Tuesday, March 8, 2016

#173: Derek and Kelly's Bad "Date"

Kelly was very much looking forward to her pre-Valentine's Day "date" with her husband.

As was the case with most holidays -- for some reason that Kelly didn't really understand -- Derek would have to leave at dawn on Valentine's Day, and wouldn't be back home till the following morning.  So, "Valentine's Eve" was the only time they had available for a night out (while Regina and Alice were babysitting their little girl, Kelsey).

Since the couple -- despite Derek's high income -- somehow never seemed to have any money, Kelly had accepted the generosity of Ophelia (who had a business deal with Zoe's Boutique about borrowing clothes) to get a very pretty dress just for that evening.

The dress was a little too "body-conscious" for Kelly's shy and conservative taste, but she wanted above all to renew her relationship with her husband.

'You can do this, girl,' she said to herself confidently, repeating what Ophelia had said to her that morning.

Her sky-high heels, which she had bought for cheap online, were already killing her feet.

"Wow -- you look GREAT!" Derek said, entering the bedroom and kissing his wife.

 Kelly was thrilled at her husband's compliment.

"You know what?" he murmured in her ear.  "We should get you some really short dresses, so you can show off those fabulous legs you've got.  And it wouldn't hurt to show off your cleavage a bit more -- I could make all my fellow astronauts SOOOOO jealous of me."

Kelly, taken aback, didn't really know what to say.

"Oh, and can you at least take down your hair for tonight?" Derek asked.  " 'Cause I'm not really into this 'bun thing' you've constantly got going."


Kelly followed Derek up the stairs at the Solar Flare Lounge.

Javier Sykes, off work for the rest of the night, and keeping his fellow bartender, Nina Caliente, company while she worked her own shift, noticed the couple walking behind him.

 'Harumph', he said under his breath.

"What?" Nina asked, as she made him another drink.

 "I'll tell you later," Javier said.  "For now, I'm trying to overhear as much as I can from those two."


"It seems so odd, having Declan away from our home for a whole weekend," Kelly said.

"Well I for one couldn't be happier about it," Derek declared.  "I'm so tired of that little shit I can't tell you."

"But Derek!" Kelly said, shocked.  "He's your son!"

"Yeah, sure, but it's not like I planned him," he protested.  "Or wanted him.  Or even suspected that he would exist."

"But he's HERE, Derek," Kelly argued, gently.  "And he's YOURS.  And it's obvious that your ex isn't emotionally willing to take care of him."

"You and I are young marrieds!" he grumbled.  "Don't you miss the 'newlywed' time we were supposed to have together?  Until Lana just dumped that damned kid at our doorstep?"

Derek went on.  "He never finishes his frickin' homework, he picks fights with other kids at school, he's uncooperative at home."

"He's a CHILD, Derek," Kelly protested.  "He knows only what he's learned from his environment-- and he hasn't been taught very well, at least until he came into our home."


"That's the guy I told you about," Javier told Nina.

 "WHICH 'guy I told you about' ?" Nina asked.

"The big-shot astronaut.  Who's conveniently away from home all the time.  And who gets more tail than your average rap star.

"Which is a crime, really," Javier went on, "because his wife is so sweet, and beautiful, and kind."

"How do you know all this?" Nina asked.  "I mean -- are you sure???"

"I know because we're all bartenders, girl," Javier said.  "And bartenders all TALK."

Friday, March 4, 2016

#172: The Freakin' Camping Trip, Part 3

Saturday at dawn, Dude escorted all the kids to the bathroom so they could take showers.  Given Declan's usual mood, Dude expected to hear complaining from him.

Instead, to Dude's surprise, the complaints came from his own son, D3.

"That shower was DISGUSTING!" D3 declared.

"Don't be a baby," Declan told him.  "I've stayed in WAY worse places with my mother."


Bill made Breakfast Scramble for everyone.

Declan DID seem to be in a better mood this morning.

After cleaning up, everyone headed to Granite Falls Forest, with enthusiastic Scout in the lead.

They reached the Ranger Station,

and went inside.

"There's a nice, clean bathroom in here," Bill advised D3, "if you want to use it before we go fishing."

D3 was very relieved.

"Cool!" Erin said, looking at a Leaf Frog in a terrarium.

"You like frogs?" Scout asked.

"Oh, sure," Erin answered.  "Frogs, bugs, all sorts of stuff."

"So," Scout suggested, "how about we go look for frogs and bugs instead of fishing?"

"I'm in!" Erin exclaimed.


Once everyone had used the clean bathroom, the girls headed out to collect bugs and frogs,

Dude and his son went to fish at the nearby waterfall,

while Bill took Declan to a different fishing spot.

"Come on, Declan, let's go this way," Bill said.

The two dads had decided that Declan might do better with individual attention, and away from D3, who was a very good fisherman and tended to brag when he landed something exciting (such as a "Gummie Guppie").

Bill taught Declan how to bait a hook, and how to cast.

And, because Bill wasn't much of a talker, he didn't invade Declan's space.

So the two got along just fine.


"So, how come you like bugs and frogs and stuff?" Scout asked Erin, as they walked through the forest, looking for critters to collect.

"Oh, my dad likes stuff like that," Erin answered.  "So, whenever he's home, we do nature-type stuff."

"Oh, so ... why didn't your dad come camping with us?" Scout asked.

"My dad's in the military," Erin explained.  "Right now, he's in Iraq.  So, he's not home that much."


"So, how well do you know Declan?" Scout asked Erin, as they were hunting frogs.

"Pretty well, I guess," Erin answered.  "As least as well as ANYONE knows him-- he's not really an 'open book', as my mom would say.

"I met him about a year ago in school," Erin went on, "and we started hanging out, and for the longest time I thought Mrs. Johnson was his mom -- 'cause she was showing up at bake sales, and PTA meetings, and stuff like that.

"Then one day I was at the Swim Club and Declan was sitting at a picnic table with another blonde lady and he called me over.  And it turned out SHE was his mom -- Detective Lana.  You know he hates her, right?"

"Yeah," Scout said, "but I don't think that's fair.  From what I've overheard from my parents, it was his dad, Mr. Johnson, who abandoned him.  So why should he be mad at his mom, who was left alone with a baby and no husband and no money?"

"My mom's a psychologist," Erin explained, "and she's says this is fairly common.  Kids -- especially boys -- tend to romanticize the 'absent father'.  They're stuck with a mom who can't afford a nice place to live, or to buy them the latest sneakers, or whatever, and they imagine that the 'absent father' lives some glamorous life, and that the mom just wasn't good enough to keep him."

"But that's not fair," Scout repeated.

"No, it's NOT 'fair'," Erin agreed.  "But it IS reality.  You and I are lucky -- we have parents who love each other, and who are committed to staying together."

"But Declan hasn't been as lucky."