Missed opportunity By Marea67About
: William, Scotty, with a dash of Kevin and JustinRate
: Written with love, not for money. I don’t own B&SSummary
: This guy walks into in a diner….
*****June 2004, somewhere between Pasadena and Ojai.
William wonders why never stopped at this small restaurant before. Sure the place up ahead is bigger, louder and brighter, but this place has something cozy, something vintage, something that says ‘America in the 60s’, though William can’t say why
he feels that way. The place is old, worn out and has obviously known better days.
At the same time, there’s not the stale air of old cigarettes and dusty areas. Instead there’s the smell of fresh coffee. The sweet scent of cake makes William’s mouth water and his stomach starts to growl to express the hunger it has. So William sits down at the first place he likes.
From his place he can see his car, which gives him a comfortable feeling. The table is clean and menu doesn’t feel sticky of too many dirty hands. He checks the card until a shadow falls over him.
“Good afternoon, can I help you?”
William looks up at a young man. He’s a bit too skinny and for a moment he entertains the thought of how Nora would cook herself half-crazy just to put some fat on him.
“Coffee.” He replies. The young waiter has kind blue eyes and something cheerful about him. Obviously someone who enjoys life.
“We have freshly-baked cup-cakes… With chocolate…” The young man suggests and William wonders if that is the delicious smell.
“Freshly-baked?” He teases gently. “But store-bought, I presume.” The young man doesn’t seem to be offended by his words at all.
Instead he shows William a bright smile and shakes his head.
“No, sir, made them myself this morning.”
“Made them yourself, huh. So that is the reason I should try them…?” William is amused as something of the young man’s good mood flows his way.
“I don’t want to boast, but my cupcakes are usually gone within an hour…..?”
“Alright. I’ll be your guinea-pig.” William decides. “Can I sit here for a while and go through some of my papers..?”
“Yes, sir, just… we have strict rules about people talking too loud on the phone though….”
“Don’t worry. I'm glad you do.” William smiles. He watches the young man walk away and he puts his papers on the table. He browses through the contracts that Kevin has set up, always surprised by how clever some of the clauses are, and also a bit proud, because he knows it’s his son who made them up.
“There you go. Coffee. And … cupcake.” The young man announces and Williams doesn’t want to waste more time. Right under his nose, the cake smells even better than from the kitchen and he’s more than interested to try. The young man looks at him expectantly and William cannot lie.
“This is absolutely delicious.” He says and the young man smiles shyly. “Any woman would be fortunate to get you as a husband….” William immediately notices the little change as the smile turns a little uncertain and embarrassed. William closes his eyes for a second when he realizes his mistake.
“…. Or any guy should be glad to have you as a boyfriend?” William tries again. He’s a little surprised by how bold his words sound to him. The mere suggestion…! But the young man relaxes again, though he’s still on his guard too.
“Scotty!” The cook yells and the young man smiles apologetically.
“Sorry…” He runs off and leaves William to wonder what it is about this ‘Scotty’ he likes. He usually doesn't pay much attention to men, always considered that the job of Nora and the girls…. And Kevin. … And Justin.
Yes, perhaps he can blame Justin more than anyone else. He can still remember how he sat next to Justin on the beach, one day ….….and he sees how Justin’s eyes follow a young man, the typical blond surf-kid. Catching his father’s wondering glance, Justin merely smiles and replies:
“Kevin would like him… A lot!”
“But… that guy is straight.” William protests and Justin laughs.
“No. Definitely not.”
“How can you tell?” William now asks.
“Don’t know. Kevin often says my gaydar is better than his own.”
“Gay-dar?” William repeats as if it’s some dead bug on his windshield.
“Yes, that is when you can tell if someone is gay or not.” Justin shrugs, not interested in the topic any further.
“Does it never bother you? …. About Kevin.” William suddenly asks and Justin’s first reaction is a non-understanding look at his dad.
“About Kevin?... Oh! You mean the fact that he’s gay? No. I don’t care.”
“You spend a lot of time with Kevin, don’t you?”
“I like him.” Justin shrugs.
“But would you not rather hang out with Tommy?” Justin looks at his dad, a frown on his face.
“Listen, I know you don’t like Kevin and that your prefer Tommy, because, for some reason, you think he’s more of a ‘man’ than Kevin is. But I think you’re wrong. I like Kevin a lot. He’s smart and funny. He cares so much about his family and he’s always there for me, no matter how much I screw up.
Tommy’s only concern is Ojai Foods. Even Julia comes second place. Let’s not play this game of ‘who would you rather be with’. Tommy is Tommy. Kevin is Kevin. They each have their good and their bad sides. I don’t like to think of them in either/or terms.” Justin replies, sharper than he intended.
William is clearly surprised by those words and thinks them over. William can recognize it when Justin’s bracing himself for an argument, so he changes tactics.
“Is Kevin currently seeing someone… that you know of?” He suddenly asks. Justin tenses up.
“Maybe. He’s spending a lot of his time with a guy from work. Steve or Steven something. Haven’t met him yet.”
“I didn’t know he had someone else… after Hank, you know…? He wouldn’t tell me these things.”
“Because you don’t care.” Justin shrugs and this time it’s William who frowns.
“Why would I not care?
“You hate Kevin.” William is surprised by how much Justin suddenly sounds like his former 10-year old self. There was that stubborn tone in his voice that made it clear that he knew he was right and that he didn’t wish to get contradicted.
“I don’t hate Kevin. I don’t
understand him, but I don’t hate him…”
“Maybe you should tell him that.” Justin answers, brushing the sand from his legs.
“Then try again….” Justin suggests and he gets up and grabs his board. “Come on. I want to go surfing and I don’t wish to gossip about Kevin.” and discussion was closed as far as Justin was concerned.
“….But I did try…” William sighs.
“Sorry?” The soft voice breaks William’s thoughts. He had been so far away with his thoughts that he hadn’t noticed that Scotty had come back. “I asked you if you wanted some more coffee?”
“Yes, please, are there more cupcakes.”
“Of course.” Scotty smiles and within a minute he’s back. William gives him a grateful smile, suddenly realizing that he’s rather hungry. He looks around, the place is almost empty now.
“Can I order something to eat? A real meal I mean.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. The cook is gone for about an hour to run some errands….” Scotty sees the disappoint on William’s face. “.. But, if you’re not too demanding I can make you an omelet….?” He offers.
“Are they as good as the cupcakes?”
“I personally think they are better…” Scotty confesses cheerfully. “.. but I then I prefer omelets over cupcakes, so, I’m biased.” William can’t help but laugh.
“Omelet will be just fine.” He agrees.
“I will be right back.” Scotty promises and William watches how he disappears into the kitchen. He picks up his phone and calls Kevin’s number, where he’s told to leave a message after the beep.
“Hi, Kev, I was wondering if we could meet tomorrow night? I have a few things I wish to discuss with you….”
He signs two contracts and marks another contract with some strong lines, where he doesn’t agree and a question mark where he doesn’t understand the full meaning. The phone rings and he picks up.
“Kevin…?” William says.
“Yes, dad. I’m sorry, but I have a meeting tomorrow-night. Work. Can we re-schedule for another day? Or can you tell me over the phone what is bothering you with the contracts?” Kevin asks and William feels strangely defeated when he, once again, gets confronted with how troublesome his relationship is with Kevin, in comparison to Tommy and Justin.
“It was actually more something… private… Not business-related. I thought that maybe we could have dinner together … I’ve just discovered this place….”
“I’m sure it’s very good.” Kevin cuts him off. “.. but I’m very busy at the moment. I can only make time if it is really necessary with regard to Ojai Foods.”
“I see…” William says quietly. He can hear Kevin sigh softly on the other side and he can imagine how Kevin leans back and closes his eyes, feeling slightly guilty for brushing William off like that…
“Perhaps, lunch, next Tuesday?” Kevin offers.
“I have a meeting with …” William starts, when he suddenly remembers that Kevin knows he has appointment as well. Of course, Kevin suggests a date where he knows that William can’t come.
“Oh, too bad…” Kevin doesn’t sound too disappointed. “Our meeting will have to wait then.”
“Yes. I suppose so… I have to go, Kevin.”
“Bye.” Kevin hangs up and William takes a deep breath. Scotty, who just walked up to his table with the omelet, sees his face.
“Trouble with my son.” William replies. The omelet smells so good that William can’t wait to taste it. “This is delicious… Nearly makes me forget everything.” Scotty smiles at the compliment.
“If you need someone to talk to…?” Scotty offers.
He and William both look around. There’s just the two of them.
“It’s not like I’m terribly busy and, truth be told, sometimes it’s easier to talk to a stranger… I’ve worked behind the bar for so long. You won’t believe the stories of heart-ache and pain I’ve heard over the years.”
William shrugs and takes another bite.
“There’s not much to say…. I have a son, who’s gay…” He carefully looks at Scotty’s face, wondering how he will react, but Scotty is unimpressed. “We’ve fought a lot, but … I’m trying to get in touch with him again. And he just keeps shutting me out.”
“That is not so strange.” Scotty replies carefully.
“My son came out years ago. Yes, I didn’t take it well. Yes, I’ve said I shouldn’t have said. Yes, things were icy between us for a long time… But I apologized to him. I’ve tried to talk to him, but …” Frustrated William sticks his fork in the omelet, cutting off another bite.
Scotty remains quiet for a few seconds and he stares at his long strong fingers.
“I can only speak for myself. But … when I came out, my mom threw me out. She turned her back on me and it hurt. It hurt like hell. As a child - and I was only sixteen at the time - you deserve to have your parents stand by your side.
When that doesn’t happen over something that cannot
be helped… I still don’t believe that people choose
to be gay or lesbian… then it leaves a mark on your heart and in your mind. On your soul. And let me say that I would love nothing more than to solve my issues with parents.
But if my mom would call me now or show up here and tell me that she wanted me back in her life again, I wouldn’t be able to believe her. Faith is hard to earn and easily lost…” William is surprised to hear the words he has used so often in his life, being used back at him.
“But I already tried….”
“Then try harder…” Scotty says. William opens his mouth to reply, when the door opens and a few new customers come in. “I’m sorry.” Scotty apologizes and he gets up to greet the new-comers, leaving William to finish his meal.
William thinks over Scotty’s words. Then try again, that is what Justin had said. Try harder, Scotty had said. But how? How? Suddenly he grabs his phone and dials Kevin’s number again. This time Kevin picks up.
“Dad. Keep it short. I’m about to go in a meeting.”
“Tuesday is fine.” William says.
“Tuesday. Lunch. Fine with me.”
“But…. but … you have a meeting.” Kevin stammers.
“I can cancel…” A little smile curls around William’s lips as he hears Kevin’s little gasp of surprise. “Tuesday sounds good to me.”
“Oh. Okay.” Kevin replies, clearly overrun with shock.
“See you then.” William grins and he hangs up.
William finishes his food, puts everything back in his briefcase. Noticing this, Scotty walks up to him.
“I see you’re feeling better?” He smiles. William nods.
“I wanted to thank you. And not just for the omelet.”
“Have you thought about what to do with your son?”
“First step taken…”
“Good.” Scotty nods and William pays him for the coffee and food and he leaves a good tip behind as well.
At that moment the chef comes back in and yells:
“Hey, Wandell! Help me clean up here!” Scotty says a quick thank you and goodbye to William and runs off again. Back in his car William writes down the name of the restaurant and the name of Scotty Wandell.
A week later William hears on the news that the restaurant burned to the ground after a fire had started in the middle of the night. For a moment he thinks about the young man he had met and who’s name escapes him. The piece of paper that he written the name on, has been put through the shredder, name and all.
William is glad to hear that there were no casualties. However, the place is too damaged and will most likely not be rebuild. He sighs. For a moment, he plays with the fantasy of introducing Kevin to that young man, wondering if it could have worked. Most likely not, knowing Kevin, but William had liked the young man.
And that thought brings him back to Kevin. His meeting with Kevin got cancelled, due to a problem at Ojai Foods, caused by Tommy, and Kevin had seemed understanding, but at the same time even more distant. And for quite a while, William walks around with the idea that he missed out on a great opportunity….