LXIII. Getting Juliette
“We’re going to get Juliette?” Dad mimics mom like a parrot.
“Josh and I will go. You go to work.”
“I can go-”
“No,” she didn’t even hesitate. “You can’t go.” Mom glares at him. “Did you want to go to meet your old lover?”
Oh shit. She’s jealous. “No,” dad immediately responds. “I do not want to meet her. And she’s not my love. If I could, I would never see her. If possible, I do not want to see any females.”
Mom stares at him. “Then, what about me? Am I not a female?”
Dad’s lips twitch slightly before he looks at me. His eyes went toward the door. It wasn’t difficult to pick up the signal.
Steadily, I got up. The chair scrapes against the floor. “I have to go use the restroom.” I left the room.
“Short Stack-” I knew it. “You know you’re the only female in my life,” he cooed. “No one else.”
“And you never love that other woman?”
“No. You’re my first love. My only love. The only woman I can ever love.”
I’m grateful that dad gave me the signal to leave the room. I don’t know if I can stomach this conversation.
In the evening, dad left for work. Let’s say everyone around the house and at the company was relieved.
If my parents were to ever divorce, things would get messy. The news media will eat us up. Who will get custody of the children? What will the ex-Mrs.Greyson do with her fortune? (Mom didn’t sign a prenup.) Did Mr.Greyson cheat on his soon-to-be ex-wife? The media will somehow twist the story and make it a lot worse. Like somehow, I tried to kill myself with drugs because my parents are separated.
Least to say, nowadays, dad pays an extremely high price to keep us all out of the media.
Mom kisses everyone’s forehead. “Mommy and your big brother will be back soon. Be good. I love you all, my precious babies.” We will always be mom’s babies even when we’re taller than her.
“We love you, mommy,” they all said.
From behind mom, I gave them two thumbs up.
Mom presses her hand against her chest. “What did I do to get such wonderful children?”
Well, considering how you whoop our ass whenever we’re bad, we can’t help but be afraid of you. I’m not joking. Mom spanked us when we were younger.
I remember I went rebellious when I was around twelve. I got cocky when I realized the importance of my status and talked back to my parents. I would push others around, and no one would talk back. I even pick up smoking a few times.
I told her I want to be independent, and how she isn’t the boss of me, how she can’t control my life—all the good stuff.
She gave me independence.
She forced me to get a job and pay rent. When I didn’t, she kicked me out. The only thing I got was the clothes on my back. Hit a friend’s house. She called that friend’s parents and told them that she took me out of the family tree. She told them they could adopt me.
The further she pushed.
The more I pushed back.
I didn’t believe she would do it until the lawyers showed up. She disowned me in front of everyone and said that she didn’t want to have a son like me.
Hailey called and asked me what happened, even when she already knew. The disappointment in her voice was real. She told me she couldn’t talk to me anymore because her parents said she couldn’t speak to someone who smokes and bullied others.
It must have been difficult for her. To know her best friend was bullying someone while she was a victim herself.
I know I had it good, but I was being hard headed and didn’t apologize.
The school kicked me out because all tuition was withdrawn. The family I stayed with couldn’t keep me without adopting me because I was considered an orphan. I even live at a fucking orphanage.
During that time, my family packed up and went to California for a family event...without me.
They posted pictures of the family reunion without me.
They posted a picture with Hailey’s family, without me.
I felt bitter.
I didn’t know mom could be so heartless.
She would actually go through with everything she said. So, I called dad. Dad’s best advice was to apologize. He brought me a plane ticket to California. The moment mom saw me, she broke down.
I guess no parents want to disown their children.
I sat down on the front porch. Dad settles beside me and exhales, “You really screwed up, Joshua.” Whenever he says my full name, it’s never a good thing.
“Was I that bad?”
“Joshua. It’s not fake. We disowned you.”
“The lawyers were real?”
He nods, “They were.”
“I’m an actual orphan?”
He nods again, “Yeah.”
I turn my head towards the front lawn. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “You guys can do that? It’s not illegal or anything?”
He shook his head. “It’s completely legal.”
I tuck my lips over my teeth. “Mom cried.”
“Yeah. I saw. I never saw her cry so much before in my life except-” I look at him. “Except when Alice passed away.”
“Yeah. Since then, she has never cried so hard. She even picked up her violin again.” I remember dad talking about it once. Mom only played the violin whenever she’s extremely depressed.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I...It’s just-”
“Everyone around you continuously praised you. They shower you with compliments on how you’re the best. You’re a Greyson. You can do anything you want and get away with it.”
Dad nods, “Been there. Done that.”
“In your position. Yes.” He exhales, “That’s probably the reason why your mom is so harsh on you. You look and act so much like me when I was younger. Your mom is afraid you may be like me.”
“But, mom is with you. You’re a good father, and mom loves you. So-” I didn’t understand how being my dad is a bad thing.
“Joshua, I’ve done a lot of things I’m not proud of. I’ve hurt many people in my life. I’m not a good guy, and I don’t think I’ll ever be one. Your mom loving me is pure luck. If I didn’t meet her, I would become like your grandpa.”
I don’t remember the last time I met my grandparents from dad’s side. The last time I heard, he was on some island with a woman a third his age. Grandma and grandpa are still married. It’s a pretty fuck up relationship.
“Your mom is harsh, but she only wants you and your siblings to grow up to be the best version of yourselves.”
I know I’m an ungrateful child. My parents had always tried their best to raise me to be the best I can become. While I was at a few of my friend’s houses - or so I thought were my friends - I saw how their parents treated them.
Dinner was often cold. Breakfast was empty. Sometimes, both parents aren’t even there. Affairs were at an all-time high. Dad with the secretary and mom with some workers around the house. Then, they pretend everything was fine.
Parents would talk to their children as if they were business partners.
No, how are you feeling?
No, how was school?
No, I love you.
Only be good.
Only don’t disrespect the family name.
And the only time the kids would talk to their parents was to ask for more money. Money to buy this. Money to buy that. Money to purchase temporary happiness.
Yeah, they allow their children to do anything they want, but anyone can tell they aren’t close.
“I won’t scorn you because your mom has done enough of that.” Initially, mom tried to talk to me, but I shut her out. Then, the screams start. Afterward, the threats. And, here we are. “But, really think about your actions Joshua.”
“What do you think about me?”
“I think you can be better than me.”
The front door creaks open, and we turn our heads. Immediately, the small round body hid behind the door, but we can see her shoes poking out.
Dad pats my shoulder, “Don’t stay up too late.”
I nod firmly, and dad gets up, then walks through the front door. Hailey had her hands covering her eyes, pretending she was invisible.
She shook her head. “Hay Bug is not here.”
I walk towards her and widen the door. “Hay Bug. I-”
She steps back, her hands still covering her face. “I’m not supposed to talk to you. Mommy says I’m not supposed to talk to children who talk back to their caring mommy, smokes, and bully others.”
“Don’t hurt me.” My heart drops the moment she says that. She thinks I’m going to hurt her. Hailey inhales a deep breath through her sudden clogged nostrils, and her body shakes. “Don’t hurt me,” she said again.
Cautiously, I remove her hands to reveal her wet eyes. “I would never hurt you, Hailey. You’re my best friend.”
“But, mommy told me that you hurt other kids at school.” I couldn’t even deny it. I did hurt a few kids at my school because I felt like it. It was easy to push them around. The guys I know did it, and their parents didn’t punish them. I thought my parents would do the same too.
“I was wrong,” I said. She removes her hands from her face. “I was wrong for hurting them. I was wrong for making my mom cry. I shouldn’t have done any of those things, and that’s why I’m here. I’m here to apologize to everyone.”
Steadily, Hailey’s lips tug into a smile. “Does that mean, after this, Hay Bug can talk to Joshie Pooh again?”
A few weeks later, my parents informed me that I was never disowned.
Sometimes, I don’t know what to believe.
I want to hear Hailey’s voice.
“Josh. Ready to go?”
I smile faintly, “Yeah.” I’ll call her after this visit.
Mom and I took the car into this unknown town, where Juliette and Melanie are staying. Joel pulls up to a motel. I look around, “Mom, maybe you can stay here, and I’ll get Juliette.” The other lady can ride a taxi to our house.
Mom un-clicks her belt. I held her hand, “Mom?” I’m never one to judge people based on physical appearance, but I didn’t want her to go out there with the dangerous looking people.
“You worry too much,” she said. Joel opens the door and helps her get out. Immediately, I got out and stood by her side. Mom placed a hand on her back and grunted slightly. “Joel, you can stay here.”
No! We need Joel! He was personally trained to be a bodyguard, and he has a gun.
Mom made her way towards the group of gangs. “Pardon me.” They all look at her. Heck, even I looked at her. “Do you happen to know if two women, one is young and the other is extremely unattractive and bitter?”
One of the men examines mom’s body. He steps forward, and I’m certain he has half a foot over me. “Who’s asking?”
“Me,” she responds fearlessly.
“There were two women who checked in a place over there yesterday.”
Mom smiles, “Thank you,” she said. “And I like your motorcycles.”
“Thanks. Good luck in whatever it is you’re settling.”
“Thanks,” mom responds. She heads towards the motel room.
“Mom. Aren’t you scared?”
Mom giggled, “Why should I be afraid? They’re people like you and me. They haven’t done anything wrong to us, so why should we be afraid of th-” Mom halt at one of the steps and clung onto the railing. She held a hand on top of her stomach and grunted slightly.
“Mom, are you okay?”
She exhales softly. “I’m okay, hun. Let’s go.” When we reach one of the doors, I raise a fist. When I heard something broke, mom held my fist and lowered it.
“What did you think would happen? That, he will accept you? No, he’ll throw you away like he did to me!” Melanie shrieks.
“That’s not true.”
“When are you going to get out of that delusional state? That man never wanted you.”
“Well, you know what? I can understand why. He has a good family. You always told me that dad walked out on us, but in reality, he left because he realized how much of a whore you are.”
“Shut your fucking mouth!”
“Admit it. You whore yourself to wealthy men. Just for what? So, you can continue being this high-class woman? Really check, you’re really only an old bitter abusive alcoholic prostitute.”
“This prostitute was the one who put food on the table.”
“And I appreciate what you’ve done for the last eighteen years. I appreciate all the abuse. All the times you spent our food money on luxurious brands.” Something else broke. “But, look at this now, I’m in my twenties, and I haven’t once taken a single penny from you ever since I left. I never even reported you for locking me up in the cabinets just so you can pretend you didn’t have a daughter. I even send you a monthly allowance. Isn’t that good enough?” She laughs bitterly, “And all I ask was for you to leave me alone.”
“But if I leave you alone. Who would you have?” Silence. “No one.” Silence. “Because no one wants you. Why? Because you’re an ungrateful little bitch!”