I’m the crappiest dad, and I know it. My brother and his wife are better parents to my daughter than I am.
My mom and dad came over to lecture me about taking responsibility for my life. Dad read me the riot act about how you have to settle down when you have kids. I needed to remember that Jeri’s welfare was more important than my own pleasures, yada yada.
I listened, but I didn’t want to hear what he was saying.
I did try to be a good dad. I changed my image a bit so that I didn’t look like such a punk. I also made sure that I checked in on Jeri even if I’d been out late at a gig or just partying at one of the clubs. I know just checking in wasn’t enough, but at least I made an effort.
The thing is, it wasn’t fair that my social life should be over now that I had a kid. If Caitlyn didn’t want me, then I wouldn’t let it bother me. I found other girls weren’t so concerned that I was a dad. Caitlyn didn’t seem to mind that I’d moved on, so I guess she and I weren’t meant to be.
Of course, none of the girls lasted that long when they realized that I wasn’t interested in long-term commitments. Even if they showed interest in Jeri, I wasn’t planning to make any of them her mom.
I actually don’t know why Jeri would want a mom considering what a bitch her real mom is. Much to my disgust, I ran into Penelope at the Haunt one night. I was there to meet my latest date, Emory Wilde.
Emory was a female body builder, which I thought was hot as hell even if she could probably bench press me. I was looking forward to wrestling with her later that night. But Pen ruined it for me, again.
“What are you doing here, Mick?” she demanded when she saw me.
“What’s it to you? Can’t I be here like everyone else?” Penelope sort of growled at me, clearly spoiling for a fight. “This is a public place Pen. I can be here if I want.”
“What about your child, Mick? Shouldn’t you be at home taking care of her?”
“Me? You have some nerve getting on my case about my daughter. You’re the one who left her in my care. You don’t get a say on how I raise her!”
“Looks like you’re doing a great job! What are you doing here? Picking up whores?”
“No. I’m not here looking for you.”
We continued to fight and trade insults until Penelope shoved me. I couldn’t shove her back, but I wanted to. Instead I told her to get a life and turned to see if Emory wanted to go somewhere else. Unfortunately, she was a little annoyed at me and had wandered away. I went over to talk to her and she told me that I should just go home.
I came home without getting a chance to wrestle with my amazon of a date. Instead I found my brother snuggling my daughter before he put her to bed.
“Early night for you,” he said. I just nodded.
“Dada,” Jeri murmured and reached for me. I plucked her from my brother’s arms and tickled her.
It wasn’t unusual for me to finish up a gig with the girls and stay at the pub until it closed. There was always some girl in the crowd that I picked out who was more than willing to hang out with me after I finished.
One such girl was Lillian. She wasn’t the snappiest dresser, but she had a really great smile. It didn’t hurt that she was built like a brick house.
A little flattery and flirting got her to invite me to her place.
When we got to the elevator, Lillian plastered herself against me. I knew I was going to get extremely lucky…and I did, before we even hit her floor.
“This elevator is always getting stuck,” she purred as she slapped her hand over the emergency stop button.
“Elevators are nasty like that,” I said, enjoying the feel of her hand rubbing on my chest and her lips brushing against my throat. “What are we going to do while we wait for it to get fixed.”
“Oh, we’re going to go down,” she said, as she did just that.
My fling with Lillian may have lasted longer except that it coincided with the break up of F-5. I suppose I knew that the band would break up sooner or later. Rhonda was getting married to Ringo and Sherona had started going steady with Kristopher King.
Lillian was at our last gig, but I didn’t feel like being with her that night. I immersed myself in the music, trying not to feel like my life was about to change irrevocably. Afterwards, I got seriously drunk and ended up going home with someone else.
Unbeknownst to me, I was being watched that night by more than just our fans. Viktor Slayer, was stalking me. And it was him that I ended up going home with. My memories of what happened after we left are a little fuzzy.
I do remember Viktor’s wife. I actually knew her. Elvira Slayer, she worked at the theatre. I think I was also introduced to their daughter, who was ironically named Sunny. Viktor left me alone with his wife and daughter. I think he told me, or her, I’m not really certain, to “enjoy yourselves” but I didn’t know what that meant.
Then, before Viktor left us, he added, “And bring him upstairs when you’re finished. I’m taking a shower, but then I’ll want a snack.”
Eventually, I left their apartment. I can’t exactly remember how I got home. Danny found me the next morning, passed out just before our front door. It wasn’t the first time that Danny had had to help me get to my room after a night out, but this time I think I was a lot worse off than usual. Danny didn’t even get on my case. All he said was, “Holy shit Mickey!”
Danny noticed the bite marks on my wrists when he pulled my jacket off to get me into bed. “God damn it, Mick. What have you done?!” I was too out of it to really answer. I mumbled something about going home with Viktor and meeting his family. Then I passed out on my bed.
When I finally woke up again, I felt like someone had rolled over me with a steam roller. I haven’t ever had a hangover as bad as I did that day. I managed to haul my sorry ass down the stairs and was immediately confronted by my brother.
“What the fuck, Mick? What were you thinking?”
“What?” I was startled at his anger. I didn’t remember what had happened the night before. “So I got a little wasted,” I shrugged. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to do whatever it is that I did. Did I puke on you again?”
“No you didn’t puke on me! Shit, Mickey. Don’t you remember going home with the Slayers last night?”
“Elvira? The vampire who works at the theatre?”
“Yeah. Her and her whole blood-sucking family!”
“Why would I go home with them?”
“Why do you think? Look at your wrist. You were their fucking midnight snack!”
“Shit!” I stared aghast at the bite marks on my wrist. “Does this mean I’m going to turn into a vampire?”
“How the hell do I know? But you’ve got to stop this, Mick. What about Jeri? What if those vampires had killed you? What would happen to her?” Danny glared at me and I looked away.
Maybe Jeri would be better off without me, I thought, but I didn’t say it aloud. Instead I said, “Nothing happened. I’ll be fine. All they did was snack, so I don’t think I’m going to die or become a vampire.”
“This time.” I looked back into my brother’s blue eyes.
“I’ll do better. I’ll be more careful,” I promised.
For awhile, I kept my word to Danny. I stopped being so reckless and started to spend time with my daughter. She was lonely for my company, and I realized how much I had missed not being home as much. I devoted myself to teaching her at least some of the things she needed to know.
Although the band was now over, I was still a musician. I took a job at the theatre, despite the fact that Elvira worked there. I didn’t have to start at the bottom because I was already well-known in the music industry. However, I didn’t have a name for myself as a solo artist, so I had to take a job as lead guitarist for one of the theatre bands.
It was a pretty steady gig, so I wasn’t sorry. I did, however, miss my sisters. I also missed writing and playing my own music.
I also missed sex. Since the night with the Slayers, I hadn’t been with anyone. Part of my promise to Danny was to be there for Jeri. But man I really hated going to bed alone. And the worst part about it was knowing that my brother was getting laid practically every night. It was unfair that while our children were nearly the same age, his didn’t completely disrupt his sex life.
Of course, there are consequences to regular sex. Lakesha recently told Danny that she was pregnant again. He was thrilled. I was not. Three babies in our house was not something I was looking forward to. There was more to my late night fun than just wanting to party and have sex. I also wanted to get away from the crying, the feeding, and all of the pooping that came with having a kid.
After Danny announced that ‘Kesha was expecting again, I decided to revive my sex life. This time, though, I was going to keep things casual. I wasn’t going to drink as much, and I wasn’t going to do anything stupid.
I didn’t realize that I was also not going to get laid.
The girls I picked were all nice girls. They were safe girls. They were not the kinds of girls who’d go down on a guy in an elevator. They were also not the kind to bite your wrist and suck all of your plasma, but maybe I needed a little sucking. Actually, I was desperate for it.
That’s when I met Mollie. We met at the Haunt and spent the evening dancing and playing darts. She was a pretty stereotypical blond. She was nice to look at and not that smart. At this point, I didn’t need scintillating dinner conversation and deep thoughts. Who needs that? I invited her back to my house for a nightcap. She agreed and was smart enough to read the real invitation between the lines.
“Oh, I love your house Mickey!” she squealed when she saw it. I suppose she hadn’t been over the bridge to the richer area of Bridgeport. “You must have lots of money to have a house like this.”
“I do alright,” I said humbly. She ate it up. After showing her the lower floor of the house, I got her the drink I’d promised and then told her about my new hot tub out back.
“I love hot tubbing!” she clapped her hands in delight, but then her face fell. “But I don’t have my suit.”
“We can go skinny dipping,” I offered, but she blushed and said that she just couldn’t. Finally I got her to agree to go in her underwear.
The hot tub was a hit. “This is so nice!” Mollie cooed, lifting her foot from the bubbling water.
“You know what would be nicer?” She shook her head. What an airhead, I thought, but I was desperate.
It didn’t take much to coax her into doing what I wanted…right there in the hot tub.
I went out with Mollie a few more times after that. She was pretty easy, but eventually the lack of scintillating dinner conversation got to me. I had to break it off with her. She seemed to take it alright, which made me feel better about it.
Not long after I broke things off with Mollie, I met Vanessa. I might not have approached her except that she was alone and dressed much too nicely to be drinking at the Haunt.
“So, what’s your story?” I asked when she’d received her drink. It wasn’t intended as a pick up line. I was genuinely curious about why she was there dressed as she was.
“Can’t a girl have a drink in a bar?” she asked, her tone belligerent.
“Sure she can.” I motioned Waylon over. “I’ll have my usual, and I’ll pay for the lady’s drink, too.” I said.
“I didn’t say you could buy me a drink.”
“I didn’t ask you. You’re supposed to say thank you.”
“Thank you,” she snarled at me. “You’re welcome,” I smiled. Her hostility amused me. “My name’s Mick,” I introduced myself.
“Vanessa.” She sipped at her drink as Waylon set mine in front of me. “I guess I’m glad you bought my drink. I barely have enough money to pay for it anyway.” She leaned back on the stool and sighed. “I’m totally broke, you know?”
I looked her over. Her dress looked to be designer. Fashion isn’t my thing, so I couldn’t be certain. “Can’t tell with the dress you’re wearing. You look expensive.”
“I am…or I was,” she laughed without humor.
Since she also looked hungry, I bought her a plate of nachos and took her to a table in the back of the room. She told me what had happened to her while she ate.
“My parents have money,” she said. “They’re from Sunset Valley. Partners with Landgraab Technologies.”
“You’re a long way from the suburbs.”
“Yeah. I was supposed to get married. Clint, my finance, was from the wrong side of the tracks. Bad boy. My parents hated him.”
“They thought he was after your money?” She nodded.
“We were in love, though, so we were going to elope. Move here to Bridgeport and make our own way in the world. Who needs money, right?”
“Wrong. Turns out that Clint needed money. He thought he’d marry it, but when my parents disowned me, he brought me here, stole everything I owned, and dumped me. He ran off somewhere. He’s probably halfway to Sim City by now.” Her look said that she didn’t miss him. Judging from her expression, Clint could probably feel the daggers she was mentally sending his way.
“How long has it been?”
“About a week.” Vanessa sighed. “I’ve tried everything to find a place to stay here, but everything’s so expensive. I have nothing but the clothes I brought with me and a beat up old car that was Clint’s. It barely runs, so I can’t even sell it for much. I’ve been sleeping in it.” She looked embarrassed at that, and I felt sorry for her.
“I’ll probably unload it tomorrow and use the money to go back to Sunset Valley. My parents will be thrilled.” Vanessa looked like she’d rather drive the car off a cliff than go back to Sunset Valley.
“You can come home with me,” I offered before I realized what I was saying. Although she was beautiful, I hadn’t thought of her that way the entire time I’d been with her. But when she looked up sharply at my invitation, I realized how my offer might be perceived.
“You can stay at my place until you figure out what you want to do. No strings. My brother and his wife live with me. And my daughter. I have a daughter at home, too,” I stammered.
She continued to look at me for a minute, trying to see if I was just trying to take advantage of her situation. Finally she said, “No strings?”
As if she was weighing her options she said, “I hate sleeping in that car. And this is the cleanest dress I have right now. If I have to go home, I don’t want to be wearing this.”
“I have a washing machine.” Vanessa laughed. This time there was humor in it.
“Alright, I’ll stay with you.”
We walked outside the bar to where Vanessa’s jalopy was parked. “Here’s the car. Be ready to push it if it dies.”
I got in, wondering if I was making a huge mistake. Danny wasn’t going to like this.