Over dinner the three men laughed a lot. In Daniel’s mind they were getting on as they had when the boys were growing up, before Kevin’s attitude towards Jason changed. Now their relationship seemed to be back to just friendly rivalry between brothers. While the two were ribbing each other over the time Kevin beat Jason in the City to Surf because Jason was chatting up girls in the run, Daniel sat back and thought that Jenny and he had really not done too bad a job at raising their family. The sight of his boys laughing together helped the tension of the day to drain away.
“Hey Jase, want to come into my room for another chat?” asked Kevin.
“No, not now Kev, let’s keep Dad company. I think he needs it tonight.”
“I’ll be fine boys, you two go ahead.”
“No Dad, we’ll stay with you.” said Jason, as he looked at Kevin with a furrowed brow.”
“Yeah sure.” agreed Kevin.
“And Dad we need to talk about where Colleen and I can move to.” suggested Jason.
“Hey what do I need to know?” asked Kevin.
Daniel and Jason explained the situation to Kevin, who listened intently, then suggested.
“Why don’t you move in here Jase; you could have your old room back. That would be great, wouldn’t it Dad?”
“Well I suppose so; we’d have to talk to your mum and Colleen about it first.”
“Of course.” said Kevin “But I’m sure they’d be cool with the idea.”
“But my old bedroom is now your office, Dad.”
“No problem Jason, I’ll go back to working full-time at the centre.”
“See it’s all worked out.” said Kevin excitedly.
When the front door was heard opening and closing, Jason asked “Will that be Mum or Chris?”
“Probably Chris, your Mum’s not due till about eleven.”
“Hi boys!” announced Christine “Room for one more?”
“Sure Sis, come and sit next to me,” invited Jason. “Don’t get to see you much lately.”
As Christine sat down, Daniel asked, “Kevin, will you get a glass for your sister.”
“Why me, she’s got two legs that work.”
“Oh I see you’re back to normal.” commented Christine.
“Kevin!” said Jason as he gave him the look.
“Oh, I meant I’d love to.”
“And while you’re there grab another bottle of this white from the fridge, Kevin.”
“Any other orders, would anyone like me to whip up a three course meal while I’m up?” Kevin’s comment was ignored by all as Christine was quizzed about her evening out.
“We went to The Eveleigh Hotel.”
“Is that the one in Redfern?” asked Jason, but before she could answer, her father interrupted.
“Oh, what have I done now?”
“That’s one of the roughest pubs in Sydney, Chris. I used to drink there in my uni days. It was certainly not a place for young women.”
“Dad, that was a hundred years ago, it’s changed and is now a friendly safe venue with a great bistro that makes the most amazing Parma.”
“Well, I’m not quite that old, but I take your point.”
“You mentioned your uni days; well it’s still one of the favourite pubs for uni students. It was packed with them, as well as millennials who have moved into the area. It has a really great vibe.”
“Good to hear. Maybe your mum and I should check it out some time.”
Kevin then arrived back with the wine and two glasses.
“That’s thoughtful of you Kevin, to bring an extra glass for your mum, she should be home soon.”
“Well actually I brought it for me. Don’t you think I deserve a little reward for all this hard work?”
“What?” questioned Daniel.
“Go on Dad, he’s nearly eighteen anyway and I’ll bet it won’t be his first.” offered Christine.
“Yes Dad, loosen up a bit.” added Jason.
“I suppose it will be alright, but you two need to back me up when your mother gets home and finds him drinking.”
“I would.” answered Jason. “But I’ve got to be going soon. I want to be home before Colleen, she’ll be tired after a double shift so I’ll prepare a snack for her and whatever else she wants.” He said with a smile.
“Isn’t he just the most loving partner a woman could have.” said Christine.
“Sounds more like a slave to me.” replied Kevin.
“And here I was thinking you were growing up, it seems I may be wrong.”
“What have I done now?”
“If you think you’re old enough to drink, then you should be old enough to recognise when someone is in a loving relationship, especially your own brother.”
“OK my brother, go home to your woman and give her everything she wants and more.”
“Not quite want I meant, but I suppose it’s a start.”
“Thank you all, now I think I’ll have that drink I was promised.”
“Just half a glass.” ordered Daniel.
Shortly after Jason left, Jenny arrived home exhausted. Remembering his father’s words from earlier in the evening, Kevin jumped up and retrieved another glass from kitchen, this time for his mother. When he returned, Jenny said. “Oh that’s OK Kevin, looks like your Dad’s already poured a glass for me.”
“No Mum, that’s mine.”
“What, you’re drinking alcohol now?”
“Yes, Dad said I could.”
As Jenny looked at her husband, he said. “It’s alright, he’ll be eighteen next year anyway and besides, it’s better he drink at home and learn to drink responsibly than start drinking on a binge with his friends on the night of his eighteenth birthday.”
“Well, if you put it that way, I agree.” then looking at Kevin “But don’t think you can just drink anytime, it’ll only be under our supervision.”
“Yes Mum, I get it.” Then as he downed the remains of his drink, “Now can I have a top up?”
“NO!” they said in unison.
“In that case, I’ll leave you three to party without me. Goodnight.” Then he added “Thanks.”
As Kevin walked away Jenny said “Our boy’s growing up fast Dan.”
“Especially this week, he’s reacted very well to recent events. It could have gone very badly but he seems to be coping well.”
“Just the same, I think we should keep an eye on him.”
Christine had remained silent apart from saying hello to her mother, but when the conversation turned to the ‘Kevin problem’ she excused herself and went to her room.
“Well it’s just the two of us left Jenny.”
“And what’s wrong with that?”
“Nothing, it’s just perfect.”
“Hey, how was lunch with your mother today?”
“Oh, I was hoping you wouldn’t ask; it all went very, very badly.”
“Why what happened?”
“I didn’t tell you before but I went over to confront her with the contract of yours.”
“Oh Dan, that wasn’t wise, and certainly not necessary.”
“Well, I think it was. She can’t just do something like that and expect there won’t be consequences. I showed her the contract and asked for an explanation.”
“What did she say?”
“She accepted no blame for what she and Dad did. She claims she was protecting me and our marriage, but I didn’t accept that. I don’t think it was her decision to make.”
“I was involved in it as well; do you feel the same about my decision?”
“No, I feel you were pressured into it and they didn’t give you the opportunity to tell me and allow us to work through the problem in our own way. After all we are the ones responsible for our marriage; she had no right to do that.”
“So did you two work it out in the end and come to some agreement?”
“Definitely not! She totally refused to take any responsibility and what’s more she is also taking it out on Jason and Colleen.”
“How are they involved?”
“The self-righteous old woman is throwing them out of her house and at a time when Jason has very little work.”
“You’re going to have to make peace with her Dan, we can’t let this break up our family.”
“The only breakup is with her. If that’s her attitude I don’t want to have anything to do with her and probably the rest of the family shouldn’t either.”
“This has really made you bitter, hasn’t it?”
“You bet it has, we have worked through the issue, the kids are OK, and I’m especially proud of the way Kevin is dealing with it. If she wants to be the odd one out, then so be it. You and the kids are my family and you all come first.”
“OK, let’s leave it for now, I can see how much it has upset you and I don’t want to add to that.”
“Now top up my glass because I want to propose a toast to the most wonderful and understanding husband in the world.” Then as she raised her glass, “Daniel Covid, I love you so much.”
“And I love you Jennifer.”
They toasted each other, put down their glasses and kissed. Then Jenny said. “Just as well the kids scampered off they would probably not cope well with us being affectionate.”
“Yeah, I can just hear Kevin saying ‘get a room if you’re going to have gerisex’.”