Well, I have to say—you surprised me with the direction that you wanted to take the story! But, your wish is my command.
I do hope you enjoy Dylan’s adventures this week and that you’re not too hard on him when you decide how his life is going to continue on. :-)
Don’t forget to vote.
Love Toni x
I couldn’t believe how badly this had gone.
I knew that they’d be pissed—but for Dad to throw me out—tonight, on my birthday and Mum not even coming to my defence.
She’d always been on my side.
Anger gave way to unexpected grief.
I swatted at the unwanted tears that formed in my eyes.
I wouldn’t cry.
I was a man. I could support myself. All I needed to do was work my plan. The fact my father had thrown an unexpected curve ball at me just meant I had to think on my feet.
My phone beeped.
A text message from Marty.
“How’d it go?”
“They’ve thrown me out?”
“You want to come here?”
“What about your parents?”
It was bad enough that I’d royally screwed things with my own Mum and Dad, but to get in the shit with Marty’s as well would be too much.
“You can come stay ’til we work something out.”
It seemed like a sensible solution.
“K” The single letter gave me some comfort when I hit the send button.
I pulled my surf bag from under my bed and began to empty my jeans and t-shirt drawers into it.
My old man was a stickler for doing things the right way, but I really hadn’t seen this coming. I mean, I expected him to be pissed off with me, that was a given. But to throw me out—that wasn’t how I’d had things planned.
There was a knock at the door.
The temptation to tell whoever was there to fuck the hell off was strong. But then I heard Mum’s voice. “Dylan? Can I come in?”
Shit! I’d never been able to refuse my mother anything—except maybe law school.
“You know your Dad’s just reacting don’t you?” she said as she crossed the threshold from the garage into my bedroom proper.
“Yeah, well,” I had no answer for her. “I’m sorry you choked on dinner.”
The corner of my mother’s mouth lifted in the hint of a smile. Just having her in my bedroom made things feel a little better. She wasn’t a large woman, my mother, but what she lacked in size, she made up for in force of will. I guess it might be where I got my determination from.
Stood in the middle of my room, she could easily have passed for at least a decade less than her almost fifty years.
With short, blonde hair cut into a stylish crop close to her head and wearing drainpipe blue jeans and a tight floral t-shirt she couldn’t exactly be described as old. But she had years of experience dealing with difficult men.
“Look,” Mum said as she pushed aside my surf bag and sat on the end of my unmade bed. “It’s your birthday.”
“Dad told me to leave.”
She sighed. “Your Dad can be a hot-head at times. He’s just reacting.”
I continued to stuff clothes into my surf bag.
Mum calmly watched me move around my room—having her sat on my bed was kind of comforting.
She didn’t need to say anything. I knew that this wasn’t what she’d have chosen for me, but I still detested the idea of law school.
“Did you even think this through?” she asked, her soft voice easing some of the tension that clung with a tenacious grip around my body.
All the fight and fury I’d been carrying around began to evaporate. It had never been a matter of winning Mum over, but oftentimes she’d been on my side of things when Dad and I had a disagreement. If I could win Mum over now, then maybe I had a chance with Dad as well. She’d always been able to put my point-of-view to him and, I thought, maybe I’d been rash at the dinner table, assuming that she’d simply folded to his will on this one.
I ran my hand through my hair and turned to stare into the concerned face of my mother.
“Are you sure you’re okay? I didn’t mean to make you choke on your dinner.”
It made me angry all over again that Dad suggested that I nearly killed my Mum—maybe I wasn’t too far removed from his personality.
“Oh, love,” she said, her voice barely audible in the untidy bedroom. “It wasn’t your fault and I’m okay.”
“Dad seemed to think it was.” I didn’t want to sound like a petulant child. I’d been certain enough this morning that I was capable of making adult decisions for myself. Faced now, with the prospect of having to find somewhere else to live, I wasn’t quite so sure of myself anymore.
Mum reached out her hand and cradled the side of my face. It was something she’d done for as long as I could remember. As I got older, when I started intermediate school, I didn’t like her doing it. I’d stiffen and pull away. I couldn’t remember the last time that she’d touched me like this—but right now, it gave me a sense of much needed security.
I tipped my face into the palm of her hand.
The curl of a smile caressed her lips.
“Like I said, I’m okay, Dylan and you’re going to be okay as well.”
“I know that, Mum,” I said as she let her hand drop from my face and placed it with care into her lap.
“But,” she asked, “whatever do you think you’re going to do if you leave school?” The question was kind. Not said with any judgment or anger. That’s what I loved about my Mum. I’d always been able to tell her anything and know that she wouldn’t make any kind of judgment on it or on me.
“I’m going to gig,” I replied. “The band have been working up some covers and we can get some lunchtime school gigs. I can do some acoustic work at restaurants at night and the supermarket have said that they’ll give me at least twenty hours work a week.” My half packed bag stared at me from beside me on the bed—mocking me. “I knew I’d have to pay you and Dad some board, but I hadn’t taken into account having to rent a room somewhere else.” I picked at the large plastic zip on the surf bag. “Maybe the supermarket will give me a few more hours.”
“So you have thought this through,” Mum said and I thought I heard a measure of pride in her voice.
“Yeah,” I cocked my head to one side. “I’m determined to make it, Mum. You wait and see.”
“I have every faith in you,” she said. “But, I came in here to tell you that your Dad’s agreed to you staying for tonight. It’s your birthday. Come back in the house and you can open your presents and have something to eat.”
All of a sudden I was ravenously hungry.
I might still have to get out tomorrow, but at least Mum had bought me another 24 hours here.
The next morning, I almost ran straight into Dad as he was getting into his car.
He gave me the once over. “I meant what I said at dinner. You go back to school today and we can forget all about that nonsense from last night.”
“I’m not going back to school, Dad.”
“If that’s the way you want it,” he said as he threw his briefcase on the back seat of the Audi. I could never figure out why a dentist needed to take a briefcase to work. “Don’t forget where we live.”
“No, of course not.” What else did he want me to say?
He hesitated for a moment, as if he was thinking about whether to get into the car. I couldn’t get past him because the car door was open.
Suddenly, he closed it with a slam that reverberated around the cavernous, unlined garage.
Dad pulled me into his arms and gave me a bear hug.
“Take care, son.”
My Dad didn’t do hugs.
Then he opened the car door as if nothing had happened and climbed in. I watched, as he started the engine and backed out of the garage, just like a normal day.
I stood there.
Wondering what the hell had just happened.
By the time I’d dealt with the morning necessities and had grabbed a bowl of cereal for breakfast, Sean and Mum were on their way out the door.
“See ya,” Sean said. I guess it was just another day for him.
Mum, however, was another matter.
“You’ll let us know where you’re staying?” she asked. I could hear the quiver in her voice. It made my gut ache. Breakfast wasn’t quite so appealing any more.
“Of course.” I didn’t know what else to say.
“We’ll have you over, on Sunday for dinner,” she said.
I nodded. “Okay.” It all sounded so strange and forced.
Mum kissed me on the cheek and then hesitated, she reached for one of the paper napkins that sat on the table and began to scrub at my face.
“Mum,” I pulled away. Embarrassed, or struggling to deal with the threat of her emotional dam breaking, I wasn’t sure. It had been enough that Dad had acted so strangely this morning. My own emotions were in turmoil and I didn’t need Mum—my rock—falling apart on me.
She showed me the dash of red on the paper.
I took the napkin from her hand and scrubbed at that part of my face where she’d kissed me.
“Gone?” I asked.
She nodded. “Yes.”
“Good,” I said with a smile. “Don’t you start crying on me, Dad was weird enough this morning.”
The first genuine amused reaction I’d seen from my mother since I’d announced I was leaving school crossed her face. “We’ll keep that a secret between us, shall we?”
I nodded. “Yup.” Then I added, “I’m staying at Marty’s until I can find a permanent place to stay, so I’m not exactly far away.”
Mum’s turn to nod. “Okay.” Mum picked up her phone and her purse, straightened her spine and said, “I’ll see you soon.”
She turned her back on me and walked out of the kitchen.
All of a sudden, I wanted to cry.
I’d just finished packing the last of the things that I’d need when my phone beeped.
A text from Marty.
“I’ve taken the day off. You want a hand?”
Marty was at my bedroom door less than five minutes later.
“You’ll get in the shit not going to school,” I said as I handed him my schoolbag, now packed with essential items I’d need. “You think you can carry that and my guitar?”
“What do you think?” Marty said as he picked up the bag and guitar case.
I’d underestimated the weight of my surf bag now that the seams were bulging and I let out a rush of air and couldn’t contain a groan as I picked it up.
“Is everything you own in there?” Marty asked as he adjusted the straps of my rucksack-like schoolbag on his back.
“Not quite,” I replied. “I’m leaving a lot of shit, but I’ve got the essentials. I’ll duck back for my amp and surfboard once we’ve dropped this at your place.”
“You want me to take your laptop bag?” Marty asked, “I’ve still got a hand free.”
“Yup.” I checked the room again and decided that I could carry my amp. If I didn’t make it back today, at least I had the essentials. “I guess I can always come back if I need something else. It’s not as if they’re going to trespass me off the property.” I’m not sure who I was trying to reassure, me or Marty.
“It went that well?” Marty asked a tinge of sarcasm in his voice.
As we began the short walk to Marty’s house I said, “I didn’t expect that Dad would insist that I leave.”
“What you going to do?”
That seemed to be all anyone cared about. How would I live? What would I do? Despite what anyone thought, I did have a plan. Moving out might not have been a part of that plan, but I was adaptable and I had Marty on my team.
We were almost at Marty’s house. I was pleased. The idea of lugging my surf bag with this much stuff too far didn’t bring me on.
“You sure your folks are okay with this?” I didn’t need to be thrown out of two houses on consecutive days.
“Yeah,” Marty reassured me. “They’re cool until at least the weekend. I figure that gives you nearly a week to work something better out. What you going to do for dollars?”
“Gig. Get more hours at the yellow shed.”
Marty slipped his key into the lock and unlocked the door to his room. Like me, he had direct access to the outside from his bedroom and he’d always come and gone as he pleased.
He shared the rest of the house with his parents and his younger sister, Carmel, but lucky for both of us, Marty’s room was large. He had the ground floor bedroom which also included a stainless steel basin with hot and cold running water, a formica kitchen bench top, a microwave and a small bar fridge.
These added features had made Marty’s room more desirable for neighbourhood parties than mine. His parents were pretty flexible and, as long as we didn’t make too much noise after 11pm, they always tolerated a mass of locals congregating in the downstairs of their home.
The walls of the large room were painted concrete block and the entire set up had always reminded me of an old-fashioned motel room. Despite the thickness of the concrete block walls, the strange, but soothing sound of the washing machine doing its thing in the next door bathroom still managed to filter through the wall.
Marty’s room was so self-contained, I figured his parents wouldn’t necessarily even need to see me.
“You think you can get work gigging?”
“Sure.” Then I had a bright idea. “You should come gigging with me.”
“You’re insane,” Marty said as he threw himself down on his bed and started scrolling on his phone. He had a queen size bed tucked in the corner of the room. The single bed that doubled as a day bed on the other side of the room would be mine for the week. I stowed my bags at the end of the day bed and sat down.
“I’m serious,” I said. “You sing great BV’s and you’re no slug on the guitar. We could make a killing.”
“Doing what?” Marty’s eyes never left his phone.
“Covers to start.” The seed of a plan was beginning to form in my head. “But then we’d work in some of our songs. It could work. It’s the way that plenty of bands start.”
Marty dropped his phone on the bed, sat up and looked at me. “You serious?”
I’d never been more serious in my life.
Marty and I planned three sets of covers and managed to seed a couple of our own songs in each set. We lost track of time while we were practising. Me on my Martin and Marty on his Taylor.
The sound of hammering on the glass door of Marty’s bedroom interrupted us.
“Enter!” Marty yelled.
He never locked the door when he was in his bedroom, but he got shitty if anyone just walked in unannounced.
“Hey,” Destiny Hughes ambled into the room followed by her two closest surf club friends, Angela Bell and Ella Lewis. Surf season had barely started, but the three of them already had highlights in their hair from the harsh New Zealand sun. By the end of the season, their hair would have gone from dark to reddish brown as a result of long hours patrolling the beach.
“Hey,” I acknowledged the presence of the three girls.
“What’s up?” Marty asked. “You three skip school too?”
Destiny tipped her head to one side, it was a cute gesture and something that she did when she didn’t quite understand. I’d watched her do it for as long as I’d known her.
“School’s finished for the day,” Destiny said.
“Fuck!” Dylan ran his hand through his hair. “How long have we been sitting here practicing?”
That was the thing about music.
When we started something we could lose hours.
We didn’t eat.
We didn’t sleep.
Music was our drug of choice.
Destiny came and sat down beside me and looked at me with those large, caramel eyes of hers. She’d been looking at me for years, but lately something inside of me moved when she caught my eye. I’d started to notice how her body had filled out in places. The curve of her hip. The length of her legs. When she tipped her head to the side like she did when she walked in, it exposed a tiny patch of skin under her ear that did things to me that I could no longer explain.
“Rumour has it you’ve quit school,” she said, still staring at me.
I couldn’t help but notice the sweet scent of her skin, a mixture of musk and something lemony.
It had suddenly gotten hot in Marty’s room.
“Yeah, that’s right,” I said as I put my guitar back in its case and stood up. I needed a drink. My throat had gone dry. “You got anything in here?” I asked Marty pointing in the direction of the small fridge under the bench.
“Mountain Dew, Coke maybe,” Marty answered still nursing his guitar—he used it as a security blanket sometimes—like having it sat across his knee could keep the world at bay.
I checked the fridge and pulled out a can of Coke. I cracked the tab and sculled half of the can before I put it back on the bench.
“You shouldn’t drink that shit,” Destiny said as she took a sip of water from the small purple water bottle that never left her side, “it’ll make you fat and unattractive.” Destiny had never been afraid of speaking her mind and I liked that about her. I’d known her for nearly as many years as I’d known Marty. “You guys got another gig?” she asked. “Everyone’s still raving after you played my eighteenth at the surf club.” Destiny liked to press home whenever possible the fact that she happened to be two months older than me.
I ignored the comment about my drinking habits. “We’re working on an acoustic set for just the two of us,” I said. “Less band members equals more money.”
“Sean says you’ve been kicked out, is it true?” Destiny leaned back, propping herself up on her arm as she waited for my answer. Angela and Ella sat down on the end of Marty’s bed, taking their cue from Destiny. Marty hugged his guitar closer to his body.
We’d known these girls for years, but maybe he was becoming aware of the subtle changes in the way the girls were behaving too. Ever since we’d played Destiny’s birthday party at the surf club, something had definitely changed.
“Yeah,” I said. “I’m hanging here until I can sort something permanent out.”
“You want me to put in a good word for you at the surf club?” Destiny asked.
“That’d be cool.” Destiny’s Dad was on the surf club board. “If we can get some regular gigs, it means I won’t have to do so many hours at the supermarket.”
“If I do something for you,” Destiny said as she stood up and walked over to me. She stood so close I swear that I could see her heart beating in the little patch of skin above her collar bone. “Then you have to do something nice for me.”
Her fingers trailed along my forearm.
Heat ran in their wake.
Something inside of my belly exploded.
I leaned back against the bench top. There was nowhere for me to go to get away from the all-consuming presence of Destiny.
“Take me to the movies.”
Is that all, my head said. I don’t know what I was expecting—but a sense of relief flooded through me. I could take Destiny to the movies.
She’d never really wanted anything to do with me before. I still couldn’t work out what the hell had changed.
“I’ll talk to Dad then,” she said. “How about Thursday?”
“I got work on Thursday,” I said as my sense of equilibrium returned.
“Great. Friday then.” Destiny said with a smile. “Come on, let’s go,” she said to Angela and Ella.
Marty and I watched the three of them walk out the door.
“What the fuck was that about?” Marty asked.
“I have no idea,” I replied and it was the truth.
A couple of days passed.
I worked my shifts at the supermarket, Marty went to school and when we weren’t rehearsing, I was hitting the pavement and making it known around town that Marty and I were available for gigs.
What looked to be our first break came out of nowhere.
The local Irish bar’s cover band couldn’t make it this Friday night.
They’d heard through the grapevine (and Mr Zee) that Marty and I were good.
We were available at short notice, so they offered us the spot.
The only problem was—the spot was Friday night and I’d promised Destiny that I’d take her to the movies.
What the fuck to do?
“You’ll just have to tell her that you can’t go,” Marty said. “She’ll understand.”
“She’s been acting pretty fucking weird since her birthday,” I said.
“Girls are fucking weird,” Marty replied. “You don’t think…” He stopped and eyeballed me from across his guitar. We’d been practicing and we sounded pretty tight. I knew we’d kill this pub gig and then we’d have a stream of paying gigs going forward.
“I don’t think what?”
“She wants you to fuck her.”
“Jesus!” I didn’t know what to say. I’d been trying not to think about Destiny like that, but visions of her had been haunting me.
Marty vocalising what had been going through my head didn’t help.
The fact I’d never fucked anyone didn’t help either.
“She’s my friend,” I said trying to bring the conversation back from the thought of Destiny naked.
“That doesn’t mean you can’t fuck her,” Marty said.
“Will you stop with the fuck talk?” I didn’t like Marty talking about Destiny like she was some kind of object. It upset me.
“If you don’t take her out on Friday, then she might not put in a good word for us at the surf club.”
“But if we don’t do the pub gig, we might not get another one.”
What to do?
* * *
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