Disclaimer: B&S doesn’t belong to me. Written with love, not for money.
Summary: Scotty and Wally sit down. And there’s Bertha….
She knows it Scotty who calls, because Wally quickly looks over his shoulder at her and lowers his voice. He always does that when Scotty calls. It used to bother her. As if she was too stupid to understand that Scotty doesn’t want to talk to her. By now she figures that Wally thinks that she doesn’t want to talk to Scotty. Which is not entirely true, she just has no clue what to say.
She hears Wally say ‘sure’ and ‘no problem, when will you be here?’ and she wonders what is going on. Wally puts down the phone.
“Scotty wants to meet us at the diner across the street. In about half an hour.” He says and she shakes her head, she doesn’t want to talk to Scotty just yet. She hears Wally sigh and ask: “What will I say to him?” She looks at Wally, but doesn’t answer.
“Hi, thank you for being here.” Scotty says, grateful to see his dad.
“You called. I was in the neighborhood anyway.” Wally smiles.
“A real one?Or one of those ‘I have a gay son’-induced ones?”
“The last one, I’m afraid. She was really upset last night.”
“I’m sorry… that she was upset.”
“But not about what Kevin said?”
“Your mother didn’t set out to hurt you or Kevin.”
“Come on, dad. I had a bad case of frost-bite when I came home last night.”
Wally looks at his son. Suddenly seeing an older man and no longer the kid he was, when he left the house a few years ago, his head filled with weird ideas about how to live his life, far away from his parents. Scotty is defending Kevin, his husband, against his mother and… against him. And be it quietly, Scotty stands on his principles.
“I agree that your mom could have been a bit …. warmer.” Wally concedes.
“Don’t be like that. Not with me. I know you have given up arguing with mom, but don’t agree with me to keep the peace. I would understand it if you felt the need to protect mom.”
Wally’s little smile doesn’t reach his eyes. And there his tempestuous son again, the one who angrily left the house so many years ago. What had happened to him in the meantime?
He sees Scotty take a deep breath and glance at the ring on his finger. Scotty seems suddenly calmer, as if the ring gives him stability.
“I really would understand, you know.” Scotty says again.
“I don’t plan to, because I disagree with her.” Wally says calmly. “Kevin really tried last night to be kind. I could see how nervous he was. As nervous as that day he showed up on our door-step.”
Wally smiles at the memory of opening up the door and seeing that man standing there. The man his son was in love with. He had immediately liked Kevin. “But your mom… she only sees a relationship, she doesn’t approve of, between her son and another man, which by all accounts is wrong in her book, in her life, in her religion, in everything she believes in. And make no mistake about this, she loves you, still. It’s just….” Wally’s voice trails off. He doesn’t need to explain it.
She wonders what Wally told Scotty. She opens her bag and then her purse. Inside it is a faded picture of Scotty, when he was 14 years old. A bit of a shy, vague smile. She had ignored the signs for so long. Even when her friends started to wonder if Scotty was gay, she would find excuses. Scotty didn’t like sports (lies: because Scotty loved being outdoors and have fun), that Scotty was a late bloomer and would eventually long for a girlfriend, that Scotty was just in a rebellious phase in his life….
She would daydream about his life. About Scotty bringing home that ONE girl he wanted. She would be the best mother-in-law ever. Of course Scotty would get married, be successful at his work, whatever that would be. They would have a nice little house, maybe his wife would have a part-time job that would give them extra income, but still make her a part-time mother so that Bertha could look after her grandson once he was born.
And then came the day Scotty told her and Wally that he didn’t like girls at all. That he was gay. And her hopes shattered, her dreams burst like the soap-bubbles they were and her life came to halt. She stills considers it her biggest failure that she hasn’t raised her son ‘as it should be’. If she had been a better mother, more disciplined, then maybe….
Of course, things got worse once Scotty left the house with a just his clothes and some money, and everyone in their immediate circle knew why. She carried her ‘shame’ with her for so long. She lost a lot of her friends and she was happy that Wally suggested moving to Arizona. In Arizona no-one knew about Scotty’s past. To her new neighbors he was just a picture in a frame.
And when asked she would say that he was in California and that he worked hard and therefore never came to see them…That was until that phone-call from Scotty telling her that he wanted her and Wally to be there for his commitment ceremony…. And it made all her life crumble around her again.
Scotty lets Wally’s excuse for his mother hang between them. Wally wants to find an excuse, to Scotty there is none. Leave it at that. The waitress brings Wally his coffee and some herbal tea for Scotty. Scotty is concentrated on the tea for a moment and Wally watches Scotty fingers gracefully move around. It shows, to him, the tenderness for food that Scotty used to have when he was younger. He remembers how Scotty would love to watch Bertha in the kitchen.
And he is reminded of Bertha, happily smiling at her son, 11-12 years old, as he helped her cut the vegetables and she and Scotty would sing along with the music on the radio. Sometimes he would catch her dancing along. Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing in the dark’.. always one of her favorites... She would laugh if Scotty told her, rather embarrassed but amused, to stop it. She used to be so carefree...
He sighs. Nowadays, the radio is hardly ever on. Bertha lives in silence in her house. In a kitchen where she chops the vegetables as if she has a personal vendetta to settle with them. He hasn’t caught her dancing in a long time. It is rare if she even smiles. It is as if something inside her has frozen and he can’t undo it.
No, it wasn’t true. It was not really Scotty’s plan to get ‘married’. Married as if what he and this Kevin were doing was a ‘normal’ act. As if what they shared could possibly compare to what she and Wally had. It could not be. Two men could not have that together. It was not as God wanted a relationship to be. Scotty confused lust with love, but there was no way that she could make him see that.
She counted off the days until the commitment ceremony and she prayed. She prayed that God would make him see the error of his ways. And then, Kevin suddenly stood before her on the day of his commitment ceremony and she saw herself confronted with the man in her son's life. No longer just a name, just 5 anonymous meaningless letters in a row, but someone of flesh and blood and with a warm voice and beautiful blue eyes that begged to be heard.
And she watched Kevin’s face light up as he talked about Scotty. The tenderness, that unintentionally softened his face, came as a shock to her. His pride showed, as he told them about Scotty becoming a chef-cook and his expressive face gave away the hurt as he talked about Scotty’s pain that they should not be there on a day that was so important to both of them.
But it was wrong and she had to be strong! So she held on to her principles and walked away. And she left the man, her son loved, sitting on the couch. She turned her back on Scotty again and it hurt so much. But she had to. What Scotty was doing was wrong and someone had to remain in charge and not let the emotions take the upper hand. And that had to be her.
“The McCallisters were nice yesterday.” Wally tries.
“Yes. They were. They usually are.” Scotty replies, equally friendly. He has to try to find an angle to discuss Kevin and yesterday.
“Do you often have dinner with them?”
“With the McCallisters? No, not really. We lead rather separate lives. And have separate political opinions.”
“McCallister voted against gay marriage.” Wally says quietly.
“He won’t do that again.” Scotty grins.
“Because of you and Kevin? Do you believe you have that much impact on him?”
Scotty starts to laugh and replies:
“I don’t think that Kevin is someone Robert will take into account, when he makes a decision and my influence is really negligible, but Robert has a gay brother and from what Kevin told me, Jason was not very impressed with Robert’s “no” vote.”
“And Kevin knows this because….?”
“Kevin and Jason used to be in a relationship.”
“Robert’s brother with Kitty’s brother?” Wally is surprised. Scotty nods. “What happened? Did Robert or Kitty interfere?”
“No. Religion did….” Upon seeing his father’s questioning face Scotty says: “Jason is a minister in a church and he was sent to Malaysia on a mission. Kevin and he … grew apart.” Scotty tries.
“And where were you in that story?” Wally knows this son well enough to realize that there is more to this story then Scotty is telling.
“I lived with Kevin at the time.” He says quietly.
“You were living with Kevin and Jason at the loft?” Wally wonders what the hell Scotty has been up to.
“No. I moved in with Kevin after Jason had gone to Malaysia.” Scotty knows that he has to come clean about his life. There are so many things he never told his father. Wally has no idea… and his mother even less. “I met Kevin two years ago. And we had a quick, messy but weird relationship that just didn’t work out. So we broke up. A few months later we met again and had a one-night thing. But then went our separate ways again. I think that, at those points, I knew we were meant to be… someday.
I studied as hard as I could and worked like crazy, but needed more money for my tuition then I thought. I was running out of money fast. My reserves were nearly gone and then I got sick with the flu, I was out of work for nearly a month. Nobody wants a cater-waiter coughing and sneezing all over their food. And so I lost a month in extra income and I …. I was nearly broke.
And, on top of everything else, I had to appear on a DUI-charge and I saw no other option then to go ask Kevin for help. Kevin got me off the hook for the DUI-thing and he and I became friends. I worked as hard as I could, but I lost my place because I could no longer pay the rent or insurance. And then not even the telephone anymore.
I moved from friend to friend, from couch to futon. I never stayed long in one place, trying not to overstay my welcome anywhere. For several weeks I lived out of plastic bags and eventually my friends couldn’t really help me either and I slept in the Ranchero, my car….” Scotty’s voice has become very soft, he is so ashamed to tell his father how low he had sunk.
That they are here is Wally’s fault.
Kevin’s visit and Scotty’s late night call, after the ceremony, had awoken a desire in Wally to see his son. He was relentless in his own sweet way. He tried to make her change her mind. And finally she gave in and agreed to meet with Scotty. Relieved, Wally immediately called Scotty and he was happy to see them. Explaining they couldn’t stay at the loft, but he was sure that Kevin and he could find them a nice hotel.
So, yesterday, she had seen Scotty again, for the first time in many years. It was different from what she had expected. When he left he was a slender young man, just a boy really, with flamboyantly colored t-shirts with texts that would be provocative. His jeans would be tight and torn in impossible places. He would wear traces of eyeliner to accentuate his eyes. He hair had been longer. Sometimes laced with a different color. Everything he said had to sound catty.
Now she looked at a young man, more mature. No trace whatsoever of make-up. Normal clothing. His chest had broadened. He looked healthy and if he would smile she would see the ‘old’ Scotty back. Nervous and shy at first, all smiles. Once Kevin had left for the office Scotty had shown them the loft.
He showed them the kitchen and talked about his studies and work. The name of Kevin kept popping up in the living room. Whether it was about the changes they made to the apartment or the books on the shelves, Scotty’s love for him was in his voice and it irritated her. After a moment’s hesitation he showed them their bedroom and their bathroom. And while Wally asked questions about the closet in the bathroom, her eyes had drifted to the bed…
Wally stares at his son. Unable to understand at first what Scotty is telling him. Scotty was homeless, moneyless. He had been sick and there was nothing Wally could have done for him, because Scotty never told him. Scotty always said he was fine…
“Then Kevin found out I was homeless… He offered me a roof over my head, an air-mattress, a warm blanket and his friendship. Nothing more. He was in love with Jason.
Things went bad between Jason and him however and, eventually, he broke up with Jason. He said he wanted me back and I hesitated a while, but eventually we worked out our differences. We took it slow, we got to know each other. While I was with him, he gave me time and space to work out my financial troubles. I am no longer indebted to anyone.”
Scotty takes his father’s hand. “Dad, I know that Kevin must seem like a jerk to you, but I can guarantee you, he’s not. He’s so giving, so generous, so caring. I knew what I did when I married him. He feels so bad about what happened yesterday… He really wants to make it up to you two and …” Over his father’s shoulder he sees someone come in….
The bedroom. That is where it really hit her. Where she started to see what she had ignored so long. This is where Scotty slept… Where Scotty slept, but not alone…. He slept with a man… Her son Scotty was sleeping with a man… With … Kevin. There was no way she could go around this fact. Or around the fact that they don’t just sleep there. This is where they touch each other, kiss each other. This was where Kevin touched her son. Her Scotty… She shivered and looked away..
And saw a picture on the wall. Kevin dressed in grey, Scotty in beige. Their happiness beamed off the picture. She recognized the McCallisters, but not the others.
“Those are the Walkers.” She heard Scotty say behind her. “This couple here. Tommy and Julia, Julia is holding Lizzie, their daughter. That is Justin. Rebecca. This is Nora, Kevin’s mother, Kevin, me, Sarah, Kevin’s uncle Saul and you know Kitty and Robert. These two, here in the front, are Paige and Cooper, Sarah’s children. ”
And she was jealous…and angry…and disappointed. Because beside Scotty, an arm around his waist, is this woman he called Sarah and is should have been her… It should have been her. His mother. She should have stood there next to her son, like Nora stood next to Kevin. And at the same time she knew she didn’t make sense. She didn’t want to be at the ceremony. Scotty should not have “married” Kevin… but he looked so happy on that pictures. They both did.
“Who was this, you said?”
“Sarah, Kevin’s eldest sister.” Scotty answers Wally question and his face softens: “She was responsible for Kevin and me getting together in the first place. She had an argument with him and looked for a way to get back at him. I was a client of his who was interested in him. Our paths crossed…. The rest, as they say, is history.”
Scotty smiled happily at Wally, but as he caught Bertha’s look, his smile immediately vanished. It completely unsettled her. She always wanted the best for her son and ‘the best’ could not be someone of the same sex… But Scotty looked happy and confident… But he’s sleeping with another man…. But such a relationship is based on carnal desires…. But Scotty loves this man…. And is loved by him. …
She was so confused. She wished she could have a few moments to herself to organize her thoughts. But she heard Scotty say: “Shall we go?” She was eager to leave the bedroom…. She just wanted to get away from the realization that her son was gay.
But that was yesterday.
She looks at the picture between her fingers. She wants that boy back, but she knows she can’t. Too much has happened. But Scotty is still here. And she still can feel things. She remembers her pain at not being in Scotty’s wedding picture, where she should have been. And she keeps seeing the way Scotty’s happy smile got wiped away every time he looked at her. There is such happiness in him and she’s not allowed to see it, because he thinks she doesn’t want to see it.
Her son is across the street, talking with his father…
“Someone has to cross the aisle or nothing gets done.” She can hear Kevin’s voice, she can see Kevin’s eyes looking at her, challenging her to take a step. The first step…She gets up, grabs her coat and the key to the room. She has to cross the street. Or nothing gets done.
“Mother.” Scotty is obviously surprised. Taken off guard, his face expresses in quick succession his surprise, his happiness, a glimmer of hope, immediately veiled by the realization that it would be useless, only to turn to a polite smile. “I am here, because Kevin wanted to apologize.”
“And he couldn’t do that himself?” Her question is softer and gentler then Scotty expected.
“I forbade him to come here. Kevin is very good at saying the wrong thing in the wrong words at the wrong moment.” But Scotty smiles tenderly as he speaks those words. “Besides, Kevin thinks that, by now, you hate him and wouldn’t want to listen to him anyway. But… and this is by no means an excuse for his behavior… he had a very bad yesterday.” Scotty takes a deep breath and continues:
“He didn’t make partner… He was practically promised that job, but they changed their minds at the last possible moment. And he was already upset when we met at the table. And mom’s remarks added to that hurt and he tried so hard to stay calm, but lost it in the end… and he’s really, really sorry about his outburst.” Scotty nods.
Under the table Wally softly pushes his foot against Bertha's as if he’s trying to push her… She gives him an annoyed look but then reluctantly says:
“I see... I’m sorry too. It’s been a strange couple of hours. And I was overwhelmed by the McCallisters and maybe… I don’t know… I’m not … “She stammers, wanting to find some clever words to say.
“It’s alright, mother. I understand.” Scotty puts his hand on Bertha’s for a few seconds, but then he checks his watch. “I have to go. Kevin is waiting for me. As the situation is now, I would understand if you went back home from here, but I would…. I’d love it…. I would appreciate it, if you wanted to come by the loft and say goodbye to Kevin and me there.”
Bertha and Wally exchange looks. She knows he will want to. He knows she’d rather not. But then she nods.
“We will drop by your place. Just to say goodbye.” She promises and for one moment there is the smile of the 14-year old she used to know, once, long ago. And with slightly more difficulty she goes on:
“I would also, if possible, take a few pictures of you, home with me. I have no recent pictures. Maybe one or two? I liked the one in the bedroom… at your… ceremony.” She cannot call it a marriage.
“That one with me and… Kevin?” Scotty has to be sure he heard her right.
She nods carefully. She finds it hard, but she knows she has to do this, if she wants to salvage her relationship with Scotty, it will have to include Kevin.
“I’d love to give you that picture.” Scotty replies, breathless for a moment and she sees a glimmer of hope in his eyes. From across the table she takes his hands and smiles at him.
It is a start….