Charlie never seems to catch a break. Ted is sleeping drunk in his bedroom and his mother and nephew are there to talk. Before the morning is even over all sorts of truths will be revealed.
Chapter 16 – Time for the Truth
Charlie took a deep breath before opening the door. As the door cracked open his mother flew in like hurricane, followed more cautiously by Rick Jr.
“What the hell happened? Mom, why are you here? Rick, please, tell me your father didn’t do that!” The words flew out of Charlie’s mouth before he could think or censor himself.
“Charlie, sit your ass down. We have a lot to fill you in on,” Barbara began without any preamble.
Rick Jr. slunk down in one of the kitchen chairs. Charlie could see how swollen Rick’s left eye was and his face looked like it had been used as a punching bag. Rick was in damn good shape, so Charlie knew that whatever had happened must have been pretty violent for Rick to look this bad.
Charlie slid into one of the seats and watched as his mother, who was normally the calmest person he knew, paced back and forth, occasionally running her hands through her hair.
“Mom, stop pacing and tell me what is going on. Please, you are going to make me a nervous wreck if you keep that up.”
Barbara paused and looked at Charlie. Then she turned and saw how Rick had curled up on the chair and sighed.
“Well, Charlie, the shit hit the fan.”
“Grandma!” Rick said sort of surprised.
“Don’t Grandma me. If my idiot son had half a brain things might have gone better, Charlie. Oh, never mind. Charlie, you need to know what the hell has been going on.”
“Okay, I want to know the whole story, but before you launch into this I need coffee.”
“I hope you made a pot cause we all need some,” stated his mother as she sat down. Looking across the table she noticed that her grandson still hadn’t looked up. “Rick, are you okay?”
Rick just nodded his head while Charlie got up and grabbed a few mugs out of the cabinet. He opened the fridge and grabbed out a box of apple turnovers he had picked up earlier in the week, plus the milk for the coffee. He put the turnovers on a plate, poured out the coffee then added milk to his and Rick’s coffees. His mother always took her coffee black. He carried over the turnovers and his mother’s coffee, and then returned with the other mugs.
Barbara grabbed a turnover and began to pull it apart. Charlie knew whatever was bothering her was major and she wasn’t sure what to do yet. That was enough to alert Charlie that whatever happened to Rick wasn’t going to be a quick story or an easy fix.
“It started after I managed to calm your idiot brother down. Rick Jr. had managed to slip in through the kitchen once Becca got him to my place. When your brother demanded to see his son, Rick came into the living room carrying a glass of milk and half a sandwich. He looked the picture of innocence and I took it from there. I told you brother that Rick had been having a hard time with some schoolwork and had come to see his grandparents. Rick Jr. figured we could afford to spend some time coaching him. Math being one of his problems, your brother couldn’t find anything to argue with.”
“Okay, so Rick didn’t have anything to do with Rick Junior’s black and blue face?”
“No,” Rick Junior said miserably.
“Do you want to tell the rest of it, Rick?” Barbara looked hopefully at her grandson while he just shook his head no and seemed to curl up on the chair again.
“Well, your damn brother finally calmed down. I read him the riot act, pointed out his faults for not allowing space for his children to breathe. I even asked him if your father or I ever put him such a situation like he was with Rick Jr. Your brother at least had the good manner to blush and tell me no. I was ready to slap him upside the head for being so damn stupid. Rick Jr. told his father that he would be returning to school the next day. Wish I had known what was going to happen.”
Rick looked decidedly green. He kept his head down and just slowly rose from his seat.
“I need to use the bathroom, Charlie.”
“You know where it is, Rick.”
Rick crossed the room and disappeared into Charlie’s bedroom on his way to the bathroom.
“Okay, Mom, so what happened? I mean he looks like someone beat the shit out of him.”
“They did? Who are they? What the hell happened?” Charlie was trying hard to keep his voice down, but the stress was beginning to make his voice squeak as he questioned his mother.
“They are a few students at school. Your nephew decided he would go back to college remember. He figured he would go talk to Ben and try to settle things between them. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, Rick came across some idiots trying to beat up on some little guy- they kept calling a faggot. With all Rick had been going through he went in and tried to break it up. He told me he kept thinking of what Ben had told to him, to make a stand. Well, he decided he would stand up for this kid. I’m proud of him for doing that, but the three men were bigger and more than a match for Rick. The thing is, the fight with Rick took long enough that someone saw and called the cops. Because of the comments that had been screamed at both Rick and the kid, it is now labeled a hate crime. So far no one’s names are in the paper, but you know it is only a matter of time. Rick is trying to figure out how to come out to his father before it becomes front page news.”
“Holy shit, Mom. Is he okay?”
“Well, we have had him in for counseling. Right now he just needs a safe place to hole up in for a while. We were sort of hoping he could crash with you for a while.”
“Of course he can. You know I wouldn’t ever turn away family.”
Moments later Rick came padding back out to the kitchen.
“Um, who is the naked guy in your bed, Charlie? Are you gay?”
Barbara sat opened mouthed for a moment. Then she blushed.
“Oh, um, I didn’t know you had company, Charlie. We should have called first.”
For Christ’s sake, can this day get any worse? I just wanted a few minutes to sleep and try to figure out my dreams. Charlie spread his hands across the table.
“Rick, sit down already. Mom, you should know I am not dating anyone. That is Ted, remember, my old roommate? He showed up here about an hour before you got here. He was as drunk as a skunk. He came in crying how he screwed everything up. I still don’t know what everything is, but I managed to get him to take a shower and tucked his ass into bed. When he wakes up he is going to have one hell of a hangover, judging by the way he smelled when he got here. Are there any other questions, guesses, or comments either of you plan to make, or can I go get another cup of coffee before the next disaster decides to strike?”
Rick looked guiltily at his feet as he sat down at the table. Barbara for the moment was silent as she looked over at her son.
Charlie grumpily walked over and poured himself another cup of coffee. You would think with everything on their plates, they would give me a moment to explain before jumping to conclusions. Please, like I would sleep with Ted. I love him like a brother, but the man has slept with more people than Carter has jellybeans.
“Charlie, you didn’t answer Rick’s question.”
Charlie turned to find Ted standing in the doorway of his bedroom; bed sheet wrapped around his body.
“Oh, and what question is that, Ted? And why are you even out of bed?”
“Sort of hard to sleep with people walking around through the room and others nearly yelling in here.”
Barbara sat in silence watching the interplay between Ted and Charlie. Ted was one of the few people Charlie had ever opened up to. She waited to see what would happen while keeping an eye on Rick as well.
“Well, I’m sorry we woke you up. Why don’t you go back to bed and try to sleep some more? I’m sure you are pretty hung over still.”
“For one simple reason, I want to know the answer to Rick’s question.”
Charlie was getting a little pissed off. While he would have loved to have a few minutes alone to talk to his mother, he was not in the mood to play twenty questions with a man who wasn’t sober. Damn can’t anyone just leave me alone so I can think? Hell, even last night Scott was pushing for a… date? Oh shit. He couldn’t have been, could he?
Charlie felt a little woozy and the next thing he knew he was sitting on the floor and his ass hurt from landing on it.
“What the hell?”
“Oh my God, Charlie, are you alright?” questioned his mother as she rushed to his side.
“Are you hurt? Charlie, are you hurt? Answer me, Unc!”
Bare feet came running towards him too. “Charlie what the hell happened?” Ted was soon also trying to enter the tiny kitchen area.
Charlie sat there in stunned silence. Am I always so oblivious? First it was Tina and now Scott. Jesus, I should just hide out somewhere no one can find me.
“Yeah, I think I just sort of scared myself for a moment,” Charlie muttered as he tried to slowly get off the floor.
As Charlie was getting up he turned and was almost face to crotch with Ted. Blushing he quickly stood up straight.
“Well, Mrs. Wagner, I hate to interrupt but I guess you all should hear this at one time. Since Charlie won’t answer one question, I’ll let him think about it while I tell you why I’m here.”
Barbara shook her head and lifted her hand.
“Ted, you don’t have to tell us anything. It is your business.” She slowly walked back to the dining room table followed by Rick.
“Thank you kindly, but I really need to tell people what the hell is going on. I’ve made an ass of myself lately. Unfortunately, I may be paying for it now for a long time.”
Regaining control, Charlie slowly came back toward the table.
“Ted, if you are going to sit and talk with us go put something on. In the second drawer of my dresser you will find some sweats and shorts. Grab something so you don’t end up exposing yourself to my mother, please.”
Ted looked at the bed sheet and realized that it might not be the best thing to be wearing. He turned from the kitchen and headed back to the bedroom, gently closing the door behind him. Charlie took the pause in the conversation to regain his seat at the table.
Barbara looked over at Charlie. Her eyes narrowed for a moment and Charlie caught her staring.
“Out with it, Mom. What do you want?”
“I want to know whatever it was that nearly caused you to knock yourself out. What were you thinking about?”
“I was just feeling a little out of it is all.”
Rick took that moment to really look at Charlie. He shook his head.
“No you weren’t! I was watching you. You looked sort of mad and then your eyes got all wide like you were surprised and then bam, you fell on your ass. So there is no way you were feeling a little out of it. Something set you off, Unc.”
Great, now with all of them here I suddenly feel like I am living my life under a microscope.
The bedroom door swung open and Ted came out in a pair of Charlie’s shorts and a tee shirt as well. It was a tight fit on the shirt but it clung to all the muscles in Ted’s chest. Ted padded out to the kitchen and poured out the last mug of coffee. He turned and took the last empty seat at the table. The room had an uncomfortable silence as everyone took turns sipping their coffee.
“I guess I should explain why I showed up on Charlie’s doorstep. Actually, I came last night to talk, but he was out. I figured I would just pop around to one of the local bars and have a drink while I waited. Unfortunately, I didn’t stop at just one.”
“I found your note taped to the door when I got home last night.”
Barbara turned and looked at Charlie. He noticed the raised eyebrow that clearly asked ‘Where were you?’ but choose to ignore it for the moment.
“I guess you can say I have been lying to you for a while now, Charlie.”
Charlie looked at Ted in surprise. What the hell has he been lying about? All he ever tells me about lately is his job or his dates.
“Ted … what on earth are you talking about?”
“I haven’t been working. The voice over work and the job I had were lost when the company I was working for went under four months ago. I haven’t had a date in months and then I ran into Tina.”
“Why didn’t you tell me you had lost your job? Are you okay? And so you ran into Tina, you know the story there.”
Barbara sat still as a stone listening to the conversation. Rick was actually drawn in, for the first time since the attack he was showing signs of life.
“You know me, Charlie. I am always the life of the party, the man with the plan. All through college I dated, well, whoever caught my eye. Lately, I couldn’t get a date if I paid for it.”
“Stop it. You know you can always get a date. Hell, half your formers would go back out with you again if you let them.”
“Well, Lisa would anyway,” began Ted with a laugh. “Maybe Tony too.”
“See. You know you are not so bad. You keep on good terms with everyone.”
Rick leaned forward.
“Excuse me, Ted, but … umm … are you bi?”
“Sorry, yeah I am, Rick.”
Rick took in Ted’s appearance. He leaned back in his chair and seemed lost in thought.
“So, Ted, tell me what went wrong with the job? Why are you so upset and sure you screwed something up?”
Ted looked down. He slowly brought his mug up and took a sip of the coffee. Charlie could tell he was thinking and waited Ted out.
“Charlie, you know you are my best friend. I sort of depend on you to keep me from going too far astray. You always say you depend on me, but the truth is, I depend on you. You have your teaching job, you had your relationship with Tina, and you always seem to know what to say to help keep me going. I wanted some of that. I thought with my job I had found some stability, but then that fell apart.”
“I’m sorry Ted. You should have come to me.”
“Then Tina told me you two broke up. She was a mess. She needed a shoulder to cry on. She really didn’t want anyone to know how badly she was hurting. She loves you, Charlie, but she knows that somehow you two just weren’t fitting together.”
Charlie felt guilty again. He knew that he did the right thing with Tina, but it didn’t mean that it was an easier to know she was hurting.
“So, I tried to comfort her. I, well, I was really stupid Charlie.”
Charlie looked at Ted. Ted was literally squirming in his seat.
“Charlie, I think Rick and I should go into the other room for a while,” Barbara said quietly.
“No, Mrs. Wagner, you should hear this too. I mean until everything else is settled, I mean… hell I don’t know what I mean.”
Barbara sat looking at Ted, she suspected what he was going to say and wanted to give him the privacy he needed to do that.
“Charlie, I slept with her. I didn’t mean for that to happen. I just wanted to comfort her, but …”
Charlie looked at Ted. He wasn’t angry. In fact, he was surprised to find how little he felt about the comment, other than to wonder what Ted wasn’t saying.
“What is it Ted? Go on. Get it all out so you stop beating yourself up.”
Ted took a deep breath and looked deep into Charlie’s eyes.
“But she isn’t you, Charlie.”
“Oh.” Charlie sat there stunned. First, I can’t figure out what is going on in my life. I have the women at school hounding me, then Scott appears, and now my best friend is in love with me too. When did my life get so out of control?
Barbara sat watching Charlie. She could almost see the ideas passing by him, but the one she kept waiting for was the one he seemed to be avoiding. She knew if he didn’t face it while this was all in front of him she would have to talk to him.
Rick seemed completely dumbstruck. He looked at his Uncle Charlie and for the first time no longer saw the title, but the man behind it. Charlie was shorter than most of the family. He was quiet, cute, and had a way off joking and kidding around once he got to know you. He was dependable, and hell yeah, if he thought about it, Charlie was sexy. He was sitting here witnessing his uncle’s friend confide to them all that he was in love with Charlie.
Charlie sat there for a moment. He realized everyone was staring at him. Now what am I supposed to say?
“Ted, I’ve always cared for you. You have been one of my best friends, but I just don’t feel the same way about you. You know I would do anything for you, but you aren’t my type.”
“Yeah, well you can’t fault me for trying.” Ted sat back looking truly depressed.
“Well, Charlie, there is one more thing I think we need to talk about,” Barbara calmly stated drawing all the attention to her.
“What is that, Mom?”
Before Barbara got to say another word there was a knock on his front door.
“Oh Christ. I don’t think I can take much more this morning,” Charlie growled as he headed over to the door. Looking through his peephole he saw the last person he expected standing on the other side, Scott.
I wonder if I can pretend I’m not home.
The knock came again and then came Scott’s muffled voice. “Open up, Charlie. I want to talk to you.”
“Who is that, Charlie?” came Barbara’s, Ted’s, and Rick’s voices in unison.
“A friend of mine who I need to talk to. Give me a minute and I’ll be right back in,” said Charlie as he opened the door and stepped out into the hallway. He quickly closed the door behind him. “Um, hi Scott.”
Scott turned and his blue eyes took in Charlie’s outfit. Charlie was still dressed for bed in nothing more than a light tee shirt, a pair of silk lounge pajamas, and his bare feet. Unable to put off his feelings any longer Scott pushed Charlie up against the wall and kissed him.
Charlie was shocked at first as Scott pushed against him and then he felt the wall behind him. However, his full attention was soon focused on the soft lips that were smothering his and the tongue that was pushing for entrance into his mouth. He found he wanted that and began returning the kiss. The kiss seemed to go on forever, and might have, if the voice of his mother hadn’t brought him crashing back to earth.
Oh my God, I kissed Scott and my mother saw it!
So Charlie finally was kissed by Scott. Wonder what happens to Charlie next? Comments are as usual always welcomed. So are happy points. Thanks all.