After the excitement of the final, the tensions and nerves eased off for the team and they were allowed a few days off to explore the Los Angeles area. Bradley took the opportunity to find his dad at the hotel where they were staying and maybe visit Disneyland in nearby Anaheim.
The post-match party was one to remember, if not the fact that none of the players took a drink. Jimmy Anderson and his management team more than made up for that consuming vast amounts of beer and Champagne laid on by the Scottish FA. One by one, Jimmy spoke to all the players individually, lavishing praise and giving advice for the next time. To a man, they had all enjoyed their World Cup adventure immensely. Back home, the parties went on for several days as the world celebrated Scotland’s gutsy performances.
It had come to Jimmy’s attention that Bradley’s dad might be in town as he had read an interview in the Los Angeles Tribune. At least he didn’t make himself known and upset Bradley again before the most important game of his life. He could understand why his dad would want to be there, he would do exactly the same, but would have kept away from journalists and uncompromising situations. Perhaps he should go and have a word with Mr Gardner and offer him some advice. He would find out where he was staying in the morning.
When Brian and Lucy eventually got back to their hotel, Arturo was there to greet them with the biggest smile on his face.
‘Mr Gardner! Miss Green! What a great game; shame about the result but you Scots can be very proud.’ Enthused Arturo.
‘Actually, we’re English, Arturo. Bradley is Scottish by birth, but we are most definitely English.’ Brian laughed. ‘A word of advice; don’t ever call a Scotsman English. They won’t be happy!’
Arturo laughed with them and asked if they needed anything. Brian suggested that maybe a bottle of Champagne in the Members’ Bar would go down well. He assured them he would get the Champagne on ice and bring it through shortly.
They made their way to the bar and sat at a table overlooking the street. Brian breathed a huge sigh of relief. He couldn’t believe what he had just witnessed. All those cold, damp Sunday afternoons watching Bradley play as a boy had paid off. Although they had lost, Bradley and the Scotland team had become famous. Their lives would never be quite the same again and it was sad that he couldn’t share it with his ex-wife and older son. He phoned the grandparents and was pleased to hear they had all watched it with friends and neighbours and had a thoroughly good time. They were so proud of their grandson and couldn’t wait to see him again. Brian thought about phoning Martine and Sam, but figured it wouldn’t be the right time. Not while he was with Lucy who was happily sitting in her seat watching the world go by outside.
When Arturo brought the Champagne as promised, they ordered some bar snacks and raised their glasses in a toast to Bradley; possibly the greatest player in the world at this moment.
Martine and Sam had been watching the game at home with Sam’s girlfriend. Martine had lost what friends she had which suited her fine. She had become a bit of a loner lately, preferring her own company and keeping a low profile. Sam had moved into a flat in Edinburgh with his girlfriend so she didn’t see that much of him nowadays either. As for Bradley, the occasional phone call was the only communication she had with him. The way her life had panned out had made her very sad. She was already under the doctor with depression and was developing a bit of a drink problem.
She was disappointed that Scotland didn’t actually win the game, but delighted nonetheless at the praise the team were getting from the world’s press. Her little boy was famous and the fame would only grow as he progressed. Hopefully, he won’t get a bad injury that ends his career like so many other footballers she had heard about. She worried that he was going to get exploited by unscrupulous agents and bad managers, and then there were all the women that would be all over him. She knew she was being irrational, but it’s what mums do. Her depression was making her think negatively all the time which led to anxiety and a vicious circle of despair helped only by another bottle of wine or a couple of large gin and tonics.
How she hated herself for what had happened to their family. Right now, they should all be in Los Angeles celebrating together. Instead, she had a big and lonely bed to look forward to as she looked out the window watching the summer rain trickle down each pane of glass. Martine had read in the papers that Brian was dating a stripper, well an ex-stripper if it makes that much difference. She was almost twenty years younger than him and as he had lost his job as well, she couldn’t work out what she saw in him. He was never Mr Dynamo and personality-wise he certainly wasn’t the life and soul of any party. He must have improved in the bedroom department, she thought. That was another one of his boring attributes which led her to go elsewhere in the first place, which started all this pack of cards.
After waving Sam off, she hurried to the kitchen to remove another bottle of wine; her third of the day. She didn’t even feel drunk nowadays, she was just numb to every emotion. She took a large mouthful of her wine and stared out of the window again.
What was the point of it all? She wondered.
Where was her life going?