Everyone flew out the next morning except Joe and Tak-Sin, and dad and Joanne. Bob and Sara drove Herb and the Angel down to the airport in the rented minivan that evening. They had a pleasant enough lunch at a hotel near the hotel. Sara hated to admit it, but dad had done well during the whole wedding affair. No explosions. Not TOO many regretful words or actions.
She still felt a tinge of anger when she saw the satisfied look on his face when he would sit somewhere holding the Angel’s hand. She also felt the anger when she caught mom glancing at the couple out of the corner of her eye. It was so unfair. This “nice” man who sat in the back of the van was someone she didn’t know. He’d kept this “person” hidden away her whole life. Why should the Angel only get the nice guy while the rest of them had suffered for years with the demon? But every time she felt that anger she just said to herself “Let it go. Just let it go.” And she tried. She had a beautiful husband now who loved her. They shared a lovely little apartment in Osaka, made lots of money, travelled, made love, laughed, and enjoyed life. There was no reason to hold onto that rage. Those evil men were things of the past. The old dad was in the process of disappearing. Blake was no more.
Bob was different. It was calmer. Easier. Smoother. Quieter. She always sighed when he’d wrap her in his arms and she would play with his big, clumsy fingers.
With Blake, it had never been that way. It was fire. Their passion was almost violent at times. He was loud, brazen and always up for a good time. There were no limits with Blake. She never made love with Blake. They fucked like filthy cavemen. It was raw. She told him she loved him countless times in a day between urgent kisses. He told her the same. Blake made an impact with the family. They all loved him. Wes loved his quick wit. Mom loved his charming manners. Uncle Joe said he was the hottest piece of ass this side of the Rockies. The boys loved taking him fishing and smoking joints. Even toddler Tiffany used to climb up onto his lap and play with his goatee. Bob was more reserved. There would never be that type of bond with him and the family. She knew that much. In a way, it was a relief. She didn’t want them to become too attached to him in case…
They finally arrived at the airport. Dad and Bob went ahead to check-in with the baggage. Sara and Joanne stayed outside for a smoke.
“He really is a stunning man, ya know?” She looked like a TV star in a pair of fitted jeans, heeled boots, and a plum, angora sweater under a warm, down vest of black.
Yes, I am a lucky girl.”
“And your father and I really did have a lovely time. He is so proud of you.”
“I’m glad you enjoyed yourselves.” She turned and studied Joanne’s face for a moment.
“Has anyone ever told you how much you look like Kate Jackson?”
“You mean from Charlie’s Angels? If I had a nickel, my dear, for every time I heard that, well, I would be one nickel richer. But thank you. She is lovely.”
Sara watched “Bob” and her father struggling to put the suitcases onto a cart through the terminal window. “Hmm. You know, I just don’t know how you did it. He’s a new person…almost.” Sara said.
“Well, the first thing I did was to get him to read this incredible book called Dianetics and it changed all that.”
Sara was speechless, and could feel her own jaw drop.
“Thank God! You had me worr…”
“You mean ‘thank Xenu.’”
They both had a good chuckle.
“No, I guess the story is too long and complicated. We caused your mother a lot of pain, and I will forever regret that. The truth is we just drifted into something that felt comfortable. I was a lonely mess, pining for someone I had lost. He was too. Oh yes, he WAS lonely. He came to the realisation, long ago, how much he had hurt your mother the first time. I know for a fact he tried for ages to win back her heart, and tried to make up for what we had done. But I think her heart was already too broken. I was scared at first. I’d fallen in love with a man that had that kind of history. But I always appreciated his honesty. He still has many issues to work through, but the therapy has helped a lot.”
“Dad is seeing a therapist?”
“I insisted. We have couples therapy once a week, and he goes by himself once a week as well.”
“He always said therapists were a bunch of crackpots.”
“Well, I guess he has changed his mind over the past few years. Your mom has started going too.”
“Oh no. In fact, we’ve had several sessions with all three of us. It’s been very insightful.”
“Is this another joke?”
“No, not at all.” The Angel inhaled deeply on her cigarette. “Ya know, it’s really not my position to say anything, but what the Hell. One of the things that has always come up in our sessions together is you. They both love you so much. I think they both feel guilty that somehow they have ruined your life.”
“What? They haven’t ruined my life. I have a great life.”
“Well, maybe they don’t know that. It takes different people different amounts of time to forgive.”
“But I have…well, mostly. I mean, dad and I have our issues…but…”
“Sorry, if I overstepped my bounds. Just curious though, as to why haven’t you cashed that cheque? I mean, it’s been nearly three years now.”
“The cheque? From that memorable Christmas? You think that because I haven’t cashed the cheque it’s some symbol of my inability to forgive dad? Gosh, maybe those shrinks are a bunch of nuts. I don’t need the money. That’s all there is to it.”
“Well, none of us needs it either. So, cash the cheque.”
“Cash the cheque?”
“Cash the cheque.”
“And magically everyone will feel like they’re living in Disneyland because I cash a damn cheque?”
“It wouldn’t hurt to try.”
“Now I know how you did it…how you changed him, or brought him out of his shell, or whatever.”
Joanne smiled sceptically. “How is that?”
“You’re a sly fox. That’s what you are. You are no angel at all.”
“And if I had a nickel for every time I heard that…”
“You’d be Bill Gates.”
“Well, Ron L. Hubbard perhaps.”