After reminiscing about that one interview it got me thinking about my parents again and the last time I ever spoke to them. It was after this last conversation that I decided to move to America and just get away from it all…start fresh. I’m an only child, my parents were both only children and their parents were long gone so I really had no other family to talk to about everything. There was nothing keeping me in England.
“Ellen! How long does it bloody take to get ready for dinner? I’m about to eat our son!” Dad was pacing impatiently by the front door. He paused, brushed a haphazard curl of hair around his ear and sighed loudly.
“You know how Mum is – well, women in general,” I mused. “Have to get all dolled up for every little thing.”
Dad stomped into the kitchen. I could hear him getting into his cupboard and taking a few swigs of whisky. I trotted upstairs to see if I could move things along with mum.
“Oh hello there, darling,” she said while applying a heavy coat of wine-hued lipstick. I thought it made her look older but I never said a word about it. I could smell alcohol on her breath.
“You been drinking, Mum?”
She frowned slightly and rubbed her lips together. “Just a little pre-dinner cocktail. Nothing to be alarmed about! Do you think I should wear this grey dress I have on or the blue one hanging up in the hallway?”
“One alcoholic in the family is more than enough,” I chided. “Just wear the grey one. You look lovely. Let’s go before dad finishes all the whisky in the cupboard.”
Finally we were out the door and I insisted on driving. It had been a while since we had dinner together so mum suggested we go to the Bellflower Inn, an old country favourite of ours. With dad already in a nasty mood, I had a feeling this wasn’t going to be the most pleasant of evenings.
My parents had married at a very young age. It wasn’t long before dad took to drinking (just like his father). Mum thought if they had a child things might change for the better. But they didn’t. Not long after I was born, mum fell into a state of melancholia and started leaning on the bottle more and more. Never to the extent that dad did, though. My childhood was a lonely one but I made do with my imagination. I read lots of books and wrote lots of stories to keep myself entertained when I wasn’t stuck playing with our next door neighbor’s evil boy. I did well enough in school. I left home and started working as soon as I could, visiting my folks from time to time.
To my knowledge, they never cheated on one another but both of them seemed to be lost souls that were stuck with one another’s company. They’d both fallen down a well they couldn’t get out of. Still, they managed to get out and about, make appearances at parties, go to dinners and other social functions without broadcasting their problems. They were the masters of disguise. Until today, that is.
“Clark, what are you going to order? The Beef Wellington looks tempting.” Mum looked expectantly at dad, who still appeared cross. He chose to ignore her.
“I’m having the cottage pie,” I announced awkwardly.
“That sounds lovely, dear,” Mom replied. Dad scooted his chair back and excused himself. I watched him head to the loo but instead of taking a left, he turned to the right where the restaurant’s entrance was. I knew exactly what he was doing. He must really be in a terrible mood to leave the table and get a drink from the bottle he left in the car.
The waiter came and took our orders. We ordered the beef wellington for dad since that was what he usually ordered. Mom looked uncomfortable but I knew she knew what he was doing, too. After 15 minutes he sauntered back in with a stupid grin and practically fell over his chair.
“Would you look at yourself, Clark! You’re embarrassing your own family. Don’t be a fool,” Mum whispered angrily.
“We got you the beef wellington,” I said.
“What!?” came his sudden outburst. Some of the other customers looked over with disapproval.
“Quiet down, for God’s sake!” Mum put her hand on his arm. He shoved it away.
“The wellington was the LAST thing I wanted tonight!” he snarled. “I waited on you to get ready all evening and you couldn’t even wait on me to order dinner.”
“You were too busy drinking to care about ordering,” Mum snapped. Dad slammed his fist down on the table and looked as though he was about to yell his lungs out. One of the water glasses had fallen over and rolled off the table, shattering instantly. Thankfully the restaurant manager walked right over and put a firm hand on his shoulder.
“Sir, I’m going to have to ask you and your family to leave, please.”
My parents looked at each other with hatred. We drove home in silence.