(I've been sharing bits and pieces of The Father's Child for Sample Sunday. This week I'm posting one of my favorite moments between John Truman's best friends - Paul & Susan - from Paul's point of view. I hope you enjoy it.)
“What about you, Paul? Are you happy?”
“I am at the moment,” I replied, guzzling down my first mouthful of the best beer ever.
Ignoring my deflection, she sipped on her cabernet, and continued, “You have money and power. You have a beautiful, intelligent woman. You are with your best friend. Isn’t this what you always wanted? You should be pretty damn happy, shouldn’t you?”
“Wow, Susan. I’m impressed - a cuss word and a beer. I didn’t know you had it in ya.”
She smiled. “There’s probably a great deal in me that you don’t know about.”
"Oh, like a deep affection and concern for you.”
Raising my eyebrows a couple of times, I responded, “Are you comin’ on to me?”
“Now that you mention it, I have always wanted you. Why do you think I hung around John? Certainly not for his company. It’s always been you.”
It would have been more believable without the contempt and heavy sarcasm in her voice and mannerisms.
“I was just having fun. You know, you can be a real bitch sometimes.”
She lowered her head and closed her eyes. A few seconds went by before she looked up at me. I could see water forming in her pretty, blue eyes as she said softly, “I’m sorry Paul. It seems like we’re always competing.”
I knew exactly what she meant. I nodded; she continued.
“John is the only reason we’re together at all and yet John is what we compete for.”
Man, she may be from another planet, but she can really cut to the fucking chase.
I returned her stare. “Susan: John adores you, even worships you. And you guys…well, you’re perfect for each other – thinking all the time, analyzing everything, really smart, care about others. You’re both really good people.” I lowered my head. “The best two I’ve ever known.”
Now it was my turn to tear up; I tried to fight them back. “I knew, someday, I’d lose out to you, but honestly, I have no idea how to function without him. And then this weird, bizarre thing happens to us called the New Dawn, and that’s after the weird, alien ‘sode. I don’t give a shit about any of it except for one thing: that I get to hang with John. I realized that with the New Dawn setup - as far as I understand Mr. T – my worst nightmare will never happen! If I stay, I’ll be with you guys, and Julia.”
Susan reached over and took my hands in hers. We sat there for a few minutes and just allowed our tears to fall onto the table.
“Paul, I’m really, really sorry. I misjudged you. You were right - I have been a bitch.”
I laughed through my tears.
“When I first left for New York, I fell apart. I mean, I really fell apart. I probably blamed you for our inability to move forward. I was really angry with you, but it wasn’t your fault that he didn’t come after me. It was his choice but I just couldn’t deal with that. I couldn’t believe he would let me go at all, and then to not pursue me. Anyway, please forgive me.”
“On one condition.”
“Let’s order another drink and play some table football.”
We spent the next couple of hours together just drinking, playing, and laughing – in a lot of ways it was like spending time with John, the pre-New Dawn John, except lighter. We talked about the past and about our times together with him, and then we moved on to discuss Julia.
“Did you forgive her?” she asked.
“I hadn’t thought much about it. We just haven’t spent much time together lately. I chalked it up to busy schedules and the weirdness of all this. Now that you mention, she fucked with me big time, and not in a good way.” I frowned. “I guess I’m still pissed off. Do you think I should forgive her?” I asked.
She smiled at me. “This is kind of fun, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, you may be an alien, but maybe all aliens aren’t completely without merit. Hey, it’s my job to avoid, deflect, and deny. Since when do you--”
Then it hit me. Susan and I had talked through stuff, forgave each other, and the results weren’t too bad, not bad at all. I learn something new every day.
Seeing the light bulb go on, she joined in, “Do you like being free?”
“Man, you really are Kung Fu’s master.”
We laughed together and then our conversation meandered back to the New Dawn and John. I could tell she didn’t want to press too much; I appreciated that. When we were about to finish up, she asked permission to leave me with one final question:
"Paul, do you think he’s truly happy?”
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