From: Second of All, Copyright 2012 by Genevieve Dewey
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Seven years ago
“Mmmn,” Mickey answered without taking his eyes from Mary. She was still fussing with Tommy’s hair while Tommy tried to dodge her fingers.
“Dad, can Carlo take me to go get an ice cream?”
Mickey looked down into Joey’s eyes, his young lips forming a pout and his body language all but screaming he didn’t want to be here. Mickey sighed. At least Joe had stopped running all over the Hotel lobby.
“We’re here so you can meet your brother for the first time. You can get an ice cream any other time.”
Joey sent a quick resentment filled look at Tommy who was teasing a furiously blushing Kiki about some boy-band she liked. Joey went over to a couch in the waiting area and flopped down, glaring at his dad. Mickey ignored it. After all, being a parent was about picking your battles and realizing you weren’t going to be their favorite person all the time.
“Well, I should get going,” Mary said to Tommy. “I’m sure your father can give you a ride home.”
Mickey’s gut clenched up, equal parts panic at her leaving and pleasure in hearing her not only refer to him as Tommy’s father but placing trust in him to bring Tommy home.
“No, you can stay, we don’t mind. Do we, children,” Mickey stated more than asked.
Tommy frowned and looked down at his sneakers again. Kiki was nodding her head up and down in affirmation. Joey shrugged and said nothing. Mary looked over and met Mickey’s eyes. Damn it all, why couldn’t he get her out of his head and heart already? What would it take? Mickey used to hope, no, delude himself that there was a chance with her, but now it was just up to him to stop loving her the way Mary had obviously stopped loving him. She smiled faintly and quickly then smoothed her slacks and turned back to Tommy.
“You don’t mind me leaving, do you, Tommy?”
Tommy shrugged, his hands back in his pockets and his previously relaxed stance replaced by the same cautious and guarded stance he had assumed in his kitchen the day before. Mary kissed him on the forehead then whispered something in his ear.
“It was nice meeting you, Mary. I hope we’ll meet again,” Kiki said softly.
Mickey’s heart squeezed a little at the longing he could detect in his princess’s voice. Maybe he had been wrong to keep her from her own mother but he hadn’t wanted Theresa to play any of her mind games with their children or to infect them with that poisonous way of thinking he himself had gotten caught up in. His children were going to have every option open to them, including and especially that good clean boring life he had always held in disdain.
Mary shook Kiki’s hand and waved at Joey, who smiled politely back. Then Mary glanced again towards Mickey. He wished he had a pause button for life that could freeze her right there. His gaze dropped to scan her body one last time and when they rose again to her face he could see her chin had jutted up and she had a challenging – but pleased! – glint in her eye.
Well, Mickey thought, his heart galloping, hope finally blossoms. He had made the first overt move the next would have to be hers. He had waited this long hadn’t he? Let the games begin. He smiled and raised his eyebrow. She colored and swiftly turned to exit the building.
“So,” Mickey cleared his throat when she had left. “Tommy, Joey was just wondering if we could go for some ice cream. Would you like that, sport?”
Mickey watched Tommy’s mouth purse and his eyes flash in annoyance at the endearment.
“Don’t call me that.”
Mickey was taken aback at the level of harshness in Tommy’s voice. He was here, at least. He was here, Mickey thought to himself. He let out what he hoped was a carefree laugh.
“Guess you’re too old for that nickname anymore, huh? Used to call you that back in Brooklyn—”
Mickey cut off as Tommy turned his back to him and faced Joe.
“What’d you have in mind, Joey?” Tommy asked.
Joey looked between Tommy and Mickey and narrowed his eyes at Tommy.
“You can call me Giovanni, since I guess you don’t like nicknames,” Joey answered with a bite to his tone. “I’m probably too old for them, too. I just turned nine, you know, last week. I thought about asking for a party at Coney Island, but it was important to my Dad that we came here for your graduation instead.”
Mickey looked at his youngest child, astonished at the level of venom in his voice and the maturity with which he spoke. Maybe Mickey had been spending a bit too much time in the office lately and Joey felt neglected. Joey hadn’t expressed any reservations about coming here before they had left and he had appeared to be enjoying himself just twenty minutes earlier. Where was all this anger coming from? Tommy turned sideways between them and looked uncertain. Then he shifted his feet and turned around some more to look at Kiki who smiled apologetically at him. Tommy stuffed his hands back in his pockets and looked at Mickey through the fringes of his hair.
“Ice cream sounds fine,” Tommy mumbled.
Mickey tried to smile encouragingly at both of his boys. He was worried it came out somewhat like a grimace.
“I – I like chocolate and caramel. What – what’s your favorite,” Kiki asked hesitantly then flushed beet red again. She came and stood next to Mickey, probably to accommodate Tommy’s viewpoint. She clasped her hands and smiled encouragingly as well. This sweet girl, Mickey thought. The picture of her mother and yet so completely opposite underneath.
“Vanilla with the works on top. And what’s your favorite flavor, little brovanni,” Tommy asked Joey then grinned at his own cheekiness.
Joey blinked and seemed to be struggling with the desire to smile. Petulance won out and he pointedly looked back at Mickey.
“Dad, afterwards can we go see Offutt Air Force Base?” Joey asked.
“Depends on the threat level for the day if they let visitors in,” Tommy interjected seemingly unperturbed by Joe’s rudeness. “But my Uncle Jack could probably get you in. He works for the FBI.”
Mickey had no doubt the last comment was meant as a jab at him but oddly, instead of feeling angry, he felt a little like chuckling. His boys were so much like him and yet such a blend of their mothers too. Mickey’s own prideful tenacity fused with Theresa’s combative loyalty in Joe and fused with Mary’s righteous willfulness in Tommy.
Joey’s gaze dropped from Mickey’s and slowly made its way to Tommy. For the first time, Joe looked intrigued.
“Ok, maybe,” Joe said with yet another shrug. “I’m going to be a pilot when I grow up.”
“I’m thinking of being a police officer or maybe even a Federal Agent like Uncle Jack. Something on the right side of the law,” Tommy said turning to look Mickey straight in the eye.
Mickey fought through the mixture of irritation and frustration at the intentional nature of the remark and instead focused again on the thought, at least he was here. Better yet, there was no fear in his boy’s eyes, nothing but challenge and determination. Mickey looked his oldest son in the eyes – his Great White Whale, so to speak – and smiled and nodded.
“If that’s what makes you happy,” Mickey said, and strangely… meant it.
“And – and maybe after we could go shopping,” Kiki shyly interjected, then rushed forward between all of them and stood in front of Tommy. “Daddy said I can’t wear the high heels I packed that mom gave me last birthday because I’m not old enough yet, even though I’m fourteen,” Kiki punctuated this babbling with a quick eye roll at her father. “So I need some new shoes to match my other outfits.”
Tommy frowned and raised one eyebrow. My boy, thought Mickey, about to burst his buttons in pride.
“Why do you need your shoes to match your outfit? Can’t you just wear some tennis shoes or something?”
Kiki put her fists on her hip and shook her head sadly at Tommy like she was worried for his mental capabilities. Mickey chuckled. Joe got up from the couch and sauntered over next to Kiki knocking her hand from her hip as was their ritual. Kiki made a grab for him and Tommy grinned at them both. Kiki returned his grin but Joe stared sullenly back. Again Tommy acted as if he didn’t notice.
“So, airplanes for Joe, and kicks for Kiki, and ice cream for all who scream ice cream,” Tommy said in a sing song, tugging on Kiki’s curls like he was milking a cow. She let out a giggle. Joey was ducking his head so Tommy wouldn’t see the smile he was trying not to smile.
“Just one thing first,” Mickey interjected and fished out his Blackberry. “Let me have a picture real quick before you get ice cream all over—”
“I’ll just wait outside,” Tommy mumbled and turned smartly and started quickly for the door.
“Wait, I think Daddy means…” Kiki trailed off as she chased him to the doors.
Joe put his hand in Mickey’s and looked up as if waiting for orders as to how to proceed. Mickey swallowed around the growing lump in his throat and said for the third time as if a charm,
“Well, at least he’s here…”