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Many, many thanks to Mriceman1964 for his editing and reality-checking of me at every step of the way, and equal thanks to Firefly for reading, correcting and critiquing as and when she saw fit, as well as her exquisite command of the English language.
If you like this, please rate it, if you didn’t please tell me why; if you want to be nice, please do so, if you want to be nasty, be my guest, I’ll only delete it, because I can, this is the power I have…
For those who are interested, this chapter finishes-off Robbie and Casey’s story, but there is a companion piece in the pipeline, a coda, if you will, that will draw a line under the various stories alluded to that didn’t actually have any place in the main narrative.
Part 3: Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin: Daniel 5:25
Casey stretched luxuriously, revelling in the relaxed feeling as she did so, watching Robbie eye her appreciatively. His expression changed from a tiny smile to a grin as he stood up and pulled her close for a kiss and a tight hug.
“Casey” said Sarah, “Robbie’s right, you know, you should visit your parents, if only to say good bye. No-one here will think any the less of you for it; in fact, it’s the right thing to do. If you really do mean to end that part of your life, that’s the way to do it. I don’t mean to tell you what to do, heaven forbid, but I do want you to do what’s right.”
Casey smiled wanly at her. “You’re right, Mrs. Anderson, and you shouldn’t have to remind me of that; I’m sorry, of course I’ll go and see them, and let them know what’s happened, and say my goodbyes; I owe them that, at least.”
Robbie patted her flank encouragingly. “That’s my girl!” he smiled, and Casey smiled back her eyes dancing over his. “That’s right; I am your girl, now and always, Robert Anderson!”
Neither one of them noticed the late-model graphite Buick Regal prowling past and disappearing into the distance, or the figure inside, head turning to stare at them as it purred past the house.
“Don’t forget, our flights are at 11 o’clock tomorrow, so why don’t you do it now and get it over with? We don’t really have time in the morning, and they won’t be there together anyway; isn’t Tuesday morning your mother’s Book Club or something?” asked Robbie, and Casey looked curiously at him.
“How on earth did you remember that, baby?” she asked, and Robbie grinned. “I have perfect recall, plus, she always used to kick me out on Tuesdays if I was home in case I embarrassed her in front of her friends!”
Casey grinned, but she couldn’t quite suppress a sudden wash of guilt as she remembered being sent to tell Robbie on those days to clear off, mom had guests and she didn’t want him around. The expression on his face right now told her he knew exactly what was going through her mind, but he pulled her close and gently tweaked her nose
“Hey, all forgotten, remember? It’s all new from now on, OK, Case? This is our new beginning; all that old stuff, we’ve brushed it away, let it stay gone!”
Casey pulled his head down and kissed him, wondering at the ease with which he’d dismissed all the hurt of the past, and feeling him smile against her lips then kiss her back quickly and tug her back to the lounger.
“I need to spend an hour with Joey at seven o’clock, then we’re going out to dinner,” he said, “So you’ve got a couple of hours to do your thing. Joey and I’ll come with you, just in case Steve tries to get funny with you or anything, sound good to you?”
Casey looked at him in wonder.
“You’d really come back to that place? After all we did to you there?”
Robbie grinned. “Yeah, ‘course, anything for you, babe!”
Robbie, Joey, and Casey had just finished working out what she was going to tell her parents when suddenly there was no need. A screech of tires and the slam of car doors brought their attention to the front of the house, to see Steve and Angie stalking up the sidewalk toward the house, Steve with a furious expression on his face.
“Casey, get the hell down here right now!” bawled Steve as he saw her with her arm around Robbie and reddened when she looked calmly back at him, and slowly shook her head.
“God damn it, Casey, get your ass down here now, that’s an order!” he screamed, walking up to the porch. Robbie stepped forward and pushed Casey behind him.
“That’s far enough, Steve!” he said, and Steve stopped dead, hearing the resolve and implied threat in his voice. His anger made him reckless, though, and he couldn’t keep quiet.
“So you came back, you spineless little bastard, you finally managed to slink back into town. Where you been, dummy? Or have you been hiding here with these losers all this time?”
Joey stirred at that but Robbie motioned him back.
“Talk’s cheap, Steve, and that’s all you’ve got. You said your piece, Casey’s staying with me, and you’re not wanted here. Go home.”
Steve swelled up. “She’s your sister, you fucking pervert! Are you şişli escort bayan so starved for some ass you got to tap your sister? It makes me want to puke! I swear to God, I’ll kill you for this, you fucking degenerate!”
Robbie slowly looked him up and down, and said again, so soft it was barely audible; “I asked you once, Steve, now I’m telling you; go away, you’re done here, and we’re busy.”
Steve stared, and then flushed. He’d been dismissed, by his own son, and that rankled. He switched his gaze to Casey.
“Are you gonna stand there and tell me you’d rather live with that…that degenerate piece of shit than come home and live like real people? He’s a fucking loser, is that what you want, a life with a loser?”
Casey spoke up. “He’s not a loser, and I don’t care what you say, or think; I’m staying with Robbie. I love him, and he’s what I need, not you, never again. You should go now, Dad, really.”
Steve stood, silently mouthing, and Angie decided to say something. “Casey, this is wrong, what you’re doing is wrong, and sick; he’s your brother, for God’s sake!”
Casey looked back steadily, and once again, slowly shook her head.
“I don’t care. He loves me, and he makes me happy, and I want him. We’re going away again, and you can wish us well, or hate me forever, but I’m still going with him. I know you’ve never cared about Robbie, both of you gave him nothing, not your love, not your time, nothing his entire life, and you made me just like you. But not anymore. I’ve changed, and now you have a chance to change too, dad. I know why you’re here, but I’m with Robbie now, and you’ll never be able to do that to me again, I won’t let you. I love you, mom, and I guess I even love you too, dad, but I love Robbie more. Look at him, Mom, he’s a wonderful man, he’s your son, why won’t you just accept him? I had to lose him to find him, but he’s here now, you won’t have to look for him, he came back. Try, Mom, for once in your life, just…try and love your son.”
Casey looked at Robbie, then walked down to take her mother’s hands in hers. “Try it mom, try to see Robbie, for once in his life; he’s your son, not some nobody, try and be his mom, and let him know it’s OK. Can you do that? For me?”
Angie looked at her, then at Robbie, wavering, impressed by her daughter’s eloquence, and her obvious feelings for Robbie, but her feeling that this was wrong still swelled strong within her.
As she wavered, Steve decided things for her by grabbing Casey’s arm to yank her away from Angie and shake her like a terrier with a rat.
Suddenly, Robbie was there, to pull Steve’s hand off Casey and effortlessly shove him staggering backwards, his arms flailing to keep his balance. Robbie turned to ask Casey if she was OK, and Steve closed in again, his fist cocked and intent to hurt Robbie writ large on his face.
“Dad, no!” screamed Casey, and Steve’s hand lashed out, backhanding her, and sending her flying. Robbie spun, there was a meaty, butcher-shop sound, and Steve was flying across the sidewalk to collide heavily with the car and slide limply to the ground. Joey came running down to pick up a stunned Casey, and hand her back to Robbie, who gently inspected the reddening mark on her cheekbone where Steve had struck her.
Joey walked over to Steve, who was stirring groggily, blood pouring from his nose and split lip, and nudged him with his foot.
“Get up, you piece of shit,” he said almost conversationally, “you hit my sister. That means I get to tear you a new one, so get on your feet, Daddy!”
Angie’s head snapped round to stare at Joey. “What did you say?” she demanded, and Joey grinned mirthlessly, dislike showing on his handsome face and curling his lip.
“I called him Daddy. He knows why, he knows who I am, he always has, isn’t that right, Daddy?”
Steve looked groggily at Angie. “He’s lying, how can you listen to this…shit from this fucking nobody? They’re a pack of liars and fucking losers, all of them. Just get in the car!”
Angie stayed where she was, trying to process what had just happened. She looked at Joey again.
“Is it true, really, you’re his…son?”
Joey cocked an eye at her. “Why do you think mom had me look out for Robbie all his life? Because he was my kid brother, and none of you ow-life’s ever did a damn thing for him! And before you ask, I’m not gonna start calling him daddy or asking him for his love and be all vying for his attention; no, when this lying little sack of shit stands up, I’m gonna beat the crap out of him for attacking my family and threatening my brother. Nobody comes to my mom’s house and tries to fuck with my family, you hear me… daddy?”
Angie sat down on the porch stair, her head spinning, and Sarah, who’d been a silent witness while this whole episode unfolded around her, suddenly felt a rush of sympathy for her, but not enough that she felt compelled to go down there and offer her some comfort. Angie Dolan had been a willing participant escort mecidiyeköy in this, had been one of the prime causes of it way back; she would have to see it through by herself.
“Joey, leave him, please!” begged Casey, and Joey grinned at her. “Sure thing Sis, for you, anything!” He ambled back to the porch, slapping Robbie on the arm as he passed.
“Teach him some manners, bro!” he grinned, before rejoining Karen and Sarah on the porch.
Steve staggered to his feet and stood to glare at Robbie,
“This isn’t over, you fucking sick little bastard, you and that little whore are fucking doomed, you hear me? Angie, get in the car, we’re leaving!”
Angie stayed where she was.
“When were you going to tell me, Steve? When were you going to tell me about you and Sarah, about your…son, all of it? It must have happened just before we got married; you were playing even then? I always forgave your…indiscretions, but you had a child, right here in town, and you hid it from me…!”
Steve’s face worked as he tried to say too many things at once, and he came to a decision. Lurching over to Angie, he grabbed her by her upper arm and hauled her upright, ignoring her cry of pain. Suddenly Robbie was there. He clamped his hand on Steve’s forearm with crushing force, making Steve cry out in pain himself, and forcing him to let go of Angie.
Steve swung his free hand at Robbie, and Robbie leaned away, caught his arm and twisted it, making Steve cry out again.
“I promised you once I’d break your arm if you ever tried to hit me again. Back off now, Steve, I’m warning you!” stated Robbie, his face calm, no a trace of anger, just possibly, a tinge of regret that nothing had changed in his father, nothing at all.
Robbie marched his father back to his car, and gave him a push that sent him sprawling against it again.
“Go away, Steve, you’re done here, please don’t make me do this!” he stated, watching the intent rise again in Steve’s eyes. Robbie sighed; did this man never learn?
Steve lurched upright and stared at Robbie.
“I’m still your father, you little prick, and you’ll do as I tell you. Lay off your sister, or I’ll kill you!” he gritted, his face flushing as Robbie shook his head.
“Get lost, Steve, go away and stay away, we’re done here. You’re not my father, and you’ll get hurt if you keep attacking me. Just go.” stated Robbie, and the anger flared up large in Steve, overriding any common sense he might have still possessed.
With an inarticulate bellow, he swung a punch with everything he had, all his anger and frustration packed inside it, and once again, as so long ago, his fist smacked into Robbie’s outstretched hand. Robbie closed his hand and twisted sharply, there was a sickening crackling noise and Steve screamed as his wrist snapped and his arm fractured at the elbow.
Robbie turned to Angie.
“Get him out of here, please; he’s going to need help to get to the Emergency Room, and no-one else here feels like taking him.”
Angie looked at Casey, who was holding Joey’s arm throughout this, noting the vivid red mark under her left eye, right on her cheekbone, where Steve had backhanded her, and also saw the look of undisguised loathing on her face when she looked at her father; loathing, and…relief?
In a sudden flash of insight, unusual for her, Angie saw how Steven Dolan had so comprehensively alienated all his children, including the one he’d never acknowledged or admitted to. She looked over at Steve, slumped back against his car, sweat beading his face as his arm hung uselessly by his side, his hand hanging limply to one side, and marvelled that Robbie had done that with so little effort, with one hand. Angie couldn’t help but feel a small bloom of pride that her son had managed and manhandled Steve so effortlessly.
“Mom,” said Robbie, and Angie’s head snapped round to look at him; something inside her tore when she realised he was talking to Sarah.
“Could you look at Casey’s eye, please, mom, maybe get her an icepack of something?” Sarah nodded and went back inside.
“I’m your mom….!” whispered Angie, tearing a little more inside when Robbie shook his head.
“No, you’re not, my mom’s over there. Now please, just take him to the ER, he can’t stay like that much longer.”
Robbie walked away, Angie watching him while her head whirled, wanting to call out to him but not knowing what to say. Sarah came back out with the icepack and handed it to Joey, all the while watching Angie, and again feeling a pang of sympathy for her, understanding how she must be feeling, but more concerned for Robbie after what had just happened.
Angie looked up at Sarah, her mouth twisting as she tried not to cry. “You took my son away, Sarah!” she whispered, and Sarah shook her head.
“No Angie, you broke him and you threw him away; all I did was pick up the pieces and try to glue him back together. You did so much harm to that boy, for so long, for so little merter escort reason it beggars belief; one tiny little defect was enough to damn him, in your eyes, and so you left him out, you and Mr. Wonderful over there. Did you really expect him to embrace you with a shout of joy? The first time you sideline your child because you can’t be bothered with him, that’s the instant you lose all rights to that child’s love.”
“Robbie stopped being your son over twenty years ago; that’s the crop you sowed, now you get to harvest it in full, and I feel sorry for you, but I can’t help you reap it; you have to do that yourself. I asked you a question once; I asked you if you could come up with a good reason for doing what you and that man did to that poor boy; have you ever thought about answering that question, even to yourself?”
“But what am I to do now?” moaned Angie, and Sarah leaned forward.
“I don’t know, Angie, really, I wish I did. Casey gave you one last chance, a golden opportunity, I heard her, so did you; you chose not to take it. But then you had a chance every day of Robbie’s life, and you never took it once; instead, you took every opportunity to cheap-shot him, to mock him, to play nasty, malicious, cruel little party-tricks on him. He waited and waited for his mom, and she never came; it was only ever you, and you hurt him more with every passing day. He forgot how to smile, and, because he had no-one to love, he forgot how to do that as well. You have no-one to blame but yourself for the fact that your son has absolutely no connection to you. He was born entitled to only one thing, his mother’s unconditional love, and you wouldn’t even give him that.”
Sarah paused, to glance over at Robbie, gently dabbing Casey’s cheekbone with the ice pack, with Angie’s eyes following her glance, her eyes widening as she finally understood what was happening between the two of them.
Sarah spoke softly to Angie, indicating the two of them.
“The things you did to that boy, you and Steve, and Casey, the mess you made of him, the place you left him in, by rights he should be institutionalized; but the biggest wonder to me in all this mess is that it took Casey to finish putting him back together. She pulled him back from a place he should never have been in the first place, a place you left him, and that’s why they’re together.”
Sarah sighed and sat down on the step next to Angie.
“I wish I could help you find him again, Angie, truly, but I wouldn’t know where to start; he doesn’t need you anymore, you see; you wouldn’t let him have any part of you, and so you stopped meaning anything to him. That part of him that needed you is long gone now; you don’t exist anymore, there’s no pattern in his brain anywhere that says ‘Angie = Mom’. The only thing he needs now is Casey.”
Sarah sighed again, not relishing what she was saying, but knowing Angie needed to hear it.
“When he was small you never touched him, or picked him up and carried him, or spoke to him, or cuddled him; hell, when he was young, I couldn’t even touch him, because he firmly believed that he wasn’t supposed to be touched; no-one in his house ever touched him, or hugged him, or played with him, or even said hello to him; you just left him to one side while the three of you got on with your happy, perfect, American-Dream lives.”
She stopped to draw breath, watching the horror mount in Angie’s eyes as the truth’s she was hearing finally began to hit home.
“Robbie’s going home tomorrow, and I don’t know if he’ll ever come back. He came here for a very specific reason, and now he’s done what he had to do, I don’t think he’ll ever want to come back here again. I told you before, he has no good memories of this place, or of you and Steve; even now, when you saw him, after more than four years, your first impulse was to attack him, and you heard what your husband, his father, called him. So tell me, why should he come back?”
Angie was almost in tears now.
“Sarah, how do I get him back, what do I do to tell him I’m sorry? Please, help me!”
Sarah looked at her pityingly, finally moved by her sincerity.
“Well Angie, I think you could try needing him. You should need him the way a mother needs her child; when you know all the way through, from all the way down inside you, from deep in the blood and the bone, that you can’t rest until you’ve moved heaven and earth for your baby, maybe that’s the time you’ve earned the right to his love. There are people I could mention who would go down fighting for Robbie, who’d stand over him on bloody stumps and defend him to the last, who’d face down the glare of Hell for him; when you can feel like that about him, you can try talking to him again. And now I think you’d better take Father of The Year over there to the ER before he collapses.”
Angie opened the car door and waited for Steve to climb in as best he could; she was in no mood to help him. When they arrived at the ER, the Triage Intern took one look at his arm and sent him to an examination room. The doctor poked and prodded his arm and his wrist, gave him something for the pain, and then sent Steve down for an X-Ray. When they brought him back up, the doctor examined the plates, and then returned to the examination room.
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