The Serpent: Part 1

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Chapter 9

June 25, 2012

12:19 P.M.

Victoria and Madelyn, like always, had a very difficult time with Sam leaving the house without them. Especially since he had promised to play with them all afternoon just hours earlier. Thankfully, presents from Carmen were enough to cheer them up.

Heather was waiting outside of Olive Garden when Sam pulled in. He couldn’t help but feel extremely tense.

Heather smiled as Sam walked up to her. A smile formed on Sam’s face as well.

“Hey Sam,” Heather said. “How ya’ feeling?”

“Same as before,” Sam said.

In other words, not so good, he thought.

“How’d the photo shoot go?”

“Well, I survived it.”

Heather chuckled.

After walking past an entire group of loud, overexcited fans, Sam and Heather walked towards their reserved table. Sam was now so anxious that he doubted that he would have an appetite for any food.

“So, who’s watching the girls?” Heather asked.

“Carmen,” Sam replied.

“Oh,” Heather said. “Does she normally watch the girls?”

“Yep,” Sam said. “She loves them so much. She’s pretty much a second grandma to them. She always gives them presents whenever she comes over, she likes to bake them snacks. Yeah, she pretty much treats them like her grandchildren.”

Heather smiled. “That’s awesome. Sounds like the Stanfords have pretty much become part of the family.”

“You bet. We love Aunt Carmen and Uncle Alan.”

After Sam and Heather ordered their drinks, Heather asked: “So how’ve you been, Sam?”

“Well,” Sam said, shrugging. “Concerts have been going alright. Nothing spectacular there. Just released my new album. Glad to be finally done with that.”

“I was actually listening to it on the way over here,” Heather said. “I love it.”

“I still can’t believe people loved it. I was actually pretty unsatisfied with it. I don’t know, I just feel like could’ve done so much better.”

“Well, I love Kingdom Of Roses. It’s probably my second or third favorite album so far. I’m still debating whether or not I love it more than Forever Lost. Anyway, my favorites off of Kingdom Of Roses are My Treasure, I Will Never Die Alone, Ribbons, Thank You, and, of course, Life In Mystery.”

“I still can’t believe that one charted.”

“Hey, it’s a great song! Not as great as Ribbons, but it’s still amazing! Honestly, I can’t believe Ribbons didn’t chart.”

“I didn’t really like Ribbons.”

“Why are you being so negative, Sam? Was there anything you liked off of Kingdom Of Roses?”

“Well, the only one I was really satisfied with was I Will Never Die Alone. That’s the only one I kind of thought was gonna’ chart. Even then, I’ve done so much better.”

“Well, I think it’s a great song. Probably one of your best.”

“Heather, you seem to think all my songs are ‘one of my best.’”

“Doesn’t that show how great of an artist you are?”

Sam shook his head. “Out of curiosity, what’s your favorite song? Like your favorite song that I’ve ever done, period? Just wondering.”

“Well…as of right now, it’s actually Pink, Pink And More Pink.”

Sam smiled and rolled his eyes. “Of course you would love that one.”

“Yeah, because it’s adorable!”

Definitely not my greatest song ever.”

“Didn’t you write it for Victoria and Madelyn?”

“I was so overexcited about their birth that I just slapped something together in five minutes and recorded it. Probably the cheesiest lyrics I’ve ever written. Strike that, they are the cheesiest lyrics I’ve ever written. It sounds like I was going insane.”

“But that’s what makes it adorable! It shows that you were full of so much love for your girls that you could hardly think straight! Doesn’t love make us do stupid things? Yes, it’s cheesy, but that’s why it’s my favorite. Not to mention that it’s a love song for your girls. That right there automatically makes it adorable.”

“I don’t know. At least it gives me something to embarrass them with at their weddings.”

Sam and Heather took their drinks from the waiter.

“Speaking of Victoria and Madelyn, how’ve they been?” Heather asked.

“Oh, they’re just wonderful,” Sam replied, smiling. “Really happy and full of so much energy. Always making me smile. Always cheering me up whenever I’m having a bad day. Always giving me hugs and kisses whenever they see me. I love my girls so much. I don’t know where I’d be without them.”

Heather’s face lit up. “That’s sweet. Aren’t they in preschool now?”

“Well, they’ve actually been in preschool for about two years now. They really love it. Their teachers have been really nice, they love their classmates, it’s been going great.”

“That’s wonderful.”

Sam sighed. “If only they could stay in preschool though.”

Heather giggled. “It’s going by pretty fast, isn’t it?”

Way too fast. It feels like yesterday that I was doing about fifty diaper changes a day and constantly cleaning spit off my jacket.”

“Not looking forward to their first day of kindergarten, are you?”

“AHHH!!” Sam clutched his head.

Heather laughed.

“So,” she asked, still giggling. “Other than concerts, albums, and wanting your girls to be babies forever, how’s everything been?”

Sam sighed and frowned.

“If I wanted to be as honest as possible,” he said. “Not so good. Since…you know…”

“Robbie?”

Sam nodded.

“It’s been about five months and it still hurts me,” he said. “I’m honestly even not sure if it will stop hurting me. I mean, the day I found out was probably the worst day of my life. I felt like part of my heart had just been completely ripped away.”

“Yeah,” Heather said. “That’s actually what I wanted to ask you about. I wanted to see know how you were feeling.”

“Wait, that’s what you wanted to ask me? Like, back at the house?”

Heather nodded. “I just wanted to know if you were okay.”

Sam looked down at the table

Well, at least you didn’t get your hopes too high, he thought.

“Well,” Sam said, looking back up. “To answer your question, I’m still feeling pretty bad. And like I said, I’m not sure if this feeling will ever really go away. I mean, I know it had been over ten years since I had even seen or talked to Robbie, but…but that doesn’t change the fact that I still cared for him. He was and will always be one of the greatest friends that I’ve ever had. Him and the rest of the guys.”

“Did Jason and Alex go to Robbie’s funeral?”

“I don’t know if Jason went, but I know I spotted Alex a few times. We didn’t talk though. I’m pretty sure he was purposely trying to avoid me.”

“I don’t think he was,” Heather said. “I’m sure he really would like to have seen you again.”

“If he did, he would’ve at least tried to talk to me. Which he didn’t.”

“Maybe he’s trying to avoid publicity. I mean, he has been staying out of the limelight for the past thirteen years or so. Maybe he thought talking to you would lead to some sort of news story.”

“Maybe. I don’t know. I really don’t know.”

Sam sighed and looked down at the table.

“I’m really sorry, Sam,” Heather said. “I really wish Robbie were still here.”

“I should have been there,” Sam said, still looking down.

“What?”

Sam took a very deep breath. “I should have been there.”

“Been where? To his funeral? Didn’t you go?”

“I should have been with him. Before…before…”

Sam did not finish his sentence. Heather rested her head on her hand.

“I’m sure Robbie thought about you every day, Sam,” Heather said. “And I’m sure Jason and Alex do too.”

Sam took a deep breath. “I think about all of them every single day. And I always will.”

Heather put her hand on Sam’s arms

“You’ll all be together again,” Heather said. “Someday.”

Someday, Sam thought.

As his own lyrics began to play in his mind, Sam couldn’t help but get a lump in his throat. He could never forget the looks on Robbie, Jason, and Alex’s faces the first time he had ever played that song.

“Did…did you get to talk to Charlotte?” Heather asked.

Sam shook his head.

“Not really. I did shake her hand told her I was sorry for her loss, but I didn’t go any further. I mean, I hadn’t seen her in nearly thirteen years. I just…what could I say to her? I couldn’t just catch up on old times right there at her husband’s funeral. It…I…I just couldn’t.”

“Yeah,” Heather said. “I know what you mean.”

Sam looked down and stared blankly at the table.

“Are y’all ready to order?” the waiter asked Heather.

Heather looked over at Sam for a moment and then back at the waiter.

“Not right now, sir,” she said.

“Okay,” the waiter replied. “Let me know when y’all are ready.” He then walked away.

“I don’t think I’m gonna’ order anything,” Sam said.

Heather sighed. “I’m not sure if I’m hungry either.”

After a brief moment of nothing but Sam staring at the table and Heather picking at a few threads on her blouse, Sam said: “Heather, there’s something I really wanna’ ask you.”

“What’s that?” Heather asked.

Sam took the longest breath he had taken all day. He could feel a drip of sweat running down his back.

“Do…do…” he asked.

“What?” Heather asked.

Sam stood up.

“Never mind,” he said. “I’ll ask you some other time.”

“Are you leaving?”

Sam reached behind him and wiped his back.

“I…I have some things to do today,” he said.

“Oh. Well, I guess I’ll see you later then, Sam.”

“Sure.”

“Maybe next time neither of us are busy, we can see each other again.”

“Sure.”

Sam began to walk away, but then Heather asked: “When your next concert?”

Sam quickly turned around. “Well…I actually have a tour coming up. Starting on July 6th. First concert will be in Dallas.”

“Oh. Okay.”

“I’m gonna’ be taking off on Monday, though. That way I can spend a few days with my parents. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen them.”

“How long are you gonna’ be on tour?”

“Just for a month.”

“Only a month?”

“Yeah. I never go on tour for more than a month or two. At least now I don’t.”

“Oh. Alright then. Well…have a safe trip.”

“Thanks. I’ll see you later.”

Sam then left the restaurant without turning back around.

As Sam returned to his car, he sat completely still for a moment before turning on the engine. There were so many thoughts running through his mind that he could hardly even focus on what was going on around him.

There’s no point, Sam thought as he drove out of the parking lot. Nothing will ever change. Your life will never be that way again. Just move on.

As Sam drove on to the highway, Someday began to play in his mind once again.

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