“Pity Violet couldn’t be here with us,” Catherine said, as she held the basket of warm dinner rolls for Georgiana to take one. “It’s like we’re not complete without her. Would it have made a difference, Victor, if I had personally invited her? You did tell her we wanted her here, didn’t you?”
Victor, who had been spooning peas onto a pouting Peter’s plate, paused to glare at his former wife, assuming she was causing trouble as she was apt to do. However the lack of a spiteful expression made him wonder. Catherine didn’t even have a trace of snark to her tone. Dang, but there was no telling what was up with that woman!
That aside, he didn’t particularly want to talk about Violet, not here and not with his ex, nor with his kids around. It made a painful, cavernous feeling open in his chest, especially when he caught that glimpse of longing in the kids’ eyes. They certainly missed Violet and wanted her here just as much as he did. Somehow, he didn’t think that would ever happen though, but how was he to tell them that when he didn’t want to admit it himself?
“But I dun like peas,” Peter whined.
“Just a spoonful, buddy, come on,” Victor coaxed.
“Hey, little dude!” Ronnie said. “Do what I do…hide them in your mashed potatoes and pour loads of gravy on top. You’ll forget they’re even there.”
“And here I thought all these years you were feeding your veggies to the dog,” Andy said.
“What dog?” Simon asked. “We never had a dog.”
“The invisible one Ronnie used to tell us about,” Andy replied, grinning. “Don’t you remember? Only he could see it.”
“He wasn’t invisible!” Ronnie shouted. “You just never were around to see it. It always ran off before you could. It must’ve been someone’s dog cuz it had a collar and everything. It used to chase me around on my bike and play with me and …”
“Sure, sure…” Simon laughed.
“Was it like Mr. Snuffleupagus? Only Big Bird ever saw him, too, and nobody believed he was real until one day…” Georgiana said, before taking a bite. “Then everybody saw him and they believed Big Bird.”
“Yeah, well, no one ever believed me cuz nobody ever saw him,” Ronnie groused. “He was such a cute dog, too.”
Simon burst out laughing. “Imaginary dogs usually are.”
“You shut it!” Ronnie snarled and punched him for good measure.
“Guys…” Victor said.
“Sorry, Dad,” they said in unison.
“To answer your question, Cathy,” Morris said, completely missing the grimace on Catherine’s face upon hearing her name distorted so callously. “Violet couldn’t make it anyway. She’s gone to Florida to visit her daughter.”
“Must be nice spending Thanksgiving sunning yourself on Miami Beach,” Ronnie wistfully muttered, visions of scantily clad coeds dancing seductively in his head.
“Nope,” Morris said. “They’re going to Orlando. No beach there. Her kiddo is singing at some place downtown of Disney or some such.”
Ronnie noisily dropped his fork. “What did you say, Mr. Kramer?”
Morris stared at him. “That’s Grampa to you, Sonny-boy, and didn’t ya hear me the first time? They’re spending a week in Orlando…got a paying gig there, she does…with her bandmates.”
“Sophie’s in a band???” Ronnie shouted. “And she’s singing at Downtown Disney?”
“Is that a big deal?” Andy asked.
“Well, yeah! I’d kill to play there!” he said. “Did Violet say what her band is called?”
Before getting an answer he pulled his smart phone out of his pocket and quickly went to youtube and tapped out a search phrase: Sophie Bennett Downtown Disney, thanksgiving week. “Dammit,” he mumbled and tried again.
“Ronald, you know how I feel about phones at the dinner table,” Catherine said through clenched teeth. "It's blah-blah-blah when you should be eating and..."
Georgiana giggled. “You sound just like Mother Gothel on Tangled…’cept you didn’t say, “I love you so much…you’re adorable…ahhh….” She giggled again and Victor joined in the laugh.
Catherine glared at her then at him. “Did she just call me a witch?”
“Mother Gothel isn’t a witch,” Julian said.
“Well, she kinda is…cuz she knew about the magic flower and how to make it work,” Georgiana said. “She stole Rapunzel from her parents, too. Only witches steal babies.”
Catherine nearly swallowed her tongue and looked down at her sleeping baby, the one she pretty much stole less than a month ago. “Ronald, put that away this instant,” she snapped.
Ever so reluctant, Ronnie obeyed his mother and no sooner had he put his phone back in his pocket Simon tapped his leg with his own smart phone.
“What?” Ronnie asked.
Simon glanced to make sure his mother was not looking and muttered under his breath, “It’s Sophie… singing and if you look carefully you’ll see Violet too.”
Without being completely obvious Ronnie grabbed the phone and half hid it under the lace tableclothe. In between pretend bites of food he caught glimpses of Sophie singing with a slimy looking guy nearly hanging all over her. In truth any guy standing that close to Sophie would be slimy and hanging all over her in his eyes, whether they were or not. Sophie and the guy—none other than Bug-- were at the same microphone and looking too comfortable with each other for Ronnie's liking.
Ronnie was so intent on staring at Sophie that he completely missed seeing Violet in the background. She was sitting in the first row tugging on the arm of Laurence Van Gholstan and he was leaning down to have her whisper something in his ear, something that made him laugh. They looked awfully chummy together too.
“Ronnie, will you pass the sweet potatoes, please? Did you hear me, Ronnie?”
“Huh?” he said swiftly hiding the phone between his knees. “What…what did you say, Gramma?”
“The sweet potatoes, Dear, may I have some?” Marty said.
“Sure, Gramma,” he said, reaching over and handing the bowl to her.
"You're not eating, sweetheart. Are you feeling all right?" Marty said, a crease between her elegantly arched eyebrows.
"Me? I...I'm fine," Ronnie said, quickly shoveling several forkfuls into his mouth.
“Dad,” Simon interjected casually. “Did you once say you were friends with LP Van Gholstan?”
“Friends? Hardly,” Victor muttered.
“You did work for him, Victor, or at least your firm did once, didn’t you?” Catherine said.
“Yes, still does, but that doesn’t make him my friend,” Victor replied. "Why in the world would you mention him, Simon?"
“Who is this you’re talking about?” Andy asked.
“Laurence P. Van Gholstan, Miami’s version of The Donald,” Catherine answered.
“You mean Donald Trump?”
“Is there another Donald?” she replied. “Laurence is much more handsome though. I met him and his wife a long time ago. She was a bit…off-beat.”
“What’s that mean?” Andy asked.
“She flouted convention whenever she could...bit of a free spirit or something like. It must have annoyed him no end. I often wondered why he stuck with her when she was obviously a liability for him in the PR department, and then it came out she had cancer so…he probably stayed with her to avoid bad publicity and I’m sure he was ensuring all her money went to him when she…”
“Catherine, this is hardly the type of talk appropriate for a Thanksgiving dinner,” Victor admonished.
“Yes, well…” she muttered. “Then what would be appropriate talk?”
There was a pause then Morris chimed in with, “How about those Mets!”
Andy laughed. “Well, it’s football season now, Morris,” he said.
“Well, then…how about those Jets, huh!” he said grinning.
Andy laughed again. “You’re soon becoming my favorite father-in-law.”
“Right back atcha, kid!” Morris said with a wink.
“I still think he was quite handsome,” Catherine said. “LP Van Gholstan I mean.”
“You wanna trade up?” Andy asked smirking.
She laughed and shook her head.
“So…Dad, does that mean you introduced Violet to him?” Simon asked.
Victor frowned. “No, it doesn’t. I tried last summer when we were at a charity event in the Hamptons, but she didn’t want to meet him. Why do you ask?”
“Oh, nothing. I…I just wondered if you knew that his son was in Sophie’s band,” Simon said.
“What?” Ronnie and Victor said at the same time.
“I’m pretty sure it’s him,” Simon said, snapping his fingers so Ronnie would hand over his phone. He then passed it over to his father. “Isn’t that him playing the guitar and singing lead? I remember seeing a picture of him in a magazine when his mother died. He was much younger but still…he looks just like his father.”
Victor snatched the phone out of his son's hand and glared at the screen. “All I see is Sophie and…my God,” he mumbled.
“Simon, I’m surprised at you. You know better and really, Victor, it’s bad enough when the boys do it, but now you? Put away the phone. Dinner time is for food with those around you, not for phone calls or videos,” Catherine sternly said.
Thoroughly ignoring his ex-wife, Victor stared at the screen, his grip tightening on the phone as the camera scanned the audience and he caught sight of Violet making LP Van Gholstan laugh at something she said to him.
He suddenly lost his appetite and felt very ill indeed.
©2014 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved