Chapter 48. The Family Dinner
Around the Grant dinner table, Kaylee’s appetite returned and she was enjoying the banter between Dad and her mother with Mike, her high-school kid- (Almost no longer a kid!) brother and his girlfriend, the captain of the debate team and vice-president of the chess club where he had met his current romantic interest.
Baked potatoes piled enough for six people instead of the five that sat around.
Finally, the stress of the missing person was too great for Mike to stand and had to ask after the blessing of the food was complete.
Dad gave a soft cough to draw his son’s attention and made a subtle shake of his head.
“It’s okay dad.” Kaylee nodded. “Glenn is married and his wife is pregnant”
Her brother, taking a drink from his cup, shot soda out his nose. The pain bringing tears to his eyes, covered his face to hide the mess.
“Michael!” Mom was quick.
“What is he thinking?” A quick look at his mom. “I wasn’t going to cuss.”
“Yeah, right. Don’t kid a mom, kid.” She fixed him with a look that ended all conversation on the subject.
“When did he tell you about his marriage?” Dad asked. The look in his eyes matched his icy tone.
“Well, he didn’t. I went to his house to surprise him. He wasn’t home and I met his wife, instead.” Kaylee laughed. “Sam, her name is Samantha, told me they had several classes together and dated a few times. They got married two months ago and she is thirty-two weeks along.”
“Oh! Someone was being naughty and got caught.” Mike’s girlfriend, Carrigan said.
“He is an ass.” Charles growled. “He should have known better. He does know better. The entire family over there should take turns beating him with a switch from that willow tree that Anders planted years ago.”
“Dad, she is a nice girl.”
“He’d be a dead boyfriend if I was her dad. Got her life all turned into mangled code.” Dad’s hand squeezed the steel cup he had poured coffee in until it made eerie noises.
“Honey, relax.” Mom said. “You’ll get your blood pressure up, and if you go to the hospital again, it will be because I have thumped you on your head.”
“Yes ma’am.” Dad chuckled with mock terror and released his favored coffee cup.
“So what will he do, now?” Mike asked. “Is he coming home to stay?”
“No, Sam said that they would move off campus and her family will help with the baby. They are will both finish school and Glenn just has to meet with Congressman Millan about a staff position next summer. They’ll move to the Capital to live there, Glenn will get extra credit and he’ll get his degree early. He has an in with the congressman and he’ll get some help with his school costs.”
“The congressman will buy the school books?” Dad shook his head.
“She said that the congress has a special scholarship program for students that get enough hours in as assistants and interns.”
“Fu…” Dad glanced at Ma who was looking straight ahead without blinking. Daring her husband to finish the profanity at the dinner table. “Foolish spending of our tax money! Poli-sci is not served well by those fu.. fools in the capital.”
The one subject that always drove dad to the point of insanity was any conversation about politics and politicians. Glenn never earned CAG Grant’s respect with his interests in politics and his service to congress.
“He should work in the community to better it for the people here, not run off and make a life in a den of snakes.”
“Dad, he has done a lot of good here, why not be happy for him to go to a place where he can do a lot of good for the entire nation?”
“I don’t care if he can’t take care of where he puts his progeny, I’m worried about where he might guide the nation if he cannot take precautions while he’s having a good time.”
“What does his wife have anything to do with it?” Kaylee was still defensive about Glenn, even if she wanted to stand in line to beat him with the willow switch.
“I don’t care about his romantic life. He could stick it in a knothole of a tree for all I care.” Dad’s eyes sparkled with fury. “I have a daughter, TWO daughters! That if a man cannot be trusted with their lives, protect those that trust him, perhaps he shouldn’t have a job and have a chance to fark things up for everyone, everywhere.”
“Charles Achilles!” Middle name. Almost made Kaylee laugh, Mike did and got the back of his head slapped by mom as she walked to her seat.
“Sorry,” Dad laughed in a guilty way. “But I mean it. Accidents happen, but one can choose the safest action to start with. He didn’t care enough to take responsibility and left it solely up to her. That’s wrong. It takes equal responsible effort on both parts, him and her. So how will he lead? Leaving it up to someone else?”
Kaylee thought about it.
“He married her, at least.” Mike was trying to help.
“He should have prevented her pregnancy to start with. If he loved her and chose to have a baby without getting married, that would be fine by me too.” Dad said.
“Charlie, don’t fib.” Linda laughed.
Looking sideways at his best friend and wife, Dad smiled crookedly.
“I’d still beat him. Yeah.” Dad nodded. “But marrying her right after she found out she was pregnant? That is, to me, rather guilty. I would be fascinated to see the spin they put on it.”
“Dad, Grover Cleveland had a kid before he got married.” Mike countered.
Dad took a deep breath.
“Sorry, I won’t get into a history argument with you and I won’t address something that would go off topic. That was another time, another set of rules.” Dad growled.
“Today, Cleveland would have been in prison, had his life ruined, been dragged through the courts.” Dad made his final word on the long-ago President. “Glenn could have that happen to him. I like the boy, but that was a serious wake-up call to pay more attention to his actions.”
“It’s not like other politicians have had kids.”
“And not one of them will become a leader in congress or the president.” Dad nodded. “The most recent events, it is lucky the women didn’t evicerate the men in public. Glenn must have had that thought when you showed up at his door.”
“He wasn’t home when I got there and he didn’t know I went there to see him or that I sat and made friends with Samantha. When he got back from his errands, I surprised him when he walked in the door.”
Dad laughed. Paused. Then laughed again as the mental image played out in his mind’s eye.
“Oh!” Charles Achilles Grant laughed even harder and gave his son a playful punch in the shoulder. “I would have paid good money to have been there and watched that.”
“No. You wouldn’t have enjoyed it very much. It was a little ugly, and it was going to get much worse for him with Sam later.” Kaylee said softly. “Sam and I had a good long talk. She didn’t know anything about me.”
“Oh. Damn.” Linda said and broke her own rule. She was as profane as anyone, but her rule at the dinner table as a cuss-word free zone was a long-established tradition.
Dad laughed again, crossed his arms and leaned back in his seat, he seemed to enjoy the discomfort he imagined for Glenn.
In dad’s opinion, some of life’s lessons are moments best savored.
“I do not wish ill on your Glenn.” Father Grant said in a soft tone of wisdom. “But I think the knowledge bumps that his wife will inflict will show what the man is made of — If he survives.”
Dad pondered a moment. “It might even do him some good in the end.”