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Justin Campbell Justin Campbell
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'Sunglasses, Time-Travel, & Iced-Tea' Part 21

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Under the Double Star - Chapter One

21. – Leonard

       “They have no idea we’re here,” I observed. Ever since my father and his lovely family entered the huge house, they had given Brian and I absolutely no attention.

       “I guess we’re just here to watch and observe,” Brian said, “and the only way to do that is to virtually be here ourselves physically while at the same time separated from the actual reality your dad and his wife and child inhabit.”

       “I hate this,” I said. “I don’t want to watch my father be happy with his perfect family, which just happens to include my ex-girlfriend.”

       “How could you never have realized the connection before?”

       “She was very closed up and private,” I explained. “I am unsure if she knew her step-father was my biological one, but if she did, that proves a few of her points on why she wanted to break up with me, why she didn’t want to go much further than we’d gone.”

       “You never saw her parents?”

       “No. And I didn’t see her often, either. We went on a few dates, but I was always impatient, expecting fast service from the waiters at restaurants, choosing a movie but then choosing a different one at the last minute at the cinema, wanting more of things when I already had them…she often told me she reminded her of her step-father, and now I know why.”

       “Yeah. And you do drive pretty fast in your Impala, I feel good about having suggested we turn on the radio on our way to John’s to test the machine all that time from now.”

       “I’ll admit, it took me a lot – and I mean a lot – of restraint to discourage Jason from pushing the red button,” I revealed. It was true.

       “Well, this is probably the exact kind of thing you need to look at and realize how impatient and mildly hedonistic you are. Just watch your father and see how that affects his life. He’s got a nice house and wife and step-child – sure, that’s pretty neat – but how did that affect your girlfriend? Did she ever speak highly of him?”

       “No. Never seemed warm to him. Didn’t even call him dad.”

       “Well then, there you go.”

       In front of us, the family sat on a big leather couch watching a rerun of that week's episode of Friends, which was, at this time, a relatively new show my father’s wife had been enthusiastic about watching earlier. On the screen, our friend Lloyd, Kevin, Katie from class, and Sophie, a friend of Jason’s, sat around their familiar ‘Central Perk’ café discussing some sort of issue between Kevin and Sophie. In the background, Maisy, also from class, strummed a guitar.

       “That Joey is hilarious,” my father’s wife snickered, referring to Kevin. I guess they didn’t see the people we knew.

       “It’s almost time for bed, sweetie,” my father said to Iris. “It’s almost nine.”

       “Aw, I don’t wanna go to bed! Just another ten minutes?”

       “No longer,” my father said sternly.

       Brian, sitting in a comfy chair to the right of the couch, wrapped up warmly in a quilted blanket, yawned. “I am getting tired. I hope this is over soon. I hope Sophie – I mean, Rachel – manages to hook up with Ross.”

       “Okay, fine. I’ll stop being hedonistic,” I said more to myself than to Brian. “I understand now. Forcing me to watch my good ol’ father and my ex-girlfriend at a young age really kicked in.”

       Nothing happened. No bright light. We just continued watching Friends – or, in reality, our friends.
       After Lloyd and Sophie - or Ross and Rachel - kissed, my father picked up Iris as the show ended, fifteen minutes later. “Bed time.”

       “No,” she whined.

       “Yes,” he said, and carried her into the hall. From the living room, we could hear Iris yelling and whining at my father to bring her back, as my father’s wife just stared absently at the TV screen. As my ex-girlfriend’s cries faded away the further my father brought her from the room, I distinctly heard the woman mutter something.
       “What did I get into? Why this?” she wondered aloud.

       I perked up. “Did you hear that, Brian?”


       “My dad’s wife – she just wondered why she got into this.”

       “Got into what?”

       “I don’t know…it’s so ambiguous…but…something tells me she’s wondering why she’s here…why she let herself end up like this. I’m not entirely sure.”

       “That's interesting…do you think she’s regretting her lifestyle?”

       “I’m really not sure…but you know, I have this old, consistent reason to think that my father just ran into this. Wanted her here…wanted this house, wanted this lifestyle, this reality, Iris to discipline, everything. It’s like…I don’t know, everything that exists here is solely because of my father’s greediness for an extravagant lifestyle, whereas that woman sitting on the couch doesn’t necessarily feel perfectly fit.”

       “I see your point,” Brian said. “She doesn’t exactly feel like she perfectly belongs.”

       “Hmm,” I wondered. “I’m thinking…she must have been a single mother with difficulties, made even more difficult with the raising of a young child – and I remember Iris telling me they weren’t perfectly well-off before my father came into the picture – but I remember her telling me that her mother always had huge determination, and I guess, when my father pulled her out of the difficult working world and gave her all this comfort and security, I’ll bet she didn’t need to work for anything anymore or make any effort to do anything.”

       “Good insight,” Brian agreed.

       “Iris broke up with me not just primarily because of the connection between her and my father…but because she didn’t want another version of him around to tell her what to do,” I realized. “Christ. That’s what’s wrong! She spends her time up in her bed these days reading books out of boredom because that’s where she gets the most peace! No one around to want her to do things…everything is starting to make sense now.”

       Brian yawned again. “That’s great, Leonard. Awesome.”

       “And that’s why I’m better off without my father too! He’d have been just the same way, except I would have had a horrible time because I’m just like him and our personalities would have just worked opposite each other…man, this...this all works!”

       My father re-entered the room. “Well, Iris is in bed. Want me to cook up a little evening snack before bed?”

       “Oh, that’s okay, I don’t want any – “

       “I’m just heading into the kitchen, let me know if you want anything else.” He strode off to the kitchen, leaving his wife to sit there, rolling her eyes.

       As she sat there, I began to hear a guitar play. It wasn’t Maisy’s – I mean, Phoebe’s guitar strumming on the TV, and it wasn’t from the massive stereo system that took up some of the wall.

       “Do you hear that?” I asked Brian.

       “Hear what? I hear the TV, they’ve got a new episode of Seinfeld – “

       “The music!” As the volume reached its max, the song made the perfect sense.

       “It’s the Rolling Stones! ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want!’”

       “Really?” Brian said. “Neato!”

       As the music played, a bright white light began to fill the room. Oh man, was I ready to welcome that.

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