Dari and Matt came out to the car with smiles on their faces. I got out and opened the trunk as they placed their overnight stuff and another bag in and closed the lid.
We had driven about a block when they dropped the news.
“Dad, we don’t want to go back on Sunday.” Matt spoke first.
“Yeah, we want to stay with you.”
“Kid that can’t happen. The court gave custody to your mother. I can’t break that law.”
“You aren’t breaking the law, we are, and we are underage so what can they do? Besides I don’t think she is going to want us there anymore.”
I pulled the car over and turned it off.
“What did you two do?”
They both got quiet. It was the tipping point for them. I could tell. They had made a choice and taken a course of action.
Dari and Matt were twins. They were almost 14 yrs. old and good kids. They had cried when I made their mother tell them about her cheating and our pending divorce. They were both great athletes and played soccer and started for the best team in the area and were the best players on the boys’ and girls’ squads.
In general, they had my disposition. They were calm and thoughtful and strong willed. They asked good questions and listened to logical answers and engaged in well thought out arguments. They both loved to sit at the breakfast and dinner table and discuss current events. So, when they begin to act like they have implemented a plan to take over the universe, I figured it was important to listen.
“What did you do?” I asked again.
The twins often spoke in alternating sentences and this was no different. Dari started.
“We told mother that we were not going to live there anymore.”
“We told her that she should demand that the court give custody to you and you only.”
“She said she would not do that, so we went with Plan B.”
“Dari put on her soccer shoes and the next time Mr. Severson walked by her, she kicked him hard in the nuts.”
“WHAT? You did not do that!”
“Yes, I did. Mr. Severson is a dick and we don’t like him. We will not live with him and mother.”
“When mother yelled at her, I picked up one of her precious flower pots and threw it through the living room window.”
“She screamed at us and I told her that she should get used to it. I told her and Mr. Severson that every chance I had I would kick her husband in the nuts.”
“And I told her to get ready to have a lot of broken windows and stuff around the house. We told her we were not going to live there anymore. We were either going to live with you or we were going to be put into a foster home or juvenile detention because we were going to be too violent. That was when I picked up their wedding picture and threw it into the new TV screen.”
“Mother lost her mind and told us to go to our rooms. We sat down on the couch and didn’t move until you came to get us.”
“Kids you have made some very bad choices.” I started the car and turning it around, I drove back to the house.
I had met Deb in junior high school. She was skinny and dark skinned with long dark brown hair that grew down to her bottom and spoke to her Italian heritage. She had no breasts and no hips and was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. We were too young to date, in our parent’s eyes, so we would hold hands as we walked home together, and we would meet at the school dances and spend our entire time together.
We had moved to kissing at the end of the school year and then the world came crashing down. We lived in Milwaukee and she and her family were moving to Chicago at the end of the school year. We had a very tearful last meeting and then she was gone.
I went through high school unlike other students. It was the late 60’s and I had hair longer than the Beatles and was in the office often for allowing my hair to touch the collar of my shirt. I swam on the swim team and was one of the fastest kids on the team. Without me the team would lose a lot of meets. I was never a dick about it and was a full-on team player, but I knew that the school would not throw me out because they liked winning stuff.
I had been playing drums for years and was in a band, Beer City Rockers, another reason for the long hair. Chicks love drummers with long hair. I used my money from playing gigs to buy a car and I used the car to date girls. This is where you think I am going to talk about all of the notches in my backseat upholstery, but it is not. You see, I was not into sex. Deb had taught me to be into the relationship.
I dated girls that were nice, pretty and didn’t mess around. Oh, there was kissing and the occasional breast squeeze and crotch rub, but nothing under clothes, that is until I was at a gig during my Senior year and met a tall girl named Melinda. She went to one of the schools in Milwaukee that was almost in the suburbs. Her family was upper middle-class, and she was an upper-class girl. She was an inch shorter than my own 6’1”. And when she wore heels she towered over me. Together we made quite the pair.
I was playing at her Homecoming dance, to which she went stag, spending all of her time watching me. A few guys who came stag hit on her, but she proudly announced that she was with the drummer. Between songs she would blow me kisses or bring me a soft drink. After the dance we went to her friend’s party and spent the night necking under a table with a long table cloth in the basement rec room.
That next weekend I played a gig and Melinda went with me. Afterwards we went back to her house. That was when I found out that her family was out of town. She had to stay home to take care of the family dog and its’ new litter of puppies. Melinda made something for us to eat and we necked and then we gave each other our virginities in her bed. I stayed the night and we burned through a half-dozen rubbers.
We dated through the summer and then she told me that she had decided to go to college in California. We had been talking about college and were both looking at Marquette and U of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. It came as a complete surprise when she made her announcement. Her reason was that she always felt like she was under her parents control and she felt that she needed to get away. We had been making love since our first night, but our last time together, for me, was just a good-bye fuck.
During my sophomore year at UWM, I came home, yes, I was living at home, to find Deb sitting in the kitchen with my mom. She looked like hell. We went to my room and sat on the bed. She began to explain that she had gotten married in her freshman year and after six months had gotten an annulment because he was a violent drug user who hit her and tried to trade her body for his drugs.
She said that she had always thought of me and missed me and wanted to know if we could spend time together now that she had moved back to Milwaukee. I had been dating here and there but no one worth keeping and no one I was having sex with. I agreed, and we began to date for the next three years. When I graduated, we got married in a small civil ceremony and we moved out of Milwaukee because it is a racist shit-hole of a city and I never wanted to see it again.
Over the next few years I built a reputation as a swimming coach and we moved from St. Louis to Texas to Kansas City. In Kansas City we realized that this was a very long-term position and we decided to start our family. A year later Deb had the twins. After the kids went to kindergarten Deb went to work and began to cheat on me with her boss.
Of course, I didn’t find out until two years ago, when the kids were twelve. I had gotten an anonymous e-mail telling me that Deb was fucking her boss and letting me know how to verify the fact. When I confronted Deb with the proof I gathered, she had decided to tell me that she didn’t love me any more and she was going to divorce me to marry Will.
I guess I could have fought it, but I figure why the hell fight for nothing and our relationship was now nothing. We split everything 50/50 and she kept the house and the kids. I had them two weekends a month and could see them for special occasions like their birthday and holidays.
Their relationship with the kids was never good after it was explained to them that Will and Deb had been doing what they were doing. The kids started calling Deb ‘mother’ and never kissed her or showed her any affection. They called Will, Mr. Severson, and ignored him as much as possible. They were civil enough to all live under the same roof, but every effort Will and Deb made to get the kids on their side was rebuffed. The kids actually managed to make a week-long trip to Disney World miserable for Will and Deb.
I attend their soccer games and some practices, they would come to some of my swim practices and they were both sitting with me in a big local sports bar when one of my swimmers won an Olympic Gold Medal. They were my kids and I was their Dad. I was the one they acknowledged as their only parent. They just lived in the same house as Deb.
When I pulled the car back into the driveway the kids looked confused. I got out and began to walk to the front door of the house. After a few steps I turned to wave for the kids to follow me. They opened their doors and slowly walked up behind me, and together we walked to the door.
I rang the bell and my ex opened the door. She had been crying and looked like I had when she told me that she didn’t love me any more and she was seeing a man that she would marry after our divorce.
“Hi. May the kids and I come in?”
“Who is it?” The voice of her husband grated on me.
“It is Mick and the kids.”
“Tell them to get their asses in here!”
“What about Mick?”
She looked at the floor and was quiet. I stood there with the kids behind me.
“We need to talk. He should be involved if what the kids have told me is true.”
She moved back from the door and I walked in. The kids did not follow.
“We told her we would not be back.”
“Well you shouldn’t make promises you don’t intend to keep. Isn’t that right Deb?” I looked at my ex.
“Sit on the couch and I will get Will.” She walked back into the house.
I walked into the living room and after giving my twins the death stare, they followed me. I sat in the big comfy chair that faced the now broken TV. It was ‘his’ chair now, but it used to be mine. I sat back and waited. The twins sat on the couch in silence.
“What the fuck are you doing in my chair, you son-of-a-bitch?” He was raising his voice because he was worried.
Dari jumped to her feet and moved towards him and he moved back.
“DARI! Sit!” My daughter immediately obeyed and sat.
“Will, I suggest you and Deb sit down. We need to have a conversation and it should not have started off with “Fuck Mick” or “You son-of-a-bitch”. We can have a conversation in a civilized manner or with me sitting on your chest, taking out my anger on your face.”
Will was my size but was a spineless bastard. He sat in the love seat, Deb sat next to him and I began.
“I was wondering if what the kids told me was true and now that I have seen the TV, the window and the way Will flinched when Dari moved towards him, I believe it.”
“You probably put them up to it.” Will accused.
“He did not! We hate you and mother, Mr. Severson.” Matt spit out a lot of anger.
“Hey! Matt, cool it. You need to relax until it is time to not relax.”
Matt sat back on the couch and resumed his quiet boil.
“Now. First, I did not tell them to do what they did. If I wanted you kicked in the nuts, I would do it myself. If I wanted to destroy your house, I would burn it to the ground. Nothing you have, including Deb, interests me in any way, shape, or form. My children do interest me, however, and do not think for even a second that you or Deb have them. The court gave you their custody, but you will never have their hearts. Deb your actions have insured that both of your children hate you and always will.”
“Will, they don’t care about you at all. To them you are as irrelevant as dogshit on the bottom of an old shoe. So now that we have set the ground rules, let’s move forward. The kids have acted in a manner that does not make me proud. It is the first time in their lives that I have been ashamed of them.”
Both of them gasped and Dari began to cry.
“I raised them to have honor and to strive for excellence, what they did this morning showed neither. Both of you have acted in a manner more along the lines of your mother and the man she cheated on me with. I expect better of you.” The look I shot at the two adults withered them in their seats.
“If you continue in this behavior, I will no longer have you stay at my apartment. Do I make myself clear?”
They both nodded at me. Both were now looking very serious, and it was apparent that they got my message.
“Now I expect you, Dari, to apologize to Will for kicking him in the nuts. I expect you, Matt, to apologize to both of them and to work to pay me back for the replacement TV. Will, since you seem to think that I instigated this revolt, I will have a new TV over here today. Deb if you send me the bill, I will cover the cost to repair your wedding picture and replace the flower pot and window.”
Will looked at me with his eyes full of anger. Deb looked at me like she anticipated more.
“I am going to go outside and wait for the kids. Dari, Matt, when you are done, we will continue with our weekend.” I stood and walked to the door.
Behind me I heard the start of an argument and then silence. I walked out the front door and to my car. I sat there for almost a half an hour when the kids came out each carrying a suitcase. I got out and opened the trunk and after moving their other bags around, put the two suitcases in the trunk.
I got in and Dari joined me in the front seat. Matt got in the back.
I love my kids. I started the car and drove out onto the street and we took off to my new house. The kids chatted and laughed. I was enjoying their happiness as we pulled into the driveway of my new house. It was a good sized four-bedroom house with a three-car garage and a big yard. I opened the garage door and pulled in, next to the new BMW convertible.
Walking into the house I called out amid screams of joy.