Kyle decided to take the family off the ship when they got to Belize. He spoke to the captain, explaining the circumstances and a company representative, a man, took them to an elegant hotel. They spent the remainder of their vacation there and flew back to Orlando a few days later. There was the problem of his car, but he and Carmelita drove over the next day to get it.
From a distance, he saw Emily leaving the ship with Adam and Dr. West. She looked pale, but she was walking on her own. Adam saw him and waved at him with a little flicker of his fingers. If Emily or Dr. West saw him, they didn’t show it.
* * *
He and the family spent the Fourth of July at Disney as they had every year since Randy was born. Not even the Magic Kingdom could lighten his dark mood. Watching the fireworks display from their hotel, Kyle thought over what had happened to his life over the last year and drank himself into a stupor.
The month forced leave was finally over. Going back to work on Monday was one of the hardest things he’d ever done. He hadn’t lied when he told his father he hated his job. Finding ways to make consumers buy one brand of toothpaste over another, because the cardboard box was made from recycled paper, didn’t seem to matter as much as it had a few weeks ago.
His lack of enthusiasm wasn’t missed by his boss. At ten minutes to five, Web came into his office, closing the door behind him with a snap.
“Make yourself at home, Mr. Webster. Don’t let me stop you. Want a drink? I might have some strychnine around here somewhere.”
“Got a hankering for it?”
“I was thinking maybe hemlock, but I guess that’s in fairly short supply.”
“What happened to you, boy? When I sent you away, I figured you’d come back happy.”
Kyle’s laugh was hard edged, cold, caustic. If he didn’t laugh, he’d cry again, and he’d had enough of that to last a lifetime.
“You want the long or the short version?”
“I want whatever version explains to me what’s wrong with you.”
Perched on the side of his desk, Kyle told Web everything that had happened on his vacation. He told him about trying to get in touch with Emily, sending her flowers, writing notes of apology, making calls.
“The flowers aren’t accepted. The notes come back unopened. The calls don’t make it through the switchboard. She’s furious with me and I don’t blame her. For the second time in my life, I listened to my hormones instead of my head and got myself in a mess.”
“Jesus, kid, I guess so. Have you heard from your old man?”
“Not yet. And I haven’t spoken to my mother. I’m not sure I can handle that right now. I’d be tempted to take it all out on her.”
“Can you forgive him?”
“Boy, from what you say, you don’t have a lot of eventually. If you don’t, you’re gonna have a whole new something to knock yourself around with. Take the advice of one old man who’s been around long enough to know better. Call your mama. Better yet, go see her. Get this shit worked out. Talk to your old man and at least say the words, even if you can’t mean them yet. He needs to hear it and it will help you start believing it. And keep trying with Emily. Call, send flowers, write notes until your fingers fall off if you have to, but don’t let up.”
“What difference will it make?”
“Eventually, she’s gonna accept the flowers or open a note just to satisfy her own curiosity. Or she’ll do it hoping you’ll stop once she does. Either way, you’re a step closer than you were.”
“You’re right, Web. Thanks.”
“Take the rest of the week off. Work this out. When you can come back with your brain back in the game, we’ll talk again. I can’t have you wandering around like a zombie in a three piece suit.”
“Funny you put it that way, cause that’s how I’ve felt all day.”
“Promise you’ll at least get this crap with your folks settled.”
Working things out with his mother wasn’t quite as hard as he had anticipated. He went to visit her in Tampa and they talked long into the night. As he was leaving the next morning, she kissed his cheeks, apologizing for putting all the blame on his shoulders.
“It was easy to do. You blamed yourself so much, I just added to your burden. I’m sorry, Sonny. It was so wrong of me.”
© Dellani Oakes