If there is something to pardon in everything, there is also something to condemn.
Bright blue eyes, usually full of zest for life and occasional mischief now reflected a deep sadness of loss and missing of a loved one, if there was any sparkle if was from wetness collecting in them.
He blinked to keep tears from welling up, then quickly wiped his eyes, even though he was alone. Nearly half of his life spent as an actor, he had learned to suppress his feelings as needed and show strength he didn’t truly possess.
After clearing his throat, he looked around, finding himself still all alone he spoke, just loud enough for himself to hear his own words.
“Hey dad, it’s me, your son, Ewan. Well, I guess me saying ‘dad’ kinda implies that I am your son. Although, you do have two sons, but I guess I look nothing like Lucas. He’s doing fine, by the way. So are Vero and Bri. I am fine too. No, that’s a lie. I am pretty miserable without you – still after all this time. I’d give anything for one more day with you, to ask you all the questions I still have, and tell you all the things I never got to tell you. You know, raising kids right is tough on a man, Eric and Hannah have guidance from their parents and in-laws and I am kinda on my own just guessing like a blind man with a stick trying to hit the pinata. Eric and his dad help me out a lot, but it’s not the same. Ava still won’t have anything to do with her family, and truth be told, I am glad of it. I want my kids to become like you and mom were, even if she wasn’t my real mom, I want them to be classy like grandma Blythe was and elegant and composed like grandpa Ethan had been, not ruffians like Ava’s family. Hard to believe she’s related to that trash.”
Ewan halted when he felt watched, as he looked up he now saw a young man blatantly staring over at him. The guy must have walked in just now.
“What are you looking at? Want a framed picture?” was Ewan’s brash reaction. A cemetery was no place to deal with fans. Had they no shame?!
Ewan felt naked and exposed by the guy’s obvious stares, it instantly angered him, made him very defensive.
The guy only shook his head.
“Dude – quit staring at me already!” Ewan growled, very upset now.
He felt vulnerable and didn’t like it. Nobody but closest family & friends were to ever see beneath his mask of nonchalance. Nobody but people he trusted with his life were to know about his inner insecurity and vulnerabilities.
Definitely not that weirdo.
The young man was visibly uncomfortable as well, swallowed, cleared his throat before he said just loud enough to reach Ewan
“Just trying to see if there is any resemblance.”
“Resemblance? You knew my dad?” puzzled by the guy’s words, Ewan asked it across hedges and rows of graves, his voice echoing oddly, underlined by birds chirping happily as if this wasn’t the saddest place on earth.
“No, but your mom. Your real mom. She was my mom too. I am Maxwell Wynne. Max. Sarah’s youngest son. She rests right over there. Next to my dad.” the young man pointed to somewhere hidden from Ewan’s view by the hedges separating them.
“Oh shit! Didn’t realize she died. Wow, uh … my condolences.”
“Been several years for me.” Ewan said words that still felt so surreal. Years? It still felt like only yesterday.
“Mom’s kinda been gone long before her heart gave out. The drugs made her loopy, you know. Wasn’t herself anymore. I think a few months after she met up with you and your father her cancer metastasized into her brain. The original cancer was benign, so nobody thought to look elsewhere until she started having issues. It took only a few weeks until she barely functioned anymore. She declined fast. Been gone a few years too.”
As the young man spoke both set in motion and met face to face on one of the paths leading to the various rows of people gone too soon from their loved ones’ lives. Ewan noticed they were both about the same height and that there definitely was a hint of resemblance between them. It felt strange.
“Sorry – ahem – Max. I didn’t know.” Ewan said the words, empty ones, well aware that even if he had known, he would never have shown up for her funeral, neither would his older sister and oldest child of Sarah’s, Briar Rose.
“It’s okay. I get it. We’re basically strangers to each other.” Max shrugged.
“Yeah. I know your mom wanted you and your brother and me to meet, but …” Ewan started, but was instantly corrected by Max.
“Our mom. Like it or not, but she was your mother as well.”
“Barely. She liked to forget that fact for most of my life, so it tends to slip my mind too.” Ewan smirked purposely arrogantly. His defense mechanism when things hit too close to home.
She had hurt the boy in Ewan by abandoning him all those years ago, just like 20 years prior to that she had done with his oldest sister, still after all that time even the man in him couldn’t seem to forgive it, and likely never would.
“I don’t like it when you talk about her like that.” Max said, his voice somewhere between sad and upset.
“Like what? By speaking the truth? You definitely have that in common with her. She wasn’t a big fan of the truth either.” Ewan’s tone was condescending.
“No wonder she couldn’t stand to be around all of you! If the rest is as arrogant as you …” Max’ previously quiet and soft voice had changed to a different, snarky tone, his eyes narrowed.
“What is THAT supposed to mean?!” Ewan demanded, not even hiding his anger.
“Means you believe what you want to believe. Did you know that your ‘oh-so-perfect’ dad cheated on her first – oh yeah, she told us everything – about that, and that the rest of the time he was always working and neglected her … after meeting you, can’t say I am surprised she didn’t keep in touch with you and your sister. She told us, my brother and I, that you and your sister had been so brainwashed into worshiping and believing your father hung the moon, that you would have never understood had she taken you with her. She tried to keep in touch, in the beginning, but your father blocked that. So she gave up, she had found herself a real man and started over with him.”
“Bullshit! She told you what she wanted you to think. Dad was a great dad!”
“Mom was a great mom!” Max held against that.
“Not even compared to a rabid feral cat!”
Without any warning Max swung at Ewan, surprising him, hitting him unprotected, the punch landed full on the intended target, ripping Ewan’s head backwards as the pain already jolted through his entire body, radiating from his jaw.
Stumbling backwards he tried to hold on to Max, ended up taking him down with him, it turned into a brawl, where Ewan soon reached the upper hand. Max put up a good defense, so it turned into mostly a shuffle of swats and failed punches. Almost comical. Almost.
At some point Ewan felt strong arms pull him from his opponent, still blinded by anger and pain over the insult to his beloved late father he struggled against being removed, was about to punch the newcomer too.
When he realized it was Eric, he stopped himself.
“Let go of me! What do you want?!” he growled with an unusually deep and dangerous voice, but allowed being pulled along by Eric, out of reach for more brawling.
“The badge I am wearing doesn’t give it away?! What the hell is going on here?!” Eric wasn’t in the least impressed by Ewan’s aggressiveness.
“That piece of trash over there insulted my dad!” Ewan roared angrily.
“You insulted my mother first!” Max chimed up from the ground.
“Your mother is a ..”
“Ewan! ENOUGH! Both of you are grown men, acting worse than tired toddlers. This is a cemetery, a place of peace and respect! You both are VERY disrespectful and I am not having it! I do not even care why!” Eric warned, holding on to Ewan, his eyes warning to test him, while Max scrambled up to his feet.
“I want to file a report, for assault.” Max mumbled over at Eric, groaning.
“Of course you do! Conveniently forgetting you started this fight, but anything for a quick buck, huh? Yeah, I can see right through this, you are definitely her son! Here, I’ll give you money … that’s what you REALLY want, isn’t it?! Money! Everybody always just wants money!” Ewan nearly spat the words in Max’ direction while pulling out his wallet, Eric put his hand on it, looking at Ewan.
“Ewan, put that wallet away and shut up. Go stand over by the benches for now – and don’t you move even one half of an inch over to where he is. I will talk to you in a minute. GO!” Eric ordered in a tone that allowed no argument.
“No! He can leave. I was here first and I wasn’t done visiting …” the tone of Ewan’s response was more pouty than serious. The only thing missing was a pushed out lower lip.
“Ewan! NOW!” the firm tone of Eric’s response foretold uncomfortable consequences if Ewan wouldn’t oblige now. He could handle toddlers and serious criminals and even a whiny distant cousin, who was a celebrity and used to getting his way. But not from him.
“Fine, I am done with all this anyway.”
With one more angry glance at Max Ewan stomped off, while Eric turned his attention towards Max, talking to him calmly, yet firmly.
When Eric joined Ewan again, he rolled his eyes, instantly defensive.
“Here it comes now, one of the infamous Eric Cameron lectures. Better order in pizza and get comfy, this promises to take a while. Will there be an intermission for potty breaks?”
“No lecture, even though you’d deserve it. Beating up a 20 something year old kid! Ewan you are in your mid-thirties now. Seriously, under normal circumstances I would not be able to let this go for either of you, but I get it. You are both hurt. And both stubborn. I managed to talk him out of filing a report against you …”
“Ha – how kind.” Ewan mocked, after snorting a laugh.
“… but he wants you to apologize to him about Sarah.”
“Right – and I want him to pull his lower lip over his stupid head and swallow!”
“I think you will go apologize.” Eric’s tone was firm.
“Why would I? He needs to apologize to me as well! He talked shit about my dad!” Ewan dug in his heels, trying Eric’s patience to the outer limits.
“And he will. Ewan, I am not asking. You are apologizing or I will book both of you. Told him the same thing. If I have to take you in, you’ll spend the night at Club Fed and I am going to make Ava get you out – tomorrow!” Eric’s tone was determined.
“I cannot go to jail! It’s my anniversary today! Do you know what Ava would do to me if I sit my ass in jail instead of at the dinner table of her favorite restaurant before we go home and nookie the night away?” Ewan sounded and looked worried.
“And you shall sit that ass in plush chairs and do all the anniversary stuff one does, if you apologize.” Eric was unimpressed.
“Fine – but only under protest. And only because I don’t want to piss off Ava. That is never a good idea. If she has to bail me out of jail, I might as well stay until you and your cop friends kick me out. Winning the ‘softest lips award’ in some murky cell won’t be any worse that what she’d do to me.”
Eric shook his head over Ewan’s distorted ideas but said nothing, instead he waved over Max, had the two men shake hands, exchange apologies, then waited with Ewan until Max had driven off.
“Where’d you come from anyway? Don’t tell me this abandoned nook and cranny place is part of your daily patrol round.”
“I don’t do patrols anymore Ewan, I graduated from that several promotions and many years ago. I have family here too and sometimes, I spend my lunch break visiting my grandparents. That is when I don’t waste it separating my toddler-brained cousin-once-removed from his unknown to date half-brother. Nice kid by the way, very polite when you are not beating around on him.”
“Take your word for it. He insulted my dad! Dead to me.”
“And you insulted his mom. Sounds like a wash to me.”
“His mom! Ha! Yeah! You knew Sarah! You KNOW! Impossible to insult her, no matter what you say. And that is one of two sons she replaced me with. Not much to write home about if you ask me. Wonder what he does for a living. Did he tell you by any chance?”
“Good grief Ewan. I didn’t exactly become Facebook friends with him. But I do know that people can – and usually do – change. You have changed, I have changed, Hannah has changed. My parents have changed. Sarah probably had changed too, and who’s to say it wasn’t for the better. Maybe, just maybe, she wasn’t meant to be with your dad, he found true happiness with Meagan and you loved her like a mom, so it all worked out in the end.”
“Maybe. But I will never kumbaya around a campfire with either of the fruit of her loins with that homewrecker husband. Had my poor dad pay for her therapy, which in reality was spent on that guy’s couch doing everything but. And then she took half his money in the divorce. No, her two new kids may be my half-brothers on paper, but in no parallel universe would I want to get to know them.”
“I have a feeling after today, that feeling is mutual. So, get in your car and go home, so you can be the kind of husband your wife probably expects for the anniversary dinner.” Eric hugged Ewan as they often would.
“Yes, officer!” Ewan comically saluted after they let go again.
“It’s detective colonel, actually. If you want to mock me, at least take the time to get it right, you sarcastic prick. Now get. I need to get back to work.”
“Hey – thanks man. For being … well … Eric and reeling me back in. Really came in handy today.”
“That’s my job. Always has been. And I am not talking about the Law Enforcement part either.”