A NOTE BEFORE READING: I began sharing weekly excerpts from my novel, The Somebody Who, on June 26, 2010. If you want to begin at the beginning, go here. If you want to read the book in its entirety, head over to Amazon and purchase a copy. (There’s a button on the left that will take you there).
“Wow,” Joy says quietly, her leather jacket slung over her arm as she gazes with admiration at her Dad’s pen-and-ink drawings, “they spared no expense on these mattes and frames. These look fantastic, don’t they?”
“They really do,” Evelyn says, admiring her husband in a new light. “Ooh, and look!” she adds, noticing the bid card. “Some people have already bid!”
Joy leans in to read the names. “Hmm… ‘Ed Thomas’—a man with two first names—Six hundred dollars.”
“Six hundred dollars?” Evelyn asks, incredulously.
“That’s the minimum,” Joy states, “…and… let’s see here…” Joy squints to read the second entry. “Weighing in at six-fifty is: Yay! Gus Michaels!”
“Aw, Gus. So he’s here!” Evelyn says, excitedly, looking over her shoulder to the packed room. “I hope he wins it.”
“Well, he’s got some competition. Mister Two-First- Names returned with a seven hundred dollar bid.”
“Mmm,” says Evelyn, a tinge of sadness in her utterance.
“I know,” Joy offers then, tracking her mother’s thoughts. “It’d be nice if Dad could hear about this and understand it. But, you’ll tell him when you get home, and maybe he will know what you’re talking about.”
“Only he knows what he knows,” Evelyn replies.
As Evelyn and Joy stroll away from the bar with their second round of merlots, something causes Evelyn to slow her pace and look to her left. And immediately, not six feet away, is the smiling face of Gus Michaels.
“Oh my God!” Evelyn cries, and she and Gus walk into a warm embrace.
“Evelyn!” Gus says, pulling out of their embrace and stepping back to absorb her presence fully. “You look unbelievably beautiful and the same. Is there some portrait in your attic that looks like a woman who’s aged?”
“Oh, Gus,” Evelyn says, rolling her eyes as she takes in the welcome compliment.
“Evelyn,” Gus says then, “this is my partner, Ben Franklin.”
“Ben Franklin?” Evelyn confirms.
“I’m worth at least a hundred dollars,” Ben replies, a comment he probably makes several times a week.
“Nice to meet you,” Evelyn says, shaking his hand. “And my date—” Evelyn says, turning around and wondering where Joy went, “is… somewhere.”
“Davy?” Gus asks.
“Oh, no, I couldn’t bring him. He just can’t go out anymore.”
“I’m so sorry, Ev.”
“Well,” Evelyn says, scoping the room again for Joy and then returning her attention to Gus, “It is what it is.”
“I just can’t imagine Davy not being Davy, you know?”
“I know,” Evelyn responds, “but that’s what happens…Are you familiar with—? I mean, have you known anyone?”
“No one in my family, fortunately, but Ben’s aunt—” Gus answers.
“Oh, Ben, I’m so sorry. Were you close to her?”
“Very much so. She pretty much accepted me before my parents did. You know, for being gay and all.”
Gay and all, Evelyn thinks, already enjoying Ben’s personality and believing that for Ben, gay is all.
“So you were quite close?” Evelyn asks Ben.
“Is she still alive?”
“She’s in a facility in Connecticut now. It just got to be too much for my uncle.”
“Is it better for him now?”
“Not really,” Ben replies. “He’ll just never get his old life back, you know? Cecilia was the social butterfly. She really brought their lives to life. Uncle Gary just never really had those tools, you know?”
“I do,” says Evelyn, understanding Ben’s comments more than she cares to share at the moment.
“Here I am,” says Joy, having returned to her mother’s side and knowing that Evelyn was probably looking for her.
“Your date?” asks Gus. “If this is one of your daughters, I’m going to start feeling incredibly old.”
“You’re old, Gus,” Evelyn replies, smiling. “And this is Joy. You remember Joy?"
“I remember a darling little girl with a free spirit and a great sense of humor.”
“Then you do remember me!” Joy says, shaking his hand. “It’s good to see you, Gus. I remember you, too!”
“And, Joy,” Gus says, “this is my partner, Ben.”
“I was once a darling little girl,” Ben says, playfully.
“I’m surprised we were never penpals,” Joy responds, shaking Ben’s hand.
“Never too late to start, honey,” Ben says. “And, by the way, I love your dress! Is that vintage?”
“Well, I guess now we all get to feel old,” Joy replies. “Because it is vintage and I am the original owner!”
“Well, Missie,” says Ben, truly impressed, “you have really taken good care of that classy number.”
“The compliments go to Mom,” Joy states, nodding in Evelyn’s direction. “She took care of it.”
“Good job, Mom!” Ben says, holding up his empty hand, as if there were a drink in it and he were proposing a toast.
Then, looking at his partner, Ben says, “Gus? What’s wrong with this picture?”
“To the bar!” Gus says, in answer to Ben’s query.
“We’ll see you at the table!” Evelyn calls out to Gus and Ben as they make their way through the crowded room.
“Maybe we should sign in,” she then says to Joy. “We don’t even know what table I’m talking about yet!”
* * *
to be continued on May 7th.
In the meantime, if you want to read a short piece about the back story, click here.