.
“Doctor Garon is so … so -” she stammered.
“So-so?” Patrick teased with a smirk, “Or just a so and so?”
“Oh, no, Dad, he’s just so … anal! If your answer is not worded verbatim from the text, he says you’re wrong!”
“Ohh,” Patrick realized. “He’s one of THOSE — a published proctologist!”
Allison smiled wide and giggled. Patrick was now content; he never liked it when any of his girls were upset, it bothered him.
At the airport, he slowly pulled up to one of the automated machines that dispensed him a parking voucher. Tossing the paper scrap on the dash, he then drove in circles looking for a spot large enough to fit an Army tank.
As his patience began thinning, a suitable space was found and Patrick sped his black Volvo XC60 into it, slamming on the brakes in order to not fly through the rail and float on air for whatever amount of time it would take to fall from four stories up.
As they got out of the car, Allison quickly critiqued her father’s parking skills. The car sat perched over the yellow line separating two parking stalls! She grinned and shook her head, as she pulled her carry-on bag from the back seat before closing the door while Patrick got her two larger bags from the trunk.
“I hope I didn’t pick up your driving skills,” she quipped.
“And what’s wrong with my driving?”
“It’s not your driving, Dad, it’s how you park! You would not be very popular at school.”
“Really?” her father smirked again. “How many freshmen drive a Volvo?”
“You’d be surprised,” Allie answered.
“Well, I could be really popular, and come visit you” Patrick continued, “And park horizontally. That should take up …” He paused to count.
“You wouldn’t!” she answered with a look of horror. “I don’t know you!”
“… Three spaces!”
“Excuse me, Mister,” Allison asked lightly touching Patrick’s coat sleeve. “Have you seen my father? He wondered off again and I need to get him home — his Day Pass expired.”
They shared a look and smiled.
“The car isn’t a year old yet,” Patrick pleaded in defense. “You wouldn’t want to see it scratched now, would you?”
“Yes, Dad. No, Dad,” Allison replied, rolling her eyes as she turned towards the lifts. “Are you coming with me, or do you want to say good-bye here?”
“I can help you get your bags checked,” was his reply.
“Good.” she smiled taking his hand in hers on their walk to the elevators.
Once inside the airport, it was a bustling commotion, resembling late Christmas shoppers in any major department store.
“I can’t say that I’ve missed this,” Patrick commented. “It certainly hasn’t changed much.”
Allison stopped to look at her father. “This is a good day,” she said.
Looking for an automated check-in, Allison started plugging in all her data. “I think all the window seats will be taken.”
“I’ll be right back,” Patrick replied, as Allie concentrated on the small screen in front of her.
A few minutes later, he came back to watch his little girl curse the check-in device as well as give it smack.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“It won’t give me a seating on the flight!” she started to cry, curling into his outstretched arms. “How will I get back to school?”
Patrick held her while she regained her composure, which didn’t take very long, because —
Patrick hummed a reply as she parted from him.
“Where are my bags?” she asked as she looked around them.
“I checked them in for you.” he smiled. “And the nice lady upgraded your seat to First Class too.”
“Aw, Dad, you didn’t. You told her I was a doctor?”
“I only said that you were Attending at John Hopkins,” he answered passing her her boarding slip. “The title doctor may have slipped out, I don’t remember.”
Accepting the paper, Allison shook her head again. “What am I gonna do with you?”
“Love me,” Patrick said beaming, “it’s a window seat.”
Laughing out loud, Allison hugged her father tight. “I can do that.” But their moment of bonding was interrupted by a faint buzzing.
“What’s that?” Patrick inquired.
“My cell,” Allie answered, digging into her pocket and looking at the name. “It’s Meaghan again! I told her I’d call her back.”
Patrick checked his watch and compared it to the overhead screens of departures and arrivals.
“Your flight will be boarding soon. I should get you to Security, so you can get to your gate.”
Allison moped. “And what will you do while I’m gone?”
“I don’t know,” her father replied. “Break into the liquor cabinet and tie one on. Strip naked and run around the house screaming with my arms waving overhead like Kermit the Frog …”
She laughed again. “You wouldn’t do that.”
“I did it once,” Patrick confessed. “When your mother told me she was pregnant with you and your sisters.”
“Mom never mentioned it.”
“I made her promise not to. It was pitch black and I almost made it out of the bedroom. I stubbed two toes on her dresser – broke one!”
Allison winced. She tried to suppress her laughter, but her tears gave her away.
“Go ahead,” her father permitted. “It’s funny now, but it was painful then. Try an explain to the Captain why you are limping during training exercises?”
Allie shook her head. “I wouldn’t know what to say without embarrassing you.”
“Same here,” Patrick continued. ” I told him that your mother was pregnant. He congratulated me, then he asked ‘A boy or a girl.’ I said ‘Girls.’ He congratulated me again.”
“He thought twins, didn’t he?” Allie asked, giggling.
“Yeah, and when I told him ‘Triplets,’ he fainted!”
Patrick then kissed Allie goodbye and watched her join the cue just beyond a couple of burly security officers.
“I love you, Dad!” she called out to him.
“I love you too, Sweetheart,” he answered. “Good luck in school, and tell Andrew I said Hello.”
Allison’s eyes widened and her face went white. “Andrew?”
Patrick chuckled, “Isn’t that his name? The young man who proposed to you?”
Travellers started to smile near her, as Allie stared in shock at her father.
“Yes,” she answered lingering on the word, very confused. “Which one of my sisters told you?”
Shaking his head, he admitted, “You did, Sweetheart. The first night you were here.”
“No, I didn’t!” his daughter retorted, “I was too out of it from the jet lag, I –“
“Talked in your sleep, “her father finished. “I’ve known for –“
“Two weeks!” said Allison, completing her dad’s confession.
He nodded. “So, is Meaghan really Meaghan, or is she Andrew?”
She smiled, “No, she’s really having boy issues, Dad.”
“Fair enough,” Patrick said satisfied. “Bring him with you for Thanksgiving. I’d like to meet this new hero that you’ve found to replace me.”
Allison left the cue with tears welling up in her eyes. She dropped her carry-on, purse and jacket to free her arms to wrap them around her father’s neck.
“I could never replace you, Daddy,” she cried, “You’re my Prince Valiant!”
Patrick beamed and held his eldest daughter tight as she buried her face in his shoulder again. Her crying bothered him, but at the same time reassured him that he had not lost his place.
“You’re going to miss your flight,” he whispered. “Although I wish you could stay, Dr. Garon and the others probably won’t let you do your studies from home.”
Sniffling, she smiled nervously. “No, they wouldn’t.”
Patrick kissed her wet cheek and returned a smile. “If you are certain that he’s the one, I approve, but don’t tell him I said that.”
She laughed, “Your approval depends on meeting him.”
Patrick nodded, again. “That’s one of my rights as a father.”
Allison strangle-hugged her father again then pulled away quickly to re-join the cue.
The elderly couple, that she had originally stood on front of, smiled and gestured that she return. Allie thanked them as her father looked on.
“Congratulations, Dearie!” the old woman said, as her husband handed Allison a plastic tray to empty her pockets into.
“I don’t see a ring,” she chided. “You haven’t answered him yet?”
“Oh, no, ma’am,” Allison confessed, pulling a white-gold herringbone necklace from under her collar blouse. “It doesn’t fit properly.”
“Oh, George!” the old lady exclaimed, waving to get her man’s attention. “Come and see, it’s beautiful!”
George finished dropping the last of their items on the conveyor belt before joining the ladies.
Leaning over his wife, Esther, George spied the ring and smiled. “It pales in comparison to its beautiful new owner.”
Allie blushed. “Thank you, Sir.”
“Excuse me,” a female voice interjected, before instructing Allison to enter the screening tube. “You’re next, ma’am.” Allie apologized.
Inside the tube, with her arms over her head, she felt like she was being arrested, as the scanners washed over her.
It’s a real shame, she thought to herself, that we’ve come to this. Trust is gone. It’s a much darker place now.
Stepping out of the tube, Allison turned quickly and looked for her father. Yes! He was still there!
She flashed a wide smile, blew him a kiss and waved frantically. He stood at attention, returned the smile and bowed like he was greeting The Queen.
Then he was gone.
As Allie collected her things from the far end of the X-ray conveyor, George and Esther caught up with her again.
“He’s very proud of you, you know,” the woman said.
“I know,” Allison replied, “but I’m prouder of him.”
George whispered, “Esther, have you asked what service he is in?”
Allie chuckled at their bantering. “He was a Marine, Sir. Discharged when my sisters and I were very little. We were about five or six. I’m sorry, I don’t remember very much.”
“I thought he was a jarhead,” George smirked.
“George served in World War II, Dearie,” his wife said proudly looking up at him. “He was in the Army helping liberate the Dutch.”
She smiled as Esther continued. “He wore his uniform when we married. He has been my Emerald Knight ever since.”
“My Dad wore his uniform too when he married Mom.” Allie added. “Mom told him that if he didn’t wear it, she wouldn’t marry him!”
“The things we do to make our ladies happy,” George quipped. Esther turned to him and lightly slapped his chest as she looked at him over her glasses.
“Safe flight, Dear,” they both wished her as they parted company. Allison returned the greeting then headed towards the higher numbered gates.
The bustling travellers made navigating the concourse slow and tedious.
Allie hated slow.
It was almost ten minutes before she located her boarding gate and joined the cue in front of it.
It was another couple minutes before a blonde stewardess greeted her from the blue counter with the airline brand etched behind upon a massive sheet of plexiglass.
“Hello, may I help you?” she asked.
Allison smiled and turned over the boarding pass her father had given her.
The blonde watched her screen as she passed the barcode pass under her small scanner. After a single, curt beep, the screen filled with information. The stewardess smiled.
“Would you like your complimentary copy of today’s Trib,” she asked with a blank stare. “Or The Baltimore Sun, Dr. Clarke?”
Allison looked at the woman dumbfounded. “Pardon me,” she asked.
“Or would you like a different newspaper? Perhaps The Wall Street Journal?” the hyper blonde finished with wide eyes, a matching grin and a slight tilt of her head.
“Oh, no thank you!” Allie replied when she finally comprehended the odd conversation. “I’m fine.”
“I think,” she added quietly to herself, as her cellphone began vibrating again.
“Very well,” the stewardess began again. “We will be boarding in a few minutes. Thank you for travelling with us, today, Dr. Clarke!”
Sitting down across from the large glass windows overlooking the tarmac, Allie yanked her phone from her pocket, glanced at the number and grimaced.
“Hello?” she asked inquisitively.
A strange rustling answered her.
“Hello?” she asked again. “Is someone there or is this a butt call?”
“This is annoying,” she continued, “I am hanging up now.”
As she took the phone away from her ear, an odd noise came from it. Quickly, she pulled it back.
A low, familiar growl trailed off. She laughed.
“Andrew!” she exclaimed. “I’ve missed you!”
“Hello?” she panicked. “Andrew?”
“I’ve missed you too, Allie,” he answered.
“Did you change your number?” she asked. “I almost hung up on you!”
“No,” he said, “My cell fell out of my pocket in the Student Union parking lot, last week and Jack drove over it.”
“Oh, no!” Allie reacted. “So whose phone are you using?”
“Jack’s,” he laughed. “It’s okay, I can afford a new one next week. Mum is sending me the money. She’s going nutty not being able to call me.”
They both laughed and caught up on what they had done over the ten days they were apart.
“So, did you tell your Dad about us yet?” he asked.
“He already knew about us,” Allison answered.
“WHAT?!?” Andrew panicked, “Which one of your sisters told him?!?”
“No, no, don’t blame them,” she said calmly. “Dad listened to me talk in my sleep.”
“Oh,” Andrew chuckled, “That.”
“What?” Allison piqued. “What do you mean, ‘Oh. That’? ”
“Before we moved in together,” he started, “I had some late night conversations with you with some very interesting results!”
Allison stared wide-eyed at her phone. “What. Did. I. Say. Andrew?”
Andrew laughed, “Let’s just say that you convinced me to move in with you.”
She fumed. “You’re not going to tell me, are you?”
“Asshole,” Allie cursed.
Andrew laughed, again. He knew his girl. Allie hated being vulnerable, uninformed, and treated like a defenseless little girl.
“Your favourite colour is green,” Andrew began. “You like orchids and Italian food. You hate doing laundry … You didn’t really give me any blackmail material to work with.”
“Yet,” he added.
Allie smirked and prepared to respond when a male voice came over the speakers announcing the boarding of her flight. The volume was loud enough that it could be heard through the cellphone.
“Is that your flight?” Andrew asked quickly. “How long before you’re here?”
She laughed and told him that she should be there in about three hours.
“I’ll be there waiting for you with bells on,” he announced proudly.
“Oh, I’m sure you will,” Allison doubted. “I’ll keep a listen for you. Gotta go, Lover, bye!”
She dropped her cell into her purse and quickly joined the moving bustle into the corridor leading to the hatch of the 747 outside the windows.