Joe drove in silence all the way home. Not like there was anyone there to talk to anyway.
His father and Gladys were expecting a child? Wow! Not too long ago he and Gloria had been thinking of names for their kids and now…
Damn! I thought I was over this! I really thought I was.
He fiddled with the radio to distract himself from his thoughts. However the parting conversation with his father kept replaying in his mind.
“She’s what?” He had blurted out.
His father just shrugged nonchalantly and nodded his head.
“She told me early last week. She wanted to tell you, but I felt it was umm, for the best that I did it myself.”
Joe was lost in thought. But really, he wasn’t thinking about anything in particular. He was just stunned.
“Tell your mother. I know she’ll find out eventually anyway.”
He raised an eyebrow at his father. “And you can’t tell her yourself because?”
“Because I seriously doubt I’m interested in hearing her screaming voice over the phone yelling all sorts of obscenities. Besides, I’ve grown rather fond of this phone” He caressed the phone. “I’d really hate to have to smash it against the wall like the three others before it.”
Oh yeah…dad the great phone smasher!
He had had the privilege of witnessing two of these ‘smashing’ events. But he had to give it to his mother, she was uniquely talented in talking his father to near insanity. He wondered why the old man didn’t just end the call. Oh well.
“And you think she’ll be happier hearing the news from me?”
“Frankly speaking son, I can’t be bothered. See you later boy!”
And with those words he turned around and headed for the stairs.
Joe watched him climb for a few seconds and then turned to go his way before a thought stopped him.
“How many months on is she?” He called out.
”About three or thereabout.”
Joe’s head was buzzing; He turned off the radio and tried to focus on the road. He had to talk to someone about this else he’d drive himself crazy.
Hmmm, why not? She would definitely make me feel better!
Joe pulled over at the next parking lot. There was no way he’d be driving while making this call!
“WHAT??? THAT OLD FARTING SCUMBAG!!!”
Joe smiled and relaxed in his chair. He had to enjoy this.
“Well, that’s what he told me mum. I’m just the messenger”
“MESSENGER? MESSENGER MY FOOT! YOU’VE BEEN ON YOUR FATHER’S SIDE ALL THIS WHILE. YOU’RE BOTH TAUNTING ME ARENT YOU? HOW DARE YOU? I’M YOUR MOTHER!”
Ok, this wasn’t quite going the way he planned. Why was HE the one getting the stick here.
“Mum I don’t like that. You have forgotten that it’s my ex-fiancée who’s carrying your ex-husband’s child! How can you think I can be happy about this> I just had to tell someone.”
His mother fell silent for a few seconds.
“I’m sorry. That was insensitive of me.”
“It’s ok mum, I….”
“BUT ALL THESE STUPID EX’S OF OURS…..”
Yeah, now that’s what we’re talking about. Joe smiled, relaxed and let her rant on. He knew they would both feel better when she was done.
“… CAN YOU IMAGINE? WHAT AN IMBECILE. AND I THOUGHT…”
He felt bad for his mother. Yes, she had her faults but the way his father had gone about the whole thing was just wrong. In his quest to handle the situation ‘like a man’, she turned on him, claiming that he was in support of his father.
“… NO SHAME AT ALL. OH MY GOODNESS, SHE’S YOUNG ENOUGH TO BE HIS DAUGHTER! WHO DOES….”
However, she cooled off when the man went on to ‘steal’ his girlfriend (or fiancée as the case may be) and marry her. Joe possibly couldn’t have had any hand in that.
“… HIS FRIENDS. AND I WARNED HIM ABOUT THEM, BUT DOES THE OLD GOAT EVER LISTEN? HE DOES…”
They had established a ‘truce’ of some sort now. He checked on her and his sisters (who stayed with her) occasionally and at least, they seemed to be getting past the whole thing.
“…JUST TWO MONTHS AGO! I’M TIRED OF THIS DISGRACE. WHAT DID I DO TO…”
They all knew what she had done, but it was in the past now. At least everyone except his father had put it behind them.
Wait a minute, what did she say about two months again?
His mind began to race again.
“ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO ME?”
“Mum, I… I have to go. Will call u back later”
He hung up and opened the calendar application in his phone.
What in the world?? How could that have slipped his mind???
He took a deep breath and dialed the number he had deleted from his phone (but apparently not from his memory) and vowed never to call again.
She answered on the third ring.
“Wow, today must be..”
“… yes. I see your father has told you. I wanted to but..”
“You married my dad about two months ago!”
“Ermm, yes I did. But why…”
“And you’re THREE MONTHS pregnant!!!”
“You keep cutting me… what?”
“You’re three months pregnant Gladys! Or are you not?”
She was mute.
She hesitated. “Ye-yes”
“Is that my baby?”
The silence that followed that question was “screeching” in Joe’s chest.
“Oh my God!”