After his mother’s confession, Kevin went straight to his room, without stopping to talk to anyone. He was tempted to slam the door but stopped himself when he realised, perhaps he wasn’t angry after all, just confused. He thought, ‘Am I confused by what I’ve just been told? No, it’s pretty straight forward, so why do I feel confused? I’m confused because I don’t feel any real emotion. Should I be angry or sad or disappointed in Mum? Should I have sympathy for Dad, um, Daniel? I don’t know what to feel. Maybe I should talk to someone about it. Damn I have a professional in the house, but he’s the last one I want to talk to about this. Christine maybe; No, I can just hear her now “Oh Kevin just suck it up and get on with life”, and Jason is completely out of the question. Gran’s always a good listener, but shit, she’s known about this for years and never told me. Why would I trust her? I know, I’ll ring Steve; he’ll invite me over, get me drunk and try to make me forget about it. But will I forget, think not, I’ll just wake up tomorrow morning and have two problems to deal with’.
Kevin lay back on his bed and tried not to think about it. But that was a complete failure; there was absolutely nothing else he could think of. Suddenly he sat bolt upright and said out loud “I’ve got it, I’ll tell the whole world just once and never have to deal with it again. I’ll put it on YouTube and Facebook and every other social media platform I can find, then it won’t be my problem anymore, the whole fucked up world can deal with it any way they like.”
He lay down again to go over in his mind what he would say to the world, but before he got much beyond ‘Dear world, I want to tell you about my screwed up family’ he, uncharacteristically, fell asleep.
“So where is he now Jen, does he want to talk to me about it?”
“No he doesn’t, he’s gone to his room. I think we need to let him deal with it in his own time.”
“You may be right, but I really feel I could be of help talking him through it.”
“If he was a client, yes, but he’s not, he’s your son and maybe a bit of distance is what he needs now.”
“OK, I see that, but I just feel so useless if I can’t help him. He’s no doubt hurting and needs support.”
“I think he’ll let us know when he needs us Dan, so let’s not pressure him if he’s not ready.”
“A glass, Jen?”
Daniel poured the wine and the two sat quietly sipping their drinks. The problem they were dealing with could have come between them, but they both looked past that for now. Instead of being on opposite sides of the issue, without discussing or even thinking about it, they combined to deal with the immediate problem of supporting their children, especially Kevin.
Finally, Daniel broke the silence “When do we tell Christine and Jason, Jen?”
“As soon as possible, I’ve already cleared it with Kevin.”
“And we should do it together so that they both know we are not going to let this come between us. I want us to demonstrate to them that we still love each other, as we always have and our family dynamics won’t change.”
“Oh Daniel, that’s so beautiful and so generous of you.”
“As may be, but I don’t think I really have any other choice.”
“What do you mean? I wouldn’t be shocked if you hated me now or even wanted to leave and never see me again.”
“Yes, I could do all of those things, but what would it achieve? I’d be lonely and bitter, you would be lonely and guilty and the children; I don’t really know how they’d feel. No Jen, I think, ...no I believe the best way to deal with this is to stay together, keep the family together and work through it together.”
“Dan, you are such a wonderful and understanding man, it’s no wonder I love you so much.”
“Thank you Jen, but I’m not completely selfless here. I don’t want to lose you and what we have worked so hard for over the years. Until this week, we had a happy and comfortable life. What I have learned about your past this week, will be with us forever but as much as possible we should put it behind us so we can focus on supporting our children and coaching Kevin through it.”
“Yes Jennifer Covid?”
“Here’s to a united Covid family” Jenny said as she raised her glass and smiled at Daniel.
Kevin woke late in the afternoon after dreaming of the birth of his child. ‘What a load of nonsense’ he thought.
He was feeling an uncontrollable urge to unburden himself of all his thoughts and feelings about his mother’s revelation. He stripped off all his clothes in a bid to remove as much of the old Kevin as he could. He looked at his nakedness in the mirror and thought ‘I still look the same’. Then he went to his computer, hit record and started his monologue.
“Well guess what world, I’m not really who I thought I was; despite looking the same, I’m someone else entirely”. Gesturing towards himself “This body is made up from the joining of two people, but one of them is not who I thought it was, so who am I? In fact I don’t know who my father was so I don’t really know who I am. What is my heritage? I thought I was the son of an Australian law-abiding psychologist, but I could be the issue of a rapist or a serial killer or worse; maybe even a politician. Hey! maybe I’m the son of someone famous or a homeless person. But probably just some ordinary boring person who was so drunk he didn’t even remember the encounter with my mother”.
“But, maybe I’m being too harsh about someone I don’t know. Isn’t that weird I was made by a man who is a complete unknown to me. He could be the nicest person on earth and it was my mother who is to blame for this. Here’s a question I have to ask my mother, does she even know who he is. How many men could she have been sleeping with and if she was sleeping with men other than her husband, why wasn’t she taking precautions? She may have not only been a slut but a careless one as well. I’ll have to ask her all those questions sometime. Wow that’s going to be some conversation. I’ll bet you want to hear that, don’t you. I’ll think about it. Maybe I will record it for a future expose”.
Kevin got all that talk out so fast he was by now almost breathless. “Hey, slow down man, take a deep breath and cool it for a minute”.
He then stood up and to unwind did a few ballet steps and twirls. “That makes me feel better, I need music”. He plugged his phone in and played his favourite ballet, Swan Lake while he waltzed and strutted, naked, around the room, feeling more relaxed with each twirl. After about 15 minutes he stopped, sat down and just stared into the screen looking at his own image.
“Who are you? You look like the Kevin Covid that I know, but you’re not really, are you? Hey, there may be an upside to this, if Daniel Covid is not my father, then....” Kevin paused to consider the possibility, “...then I’m not a Covid. But Mum put his name on my birth certificate, so that makes her a .... Wait, not telling us before this is a lie by omission, but putting false information on a birth certificate is probably a criminal offense. A birth certificate is a legal document, so that must be a fraudulent act. Hell, this just gets better, or is it worse, I’m so confused, I don’t know.”
Continuing to look at his own image, “Well whoever you are you have to be strong. Don’t let this get to you, don’t let it bring you down. Let it make you stronger.” Then pointing at his image “Are you listening, you fucking little bastard?”
He smiled, grimaced and frowned at his image, before hitting stop record. He pulled on his jeans, rummaged through his closet and found the T shirt Steve had given him on his last birthday. He had not worn it before, but thought this was the perfect occasion.
As he threw open his bedroom door and bounded down the hallway he felt a new sense of energy coursing through his body and felt really good about himself. When he passed the mirror in the hall he caught a glimpse of himself and his shirt bearing one word, SLUT.
He went straight to the kitchen for orange juice, and found Daniel having coffee while Jenny prepared the evening meal. “Hi son...ah Kevin” Daniel corrected “How are you?”
“I’m fine and you?”
“Yes doing OK, just chatting with your mother while she cooks. Can I get you a drink?”
“No thanks, I’ll just get some OJ from the fridge, I’ll be fine.”
“As you wish Kevin.”
Jenny felt the conversation was very stiff, so tried to lighten the situation. “Kevin, I’m cooking one of your favourites, meatloaf. Do you want hard boiled eggs in it? Remember you used to call them secret eggs when you were younger.”
“Yes, Mum I remember.”
“Well, do you want secret eggs tonight?”
Kevin was feeling uncomfortable in his parents’ presence, so he took his drink back to his bedroom.
“Mmm that didn’t go so well Jen.”
“At least he was polite; it could have turned nasty.”
“I suppose you’re right, we avoided unpleasantness but we’re all going to have to face it sometime.”
“Give him time Dan, it must be a big shock for him. At least he’s speaking to us. It could be worse. Let’s see how he reacts at dinner. Dan can you pass me some eggs from the fridge.”
As Daniel did as requested he asked his wife “Did you notice Kevin’s shirt; I’ve not seen him wear that before, do you think he was trying to say something?”
“Maybe, Kevin rarely does anything without a reason, but I don’t want to analyse his actions at present. Especially what that message may mean,”
“Good idea Jen. Bugger! I’m not enjoying this coffee at all; I’m going to open another bottle; red or white?”
“Whatever.” replied Jenny.
Jenny was nervous about the dinner conversation because she hadn’t told Christine, who was expected home soon. She felt it was unfair to dump it on her during dinner or leave her in the dark and wondering why the dinner conversation was so cool.
“Dan I think we should tell Chris as soon as she gets home. I don’t want dinner to be awkward.”
“You’re right Jen, who should tell her?”
“Both of us Dan, we agreed to be united on this so let’s start as we intend to continue.”
“Agreed absolutely; do you want to take the lead and I’ll support you.”
“Yes and thanks for that.”
Jenny stepped out from behind the kitchen bench and gave Dan a kiss on the forehead. He was going to ask ‘what’s that for’ but stopped himself when he realised it sounded stupid. Of course he knew what it meant.
As soon as Christine arrived home they took her into Daniel’s office and told her the news. She took it calmly when she was reassured that it was not going to change anything within the family. The three discussed how to go about telling Jason. Christine suggested they invite him and Colleen over for dinner, but tell them privately before dinner. It was agreed and Jenny called him right then to set the date.