Monday, 3 March 2014

The Lighthouse: Part 5, Chapter 5; An Old Arrival

"Mmmmmm. Mmmmmm. Mmmmmm", Sandi turned to look at Malcolm. "What the heck are you doing?" she asked, half laughing. "Chanting. Keeping myself calm. This is a big moment you know. Meeting your Mom. Gotta do it right. Mmmmmm. Mmmmmm", he went back to his out of tune humming. Sandi laughed even harder, "Well, ready or not, it's time to go, grab your coat, if there's one thing she hates it's people being late" Sandi said. When she told him earlier that her mother wanted to meet him he'd looked so panicked she'd almost called her mom to reschedule, but after a few minutes of explaining that she literally just wanted to meet him and talk, not break his knees, he'd calmed down a little. It was nice for Sandi to be able to see the real him, the side that wasn't always so bold or confident.

Five minutes later, they made their way downstairs, the sound of Kaci and Mortimer arguing over the video game they were playing greeted them. Sandi kept an eye on the window waiting for the taxi to pull up while Malcolm jumped over the sofa and slouched down into it. He was playing it cool but Mortimer knew hia best friend well, he could tell he was nervous, and as best friends do, he decided to play on that. 

Keeping a straight face, he said "Soo... Malc... meeting mother now are we? You know this is a serious deal right? She'll be wanting to know all sorts, like where you'll be in ten years time -", "Whether you intend to marry her daughter..." Kaci interrupted, "Your credit history..." Mortimer continued.
By the time they were done teasing him, Malcolm was as white as a sheet. "You guys are awful!" Sandi laughed, "You have nothing to worry about, trust me!" Sandi smiled at him. "Um...I gotta pee" Malcolm groaned, darting up the stairs and shooting into the bathroom. Mortimer and Kaci collapsed in fits of laughter. Sandi shook her head and smiled, "You two are evil" she laughed, just then a car horn blew. Sandi looked out to see the taxi waiting and shouted up the stairs to Malcolm. "Later guys!" she called to Kaci and Mortimer, heading outside to the taxi. Malcolm came bounding down the stairs two seconds later, "Wish me luck!" he shouted, running out to the taxi. "He's definitely gonna need it", Kaci chuckled to herself.


Sandi reached across and squeezed Malcolm's hand. There was about five minutes left of the 50 minute car journey to her moms house. The whole way there Malcolm had been peculiarly quiet.

"You okay?" she asked, nudging him slightly. "Yea, I'm fine, just thinking, this is a big step, for me, you know? I never usually go beyond an introduction to a girls bedroom. . ." he laughed nervously. "Who are you telling?" she laughed, "Listen, just be yourself and you'll be fine. Besides, if she doesn't like you and I mean if, then it makes no difference to me, she doesn't get a say in who I do or don't date-  It's just up here, on the left" she called up to the taxi driver. Malcolm sensed that things between Sandi and her mom were okay on the surface but that what lay beneath was the total opposite. He didn't push the subject though. 
"We're here" she said, nodding at the house. Sandi paid the taxi driver and they climbed out of the car. Her moms housemate was just leaving as they arrived. "Oh Hey Sandi!" Fiona McIrish called, enveloping her in a hug "I'm so sorry I can't stay, I've got a meeting I need to attend, you know how it is, work work work" she rolled her eyes and then focused on Malcolm. Her smile never wavered but something flickered across her face, an emotion Sandi couldn't quite grasp.
"Nice to meet you..." she said, then turning back to Sandi, "Just go in the doors open, gotta run, see you later!" Sandi waved goodbye and then grabbed Malcolm's hand and led him towards the house.


"Ma? MA!" Sandi shouted, "I'll be out in a minute!" Molly's muffled voice shouted back. "Hang your coat up here, and relax!" Sandi smiled at Malcolm. He smiled back at her, took a deep breath, and then said "Hey. I'm Malcolm Landgraab, I got this" he winked. Turning to look around the house, Malcolm took it all in. He liked it, it looked lived in, unlike the cold over-sized mansion he called home. 

He'd never been inside Sandi's house, when he used to come pick her up she'd always been waiting outside for him. She never invited people in, at first he thought she was ashamed of her house but he quickly learned that wasn't the case. She didn't want to have to bring anyone into such a tense environment. Malcolm wandered further down the living room to look at one of the pictures on the wall when Sandi's mom came out from the hallway. "Cassandra Isabella French! Your half naked and it's freezing outside! Your not on a photo shoot now you know!" She scolded Sandi, only half serious as she pulled her into a hug. 

"Well it's good to see you too!" Sandi rolled her eyes but hugged her mom back. "Well excuse me if the thought of my daughter dying of pneumonia makes me forget my manners!" she nudged her. Before Sandi could answer, Molly had turned to Malcolm. "So, you're Malcolm. Geoffrey's son" she asked but it wasn't really a question and she wasn't smiling. Malcolm didn't miss the flash  behind her eyes when she said his dad's name. "How is your father?" she continued. "Fine, I guess" Malcolm said. In reality he had no idea. They hadn't spoken in weeks. 

Molly gestured towards the table, "Lets sit". She pulled out a cigarette and lit it. Sandi screwed up her nose. She hated the smell of cigarettes. "Still don't like them then" her mom chuckled at her. "Why would I like those cancer sticks" Sandi grunted. "You guys wan't a drink?" Molly asked. Sandi shook her head while Malcolm smiled and politely declined. Molly looked at Malcolm for a few seconds, like she was taking him in. "So, you two are dating now, how long do you think this is going to last? Before you get bored and move on I mean, because that is what you do isn't it Malcolm? Love em and Leave em? I know your type, I can smell you coming from a mile away. Her dad was just the same and look where that got me. Pregnant and alone. So, come on, what is it?", no one spoke for a few seconds. Molly's steely brown eyes were burning into his, even if her expression remained infuriatingly neutral. 

"MA!" Sandi protested, "Are you serious right now?" she asked incredulously. "No Sandi, its fine, let me answer that" Malcolm said. He knew exactly what her mom was doing. Testing him, seeing if he was the real deal. He looked at the woman in front of him and swallowed the urge to ask her how she could question him about loyalty when she regularly used to kick her fifteen year old daughter out in the dead of the night and not care where she was. Instead, he matched her hard expression and held her piercing gaze, "I don't know what you have, or have not heard about me. But whatever it is, now would be a good time to forget it. My past is just that, my past. Your daughter is my future, and I'm hers for a long as she wants me, no if's buts or maybe's. She's made me happier than I've been in a long, long time and I have no intention of letting go of that". He was aware that at some point when he'd been talking, Sandi had looked up at him and hadn't looked away since, but it was Molly he couldn't look away from. She didn't need to speak, her eyes said it all. They softened, only the smallest amount but he caught it, and something he interpreted as worry, lessened in them. 

She turned away from him and blew out a long slow puff of smoke. She didn't say anything for a few seconds but it felt like hours. She nodded slowly and then she spoke, "Okay. But I'm warning you, one foot out of line and you'll be floating up there in that creek" she said, gesturing with her cigarette towards to the old church up in Stoney Falls. Malcolm had no doubt she wasn't kidding. He nodded to show he understood. They made small talk for a few more minutes before Molly said she was going to start preparing dinner. "Come on, I'll show you my old bedroom" Sandi said, taking Malcolm's hand a leading him towards the hallway. "No funny stuff in my house Landgraab", Molly called sternly over her shoulder. "Yes ma'am" he called back as Sandi pulled him into her old room and closed the door behind him.


Twenty minutes later after a serious make out session, Malcolm had to practically drag Sandi off of him. He wished they were back in his bedroom so they could explore where this might lead but there was no way he was doing that here. "Sandi what's gotten into you!" he whispered a little too loudly. He already knew what it was, she was purposely being defiant. Not that he minded being used. Not at all. But if he wanted to keep his kneecaps he knew they had to stop. "Sandi! Cut it out!" he scolded her, smiling but half serious. She rolled her eyes but reluctantly agreed.

Malcolm looked around her room at all her pictures and realized that she'd had to grow up way too soon. It broke his heart and he blinked back the tears that were forming in his eyes. He thought he'd known it all, clearly he only knew half, if that. "What's up?" Sandi asked him, noticing his excessive blinking. "Oh... err.." Just then Molly called them both, saving him from having to answer. He grabbed her hand and pulled her out behind him avoiding having to speak. She eyed him weirdly but said no more. They made small talk once more and Molly asked if they would like to stay for dinner but Malcolm firmly but politely declined saying that they had already made plans. While it was a legitimate reason it wasn't the what the only on. He could tell Sandi and her mother had had enough of each other for one day. The conversation was beginning to get sharper and there was undertone there that nobody could miss. He would have gone so far as to say Molly looked relieved when he said they had to go. They said their goodbyes and got into the taxi waiting for them at the end of the driveway. "That wasn't so bad was it?" Sandi asked, a fake grin plastered on her face. "You don't have to pretend with me" he said as he put his arm around Sandi and gently lowered her head onto his shoulder, feeling her previously tense body relax into him. 


"How did it go?" Kaci whispered. "She didn't kill him if that's what you mean" Sandi rolled her eyes and discreetly filled her in on everything that happened. Including her and her mothers tense parting of ways. Kaci sat wide eyed and shrugged her head. She gave Sandi's leg a reassuring squeeze. "You're happy. That's all that matters" she smiled. Sandi wasn't one to cry but at that moment she was very close to tears. She knew Kaci was the best friend a girl could ask for. She wondered why her own mom couldn't have taken a leaf out of Claire's book. "Where is Malcolm?" Sandi asked looking around. She hadn't seen him since they'd got there. "Talking to his dad" Kaci said, her expression portraying exactly what she thought of Geoffrey Landgraab."His dad?!" Sandi exclaimed "What's he doing here? I didn't think they even knew each other?" Sandi said eyes wide as she looked around the huge rented apartment. She knew Geoffrey had always been a socialite but she didn't know that he actually knew people of this particular caliber personally.
"Apparently they've known each other since childhood or something" Kaci shrugged, and before they knew it, one of the people they were talking about stood before them. The man himself, Gunther Goth. Sandi was floored speechless. Kaci always tried to pretend she wasn't star struck but she could never hide it. He was Gunther Goth after all, one of, if not, the biggest Rock Star in the world. To be honest, they never say him enough not be star struck by him. He'd been in Mortimers life so little, sometimes he would come and leave town before Mortimer even knew, reading about it in the newspaper. Remembering that, Kaci's admiration for him died a little. He may be a world famous celebrity but he was a crappy dad and there was no disputing it. The girls pretended to watch TV as Mortimer and his dad stood before them.

"So uh, how are things going now? I hear your training to become a Doctor, I'm proud of you son" Gunther said, clearly nervous. Mortimer was the exact opposite, as calm as he'd ever been. "Good... thanks" he said, keeping it short and sweet. "That's quite some lady you got there, you're a lucky man, she's beautiful, don't lose her" he tried to jest, failing miserably. The corner of Mortimers mouth twitched. "I know" he said, eventually smiling, but it never reached his eyes. Gunther tried to make small talk with his son, who was polite enough to answer his questions without giving away too much information.
After two minutes of avoiding it, Gunther got to the point. The girls weren't even hiding that they we're listening now. You could cut the atmosphere with a knife. "So... uh.... how's your... uh.... mom?" Gunther eventually asked. "If you'd called you know". Mortimer's words cut but it was because deep down he knew Mortimer was right. The woman he called mom wasn't really his mother. Even though that's what Gunther had wanted Mortimer to think. 
His real mother died when he was a year old. Cornelia was his groupie girlfriend at the time and Gunther had dumped Mortimer on her while he went off touring the world. He'd probably seen his son six or seven times in his lifetime. Luckily for Mortimer, she'd grown up pretty quickly and stepped into the mothering roll. Even though he called her mom, she'd never tricked him into believing other wise. Mortimer was sure that if it was up to his dad he'd still be thinking it to that very day. Gunther had a shock when he called his son on his 16th birthday and Mortimer had told him quite calmly that he knew, and had known since he could remember that Cornelia was not his real mother.  Mortimers expression gave nothing away and Gunther didn't know how to take it. He tried to apologize but Mortimer shut him down.

Gunther cleared his throat and then spoke "Son, look, I know I haven't always been-" "You know what? Just stop. I don't want to hear it. Not now. You asked me to bring my friends so we could hang out and that's what I did. I don't want to hear your 'I'm so sorry I was a shitty dad' speech right now, okay?!" Mortimer said as he strode past his dad. A few seconds later they heard a door slam somewhere in the apartment. Gunthers eye's were closed tightly, his face pale. Kaci wanted to go after Mortimer but Sandi stopped her. "Let him deal with this one on his own" she nodded knowingly. 


They sat down to Thai take away Gunther had ordered. Geoffrey made his excuses and left, but not before Sandi noticed the way he was blatantly ignoring Malcolm. Whatever they'd talked about clearly hadn't gone well. She hoped it wasn't her but she couldn't ignore the sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. After dinner was done, Mortimer sat for a few minutes listening to them making small talk with his father realizing they probably knew him better than he did. "Guys, I gotta go" he announced abruptly, "But stay if you wan't to" Mortimer said as he went to grab his coat. "No way dude, you go, we're coming with" Malcolm said, "Nice meeting you Gunther" he said, extending his hand for a handshake. Gunther didn't let go, his eyes burning into Malcolm's, "Good friends are hard to come by, and I don't care what your dad says, you're a good kid, look after my son" he said seriously. "You got it Sir" Malcolm nodded. After their little conversation, he'd seen him, talking deeply with Gunther, he wondered now if it had been about him and not Mortimer like he thought. Next Gunther pulled Kaci into an unexpected hug, "He's a very lucky man.. You. . . you remind me of his mother" he smiled sadly at her. He turned to Sandi and her expression was a little less forgiving. She'd always been protective of Mortimer. "Sandi, Sandi, Sandi..." he smiled, "Just like your mother, loyal to the end" Sandi wondered how he knew her mother but she didn't show it, her mom had never mentioned it. But then why would she, she never told Sandi anything. Not even who her dad was.
"I do love him you know, he's always been my son, my baby boy. . ." he trailed off as his voice cracked a little. Sandi didn't want to show it, but his display of emotion had touched her. She knew deep down he cared. He just had a very crappy way of showing it. She nodded slightly at him and gave him half a smile. "See you around Goth" she said sticking her hands in jacket pockets. "Later Frenchie" he saluted her. Sandi joined her friends, , and Gunther watched as the elevator doors closed and they slowly disappeared from view.


Gunther stood looking out of the window down into the snowy street, as the foursome got into the taxi that awaited them, unable to remember the last time he'd done something as normal as catch a cab. There were a lot of 'normal' things he hadn't done lately. Gunther made the decision that had been toying with him all night. "It's time to do it" he said to himself "It's time to go home".

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